The Reason Why I’m Walking With Crazy People

My mind likely doesn’t work the same way yours does. In fact I know it doesn’t. Sometimes I feel like its backwards, but then I put my rose-colored-glasses-mind set on, and instead describe it as intense. For me, rationality has no place, and it often takes me longer to find a logical answer to my everyday predicaments, that is, if I ever do. I change my clothes two or three times before I leave my house, often feel like life is perfect when I see a rainbow, and sometimes spend nights writing entries in my journal that I will never show the world. I have been told I march to a beat of my own drum, but personally I think I paint with my own brushstrokes. I often sit in wonder about people who don’t have to question if there reaction to something is the right one. I even sometimes find myself jealous of people who don’t show their emotions on their face. And above all else, I feel like my experience and how I think and come to conclusions is a way that makes no sense to anyone else, but me. 

It’s this feeling of being alone and different in our way of thinking, that I believe ties anyone who is also bipolar together by a common thread. 

Being someone who is mentally ill isn’t something I am ashamed of. Like my sexuality, the fact that I am left handed, or have beautiful eyes that change with my mood, my mental illness is something I embrace.

Like all who are bipolar I have extreme mood swings, feelings of euphoria, depression and uncertainty. I can be the sweetest guy in the world or the meanest. I will love you one minute and be mad at you for nothing the next. I always have big plans, and often don’t carry through with them. And there are days when I can’t get out of bed.

But in all that, I have found that what drives me to write, something I’m told I am talented at, are those dark moments where I can’t seem to find the light in my depressive state, so I create it. What drives me to want to change the world is the utopia I have felt this world can be in my one of my manic episodes. What makes me believe I can change this world is my simple rejection for the path more traveled.

On October 19th, I will be walking with others who experience life in a way uniquely their own. I will be alongside supporters and family members of those who have a mentally ill son, or brother, or partner. Together, we will be walking to support and to raise money for the National Alliance of Mental Illness. 
NAMI is the nation’s largest nonprofit mental health organization. They simply look to create a better life for those of us who are mentally ill. They fight for services, treatment, and support for people like me. And above all else, they strive to build a community to fight the stigma that is associated with being mentally ill. They create hope for people who often struggle to believe you can be at peace and mentally ill. 

NAMI is the type of organization I love, because they are doing something that is not very popular, but incredibly necessary.

The walk to the capital won’t be accompanied with a festival, like how Phoenix’s AIDS walk is with Rainbows Festival, which is happening this weekend as well. Instead it will be a silent journey ending at the Arizona State Capital. Its that silence I think far too many people who live with a mental illness face.

Because while movies like Silver Linings Playbook can tell a beautiful tale of finding love while being beautifully disturbed; for many people like me, we face our illness in silence and alone for fear of the stigma that surrounds it.

A few months back, a former coworker I respected and admired said a joke about her “crazy” brother. She then went on to explain that he makes up things for attention. His doctors, she said, diagnosed him with bipolar disorder, the same mental illness I have, though she called it “psychotic nonsense.” She then went on to tell me that this illness isn’t real but rather it’s part of our Prozac nation, where we all want to fake an illness in order to qualify our short comings. 

I was ashamed of telling her I had the same infliction as her brother because I didn’t want her to think I was less than. I also wanted respect in my workplace, and feared I may lose it if it came out that I was mentally ill. Above all else, I believed (and looking back, I may have been correct in this thinking) that I wouldn’t be taken seriously if people knew that I am “crazy.”

I eventually did come out as someone with bipolar disorder to my coworkers. And I watched as I people who once trusted and valued my opinion simply stopped seeking it. I found that to some I was less-than smart, less-than articulate, less-than, well, them. 

Years ago, I found myself in what mental health professionals call a “crisis.” A “crisis” is just a way of saying that I had lost control of my thinking. At the time I had. I found I was sliding down a slipper-slope of negative thinking, where I was not only thinking I was less-than. I was believing it too. I checked into a mental health institute after a week of not leaving my couch, or showering or changing my underwear. I had given up on life and needed help finding hope again. When I was released from the hospital a little over a week later, I reached out to many of my friends, in hopes of leaning on my support system during that dark time. That was the same day three friends of mine said their goodbyes, noting that it was not easy being in a relationship with someone who is bipolar. 

And I agree, it isn’t.

But what my coworkers failed to see, and what those friends failed to see, is that me being bipolar doesn’t make me less-than, or even difficult, it makes me beautiful and unique. 

I could, and have been ashamed that I am bipolar. I could, and have been, angry that I am bipolar. And it took me awhile to embrae it. But I did, and am proud I did.
Is this the most logical answer? Probably not. Was it easy to just wake up one day happy to be mentally ill? Absolutely not. 

But its because of my mental illness I have the passion, excitement and creativity to paint this world a different, and if I have my way, a more peaceful and loving place.
That’s why I am walking this Saturday. And that’s why I want you to donate your money to this organization. Because more people who are bipolar, or mentally ill, need to know that life is worth living and that we are beautiful.

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