The Creative Connection – Part One

Another influential writer in my own life Hemingway had a long history of mental illness. Hemingway, known at the time as the most celebrated American Writer, but had his demons he was fighting over the course of his life.

Recently I was asked to discuss the connection between Bipolar disorder and creativity. The blogger wanted me to link some famous people and choose the writers that influence me that had some level of mental illness. Creativity and famous people will most likely turn into a series where we see creative people in history and the present dealing with a mental illness,

How Mental Illness & Bipolar Disorder Connects to Creativity

If you research the subject, there is a real link between mental illness and creativity. In my research, on the issue, the links are as creative as the people themselves. The truth is many who have a mental illness like Bipolar Disorder, have been known to have a creative side. Even those artists that go undiagnosed have at some level issues with mental illness. I have always thought that my creativity, as it is, comes from my struggles with Bipolar One.

Today I thought it would be great to list some of the more famous writers and artists that have a history of the Bipolar disorder and mental illnesses in general.

Edgar Allan Poe

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It seems fitting to talk about the greatest inspiration in my writing first. If you have ever read one of Poe’s poetry, short stories, or really anything he wrote you can see that he was a real genius.

Though Poe never saw a diagnosis with a mental illness, he was a heavy drinker, and he had issues suicidal thoughts. Poe often discussed death in his work, and my favorite from Poe’s poem will always be “The Raven” where he talks about death. Poe certainly knew the dark depths of depression and that darkness haunted him. My favorite short story (detective work) will always be “The Purloined Letter.” The truth when I studied the man himself I see many similarities in my own life as a writer. It is why I honor Poe in my work by using his name in my pen name.

Ernest Hemingway

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Another influential writer in my own life Hemingway had a long history of mental illness. Hemingway, known at the time as the most celebrated American Writer, but had his demons he was fighting over the course of his life. Hemingway was known to be very manic at times in his life, and depressed. Those closest to the writer say that he was manic-depressant (Bipolar) his whole life.

His creative genius was apparent in everything he wrote. My favorite novel from Hemingway will always be “A Farewell to Arms,” and Hemingway wrote about influences in his own life experiences as an ambulance driver in World War I.

If you know nothing about Hemingway, then it might surprise you that he committed suicide on July 2, 1961. Hemingway had a long history of suicide attempts and hospital visits in his adult life. It goes to show that even the most creative of us a susceptible to the darkness and suicidal thoughts.

Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath is another influential writer that I turn to so that I can get inspiration from her amazing poetry. Like the other writers on this list, Plath had a history of being clinically depressed and had been hospitalized many times in her life.

The poet also made several suicide attempts over the course of her life and succeeded in 1963. If you have not read any of her work, “Ariel” is a fantastic piece of poetry that shows the darkness that Plath felt during her life and why she turned to suicide. Plath was a creative genius, but like so many on this list, her mental illness eventually consumed her.

Ezra Pound

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Unlike the others on this list, I know the artist Ezra Pound’s work but little about his mental illness history. Pound’s diagnosis in his life Narcissistic Personality Disorder which influenced his creative work and political views over the course of his life. Some believe that Pound also had schizophrenia, but many debates about the validity of this have happened for many years in both directions.

Ezra Pound is another example of creative genius, and mental illness can collide over the course of a life and have positive and negative connotations.

Leo Tolstoy

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Leo Tolstoy is a compelling creative artist that explored his depression in his original creative works. If you have a chance, please read Tolstoy’s work– A Confession for a look at his own experiences.OWhat is impressive is that like most of us, Tolstoy spends a lot of time contemplating and examining his depression. I know for me writing my memoir and part of the focus being my depression I examine the many facets of who I am as a writer and someone who is dealing with a mental illness.

J.K. Rowling

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Okay so maybe this is the wrong time to put Rowling on the list as many of the others on this list are dead, but Rowling will always be my favorite modern writer. I grew up with the Harry Potter series and he works will still be influential in my life– Rowling also has a history of depression and suicidal thoughts.

Rowling makes this list because she has been open and vocal about her struggles with mental illness in her life, at the same time she has been influential in the fighting of her depression. Not just a creative genius, Rowling is also a fantastic human being and advocate.

