My psychiatrist’s goal of pulling me out of a seemingly endless bout of mania was achieved about two weeks ago. Far from turning out to be grateful for this feat, I have gradually found myself pretty much disappointed in what remained of my life after the manic glow had dissipated.
My delusion of being recognized for my writing, something I believed in wholeheartedly because it seemed so tangible when I lived under the manic spell, turned out to be less evident once the bubble burst. The audience I thought I was writing for is smaller than I thought when manic. My judgement of my creative skill today is much more critical than it was under the haze of a manic sun.
These facts caused me great anxiety as I tried to reenter “real” life. I hated admitting that it wasn’t the exciting, passionate and mostly positive life I had believed I lived when manic.
The vast majority of my real life is actually spent alone while my family is away during what can easily be described as bleak workdays where time spreads out before me, along with a kind of curse of always having too much of it on my hands, where I attempt to perform constructive creative work to ward off looming and frequent bouts of bipolar disorder and loneliness.
My “real” life is an empty page which I desperately seek to fill up, as I believe most people in my position would, with the kind of meaning and truth that can be found in the pursuit of creative work—this has become a reason to continue on in this mostly solitary, somewhat sad, existence.
Delusional or not, believing I can achieve my creative dream has become an integral part of my evolving understanding of myself. Believing the best despite having enjoyed only marginal success has taken on the higher meaning of giving me hope for the future.
The truth is, if I gave up on my literary and artistic goals, the result would be that I would have no real direction left inside my own solitude and nothing to do except housework and tv to fill up the majority of every day.
I am beginning to understand why I might have preferred a manic mindset for all those months—the narrative I wrote for myself was an exciting trip to literary stardom by a woman who was beautiful, brilliant and brave, beating the hell out of the “normal” me: full of self-doubt, recognizing my own lack of distinction, forced to focus on my less than successful royalties…
…I’ve gone abruptly from believing my writing is good enough to make it into the American canon of letters to recognizing that without an advertising and marketing budget of some size, my work will remain mostly unknown.
I have gone from fiercely believing that I can achieve at the highest creative levels to recognizing that in reality, “normal” me has issues just getting through a typical, solitary, boring weekday.
So, although no longer within mania’s grasp, I have decided to choose to continue to adopt a manic perspective in my life because the possibilities for anybody’s creative professional growth should be limitless, my self-esteem (like everyone else’s) should be high, my passion for living should be intense, and my ability to look forward to an exciting and fulfilling future can perhaps still be rewarded if I have the “right” kind of positive attitude.
I choose to focus on the view I saw through my formerly rose-colored glasses, a view which showed me that I was in the midst of achieving the fulfilling, meaningful life of an artist that I had worked these twenty years since graduating from college to enjoy and make the most out of, even if in actuality I am going to die in relative obscurity.
Even if this is a choice to fictionalize my real life, it is this choice that could end up making “real” life worth living…
I choose to feed my dreams of selling my writing and artwork bc it feels better than giving up, even if any sane person in my position would quit and just go back to living an everyday existence.
I choose to conclude that the underlying message of my work, that of never giving up even when life seems more full of downs than ups, will resonate with most people because they are struggling with a similar fate.
I choose to believe that hard won happy endings are possible (in literature and life), and that the human spirit should be uplifted by as many voices as possible, including mine, however imperfect my story.
Although somewhat of an illusion, the manic worldview is an insistently hopeful one in which abilities are limitless, disappointments are fleeting and success a natural given.
It may not seem sane to choose to see life through manic eyes, but it seems healthier than choosing a worldview focused mostly on disappointing realities. After all, writers write the script of their lives as well, so I am choosing to write mine from the most positive mindset possible.
Believing the best for your path can hardly be a mentally ill thing to do, it is rather an inherently hopeful belief in the best of possibilities and is, as such, choosing to adopt a healthier attitude than realism alone can deliver.