Catch-22 number one: The side effect of my medication is that I forget to take my medication.
I think about where I am today in this moment, feeling relatively stable in terms of my bipolar, and excited to be starting an online art course tomorrow. But I’m also aware of how my brain has slowed, how I’m sometimes foggy, and lose my short term memory. My doctor told me it’s a side effect of my medication; it depletes folic acid, and that contributes to the brain fog. She gave me a sample of folic acid at her office, and of course, I forgot where I put it for about three days. And now I know where it is but I just forget to take it. So I put the pills smack in the middle of the kitchen counter with a post-it note that says:
“It’s ten o’ clock. Do you know where your brain is?”
Catch-22 number two: In order to be happy long term, I have to be sad.
During all of my manias I have spent too much money, ruined relationships, exhibited very poor judgement and also had a hell of a good time. The aftermath has such destructive consequences, however, that my psychiatrist decided it is probably safer to keep me a little depressed from time to time than to risk the chance of getting full blown mania. I revisit this decision every time I am depressed, because I feel there must be a better solution. If you are bipolar and have a medicine that works for your lows in conjunction with a mood stabilizer, I’d be interested in hearing what you are taking.
Catch-22 number three: In order to allow creative chaos, I have to be stable.
There are moments in creating a work of art or writing, when the work takes on a will of it’s own. I begin the work, my hands move the paintbrush or pencil, but my mind starts telling me which direction to go. This is when my judgements quiet, I experiment, and trust that no matter where this chaotic process leads me, it will have taught me something. It hovers in moments of uncertainty and it either destroys the work or makes it better.
I have learned over the years that if I don’t take care of the chaos in my life, that crucial moment of chaos in my art will lose it’s strength and purpose. I will sometimes try to control it because I feel so out of control. The result is lackluster work that never went far enough into risky territory to inspire people to relate to it.
What are the Catch-22’s of your mental illness, creativity, or life?