Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Prologue to a Blog

Welcome, one and all, to my first ever blog. A few people I know from Facebook had suggested I get into this sort of thing, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I've called it 'Ravings of a Madman' because I'm bipolar, and 'Ravings of a Service User' just sounds wrong, despite 'service user' being the approved term. I hate being called a 'service user': it makes me feel like a kerb crawler, the self-loathing customer of a self-loathing Ukrainian whore, shagging her way through Swindon's lonely and desperate male population until she gets her passport back.

Bipolar is a big part of my life. In fact, if I had to define myself by one word, it would probably be bipolar. Either I'm depressed, feeling my bone marrow turn to osmium as I struggle to get out of bed, not remembering a time when the dark side didn't consume me, not believing in a time when it wouldn't. Or I'm manic, despairing of the mortals who try to slow me down as I bounce off the walls, not eating, not sleeping, thinking at the speed of light and believing myself a god. Or I occupy the no man's land between the two, being told I'm stable but looking over my shoulder for symptoms of the other two states, eternally vigilant, fighting a cold war with myself.

It's all a bit shit really. But it's not without its benefits. Like a lot of mentally unstable people, I am drawn towards poetry, and I've been quite lucky recently to have got some recognition for it. I am the reigning Poetry Rivals Slam Champion and my prize was a publishing contract. My first book (provisionally entitled 'Hemp Fandango') will be out in the next few months. I doubt if I would be able to write in the same way without this 'taint of blood' (in the words of Tennyson, a fellow sufferer). Keats, Shelley, Byron, Sylvia Plath and a great many other poets had some form of mental illness, and some were considered bipolar. Suicide rates for published poets are 7 times the national average.

Is this a price worth paying? Would I give up the bipolar and all that comes with it if I had the choice? No, I don't think I would. As Roger Waters said, 'all you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be' and even if I'm not defined by my condition, it certainly is one of the things that makes me who I am. And I'm happy enough with that enough of the time.

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