Bipolar

Van Gogh Six Sunflowers

I call it burning these days because that’s what it feels like: like there’s an idea inside me burning its way out. But when I was younger, I called it flying. What I really meant was controlled falling. Like there was a tornado going on and I would leap off something and ride right through the middle of it, all the way up, chasing words. Because that’s what it felt like for me, rolling on through the manic energy that comes with being bipolar.

A lot of folks equate the manic energy of being bipolar with the creative spark that drives artists to brilliance. They point to so many great artists in history who lived with mental illness and say, “There it is, that energy, that’s what made them great!”

Except for so many artists, mental illness didn’t make them great. It made them ill. And if they weren’t careful, it made them gone.

DISABILITY VISIBILITY: FIRST PERSON STORIES FROM THE 21ST CENTURY

Do you know why we have the sunflowers?

Close up of sunflower
Do you know why we have the sunflowers?

Do you know why we have the sunflowers? It’s not because Vincent van Gogh suffered. It’s because Vincent van Gogh had a brother who loved him. Through all the pain, he had a tether, a connection to the world. And that is the focus of the story we need. Connection.

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette
Oil painting of sunflowers in a vase
Sunflowers (F453)
Oil painting of sunflowers in a vase
Sunflowers (F454)
Oil painting of sunflowers in a vase
Sunflowers (F459)

She talked about Vincent van Gogh, the artist who suffered during his life from mental illness, self-medicated, was treated by doctors, and struggled to succeed despite his obvious impossible talent due to his sickness. She talked about her knowledge of his life, thanks to her art history degree, and how he sold only one painting his entire life—not because he wasn’t recognized by his community as a genius but because he struggled to even be part of a community due to his illness.

And I thought of the flying and the hard days at the word mines. I thought about the days when I heard the tornado in my head and couldn’t make the words get to my fingers. I thought about the frustration, the depression, the difficulties talking to people about what it sounded like inside my skull some days when I could barely pay attention because of the rush of words and ideas.

Hannah Gadsby told people artists don’t have to suffer for their art, and I’ll forever thank her for having the guts to stand up and say that to the world. Because I used to believe it was true.

DISABILITY VISIBILITY: FIRST PERSON STORIES FROM THE 21ST CENTURY
Waiting by Slothrust
I got loud
Flipped my lid, I always do
I'm not proud
Sucks the patience out of you
I'm inspired
I can't sleep but I'm so tired
Turn me around
Levitate me
Oo-ooo-ooh, ooh, ooh-ooh
Oo-ooo-ooh
Oo-ooo-ooh, ooh, ooh-ooh
Oo-ooo-ooh
Let me out
I've been waiting for so long
Set me free
I've been waiting passively
I'm not scared
I've never been so prepared
Twist and shout
I'll wring out all of those toxins
Fuck the crowd
Eat their pain, get on my cloud
Stay this way
We will come back down someday
Cut my hair
Left the pieces everywhere
Birds will care
And I can hear their call
And I can hear their call
And I can hear their call
And it goes...

Content Note: misery, suicidal ideation, drugs, addiction, death, doom, gloom, wallowing

While we collect research and perspective on being bipolar, enjoy this miserable music.

Being bipolar is a constant system of checks and balances. These days I fight against needing my medication adjusted a lot, against depression and anxiety, mania and hypomania. I still end up flying some days, sometimes for days at a time, because as time goes on, the body changes and you have to adjust to new needs, new doses, new medication.

Coping mechanisms change, life situations go ways you never expected, mania and depression rear their ugly heads. But the day I went on medication was one of the greatest days of my life, because it was the day my creative spark stopped becoming an excuse to keep putting up with an illness that was killing me.

DISABILITY VISIBILITY: FIRST PERSON STORIES FROM THE 21ST CENTURY
A person with a butterfly on their back slumps forward dejectedly
Heike Blakley

Take Your Pills

Take Your Pills
Yeah you can feel the weight returning, 
And the burden is unliveable, unstoppable. 
That means you’ve gotta take your pills. 
Now you can feel your heart start running. 
And the race is unbearable. Unwinnable. 
Only thing you can do: take your pills. 
Though they make you retch and heave. 
Though they leave your mouth chalked and parched. 
Though they can offer no relief. 
Though they can’t change what you are.
Choke em all down, 
Choke em all down with pride. 
Choke em all down, 
Choke em down with your pride. 
Here’s one for the highs, and one for the lows, 
And one to smooth out the in-betweens. 
A little for the ups, a little for the downs, 
And some to stop you slipping, now you’re slipping, 
Crying, screaming: 
Take your pills. 

