Author: Sasha Kildare
My manic episodes arose out of severe depression and were mixed episodes—euphoria and boundless energy interspersed with despair. Although I found myself bursting with ideas, they never led to anything.
Today, I’m still bursting with ideas, but I am able to release some of them and turn them into blogs, short stories, lesson plans, articles, a novel, and even a memoir and information guide. Although my first passion was dance, writing is something that is doable. All you need is a laptop and free time. Dancing is way more involved.
As the cliché states, “Clear writing is clear thinking.” Writing not only serves as my creative outlet, but I use it to monitor my level of exhaustion. It helps me gauge how tired I am. This is a big deal, because getting adequate sleep is my biggest defense against mania. Writing also provides me a forum for mental health advocacy.
However, writing does not come easily to me. I have to be methodical, which means setting daily and weekly goals and writing at least 30 minutes nearly every day. When I am nearing the end of a short story or something equivalent, then I am able to write much more quickly. And that’s when, at times, poems just come to me.
Don’t let it get away
Writing poetry can help you sort out your feelings or simply dump your feelings. The following poem was my attempt in retrospect to express how I felt as a teenager hanging on so desperately until it was my chance to leave home and escape the beatings and degradation I experienced at the hand of my single parent.
Pain and Rage
Again, and again
Pretend it’s not happening
Came to believe
That I don’t count
No one listened, no one cared
Be quiet. Carry on.
You’re such a smart girl.
It’s only in hindsight that I recognize the irony of my experiencing six years of writer’s block after finally getting effective, wraparound treatment at the age of 26 and ending the cycle of dangerous, reckless manic episodes that I had experienced every summer between the ages of 19 and 26.
At 26, my mental health condition was stabilized. I had put down drugs, but I had experienced bouts of compulsive undereating and overeating since the age of five, and my compulsive eating shoved down my feelings and enabled subconscious self-loathing. Why bother to try? You can’t write.
Ironically, my writer’s block resolved itself at 34 right before becoming a full-time working mom. I realized how much time I had had to write when I no longer had that time! Since becoming a mom, it has taken as much creativity to carve out the time to write as it has to work through the actual writing process itself.
Author of the memoir and information guide Intact: Untangle the Web of Bipolar Depression, Addiction, and Trauma, is a speaker, mental health advocate, and educator who lives near Los Angeles with her two children. Some of her feature articles have appeared in bp Magazine and Esperanza.
Visit her storytelling blog at www.DrivenToTellStories.com.