The End Thoughts

This post has been great, and I have more to tell in the future about other influential creative artists who advocate (not those who use their mental illness for their means to gain fame), and I will be putting out more of these in the future. I want to show creative people using their craft for good and to help end the stigma. I hope you like the series and you see that you can succeed even with a mental illness. At the same time, there is the other side where we as a society have lost creative geniuses because of the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Stay strong.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)

James Edgar Skye

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

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Photo Credit:

Mel Poole

Poe image from Poetry Foundation

Hemingway Image: Google

Sylvia Plath, Ezra Pound, Leo Tolstoy images from http://airshipdaily.com/blog/022620145-writers-mental-illness

Rowling picture from Google.

If You Ever Need help

If you ever need someone who will help you through a tough time in your life, I hope to be that person, because it is important to me to be accessible to the readers of this blog.

The idea of sharing my number is not the first time I have done this, but I wanted to double down on my recent renewal of being more of a committed mental health advocate.

If you ever need someone who will help you through a tough time in your life, I hope to be that person, because it is important to me to be accessible to the readers of this blog.

My inspiration of late comes from the outpour of support from the followers of this blog. I am going through one of the worst experiences of my life. I can say with certainty that I am not suicidal even though my thoughts have been depressive at times. It is a significant thing to lose a mother. My mom would want me to dive deeper into my mental health advocacy, as she always told me, and so that is why I am doing this post. So here again, I am posting my number, you can find it on my blog as well on the main page.

James’ Number – 831-287-4369

If you need someone to give you some advice on how to get through how you feel, I will be there and answer as quickly as possible. The other route of course is my email.

James’ Email: jamesedgarskye22@gmail.com

I will also list my social media platforms so that if you are not comfortable with these ways of connecting to The Bipolar Writer, you can always contact me.

Twiter: https://twitter.com/JamesEdgarSkye

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesEdgarSkye/

What I want is total transparency with being there for the people following this blog and the mental illness community. So I hope that those who feel like reaching out because they are suicidal or anything mental health-related do.

Lastly there is always the National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Always Keep Fighting

James

A New Bipolar Writer Blog Milestone

I wanted to say thank you to everyone following this blog and keeping it going. To my contributors, thank you for being there even when I can not by creating valuable mental health content. Let us celebrate our mental health advocacy, mental illness, and mental health recovery wellness.

12,000 Followers on The Bipolar Writer Blog

I always celebrate the significant milestones of the Bipolar Writer blog. I know I am not around as much, but I wanted to say The Bipolar Writer blog has reached the 12,000 followers milestone!

I wanted to say thank you to everyone following this blog and keeping it going. To my contributors, thank you for being there even when I can not by creating valuable mental health content. Let us celebrate our mental health advocacy, mental illness, and mental health recovery wellness.

Always Keep Fighting

James, and the Contributors of The Bipolar Writer blog

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Time

Time is one of the most important concepts that must be considered when talking about mental health. All of us feel that time is one resource that is not used wisely, the fact is contrasted by all we must do with the time we are afforded. For those with mental health issues, it may at times seem like time moves faster not just because of the need to heal but, also time spent contemplating moments missed and the pain of the past. No man has the power to control time, but one must continue living life despite it all, regardless of the hand that fate has dealt them.

A Poem about Time:

by : Francesca Seopa

Time comes, Time goes.

Time reaps, Time sows.

Time lingers, Time outlasts.

Time destroys, Time heals

Time takes, Time gives

Fate curses, Fate blesses

Fate so fickle, Fate so shrewd.

With a smile warm and lewd.

A guide through the dark dense woods.

The thing about time is that it is neither enemy nor friend, it’s not for anything or anyone. Time roots for no particular outcome. Like water flowing out of an overturned glass, Time moves simply because the laws of nature dictate it be so. The same goes for Fate. Even though you might feel that your fate is miserable and locked in that state, honestly speaking, Fate is shaped by a person’s thoughts and time. Empires have risen and fallen, kings crowned and dethroned. People are born and they die, sometime ghastly quick deaths, most of the time a slow agonizing death after a life of highs and lows. The point here is that one must not hold onto the feeling of time slipping away, not to overvalue or overthink what fate has accorded them. If anything, time must be spent living whatever life one wants and as for fate, whatever you do what will happen will happen. Life has ups and downs and no one can control what happens to them. People have the power of choice, they have the power to empower themselves despite what Life throws at them. The power of their choices will dictate their Fate. This is why it is so important for people to work towards healing, empowering themselves and understanding that they are worthy despite what they went through.

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.

– William Shakespeare

Thank you for being with me.

So, I close my eyes to old ends and open my heart to new beginnings.

– Nick Frederickson

I look forward to seeing you here. Let us rebuild a healthy state of Mind.

Warmly, Francesca.

