"Creating a new culture and language for people with manic depression and related madness."
I met Sascha Scatter and some other members of the New York branch of The Icarus Project at a reading I did at Bluestockings Books in New York City. I was there for the release of my new book, Hello, Cruel World, this past July. Now, Sascha and I are friends on myspace and we’re plotting to take over the world via the group ze’s part of: The Icarus Project. From the group’s website:
We are a non-profit community based website, support network, and underground media project created by and for people struggling with bipolar disorder and other dangerous gifts that are commonly labeled as mental illnesses. We believe that when we learn to take care of ourselves, the intertwined threads of madness and creativity can be tools of inspiration and hope in a repressed and damaged world. Our goal is to help people like ourselves feel less alienated, and to allow us—both as individuals and as a community—to tap into the true potential that lies between brilliance and madness.
I’ve always danced on the edge of several madnesses: bipolar disorder, borderline personality, anorexia to name a few. I never quite made it to the official diagnosis stage (well, maybe the anorexia), though many of my closest friends have. Mostly what I get diagnosed with is deep fucking depression… several times, by several therapists. So I take my meds and I get through the day. Usually. But sometimes, it tickles my fancy to skate closer to the edge of sanity, and I go off my meds ("I forgot," or "I don’t need this any more," or just plain "Fuck it, I need the dark stuff.") And there’s this crystal clear connection to the spiritual poetry that is the song of my soul. It lasts for a couple of days, maybe a couple of weeks, and then I’m back down the rabbit hole and deeply morose. You don’t wanna know me then. But in that limbo space, I come up with some pretty heavy writing. I wrote a lot of Hello, Cruel World while I was in that space. Maybe that’s why I felt so close to Sascha and the other Icarus folks who were at the Bluestockings reading that day. I never had anyone to talk to about this shit before. I never knew any group who was trying to deal with their mad, radical, outlaw, freaky lives beyond the either/or bounds of Western medicine before I ran into Icarus.
And let me say that the folks at The Icarus Project aren’t simply sitting around on their butts pretending to be a support group. They genuinely support each other from what I’ve seen. They’ve published a support text called Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness.
Right now, I’m all pissed off because I loaned it out and haven’t gotten it back. But I’ve read this book/zine when I’ve been high, and I’ve read it when I’ve been low and it’s damned good reading for any time, that’s what I think. I’m gonna run out and get myself another copy. That’s what made me think to write this entry.
So… do you think you’re crazy? Even a little? Maybe a lot? Yeah, well so what? You can learn to make your life a whole lot more worth living. That’s what the folks at The Icarus Project say, and I’m sure glad they’re around.