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Who's bipolar |


Who's bipolar

WONDERBLOG - Ping Medina -

Van Gogh Is Bipolar, in a nutshell: we have a resident bipolar who decides to make himself better. He turns his own home into a 24-hour art asylum that serves organic tea and food. His fame slowly spread as that bipolar restaurateur who created a scientific menu that can provide customers with a natural high.

It has evolved into a culinary-slash-art haven often referred to as Maginhawa’s hidden gem — a one-of-a-kind idea that has sent loyal patrons and food critics nuts about the place.

Who Is Van Gogh?

In 2007, Jetro Rafael was living his dream job as an art director for a multinational advertising agency. He always suspected he was different, but things took a turn for the worse when the pressures of the corporate world caused him to feel extreme anger towards the people around him. It was an intense emotion that seemed unfamiliar — and it was getting out of control.

He quit his job to seek professional help. He went to two psychiatrists, both diagnosing him as Bipolar I, a manic-depressive disorder that causes extreme mood swings, such as going from ecstatic to suicidal and back again. This discovery came at the late age of 28.

At the start, Jetro was prescribed drugs that could numb the effects of his condition. But since his symptoms manifested as early as four years old — imagine growing up in a world of talking flowers and trees — he didn’t take to the change kindly. “I used to look at a flower and be so happy. It’s like the flower is saying ‘hello’ to me. When I started the medication, I’d get 10 or more anxiety attacks every day. The flower was suddenly an object with no life.”

This started his quest for alternative treatment, which led him to the natural endorphin-inducing effects of certain food. He decided to cocoon himself as he slowly adapted to a new way of seeing the world.

Jetro was jobless for two years already and dealing with a debilitating disorder, but he still had this strong resolve for self-healing. He made a bold move by renting an apartment and telling the landlord he needed the place for three months, although he only had money for a one-month stay. When the landlord asked what his plans are, he could only muster, “I don’t know.”

Jetro Is Bipolar

Jetro put up a sari-sari store, bought ukay-ukay clothes to sew designs, put up his nude photographs, scribbled poems on a wall. It was all a hodgepodge of impulses — until a friend suggested that he share his diet with the world. He instantly took to the idea.

He finished the comprehensive menu in one hour and received donated furniture from friends. He opened the place 24 hours to anyone who wanted to hang out. At first, he called the place Jetro Is Bipolar. But he wanted to be anonymous, so the spontaneous name of Van Gogh Is Bipolar was born. It wasn’t even a restaurant then. It was simply his personal space.

The first week came with pleasant surprises. A blogger who visited raved about this place where you could sip organic tea and make conversation with a crazy person who personally cooks food for “crazy” people. Immediately after, a known food critic had a chance visit and instantly made a write-up about an interesting “art space” where she ate a cabbage dish that instantly made her chipper.

But the biggest surprise came in the first month, when some Carnegie artists from New York visited the place. They stayed in a five-star hotel and brought their own personal chef, but they ended up spending the entire week at Jetro’s place, even holding their despedida there. The concept restaurant flourished for seven months, and he had to turn his front parking space into a garden extension.

But in true-blue artist temperament, Jetro got burned out and abruptly closed his doors to his dopamine-hungry customer base. Now, why would you close a restaurant at its peak, right when it’s making good money? Only a mad man would do that, you might say.

Nonetheless, the place was closed for five months. Jetro went on a solo backpacking tour across Europe, doing the rounds of 20 countries from France to the Baltic region to Denmark. There, he enjoyed the simple but life-altering pleasures of paying 10 euros (P600) in a private camping ground to sleep under a tree, and visiting the simple tombstone of the great Van Gogh himself.

The Reopening

He came back from Europe knowing there was a 50-50 chance of reopening the restaurant. Until a bipolar lawyer appeared at his door one day.

She was a successful lawyer with her own law firm. She’d travelled all over the world but she has a husband who couldn’t understand her condition. She had cuts all over her wrists and arms. “I am here because I heard you healed yourself,” she said.

He had no idea what to say, except that she was not alone in her troubles. When Jetro was in Hungary, extreme loneliness crept in and he realized his biggest fear was to die alone. But at this lowest point came his biggest epiphany. “I realized I have myself! That’s all you need. I was so happy, it was the first time I wanted to hug myself. Thank you (to myself)!”

What started out as a self-indulgent project to fix his own life has evolved into a masterpiece of magic and inspiration for others. It’s hard to distinguish where the identity of the artist begins and the restaurant ends. But this is all I can say:

It’s time for you to meet Van Gogh Is Bipolar. The person or the place. I’m sure he’ll be very glad to meet you.

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Van Gogh Is Bipolar rules still apply. Self-service for all customers. Take your shoes off before you enter the house. The limit of diners inside is strictly 10. You can stay in the garden, but people are understandably curious about the inside of the house. Don’t be disheartened though — Jetro turns down people on a daily basis.

For directions, search for the Van Gogh Is Bipolar page on Facebook.

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