I’ve heard it said that inspiration and creativity can be used as markers for early detection in Bipolar Disorder (BP). I’ve read claims and counter claims in relation to the supposed linkages between creativity and BP, while I can’t speak with any type of medical authority, I can speak from my own lived experience.
I didn’t grow up in an ‘artistic’ household. In fact I grew up either on the road or in a shed with no electricity, but that’s another story. Neither of my parents are musically or otherwise creatively inclined. I came to the piano in my mid-late 20’s. It was a strange thing indeed. At the time I was undiagnosed and no-medicated. I had a genuine belief in fairies (fae) and magick in general. During my 20’s I felt the world pulse with energy, everything had potential and anything was possible.
Looking back on some of these times, I can see that I was euphoric for extended periods. A current friend of mine who also has BP has remarked that he envies me, since even medicated I spend most of my time up while he spends much of his time ‘down’. Back to the music; by my mid 20’s I had this most remarkable insight into a past life (I’m going to cease italics and what-not, since I recognise that much of my experience was a brain-chemistry response, so just go with me)…yes, so a past life. Well, at the time I believed I had one. I felt this urgent desire and even more than that a necessity to play the piano. I would sometimes cry myself to sleep over my utter urges.
I went through almost a year where I never touched a piano, I just wanted to. The urge became so overwhelming that my fear of embarrassment was superseded by my desires. I took myself into a music store and cautiously sat at a piano for the first time in my life.
As I began to play a wave of satisfaction fell over me, I was exalted to a new level of being. I touched the keys and watched as in my mania, the white and black formed patterns that I could read and follow. This very same time one of the sales assistants came to me and asked if I were playing the soundtrack from the movie ‘The Piano’. The rush of pride that I was able to convince someone that I could ACTUALLY play the very first time I had ever touched the keys was remarkable. All at once I felt I knew I was right about my reincarnation…
That was around 12 years ago. Now I perform here in Australia and occasionally overseas. I still feel the occasional rush of momentum and inspiration, yet my medication has come to subdue much of this. I don’t mind though, since back in the days of fairies and all I couldn’t keep a relationship together, sometimes I couldn’t even stay housed, so I see this as a type of exchange. In exchange for a more stable life I have relinquished some of my creativity. This doesn’t really bother me since I feel I had my fair share and then some while high.