Creating Art through the Manias and Depressions of Bipolar Disorder
The Bipolar Burble blog welcomes guest author somePlaywrights, a collaboration of two writers based in Annapolis and Brooklyn, who face, seemingly weekly, a struggle to succeed as a creative, bipolar collaboration.
On its own, the practice of creating art is bizarre: fusing this abstract feeling with that concrete image, trying to convince others of something only you can see, and all the while endeavoring to balance concept with content. With the addition of bipolar disorder, a condition that is just as, if not more, slippery, firm, and fleeting, the artistic process often teeters between genius and delusion, between coherence and disunion. It is in this realm, where mania meets medium and depression intersects with artistic production, that we, as bipolar artists, must carve and claim our collective space…
Creating Art During Mania
Our thoughts tell us we are artistic geniuses! We have just written the next Great American Play! We have the bravado of a billion lions, our every creative leap lands with the galloping grace of a gazelle, and our writing team is as inseparable as prey from predator.
The Cost of Depression for Art
Er… wait… the benzos are fading fast, the dosage of this new antidepressant shot seems askew, the champagne has gone dry, and we no longer even want to be in the same room. What we wrote is worth little to nothing. All we have in the artistic bank is manic debt.
Keeping Our Writing Team Working During the Manias and the Depressions
Fortunately, we are rarely both on or both off. More often than not, one of us is speeding through speech that can’t compete with the speed of her ideas. When this happens, hopefully, the other is somewhere stable and able to translate. More often than not, one of us believes that the only relief will be a nap at noon. When this happens, hopefully, the other is grounded and insists that we will continue to work, however futile it may seem. Sometimes, one of us believes in suicide. When this happens, hopefully, the other knows that some things are the work of fiction, and, hopefully, she can convince her collaborator that some stories are best left imagined.
Documenting the Bipolar, Artistic Experience
When you look back on the toll of a manic episode, it is sometimes best to do so in a blue FEMA coat, inspecting the disaster impartially because it would be too frightening to believe that someone, certainly not you, could have survived such a catastrophe. When you have withstood another winter’s worth of depression, it is sometimes best to do so in short sleeves, to let the spring in, and wear warmth again as if you knew it would always be back. And when you try to assess the work you and your best friend, your writing partner, did while each of you skipped between a decade’s worth of seasons in a week, it is sometimes best to examine closely, but without judgment, the filmed evidence. This is the subject of our new film, The Great American Play.
The Great American Play is a dramatic documentary that examines the working conditions of somePlaywrights as they are faced with the daily hazards of bipolar disorder. We are very excited to announce a Kickstarter Campaign launched in support of our film. As we have relied on one another to not only create, but to continue existing, we are now hoping that anyone who has experienced bipolar disorder will contribute to our cause. As spreading the word about our project is worth just as much as any dollar donation, we hope that you will take a look and a listen to our project, and fund it as you see fit. Whether that is through a chuckle and an, ‘I’ve been there,’ or through a pledge and an, ‘I hope to not see that place again soon,’ all support is appreciated.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.