Hello and welcome to the introduction to a new blog series: Fast Times at Bipolar High! In this series, I, Payton, will be explaining how I made it through highschool in Albuquerque, New Mexico while battling to understand and cope with the symptoms of my bipolar disorder while still attempting to grow up, have friends, be a good student and above all else, not lose my mind. This series may get a little intense for some readers so be warned: IF YOU CANNOT HANDLE INTENSITY, STOP READING THIS BLOG! Although, for this intro blurb, I will keep it pretty reasonable. I plan to cover topics such as what its like to be afraid of one’s self, how to positively spin being a totall coocoo weirdo, stigma in public schools and how I survived it, dealing with intense urges as a teenager, leadership, choosing the right school for myself, reconciling being a potential danger, shame of mental identity, the importance of a support system and much more so stay tuned! Without further ado, here is my first entry!
Hi. I’m Payton. Growing up, I wasn’t your typical student. No, I was a slacker. Now, I wasn’t a slacker because I hated school or because I thought it was beneath me, no, I was a slacker because while the other students were studying for finals, I was traversing a world of visitors, visions, hallucinations, harbingers and so much more. The only way I could get through my early life was to live through my madness. It wasn’t an option to just shut it off. The only way to do that would have been to shut everything off because my madness is a part of me and that’s called suicide. Although I often considered it and to this day, I can’t begin to comprehend the miracles that led to me remaining on this earth, suicide is no longer my eventual goal. Despite my…ahem…unique brain being a part of who I am, I do not choose to identify with it. I am not Bipolar. I have bipolar disorder. I have a cold. I have a bad back, but these things are not who I am. I am a poet, an athlete, a smartass and so much more but I am not my vices. I am not defined by what ferocity hold me down but rather by the grace with which I rise against it all.
Due to my constant escapades into the other world, I was not always mentally available to complete assignments, remember birthdays or pay attention to traffic signals but I was never idle. Nay, when my parents would receive calls about their son not taking school seriously and being disrespectful, what my educational professionals failed to realize and mention was that instead of this, I was busy respecting the Otherworld and taking my own subconscious seriously. The two were not mutually exclusive. Like I said, I lived through my hallucinations. They were not random (as bizarre and flippant as they often were). They had a purpose and always…always, they wanted to tell em something. My pseudo-scientific understanding of these visions is that when a brain is wired improperly wired and it’s conscious and subconscious are failing to properly interpret, communicate with and respond to the surrounding environment, an anomaly occurs. Things that would typically be handled with grace and time like reacting to love interests, dealing with rejection and handling trauma are instead processed by the subconscious and then violently & dramatically foced upon the conscious mind without warning. You see, the typical brain’s conscious and subsconscious are like two employees working the day and night shifts. They trade notes between shifts and the work of one impacts the work of the other but they don’t really directly interact very much. Ah…but my brain is far from typical. My day and night shift workers were constantly fighting for more hours because they lived in an unstable enclosure and the costs of rent, security, utilities and food was staggering, not to mention all of the creative aspirations they had to fund (which were all inspired by their unstable lives). Eventually, the boss decided to just let them work at the same time! This is when I dreamt while awake. This is probably also the reason that from age 10 (right before I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type 2 with Psychotic features) every single dream I’ve had has been a lucid dream. This meant that I had the responsibility of not only manually sorting out my processing of my day to day life while I was unconscious but also that I had to tame the subconscious beasts that everyone else’s subconscious naturally tames while I was awake! You see then why it was difficult to be a straight laced, 5 minutes early, B+ or better sort of student, no?
But I was not totally innocent. I slacked intentionally. School didn’t seem to be a very friendly environment for me. It certainly wasn’t onein which I could explore my mind. No, as I later realized with the help of my Kwa’a (Hopi for grandfather), American Highschool isn’t about learning meaningful information or how to think (that’s what college is for), American Highschool is about learning to follow directions. I was literally incaple of following the directions of the first school I attended. So, I took to the wind and with the help of my mother, father and some friends, found a school that worked for me. I didn’t even end up graduating from that school, but it taught me the importance of finding the right fit for my own needs- not the needs I’m supposed to have. As users of the mental health forces that be, we are consumers! We cannot always just take what is given to us, sometimes we must find what it is we need in order to heal and prosper. We cannot be ashamed of seeking help and we must realize that it is our duty to seek help/treatment if for no other reason than to not be a scourge on society. Hopefully we find other reasons like wanting to make our families proud or better yet ourselves proud but prison is real! And so is death. For a long time, the fear of those two things was the only thing keeping me from succumbing to them and at times, I didn’t even have that. It is an absolute miracle that I am not dead, in prison or on the run right now even as I write this. How about a round of applause! I am a student from the graduating class of We Made It! My dear friends, my loving family and my stellar mental health professionals helped me cope with the fear of harming myself and others and helped me not let it come to that but lets talk about that for a second- fear! Fear divides and often conquers us if we let it. There are six natural behaviors. Fear is one of them. Disgust is one of them. Hatred is one of them. Love is not. Compassion is not. Understanding is not. All of those things are taught and learned. Thankfully, joy is also a natural behavior. Lets capitalize on joy. Also, lets become more than what we are made of. Lets become unnatural- unnatural in the sense that our behaviors are chosen, not natural. We are born with fear. We can seek understanding. We can seek enlightenment. Lets seek enlightenment together. I have seen so much fear in my attackers that the only person I pitied more than myself was them, but no more. No more tears. Let’s fight back. Lets wise up. Join my side and lets Stand Up To Stigma.