So, we’ve finally identified my mystery malady: Bipolar Type 1 with Psychosis.

For those of you who’ve never dealt with that little inconvenience, please don’t. I’d rate it zero stars. But let me explain what’s happened in the several months I’ve been mostly gone.

Bipolar disorder was formerly called “manic depression:” as that implies, it’s defined by periods of mania followed by (much longer) periods of depression. For most of my extended absence, the depression was the problem, driving me to stare at blank walls and sleep for fifteen hours a day because the only time I felt remotely good was when I was dreaming. The manias were short, fleeting, and mostly a fun reprieve from slogging through misery 24/7.

But in May, I had my first psychotic episode.

I live near Philadelphia’s Ikea, so I sometimes walk there just for their cheap meal specials. On my way one drizzly evening, I found a discarded smartphone in a vacant lot. I heard it ringing before I saw it. I knew it was probably stolen, or last used by a drug dealer, so taking it probably wasn’t the best idea, but I desperately needed a new phone at the time, so I picked it up anyway. But when I did, I immediately hallucinated that the world around me had just died. Everything around me turned gray, all the grass and trees withered and rotted, and the nearby Delaware River just evaporated, leaving only a dry bed. I saw my date of death, and it was yesterday. When I tried to talk to people, to ask them for help, I stammered, mumbled incoherently, and almost broke down in tears.

This was followed by two more, one in early June and one in late July, both of which saw me involuntarily committed to mental hospitals. The first one struck while I was visiting family in Florida and landed me in the ER—putting me a couple grand in debt—before I was transferred to a crisis center where I went around slamming all the doors until they locked me in my room. During the latter, I ended up in a psych ward in Kensington, Philly’s most infamous heroin-fueled ghetto, where the patients fought each other, screamed all night, threatened me, and freely tossed around racial slurs. During both, I thought God was telling me to harass my exes, and as soon as I got out of the hospitals, I did. This ended predictably badly.

But now, I suppose things are better. I’m currently stabilized on a generic form of Lamictal, the first drug that’s actually worked, and I’m making it my mission to get back to writing. I already have three posts in the queue for this blog—they just need images and some editing—and for the two or three of you who still follow Yume-Hime, I’ve redrawn pages 15-21, the ones that were formerly shaded with pencil, so the whole comic will be in a consistent style.

Here’s hoping that at the very least, the rest of 2016 sucks less than this shitshow we’ve had so far.

Image by Atey Ghailan