My life as an Artist with Psychosis

The funny thing about my musical and artistic sides: these parts of me did not start to surface until around the same time as my diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

I was about 16 years old: an adolescent gripped by raging hormones.

At the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, my elder sister, by three years, brought home a classical guitar. With some sheet music and some instructions from my music major sister, I became engrossed in methods of playing the guitar.

I had dreams of playing on the stage with a rock band. I learned Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead and increased my classic rock CD collection. Led Zeppelin was my usual go-to for listening, as well as Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead.

Although there were times out with drama club and occasional trips with friends who performed punk music, I felt less connected with peers.

As “Dust in the Wind” by Kanas plays in the background, I reflect on how sad it is that my dreams of being a rock and roll star never came to fruition. The reason this never materialized is a story that is at least as sad as this song.

The last two years of high school brought friends who got me further involved in playing rock music both in parties, and on stage.

Going to college brought an upheaval for me, newly diagnosed with bipolar illness with psychotic features. Conflicts between my party life, romantic life, and study life made it impossible to manifest a balanced lifestyle. However I burned extra energy by exploring my artistic side, and by producing professional level work for my drawing teacher.

Later on, in my early twenties, unfinished with undergrad, I moved into the city to live independently of my parents. For the first three years of life in Buffalo, I had the luxury of a car, which allowed me to make it out to music shows and get involved with local musicians.

Most of my music was solo, although there was some collaboration with friends I met on  alternative rock and folk music. My songs, performed solo on acoustic guitar, were praised by musician friends for their  expressive and theatrical dynamics.

My time playing was plagued by paranoia and hallucinations in the meantime.

My theatrics while performing guitar was replaced with shame and fear of public performances. I projected my self-destruction during that time.

I entered into a mixed manic and depressive episode in between performing live music followed by a year and a half of hospitalizations.

I still don’t have a car, as additional diagnoses make it more challenging to focus.

After ten years of group homes and supervised apartment living, I started the crawl towards further independence…

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