The third time I went for my routine checkup, my therapist suggested a couple of books and music, one of them being: “Finding Balance In Bipolar” Ellen Forney, this drove me closer to Ellen Forney. I started listening to her interviews, paying attention to her arts, talks, visiting her social handles frequently etc. and that’s how I learnt how to conquer my demons in this manic stage. I started creating; I realized the maniac stage gave me power to be the best I’ve never been. I was high on creativity. …
In her intensely personal, funny, and inspiring presentation, Understanding Bipolar through Comics, Ellen Forney discusses her firsthand experience and creative work on struggling, coping, and thriving with bipolar disorder. Integrating images from her New York Times bestselling graphic memoir, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me, and its companion book, Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life, a manual for maintaining mental health, she offers company, encouragement, and coping tools that anyone, with or without a mental illness diagnosis, can use to stay on an even keel.
Following her helped me to find balance in my dark days, when I couldn’t go for therapy sessions I could listen, read her materials and find peace.
Through her, I found courage to share my darkest journey of mental illness with refreshing honesty, humor, and authentic detail, to also help anyone who is fortunate to hear me.
When the doctor told me, I am expressing maniac disorder, I was new to all this, But Ellen offered firsthand experience and shared in-depth. She made me feel less isolated, and it is okay to speak out.
When I fell into a crushing depression a few months after starting to record DD’2, I realized that no matter what happened to my art (my passion, my livelihood, my identity), my survival depended on stability. Desperate, I succumbed, and set out into the dark, tangled forest of meds, blood draws, side effects, and big learning curves. It was dark. After a years-long arc of frustrations and triumphs, recorded in stacks of sketchbooks and journals, I found a tentative stability that became increasingly reliable. I wanted to make sense of that overwhelming tangled mess, and I turned to my art to shape my experience into a bunch of tracks.
I’d never felt so much pressure on myself to get a story right. I needed that for my own psyche, but I also wanted to offer my story up to whoever might find something useful in it. I wanted to give a specific tool to anyone undergoing the same situation I was in. I’m a survivor in progress.
After long talks with family, friends, and doing research, I wanted to offer myself as a scientific case study correlating mood disorders and creativity. I wanted to transform my negative experience into something positive. I wanted my thoughts to be pure and honest, I was expressing different moods when I was writing and recording, I wanted a good tape.
In December 2021, I turned in doing few collections of my art: It was a strange feeling: a combination of exhaustion, excitement and tremendous anxiety. I’d always been quiet about my experience with bipolar disorder. What would happen when people found out? Would I be forever dismissed as crazy, untrustworthy? Would people be shocked? Would it be worse if they weren’t? Insecurities of should I stick to one theme or go raw just I always do, I guess art speaks best when you’re venerable.
I learned something huge from putting my story out in the world: as I’d hoped, people told me I was giving them company, but I was given so much company, too. I was not a weirdo bipolar artist specimen. Strangers, friends, listeners, even interviewers would more often than not (I mean that) disclose their own personal experience with mental illness: their own diagnosis, their family history, their friend’s suicide, their son’s struggle. I didn’t know — couldn’t have known — how many chords my story could strike, or how many people were ready to be given an opportunity to come out.
My own, originally unexpected conclusion about being a crazy artist is that stability is good for my art. Mania was too distracting to get much work done and depression was too stifling. My current meds don’t pin me down, and a healthy lifestyle of regular sleep and good nutrition doesn’t rob me of my creativity.
Stability is relative — I’ll always live with bipolar disorder, and I’ll always need to deal with that.