Courtesy the APA

So, for those of you who don’t know, I have bipolar disorder. The chemical makeup of my brain is such that receptors for both higher emotional states (described as “mania” or “hypomania”) and lower ones (your classic “depression”) are susceptible to inexplicable, unconscious, and sometimes sudden change. In the past, people have described the disorder as “manic depression” and talk of “mood swings”, changes in state that can happen over the course of weeks, days, or even hours. When these more frequent changes occur, it is often referred to as “rapid cycling”.

And then, there are mixed states.

A “mixed state” is an imbalance in the brain’s chemistry that means multiple vectors of the emotional receptors are in effect. It is difficult for the sufferer of a mixed state to say exactly what they are feeling. There is an upswell of energy and a desire to put that energy into productive things, from chores to hobbies. There is also an overwhelming sensation of melancholy and futility, a lack of motivation and fulfillment that are the classic earmarks of a depressive episode. You want to go do things, to make your world better, to bring joy into your life and the lives of others, but what is the point?

This is how I’ve been the last couple of days.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad to be writing blog posts on the regular again along with Innercom Chatter, promoting my novella writing, and gearing up to get back into long form fiction in earnest. But I also know, in a mixed state where I overdo exercise and rage against my own emotions and make plans without a great deal of forethought and lose track of essential items and write run-on sentences, that the work I’d turn out would not be my best. I’d have to go back and edit a lot of junk in order to craft the story I really want to tell.

But should I be writing anyway?

I mean, cutting out crap is what editing is for, right? I should just write. Writing does not happen on its own. Words do not appear on the page by themselves. The writer must write them. I will not finish my shit if I do not write as much as I can, as fast as I can.

And yet, my thighs ache from over-exerting myself two days ago with lifting weights. I did too much too quickly. I flew too close to the sun, as is my idiom. Why risk completely destroying my work, or my progress on it, by flying directly into a wall erected in and by my own head?

I don’t really have a solution that I can point to, no bow with which I can wrap up this little post. I simply wanted to lay out in simple terms what living in a mixed state is like for a creative mind. My hope is that it will be helpful in some way, that perhaps someone later will read this and take comfort in knowing they are not alone.

My current plan is to keep working, writing as much as I feel comfortable writing, and try to maintain baseline, consistent productivity I can build upon when I’m a bit less mixed, a bit more stable.

And to not do so many reps at once when it’s been months since I last even lifted a dumbbell.

Seriously. Ow.

Image courtesy APA