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I always gravitated to people who never aligned themselves wholly with a set of rules or principles of a sub-culture.

No one ever dressed like they walked out of a catalog. If you tried to peg down my friends by their clothes you would swing and miss 9 out of 10 times.

No one held an undying allegiance to a political sub-set.

No one was a hater about music, or art, or film. Everyone tried to encourage people even if it wasn’t your thing.

I think the one dominant thought process we all had in common was that if you looked like you fit in somewhere too much, you didn’t fit in with us. We liked the diversity in our group and we often talked about how we were the outcasts of other groups.

Stereotypes and blindly following things is something that is really common in high school and I’m proud to say that my friends weren’t those people.

When I got to college that changed though. There were a handful of perceived “difficult” studio instructors and the kids who believed, and often proved, themselves to be the best of the best took these professors on. They weren’t the best professors, they were just the ones perceived to be the best because they made their students work extra-long hours. I never cared much for this mentality, not everyone who took them bought into either. I worked plenty of hours on my own motivation, plus I had a job where I worked Friday through Monday every week for almost all four years of college.

I took the professors where I saw diversified projects; the above mentioned professors often had a group of indistinguishable projects presented at the end of the year. I liked professors who allowed the student’s hand to really show through, and I thought this would be evident by diversified projects. Maybe I was wrong but it made sense to me then.

I tried to stay me, or become even more me through each semester while I watched a bunch of my friends take on the complete persona of their professors in other studios. Architects tend to have a strong voice, and a scared student will readily adhere to any voice loud enough.

My school was so small that I couldn’t help make friends with people that had strongly held ideologies handed to them by their professors. And I, in turn, had to make strongly held counter-ideologies to hold my own ground, and probably try to make some people look foolish in the process, I am pretty self-obsessed.

As it turned out, my best friends in college either never went down the dark path or came out of it stronger than when they went in, and most that went in weren’t as transfixed with it as a lot of my non-friends. I just have a hard time being friends with anyone who takes themselves too seriously.

This is supposed to be fun, remember?

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Bipolar Thoughts

Have you ever been in a traffic jam that suddenly cleared up for no reason at all? You look around and you quicken your pace only to find absolutely no trace of any reason that you should’ve slowed down in the first place.

Ever been speeding along the freeway and looked down and realized you were going faster than you thought, dangerously fast? You knew you couldn’t hit the breaks because you would spin out of control so you had to ride it out a bit, slowly reducing speed until you were back within the limits of control?

Ever been cruising along and come quickly upon a traffic jam? It took you so by surprised that you had to slam on your breaks and hope you manage to come out of this without an accident.

This is the best set of metaphors I can offer for what thinking is like to a person with Bipolar. Sometimes your thoughts speed by way too fast, sometimes they come to a screeching halt, and sometimes they go back to normal without warning.

The physical feelings associated with the situations I described above and these bipolar thinking patterns aren’t all that dissimilar either. The frustration of not knowing why you were stopped up, the fear of realizing your thoughts are speeding out of control, the panic of feeling yourself come to a quick stop.

Usually it is one or the other. And I don’t imagine that is very different for most people. Feeling sluggish or feeling on point. With Bipolar the slows are at a snail’s pace, where you can barely come up with anything for a long time. This is usually associated with depression. And when your thoughts are racing so fast you can’t seem to hold on to one long enough to even know what it was, that is associated with mania.

Sometimes, however, they happen all at the same time. You go from slow motion to hyper drive without warning and it can shake you. This is generally associated with a mixed state, the in-between periods when you aren’t really one way or the other but you also aren’t fine.

They say those times are the most dangerous. A person has the thought and will to commit suicide and enough energy and commitment to do it. I think it is the most dangerous time because it is the scariest. Your mood fluctuates out of control, your thoughts are all over the map, and your anxiety it on high.

These times pass quickly, never lasting for longer than a day that I can remember. But it is like sitting in the most frustrating traffic you have ever experienced, completely confused by the traffic patterns, and not in great control of your car.