What do you sound like when you speak?
In 2018 I found myself smoking an ounce of weed a week. I didn’t talk to friends. I was comatose. I didn’t sleep in my bed. I had a scab on the right side of my head that I picked off every day. I didn’t shower. I collected big piles of dandruff and dead skin. I urinated in empty soft drink bottles because I was too lazy to walk to my own bathroom.
I hit rock bottom.
I couldn’t find a reason to live.
I was over it.
Despite protest, my Mum took me into the doctors (which ultimately saved my life). I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder and prescribed antidepressants. I’ve always been more of a “rehab is for quitters!” kinda guy. I believed that people who were dependent on antidepressants were weak.
I was scared of my Dad as a kid. He was a large, proud and strong Buddhist man. But I saw a transformation in him when I was 18. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer and as it ate him alive he grew weaker and I took that weakness in a bad light.
In his dying days some random priests at the hospital pressured him into converting to Christianity in order to secure his entry into heaven. He gave up his fight with cancer, he became a Christian and then he passed.
I was disappointed in him for giving up.
When he died I decided to inherit his strength and I vowed never to be weak. I gave myself a deadline. Dad passed away at 47, so in my mind I had until 47 to do absolutely everything I wanted to do in life. I was hungry. I was obsessed. I’ve been there. I’ve done that and then some. I’m now 47 and I believe that this self imposed deadline drove me to make all the marks I’ve made to date, but it was only a few years ago that I learned the hard reality of not being able to choose when it all ends.
The meds helped me to avoid hitting low-lows, but they also stopped me from reaching high-highs.
I was in the middle.
I was numb.
Everything I had ever done of any worth in life had come from meeting the deadline and living through the death of my father, so getting off the meds became a priority and I’m happy to say that I’ve been clean for over 3 years now.
I’ve chosen to make peace with periodically losing my shit. I value the emotional connection I feel when I remember, somewhat romantically, my previous lows. I use my low-lows to create art.
I am an Artist.
If bipolar is about having inflated self-esteem or grandiosity, or being more talkative than usual, or distractibility and an excessive involvement in activities that have high potential for painful consequences, then bring it! I choose to embrace these traits of my mental illness.
So to answer the question; what do I sound like when I speak?
Well, it depends which me you’re speaking to!