My Life as an Artist With Psychosis

16 Nov 2020

By David Meyers

The funny thing about my musical and artistic sides: these parts of me did not start to come out until about the time of my diagnosis of bipolar illness. This was at about 16 years old, as an adolescent gripped by raging hormones.
At the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, my elder sister by three years brought home a classical guitar. With some sheet music and some instructions from my music major sister, I became engrossed in the method of guitar.
I had dreams of playing on the stage with a rock band. I learned Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead, and increased my classic rock CD collection. Led Zeppelin was my usual go to, for listening, as well as Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead.
Although there were times out with drama club and occasional trips with friends who performed punk music, I felt less of a connection with peers.
As “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas plays in the background, I reflect on how sad it was that my dreams of being a rock and roll star never came to fruition. The reason this never materialized is a story that is at least as sad as this song.
Although there was much alone time in high school, the second two years brought friends who got me further involved in playing rock music, sometimes for parties, sometimes on stage.
Going to college brought an upheaval for me, newly diagnosed with bipolar illness with psychotic features. Conflicts between my party life, romance life, and my study life made it impossible to manifest a balanced lifestyle. However in my journal, I explored my artistic side, and was able to produce quality work for my drawing teacher, who encouraged me to pursue art professionally.
Later on in my early twenties, unfinished with undergrad, I moved into the city to live independently of my parents. The first three years of life in Buffalo, I had the luxury of a car, which allowed me to make it out to music shows and get involved with local musicians. Most of my music was solo, although there was some collaboration on generally alternative music with friends I met here and there. My music, performed solo on acoustic guitar, was praised by musician friends for its expressive and theatrical style.
My time playing out was plagued by paranoia and hallucinations, in the meantime. My theatrics performing guitar was replaced by a public Shame at performing live at 25. A projected self destruction performed in my live music performance became reality in a mixed manic and depressive onslaught, followed by a year and a half of hospitalization, which in turn was followed by 10 years of group homes or supervised apartment living. I still don’t have a car, as additional diagnoses make it more difficult to focus.
However, much of the yearning for freedom is realized in my apartment at the outskirts of the city. Separation from people in a more isolated area has proven to be effective for my symptoms. Especially in this age of Corona virus I feel blessed to live here, as I play solo guitar, write, and experiment with art.

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