Creativity and Mental Illness

Is there a link between creativity and mental illness? Some in the psychiatric profession and other mental health practitioners seem to think so. Of course, this doesn’t mean one has to be mentally ill in order to be creative. Psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison wrote a book, “Touched By Fire,” that explored this connection. She examined the lives of several famous artists–poets, writers and visual artists–such as Samuel Coleridge, Lord Byron, and the like. Her research delved into the letters written not only by the artists, but also from friends and such. Her conclusion was that these artists had various mental disorders. You should read it–whether you agree with her or not, it is quite interesting.

I’m an author, in case you haven’t noticed from the postings on this blog. I’m also bipolar. I don’t talk about it because I’ve found, through bitter experience, that mental illness still carries a stigma in our society. Does being bipolar help my creativity? Sometimes I think so. I wrote the first six chapters of my latest book “Invasion” in three days during a manic phase. I didn’t sleep at all during that time.

My mania is pretty low key as far as manic episodes go. I mean, I don’t get naked and climb on statues. I have grandiose, unrealistic ideas, some of which I’ve acted upon to my detriment. And I spend money, lots of money. It’s like there’s this other person doing things that make no sense. Like blowing through my IRA. Almost $300,000. My retirement money–gone. I have very little idea what I spent it on. And at my age, there’s no way I’m going to earn that back. I’m going to be working until they carry me out feet first. Worse, the IRS is after me, and I’ve no idea how I’m going to pay the penalty and taxes due.

The depressions definitely rob me of my creativity. In 2017 until now, I’ve been seriously depressed. In April, I was locked up on the psych ward at my local hospital because my psychiatrist determined that I was a danger to myself. It’s an experience I don’t want to repeat. Next time, instead of telling someone, I’ll just swallow the damned pills. At any rate, writing is a monumental effort, and really, I haven’t written anything since February. It’s like I can’t think straight. The ideas come, but I can’t get them down on paper. Although today the depression has lessened somewhat, I still can’t write. Given the BS I’m going through, sometimes I think I should just give up writing for good.

So for me, being bipolar is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I just wish I could be normal. But I’m not. And it’s hard to live with. But I have to play the hand I was dealt. I can only hope that this depressed  state of mind ends soon. Then maybe–maybe–I can start writing again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.