Is Bipolar Disorder a DiVine Ability or a Disability?

Disability magazine, DiVine interviewed me about my fiction writing obsession and my (Dis) Ability … wanting to unveil the truth about the effect of bipolar on my writing.

Graham Clements, writer for DiVine magazine quizzed me with probing questions about my creativity and bipolar disorder.

Down through history, creative minds like Beethoven, Van Gough, Virginia Wolf and Charles Dickens and have struggled with bipolar disorder and their creative pursuits.
Jackson Jones of Creation Road is producing an Australian documentary, investigating the connection between madness and creativity.

Graham wanted to know if bipolar disorder had helped or hindered my writing and publishing opportunities.
Take a peek at this insightful question Graham posed at the interview …

“On your website you say that in the depths of mania you began to write your memoirs. Did bipolar have any role in your decision to write fiction?

Definitely. Writing fiction was a welcome escape from confronting my painful struggle with bipolar. The more I revealed about my past, the more I turned to fiction for relief. I wrote all three books on a parallel time scale. When I became a super space kid zooming off into space, my angst disappeared.”

For the full real deal …Check out this direct link to DiVine magazine.

Please check  out Grahams Clements Sci-Fi website too …

photo-divine-blogIs Bipolar Disorder a DiVine Ability or a Disability?

So many of my writer friends are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I estimate more than 20% have this disorder.

Is this just a coincidence?
Is bipolar disorder a creative ability or a disability?
For me,  its been both.  In the early stages of my struggle it was definitely a disability.

I count myself lucky to have survived  and recovered. Interestingly, I didn’t start writing until I developed Bipolar. Each day I attribute  my writing compulsion to the bipolar drive within me.

Do you think there’s link between bipolar disorder and creativity?

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16 comments to Is Bipolar Disorder a DiVine Ability or a Disability?

  • Joanna Gaudry

    Intriguing, Karen. I didn’t realise Adrian (also a FB friend) had bipolar disorder. I wrote down in a temp agency today that I had ‘depressive and anxiety disorders’ and that I don’t deal well with high stress situations. Now I’m worried that I did myself a dis-service by revealing so much about myself to a potential employer. There’s always the stigma there of employing a person with mental illness.
    Hope you are keeping well (sounds as if you are). Love the illustration with this blog post.
    Let’s meet up for coffee before I get another job. Let me know when.
    Joanna x

  • Hi Joanna,
    Thanks for dropping by. I would be cautious about what you put on your job application form as Stigma is alive in the business world. In the writing world, I have found acceptance and encouragement. I wish you every success with your new job. Hope we can meet up for a coffee soon … Karen xx

  • Graham

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for your great interview responses. It is a pity I could not run the whole interview in the article.


  • Hi Graham,
    That’s OK. I appreciate the opportunity to express my opinions in your magazine. The jury is still out whether Bipolar is an ability or disability. It depends so much on your experience and viewpoint. I congratulate you on the excellent article you wrote :))

  • Hi Karen,
    I have heard that said about dyslexia too – that it is an ability. Of course a lot of famous people are dyslexic too, such as Richard Branson for one – also Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein. I don’t think anyone really understands creativity or genius.
    Great post. Thanks

  • Hi Joan,
    thanks for dropping by with your comments about Dyslexia …another disability with signs of extra abilities.
    I’ve also heard rumors that Richard Branson is bipolar as well. Yes creativity is a mystery… something I’m striving to understand :))

  • Kerryn Pascoe

    Hi Karen,

    A thought provoking read as usual Karen. I too did not really start writing until I was struggling with my undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder.
    I look forward to the documentary too.
    Well done.

  • Hi Karen,
    Both Spike Milligan and Stephen Fry are on your side of the ledger.
    Keep it up.

  • Hi Kerryn,
    Like you, my writing started off as an obsessive compulsion part of my mania. I suspect many writers with bipolar would have a similar history. The Creation Road doc promises to be enthralling :))

  • Hi Lin,
    Thanks for dropping by. There’s so many gifted Bipolars out there who I admire. I’m doing my best with my ability/ disability… Karen :))

  • I don’t tell many people this cause… I am not sure why. But I have bipolar2. Some people think that is a lesser form of bipolar. It isn’t. It is just as hard to deal with. And yes, I would say that my creativity and me having bipolar2 are closely linked. When I’m up whole books get written 🙂
    and I think I see the world slightly different to others. I make connections between things that others don’t make. I see possibilities where others see ‘the common’. I am glad you shared about your bipolar. Maybe I will come out with it on my blog one day.
    Oneday… but not today 🙂

  • Karen, interesting comments about bipolar and creativity. You’ve read my memoir, so you know about my own struggles. I’ve often thought there is a relationship between creativity and mental illness; however, I do know that the road is wide and long between psychosis and true creativity. I prefer the latter. I’m happy for your sucess. BTW, I have a grandson who is a classical guitarist, has ADD, but is brilliant. When he was five some psychologist wrote him off – said he would never be able to go to college, probably trade school. He now has a 4.0 GPA at a pretigious university. Creativity is a mystery.

  • Hi Tabitha, Thanks for sharing your diagnoses and experiences here. Yes, I too look at the world differently and its something to do with how our brains are wired. I hope one day you have the courage to make a stand on your website …Karen :))

  • Hi Audrey, thanks for dropping by here with your reflections. The creativity / bipolar link is certainly an intriguing one which I hope scientists will study further one day. I wish your grandson the very best of luck with his very bright future :))

  • This questions seem to be too opened ended. I think anyone can take a “disability” and turn it into a creative opportunity just as anyone waste and “ability” and let it consume their life into destruction. I personal do believe that “madness” or the ability to see the world in a different way can open the door to creativity however for every 1 who is brave enough to step through that door there are hundreds who are pulled down by the madness long before the creativity has come to be realized.

  • Hi Mike, Unfortunately that may be true about hundreds being pulled down never realising their true potental. That’s why progressive rehabilitation is so important.
    I count myself lucky to have Recovered from the madness of bipolar and discovered my creativity … My ability to write.

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