Bipolar Disorder and The Creative Process

James M. Weil - Author and Writer with Bipolar Disorder

James M.. Weil – Bipolar Disorder and The Creative Process

As a writer with bipolar disorder, I never know what my next book will be. They just happen. I am not a genre writer, and, in fact, my publisher told me that Swiss Chocolate defies any real category. That’s true with all three books I have written so far. For a writer, this is a gift and a curse.

Although my disease is well-managed and under control, I am still susceptible to mood swings. But I have so much pent-up emotion that when I hit my boiling point my emotions erupt from the depths of my soul like a violent volcano.

That’s when I sit down and write. I can go for days without sleep, and will write from the moment I wake up until I am just too exhausted to write another word. I become obsessed with my writing and won’t stop until I am satisfied with the ending. It’s hard to explain what goes on in my head when I am in that state of mind. Basically, I live only in my head, and pretty much tune out the rest of the world. In my my head it’s like watching a movie playing with vivid detail. I can actually see my characters in action and hear what they are saying. It’s almost like I did not create them at all; they just came alive in my head.

I am aware of a beginning, middle and an end, but the story writes itself. I don’t have to think about the words; they just come. You would think the story would be very disjointed and incohesive, but they are tight, well-focused, with a strong central theme. They come from somewhere deep in my psyche, and I am brutally hosest when I write. It is here where I fight my demons, and that’s what gives my stories the layers of intertwining, ovararching themes that portray my inner being and how I feel about myself, life and the people I love.

Being bipolar is a curse and a gift at the same time. When I am slightly manic, I can produce enormous amounts of work in a very short period of time, but when I start to go off the rails, it’s a feeling of being completely out of control, and, at times, it is downright painful. Like most people with bipolar disorder II, the less severe form of the disease, I hover on the manic side, and I do not take antidepressants, but when I swing into a deep depression, they are debilitating and can last for months at a time. This is a disease that is very hard to live with, and managing it requires a combination of the right medication, talk therapy and sheer attitude.

Love to you all!

James M. Weil

Bipolar Disorder is A Protected Class Under The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

2 comments

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  1. jb,

    Bipolar Disorder affects everyone differently. I cannot write on demand unless I am doing technical writing or journalism. I am sort of an idiot savant when it comes to writing novels and stories. I need to be supercharged with creativity and emotion before I sit down and write anything serious.

    I have come to accept this limitation, and right now I am focusing on getting back into shape through martial arts. I find that helps me focus and I have my center.

    I feel for you. It is difficult to live with this curse, but it can be a blessing too if you can mange to focus your energy into something creative.

    Best,

    James M. Weil

  2. thank you for writing this. while i haven’t published anything, i am writing, and i do have bipolar disorder. lately, i’ve been wrestling with processing issues, and i’m hoping to find others who are able to work through the various difficulties that bp presents. ultimately, these problems keep me from establishing any sort of routine, such as SKing describes in On Writing, since my state of mind can be viciously unpredictable. even if i *say* that i’m going to sit down at 8PM every night and write for two hours, there’s no guarantee that my brain will cooperate.

    i am in treatment and doing all that i can to manage my health, both physically and mentally. however, the only solution i’ve found thus far is to write when my mind works and to walk away when it doesn’t. that’s far from ideal, and the situation is extremely limiting and frustrating. is there a certain level of acceptance for which i should be reaching? in other words, is it more healthful to acknowledge that i can apparently only do so much, or are there ways to circumvent this particular roadblock and be more consistent in the act of writing?

    i understand that you are likely very busy, so if you don’t have the time to reply, i certainly understand. however, if you do have any words to offer, i would be most appreciative. thank you for taking the time to read this!

    jb

    *i’ll be putting in a hold request at my library for Swiss Chocolate; it sounds wonderful!

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