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Creativity and bipolar-my story. Friday November 11, 2016

Hello, I have bipolar and I am not a creative genius.

I have imagined saying this when I meet someone to see their reaction but so far I have resisted the temptation.

I have had people say "You are so lucky to have bipolar" because they have read an article that claims there is a link between mood disorder and creativity and genius.

I think I preferred when people were afraid of me.

I am sure there are people who have bipolar who are very creative but there are many people who have bipolar who are not that creative and people who are creative and/or a genius that do not have a mental illness.

There was a study that looked at what comes first the creative talent or the disorder.

For me, I was an average creative person, but when the mania came into my life, I was convinced I was so talented. Nothing had changed except my perception.

People often say they fear taking medications, as they don't want to lose the one thing they have - their creativity.

For me, the truth is I was never creative when high. I thought I was. I was too busy being reckless, I had no time or energy left to be creative.

I had delusions and unrealistic expectations of what I could achieve. I was certain that as soon as I wrote my novel it would be on the bestseller lists and I would be interviewed on chat shows.

My creativity was an illusion. That is the seductive nature of mania. It was only ever a feeling that was never going to make me a wonderful writer.

I can only tell my story. People will have other experiences. The word creative is being the most desirable characteristic so much so that people sometimes apologise if they are not creative.

It has a personal meaning for everyone. Jul in the next blog in this 2 part series will explain about what Creativity means to her.

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Nikki Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 7:39am

Absolutely Leah!
Couldn't have put it better myself!

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 9:53am

Thanks Nikki, I will be interested to see what others think espeiclally those who have a totally different experience.

LP Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 8:29am

Hi Leah,
Yes, I'm interested in the idea that creativity is about your perception, at different times.
For me it's a feeling that sort of surfaces and I think ooh I'm feeling creative, I fancy doing some.... whatever. Writing creatively is different. It's about an idea that I want to put down and develop. Sometimes it feels right and just flows. When it comes from my heart it just feels right.
My knowledge about the brain is a bit rusty! I think the front is where cognition comes from. Also the left hemisphere is where logic thinking and language comes from. The right is more about spacial awareness. Interestingly, I like the idea that if we can switch off the left side and let the right take over, we can get into a creative flow that for me appeals as being more satisfying and relaxing. I might have mentioned the book drawing from the right side of the brain, which I found fascinating. Theres an experiment that anyone can try which literally illustrates the idea. I wont go on about it now but I am insired to have a go when I get a chance!

Thank you for sharing your perspective Leah. People do try to pigeonhole us with labels and subheadings! Another here here from me too! :) Good wishes to all, LPxx

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 9:56am

Lp, I meant to acknowledge your previous blog which inspired me to finish mine. IYou write many interesting ideas. I see creatvity nowadays as being the talent/skill which is given the biggest oriority but many people interpret it differently. Do you have to creat something to be creative or is being a thinker creative?

LP Sat, Nov 12th 2016 @ 2:49am

It's an interesting quetion! I think both, or either depending on what is being created! An idea and how it is expressed. :) xx

Hopeful One Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 9:15am

Hi Leah- thank you for your blog. I am not bipolar but I can say this about creativity. To me it is something one does by employing one's thoughts,feelings and behaviour which gives one pleasure or a sense of achievement .Whether one's output is appreciated is a matter of opinion or judgement outside one's control. Your blog to me is an act of creativity and an excellent one at that.

Today's attempt at humour is topical.

Are you as moral as you think you are?

This test only has one question, but it's a very important one.
By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally.
The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.
Only you will know the results, so remember that your answer needs to be honest.

You are in Florida, Miami to be specific.
There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding.This is a flood of biblical proportions.
You are a photojournalist working for a major newspaper, and you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster.The situation is nearly hopeless.
You're trying to shoot career-making photos.There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water.

Suddenly you see a man in the water.He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris.
You move closer.Somehow the man looks familiar.
You suddenly realise who it is.
It's Donald Trump!
At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take him under forever.

You can save the life of Donald Trump or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world's most powerful Republican men hell bent on the destruction of America.

Here's the question, and please give an honest answer.
"Would you select high contrast colour film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?"

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 10:04am

Hopeful, Thanks for your kind words. I feel the word creative is so overused these days that it its menaing gets confused.

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 10:05am

Answer to your moral dilemma. Don't waste time with film, do a quick selfie with DT in background and save him!!

Mary Wednesday Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 10:11am

Oh, HO (hey - a palindrome!) - thank you for a wonderful giggle this morning!

