Your Mania is Not Your Creativity

From my initial bipolar diagnosis to reaching a “new normal” two and a half years later, I have questioned and analyzed every single emotional state and thought process, as well as every experience and memory I have had throughout my entire life.

Since I have type I bipolar I am more prone to manic episodes than depression. A lot of my reflecting compares being stable on medication (boring!), versus the whirlwind of creativity I seem to have when I experience manic symptoms (fun!).Unicorn

I thought my mania was my creativity, and I mourned losing my creative and best self to medication, thinking I would never get it back.

I was wrong.

Even though I am stable while on medication (lurasidone and quetiapine) I have had several manic symptom “breakthroughs.” These occur when the conditions are just right, usually after poor sleep from late gigs, plus too much excitement, or too many busy days in a row.

My manic symptoms include: flights of ideas; racing thoughts; morphing into a chatterbox; boundless energy; hypersexuality; jumping from one task or idea to another without completion; thinking I am a genius (grandiose thoughts) or that I have magical powers; being extremely impatient, snappy, and irritable (spewing venom); and basically functioning at warp speed, while everything around me seems to sparkle with glitter and unicorns. When these symptoms present themselves, I have a treatment plan in place that looks something like this: I stay home, try to chill out, discuss what is happening with my husband, email my psychiatrist, take extra medication, and get to sleep!

In the moment, I feel more creative, my ideas feel abundant, and I feel like my most amazing self. My spouse and I have analyzed these symptoms, comparing them to when I am stable, and have made some interesting observations:

While I feel more creative, in reality, my racing thoughts are not coherent, and I can not articulate them well. I can not complete the tasks I start, and I am not accomplishing more. With few exceptions, I am not a better version of myself when I am manic— it just feels that way.

Knowing that I am not actually more creative when I exhibit manic symptoms has really helped me to:

  • Not yearn to be in a manic state.
  • Stop beleiving that my mania is my creativity.
  • Not romanticize mania: it is quite scary. It is not desirable, attractive, or cute.
  • Understand that I am creative when I am stable, because that is just who I am.
  • Understand that my ideas are just as great when I am stable, it simply feels different.
  • Realise that it is exhausting and inefficient to function at warp speed.
  • Understand that being stable does not mean I am less intelligent, “slowed down”, or less creative.
  • Realise that I can have daily ups and downs like everyone else.

My spouse has commented that although he likes spending time with me when I am “high,” and knew me this way for many years before my diagnosis, he prefers spending time with me when I am stable. (This was a major reality check!)

My psychiatrist has compared a manic episode to consuming too much alcohol. You are still you when you are sober. Consuming a lot of alcohol might make you feel like a better version of yourself, but you are slurring your words and can barely stand up straight.

You are not your mania, and your mania is not responsible for what makes you creative.

How have you come to understand your creativity as it relates to your mental health?



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8 thoughts on “Your Mania is Not Your Creativity

  1. This is such a great post; its content really spoke to me – you had me at the title! 😉

    My father, a violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, had bipolar one disorder and was incredibly creative throughout his life. He was such an amazing role model and he died in 2009. I miss him dearly. He never said “It’s my manic depression that makes me creative.” or anything remotely like that.

    Ever since I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder in 2007, my creativity came and went. I was 37 when I was diagnosed, so relatively late. While I had been creative before the diagnosis, my creativity became latent due to bipolar depression until just a few years ago.

    Because I was creative for the first 37 years of my life before having my bipolar symtoms triggered by childbirth, I don’t feel that bipolar disorder makes me more creative.

    After seven years I found the right medications that allowed me to flourish. My freelance writing career took off once more, and I landed two book deals. This all occurred in my 40’s! I like to remind younger people who have bipolar disorder to never lose hope and to explore all the options for bipolar disorder treatment, even the controversial ones. I also never sugarcoat mania or hypomania, or bipolar disorder for that matter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi dyane! I’m so happy you enjoyed this article. Thanks for your great comment, and for checking out the whole blog. It’s great to hear about your success with your freelance writing career, as well as your like-minded approach to bipolar disorder! I’ll generally reply more quickly, it’s just been a heck of a day! I am so touched by your words.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Creativity was an issue for me at first, especially with my fiction writing. I felt that I lacked the spark of true spontaneous inspiration and creativity. I go back and read some of my manic writing and there truly is something there. But there is also something missing…depth of thought, focus, and COMPLETION. I wrote 50k words of a superb novel, but because my writing was powered by pure mania, it was over when the episode was over. Im not sure how to finish because the whole idea was grandiose. Medicine has helped my music and my teaching manifold. I practice steadily instead of in manic spurts. I teach with long term gosls and short term focus. We definitely have the same illness. I don’t relate to all bipolars, but I can easily see myself in your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your insightful comment! I sure know what you mean about projects having depth of thought, focus and completion! I agree, there might be a lot there creatively, but looking back it can seem grandiose. I’m right with you in practicing steadily instead of in manic bursts. Medication has eased my performance anxiety, too. How about you? I’ll be writing about it. You are right, we must have the same illness!


  3. I have never related to a blog post so much. This is such a beautiful piece of writing, and I’m so glad you sent me to your blog. I was actually thinking about writing a blog post about creativity and mania, but couldn’t get very far. You are so right. Mania does not cause creativity, but it does cause rapid thoughts that demand to be typed or written. Last mania, I wrote 3 or 4 posts a day, some good, some screwy. Thank you for this piece of art and I will reblog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your encouraging words! I am so happy to hear that my blog post resonated for you. You are right, mania does cause rapid thoughts that demand to be typed, written, or spoken! My heartfelt thanks for the reblog.

      Liked by 1 person

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