My name is Nick and I am a giant ball of tension. I live most of my waking life in a constant state of anxiousness. Relief is a rarity. I occasionally stumble upon an unexpected period of tranquility, but those instances tend to not last long, and recently seem fewer and farther between. I can’t pin-point the time in my life when I began to feel this way. I had an easy upbringing, filled with leisure and lacking any major trauma. I have a hard working Dad and a loving family. Growing up, life seemed peaceful and carefree, so naturally I was confused when I came home from middle school one day to find gibberish scribbled all over the walls and my mom held up in her bathroom speaking uninterpretable nonsense while trying to place a lit candle on top of my head; and so begins the story of my dysfunctional bi-polar family. Their cover was blown and there was no hiding it anymore. My mom had had a full fledged manic episode, the first in almost 10 years, and the first I was old enough to be aware of. My brother was the next to go. A 2380 SAT, and a 4.0 GPA as a Mathematics major at Columbia University, he was 20 years old and a second semester sophomore when my parents told me what had happened. “Your brother is going to be taking some time off of school” they told me, after he had been arrested in his school’s quad wearing a tinfoil helmet rambling mindlessly about aliens. This was the first of many episodes to come.
My mom never gives me a break, always warning me to not experiment with drugs and to protect my brain, to not forget about my family history. I’ve never had a manic episode, but I am probably the closest thing to an undiagnosed manic-depressive. I was reading a book this summer called “A First-Rate Madness” which explored the link between bipolar disorder and some of the greatest leaders of the past century; “Reckless speeding, sexual indiscretion and impulsive spending are three indicators of bi-polar disorder.” Well they hit the nail on the head with that description. It’s hard to recall a time I got behind the wheel of one of my parents cars and didn’t double the speed limit. 135 miles per hour in 45 sounds like a fun challenge.
My brother tells me its a blessing and a curse. Bottomless, never-ending depression followed by unparalleled creativity sounds like a fair trade off. Abraham Lincoln, Vincent Van Gogh, Winston Churchill, Issac Newton, and Jimi Hendrix are just a few names on the long and distinguished list.