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How to Stay Creative When Going Through a Manic or Depressive Episode
Anyone who has dealt with mental illness is aware of how unpredictable the highs and lows can be, depending on the particular disease. For individuals who have suffered from bipolar disorder, the highs of mania and the lows of depression can feel like you are juggling two different personalities. During the times when your health is at its worse, it is certainly hard to find motivation for anything, especially creativity. This forms a conundrum for people who are in a creative career/business. On one end, your mania can serve as a catalyst for increasing creativity, while your depression may serve as an obstacle. The key is to find a way to balance these episodes with a healthy amount of creative energy.
Managing your mania
A manic episode can be an intense mixture of high energy, sleepless nights, irritability, racing thoughts, impulsive actions, etc. While these episodes can be brought on by a number of triggers they are often hard to manage as they affect everyone differently. You may notice that during mania your creativity is at a high. You may stay up for days at a time writing, drawing, painting, or making music.
During these times it is important to find ways to regulate your sleep pattern as to not become sleep deprived. As much as you feel like you have endless energy to keep creating, do not sacrifice your rest in exchange for it. Some things that may help are meditation, sleepy time teas, and natural supplements for insomnia.
Exercise and being active in general is another way to manage mania during these times. If you feel like you have elevated amounts of energy and it’s hard to contain try working out. Exercise releases chemicals to the brain which improve your mood, stimulate brain cells and brain cell growth, and provide a creative boost. This is a natural way to work off some of the extra energy that you have, stay healthy, and release some endorphins into your brain.
A depressive episode can last for days, weeks, or even months at time. This can include extended periods of time with decreased energy, motivation, inspiration, etc. Spiraling into a depressive episode from being manic can feel like life is crashing down around you – this can heavily influence creativity in a negative way.
When struggling through a depressive episode simply getting out of bed is a hard task, let alone accomplishing anything else for the day. One way to stay productive and creative is to give yourself incentives when you accomplish goals throughout the day. If your goal is to send 50 emails, give yourself a treat or surprise after every 10 emails sent. Having something to look forward to can help with pushing yourself to get things done.
Another way to keep your spirits up during a depressive episode is to watch a funny show or video to keep your mind off work or anything else that may be troubling you. We know that there is no one size fits all treatment method for depression. However laughter and good energy are always catalysts to uplifting your spirits. As an added bonus, you may come across a video or piece of content that will inspire you to create more. Kill two birds with one stone. Once you start to find videos and categories that help you during down times you can create a playlist that’s readily available during these times.
Doing things that you enjoy when going through a depressive episode is very difficult because during these times hardly anything feels enjoyable. One way to take a step back from your creative block is to do something completely unrelated to your job or business. Sometimes we need to take a break from what we are attempting to do and focus on something else that we enjoy. This not only takes your mind somewhere else but you may be able to better re-focus you energy on your creative task at a later time. Hanging out with a friend, cooking, cleaning up your bedroom, even coloring can all be therapeutic. Again, bipolar disorder is an extremely complex and multi-layered disease so these methods may not work for everyone, but tailor them to fit your life and circumstances.
When going through the highs and lows of bipolar disorder, it is common to feel like life is crashing down around you and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Our disease often lies to us and tells us that we’re not good enough, we can’t compete with the people around us, or that we will never be successful. Do not believe it! You are unique, special, and gifted and your creativity is your superpower. Your disorder does not define you and it is not the end all be all of your life. If you did not create anything today, you haven’t failed because there is always tomorrow. What is most important is that you were kind to yourself today, you woke up today, you got out of bed, and you did the best that you can.