Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bi-Polar and Sex

I will pause here to explain myself. I have been diagnosed by several different psychiatrists to have bi-polar disorder. I think that in my case it is mild and mostly manageable, but it effects my work in a very unique way. My best writing comes in short intensely prolific bursts. At the very top of my high I can write 60 000wds in 4 weeks. At the very bottom of my low I can do the same. The results are entirely different. My writing swings from light to dark as easily as my mood. When I am down and in a particularly prolific period I judge everything I do as poor work, badly expressed. This isn't always true. I come back to it on a more even part of my cycle and I find the work is fine, even inspired in places as all first drafts should be. When I complete a large body of work on a high it is even better, full of humour and lightness and cheek.

This cycle means that I must take advantage of my highs and my lows when they occur. I can slog away through my ordinary days, but usually it is not this work that finds its way into the final draft. My muse is my disorder in a way and the only trouble with it is that in my lowest moments I hate everything I do and am in danger of destroying it as fast as I create it, worse, I suppose, I am in danger of destroying myself.

Sex follows me from high to low. When I am up I want it because it feels like I am on Ecstacy. All my skin revels in the touch. My whole body becomes an erogenous zone. I walk through each moment as if immersed in a bath of sex. When I am low it is only the electric shock of an orgasm that breaks me out of the numbness that has descended. I seek out the orgasm like one might seek out a drug, desperate, self-hating, aware that my demands are too much for my partner, aware also that physical contact with another is a major part of my cure.

I know myself better now, and I know how I work. When my supervisor at uni says he wonders if I understand how to sustain a project over three years I say that I do. I have written three novels each over a three year period. These are the novels that have not been published and I think that my editor's reluctance for me to publish these comes from the fact that they contain a snapshot of the low moments of my bi-polar, they are about death and fear and hate and jealousy. Better then to tap the humour that drips out of me when I am high. Better to publish a project that was completed in a joyous rush of chemically unbalanced pleasure. Still those longer works are good. I know they are, and in this 3 year PhD project there will be some work (Triptych) done in a heady rush of good will but there will also be some that takes a plunge into that dark self-hatred that is such a strong part of my psyche.

If you ask me to work on something over a three year period, then this is what you will get.


Rhonda Perky's Team said...

It's such a relief to read about your experience with highs and lows and how this affects your desire for sex. The first time I recognised the link between my intense cravings for sexual release and my anxiety, it terrified me. I was convinced I was a freak. How could I feel so awful and so horny at the same time? I put it down to hormones and brain chemicals, but that's not something you can easily explain or necessarily want to admit to, and so it became yet another thing to feel ashamed of. Thank you for sharing your story.


veritas said...

thank you for writing this. as someone else who is bipolar, i find it so affirming to see people who function, and thrive with these issues.