Being Bipolar & Being Creative

Being Bipolar & Being Creative
By Jennifer Kiley
©transgraphics j. kiley
02.09.13 @4:14am
Posted 02.09.13

courber eau par j. kiley © jennifer kiley 2013

The following was written as a response to an article on PsychCentral “Keeping Creativity Alive with Bipolar Disorder” By Kat Dawkins. The link is: I couldn’t help myself, once I started writing my comment it turned into the following. It is really a great idea to use your creativity to keep yourself alive and to help believe in yourself. It is a great article and I highly recommend everyone read it, not just those who identify as/with bipolar. It is a really positive article and reassuring and supportive. So, this is how I responded personally to what I had read and how I felt after reading the above mentioned article.

I am in need of creating every day. Almost all the time I am awake. I need to be reminded to eat. Take infrequent breaks to watch some tv but can’t concentrate, need to get back to my laptop. i write a blog, poems, essays, prose, learning to write in the Japanese Style of Poetry. I am working on a screenplay. I do art for my posts and for myself. I create collages and posters. When I was a kid I wrote a lot and painted. I wrote songs and played multiple musical instruments. Now I am making short movie videos, just really learning. I want to get deeper into photography. I do computer graphics. I cannot be creative enough. And most of the time I do not realize I have all these abilities to the extent to call myself an artist, a writer, a musician, a screenwriter. I never had any belief in myself. I felt shy about saying I did anything creative or that anything I wrote was worth mentioning or showed any sign of talent. Basically, I am saying that I did not believe in myself on any level. Even though, when I was a teenager, my first psychotherapist convinced me I should use poetry as a way of communicating what I was feeling since I was having such a difficult time talking about anything. She felt I really expressed myself in my poems. After that for some reason I think my older sister saw my poems and decided she was going to show my poetry to a professional writer and poet. He wanted to meet and talk to me. I was surprised when his critique of my work was so positive. He told me I had an eye and saw things differently. His encouragement was that I should continue to develop my abilities, that I had it. I was a developing poet with great potential. I was blown away but wasn’t really sure how to take what he said and what my sister said to me afterward supporting his opinion. I never had any encouragement about things I did that were creative or sports or theatre or anything artistic. Not one word of encouragement until I was past the believing stage and didn’t believe what other people said or what I saw in myself. Yes, I knew what I could do but I never felt I had anything that was special. I did not believe in myself.

Let me continue…

I wrote my first screenplay when I was about 13 yrs. old and my first novella when I was in high school. I was in the youth orchestra, the church choirs, did theatre in high school. In college, I worked my way up from being the poetry editor to become the editor in chief of the college newspaper. I was actually in a professional singing group. We played guitars and I wrote some of the music. I use to write music and lyrics that people actually liked but still I didn’t believe in myself.

I see all these things written down but I would never believe in myself or say out loud when others talked about being writers or poets or artists. I could never believe in my identity as a creative person who was an artist. Until this person came along quite recently and started telling me that I was good and I kept getting better. I have all these ideas in my head. I told a friend on Skype tonight that I never knew ahead of time what my post was going to be that day or night. I write at least one post a day but often more, sometimes up to four. It depends on how much energy I have and how much I want to express.

To think a few years ago I was afraid to write a poem and when I started to b/c of the encouragement of my then psychotherapist, I felt so embarrassed and shy about showing to her one poem or even to read it to her because i felt I would be misunderstood or it would be too revealing and I felt my feelings or thoughts were perverse or really fucked up. She finally convinced me that I should send off one of my poems to have it published. That freaked me out but eventually she won and I sent off a few poems to a journal she felt would like my work. A few months later, I picked up a copy of this journal and began reading it. When I got to the section where submissions of art and writing were, I read through it. There was this one poem I read that I particularly liked. Not realizing it was one of mine, I really liked the courage of the poet who wrote it. For some reason, I finally saw the name of the poet. It was me. I was shocked. Kind of blown away. They never contacted me that one of my poems had been chosen to be published. I think at this point I must explain why I didn’t recognize my own poem. It is basically, I have what is called short term memory loss. If something doesn’t make it to my long term memory, I will not remember it. An easy example has to do with names. I never can remember anyone’s name unless I have heard it over a continual stimulation so that it makes it to my long term memory. This is an even better and I find amusing example, my partner didn’t think it was funny, but we were watching the show “Elementary” where there is a character whose name is Sherlock Holmes. The show lives in a world where there is no such character of fiction as Sherlock Holmes. That’s not important though. There was this female character that for some reason I could not remember who she was and I kept asking my partner questions about her. At times, I thought she was a psychiatrist. She wasn’t. Then I thought she was a journalist. She wasn’t. I kept getting these ideas b/c of the dialogue she was saying. My partner kept telling me that she was a profiler for the FBI or CIA and had once been personally involved with Sherlock and revealed personal things he shared with her in a book she wrote. For some reason I could not remember this. I do not have short term memory as bad as the character in the film “Memento” but sometimes I feel it comes close at times. When I write something, moments later I will have no idea what the hell I have written. The same thing happens with watching films or reading. While doing the activity as long as I am not interrupted I mostly can follow the story. But if I take a break, I need to start again.

