This I believe…
That insanity is relative…
And that art and genius are only recognized as such when society designates them so.
For a long time I struggled with issues of sanity and insanity. I felt so taken back when I was told that I was manic-depressive. That it would stay with me forever and that I could manage it with medications and therapy.
Bipolar Disorder? Really?
I mean, I had heard of the illness; had learned about it in high school…
But me? I, was bipolar?
I wasn’t moody and impulsive. I didn’t have any “serious issues”. I was a “good kid,” I was in college.
“Bipolars” were weirdoes. Crazy, strange people. Not normal like me.
How had this happened? No one I knew had this.
For a while afterwards I questioned my ability to reason. I was afraid to trust my judgments—myself.
It then became an issue of:
What would people think of me if they knew I was bipolar? Would they see me the same way?
Everything became a struggle. And when it came to writing, it pained me. I constantly questioned my ability to write, my motivation for doing so, and my tenacity to continue doing it despite my many doubts. I feared some might say that now, that I had had a bout of “that fine madness” I would brand myself as artist.
I didn’t want to think that I was “touched with fire,” but secretly I hoped that maybe what Jamison wrote in her book was true. That mental illness and art were connected. I wanted so badly to create…something meaningful…something beautiful—art.
Now I understand. Insanity is relative, and art and genius do not have to be limited to that. That which resides within the narrow scope of what society designates as such.
My own society and the designator of my own sanity as well as of my artistic proclivities and genius.
I do not need researchers, doctors, or family to tell me that I will be fine, that I am a worthwhile person… despite my shortcomings.
I do not need to hide, behind ideas about an illness that is part of who I am. That is who I am. My personality; full range.
It is great to trust and accept yourself, simply, as you are.
So when it comes to the question of whether there is a link between the artistic temperament and manic-depressive illness and to what extent it affects me…
I want to believe;
That I am a simple artist living out a life, creating works of genius. And that to not admit this to myself and value my attempts to fulfill this desire within me—that would be insanity.