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 10:14am

Is telling a joke creative even if one has not written it? I think so because the way the joke is told is very imprtant. I am teriible at joke telling as I either forget punch line or I telling the punch line too early!!! I salute Hopeful One,,.

Hopeful One Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 11:03am

Hi Mary - you have a great gift - to see the funny or the peculiar in the mundane - oh oh Ho Ho if you see what I mean.

Hopeful One Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 11:29am

Hi Leah- thanks for that. If you think it's creative than creative it is!

Hopeful One Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 11:31am

Hi Leah- but will it win the Pulitzer Prize?

Maria Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 2:53pm

OH what a dilemma. Who is worse to have as the next president...Donald Trump or Mike Pence?!

Salt Water Mum Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 9:24am

Hi Leah,

Thank you, this is really interesting to me. I work in the arts so therefore I am 'creative'.
In my field, I am. But because I am 'arty', people expect me to be good at all things artistic. I cannot play an instrument. I cannot draw or paint. And I am atrocious at face painting and arts and crafts!! - Which is hilarious because everyone at my kids' school puts me down for those stalls at various events !!

Yet, I am still creative. But not in the way people assume I am.

So, that's one pressure.

But the biggest pressure is the one I put upon myself. I give myself daily and weekly grief for not being more creative. I too, Leah have delusions and unrealistic expectations of myself. I too have imagined myself being interviewed on chat shows and walking up red carpets. I like to think it's positive thinking and 'putting it out there to the universe' but the problem is that I build myself up with all these dreams when I'm happy and then when the sadness hits...... I fall and sink and give myself such untold grief for not succeeding in a way that was all in my imagination in the first place....

Oh you've given me lots to think about...

But back to work now - darn it, I have to be creative !!


Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 10:07am

Salt water mum, Thanks for your perspective and an understanding of the pressure you are under. I think many of us put pressure on ourselves and that make sit harder.

Hopeful One Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 11:13am

Hi SWM-.' I CANNOT play an instrument. II CANNOT draw or paint ( my caps) . As soon as you says 'cannot' you never will' (Yoda to Luke Skywalker) Change that to ' CAN' - make the decision and your subconscious will find a way. I did that and now can paint evidenced by the fact that friends are willing to hang my paintings on their walls I am learning to play the guitar . Early days but I am slowly getting the hang of it.

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 6:45pm

Hopeful, There are some people who can not play and instrument or draw and no matter how positive they frame the words they wont. Many people will mever be a brain surgeon even if they want to, I believe we can all try but for me I think knowing our strengths and weaknesses is very important. Sure everyone can try to play an instrument or to draw and if the enjoy it that is good but not everyone will develop competency. I would like to see your artworks.

Salt Water Mum Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 9:27am

Good one Hopeful One !!! ( my happy faces turn to question marks for some reason on Moodscope so please imagine lots of happy and laughing faces !!!)

Ps my son yesterday morning said 'oh no mum, Donald Trump will want to put his face on the American flag now, won't he?' !!!!

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 10:08am

Salt water, Hopeful makes us think and smile!! How creative!!

Hopeful One Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 11:15am

Hi SWM- Thank you.

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 10:11am

As moodscopers know I usally add a question to end of my blogs but did not this time. Anyy comments or answers gratefully appreciated!!
However, I was thinking about what the word creative means to you.
What would you sacrficie so you could keep your creativity?
Does creativity change as you get older? Just saw an interview with David Hockney who said he will keep drawing and painting as long as he lives.

Mary Wednesday Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 10:17am

Hello Leah, I am bipolar and I am creative - but by no means a creative genius! Also, the largest part of being a successful writer is the hideous (to me) non-creative part of formatting, uploading, marketing, negotiating and accounting for sales of one's writing. This is a large part why none of my writing is yet available for people to buy. In spite of my qualification and fifteen year's experience as a chartered accountant and Finance manager in various large organisations, that side of things fills me with terror. I am lucky, so lucky, that - even when on the down side of the bi-polar, the words do not desert me, even though the energy does. I'm sure there is a bell curve to this subject, just as there is with nearly everything!

