Those who’ve followed my blog have surely noticed that my posts take on many forms. I write a lot of articles (especially mental health-related), reflections (on many topics), and sometimes prose stories. I also occasionally write my own brand of poetic stories, but only when I’m in a special mood. Most of my written stories are usually based on real people and events, though I’ll admit plenty of fiction has been created in my head over the years in the form of day dreams. My varying writing styles and content do change a bit over time, just as my overall creativity and expression modes, as well.
Many people with bipolar disorder consider themselves creative types. Kay Redfield Jamison (an expert on this topic), says that creativity and bipolar disorder are not always a given combination, but that a higher percentage of people with bipolar disorder tend to be creative compared to those without the illness. When I learned that, I thought about my creative talents over the years, or lack thereof. In my early youth, I knew that I was a creative dancer, but felt I had little talent in other areas (i.e. music, visual arts, or even writing). However, as my situations in life changed, and “shit” happened, I found that my imagination and abilities widened or sometimes narrowed.
In my younger years, my creative ideas/thoughts were mostly expressed physically. I was too physically active to write, but I loved to talk, and tell stories of all kinds, and early on I had a certain style to my verbal expression, perhaps emphasized by physical movements (i.e. facial expressions, body language). However, a time came later in life when as a result of my mental illness, I found myself isolating more and more, and/or anchored and silenced. My thoughts and ideas didn’t completely die, but instead of flowing through my mouth and body, they flowed through my fingersonto my keyboard, or dwelled only in my head. The “writer me” has a slightly different style than the “talker me”, but the core style is still there. Life experiences and new knowledge also affected it. Have you noticed anything similar with you?
I never thought I had musical talent as a child. Or did I? I remember being outside and dancing to the rain. I’d dance to the sound of a rope hitting a metal flag pole. The sounds of summer insects inspired my movement, as well. Don’t many musicians use sounds in life to inspire them? But many years later when I was about 39, something very strange happened to me. I developed musical hallucinations. In another post, I tell the story of that time, which began with me hearing beautiful original pieces of music. The start of that period entranced me. How and why was this suddenly born? I told my therapist and psychiatrist. The therapist recommended I write the music down, but hadn’t the skills, plus deep down it scared me a bit. Later in my story on this topic, I mention the experience changed for the worse. The “talent” disappeared and was replaced with torment. Luckily the hallucinations did stop with proper medication, but so did the talent to compose music.
So many factors can curb creativity, not just mood. Stress overwhelms our minds making it hard to think. Inactivity in life, leads to inactivity in creativity. Hyperfocus blocks out new possibilities. Not allowing oneself to feel (pain or pleasure) breeds nothingness/stagnation. Some people blame medications and/or illnesses. I think that can definitely be true, but I got past that despite mine. In any case, we need the spark to get imagination flowing, or ride the wave.
My life experiences and challenges give me a broader perspective on a good many things, which facilitates new ideas and honest first hand means of expression. I tell myself not to grieve creative talents of the past, but embrace the new ones I have at the moment, and look forward to developing ones in the future. Actually, old talents of the past abandoned are actually not really lost. They are just like the happy memories of youth. Building blocks of the imagination, and places that are possible to revisit in some form or another.