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Narcolepsy, mental health, and spirituality.

I am making this post out of curiousity and to hopefully reach out to someone who can relate in anyway. It is also more of a rant than a clear question, so sorry about that.

My question is: What is the correlation between mental health issues and spirituality? 

I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy a few years ago. It is a sleeping disorder that causes a disruption of sleep cycles. For example, those without Narcolepsy progress through stages of non rapid eye movement NREM sleep and eventually move into rapid eye movement REM sleep, which is where we are most likely to dream. Narcoleptics are unique because they can jump into REM sleep within the first 15 minutes of sleeping, and they often experience REM intrusions during daytime wakefulness. These leads to symptoms such as severe sleep deprivation, hypnopompic hallucinations (what I call waking dreams), vivid dreams (sometimes lucid dreams), and sleep paralysis. 

I'm still have a lot more to learn when it comes to spirituality, but I've noticed that there seems to be some overlap between mental health issues and spirituality. For example, there are a lot of things that I would describe as mental illness, that some would describe as spiritual. For example, when it comes to Narcolepsy, it is common for me to experience "shadows" in my peripherial vision (which are essentially slight hallucinations but I call them waking dreams), but it looks like some would describe something like that as spiritual. I also experience a lot of sleep paralysis, which I've always just shrugged off as Narcolepsy, but again some people describe it as spiritual.

In Narcolepsy, there can often be confusion between what I call "the dream world" and this one. I've often said "I am wide awake and dreaming." For example, it is not uncommon for a Narcoleptic to confuse a dream with a memory. This was really fascinating to observe within myself, and I walked away from this experience with a whole new understanding of mental illnesses like Schizophrenia. There seems to be a fine line between someone who is "spiritual" versus someone who is experiencing psychosis. This is just me rambling, but I actually wonder if there is something "spiritual" that many people with mental illness are experiencing, and we just have a hard time identifying it.

I'm making Narcolepsy sound all terrible, but there is actually been an upside, and that is the incredible insights and wisdom I have gain from it (particularly in my dreams). It has been life changing for me. I also wonder if Narcolepsy became a door for self exploration for me. I'm incredibly uneducated about this, but if what I commonly just shrug off as "typical Narcolepsy" is actually "spiriual" or some different state of consciousness, then I wonder if I am somehow "tripping" on Narcolepsy. I've had many people suggest that I am and that my "spiritual insights" are due to Narcolepsy.

I recently asked a family member a question about whether or not it is possible for someone to become "too spiritual" or "open" and go off the deep end (for lack of better words). My mother suprised me by saying that I seemed to just "resonate" and "click" with spirituality very quickly, and that if she had never come across the book "Godhead: The Brain's Big Bang - The explosive origin of creativity, mysticism, and mental illness", which introduced us to the idea of spirituality, that she thinks I would have lost it altogether and would not have come back from it. She also told me that I have progressed with my health ever since.

This is the end of my rant and thinking-out-loud (which is probably totally nuts) but I wanted to post it in case anyone has any insights or anything they would like to add, and to see if anyone can relate at all. Am I totally nuts? I have a lot to learn, am still trying to make sense of myself and my experiences, but I thought if anyone could relate, this would be the place (I can't exactly talk about this with my dentist). As far as how my spiritual practice goes, it mostly consists of "talking the spiritual talk" versus "walking the spiritual walk" but hopefully I'll make myself meditate soon and begin to tame the voice in my head. I literally can't stop talking to myself in my head all day and it is driving me nuts.

I also highly reccommend the book I listed above. It is one of the most exciting books I have ever read because it has helped me to make sense of myself and my experiences.

RE: Narcolepsy, mental health, and spirituality.
11/8/19 2:18 AM as a reply to Rachel.
I believe the ultimate dividing line is really how one deals with it. 

I'm too sleepdeprived right now to develop that any further, but I guess that kind of illustrates it, because it's an insights stage that deprives me of sleep temporarily and gives me a vivid imagination and euforia and then psychodelic visual effects. So yeah, it's a very fuzzy line. 

I think basically anything is a source for insight if one is curious enough to investigate it. Altered states of consciousness can definitely be used for it. 

RE: Narcolepsy, mental health, and spirituality.
11/8/19 3:12 PM as a reply to Rachel.
Howdy Rachel, 

I deal with a lot of the same. 

The correlation of mental health to spirituality is the same as what it means to be "a human" vs "just a life".
Spirituality and mysticism have become interchangeable and this is causing a lot of confusion...
Things like astral projection, lucid dreaming, and warging, are mystical. Some people abuse sleep paralysis as a means of forcing a certain meditative state. It catapults one into "the arising & passing". Most of these folk don't have an understanding of what is actually happening, unfortunately, but this state, coupled with an imaginative mind, it's possible to "branch out" of meditation and enter esoteric territory.
None of that is spiritual. Spirituality is the effort to untangle oneself from the oppressive mind that comes from living in a society. Deeper than that, liberation from the suffering that is imprinted within our being. It's a de-nurturing process.
Yes, it is possible to become a subjugate of the mind and be stuck in one's own psychological universe. Below the mind.
Sounds like you have been balancing the experiences out with wisdom. That's actually a sanctioned practice for some cultures, good job. 

Once you do start meditating though, in your case, the mind might push back harder. The longer one remains in any stage of perception, the more difficult & destabilizing the transition out becomes. 
Meditation forces cognitive reflux which is associated with radical dissonance, are you prepared for that? For someone in our boat, so to speak, we tend to be more sensitive to these things. It is important to develop a few anchors if you want to investigate meditation.

This is a good read. theory on Adult development, cognition and morals. This is grounding

RE: Narcolepsy, mental health, and spirituality.
11/8/19 3:22 PM as a reply to Rachel.
Have you ever considered Medical cannabis?
t promotes homeostasis, but you have to find what works with you, meaning actually experiencing it not just research. Strains can work differently for people.

Also because your sleep is so disturbed, I suggest you practice breathing exercises in bed, even if you can't sleep, to compensate for the lack of air reaching your brain. There's a lot of meditative forms that use the breath as an object of focus, this could be a great place to start.