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

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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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Zachary Phillips is an Australian born writer, podcaster, vlogger, school teacher, mental health advocate, motivational speaker and martial artist. He uses these platforms to promote mental health awareness, personal development and self-discovery.
Coming from a troubled past, he began writing as a form of therapy. After finding that sharing his story helped others to move on and heal, he decided to release his first book 'Under The Influence - Reclaiming My Childhood' to the public.
It provides a personal and brutally honest account of the destructive dynamic that a drug affected and mentally ill father can have on his child.
 Zachary gives us a sacred peek into his once shattered mind, teaching us that, even against all the odds, a broken mind can not only be healed, but can go on to flourish, inspiring others along the way.  - About Under The Influence 

"I hope that my work will help to reduce the stigma around mental illness and provide some guidance to those facing similar circumstances."

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