The following is a guest post by an Anonymous Reader.
I have a dream to climb up the side of a mountain. Not just any mountain, mind you - but The Grand Teton in Wyoming. I have made a promise to myself that I will be healthy enough to do so before I die. It is a stunningly beautiful climb. I want to bless God and Scream Its name from the top. From there, I want to be able to hike around the Himalayas. I promised myself that I will. I want to see the top of the world and conquer my fears, my hopes, and my dreams. I know I will be successful.
I weigh about 109 pounds, and I am 5'6. I take up to three medications a day: For Bipolar Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified) with Comorbid ADHD - and the crippling anxiety of self-discovery, of reality, of not knowing enough about the world around me. They've lowered my weight, and sped up my metabolism. I'm back in therapy, not for the Bipolar Disorder, but to learn to control and let go of what gave me the anxiety in the first place. I am slowly building myself back to where I should have been in high school.
I'm learning to let go of a lot of the things that bothered me. The anger and anxiety (which trickles down into severe mood swings), of how my parents were: Yelling at each other, at me, about money, about life, about how I could not express my dreams, hopes and fears without pressure to become something else besides myself. I am finally letting go enough to start really studying and learning about the world. I am accepting myself, including the Bipolar Disorder, and the real joys that come with it...
The only reason I can do this, is because I am radical.
I identify in part with a growing body of people who don't buy into the current drug-company-on-TV-sponsored view of what it means to have a Mental Illness, especially one considered "Severe." Although I don't agree with every radical idea espoused, (no drugs? alternative illegal drugs? filter your water and live off the land? radical anarchy as a way of getting medication?) I do identify with parts of Mad Pride, with Kay Redfield Jamison, Liz Spikol, parts of The Icarus Project, parts of The Freedom Center, The Mad Tea Party, etc.
Most people do not know what it means to actually be mad. Nor in treatment.
Bipolar Disorder in Short Form (For me) Mixed Episodes, which lean towards depression, which can keep you up all night. So depressed that you become paranoid - a form of mania. So depressed that you start to see your friends in the distance in the while walking around the neighborhood in tears. So paranoid that you believe you Need to complete your Bachelor's in Two weeks. So paranoid you believe that everyone hates you. I call the feeling the suck out of soul the first time.
Mania - (Really hypomania) Colors are 3D. So 3D that Andy Warhol Posters in the Night are like Drug induced Dreams. That Grass on the Ground has more shades of green than should be possible. That you notice that smooth plastic actually has little bumps to it. So happy and engaged that you are willing to try anything, once, if you were not afraid of your parents. And that you have a tendency to get a little too angry. And the idea of sex sounds amazing. To the point where you can smell people. They smell different. Better. Delicious.
And drugs take most of this away. Not all mind you. Most. I refuse to leave me sensory deprived. I've given up one drug this year. It is better to learn to deal with who I am, and to expect that I am fairly normal, rather than treat everything as an abnormality. I'd rather see myself as getting over the difficult aspects of insanity, the misunderstandings of the limits of reality - and use its joys to my benefits. I would not take medication if I knew that I could trust every one of my feelings and sensory perceptions.
But some days, having too many shades of green grass is too much. But to lose the ability of noticing the first red-breasted robins in the park while the hyacinths bloom, the refraction of water on a tulip blossom in the rain...
I would never give that up. In the end, I rather use it as leverage that I failed at something, and learned from it, to climb the tallest peaks, both the real and proverbial, that I can.