Bipolar Confession

“And with the strength of a thousand men,
Both before you and within,
You came clean.
You did everything but shout it from rooftops for years.
But, alas, that was never enough.
“This is me, in all my unforgiving ‘crazy’ glory.”
And now you are free
to love yourself.
And now you are free
to begin healing.”

The above was written to commend a former professor of art who recently announced that he has suffered from bipolar disorder for years. He let everyone know that he recently hit his “all-time low.” I’ve seen people suffer from this illness up-close and personal, and they have always been the kindest and most sincere souls, despite their aggressive day-to-day battles. I want to honor this man for the strength and courage it took, and will continue to take, on the long and winding road of recovery.

I can’t help but notice that all of the people I have met with this illness have all been great artists. I equate the often erratic behavior they experience to an emotional scale that surpasses what most people feel day to day. The hard and fast emotional roller coaster can take someone to their highest point, immediately followed by their lowest. But I’ve known many other people who never really get to experience either end of that spectrum, because it takes extreme emotional availability that is often unstable and frowned upon in society.

But look at the capacity for love these people have, so often juxtaposed with their prominent self-loathing and painful realizations that they are different from the “norm”. I believe this emotionality doesn’t always need to be their downfall. I believe that successful
recovery can bring people who suffer from this illness to the top once more, in a more even-timed dance with life, because they have seen hell and risen beyond it. Not above it, no, because those times still remain within them always. But with proper care and love, and at times with hospitals and medications, the people who used to suffer uncontrollably are able to love wholeheartedly and teach the world to do the same.
3.19.13

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One thought on “Bipolar Confession

  1. Bipolar people have a sad existence, in a lot of ways. Those “highs” they experience are often uncomfortable, and result in bizarre, irrational decisions that sufferers often come to regret. People assume it’s “sometimes really happy and sometimes suicidally depressed.” It’s closer to “sometimes on an uncontrollable drug-like roller coaster and sometimes suicidally depressed” according to every bipolar I’ve the pleasure to speak to.

    The artistic aspect seems to be shared among a wide range of mental illnesses. Having a different point of view from everybody else leads to interesting, thought-provoking and inspiring art. Looking into an ordinary, content and happy person’s mind is boring. An unusual person, though?

    It raises interesting questions: If we learn–through pharmacology or genetic modification or robot brain implants or all three–to eliminate suffering in humans (a goal I wholeheartedly support) what will be the cost? Could we lose great art? Is the art more valuable than the pleasant life of the potential artist?

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