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Reasons To Live

It is completely acceptable to stay alive for tiny reasons. Because you want to hear your favorite song one more time. Because your pet will miss you if you leave. The moon is just too pretty to never see. The beautiful sunsets are just too precious to never see again. Because you haven’t seen the next season of a really good TV show. Because you want to see the Christmas lights this year. If you are alive, you are doing enough.

So we push, to tear down the walls. Of the box that life has left us in to keep us away. And now we push to stay together. Know that nobody is going to save us from ourselves. The bad memories will knock us down. The good memories will lift us up. If you are surviving, just know that I am proud of you.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love, Francesca.

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Remember…

Remember…

Remember who you are.

Remember how you got here.

Remember what you love.

Remember what happiness is.

Remember your friendships.

Remember where you’re going.

Remember to accept your diagnosis.

Remember that you are not your illness.

Remember to have hope, to love and have aspirations.

Remember to allow yourself to feel and to live.

Remember that you are human and perfect in your imperfections.

Remember to let go.

Remember to move on.

Remember.

To be.

Remember this,

That your existence proves that there is a perfect world;

That perfect world is within you.

Unleash your inner magic and allow your inner-tuition to guide you.

Love yourself.

Always, remember this.

Love, Francesca

Tony’s Interview Feature

Here is another interview, this time Tony. Please read and also look for the other interviews that will go live this month of April.

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Tony’s Interview Feature

If there is one thing that I have learned while writing interview features on my blog is that in every walk of life for someone dealing with a mental illness, the story is different. Our stories are what define us, and hopefully, make us better people in the end.

I always imagined telling the story of someone much like myself, and in truth, I have a real affinity for stories. It was amazing the number of people willing to have me share their story.

When I first met Tony, it was on my blog, and over the course of just a short time, he shared pieces of his experience within my blog posts. When the opportunity came to share the major parts of his story, Tony jumped at the chance to be featured on The Bipolar Writer. Here is the story of one human being and his journey from his orgins to today—Tony from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

How does one deal daily with the struggle of a mental illness? Tony’s explains his daily experience in this way, “Having depression is like having a fog, of varying colors, consistencies, smells that kind of sharp itself, hovers, reveals and conceals different things at different times.”

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It is always easier to capture how a person feels in their own words, and in the interview with Tony, he uses his creative side to describe the daily struggle with depression.

When talking further about depression Tony had this to say, “Sometimes, heavy as a lead blanket, sinking to the ocean floor. Other times sparse, allowing more breathable air, less stifling. Sometimes it’s grey, other times it is pink. But the fog is there, it just looks and feels different at times.”

The “fog” that Tony describes is commonly thought of how depression feels, and it can mean the difference between a good day and bad one. For Tony, the fog means simple daily tasks taking up most of this morning with time stretching out like a wad of gum, seconds cutting like blades, and every moment weighted down by the depression.

Tony can trace his diagnosis to his childhood days. When he was very young, Tony was diagnosed dysthymia (mild depression) with severe depressive episodes in which he describes as, “Kind of like cloudy, with a chance of storms.”

It was much later and recent when he received the diagnosis of Bipolar Two and avoidant personality disorder.

An avoidant personality disorder is described as a psychiatric condition characterized by a lifelong pattern of extreme social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and sensitivity to rejection. But for Tony, this diagnosis means so much more, “It’s a tendency to retreat than to face things (problems) face on.” This is common with someone with a mental illness, but for Tony, his avoidance is rooted in the history that is can only be told in his own words.

“I don’t really remember having a mental illness or not having a mental illness.”

It is easier to walk in another person with a mental illness’ shoes if you know his story, and Tony’s story is one of amazing perseverance in the face of turmoil. Tony was adopted at birth by a devoted family with loving parents, but he describes their personalities as much different than his own. “My adopted father was a hard-working gregarious man who severe Bipolar disorder who had to go off work permanently while I was still young,” Tony recalls.

Tony’s mother, who was also a nurse, spent most of her free time with her husband’s issues leaving little time for Tony and his sister. “She too was loving and kind, but distant as well.” It was most likely this isolation that led Tony to begin to show signs of his avoidant personality disorder and it didn’t help that he was diagnosed so young with mild depression.

Tony was identified at a very young age as a gifted child and got through his elementary school days well enough, and weathered most of the storms at home. But, Tony began to use food as a coping mechanism and began to gain weight all the way to the beginning of his high school days. At this point in Tony’s life, we see how turmoil can lead someone down disastrous behaviors with depression as the copilot.

