Growing up with bi-polar without knowing it's name or recognizing it's face is a frightening existence for a child; The unending heartbreak of feeling of being 'different', 'broken', longing to fit into the world everyone else appeared on the surface to meld into so effortlessly. Art was my only refuge, a way to escape a world I didn't feel I fit into and my unending and unrelenting battle against my own thoughts. From my earliest memories, my childhood was filled with long, isolated days in the basement, drawing characters or creating cardboard buildings. My imagination became my sanctuary, my hands the portal through which I could traverse into a world of magic and wonder where pain, suffering, fear and self loathing had no place . My empathetic, compassionate nature and big heart were not my enemies here, but instead the vibrant pillars of a universe with infinite, wondrous possibilities. In this place I felt whole, necessary and wished I could remain there forever. In this world, a lonely, fearful, misunderstood child could become a brave and valiant knight...or noble dragon.
It was back in 2000 when MacLeod Dragons™ was unofficially ushered into the world. It was born one day in the midst of a deep depression during a markedly dark period of my life (pre-bipolar diagnosis). Even now, I'm not completely certain as to why that lump of clay became a dragon, only that it did. I had no way of knowing then that in doing so, it would go on to one day change my life in truly remarkable ways.
It would be nearly 6 months after I created that first dragon until I would make my next. In that time, the social aspects of my life continued to crumble. Relationships with old friends deteriorated and my mental state had gone from bad to worse. With no where to go and nearly homeless, I had little choice but to move in with my mom and step-dad in the middle of nowhere. That further isolation and loss of independence only made things worse. I became a full blown shut-in, rarely feeling the need or desire to leave my room.
It was on a particularly dark and hopeless day during this time that I remember picking up that original dragon off my bookshelf and holding it in my hands. Looking intently at it, a strong wave of emotion run through me. I was struck by the look on his face. It's eyes were completely black, yet they radiated brilliantly warm. His gaze, gentle and reassuring was fixed at the little mouse sitting on his belly. I remember the tears welling up in my eyes as I was overcome by the innocence of the scene with new eyes. It was a deeply comforting vibe, particularly striking considering all I was dealing with at that time. While I realized it was nothing more than a cold mass of cooked clay and paint, I swear I could feel the warmth and life emanated from this sculpture. In whatever shape or form, however possible, I felt then and there that I had somehow managed to capture something in that piece; something bright and beautiful that originated from the unlikeliest of places....within ME.
From that moment on, I was hooked. I took to my art again, spending all my free time crafting this bright new world, and one new dragon after another came to life. While the depression did not go away (and it never really will), there is something uplifting and hopeful in realizing that some things are so powerful and pure that even an all-devouring cancer like depression cannot touch them.