Stigma Fighters : Adam Lennon

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Stigma Fighters : Adam Lennon

Solar Flares in the Northern Pole: My Dysfunctional Relationship With Bipolar Disorder and our Life-Affirming First Date

Taco Night.

I believe this is when it all started. I was in the middle of a grueling semester of the most intense course I had ever taken, graduate level gross anatomy. While my peers were funding every local coffee shop while burning the midnight oil studying for our next exam, I was on YouTube watching clips of Rachel Ray and Paula Deen.

It had to be perfect.

Taco Night was something I had been promoting for a little over a week in my class. The idea was to celebrate yet another exam, now in the history books. Taco night was supposed to be a reward for doing something productive and important, but instead it became an obsession for me, one that overshadowed everything in my life at that moment, including some pointless test for my graduate program. I ended up spending hundreds of dollars on food and drinks, but even more detrimentally, my time was dedicated to my night of celebration, rather than my future at the University.

My classmates would stand in awe after their first bite of one of my tacos. They would look at me with their eyes wide while their hands wiped the corner of their mouth. “Oh my gosh, this is seriously the best taco I have ever had.” They would tell me. I would just smile without saying anything in return. Pretty soon word would spread, and people would be piling up at my door, begging me to make them not just tacos, but any type of cuisine. Because I would become the best chef in Grand Forks, which wasn’t bad for a guy who had never cooked professionally.

Taco night came, and while it was a major success (at least I thought it was), the D I received on my test should have made it a complete disaster…but I couldn’t have cared less. I was evolving, and some letter on a piece of paper couldn’t get in the way of evolution. This mindset wasn’t only out of touch with reality, it proved to be dangerous, devastating, and would ultimately lead to my wife taking my kids to the northwest, while I stayed in the middle of nowhere.

The next few months were very strange. By day I would watch dozens of episodes of Louis CK while talking to my fish, and by night I would wander around Grand Forks with a smile on my face and thousands of ideas spinning through my head like an F5 tornado. The problem was, I was getting caught up in that tornado, and making incredibly poor decisions – decisions which effect me even to this very day.

I never slept, and I didn’t need to. One night I was out wandering the streets by myself while writing my autobiography. I remember laughing out loud as I wrote a particularly witty line. It was at this moment that a friend of mine was driving home from a late night party, and happened to see me. This was at 3 am, so he asked if I needed a ride. Little did I know at the time that he thought I was on meth. But I hadn’t touched any substances that night, although my brain was certainly being altered.

Being manic is sort of like that feeling you get when anticipating something really exciting, like that trip to Disneyland next month. Only with mania, Mickey Mouse never comes, which is great, because you never experience the let down after leaving the park for the last time on the third day. You are in a perpetual state of positive anticipation, and it is utterly intoxicating.

But there was another side to the invincible high that I was experiencing. Some very serious problems arose from my mania. I had burned through more jobs in five months than I had my entire life (six in all). I was going to end world hunger with one hand, and write a Pulitzer Prize winning book with the other, so giving a shit about whether or not a customer wanted to sign up for a rewards card was simply not going to happen. I would literally walk out of jobs with a smile on my face and an idea for something bigger…much bigger.

This was my life now. I was quickly becoming the most important man in North Dakota…no…the world. I had everything I needed there, a roof over my head, wheels to get around town, and a pile of aspirations and dreams that I waded through day and night. But Ironically I had nothing, I just didn’t know it yet.

And then hell peered through my window one day. What I didn’t know then was that it would turn everything dark, and eventually put me in a psychiatric unit.

It started while I was jogging one afternoon in October…

Because my story is lengthy, I have decided to write it in sections (for both of our sakes) 🙂

Part II of my story, ‘My Dysfunctional Relationship with Bipolar Disorder and our Catastrophic First Date’ will be coming shortly.

*   *   *

adbrendaMy name is Adam Lennon. I was raised in Utah (yes, I grew up in the Mormon church). I went on a two year mission to Boston when I was 19, and came home at 21, married my wife at 22, and had my first child at 24. This is very common for us Utah folk. I received a degree in Kinesiology , and after trying my hand at finance, decided to apply to graduate school. This is where my story takes place.

My bipolar disorder has taken my life in several directions. But most importantly, it was opened my eyes to the importance of other human beings, which is why my wife and I started a company called SeaTread Studios. One of our projects is a series on YouTube called, A Life and a Story, which is dedicated to telling important stories related to some type of social issue. From Mental illness, to LGBT awareness, we really want to span the social spectrum and capture it on film.

Adam can be found on his  Website, Facebook and Twitter

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