Tony remembers his early days and describes himself as having crooked teeth and a lazy eye, which led to severe bullying in teen years, “By the time high school hit, I was already 300lbs, and was bullied on a daily basis. I started having the shit kicked out of me. I hated school so much I would set my alarm to 2 am and hit snooze for the next four hours until it was time to get up so that I could fall asleep and wake that many times knowing I didn’t have to get up and face the day.”

With the daily torment of his peers and need to find a way to cope with the darkest depths of his depression, Tony chose to use hallucinogens dropping acid or eating mushrooms just to get through the moments of his school life. It only made things worse for that he was labeled a stoner and had little support from his teachers who cared little about the struggling teen.

“I dropped out, I isolated, I sat in my bedrooms for weeks on end, not showering, doing anything, barely surviving. I was depressed. I was allowed and encouraged to be depressed by an ill parent.” It can be tough living with a parent that mirrors your own issues, and these types of relationships, when reflected on later in life, this can feel destructive. 

It was tough going for Tony for most of his childhood and his teenage years. But as a human being, our journey is one that teaches us perseverance, and though it may seem as if this life is not worth living in the struggles of a mental illness, there is always a time when things feel okay. As if life is showing you a little light in the darkest places.

Tony eventually found that he could be functional after losing the majority of the weight he gained over the years. Tony found a few years of “normalcy” that often comes with the end of a depression cycle. In this period of time Tony made the decision to go back to school where he received his college diploma in Social Service Work. As most stories with a mental illness go, this short period of normalcy was quickly followed by a glut of personal tragedies in his adult life.

Everyone experiences personal tragedies in their life, but for someone prone to severe depression it will often sink the sufferer deeper into depression as a response. The shorter the period of time and succession of tragedies can often leave a mental illness to suffer little time to compartmentalize these events.

“I experienced in a short period of time my dad’s brief fight with cancer, my sister’s own discovery of her own battle with cancer, the ending of my marriage, which was followed with the birth of a daughter who was born at 1lb 3oz at 25 weeks with bleeding on her brain and a hole in her heart.”

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Even the strongest of us in the mental health community can only hold on for so long. It is no surprise given the succession of tragedies in Tony’s life that he had a psychotic break and was hospitalized for twenty-one days. Tony recalls that experience well, “It was frightening, but I felt safe, and I away from all the shit of the world for a short period, and I didn’t have anything to do but get better.” It was in this experience that Tony started writing and doing collage art.

In Tony’s experience, it is often tough to get through a single day with his mental illness. When he is symptomatic he uses routines that help him complete tasks in a ritualistic way. It helps that Tony gets through a day alive, but on the worst days, he only accomplishes a fraction of what he had planned. To combat the bad days, he focuses on his limitations, trying not to get too ahead of himself, and try hard not to take the bad too seriously. These types of behaviors come from years of dealing with the darkness and finding wisdom.

That wisdom showed when Tony was asked about if he ever had suicidal thoughts, “Yes, I have several times. Once I got close enough to downing a bottle of pills that I knew enough to drag myself to the ward. When you can’t trust yourself with your pills, you know you’re in trouble.”

Writing can be the most therapeutic part of the life of someone with a mental illness. I know in my own experiences that is true, and Tony has found his place in his own blog and writing. In talking about his story with me it has helped Tony to process the past and to look to be grounded in the present.

“My blog and being creative in general have meant the world to me. I am not someone who talks about things. I sit on them” he recalls. Tony believes that seeking help is an important part of his recovery, but engaging others through creative expression is an amazing experience that he cherishes.

art stacks

In Tony’s life, he often finds solace and happiness in the little things in his life that make it easier to deal with his mental illness. Tony has his kids, nature, art, music, friends, and family that are his support system in his darkest times.

Every one of the human beings in the mental illness community wants their story to be one of many that make a difference or end the stigma that surrounds all of us. “At some point in our lives,” he explains, “I am pretty sure we could all meet the requirements for a mental disorder diagnosis. It’s okay. If we are honest and brave enough to be vulnerable and tell people what we are feeling, it’s a start.”

Tony believes that we all have a vulnerability that keeps us from seeking help, but if we are willing to be open-minded and willing to accept that we have a mental illness it could mean getting the right help. Tony believes that it’s not about weakness, laziness, or morals. It is about your health and illness.

