How Bipolar Disorder Affects Me Creatively.

Chris McCandless

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder not once or twice but three times by three different diagnosticians. One psychiatrist even went so far as to specify my variation as Bipolar I, the extreme flavor. I’ve taken Risperdal in the past but never felt its effect. Lithium made me gain weight, turned me into a human balloon. Lamictal mad my hands shake. Seroquel was worthless. Abilify made me diabetic and turned me into a compulsive gambler. Latuda gave me syncope. I was sitting in the Northgate mall and suddenly I had double vision. For the life of me I couldn’t sync the two images together. When I tried to stand up I just fell back into the seat. Horrible drug. I’ve also briefly experimented with Geodon and Zyprexa. Those were wastes of time. It just seems like antipsychotics refuse to work in my body, or if they do, give me such bad side effects that I eschew them altogether. So what keeps me grounded? Beer. Not the best therapy but at least it works.

So what am I like when I’m in manic mode? Two years ago I turned into Hemingway. I was an unstoppable force when it came to writing. Over a relatively short period of time I wrote two novels, nine novellas, four screenplays, about 40 or 50 short stories, and a handful of poems. My brain just couldn’t slow down. Always click-clacking like a runaway telegraph machine, I was researching and writing in various libraries around the Seattle area like there was no tomorrow. From sun up to sun down, words just effortlessly flowed from me like rain out of the Fountains of Rome.  But then came the crash.

Around the time this manic episode subsided, I had begun promoting my various works using the internet and retail stores in Seattle. When I started settling into some kind of depression, my promoting came to a halt. It suddenly didn’t matter if the world knew about my creative output. I turned into the proverbial tortoise yanking its head back into its shell. This cloud of depression has swept over me so strongly that, even though I’m now domiciled, I just can’t find the wherewithal to get my promotional and creative juices flowing again. I isolate to the point I’m turning into Chris McCandless. I’m Alex Supertramp without the Alaskan frontier or the broken down bus. My activity level is nil and I simply just lack the energy. And, yes, I probably sleep too much and think about death way too often as well. I’m guessing this depressive wave will come to and end soon, and man, I can’t wait. I know there’s another story in me waiting to be told.

Why Is It So Hard To Be Kind?

portland_rose_gardenYou humans are a strange lot. On one hand you marvel about how complex and marvelous the human body is; on the other hand you can’t wait to commit genocide against all those human bodies. Seems like a contradiction to me, but what do I know? Call me naïve.

You know, Chris McCandless had the right idea but just the wrong venue. Getting away from the craziness of the world is a superb idea, starving to death in a bus abandoned in the Alaskan wilderness is another. It’s probably better to be a hermit in plain site. At least you’re around food and water.

Which brings me to the theme of this post: why is it so hard to be kind? It’s like pulling teeth just to get someone to give you space to enter the road in your car from a driveway. It’s like pulling teeth to get someone to hold the door open for you. It’s like pulling teeth for someone to reciprocate your act of kindness with a “Thank You.” It’s like pulling teeth to give grandma your spot in  the food bank line or your seat at the front of the bus. It’s like pulling teeth to help someone who has fallen. It’s like pulling teeth to give an obviously schizophrenic man a break despite the endless stream of sentences he’s speaking to no one.

Would it kill you to not noisily smack your lips and mouth when you’re eating?

Would it kill you to silence your phone at a restaurant?

Would it kill you to keep your voice down while you’re on the phone in a public space?

Would it kill you to give someone a ride if they don’t have bus fare?

Would it kill you to apologize to someone you’ve bumped into  in the street?

I could go on and on but you see my point. Kindness costs nothing but its rewards are plenty. Then again, I’m probably garden variety crazy.