You may find this post contains heresy and/or madness (depending on your perspective). Consider yourself warned…
So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1: 27
I want to tell you about my psychosis. Uniquely female, a psychosis triggered by pregnancy and childbirth. It’s not unusual for people experiencing psychosis to have visions of the ends of the earth, and beliefs about their own messianic qualities. Yet I know that my thought-processes during psychosis were wrapped around my growing struggle with the church and gender politics. My beliefs were shaped by the visceral experience of giving birth and its powerful sense of womanhood.
What to the outsider looked like jumbled stream-of-consciousness had an intense sense of clarity for me. Everything made sense. I had it in my mind that as the end of the world drew near, God was seeking to bring the maleness and femaleness of himself back into unity in the world. The beautiful (and of course to my loved ones terrifying) thing was that I would be the vessel, the girl-messiah who would bear the unbearable of losing my child and my husband. I would be obedient even unto death. I would submit, as the weekly-beaten doctrine of the past few years of church had instructed me. And yet, in the submission there would be power. Power to bring those in my life with terrible illnesses into their new bodies, into eternity, into the great Wedding Feast. I even saw the feast, it was beautiful, and feminine, and filled with joyous reunions. Everybody, everybody, everybody was there. God, it was beautiful, I can’t really begin to express it. But it was not to be.
And yet… I probably shouldn’t get into a discourse here about what I perceive as the liminal space between psychosis and prophecy, madness and shamanism. Maybe I will blog about it sometime in the future, but it feels too raw, too frightening in many ways.
What I can say is that after the long depression that followed my season of visions and dreams, I couldn’t stay in a church that sublimated women and did not allow them to preach, teach or be an Elder. Nowadays I see all around me women becoming their True Selves through some truly unbelievable suffering. I’m humbled to be the mother of two daughters who are unashamedly authentic, open and vulnerable. May they celebrate their femininity, its strength and its power to bind up the brokenhearted.
The illustration at the top of this page was part of an art project in collaboration with Action on Postpartum Psychosis. I love the Triumvirate somehow all wrapped up in the shape of a mother and baby. I still believe the best is yet to come.
Be the kind of woman you want to be. Regardless of doctrine.