Tony wants to tell the world his story, the ups, the downs, his love for his poetry and his art; to be featured on The Bipolar Writer in Tony’s eyes is a vital part of his healing process. Tony’s is one of the many, but there is no doubt that his story has to be told.

art were watching

Here are some links to written poetry Tony wanted to share:

https://handsinthegarden.wordpress.com/2017/12/16/sleepless-the-fever/

https://handsinthegarden.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/the-lonely-crowd-worded/

If you would like to know more about Tony and his journey you can visit him on his blog. “My Hand in the Garden” @ https://handsinthegarden.wordpress.com/

Written by: James Edgar Skye

Interviewee: Anthony “Tony” Gorman

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All art pieces on this article are done by Tony

Other Features written by J.E. Skye

Morgan’s Interview Feature

Official Launch of the James Edgar Skye Patreon Account

It was always the goal for me to write full-time. It has always been a dream of mine to be financially stable enough to write full-time. I have been a struggling writer for a long time, and my experiences with my mental illness have been shared here so many times here on my blog. I do struggle holding down a full-time job and my work with freelance has been up and down. With the change of medication, and the fact that I am feeling much better it is time to officially launch my Patreon account.

Become a Patron!

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a way for artists like me to connect to my readers in a real way, and at the same time, it offers tiers for special offers that keep you in the loop of what I am working on a the moment.

This is the official look at what a Patreon account looks like: Patreon is a crowdfunding membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service, with ways for artists to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to their subscribers, or “patrons”.

Become a Patron!

What does it Mean for J.E.?

If I can get my Patreon account going, it means a lot of things. The first is working on my current writing projects full-time and have enough money to hire a top-tier copy editor, so that when I self-publish The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir it is the best possible product. It will give me the time to create a book about the members of the mental illness community beyond just my memoir. I want to start a podcast that will show the many phases of mental ilness and people’s experience.

Once I meet my goals, I will be able to offer merchandise and, of course, copies of my books. I can do so many great things for the mental illness community. There are so many great things I can accomplish. The lowest tier is $2 and $5. I know I have asked a lot of the mental illness community of late and this is just something I have good feeling inside my heart

If you can help that would be amazing. I am genuinely in awe of people in the mental illness community. If you have questions about how to sign up and join a tier please reach out. It can be a confusing process.

Update: I got my first three patrons. I am really excited.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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Burnout And Complex PTSD

Photo by Ivan Obolensky on Pexels.com

Burnout and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C/PTSD) are rarely talked about. I think, for the most part, burnout and fatigue are the most debilitating symptoms that I have to deal with on a daily basis. Fatigue that is caused by my medication and from being extremely anxious and hypervigilant on a daily basis.

Drowning In Work

I find myself trying to drown myself into work, as a coping mechanism, whenever I get overwhelmed by my emotions (or lack of sometimes – due to my numbness) and my inability to articulate what causes me to feel anxious or depressed. It becomes an exhausting cycle, from time to time, and sometimes I seem unable to break out of it.

Life Is A Grind

I honestly believe that living with PTSD or CPTSD feels like I have been grinding for so long that my life has become a grid. I see myself eating at my desk more often than I should. Drinking more caffeine just so my body can cope with my grind or my need to keep grinding. Adding into the mix, my anxiety, depression and my lack of self-esteem coupled with my self-doubt that was instilled into my body by the trauma I have survived.

This seems to continue and gets to the point where I start eating less healthy and exercise less often. My mood than gets affected and everyone around me – well becomes frustrated with having to deal with my dark side. I honestly do get tired of feeling hopeless. This whole cycle then leads me into thinking that I have become inferior – by comparison – to who I was before my trauma.

This vicious cycle is unhealthy, I must admit. My body then gets to a point where it can’t take anymore stressors or continue to work. I think that this habit of constantly over-working myself can’t be stopped by self care mechanisms. although, they can help tame and slow down the process of burnout.

Get Help

If you are feeling this way at the moment, I hope you stop – pause – and listen to your mind, body, and soul. Because they are you and that is your power. Please try to seek professional help as well.

Burnout is the moment when everything gives, and it’s more common than you might think.

Matt D’avella

Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love,

Francesca

What are Your Worst Mental Illness Symptoms

I feel better. My depression lessened over the weekend, and I have a good feeling about where the rest of February will go when it comes to the depressive episode being entirely over.

I have not felt this good since the first week of January. While thinking about what to write this week on my blog I came up with a question that I want to pose to the followers and contributors of The Bipolar Writer blog. Just a couple of questions.

Identify what you struggle with…

What are your worst symptoms?

How do you dea?

Feel free to leave your comments down below! Let us use this as a stepping stone to something great. Maybe it will inspire you to write a blog post!

Always Keep Fighting

James

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