The Music Bipolar Disorder Brings to Me
Two years ago, I went through the most pivotal moment of my life. I woke up one day to a brand new world, a world where nothing could possibly be wrong, a world full of wonders and possibilities. I was hungover that morning and my headache had turned into a nasty migraine. Even closing my eyes and hiding under my covers wasn’t helping to ease the pain and nausea. I ended up finding a yoga video specifically designed for hangovers. The video was short and it helped a lot, so I turned on some ambient music and began to practice on my own.
Eventually, my body started to move without me asking it to. It was like I was doing some kind of weird interpretive yoga dance. My consciousness floated into the air above me where I watched my body contort, swiftly moving in and out of strange poses I had never done before. Time became irrelevant.
One of the walls in my room had a large closet with mirrors for doors so at some point I caught my reflection. But I didn’t recognize myself. I approached the strange girl in the mirror to ask her who she was. The moment I looked into her eyes, the pain in my head exploded and disappeared. My consciousness spread through the room. My skin tingled as though my entire body was waking up from a deep sleep and I recognized the face in the mirror. She was me, but she was me from many lifetimes ago. I could see thousands of faces behind hers — they were all me. She told me why I was here and what I was destined to do.
After that day, I started to write more songs than ever. I could think faster and I didn’t seem to need to sleep. My senses began to overlap — I could taste the sound of voices and see the colors of music; I could even see the shape and color of a person’s soul. I thought I had discovered the secrets of life, that I had unlocked a new part of my brain and could think anything into existence. Life was a dream and I had become lucid. I even thought I would gain superpowers if I set my mind to it.
I already thought I could predict the future: the mirror had told me I was destined to be an artist. I was chosen to help awaken the minds of the entire human race through music. I’d been working towards this destiny for thousands of lifetimes because awakening minds was the solution to universal peace and happiness. That was my purpose as an artist; I thought I was here to save the world.
Four months later, everything changed. The beautiful endless dream of life I had discovered became a never-ending hell. I wanted to die, but based on my recent discoveries I knew I would just wake up as a new person with more problems to solve. That’s all life was: problem after problem. The shapes had disappeared for the most part, I couldn’t speak with my past lives anymore, I slept more than ever and I felt weak. I tried to maintain my habit of practicing yoga every day, but suddenly I found myself unable to hold a pose. My energy level was so low I would black out and collapse. Multiple times I found myself on the floor unable and unwilling to move.
What was the point? What was the point of anything? Why did life show me heaven then strip it all away? Was I lying to myself? Did I make it all up as an escape from this dreadful reality? I couldn’t remember how I’d felt before. I couldn’t remember how to feel. I didn’t understand happiness. Why did people laugh? I would fake laugh to fit in. What was wrong with me? No, nothing was wrong with me — everyone must be in denial, trying to cover up how they really feel. Who could possibly want to live? Maybe surviving is easier when you pretend you’re not in hell.
No one says the things I was thinking — there was no one to talk to. So I said what I needed to say in songs, songs I sometimes didn’t understand myself. I needed someone to understand, and the sound of my own music became that someone. I could express what I was feeling and hear the reality of it. My music empathized with me.
After several months though, things got so bad I ended up in a hospital, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I now have a rational understanding of the phases I go through; my delusions of false superiority are just a symptom. (My whole “I’m here to save the world” theory went out the window.) I seem to cycle seasonally — four months manic, four months depressed and four months stable. Typically, someone who lives with bipolar experiences mild depressive episodes in their teens and begins to fully cycle in their early 20s; each sequential cycle is worse than the last. It’s different for everyone, but so far, all of the above has proven true for me.
Looking back, I’ve realized that my first mild depression in high school was what made me decide to be a musician. I started writing music when I was 11 years old, but I really became addicted to my piano that year. While I did not experience the severity of my more recent depressions at the time, I remember feeling numb and having difficult thoughts. Music was my coping mechanism. I would come home from school every day to sit down at my piano and improvise for hours. I isolated myself and did nothing but write. When I write, I try to let my subconscious take over and write the music for me (something that is particularly easy when I am lost in my mind already). Music is more to me than sound. I believe that art is an expression of the dimensions we are blind to, because I at times I am convinced I am accessing something unseen. I don’t know if I am truly accessing some other dimension when I write songs, or if I simply get lost in my “weird” brain, but regardless, having a weird brain seems to help me when it comes to music. For better or worse, my best work comes out when I’m depressed or manic. It seems that having a mental illness helps me write music just as much as writing music helps me cope with mental illness.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Lead photo via contributor