Creative expression is a type of therapy used for people with depression. For some, it’s a way to make sense of the chaos of the disorder.
Natasha Tracy took her bipolar disorder and began Bipolar Burble, a blog about mental health and living as a “professional crazy person.” Tracy says she was drawn to writing to express her “internal crazy.”
“I didn’t start to write until that crazy appeared and starting yelling loudly. And once I did start, I found I could express things clearly through written words that I, and others, had difficulty expressing in any other way.” Tracy continued, “In my brain, thoughts are jumbled and move at the speed of light. In my head I have created an article in minutes, but when I sit down to write it, I’m forced to consider angles and nuance and, ‘is this really what I want to say?’ Like writing longhand forces you to focus on the curves and strokes of the letters, writing forces me to think of the reasons behind the thoughts, the connections and the true meaning therein.”
Her writing, which she has done since 2003, but only recently disclosed her identity, allowed her to put her feelings and emotions into writing. In turn, it helped others who could not put their own experience into words.
“This expression then helps them to better understand what they’re feeling and teaches them how to communicate it with others. Often people find my writing insightful and illuminating of part of their own disease,” she said. “And loved ones of those with a mental illness say they understand more about what their loved one goes through by reading my work.”
Like other creative bipolar people, Tracy’s expression differs from her depressed and manic states. In depression, she’s more moody and artistic, while mania allows her to produce many pieces, although she admits some of them can be incomprehensible.
No matter what or how much she writes, Tracy recommends writing as therapy for other people with bipolar disorder, especially to combat feelings of loneliness or being misunderstood.
“People with bipolar disorder often feel alone and like they are the only person in the world that feels a certain way and writing out loud, to the world, allows other people to come by and tell you how similar they feel,” Tracy said. “It builds a community around feelings and experiences shared by many. Writing things out is also very cathartic as it’s possible to write things no one feels comfortable talking about.”
As bipolar disorder often brings delusions of grandeur during mania, it also brings suicidal feelings during depression. Tracy says that writing can help release some of these feelings to play out in a safe way, while allowing a person to go back later and gain insight into those emotions.
“We all need to understand ourselves, our feelings and our thought processes better and nowhere is this more true than in bipolar disorder,” she said. “By writing things down patterns and cause and effect become more clear and we gain more insight into how our minds work.”