Krit McClean, the male model who stripped naked in Times Square on June 30th, then jumped from the TKTS booth after police attempted to reason with, wrote a gutwrenching and brave piece for the New York PostNew York Post about his very public meltdown, and living with recently diagnosed bipolar disorder.
The essay, titled “A manic episode led me to strip naked in Times Square” highlights the 21-year-old’s undiagnosed mental illness, which seemed to reach a cataclysmic swell in the days and leaks leading up to the unfortunate June incident.
Krit articulated the early warning signs of the mental break:
It all started the week before. I became transfixed with the color yellow. I had never experienced anything so strange, but I didn’t realize anything was wrong.
I’m an artist, so I channeled this feeling into painting everything in my apartment yellow. I painted my shoes, clothes and photographs yellow and made a yellow costume to wear.
I also started following taxis.
I started to associate certain things with positivity and others with negativity. If I saw something I liked, like yellow, or art books or the Sullivan Street Bakery, I would gravitate to it.
After concern from his friends and family, Krit fled to his parents’ home the night before June 30th, believing people were coming to kill him.
“I have to sleep outside tonight,” I told my worried father. “People are coming, and they’re going to kill everyone in the family.” He stood in the doorway to block me, but I pushed him out of my way.
I walked to the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, took off my shoes so the “evil people” couldn’t hear my footsteps, and climbed over a cement wall to the water.
That night, I slept stretched out over the rocks, believing mermaids were keeping me safe.
The model and student at Columbia University describes the horror of waking up at Bellevue Hospital, shackled to his bed, with 13 stitches in his elbow from when he leapt onto the ground in Times Square.
He remained there for three weeks, after doctors diagnosed him as bipolar, which he had self-medicating with marijuana to keep at bay for years.
Now on medication, and continuing with extensive therapy, Krit is hoping to rebuild his life, as the incident has temporarily damaged his career and education; many of his punishments brought about by the unfortunate stigma of mental illness in our culture.
I’m still trying to fix the damage in other parts of my life. Ford Models no longer represents me. Columbia is holding a disciplinary hearing. I faced criminal charges in court.
Most reactions have been punitive and don’t come from a place of understanding of mental illness. That is why I am going public — to help others with mental illness who battle constant judgments and stigmas. In sharing my experience, I hope to start a dialogue. I’m now involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
We can all relate to being judged and misunderstood. We have all at some point been the “weird” one, whether in the classroom, gym or office. But if we approach each other with empathy, openness and sensitivity instead of judgment, we might just learn from one another.