Creativity, Mania and Meds

“Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.”Cecil B. DeMille

spring book with feather sketch
Photo by Alena Koval on

For the longest time, I fought tooth and nail against taking any kind of psychiatric drugs (not to be confused with psychedelic drugs) for many reasons, but mostly because they required me to get clean and sober in order to be effective. I also feared the usual side effects such as weight gain, sleep-eating, vivid dreams, sweating in places you normally don’t sweat, hot flashes, rashes, possible life-threatening rashes, headaches, stomach upset, etc.

The root fear beneath it all was that I would turn into someone else, someone less me; not creative, but compliant and above all else, NORMAL. The elusive and highly coveted title bestowed on only the most worthy, the most middle of the road, even-keeled, Follow the Leader Champion of all Time. That’s when you know you’ve arrived in the Land of the Lemmings. But at least no one looks at you sideways and whispers about your behaviors or “uniqueness” or throws the word crazy around like it’s the bridal bouquet toss at a wedding that no one wants to catch. Additionally, someone in a position of authority was telling me to do something and so I did the exact opposite. That’s what we call willful defiance and it is the one personality trait I would like to have exorcised and radiated into nothingness, as it has been the bane of my existence since I was able to speak.

When I look back on all the dark poetry I wrote while in the midst of an especially unsettling manic phase, I used to wonder if it was the mania or me that created it. I believe now that my talents are not solely dependent upon my state of mind, but rather colored and seasoned by it. I don’t need to be hopelessly depressed to write about sadness or riding the tsunami of mania to write of bliss. I know now that my creativity exists within me;  my moods may change, but the core of who I am remains, ever evolving and becoming. The mind grows and doors of information and wisdom that were closed before are now open. Meditation, gratitude, being in the moment and seeking out knowledge are the ways I can navigate through the storms of life and the unquiet moments that will come, as will the sun after the storm, the strength after the trial and the reward after the sacrifice.

I have argued with my psychiatrist for years about getting clean and sober, taking my prescribed medication and formulating a real plan of action to achieve sustainable sanity. It was as though I feared sanity more than I feared a lifetime of mood swings, severed friendships, and living in a state of chronic chaos and confusion. I am thankful that my doctor never gave up on me or refused to treat me, which would have been his right. I am thankful that failures aren’t the end of the story and relapses don’t mean a one-way trip back into the life of drug use, addiction and all the misery that entails. I am thankful for second chances; actually, for any and all chances.

Life is precious, yet difficult. Growth is necessary, yet painful. Failures are devastating, yet invaluable in their lessons. Love is complicated and (for some) scary, yet love is everything.

It goes without saying that I love and appreciate all of you who have been brave enough to attempt to help me when I was like a wounded wild animal, lashing out in pain and fear. Thanks to those who have honored me with their friendship and unconditional love. Thanks also to those who read this blog and may not know me at all. Thank you all for taking the time and interest; I am most grateful.


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