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Usually, my self-portrait sets are based on a time where I was down. I realised I have never really done a set that shows the manic side of my bipolar. I have spoken about it, but the aesthetic of the images has always been very melancholy and dark, I wanted to update that.
In this set, I aimed to depict loneliness in an environment of bright lights and loud music. When I am in a manic state of mind, everything seems magical. I have stopped taking lithium, which I was on for the previous 2 years to control my symptoms, since stopping the medication I have had a lot more mood swings but I have found myself to be able to handle it organically. While on medication, I was hardly able to feel anything but at the time I needed that, whereas now I want to do it myself and harness those incredible feelings of both sides of my disorder.
I often find it hard to attach my bipolar so tightly to my images, as I am aware about romanticising mental illness. The thing about mine is that sometimes, it is romantic, it is beautiful and the feelings are incredible. The issue is when it is stereotyped by people who take it on as a fashion statement, but they are actually Neurotypical*. This year I have come into contact with a person who has taken it upon themselves to diagnose themselves with bipolar, ask me for my medication and symptoms so that they may take it to their psychologist to fake a diagnosis. I believe that they’re doing it because bipolar sounds more fashionable than anxiety and depression. I have since cut this person out of my life due to other reasons, but I am so glad I did. For me, seeing a person speak FOR my illness when they don’t have the symptoms and have been getting personal information out of me for their own benefit, was awful. It may not seem like a big deal for NT* people but as someone who is Neurodivergent and has only JUST become okay with functioning with the illness, for someone to take it on and create public social media accounts speaking on how they’re “trying to be diagnosed with bipolar” ..yes, that is a quote, is an insult to everything I have overcome in my lifetime of being wrongly diagnosed and being on the wrong medication.
Something everyone knows about bipolar, you have mood swings. Since being officially diagnosed, I have been in MANY situations where someone has mentioned that a person they don’t like is a “bipolar bitch” or something similar. This leaves me in a “Do I mention that i’m bipolar? Do I defend my illness? Do I just stay quiet, but isn’t that perpetuating a terrible stereotype that I am equip to talk about?” Most of the time, I don’t mention it in order to keep polite conversation. I don't always want to be known as being difficult to converse with just because I don’t like making fun of marginalised groups, and it hurts me personally when I am a part of that group.
“A manic episode is a period of abnormally elevated mood and high energy, accompanied by abnormal behaviour that disrupts life. Most people with bipolar I disorder also suffer from episodes of depression. Often, there is a pattern of cycling between mania and depression.” This is exactly what happens with my own illness, I have days of mania and I have days of depression. Usually about 3-4 days on either one, depending on what else is going on in my life as sometimes certain events can prolong either one.
These manic periods are kinda fun, I won’t lie, but they don’t come without their downfalls. Being manic feels similar to being on MDMA/Cocaine, those drugs that make your eyes black and your skin sweat. See how that can be fun? Imagine being like that for 4 days at a time, spending all the money you have, hardly sleeping, driving to ANYWHERE just to try and escape the never-ending rollercoaster in your head. It doesn’t end there, once i’ve started coming down from it, it’s as if i’m crashing from a hard drug, I plummet completely into feeling worthless, scared and suicidal. Not so fun now…
Manic episodes also affect the people around you just as depression does. Lately i’ve been finding myself more and more lonely, partly due to losing contact with my friends from high school. There is a common misconception that people with bipolar (and any mental illness) are hard to love. A lot of people cannot handle being bugged in the middle of the night to go somewhere because I can’t sleep, but then a week later when they want to do something, i’m sitting in my room staring at the wall trying not to tear open my own skin. It can give off the impression that I don't actually want to see that person, or that I am only ditching when it suits me. It is so much more than that. I don’t think this is the entire reason i’ve lost that friendship group, I think they were just more friends with my ex and I was just a side-affect of that friendship. I am so lucky to have started in the photographic industry so young, I have made incredible friends along the way which, although they aren’t all in one cohesive group, I am still able to count them individually through anything.
I hope you enjoy this set that I created while I was in a manic state. Full set of 10 NSFW images on Patreon for ALL Patrons.
Not displaying or characterized by autistic or other neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behaviour."neurotypical individuals often assume that their experience of the world is either the only one or the only correct one"
A person who has a developmental disorder and/or a mental illness.
The word Neurodivergent allows these people to talk about their experiences as both non-allistic and non-mentally-"healthy" in a way that doesn't carry a bunch of extra judgments about what's good or normal.