Creativity, Mood Disorders and Treatment

Modified from my post on PsychCentral

It has been noted that there seems to be a correlation between mood disorders and creativity. Many great artists, poets, writers, musicians have been troubled with mental health issues: Ernest Hemingway, Carrie Fisher, Kurt Cobain, to name a few.

Jim Phelps, M.D. writes on his website how some evolutionary biologists believe that there is an advantage to having a small dose of bipolar genes (similar to having a trait), advantages like: creativity, courage, productivity. 1 The idea of having a bipolar trait is one theory.

There are people who worry that treating their disorder will cause them to lose their creativity. But, if you are manic you can have disorganized thinking and jump from project to project, which would have a negative impact on your art. There are other consequences of mania which I will discuss further, along with the typical depressive episodes.

The questions revolving around medication, mood disorders and how it impacts one’s creativity have been pondered, and displayed in movies, like, “Touched With Fire”, which follows 2 hospital patients with bipolar disorder and how they come to grips with losing mania through treating their disorder.

Mania or hypomania may sound appealing. That is unless you have dealt with them and the aftermath.

Some symptoms of mania include:2

• Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic OR extremely irritable
• Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities or powers
• Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
• Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up
• Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
• Highly distractible, unable to concentrate
• Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
• Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences
• Delusions and Hallucinations (in severe cases)

With impaired judgement one can run up bills they cannot afford, gamble away savings, have affairs, and other problems, that must be dealt with when the mania subsides.

I don’t just have traits of a mood disorder. I would not be able to function without my medication. It is not even a question; the risks of medication are worth the benefits for me.

I do have periods when I have increased energy. The thoughts flow faster. The ideas come easier. I usually have a lot of fatigue, so it is a change for me when it occurs . But, I have hit a roadblock now. My mind has stalled. I can get things done, but new ideas don’t come easily. There is nothing I know of that I can do. I just must try harder and wait for my mind to clear.

There is plenty of hope for treating mood disorders and for being creative while treatment compliant.

One reader posted that the art goes on but it’s form may change.



How My Condition is Changing Over Time

I haven’t had the problem with side effects that others have had. Except for the weight. The fucking weight. I went to my endocrinologist the other day and learned that my A1C levels had gone down five points. Of course, I over-ate to celebrate, but the maddening thing is that my weight isn’t changing: I continue to hover between 250 and 260 pounds! We have no explanation for this, my doctor and I, but it is noted.

Damn the weight! The blame falls almost entirely on my Risperidone, an antypical anti-psychotic. My mood stabilizers are kind on this point, but my Risperdal has transformed me from a reed shaking in the wind to a baobab — a huge club of a tree that eats up city blocks in Africa. The other night I took a nearly nude selfie. My stomach stood out like a bump on an oak tree. I looked like I was heavily pregnant, ready to drop a cat or a foal. The hair on my belly spread out from my navel like grass on a tiny planet. But I have been rewarded with calmer moods, gentleness, and peace of mind. I’ll find a way to reduce the weight.