By Heather Harper I Borderline Press I August 2, 2016
When it comes to creativity, the people who shine brightest are the ones who burn out too quickly. Van Gogh, a celebrated artist, was known to struggle with mental illness. One of his claims to fame is the ear story; you know the one I’m talking about.
On July 21, 2016, #Robin Williams would have celebrated his 65th birthday. The following day, my brother would have celebrated his 23rd birthday. Like Williams, he ended his own life, about 6 months after the actor did. The only thing they shared during their lifetimes was incredible talent, and despite the pain that came along with their deaths, they brought much joy to people around them.
Talent comes in many forms – whether it be through music, comedy, drawing, science – it does not matter. What does matter is what we bring to the table while we are here. We only have so long on this planet to make our mark. My brother made his through his artwork.
When he was 17, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, just as I was at the same age. I no longer believe his diagnosis was accurate. It is more likely that he struggled with borderline personality disorder and ADD. Often the symptoms of bipolar can be confused with borderline because they are so similar, even in imaging scans. The problem is, the same area of the brain is affected by all of these issues. During episodes, the pre-frontal cortex does not function normally. Instead, the emotional center of the brain acts out in place of using cognitive thought.
During his lifetime, one way my brother was able to manage his illness was by drawing. Intricate pieces which would be absurd to many people came naturally to him. His abstract perception gave him a way to create works that others would not have contemplated, just like Van Gogh or even Dali. My ultimate goal is to get funding through a Kickstarter campaign to publish a book with his collected works.
My hope is that someday his art will reach others so they will understand there are other ways to manage the pain. I wish very deeply that my brother could have overcome his depression while he was alive; or at the very least, learned how to cope. Absent that possibility, I believe it is important to remind people that we have a choice in life. We have only one chance, so take advantage of it while you’re here. Giving up is not an option, at least not for me.
Remember, taking your own life does not end the pain, it only passes it along to someone else.
“Sometimes we ride on your horses,
Sometimes we walk alone,
Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own.”
– Eyes of the World, Grateful Dead
Heather Harper is an AN Contributor and veteran writer. Most of her interests center in the non-fiction realm where she strives to use her “strength of the pen” to advocate on various social issues and causes. Learn more about Heather’s contributions to her #writing craft.
*My twitter handle: @ExistentialMed
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