Stefan, was an up and coming young fashion designer. After his first eponymous runway show he attempted suicide. This desperate act was followed by consequences; at one point he found himself in jail wondering what went wrong. Mental illness, it destroyed his chances at the top of the fashion world, and all the while he has been trying to find his number on the Kinsey scale before being damned to solitude.
"It started with a vacation and business trip to my homeland, Moldova. It was months and no business; I closed my fashion design office and decided to travel back to see if maybe I could find work in Moldova. Unfortunately for my psyche, I was introduced to a KGB director, a friend of my stepfather's and owner of the bed and breakfast where I was staying. I didn't know what I was feeling at first, it wasn't dread yet, but a light anxiety, like you would imagine after meeting KGB. It was not until I left and was in the airport traveling back, specifically at a transfer in Frankfurt that the sensation began throbbing in me, softly at first. I thought I was being followed or watched. There was some time between flights, I took a seat at a small restaurant bar. Maybe something to eat or drink would help. I had a shot of whiskey. Warmed me up and I felt slight relief. Then I looked around and saw three large men taking a table nearby; they sat and started talking. It seemed like they were talking about me, as they repeatedly looked my way. It wasn't fright at that moment, I felt as if I was channeling a Bond character or some wise guy. I bought them a round of shots, sat back down; they gulped them with a raised gesture at me, said a few words to one another and left the bar.
By the time I was out of the plane in JFK, I was panicked, frantic, trying to get my bag and into a cab as soon as possible. I finally arrived at the apartment I shared with my boyfriend, Cody, and immediately jumped into the shower. When I stepped out of the shower I heard a voice shout out, blaring loud, and it wasn't Cody's voice. It was a name. Vova. The Vova, I had just met in Moldova spooked me with an espionage vibe. We even had an uncomfortable sushi dinner to discuss possibly working in Moldova.
I walked out of the bathroom and into the living room where Cody was seated. I asked him if he shouted; he said he didn't.
The next day Cody had early appointments at the office.My office didn't exist anymore. I still felt odd even after a full night's sleep. I went to a nearby grocery store to get some juice. I'm standing with the juice in one hand at one end of the store; a big tall man walks in, and looks directly at me, then walks over to the shopkeeper and says something. I don't know what he said, but I felt a rush of blood, I became heated and the paranoia began to burn again.
At this point, my mind was off the rails, and I began thinking that someone was after me, that the conservative people of Moldova, and possibly my parents were trying to harm me. I thought it was because I was living a gay life. I thought they wanted to change me, convert me. I was unwell, but it all made sense.
I woke up at Jersey City Medical center. It was also the week of my 30th birthday; and one of the nurses gave me a Twinkie on my birthday."
Resilience amidst Adversity
An honest, riveting account of coming to terms with and living with mental illness. Poetic at times and prosaic, Slava (Stefan) captures the essence of what it is like to swing between mania and depression, and to survive with strength and resilience!
As light and sweet as cotton candy. A big red meaty wad in the middle with toothmarks, might cause choking. Stefan finds amusement wherever he goes. Always expecting a smile.