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 10:21am

Thanks Mary, I think many writers and artists can relate to what you wrote. I get many dieas but trying to order them inot paragraphs really frustrates me. I suppose that is why creative people have agents to help sell their work. Take care, leah

the room above the garage Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 11:01am

Hello Leah, how is warm Australia today? Are you now heading into full Summer or is it still Spring? I'm with HO, I think creativity is in the eye of the beholder and can be found in wildly different ways. You made me think of my ex partner who would describe himself as 'not a bit creative'. Actually, if I look at his work...its there. (He is so shut down now that I couldn't even have that conversation with him but that is another tale for another time.) What is the difference in your 'delusions and unrealistic expectations' and what others may say are dreams? Fascinated again :-) love ratg x.

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 6:35pm

ratg, As I write it has been pouring rain here all night and I need to leave early to walk 20 m ins to railway station to get a hr train to see my son! I am not owrried about sunburn but about staying dry!!! Thanks for your comment. I agree as i said before that creativity can be defined differently but recently it seems to have a narrow meaning. I think for me I know something is a dream, a delsuion when manic, I believed was the truth and reality. Does that make sense? Love Leah xx

The Gardener Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 3:01pm

Hi Leah - how I agree with you. I wrote an article on the subject for the Psychologist magazine and there appears to medical proof that it the downward spiral which incites creativity (until too far down). I always felt creative in manic mood - it was spurious - wild ideas, loads started, no staying power, nothing achieve. It's being up against it that brings out my creativity - a whole week on my own - mostly sealing up draughts but also having ideas which have elicited praise and have been achieved. I know Stephen Fry is bi-polar - creative enough (you may hate him of course) was Spike Milligan bi-polar or only recurrent serious depressions. Love your response to HO's super conundrum.

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 6:38pm

Thanks Gardener, That is interesting what you say about downward spiral inspiring creativity, for me it was becoming "stable"(whatever that is) but even then I dont believe I am creative just average, Spike Milligan was manic depressive as it was called back then. Enjoy your week andI hope your batteries are recharged. Hugs Leah

Jul Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 6:43pm

Hi Leah. You have helped me so much to see creativity in a different light. I suppose when I feel good, I do feel more creative but does that matter? I have always put so much emphasis on being creative and when I can't be, I feel almost worthless (bit dramatic there!). I think being entertaining and witty also comes into the equation. I am not a stand up comedian nor do I earn my living being creative so I am talking about social situations where I like to be lively and entertain others, make them laugh. You have made me realise that creativity isn't the ultimate goal and that highs do not necessarily release true creativity in me, that highs create an illusion of I can do anything and that it's not real, for most of the time. I suppose illegal highs produce that feeling of abandon, happiness and self confidence which lasts only as long as the drug is working. You come down with a bang afterwards. Thanks again Leah for telling us about your experience and insight. Jul xxx

Leah Fri, Nov 11th 2016 @ 6:49pm

Jul Thanks for your comments. I have learnt a lot from your viewpoint and moodscopers will be interested to read your blog tommorrow. It is sad that many of us are made to feel worthless now if we are not creative, that is a very importnat point. As has been stated, who decides what creativity is?? Take care xx

Eva Sat, Nov 12th 2016 @ 6:59am

Hi Leah, hope you had a good visit with your son. I think creativity is wide and can be applied to much more than just making art , written works or music. I think it's in how you approach life, how you present yourself, the clothes you choose to wear, the colours, your hair, and how you do your home, desk at work... Everything is an expression of your taste and likes. How you problem solve can also immensely creative and that to me is all part of your creativity.

Leah Sat, Nov 12th 2016 @ 8:53am

Thanks Eva, Your comments are what I have been saying- that creativity has a muh wider meaning.

Tutti Frutti Sat, Nov 12th 2016 @ 12:23pm

Hi Leah I am bipolar and certainly no more than averagely creative. In manic phases I sometimes imagine that I have missed my vocation as a musician and must restart playing the clarinet at once (I last played age 9). In practice I would rather do other things musically and certainly don't have time to take up the clarinet right now (or indeed when my daughter was a baby!). I think there are some highly creative people who produce great things when manic (Spike Milligan's nonsense poems seem likely to have been influenced by mania) but those people are possibly just highly creative anyway. It isn't clear to me that bipolar people are statistically over-represented among creative genius types. I imagine that it would be very difficult to tell what the proportions in the general population actually are, what with the stigma and the difficulties getting an accurate diagnosis for mental health. And then of course you have the minor problem of defining creative genius! Love TF x

Leah Sat, Nov 12th 2016 @ 8:56pm

thanks tf for a very thoughtful comment. it is interesting that over the years bipolar has gone from being a very scary illness to to one that is now associated with creativity. I like your story about the clarinet. ..

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