‘Raising my cup I toast the bright moon,
and facing my shadow makes friends three’. The couplet above was written by the Chinese poet, Li Po, who lived vicariously through nature as he wandered the mountain tops throughout China during the High Tang Dynasty. I like these two lines, because I can easily relate to them. It was about two years ago when I, myself, drank beneath the moon, alone, in the Green Mountains of Vermont. My only friend were the moon and my own shadow. You see, I lived in a refurbrished building located on the Winooski River. This place was once a factory that was used for processing wool during the 1800s. I was alone a lot in that lofty old apartment inhabited by spiders and pincher bugs. It was the beginning phase of my first manic-depressive breakdown. Convinced that the studio apartment was haunted, I sat alone night after night toiling. Yes, I suppose that is what you could call it. I painted, read, wrote…a lot. I was afraid to come out because I thought that both my friends and strangers were my worst enemies. I thought the television was sending me messages; well, not the old box itself but I thought that I was part of some CIA investigation. My phone lines, I assumed were tapped. So I smashed my cell phone and land phone for fear that they would find me out. I threw my computer against the wall because that as well was tapped. I was living in a world in which the only beings that existed were myself, the feds and the ghosts of the Woolen Mill past. Everything I received in the mail was not real. It was a set up; a hoax or a trap. I racked my brains reflecting on every bad thing I ever did. Boy! was I at fault. There were so many things that they could get me for: drugs especially. The CIA was, according to me in my radio, phone, tv, newspaper, sports program. I thought they were sending me messages. Only I wasn’t quite sure why I was their target. Were they after me to arrest me? Or, even better were they recruiting me? I chose the later. It made things a hell of a lot easier. So I started playing the ‘game’. This entailed showing them how smart I was. I was at the time studying the interconnections of the Aegean in the second millienium BC for credit for my senior art history seminar. In addition to that, I was, and still am, studying chinese, obsessively. So, I played the game back with them. I thought they were testing my I.Q. by sending me signals through news programs and baseball games. Oh and my personal favorite, the Kentucky Derby. It was a game to see if I could decipher what was real and what wasn’t real. Who was my friend? Or who was an agent in diguise. Aside: I probably should not have read those Tom Robbins books. I even thought they installed cameras and bugs, yes fake bugs that looked real bugs, to spy on my every move. This of course meant that I had to be absolutely perfect. I could not make a mistake or I would lose the game. Finally, I went back to PA, to my family who treated me harshly and cruely, as insane people usually are on account of people thinking of them as a threat to society. The mania continued at home, as did the game. Final outcome: I lost. There was no game. It was just my head playing tricks on me. It was the scariest, yet most dramatic event of my life. But things went back to normal again, whatever that is. Until it happened again just six months later when I stopped taking my medication. I ended up at Payne Whitney, ya know the “fancy” psych ward in Cornell Prespytyrian on E. 68th st in NYC. The game continued despite the meds. The game continues to this day. Its just that I dont let the monster, thats what I call it overtake me. I take me meds everyday. I dont think I will have ever fully recovered from my severe manic episodes. Insanity doesn’t just go away; but you can control it and use it to your advantage. Now I make up my own games, like race against the clock, how many things can I get done in a day, because now that its all said in done (well im sure it ain’t over yet baby), I take one day at a time and try and be as productive as possible, and thank God as often as I can remember that I have my mind back, well, part of it at least. Don’t take sanity or life for granted; you never know whats gonna happen next. So try your hardest and do your best and God will send you some messages…good ones. I made my game with God now. I only look for His signs.
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