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  • Writer's pictureNima

"Bipolar in a cocktail" A journey through Bipolar Disorder-Part 1

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

I've been mulling over the idea of this blog, and I reckon it should feel more like a personal diary. Not just the work-related stuff but a space where I can share anything and everything on my mind. And apart from talking about my work, I also want to share snippets from my life and my personal journey through Bipolar disorder.

Join me as I recount the bizarre places I've ventured to and the roller-coaster emotions I've experienced during manic episodes and bouts of depression. My hope? Maybe my words can offer some solace to those struggling with their own mental health challenges or simply pique the interest of the curious reader.

I recall my first brush with mental health when I was just five or six. My mom took me to a child psychologist, who was trying to suss out if I had any symptoms of a mental disorder. I won't lie, I was a handful as a kid. But now that I'm a parent, I've come to realize that there's no such thing as an "easy child" — each kid reacts based on how you treat them. I'm skeptical about the notion that every mental illness is purely genetic; at least for me, it didn't feel that way. Nearly four decades have passed, yet I vividly remember those diagnostic tests. Although I was curious about them, deep down, I felt fine.

Being the second child, I often felt overshadowed by my obedient older sister. While she never saw a therapist, I was frequently under the scanner. My dad was mostly absent, but when he was around, I lived in constant fear of his unpredictable temper. I still remember one particularly harsh episode that landed me in the hospital. So, perhaps, as a teenager, I showed signs of C-PTSD.

I often felt alienated within my own family, which drove me towards fleeting pleasures instead of long-term goals. That's when I got dabbled in drugs, becoming the resident rebel. Around this time, I discovered a passion for photography, experimenting with my father's 135 Minolta camera. I occasionally saw a therapist who prescribed medication, but I never really took them consistently, which led to some ugly side effects.

At 17, even though I had a knack for mathematics and optic physics, I dropped out of school to pursue photography. Feeling isolated from my family, I became deeply empathetic towards the homeless in Tehran. My debut project was capturing the lives of the mentally ill and destitute.

Lucky for me, 1998 marked the onset of the political movement against the Islamic Republic of Iran. With a camera in hand, I was right amidst the uprisings, snapping away. Unfortunately, the police caught me, seizing my camera and film. But just before they whisked me away, I managed to hand off my negatives to another photographer.

Though they released me soon after, my camera was gone and the films were never found. Undeterred, I borrowed my sister's Canon AE1 and returned to the protest zone. By day's end, I'd shot two rolls of film which, thanks to a chance meeting with a photographer in a café, I got developed safely. This encounter introduced me to a studio owner who would play a pivotal role in my photography journey. We hit it off, and I started working there.

A year later, bitten by the travel bug and eager to explore the world solo, I enlisted for military service to finish it and leave the country. Sure, I had traveled with my family as a kid, but this time, I wanted to experience it on my own terms. While most folks my age paid their way out of the service, I craved the experience. Post my two-year stint, financial constraints forced me to stay with my family — a space I no longer felt connected to, especially with my mother's multiple marriages. My desire to break free intensified, and when I finally did, it changed my life in ways I'd never imagined.

To be continued...

an ashtray and a cigarette pack

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