Creativity, Mania and Meds

“Saying I don’t take my meds because they make me feel funny is like cannibals saying they don’t eat clowns because they taste funny” 
― Stanley Victor Paskavich

For the longest time, I fought against taking any kind of psych meds for a myriad of reasons; it would most certainly interfere with my alcohol and substance use, it could make me “normal” (God forbid!) and more importantly, I was deathly afraid that I would become someone else. As someone who could handle anything, it seemed as though it was somehow cheating to take them. Of course, drinking and self-medicating were perfectly acceptable and didn’t constitute a crutch at all, in my mind.

There is a great deal of fear around medications, especially psych meds for those who have the bipolar diagnosis. I can only speak for myself, but when I look back at all the wonderfully dark poetry I wrote while in the midst of a manic episode, I wonder if it was the mania or me that created them. I know now that my talents are not solely dependent upon my state of mind, but rather the end result is colored by my mental state. I don’t need to be hopelessly depressed to write about sadness or riding the tsunami of mania in order to write of bliss. I now know that my creativity exists within myself, my heart and soul. My moods may change, but the core of who I am remains. I will admit that a good manic episode, much like a good acid trip, may open doors within my mind to places that I would normally not be granted access to, but that does not diminish my potential for creativity. I am able to open doors to creativity through meditation, deep thought and following my intuition to wherever it leads me.

I love the quote above because it reminds me so much of myself in years past. I have argued with my psychiatrist for many years about getting clean and sober, taking my prescribed medication and finding sustainable sanity. It was as though I feared sanity more than I feared a lifetime of wild mood swings, severed friendships and day trips to insanity. I am thankful that I was able to finally face my fears and give myself the chance to live without extraordinary pain and suffering. Of course, this is not the end of my story, but rather the beginning. I hope that as I continue to write, I will be able to open those doors in my mind that will allow me to better understand my illness, my talents and my future as a creative woman who happens to have bipolar disorder.

I hope you will follow me on this journey.

One thought on “Creativity, Mania and Meds

  1. This is a topic I’m familiar with. As an aspiring writer, I found good and bad in lithium. Good in that it was a stabilizer, but bad in that it “greyed out” my emotions… bad for a writer seeking creativity. I found that after X number of years of the stabilizing effect, I had been shaped/trained much like braces do for teeth… I had finally grown familiar with the stable feeling to the point where I could maintain it without the lithium. Now, was/am I perfect at it? No. But for me, so far, the trade-off is working. I say ‘so far’ because I constantly monitor myself and am ready to go back to lithium (or some newer med) should I need it. I find it wholly encouraging that you’ve found meds that work well and am sincerely relieved and excited for you. It reassures me should I need to use them again.

    Part of my early problems, I think, were my drug & alcohol abuse. No matter how “fun” and “escapish” they were, they exacerbated the imbalances that I had as yet been unable to learn to deal with (or even recognize). Drugs/booze are absolutely polar opposite of what a person needs who is wanting to get to know themselves and to become aware of their imbalances (and how to naturally adjust to them for happiness/health).

    Like you and all people, there is no “being done” with the process of understanding and supporting ourselves. You said it in an earlier post: we progress, we change, from day to night and to the next day. Our dreams, our daily thoughts, reflections, and interactions – all of it shapes us as we go. Life is an amazing period of growth and discovery, from start to finish. I applaud your journey thus far, Mish, and am eager to see where it takes you.

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