Flexing Your Fingers and Taking a Leap

I have Bipolar 1 disorder. I tend to tell people this a lot, possibly more than other people with the disorder do. Probably more than people who encounter me wish I would. 😉 But I do so for two reasons:

  1. My personal hero, Carrie Fisher, fought the same mental illness until the day she died, and she did so openly, trying to destigmatize it for others. If I can live up to her example in any way, I’ll be proud.
  2. I don’t think mental health should be a subject of shame and avoidance. I am bipolar–it’s a fact just like my height, or where I was born. If I pretended it didn’t exist, it would affect me all the same.

Having this disorder requires knowing what that means for me, and trying to work around it as best I can. Even at my healthiest, I’m still a person who will have a mental illness for the rest of my life; it’s not as though taking my medication every day makes me not bipolar.

So, what I’ve learned since I was diagnosed and began paying better attention is that I have “up” modes and “down” ones, and during the down ones I can go months unable to write at all. But today, we’re here to talk about the up times, when I’m manic or hypomanic. For me, a manic period equals less sleep, more productivity, and increased creativity. I have all the ideas! I want to do all the things! Nothing could possibly stop me!

Manic periods are temporary, and they happen this way for me because I also have ADHD–unless I’m manic, the ADHD keeps me too scattered for my work to amount to much, so I’m even more determined to Get Stuff Done once I hit an up patch. Who knows how long it’ll last?

Today, I’ll be posting my first WriteMania fanfic, and it’s based on an anonymous request I got a long time ago via tumblr. The reason I prefaced all of this with an explanation of mania is because I got this request, and a few more, after soliciting them with a specific goal in mind: to challenge myself.

If you’ve joined me for WriteMania, you’re likely noticing the pattern already. When I get manic, I want a challenge. Not just want, need–and feel I can handle. Suddenly I’m ready to do big things, and truly believe I can…which sounds inspirational, and isn’t inherently bad, but does usually lead to a downfall when I return to reality. Because if I’m manic, I’m not thinking clearly, so there’s almost always a downfall.

Now, I’m lucky, because compared to other people’s manic periods, “didn’t live up to my goal” is a harmless consequence to face. But it doesn’t change that fact that I regularly get manic–and once, when I was, I decided it was time to stretch my writing abilities and try my hand at writing “smut fic,” or I guess what could be thought of as erotic fan fiction. Even in these stories I don’t get terribly explicit, but my usual style is much tamer, so it really is a stretch for me.

However the challenges are induced, I do think stretching myself as a writer is good for me. Challenges, trying new things, improving through failure–all of it is good.

What are you doing lately to challenge yourself, and do you feel like you’ve grown as a result?

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Flexing Your Fingers and Taking a Leap

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