my eyes were first met by visions when i was 25…psychic angels connecting smoke and light–earth, body, and sky…floridly manic i flew through central park imagining myself as a primal hunter gatherer…i felt time slow then accelerate–i felt my power…i imagined a destiny beyond time–beyond the parameters of our earthly condition…i felt an all encompassing strength–both subterranean and cosmic–in every sinew of muscle along my spine…i knew there had to be other aspiring jedi among us but i didn’t really know where to look…diagnosed two years and several arrests later as manic depressive i felt sudden kinship with many in my family…my mother’s mother harriet–dead by suicide before i was born…my father’s sister and a growing handful of cousins…in my organizing and activism i found support–ways of channeling energy and insight into relationships and movement…we must inquire as a species about the double-edged character of psychosocial instability–about the reckoning with mental health and the demons of mental illness…if these beasts were only malignant pathology natural selection would have rooted them out generations ago…but the ailments carouse and multiply…psychiatry’s bible–the diagnostic and statistical manual–grows fatter with every passing decade…and there is a documented host of phenomenally creative intelligent and inspired individuals who have had profound impact on our world while living with a diagnosis…i grow more and more convinced there is cosmic truth in most of our visions…the din of voices clamoring in the heads of those living with schizophrenia may be divine whispers guiding our troubled species towards greater connection with alternate realities…we are x-men–mutants arising to destroy the matrix…we are the freemen of dune working for the overthrow of our newly anointed god-emperor…black and brown–trans and queer–claiming power and taking space…on reflection it occurs to me that all of our great prophets would be confined to psych wards or imprisoned if they were alive today…what but the seismic force of mania could convince a rational human that they had seen angels or gods who demanded that they speak their truths to the world…our understanding of the brain is still in its infancy…our species must evolve or it will die…we are faced with cataclysmic politics…our economic and social system is on a perilous collision course with the fundamental equilibria demanded by our planet…resistance is growing but the road ahead will be long and hard…psychosocial crisis–pervasive anxiety fear and depression–emanate from the crucible of our existential dillemna…breathe deep and meditate–find your power and copulate…let the flames of rebellion build hope pride and comradery in the face of a proto-nazi regime…i have travelled through chaos and despair–love and heartbreak–flirted with the menacing cliff of suicide…but i have always listened and learned…there are forces in our universe that can embolden us to build a future shaped by love–grounded in solidarity–and permeated by justice…breathe deep and feel the power of your inner god–breathe out and feel the energy connecting your mind to the sun moon and stars…we are not alone in this universe–and if we claim our social and spiritual power we can still win…its been thirteen years since my first manic episode and i am still processing its lessons…let us eradicate the stigma that keeps us from crafting solutions to our collective pain…time is short–we evolve and resist–reimagining revolution and rebuilding social power–if we fail there will be no future for our race on this earth…we need the visionary optimism of the will paired with the sober pessimism of the intellect…destiny awaits–and the revenge of history could be a new dawn of possibility for the human imagination

–BYPO PHOENIX c)2016 >>> primary image by Favianna Rodriguez: @favianna >>

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