Middle of the Road
War & Peace
My name is Roger and I suffer from Bipolar Disorder 2. This blog almost did not get written. I informed Ashley at the International Bipolar Foundation that I wanted to wait until I was in a positive mood to write this. And as some of you may know, that sometimes this is just not the case. If I’m going to do this, I have to be realistic. We have positive times (sometimes too positive) and negative times. Fortunately, and thanks to the help that I received from others and my art, most of my time is somewhere in the middle.
I will not attempt to give advice in this blog. There are professionals who are extremely well qualified to impart that knowledge and I will leave that to them. I will attempt to describe some of the ways that being bipolar affects my life and my art. And, I wish to give you a forum to discuss how bipolar is affecting you.
Bipolar 2 has been a part of my entire life. When I was a child my father was hospitalized and given shock treatments. And my daughter now suffers from mood swings that are far worse than mine. I first sought professional help from our small-town family doctor who said I was just having a bout with nerves. However, twenty years and 10,000+ beers later I moved to a larger community and received the professional help that I needed. My new doctor prescribed medicine for me and just as importantly, required changes in my lifestyle. Beer is out, (big surprise there), but simple things have made all the difference. Consistency has been the thing that made the most change in my life. He required that I go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time, eat well, get exercise, have quiet time and spend at least a few minutes on art each day, etc. My art time can be as simple as reading or adding to the list of ideas that I keep on my nightstand (some of my best creations come when I’m “putting in the time”). It can also be a time when I sit down to do a rough sketch or mix a new color and spend countless hours “in the zone.” There are times that I am needy and demand approval of others. There are better times when I create something and just know that it is “right.” For me, the “how-to” books just frustrate me. My solace comes from just trying to convey what I want to convey (even if it is just to me.)
Bipolar has had many effects upon my art. If I’m depressed, I tend to lie around and at times can’t even get started on a piece. If I do get started, many times, nothing looks right or seems worthwhile. These pieces end up in the garbage. The colors are also affected. When I am depressed, the colors are darker and muted and the lines are not crisp. If I am manic, I go at my art with enthusiasm first. Things then go from positive, to excitement and then beyond. In my mind the ideas get better and better and my plans for execution get bolder and more frenetic. This can go on for days. In the end, I crash and nothing has been accomplished.
Things are better now. I just went through my second cycle in a year and it was nothing compared to where I have been in the past. The signs of the beginning of an episode are now recognized by those close to me, and I get help quickly, before things get out of hand.
I’m very selfish with my condition. It’s all about me. After all, I’m the one that’s sick! In my mind: “People don’t listen to me.” “People don’t understand what I’m going through.” ” No one cares.” Actually, what I have to remember is that they have listened to me for the 10,000th time. They do understand, as much as possible without having the condition. The do care, in spite of all the things I put them through. The main thing that I have to realize is that THEY are suffering from Bipolar Too….
Now that you know a little about me, I’d like to hear from you. Many of you are artists, musicians, writers, singers or involved in other artistic pursuits. Others of you are involved in the life of someone with bipolar disorder.
Please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.