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Navigating Creativity and Schizoaffective Disorder

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I was just having lunch with a talented friend who happens to have the same diagnosis as I do, schizoaffective disorder. He has delusions. I get delusions and hallucinations, but not like him.

Everyone’s psychosis is different. Both of us are highly controlled by medicine, magical medicine. He’s on seven. I’m on five. We are bright but lack some of the tools of artistic success due to either disability or innate factors of our personalities. I don’t know which.

Over coffee, we determined that creativity comes and goes like a broken flashlight. Our artistic process requires detours. I take month long breaks because the psychosis bubbles up when I write novels. When I’m manic (schizoaffective disorder is a combination of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia), I produce crap, although it sounded brilliant at the time of writing. I heard artists say they only write poetry or create paintings when they are manic. Alas, this is not me nor him.

When I am manic, I don’t eat. I don’t need food. It needs me. I even once told this to a donut before I threw it out in whole. Yet, it is hard to create when you are hungry (whether you know it or not.) My friend is feeling a little too lethargic to create more music. It is probably a side effect of the medicine. However, long-term he won’t give up. There is music everywhere, hints of opportunity and sometimes stimuli rains down like hail. Avoid it at your peril.

I wrote a musical, “Catladies the Musical That Makes Lawyer Purr.” I’ve never been more proud than when it played in New York, but it was effort. I assumed I could do it because I knew nothing about musicals. No need to be scared then. As my mood flipped and flopped, I found myself caught in the pages, absorbed and trapped in my creation. Darn socialization! I had a play to write.

I wrote Catladies with bravado. I did not realize the breadth of the work involved, but knowing nothing of musicals or singing, I seized that opportunity. I honestly don’t know if my disease helped Catladies live.

What of creativity? Does it survive in a psychotic body? It seems to. When I enter my realm of writing, I dip into fantasy and that is not good for me long-term. If I don’t do it though, then life is tiring and a challenge. When I write, I feel joy. So does my friend. There is a balance out there in living your creative passion. Does anyone online know where it is hidden?

Originally published: August 23, 2016
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