By: Nic Fleming
My thoughts turn to the whimsical ideas I have when I’m elevated, or in fact when I’m depressed or perhaps even relatively level.
All my life I have always had an active imagination and a type of acute sensory capacity in the context of so many things: the musical journeys I can take in my solitude, the beauty of the ocean and nature, the concept of romantic love, the light and dark sides of the society in which we now all live.
I have an idea that I can write a fictional novel and have in fact begun. I have my protagonist and a loose idea of what I want to write, but my concentration is very poor, as is my confidence. Is it the bipolar and/or the medication or is it simply me? I am uncertain.
Does having bipolar mean I can trust my ability to tell a fictional story or is it a delusion that I can write a book at all? I do not know but I am going to keep on with my drive to write because I believe I can.
From researching fictional writing I have discovered the recurring theme is that the writer should write about what you know. So I am now wondering what is it that I know? I have searched my mind for an answer to this question because in spite of having bipolar there have been moments of tenderness and beauty I can still touch see and feel.
So how do I translate them into a fictional context or story? That is my challenge and my delight.
There is endless imagination to draw from and I believe having bipolar perhaps offers us all an opportunity to source some sort of creativity and for that I am grateful.
Grateful for having enjoyed the efforts of the great many creative people who live with bipolar every day of their lives. Whether it is high profile people or other sufferers I have met during my ongoing recovery. I am consistently engaged and inspired by all of these people and their forms of expression.
I think perhaps my self-doubt about writing stems from a deep lack of sense of self because I have bipolar and other mental illness. The amount of time I have spent ruminating is staggering to me. But I need to begin to believe in myself and objectively work out if I can make a similar creative journey whilst having bipolar.
My musical world is my muse and also my source of isolation and very often an accelerant for becoming elevated. I know I must be cautious using it for inspiration.
That said, for short periods of the last day have been listening to the score of The Piano. Certain genres of music take me on a journey to see if I can find the place where my characters live, where they love, where they are challenged and brought to their knees, and ultimately where they find their redemption.
Am I elevated right now? In a mixed state? Potentially yes. As such it seems my writing is often inconsistent and sourced from the unpredictability of the highs and lows. This is the source of my dilemma. Where does bipolar begin and end for me? Do I wait for the episodes to arrive before I try to write or do I learn to condition myself to write in any state?
As aforementioned my concentration is very poor as is often the case with sufferers of bipolar disorder. So the question I must ask myself is what is it I can do to try and organise my ideas and imaginings?
Although I find it very difficult, I think it is time to pick up some of my favourite novels from years spent collecting and try to begin to read again. I see all of them perched on my bookshelf and as I run my fingers over their spines I am reminded of the journeys I once took with them whilst manic and depressed.
Does it then follow that my concept of bipolar creativity leans towards the elevated mood side of things?
It is hard to say because I have written quite a bit of dark poetry whilst depressed, so there is a flipside borne of the depths of depression also.
But the prospect of writing something of substance is real enough and I will do my best to embrace what having bipolar could offer me rather than flounder and waste the potential creativity.
After some mindful consideration I have selected my first novel to reread and have begun this morning.
Having bipolar has deprived me of focus so often I think reading other’s work is a nice place to begin the effort to restore my concentration. In DBT group I have learned that the path to emotional regulation is to ground yourself and become mindful and I think this is a positive and useful way for me to practise these skills.
And so the journey begins with a book in hand and a mood diary in the other.