September 5, 2016

Despair to Optimism



As I’ve mentioned before, I have long cycle manic depression. Not diagnosed or anything, but every 3 months or so I cycle from optimism to despair.  In the despair phase, I feel like I totally suck. It’s hard to get anything creative done, because, you know, what’s the point? In the optimism phase, I’m manic, I’m going, I’m a creative fireball.

I’m not way out there. In optimism, I’m not unreasonably manic. I’m just upbeat and motivated and getting a lot done.  In despair, I’m not suicidal (usually).  I’m just reamed out, empty.

And, at the moment, I’m transitioning from despair to optimism. Could you tell? By the fact that I’m blogging? 

Something that happens, which I always notice on this part of the cycle, is that I turn outward.  My mind and emotions are no longer a hamster on the wheel. Instead, projects come toward me like road signs and I follow them and everything starts to hum along.  I notice how absolutely fabulous it feels to create and to put things out there. Who cares if these victories are tiny ~ publishing a blog post, posting a photo for photo-a-day, having a meaningful exchange on Facebook with another writer. 

But, the thing is, because I open up and start saying YES to the universe, good things come my way.  A friend recently sent on a call for a writing opportunity, and I followed up.  Had I been in the depths of despair, I would have let it pass. But since I’m revving up, I took it and followed up. And I got the assignment! 

It would be so easy to say, “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, girl! It’s all in your power to control. Why don’t you just be optimistic all the time?” Well, as many of you know, it’s not that easy.  It’s also a subtle way of blaming the victim. “It’s your own damn fault you’re depressed. If you’d just eat better/get some work done/focus, it’d all go away.” Riiiiiight. 

A lot of the time I can white knuckle it.  I can force myself to get things done. At least get up in the morning and get dinner on the table. But, sometimes, I just can’t. It takes more emotional energy and courage than I possess. 

But when I’m on, man oh man. One of my most recent novels I wrote start-to-finish in two months. TWO MONTHS. 

At least I’ve learned moderation in my habits (thanks in part to my supportive husband). That makes the lows less low and the highs more sustained. When I was a teenager and knew nothing about moderation, it was all lows, pretty much. 

But really what I wanted to say was that CREATIVITY ROCKS!!  Nothing beats the feeling of things coming out of your brain and body and into being. Nothing.  It’s manna from heaven! 

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