Loss of Bipolar Creativity

bipolar creativity

For several years I wrote poetry every day, feverishly. I felt like I would explode if I didn’t write the words in my brain. It was as if I was taken over by a force outside of myself, and what I ended up writing was as much as a surprise to me as it would have been to a stranger reading it. Exciting and energizing are the best words to describe the experience of writing poetry for me.

I loss the ability to access this side of my creativity about a year ago. It coincided with the time I started a new antipsychotic medication for my anxiety. I don’t know for sure if my creativity block has to do with the medication, but I strongly suspect it does.

I also experienced large amounts of emotional healing during that year, which may have contributed to the end of my drive to write poetry as well, since I wrote mostly when in emotional pain. Either way, I miss the rush of the flow of language spilling forth in a flurry, seemingly without effort on my part.

Below is a poem I wrote this week reflecting these feelings.

Fractured, a mind splintered
like a web-cracked windshield –
rock hit in the brain, dead center
or somewhere.

They never know where.
Will they ever? Neuro-
transmitter here, neuro-
transmitter there. A game

of hide and seek. Medication
roulette. Gambling while
drinking cocktails before bed
in hopes of getting
some fake sleep.

Thoughts that used to flow fluidly
down a single stream now,
split into multiple chasms;
fall into the abyss, trail off
out of creativity’s reach.

Has a psych medication ever caused you to lose your creative edge?

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22 thoughts on “Loss of Bipolar Creativity

  1. I’ve been on so many meds I can’t remember!? But honestly, I think a lot of medicine numbs you and in part creates a sterile environment for creativity. I can’t imagine In Utero if Cobain actually had been taking Lithium…

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  2. I am on lithium…as well as a number of other medications. I feel like my ability to reach for words has been dulled. I’m a poet too so word-reaching is a big part of the game. I manage to get by I don’t write poetry every day but I never did. It has always come in fits and starts.

    I also make use of other creative outlets–visual art, music and jewelry making. When I can’t access the words, I usually reach for other tools. Since being on lithium (4 years now) I have finished a book of poetry, a collection of drawing and some jewelry. I may not be as prolific as I like and maybe my pre-lithium work was in some way better but I don’t think I lost it entirely. There is hope!
    My biggest frustration is conversation, she. Igo for words that have moved to some other part of the brain. I’d love to ditch the li but without it where would I be?

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  3. A very thoughtful post.

    I have lived with bipolar over 30 years and certainly experienced some hyper-manic creativity before starting psycho-tropics two decades ago. There is no doubt they can function as a wet blanket that can stifle the spark. With practice and time, however, access can be restored.

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  4. Yes! I have definitely experienced that dulling of the creative output. I also write poetry, as well as other things, and depending on which meds I’m taking, my words tend to become less vibrant or expansive. My current cocktail does include lithium (I noticed others mentioned this one), however I must say it is better, creativity-wise, than the meds I was on a year ago, which made me too foggy to write. I try to exercise my creative side as if it were a muscle. To keep it in shape I have to constantly use it so I don’t lose it.

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  5. I am about to start new medications and this is a huge fear of mine. Creativity is my life and my identity.
    I too create out of pain so will be interesting to see which leads to which if i find myself in a similar condition.
    Something to ponder.
    Has yours changed at all since?
    Love the poem here also:-)

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    • I don’t write poetry as often as I used to but I still write other things like this blog. And my creative outlets have shifted to other areas like drawing for example. I think as creative people, we will always find a way to create no matter what meds we are on. At least I hope so. Good luck to you.

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  6. I too had the problem with Lithium and Abilify making it hard for me to be creative. With time I learned to be more focused with my creative energy. I’m able to write a novel now and I’m currently on the third draft. I will finish it soon and I’m very proud that I’m able to do all this and stay stable. Time helps you heal and the meds help you focus. I believe I am a lot better writer because I found the right combination of meds for me. Write On!
    Duals

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  7. “I also experienced large amounts of emotional healing during that year, which may have contributed to the end of my drive to write poetry as well, since I wrote mostly when in emotional pain. Either way, I miss the rush of the flow of language spilling forth in a flurry, seemingly without effort on my part.”

    I can relate. I loved writing poetry but only when I was having extreme emotions. now i am more stable its hard for me to write. i feel like i had to come to a medium. sometimes even the things i was good at like school has changed since i have started medications. im still searching.

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  8. I only write poetry when I’m unwell. I also draw alot more when I’m not well. I love that you shared this, and I love that people have responded with their own experience. I shall take heart from all who recommend flexing the creative muscle to make it strong when the creative going is tough. Thanks Wil.

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    • You’re welcome, WillowLuna. I still have a really hard time being creative unless I am in utter depression and despair. The pain brings it out of me. Actually the poetry releases the pain from me. Being able to write poetry so easily is the only positive thing about being depressed. 🙂

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