I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 at the age of 54 in 1998. Since 1993, I’ve done some creative writing but I’ll be the first to admit that my interests in doing so have fluctuated somewhat depending on my moods.
“I now believe that […] my bipolar disorder further unleashed within my mind my longstanding interests in ‘thinking outside of the traditional box.’”
In the fall of 1998 when I was in the throes of a full-blown manic episode, I had no interest whatsoever nor time to dedicate to creative writing. My mind was too busy doing other things. And during the initial phase of my recovery from this manic episode, I craved for rest and no longer felt the desire to write. When I finally regained my emotional and physical strengths in the middle part of 1999, my writing interests resurfaced once again. I haven’t stopped for an overly extensive period of time ever since then.
Throughout these creative periods, I often wondered if I was hypomanic or just being “normally productive” as a person interested in writing. Ever since my discharge from hospital in early 1999, I’ve never neglected to take my prescribed medication. I found a new gratifying job until I retired in 2014 and I took good care of myself. Eh, I was even blessed with a wonderful new life partner, Louise, whom I married in 2016.
Life has been good to me and somehow, with the support of so many relatives and friends, I successfully coped with many different stressors that crossed my journey. Thus, I deducted that, given the quality of my lifestyle, my interests in creative writings were legitimate and not a symptom of my bipolar disorder. On the contrary, I now believe that, given my heightened sensitivity, my bipolar disorder further unleashed within my mind my longstanding interests in “thinking outside of the traditional box.”
“Down deep in my heart and soul, I knew I wasn’t being hypomanic.”
I never considered myself immune to experiencing “writer’s block” at times. Let me give you a concrete example of what I recently experienced in this regard. In mid-February of this year, I caught a bad flu bug. It drained me of energy for over six weeks. I felt deflated, totally unable to create. Nonetheless, I occasionally reviewed some of my draft manuscripts and made slight corrections to them as appropriate. I rested my exhausted body as often as I could. I watched my diet even more and did my best not to neglect my exercises. My doctors monitored my health. My wife even pampered me more than usual… I just loved it!
Slowly, my health returned and my spirits lifted. The creative juices started to flow once again as fluidly as before. Yet, I didn’t neglect my sleep or the other key elements of my lifestyle. My creative productivity seemed richer than ever.
Down deep in my heart and soul, I knew I wasn’t being hypomanic. I still sincerely believe that, once again, my bipolar disorder had simply rewrapped me the gift she’d originally given to me at birth: the gift of creativity. So now, I’m just letting my creativity flow in the river of her choice.
Raymond D. Tremblay (Ottawa)
July 22, 2019
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