Oh, But Why?
Mental health is hell of a thing. Changes a man, truth be told. Kills some too. The Bipolar Clown and I have done serious time at the mercy of my moods. But mercy is probably the wrong word. Because mercy is noticeable mostly for its absence. But then that’s not fair either. Because mercy has given me sweet home Alabama hugs and kisses, that’s for sure and certain. I’ve cheated death, and the police, and various government authorities for that matter, more times than I care to chronicle right now. That’s not man machismo. That’s just what happens in the desperate life of a little bipolar boy.
My personal relationships have been altogether passionate, poetic, loving, volatile like a Molotov cocktail, and destructive like a government. But very importantly, despite the poverty and ominous presence of ruination, my manic episodes have also been a source of authentic joy and revelation, delivering a diamond sparkle of glitter and magic into my Universe. A one-of-a-kind Universe, that, I believe, I have only been able to see because of the way my mind works. Without those diamond sparkles and electric smiles to punctuate the Devil in my darkest heart, I can’t be at all sure that I would have found inspiration to get up this time. Some nights I’m like a hungry stray cat hissing at every other cat in broken down alleyways. On other nights my cat cream belly is full on the finest stinky fish, and I’m purring at the moon while she shines a toasty stagelight down upon me, and seemingly no-one else. On those nights the moon and the stars belong to me. But it’s more than that. This is how I’ve described it in Clown & I.
“I truly believe that to successfully live with bipolar, and perhaps any mental illness, you must see its beauty and its exotic nature. You must see your own beauty and your own exotic nature. Then you have to be brave. Every single, solitary time there’s a rat-a-tat-tat on your door. Be brave. Be brave.”
So that’s my answer to: “Oh, But Why?” Clown and I – A Bipolar Memoir is about me and the Bipolar Clown articulating the truth of my life to you. Because I am a story chaser and a story feeder. From Ernest Hemingway to Oscar Wilde, Amy Winehouse and Nina Simone, I chase people’s stories, and especially their art, because they articulate more to me than a textbook, mindless gossip, shite reality TV, or even a medicial diagnosis, ever will. People’s stories give me pleasure, release, empathy and a genuine understanding of my wilderness world and the creatures I meet. Stories are my power. This time around, my own story chased me down. It caught up with me when I was freediving naked and unarmed in my dangerous Abyss. Down a relationship, down on cold, hard cash, almost down my wondrous son and sporting a fraught relationship with the demon drink, I was kissing dirt. At this cavernous point, as I lay drenched in sweat in a blacked out room, listening as piranhas pounded against my flimsy door in packed, relentless lines, I realised I was ready to tell my story. I realised that I had to tell my story. And so I got up. Standing up was the only way left to bring on the Phoenix. My splendid Phoenix, who has, so far, never failed to rise me up again. But I would never have made it this far if I didn’t believe, in my soul, that I have a story that may be of some use to you. Take it. Please do. My story is yours. It means nothing without you. This is my truth as best I could tell it in the year 2018. Not one year before and not one year after. Do as you will with me. Do as you will with my story. Do as you will with the Bipolar Clown. He helps me, through comedy and writing, to make some sense of the love and carnage that is the world I live in.
*The Bipolar Clown and I have come to the conclusion that the very things that break us down in the beginning, are also the very things that make us in the end…
“When you’re around the Clown you can be a clown yourself and pretend that life is magic and you don’t have to be one of those sweaty peoplegoing to work every day…” – A.W.