For years, my good friend Chris Phillips has dazzled me with his countless stories about his adventures. He is Bipolar and/or Schizoaffective since his first psychotic break in his early twenties or so. Because of this, his stories are nicely sprinkled with demons and divinity, loonie-bins, jails, vagrancy, magic, intuition and desperation, but through his pleasant approach to looking at his life, and the down-to-earth, articulate and even comical approach to his story-telling, there is always a sense of hope or connection in his stories, sometimes directly, and sometimes through his observations about people and the forgiveness he has had to maintain (for himself as well as the world around him), I suspect in order to survive.
I’m bringing this up because he called me the other night and told me that he has begun to write his own life story. He’s blogging about the events of his life over at ChrisThomasPhillips.WordPress.com.
This stuff is so fun to read! One of the first ones he posted is about trying to have sex with his mother’s house plants. Really. It’s interesting stuff–strange, but also very funny and very relatable. You should go check it out.
I met Chris ten or more years ago at the beginning of one of his most recent manic episodes. He wasn’t fun to be around because he would never shut up about the shamanism he was pursuing and a bunch of other really annoying and over-done, overzealous baloney. I didn’t know at the time that I was seeing him in a manic state. I thought he was just an extremely high-energy person. He disappeared from our house for a while during during the peak of his mania and soon after, I observed the severe depression he went through on the other side of his cycle. He was sleeping on a couch in our garage, barely getting up to eat or shit, and having no desire to even talk to anyone for I guess, what must have been about a month.
Over time, I got to know him in his “normal” stage, in between the depression and mania he had been going through in 1-year cycles.
A year or two later, I reconnected with him at a “bad time,” and suffered through his unwanted presence in my life as his illness was beginning to take him over the edge. Truthfully, at the time, I was glad to see him go once his mania finally carried him off on some random adventure, leading ultimately to a mental hospital (rinse, repeat).
But a few years later, after he finally got put on an effective combination of prescriptions, I built a great friendship with him. I’ve learned a lot about him and his Illness and enjoyed his company and his beautiful songs and especially his stories. He has become one of my dearest friends and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. I regret that there was ever a time when I wanted him to disappear. If only I had known then what I know now, maybe I could have helped him. But at least we got more amazing stories out of him going nuts back then.