Author – Science, Environment, Travel, Children's Books
I think it would be alright to discuss my experiences with bipolar disorder. It’s a very personal topic that I don’t bring up often or lightly; but, for regular readers, it might be nice to understand the differences in my productivity and tone that may emerge as I continue this endeavor. It would be ideal if this could spawn some discussion of how mental illness affects writing and careers in general.
To be uncomfortably honest, I was in a manic period when I got the idea to write about a week ago. And I wrote and wrote and wrote… The idea that writing is, for the most part, self-paced bodes well. About every six weeks I get depressed for several days. During those episodes I really don’t want to do anything. Not only do I not want to do anything, but I feel incapable of doing anything well. I feel my work is inadequate, I am destined for failure, I’m ugly and hard to get along with, the people who love me really don’t and I’m letting everyone down.
Then, when I’m manic, I’m capable of anything. I take on ridiculous tasks with unreasonable expectations (actually writing something that will get published, for example). But, luckily, now that I’ve stabilized, I’m still very excited about writing. I still feel like I might be able to have some success with this. I was able to focus and write last night, but at a healthier pace. For example, I actually went to bed when I got tired! Imagine that. And I think what I wrote was no worse than what I’d done in the days prior, maybe even a little better.
I have been getting treatment for over four years now and really do pretty well. I’m a good mom, a good employee, relatively healthy… I think most people don’t have any idea anything’s wrong until I let them in on it. But I’m not 100% stable. Not by any means. I think it will be interesting to see how this will impact my writing efforts. My hope is that I will continue to see writing as a potential “out”. I have never needed more medication or more therapy then I do now since taking this job. It really does pack a wallop.
I feel like my brain chemistry would benefit by having something useful and productive to do, particularly at night after the kids go to bed. I want to work hard at something, practice, get better and maybe someday actually do it well. I want to feel good about what I’ve accomplished in a given day. Despite good pay and good friends, what I do at my day job certainly does not give me any sense that I am competent or successful at what I do.
Has anyone reading this suffered from mental illness? How do you cope and maintain your jobs and self esteem? Are your own struggles evident in what you write?