Bipolar Shamans and Jimi Hendrix

What's the difference between people with bipolar and old-school spiritual tribal leaders? Not a thing. Word? Yes, word! That's right, back in the day us crazy folk would have been kickass Shamans, according to Phil Borges, noted documentarian who spent months observing indigenous tribes. If videos are too slow for your tastes, what the pro says is people suffering from mood disorders (sound familiar?) were more likely to be the leaders and mediators within their community, that psychotic/manic episodes are really the start of a spiritual awakening, of a new life, being able to reach "Out There" where mere mortals can't swim. He's got tons more info over hurr: CRAZYWISE.

So, bipolar: Ill or Awesome? The way I see it some people evolved to be a little more crazy back in the nitty gritty days, when it was an evolutionary advantage. That hypomanic rush and confidence would have been a major boon during a hunt, where focus and drive are of utmost importance, especially during the summer and spring when prey was more readily available, and also when our ancestors were more likely to procreate (hypersexual, anyone?). And what of that depression?  That could have evolved as a way to force our bodies and minds to rest during the slow low draining winters. This would have been a neat way for women impregnated earlier in the year to find comfort by caring for their newborns and being with their mates, increasing the chances of survival for the entire family. 

It's nice to know we rocked so hard way back when, but what advantage is there for us in the 21st century? It's not like we have to chase mammoths and fend off sabre-tooth tigers anymore... Well, here are just a few badass people you may have heard of, who made use of that HypoFocusManicDrive in a holy-tits-this-rocks type of way: HendrixEminem, Rihanna ("Feels like I'm going insane"), Kurt CobainKid Cudi, and those Matchbox Twenty dudes.

You know, we don't just rock hard, we can act the part, too. See, we also excel in drama, and not just in our daily lives. Why do you think those theater masks represent our highs and lows so perfectly, hmm?  Russel Brand feels itBen Stiller had something to say about it, too, and he's a great example of someone who can cope with the angry moods-wings and bring laughter into people's lives. I got a feeling Heath Ledger knew about those peaks and valleys, judging by the insomnia and racing thoughts he experienced before his overdose. Maybe Jack Nicholson, too. I don't think it's possible to play the Joker without being a little cooky  P:

Here's some first hand experience on the the advantages of bipolar from comedian Joshua Walters, who shares how he uses his innate craziness for good, not evil. He talks about how it helps to be a little Mad, though he admits full on I'm-Jesus-Manic-Mode is a bit too much. For you data-heads craving straight facts and numbers, check out bearded homie, AKA Dr Terrence Ketter, who among other things, shows that architects, poets, musicians, actors and actresses, writers, really artists of any sort are more likely to suffer (I say benefit) from a mood disorder than a dude in a cubicle. Here! More famous bros and sisters like you and I. Yeah, that's right, Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock.

Wait, what's this, CEOs are crazy, too? They're also driven, restless, unable to keep still?? Passion.

I admire those like us who turned what can be a major, even lethal, hindrance into a strength, who have learned to channel that energy into incredibly successful lives. I admire all of you who are still around, searching for that Thing that's out there but has been missing for God knows all our lives. It's here, somewhere, that beautiful place where we can just Be and Be Loved. Can you imagine what it feels like for Eminem to put all that crazy rage on a pad, not giving a fuck telling the world he's going to Kill You, and being loved for it? Or to be on a stage, showing the world EXACTLY how you feel, the Mad Happiness, the Beautiful Grief that only we know so well, and be applauded? Or shredding a guitar, making fingers bleed and forging music of everything you feel? It must be cathartic, feeling the coiled breath, galloping pulse and brimming arteries, pumping life onto canvas, capturing color and pain like melting crayons screaming.

"I am a miner. The light burns blue.   
Waxy stalactites
Drip and thicken, tears

The earthen womb
Exudes from its dead boredom.   
Black bat airs

Wrap me, raggy shawls,   
Cold homicides.
They weld to me like plums.

Old cave of calcium   
Icicles, old echoer.
Even the newts are white,

Those holy Joes.
And the fish, the fish—
Christ! they are panes of ice,

A vice of knives,   
A piranha   
Religion, drinking

Its first communion out of my live toes.   
The candle
Gulps and recovers its small altitude,

Its yellows hearten.
O love, how did you get here?   
O embryo

Remembering, even in sleep,   
Your crossed position.   
The blood blooms clean

In you, ruby.   
The pain
You wake to is not yours.

Love, love,
I have hung our cave with roses,   
With soft rugs—

The last of Victoriana.   
Let the stars
Plummet to their dark address,

Let the mercuric   
Atoms that cripple drip   
Into the terrible well,

You are the one
Solid the spaces lean on, envious.   
You are the baby in the barn."

Yeah, She knows.