Creativity and Bipolar Disorder

Yesterday I told my job counselor that I had written an almost 400 page manuscript in less than a month. She seemed impressed until I quickly told her, “I have Bipolar Disorder. I was just riding the high.” Why did I say that? Well, I think it’s because I feel more comfortable letting my illness take credit for my creative intensity than me. To be honest, I’m not proud of anything I’ve ever done. My life has been made up of a series of bad judgement calls and mistakes, and I don’t think I have anything to be proud of. My psychiatrist was concerned about hypergraphia because of how fast I was filling up journals, and she wanted to make sure the things inside my journals made sense.


I’ve written five manuscripts this year, all but two more or less incoherent. But where do you separate true creativity from manic-depressively barfing words onto a page? Is productivity worth less if the person is Bipolar? Is it just ‘hypergraphia,’ not hard work and dedication like it is with a ‘normal’ person? The thing is, I actually don’t remember the process of writing most of my manuscripts. My brain moves so fast I just look at the finished project and don’t know how I got there. So when I am having trouble coming up with anything else that’s actually any good, I can’t remember how I managed to write any of my good stuff. It’s incredibly frustrating.


I don’t know if any other writers with Bipolar Disorder have this problem, I don’t really have anyone I can talk about this kind of stuff with. I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my writing lately and with staying on track and I’ve been thinking about consulting my old journals and looking at the outlines of my two best manuscripts and seeing how I did it. There must be a trick to it I’m just not getting write this time. Maybe I should write more notes? I wrote a series of short story-like pieces on one of my characters, Warren Cowell, and his manuscript ended up being my strongest by far.


I wish I could remember what it was like to write these manuscripts but it slips past me within a couple of months. I don’t know if being Bipolar makes me creative but I just wish I had more of a handle on these things. And I wish I could just be proud of my writing instead of telling people I was Bipolar so they wouldn’t make them mistake of thinking I was, y’know, talented. Because having people think I was talented rather than just mentally ill wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, would it? 😛

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