Sometimes I wonder if I was born weird or whether it was something that I grew into. I have been weird my whole life. I don’t mind being weird, in fact I quite like that it sets me apart from your average person. If I sit still and consider my weirdness long enough, I eventually come to the ‘chicken and the egg’ conundrum.
Do I have mental illness because I am already a weird person or, is my mental illness the cause of my weirdness?
And then after I’ve considered this for a few days, I get a headache and have to do something mind numbing, like look at Pintrest. I love Pintrest.
I grew up on 15,000 acres in south-west Queensland where my family farmed beef cattle. We didn’t have a proper phone or power. Our water came from tanks and I did my schooling through School of the Air and Correspondence School. Once a week, my mum went into the local school and taught music. I hated going, all the other kids thought my brother and I were freaks and treated us accordingly.
As a child, I spent more time with animals than I did with other human children. This is not unusual for kids growing up in the bush and usually they progress through life with good social skills and an appreciation of the beautiful things in life. I did not. While most of my peers wanted to be cattle breeders, princesses, cowgirls and horse trainers, I wanted to be a morgue attendant. My social skills were not optimal. I did not enjoy being with other children mostly because they annoyed me and also because they bullied me mercilessly. They could feel my weirdness and like all pack animals, they punished the different.
So I retreated into my head and built a world for myself in there. It was a really great world. I could be whatever I wanted to be. While I was young, I chose to be a powerful sorceress on windy days, because I really liked how the wind made my cloak swirl madly around me. On other days, I commanded a team of angels who helped me control the mobs of cattle that I was mustering. On still other days, I just lay on my back and stared into the world in my head and got lost in it.
I could do that for a long time and when I did it, the real world literally ceased to exist. I heard nothing except the air of the world in my head and smelled nothing except the smells of that world. People in the real world would call my name and I wouldn’t hear them. I was completely absorbed. I still do this, however it is a bit more difficult to tune out an adult world, responsible thoughts can creep in and cause cracks in the creation in your head. When cracks appear, the real world floods in; and the imaginary world becomes tainted with the harsh reality of everyday existence.
I have grown into an adult who has always had a weird bent to life. I see things in ways that others do not, do things in ways that others will not and understand things in a way that others cannot. I am brushed off as a little eccentric, and do you know? That is fine by me, because that is how I have come to define myself. After my bipolar diagnosis, I felt relieved because now my weirdness had a name. Bipolar can be genetic and I choose this to be a gift that has been passed down to me from one of my parents. It means that my bipolar is written into my DNA; like my name can be written on a grain of rice in a market stall. Nothing can erase it. So to a certain extent, I am like I am because I have bipolar. If I did not have bipolar, I would not be the same weird, eccentric person that I am. Or would I? I ponder this a thousand times a day. I consider it as you would a Rubik’s cube – from all angles but not really sure where to start so that all the colours match up.
This knowledge is fine on the days when I like myself. On the days when I don’t, then that, dear reader; is another story.