Take your pills 
Yeah, sedate your useless body. 
Dim out those dark places, 
Until reality is foggy, 
And friends become unfamiliar faces. 

Take your pills 
Dull your pathetic senses, 
Shadow your shame in cloud, 
A lick of paint on your defenses, 
Before they all come crashing down. 

Choke em all down, 
Choke em all down with pride. 
Feel em rotting out, 
Rotting out your insides. 
Here’s one for the highs, and one for the lows, 
And one to smooth out the in-betweens. 
A little for the ups, a little for the downs, 
And some to stop you slipping, now you’re slipping, 
Crying, screaming: 
Take your pills. 

You raging cunt of disappointment, 
Suspended in an air of discontent. 
A dying fly in the ointment, 
Sucked down the drain of supplements. 

If this is how it’s gonna be this year, 
Then let this year be the last. 
If this is how it’s gonna be once again, 
Pop the lid, spill em out, raise your glass. 

And choke em down 
Choke em down. 
Choke em down. 
Choke em all fucking down.

Take Your Pills by Goodbye Blue Monday

Pink flamingo smoking a joint in front of a row of buildings. A smiley faced figure in the corner holds a sign that says "Turn the pain into power"
Pain by Kyle Duce

Manic Depression

I need something or someone to keep me sane
Otherwise I'm gonna waste another day
Stare at my fucking phone
Think about everyone and everything I fucking hate
And how life is never gonna change

I'm not sure what I look forward to anymore
But I welcome sleep
And only will smoking weed kill the dread and anxiety
I try to recognize privilege present
And I'm thankful for good fortune
I don't want to sound ungrateful like I can't see the good going

But I can't help what my head is telling me
I can't stop myself from listening
Manic depression
Yeah
Endless obsessions
Yeah

Manic depression

I can see everything you've shown me, but you don't say anything
I'm so fucking over indirect vagueness
If you lack passion, just stop trying
How can I justify complicity? You're standing right in front of me
I can see you, and I can see, and that needs no apology
Grim reaper smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer
Vices by Kyle Duce
I need something or someone to relieve the tension and anxiety
Give me sex or drugs or destruction
Some kind of excitement please, even if it's terrifying
Shake or smack the shit out of me
Turn me upside down otherwise
I'm gonna drink and drink and drink

'Cause I can't help what my head is telling me
I can't stop myself from listening
Manic depression
Yeah
Endless obsessions
Yeah

Manic Depression by Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers

Lithium

I'm so happy 'cause today I found my friends, they're in my head
I'm so ugly, that's okay, 'cause so are you, we broke our mirrors
Sunday mornin' is every day for all I care and I'm not scared
Light my candles in a daze 'cause I've found God

Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah
I'm so lonely, that's okay, I shaved my head and I'm not sad
And just maybe I'm to blame for all I've heard, but I'm not sure
I'm so excited, I can't wait to meet you there and I don't care
I'm so horny, that's okay, my will is good

Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah!
I like it, I'm not gonna crack
I miss you, I'm not gonna crack
I love you, I'm not gonna crack
I killed you, I'm not gonna crack
I like it, I'm not gonna crack
I miss you, I'm not gonna crack
I love you, I'm not gonna crack
I killed you, I'm not gonna crack

Lithium by Nirvana

More Lithium

Lithium
Rescue me
Give me only pretty dreams
Lithium
Under my skin
Pull me over
And tuck me in

One pill, two pill
You're my new thrill
One pill, two pill
You're my new thrill
Lithium
Bad my brain
Be my water
And by my friend
Lithium
Don't forget
'Cause I ain't done
Ain't done for yet

I want to feel high
Will you let me down?
I want to feel high
Will you let me down?
'Cause I need an answer
I need an answer
Right now
'Cause I need an answer
I need an answer
Right now
One pill, two pill
You're my new thrill
One pill, two pill
You're my new thrill

Lithium by The Coathangers

A woman lies face down with a globe on her back with the words "Great Depression"
Great Depression by Heike Blakley

