Writing Is My Therapy

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Writing has always been an important part of my life. I remember filling notebook after notebook with reams of ideas and stories as a kid. Writing was my escape. As I got older I continued to write and it became a release from the depression that had suddenly manifested into my life. I even decided to go to University to study creative writing.

As an adult, I’ve had many struggles with mental illness. The symptoms of bipolar ran my life and my attempts to control the highs and lows were in vain.

I began to write, but this time, it began as a journal. I’d never kept a diary before. I just started to write, and soon everything was laid out. How much I’d been struggling, how guilty, helpless and ashamed I felt. it helped me immensely. I felt a release to see all these thoughts that I’d bottled up committed to paper.

Writing became my own private therapy.

I’ve had therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) a couple of times. The first time round it really helped. I went to the sessions to help me deal with panic attacks. I learnt some important techniques and a new way of thinking about the experience. I use them to help me deal with nighttime panic attacks . The panic attacks subsided afterwards, and now I very rarely have one, maybe only once a year.

My second experience of CBT was not so positive. It wasn’t long after I’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was offered group therapy and wanting to know more about the condition, and share experiences with others, I said yes. The course didn’t help. It was basic, and didn’t teach me anything new about the condition. There was never any time to share our experiences. I still felt alone.

I continued to write, but now I wanted to share what I’d written. I started a blog, this blog. Although now I don’t always write about my personal experiences, writing still helps me.

It gives me focus and a sense of purpose when I’m depressed. It helps me to stay calm and concentrate when I’m manic. It drowns out the voices and helps me process the experience when I’m psychotic.

I’m not in therapy at moment. A lack of therapeutic styles on offer from the NHS means I’d have to seek private therapy. I can’t afford to do that, so my option is talking therapies; that didn’t go well last time

So for now writing will have to be my therapy. I’m sort of ok with that. I’m annoyed that I can’t access actual therapy, but at least I’ve found something in my life that helps me.

 

Maddening Creativity

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When I’m in a manic state, creativity becomes my everything. I have this incredible surge of confidence and self belief that comes from nowhere. I truly believe I can do anything. I have always been creative. I started playing the drums when I was eight, I studied art up to A level and I continue to draw, sketch and sculpt. I almost studied sculpture at University, but decided instead on creative writing. I am always writing, whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, or here on my blog. As anyone does, I have times when I’m motivated and focused, or I’ll be inspired by something. The difference with mania is the creativity is astoundingly concentrated. My whole life will be consumed with the need to create. I’ll forget to eat or sleep, the house will become grimy and messy. I won’t shower because that takes too much time. So I sit in my trash ridden house with grimy hair feverishly writing or painting away. I’ll put off paying bills and running important errands because creating will be all that matters.

My mind at these times is sodden with creative ideas. I can’t ignore it and it turns into a flood of activity; from researching, buying resources and creating. It’s like I’m possessed, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Except, I don’t want it to stop. I long for these moments, whether they last for a week or a month, when I can find inspiration from anywhere. I can pluck new ideas out of thin air. It is an enticing state, and one I miss when it has dissipated. I can be up and wide awake at three in the morning still sketching or writing. I show everyone what I’ve been working on, with a pride that verges on narcissism. I feel I have to do something with my work so I start a business, start writing a book, or both.

The only problem; it doesn’t last. Sooner than I’d hope, I crash and depression becomes my everything. In my mind I am useless and can’t believe how deluded I have been. I’ve told so many people about my projects and plans, but all I feel know is incredibly embarrassed. I have begun a novel and scrapped it in a moment of self doubt. Created intricate wire sculptures and torn them apart in anger and frustration. Blogged almost everyday, and then found myself unable to write a single word for months.

I don’t know what to do with all of this. This creativity is one side of many manic symptoms. Too many of them are unpleasant, self destructive and harmful. Unfortunately they co-exist, I can’t have the inspiration and confidence without the anger, over spending, delusional thinking and risk taking behaviour. I once thought I was a racing driver and crashed my car. Another time whilst driving I closed my eyes and let go of the wheel. I’ve believed I couldn’t be hurt and walked into traffic and put my hands under boiling water. On all occasions I could have easily have died or been critically injured. That is the other side of mania. It isn’t glamorous and definitely shouldn’t be romanticised. Despite these negatives, I still find myself longing for those flashes of imaginativeness and inventiveness. So I accept it, and wait with both dread and eagerness for the next time.