Finding the Balance Between Mania and Creativity - Words from a Mentally Ill Writer

art happiness

I write to heal. I find the act itself to be therapeutic. However, it can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes I become far too obsessed, losing myself in the work for hours on end. It feels like I am discovering something that already exists, and it is my job to get it onto the page before it disappears. I lose control. When I finally come to, the night has passed and I am mentally drained.

When these periods are happening, I feel like I am doing my best work. So I persist with writing into the night and it costs me. It is almost as if that one night takes the same amount of energy that I would use in a week.

I wrote what follows during one of these sessions. Upon reflection this piece seems quite erratic, and honestly not that good. But other than cleaning up the grammar I have left it as it stands. I want to show you my mental state at the time, both with what I wrote and how I wrote it:

“It is 4am as I write this, I am slightly inebriated and my brain is buzzing. I have been up all night writing and I am still going. I can’t stop.

I must keep writing. When I get on a roll I can’t help it. Something comes over me and I must get it out. It is an affliction. This has happened before and will happen again.

I write all night, extracting my soul out and placing it onto a page. I lament and toil over the words until they are perfect. I refine them down and polish them until they gleam.

The truth is out there and it is my job to be a channel for it. The words I am going to say already exist, I just have to let them flow and oh boy is it flowing tonight. I can’t stop it now. I must go on, must let it all come to me. The dam has cracked and I am tasked with catching as much of the water as I can.

So I write obsessively into the night. Hopelessly bucketing water out of my sinking ship. This will cost me, I already know it. I may write more in a night then I would in a typical week, but it will cost me. The debt must be paid.

Tomorrow I will become lost to depression, dissociation and anxiety. For days, I won’t be able to connect. The juice will be gone. Just going through the motions of daily life will be excruciating.

I promise myself that next time will be different. Next time I won’t binge. I will take it slow and I will be controlled.

But tonight, I can’t, not when the words are this good. Not when they come so freely.

So I write on.

I am torn between routine and inspiration. A routine gets things done. I can see the ticks of accomplishment lining up on my wall. But it is effort towards nothing, a hollow pursuit of a minimum word count for the day. I may get to my target, but it feels forced and tacky. What a waste.

So, when inspiration comes, I must grab it and hold on. I have learnt that if I don’t take it, it will never return. Perhaps it is offered to someone else, someone who is willing to listen. Willing to note down and discover what has already been written. I can’t force it to come. I am at its mercy. It takes me when it wants to.

So for tonight I write on, continuing my binge, because come tomorrow all that I will be able to do is purge.”

Zachary Phillips

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Finding the Balance Between Mania and Creativity - Words from a Mentally Ill Writer - Pinterrest