It’s White Rabbits Everyday

I've been running for so long
Searching for something
I've been waiting in the dark
I've been hiding for so long
Sleeping in shadows
I've been waiting all this time

To let it out
and take it down
Tear it apart
Turn me around
I'm underneath
And up above
I am complete
I don't feel anything at all

I could swallow the whole cage
Rusting inside me
It's white rabbits everyday
I don't care about the pain
I serve it up gladly
In the end it's all the same

I'll let it out
and take it down
Tear it apart
Turn me around
I'm underneath
And up above
I am complete
And I feel everything

And I feel everything
And I feel everything
And I feel everything
And I feel everything-everything-everything

White Rabbits by Slothrust

This is a song about desperately wanting to heal, but not quite knowing how. It deals with self-denial and what it means to come out of that space and embrace feeling the world around you again. It’s a reminder that although it’s tempting to numb out, the only real way out is through.

FLOOD – Slothrust Break Down Their Spiritual New LP “Parallel Timeline” Track by Track

My Name’s Blurryface

I was told, when I get older, all my fears would shrink
But now I'm insecure, and I care what people think

My name's Blurryface and I care what you think
My name's Blurryface and I care what you think
Person with horizontal rainbow stripes obscuring their face
Blurry Face by Heike Blakley
Wish we could turn back time to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep, but now we're stressed out
(Oh) Wish we could turn back time (Oh) to the good old days (Oh)
When our momma sang us to sleep, but now we're stressed out

We used to play pretend, give each other different names
We would build a rocket ship an' then we'd fly it far away
Used to dream of outer space, but now they're laughin' at our face
Sayin', "Wake up, you need to make money!," yeah
We used to play pretend, give each other different names
We would build a rocket ship an' then we'd fly it far away
Used to dream of outer space, but now they're laughin' at our face
Sayin', "Wake up, you need to make money!," yeah

Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots

Get Out of My Skin

Get out of my skin, get out of my skin 
Get out of my skin, get out of my skin 
Get out of my skin, get out of my skin 

And now you're embarassed get out of my skin 
I try to fight you but you always win
It turns out the medication only makes you tough
You were so damn mean but I've had enough

Get out of my skin, get out of my skin
Get out of my skin, get out of my skin
Get out of my skin, get out of my skin

Fill My Pill by Be Your Own Pet

Am I Getting Better?

Take a vitamin every single day
Keep the thoughts away
Keep the thoughts away
Two pills every morning
Every night
Keep me feeling right
Keep me feeling right
Take a vitamin every single day
Keep the thoughts away
Keep the thoughts away
Two pills every morning
Every night
Keep me feeling right
Keep me feeling right

Blank zombie
Drifting in my life
Empty ghost
On the edge of a knife
Struggle through the day on tippy toes
One slip, I'm down that rabbit hole

Undesirable, undesirable
(a feeling from inside you)
Undesirable, undesirable
(Pulling my veins backwards)
Undesirable, undesirable
(that hard empty feeling)
Undesirable, undesirable
Undesirable, Un-Des-irable

Am I getting better?
Do you think I'm getting better?
Will I ever get better?
Is better any better?

Undesirable by Jemina Pearl

Put Me to Sleep

I am out of touch, I've been gated off
And I'm not sure which way's out
I can't communicate and my temper's short
I'm always upset for no reason
You've been pushed away by my tendencies
Psychopathic, it may seem
I've tried so hard, but not gotten too far
I'll be better in my dreams
I've told you time and time again, this is how I am
I'm sick of always being afraid that you won't stick around
Sometimes life gets tough but for you I'm way too much
My psyche's then exhausted and I've used you as my crutch

Just leave me be
I feel so incomplete
Just leave me be
What's so hard to see?

Put me to sleep
Maybe then I'll regain function
Put me to sleep
Maybe then we'll keep on loving
Put me to sleep
I haven't closed my eyes in weeks
Put me to sleep
Put me to sleep, put me to sleep, put me to sleep

Put Me to Sleep by Grumpster

Tunnel Vision

When I opened my eyes this morning
There's only one thing I could say
It was "Dammit, I'm awake."

