Thursday, January 6, 2011

Manic Creativity – The Ultimate Narcotic

Care plan non-compliance is an element of the Bipolar profile outsiders find puzzling and deeply disturbing. Hapless friends and family members wonder - with so much help available, especially in the form of astounding new medications, why do Bipolars jump ship, go bare, and get into nightmarish trouble again and again? Is it arrogance, pride, self-will, infantile stubbornness? Bipolars understand, but to outsiders it must seem like irresponsible self-destruction.

Take sex, add heroin, throw in a Jimi Hendrix concert and winning the Nobel Prize and you’re not even close to the level of sheer euphoria experienced during a Manic high. New arrivals to the demented funhouse, loathe to give up this catnip, conveniently forget that the price tag on it is astronomical.

There is a particularly insidious myth that causes those involved in creative enterprises to toss meds – and sanity – into the trash – in favor of going it alone. It’s a rationalization really, used by people who are not courageous enough to do the hard emotional and psychological work required in healing. The net of this delicious twaddle runs thusly – If I become sane I will lose my creativity.

Before you judge too quickly, understand that this belief, though idiotic, is understandable. (In fact, the very opposite is true – another topic for another entry.) The following excerpt from INVISIBLE DRIVING should help you see from whence it originates. It is taken from the chapter – Daddy, Where Does Art Come From?     

            In the times of true Mania, the secret wellspring of my creative energy had a going-out-of-business, lost-our-lease, everything-must-go, garage-sale-of-the-mind sale. Normally dark and mysterious, meting out its magic in dribs and drabs, it tore down the curtains, slapped back the shutters, and opened itself up for all the world to see. The level of creativity was stunning, but there was no judgment.
            I now know why creative artists who are Manic Depressive often refuse help. They’re so exhilarated in their highs that they can’t imagine giving them up. They’ll even accept the pain, the crash, the depression as a reasonable price for the unfettered creativity and energy. It’s a strategy I’ve decided against, but I do understand it.
            When I was Manic, I was in constant touch with that inner well. Because all the governing layers of my brain were shut down, there was nothing separating me from the force itself. It wasn’t that I created wonderful art, I was too out of control to be productive in any meaningful way. It was far more thrilling than that.
            I existed in art. Every fiber of my being was fixed in a state of constant creativity. Constant inventiveness. Constant newness. Every idea in the attic was dusted off and slammed full-force onto the table for consideration. New ideas spewed forth like lava from a volcano. Weird combinations of ideas appeared out of nowhere. The sheer volume of my mind’s productivity overwhelms me to this day. It was like a holy revelation, a moment of grace that went on for months.
            I knew at last the source of the words, the images, the feelings which had been inhabiting my poems for decades. That unchartable landscape within, where angel wings disturb the dust and the infinite intersects with the temporal. I heard the roar. I saw it in all of its sanctified, uncivilized splendor.
            My visionary, mad, and mystical soul.


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