Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Writing used to be my reason for living. It was what I did, it was all I ever wanted to do, and it was how I identified myself.

Turned out my writing--both quantity and quality (or lack thereof)--was an excellent indicator of my state of mind.

My last (and most destructive) mania lasted nearly two years. Most of that time was spent in a pleasant, productive state of hypomania, during which I drafted four novels, helped break up two marriages, and alienated most of my extended family.

Okay, maybe it wasn't all pleasant…

I haven't written much at all since then. The first couple of years it was mainly because of the medication. My writing was the first-but not the only-casualty of my bipolar diagnosis and consequent embracing of modern psychiatry ...er... psychopharmacology. While I was on medication, the question of whether or not I had a future as a writer was moot; I couldn't write.

Now, after nearly three years without the heavy duty mood stabilizers and antidepressants, the idea of writing is still all tangled up with a lot of unpleasant things that happened during my last mania. There is still a lot of negativity that I have to fight my way through.

There is the niggling doubt that it was the writing that caused the mania rather than the other way around, and that by letting myself get too deeply into it, I might be inviting another episode.
There is the fear that without hypomanic acceleration, I have no talent, because it seems like all of the novels I've written have been written in various hypomanic frenzies.

There is the fear that I'll never actually feel passionate about writing again...because I haven't, not since the diagnosis, and I fear that something inside me, which I used to value greatly, is broken, and I don't know how to fix it.

And there is the fear that, bipolar or not, nobody wants to read what I have to say...which is probably true...except for the one or two of you out there who might have stumbled upon this blog purely by accident.

Before the big mania, I was working on a book about writing and how writing worked for me. After I got off meds and had done a whole lot of research about bipolar, I realized that it wasn't a book about writing at all. It was a book about my experiences with manic depression. It wasn't going to teach anyone else how to write...it was only going to show them how messed up my own process was/is. And I felt stupid and embarrassed that my mind could so completely fool me and turn on me and betray me like that.

(But not stupid or embarrassed enough to stay on medication, mind.)

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