So now that I got so far away from what I was writing about, I am back.. That is why I didn’t recognize my own poem. So I had been published. But I was always posting poems and editorials when I was working on my college newspaper. But somehow I lost all of that once my life had changed so drastically afterwards.

Now where I am in my life I write about anything. My partner said about something I posted a few days ago that she would never print something like I had written. I call it Free Stream. I just named it that when I was filling out the heading to the post. I like that “Free Stream.” That’s exactly what it was. I started out writing a poem but I knew that I was never going to get what I wanted to say to fit into a poem. Not b/c of length but b/c of how i wanted to say it. Anyway, with my new mentor/muse/friend I have found the confidence to write about anything and to feel free to express myself anyway I wanted to. My friend tonight on Skype said that my posts were a work of art. I do art and writing and always have at least one piece of music and I love quotations, so all my posts have at least one quote but usually lots more than one. And I create such a variety of types of posts, which is what makes it so much fun for me and I hope for those who follow and read or view my posts. It feels good to receive encouragement and to feel an identity that you can honestly believe in.. It is important in order to build confidence in one’s self.

It is important to my sanity to be creative and I highly recommend it to anyone especially if you are bipolar b/c it gives you a place to center your energy and you will find you have a lot to say and it will make you feel good to express yourself. And when you start to have people like and enjoy what you create and some people even comment and you comment back and on their blog posts too. It makes you feel connected and you actually do develop relationships and you see such creative art out there. My friend, who is so majorly creative, that I was Skyping with tonight who said my posts were a work of art also called me brilliant and creative. I didn’t have that as a kid or as an adult much either. I was so shy when I was growing up and abused on an unpredictable schedule but the abuse was fairly constant. There were mentors here and there some professors and some therapists after I was able to escape my family when I was an older teenager. But to have some very special persons I have met online and have made great friends with, who I really care about and love, is beyond anything in my life. Those persons I am talking about live on the other side of the world and across oceans but they give me so much and they encourage me to create. One of these persons is so demonstrably creative that the inspiration I gain from her goes beyond imaginable. They love what I have to say and how I express myself. It is so rewarding. So do it. Really do it. Create. jk the secret keeper ps: and I highly recommend reading the article that inspired me to write this piece for this post.

Betty Buckley—As If We Never Said Goodbye

“The sheer secrecy of creativity — the difficulty in understanding how it happens, even when it happens to us — means that we often associate breakthroughs with an external force. In fact, until the Enlightenment, the imagination was entirely synonymous with higher powers: being creative meant channeling the muses, giving voice to the ingenious gods. (Inspiration, after all, literally means ‘breathed upon.’) Because people couldn’t understand creativity, they assumed that their best ideas came from somewhere else. The imagination was outsourced.” — Jonah Lehrer

“The creative process is a seething cauldron of ideas, where everything is fizzling and bobbing about in a state of bewildering activity.” —William James

“Artists have a vested interest in our believing in the flash of revelation, the so-called inspiration…shining down from heavens as a ray of grace. In reality, the imagination of the good artist or thinker produces continuously good, mediocre or bad things, but his judgment, trained and sharpened to a fine point, rejects, selects, connects…All great artists and thinkers are great workers, indefatigable not only in inventing, but also in rejecting, sifting, transforming, ordering.” — Frederich Nietzsche

“Some might think that the creativity, imagination, and flights of fancy that give my life meaning are insanity.” ― Vladimir Nabokov

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” ― William Blake