My bedroom walls were closing in
And my chest was getting tight
Tunnel visioned, there is no light

Knocked out, face down, into the ground
What's wrong with me?
Anxiety
Breathe in, breathe out, without a sound
There's no air for me
Anxiety

A handful of pills for when I'm feeling alone
Can't call my friends to talk 'cause they're not home
I'll just sit here and think of why I turned out this way
'Cause everyones' skies are blue but mine are grey

Knocked out, face down, into the ground
What's wrong with me?
Anxiety
Breathe in, breathe out, without a sound
There's no air for me
Anxiety

What's wrong with me?
Anxiety

Tunnel Vision by Grumpster

Fungus

If you stare at a blank wall long enough,
You’ll start to see patterns where there are none. 
Little flecks of paint or smears or dry rot,
Little stains of what you’ve become.

Spreading like a fungus
Across your stinking hole of existence.
Just keep staring.
The fungus might diffuse,
Might even produce
A little bit of meaning.

I just stared at the walls cause there was something wrong,
My walls were beige. Plain. Plain as they come.
Across, there was a fungus eating my walls.
And eating my mind.
I didn’t know it at all.

I just stared at the walls and tried to ignore,
That being alive was becoming a chore.
I was breaking down. I was giving up,
I was becoming the wall I was building up.

We want to live.  We want to ache.  I want to suffer,
I wanted to break.,
The heart ticks harshly against a beating clock.
Spitting poison through my vessels and into my thoughts.

We want to live.
We want to thrive.
I want despair.
I want to die.
The walls they pulse with the temples’ beat,
And I don’t want to hear it,
No I don’t want to hear it.
But I can feel it.
I can feel it.
I can feel it.

I can feel it spreading like a fungus,
Across the whole of my existence.
It’s what I’ve become,
Now it’s who I am,
I would try to resist it, but I know I can’t.

It’s spreading like a fungus.
Spreading like a fungus.
It’s what I’ve become now,
It’s who I am now.

Spreading like a fungus.
Spreading like a fungus.
Now it’s who I am now.
I would try to resist it,
But it’s spreading like a fungus

Fungus by Goodbye Blue Monday

The Most Unhappy of All Mortals

Beethoven called himself “the most unhappy of all mortals.”

Manic Depression and Creativity

Life in Vain

Don't wanna be free of hope
And I'm at the end of my rope
It's so tough just to be alive
When I feel like the living dead

I'm givin' it up so plain
I'm livin' my life in vain
And where am I going to?
I gotta really try
Try so hard to get by
And where am I going to?
Flip on your TV
And try to make sense out of that
If we were all in the movies
Maybe we wouldn't be so bored

We're givin' it up so plain
We're livin' our lives in vain
And where are we going to?
We gotta really try
Try so hard to get by
And where are we going to?

Life in Vain by Daniel Johnston

Kurt Cobain wearing a Daniel Johnston "Hi, How Are You?" shirt
Kurt Cobain wearing a Daniel Johnston “Hi, How Are You?” shirt

I Live My Broken Dreams

She inspired a thousand songs. And, then I knew, I was an artist.

Daniel Johnston

Do you know why we have the sunflowers? It’s not because Vincent van Gogh suffered. It’s because Vincent van Gogh had a brother who loved him. Through all the pain, he had a tether, a connection to the world. And that is the focus of the story we need. Connection.

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

Look Up to the Sky, Sky, Sky

We serve our loved people so we can keep on living through the onslaught.

🏩 Mission – Stimpunks Foundation
Look up to the sky, sky, sky
Take back your own tonight
You'll find more than you see
It's time now, now, get ready

This is your time, this is your life and
This is your time, this is your life and
This is your time, this is your life and
This is your time, this is your life and

You gotta keep on (Keep on livin!)
Gotta keep on (Keep on livin!)
You gotta keep on (Keep on livin!)
Gotta keep on (Keep on livin!)
You gotta keep on (Keep on livin!)
Gotta keep on (Keep on livin!)
You gotta keep on (Keep on livin!)
Gotta keep on (Keep on livin!)

-- Keep On Livin'
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic parent and retired tech worker. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they

Navigating Stimpunks

Need financial aid to pay for bills or medical equipment? Visit our guide to requesting aid.

 

Need funds for your art, advocacy, or research? Visit our guide to requesting creator grants.

 

Want to volunteer? Visit our guide to volunteering.

 

Need a table of contents and a guide to our information rich website? Visit our map.