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How Bipolar Disorder Gave Me the Freedom to Become an Artist

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I was born with a special talent for putting together jigsaw puzzles. By age 5, I could easily finish a 500 piece jigsaw in a day. My mother said she kept getting me harder and larger puzzles because the smaller puzzles were much too easy for me. I was starting to turn the pieces upside-down and put the puzzle together without the picture.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

When I was 14 years old I succeeded in putting together a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle in 29 minutes. I sat, hunched over a board on the red shag carpeted floor of my bedroom, doing the same puzzle over and over again, dozens of times, until I could finish it in less than 30 minutes.

I’m grateful to my parents for allowing me to explore my inner, introverted world from an early age. My mother and father would always try encouraging me to engage more with the outside world, but my social successes were usually limited. And I was somewhat socially active in high school and college, but mostly because I dated a lot.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone with bipolar disorder has a story to tell — definitely one about their first major episode or maybe their last.

I can’t place the exact moment when the voices in my head began to convince me that I was in telepathic communication with the universe. The first voice I heard was my grandma’s. I was opening the front gate to my small apartment not far from the Palace of Fine Arts, in the Cow Hollow district, when I started to hear my grandma’s voice as real as anything else on this earth.

My psychotic thoughts were like the plot to a science fiction story. Alternating between simple and complex, but not very sophisticated — like a series of manic B movies. I was being contacted by aliens and talking back, telepathically, of course.

I know it sounds a little crazy, but bipolar disorder gave me the freedom and courage to become an artist. The periods before, during and after my severe illness set me on a path of inward exploration and I emerged seeing everything in an entirely new light.

These color enhanced and stylized photographs are the outside reflection of my mind, in a spirit of discovery turned toward the amazing and mysterious city of Los Angeles.

los angeles city skyline

dragon in colorized version of the los angeles city skyline

Lead image via contributor

Originally published: October 17, 2017
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