I was recently sent a TED talk from Joshua Walters, a comedian/poet/mental health educator, on the relationship between manic depression and creativity.
I had the pleasure to hear Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison discuss her research on increased rates of bipolar illness in writers and artists. Her memoir An Unquiet Mind, which details her experience with severe mania and depression, sheds light on the complicated illness.
Reflecting on all the artisitic icons that impact my life, apart from living outside the mainstream, are they manic depressives too? Have a functional mental disorder? Or just simply touched with fire?
Walters dedicates his talk mainly to the manic side of the disorder. But for every emotion, there is an equal and opposite emotional commotion. For some, control and management of the disorder includes treating the less fun and sexy sibling, depression.
Breaking the Surface
Suddenly, I am Underwater.
I don’t remember being above ground last. Or breaking the surface. But I am sinking, sinking at an unbearable rate and with leaden weight.
Icy waters enfold the body, piercing every pore, closing every cavity—nostrils, ears, eyes.
Leaving me senseless and alone.
And with agonizing thoughts of what awaits for me below.
Suddenly, I am yanked out. With infuriating force, my body—every pore, every cavity—exhales. I vigorously fill up on air and take to the ground running. I cross streets and sidewalks, sprint past churches and schools, tear through banks and malls, and flatten offices and homes. An ecstatic, inexhaustible energy-surge shocks my muscles, tears hair off skin, meat off bones, veins from organs.
In flight, high on air, breaking the surface, I exhale.
Not sure if I collapsed or am detained.
Feeling the weight of trodden towns and injured eyes.
Gasping for air, I inhale pins.
Shock, sadness, guilt—they enfold the body—piercing every pore, closing every cavity.
The surface begins to quiver.
As I hold my breath.