I think Kanye says it best, “That’s my bipolar shit, n—a what/That’s my superpower, n—a ain’t no disability/I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero!” “Just say it out loud to see how it feels/People say ‘don’t say this, don’t say that’/Just say it out loud, just to see how it feels.” Bipolar disorder is a rare and complicated mental phenomenon. About 2.6% of the U.S. population has to live with it. For those who have it, there exists a lot of mixed feelings about it. Maybe you find that depression is too difficult to deal with. Maybe you enjoy the freedom and creativity that goes along with mania. It’s remarkable to think that some of the most creative minds in history are thought to have had bipolar disorder and have suffered through intense depressions and exuberant manias. The history of the disorder goes back almost to 300-400 BC. From then on out, countless numbers of people have been blessed with this lifelong curse. They are among a class of people that range from Virginia Woolf to Winston Churchill to Ludwig van Beethoven to Vincent van Gogh! Sylvia Plath is known for her novel The Bell Jar in which she draws a lot from her personal experience of seeking institutionalized treatment for her mood disorder and suicidal tendencies.. A lot of the figures in history are believed to have suffered from the manic-depressive disorder on the basis of it is their method of working. The mad geniuses show some common traits of alternating periods of inactivity and hyperactivity. Robert Schumann who would have periods of ‘intense creativity’ which were characterized by insomnia (another common trait) and completing excellent works within weeks. Composer, Beethoven who suffered from fits in which he could compose numerous works simultaneously. Another great composer, Mozart is believed to suffer from a milder form of bipolar spectrum disorder.
Tchaikovsky also shows great variation of tone, tempo, and rhythm. Vincent Van Gogh who completed the most famous of his works in the last two years of his life. He died at the age of 37 (speculated as a suicide with the help of a gun which was never found! )after a period in which he “had fits of despair and hallucination during which he could not work, and in between them, long clear months in which he could and did. According to many sources, even the genius Picasso showed symptoms of the disorder. Joining Sylvia Plath in the club of literary figures with mood swings of the bipolar type are Virginia Woolf , Mark Twain , and Edgar Allan Poe (who famously said “Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence — whether much that is glorious — whether all that is profound — does not spring from disease of thought — from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect” ). Amongst political leaders, known for his all night writing and mood swings was Winston Churchill who had contemplated on suicide too, Sir Isaac Newton was believed to have suffered from this mental illness. Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland (who have been associated with this disorder) who had a life riddled with mental health problems and drug abuse. Then there is Kanye. He accepts and embraces his condition. I wasn’t a fan before this but now all I can do is admire him so much for talking about it. What do you think when you hear someone is bipolar? Are you bipolar and tend to keep quiet? Let’s stop the stigma.