technology and my brain: the cons
Slow-release pills infilterate my brainwaves.
Without them, I enter a different realm.
(Like I'm having one big deja vu.)
I'm standing at the edge of a cliff.
When I peek down, I can see a seizure waiting to make me jump.
Prescription drugs hold my feet to the ground.
Are they preventing me from flying?
Could I be an eagle soaring through the clouds of my own enlightenment?
Am I surrendering my reality to an artificial, fear-based chemical?
Who am I without Carbamazepine?
When I step back and evaluate the role of technology in my life from a wide perspective, I can see that taking a prescription medication every day is not in total alignment with my personal values. My first hesitation is that I am putting an unnatural, manufactured substance into my body several times a day, which has already been documented to have carcinogenic effects (7b). I was born into this life with the gift of a healthy body, which like my brain, I regard to be a temple for the divine energy of my Higher Power. Ideally, I only want to ingest unprocessed substances that are in direct relationship to the Earth as possible. The Tegretol pill, made of hard plastic, obviously violates this goal.
Taking this issue a step further, past the physical into the philosophical issues, I must ask myself if it is even necessary to prevent the epileptic seizures from occurring in the first place. Before I had identified my "hallucinations" as epilepsy, I remember having positive feeling associated with most of the experiences; they took me into another mental state that felt totally authentic and valuable in its own uniqueness (before they got so frequent and disorienting in the later stages). As Adrienne Richards points out, albeit some cultures throughout history, such as those of western Europe, have seen epileptic seizures as evil, "others saw the seizures as the potential for great spiritual healing and divination" (6b). The author explains that in those particular societies, epileptics were trained for "these great callings" instead of being medically treated. Thus instead of being considered a disease, the seizures were actually seen as a gift. Neurologist David Bear, M.D., proposes that epilepsy has contributed to "transcendant artistic production," which is corroborated by the fact that Van Gogh, Dostoyevski, St. Paul, Moses, and Mohammed were all known to be epileptic, possibly enhancing their life work (6c). Indeed, it is very fascinating for me to explore the connection between spirituality and epilepsy. A group of neuroscientists at the University of California at San Diego studying the brain patterns of certain epileptics reports that those who suffer from a particular type of seizure have an unusual number of spiritual experiences and visions, since they are both activated in the same brain spot:"Measurements of electrical activity in the brains of test subjects indicated a specific neural center in the temporal lobe that flared up at times when the subjects thought about God. This same area was also a common focal point overloaded with electrical discharges during their epileptic seizures" (6d).This point in the brain could be acting as a sort of antenna into the astral, picking up the energy circuits of the celestial realm. I have thought about the possibility of my seizures acting as a form of spiritual channeling, since the experiences have sometimes felt like another being has entered my consciousness (hearing voices and music, feeling jamais vu and/or deja vu, having a shift of sensory perception and bodily sensitivity, etc.). A number of other worldwide belief systems throughout history support this theory. In the context of Ayurvedic medicine, epileptic seizures could be regarded as an uncontrolled expression of spiritual energy, much like the practice of Kundalini Yoga. Traditional Yoruba healers in Nigeria consider epileptics to be chosen by God as trance-mediums. In Cuba, the santeria belief system trains people with epilepsy to control their seizures in order to become important healers. Many other cultures also view seizures as signs of being blessed by the spirits and called into the role of a healer, such as African tribes, the American Navajo nation, espiritismo in Puerto Rica, Brazilian coboclos, and shamans (6e). These beliefs certainly make me question the philosophy in today's Western culture that views epilepsy as a disease that must be fixed and treated through medication. This society tends to act mostly from the left side of the brain: scientific rationality over relational intuition. Mainstream health care is a clear example of this imbalance. Addressing the current practice of western medicine, Adrienne Richard writes, "The mind has been split from the body; the emotions from the mind; and the soul or spirit has been excluded altogether" (6f). Looking at these splits and exclusions, one could argue that this field has gotten its priorities mixed up, turning away from the actual holistic healing of the human body, and more towards the dominating forces of our capitalistic economic system. Pharmacies play an active role in how physicians choose to treat their patients, as companies are constantly developing new drugs for every possible ailment. As Norman Cousins writes, "Indeed, the overreliance on exotic and expensive technology may be one of the major problems confronting modern medicine" (6g). Materialism governs medicine through the devolopment of technology: new prescription drugs. Yet these treatments only seek to mask the symptoms. I do not want to be separated and divided, regarding my mind as a thing separate from myself that can only be treated on the physiological level, under the ruling forces of technology. I do not want my beliefs to be governed by false dualities and limited to the power of one side: left brain. I am seeking to learning more about how my brain works, what my mind holds, the role of technology, and the divine purpose of my tumor and my epilepsy. Therefore at some point in my life, I hope to be able to stop taking Tegretol in order to gain a fuller understanding of all parts of myself, bringing them into communion. The seizures could perhaps help me explore my mind to a deeper level. I will not make this decision until I get guidance from my heart, fully trusting that I am ready and that the universe protects me in the journey.
"A culture that upholds material wealth and technology as its only sustaining values worships death and stagnation. A culture that allows violence, materialism, and technology to determine its priorities devalues life and the spirit, and leaves no room for mystery, dreams, and growth."
--Carl A. Hammerschlag, M.D., (6h)
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