The good parts of Manic Depression and why I actually like it
I’ve been thinking about Manic Depression and the benefits that come along with it, because yes, there are a hell of a lot of additional things that manic depression carries which are really amazing. I kicked off this blog with a list of people throughout history who have had manic depression or other serious mental illnesses, if you go to any crazy person run support centre you’ll usually get a list like this. In fact, they should really be handing it out in hospitals for the newly diagnosed. I tried to link to it but it was being stupid, it’s the post from March 14, 2004.
One thing that is amazing is the depth of emotions. If sane people’s emotions are black and white (to use a metaphor), bipolar people’s emotions are full on Technicolor. Everything is just exponentially more, my capacity for loving someone is dramatically larger than most, although since I have to pass as normal I usually hide that kind of stuff. I also know that people FREAK out when they realize you can love them to that degree, so sometimes I even hide it from my girlfriends because I know it is pretty intense and I don’t want them to run away. The bad thing is that yucky feelings like anger are also exponentially more, and it takes all my will power to avoid kicking stuff around when I’m frustrated.
Although if no one else is around to get intimidated by it I will hit random inanimate objects. But usually I work off angry energy by having a long walk.
The sad thing about having such a huge capacity for love is that it is hard to find romantic partners with the same intensity. Which is probably why things such as assortative mating happens with people with M.I.’s.
Assortative mating is kind of a dumb term. It’s applied to folks with M.I.’s because we have a tendency to date each other. However two sane people with similar life experiences forming a long term bond aren’t assortatively mating. They just have “a lot in common.”
Creativity also seems to go hand in hand with manic depression. A shitload of notable artists, musicians, filmmakers, actors, and writers have manic depression. In fact, so much of the arts is informed by manic depression that contemporary society has in a large part been shaped by people like me, and that’s not even taking into account that world leaders throughout history have also been disproportionately manic depressive. The reason so much has originated in the minds of “crazy” folk is that manic depression’s most troubling characteristic to the outside world is actually useful and important. That would be the classic manic episode.
During a manic episode it feels like, if your brain was a house, all the lights would be on, as would every electrical appliance. If your brain was a television set it would be playing 300 channels all at once, and you would be able to recognize and understand every single channel. To the outside observer communicating with us makes no sense AT ALL because we jump from concept to concept in split seconds. But on the inside it’s actually quite profound and amazing. It means two subjects which people would not think had ANY bearing on each other get linked in a very valid way, and in a way which a non-bipolar person would totally miss. Tragically some of the stuff we understand we get shamed for so much that we lose it or pretend it wasn’t real. For instance, I know a lot of people who have understood language related to colours, or seen how time actually functions. I myself saw how God and “individual” souls relate to each other, but in the end all the sane people ran around going “She thinks she’s God!” It was so frustrating. And I would try to explain the concept but it was so out there that they just pitied me and then made fun of it. My friend Emily and I talked about what it’s like to go manic and agreed it’s like being able to touch God, not just understand it.
Even the Second World War would have had a completely different outcome if it wasn’t for the fact that Winston Churchill was having an extended manic episode at the time.
Hypergraphia is also a very handy part of craziness which some other M.I.’s have as well. It’s the ability to just write and write and write and write. Which is useful for a writer. Most of the time it makes sense too.
And even depression has it’s benefits. For creative people, work made during mania can be edited and reconfigured during a depressive episode. You don’t need another pair of eyes because in a couple months when you crash you’ll be coming at it from a completely different point of view anyway.
So yes, I talk about the ways in which manic depression makes my life difficult, but it has also given me a lot more than it has taken. In fact, some people recognize it’s benefits so much that even if they are stabilized on meds by psychiatric standards, they’ll take slightly less so that some of the “illness” remains.
I should also say that the most major complications I’ve come across can be directly attributed to current psychotropics which we supposedly depend on. In fact my file dictates I should take Zyprexa for the rest of my life, when I’ve been off it for seven months and am doing better than I did for the four years I was on it. Not only that, but it was antidepressants which lead to my hospitalization, and furthermore I never had auditory hallucinations until I started taking psych meds.