Due to the circumstances of how I ended up in the hospital, my attending physician had me go to a psychiatrist. She was nice enough I guess, and I went through the process of retelling my life plus a few tests here and there. Then she came back with the diagnosis. I guess I wasn’t surprised because a part of me knew that there was something wrong with me.
So there it is. The elephant in the room has a name. I found out that I have bipolar disorder. Specifically, I am classified as a bipolar II. I have officially joined the ranks of the mentally ill.
Basically, being bipolar means I shift between two moods, mania and depression, two poles of the emotional spectrum. Mania is this feeling that you can do no wrong, as if you’re invincible. This often leads to self destructive behavior, because these are the moments when the consequences don’t matter to you. I have a muted form of it called hypomania, which means I won’t become a sociopath in the process.
When you’re manic, you get these sudden bursts of energy, as if you’re high on something but you know you didn’t take anything. It makes you a creative monster, your brain suddenly crammed with ideas and they’re all tripping over each other to come out. The past few months were a classic manic episode. I was writing three or four articles a day, feverishly typing out my thoughts. I grabbed every meandering idea and I tried to transform it into something else. Some of the best work I did came from that period. I also did not care for the actions that I did. I rationalized everything that I was doing and I did not see my life slowly unraveling before me.
Of course, the other side of the coin, the other pole is much much worse. Depression cripples you. Sadness is a good emotion to have sometimes. I have written before how sadness can be my fuel for my creative engine, how it feeds the fires that are within me. Sometimes, however, that sadness can be overwhelming. It’s like an ocean tide, it’s just water but it hits you and hits you and it sucks you back in and you can’t escape. It clutches your heart and wraps it in thorns and no matter how much you want to disentangle yourself, you just hurt all the more and it opens gaping wounds that you do not know how to heal. Sometimes I’ve felt that I’m stuck in a hole, that I’ve dived too deep and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
This has been my life, alternating between dizzying lights and blinding darkness, numbing heights and staggering lows. The irony here is that although I don’t think the Zodiac doesn’t hold any water, I was born under the sign of Gemini, the twins. Two sided, two faced, gifted and cursed with two personalities.
Right now I am on Zoloft, an antidepressant, and they say it blunts creativity. In a way, I feel it. The words are harder to come by. My sentences have less power with them. Writing has become a slog. What used to take me an hour takes days. I miss the creative process, that feeling you could write anything and you knew it was good. I feel like a knife that has been used to cut steel. Blunt.
I won’t stop writing though. My edge may have been blunted but if life has taught me anything, resistance makes you stronger. By pushing against this, I think I can just do enough to push through and I’d find the magic again, without damaging myself in the process. The hugot, the pull of emotions, will just come from a deeper, more meaningful place.