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James Harrop; Diagnosed with Bipolar 1

"Diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder (formally manic depression) in 2007 my twenties have been marked by manic highs. Initially, it is alluring. Your thoughts become quicker and quicker, your mind is sharper than ever, all you can do is create - draw, paint, write, dance - you have to get this sum-mounting energy out. People warm to you, you have a presence, can make people laugh, and enjoy thinking forty three steps ahead. Sleep is the first to go. As the mind becomes quicker and quicker, sleep becomes redundant. Then the battles begin. Wanting to stay in this new gear of the mind, you convince yourself you are fine. It’s a gift, you can survive on 2 hours sleep a night, others in history can. The delusions are creeping in. A week later the battle has intensified. You look in the mirror to shake yourself back down, not a chance. You’re fine, read a book. Not a chance. Then sit and meditate, wrong move. That’s oxygen to the flame. Trying to make sense of it you begin to rationalise without realising. Connections everywhere - words, names, colours, all start to take on meaning. Exhausted with too much energy you are desperate, grasping at anything to comprehend what is happening. The thought accelerator is flat down and there is no stopping. Reality begins to break down, you are split living between a world constructed by your own thoughts and the faint memory of a world you are leaving behind. Life resembles a dream. Letting your mind break its shackles and float away feels strangely familiar. But then you’re back. Wise words begin as a murmur ‘this is not right’ then echo loudly stabbing you back into everyone else’s reality. What the fuck is going on? You’re fine." @jxharrop



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