I am diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They affect my communication in speech and writing, which become disorganised and hard to follow.
I write best in hypomania episodes (mood elevated but not full mania). When I am fully manic, my writing and speech become incoherent to others, because it is all loose associations, flight of ideas and symbolism. My mind races and my speech is fast (pressure of speech).
Below is my handwriting, which changes in mood episodes. Large and messy when manic. The messiness is mainly because my mind goes fast. I write small when depressed.
I can touch-type very fast but when I'm hand writing, I can't write sentences anymore as my mind is racing too fast, leaping from one thing to another. My handwriting becomes big and very messy and I find it easy to scribble with felt pen than write in biro.
I will post below an extract I typed in mania (unedited) vs hypomania (edited) so you can get an idea. I will also post a video reading the full extract from each piece of writing. If I'm manic, it's easier for me to paint than write. Or I scribble messy mind-maps.
I know what it means, what I have written but it won't be understandable to others if they don't know the context. It's basically lots of memories, across several decades, in the same sentence, linked with loose associations.
Mania writing extract
This extract was from an email I wrote in August 2017. I was manic, despite meds.
"I saw a paua egg and realised I wanted the paua egg and I wanted to be a golden egg the childhood fairytales/tails fan/tails, and not a broken egg like Humpty Dumpty but like the Puss in Boots where Humpty Dumpty falls and becomes a golden egg.
The boy who died on the 4th (like 4th of July like my friend my neighbour who moved away who held my hand when the teacher slapped me and I threw the book on the floor so I didn't talk to the teachers for a month when I started school. I angrily coloured in the chicken with yellow crayon (my mania colour) with the purple meths (my depression colour) but I painted in the rainbow paint colour wheel. It was an abstract of rollercoasters like I went on with my rather in holiday in a disneyland and a miniature city and teeth, and zip and DNA and genes but no-one would really know what it means unless I tell them.
And when I become a milllionaire I will share it a boundantly (I'll need your school teacher in there too J to help me spell and have good grammar when I edit at the end because I'm too lost in metaphors. I'll share it all with you including buy you a house..."
Hypomania writing extract
Below is an extract from my novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice. This extract is also inspired by memories across time, but I have managed to combine them in a more coherent way for the reader. Pet Purpose was written in hypomania episodes and completed in 2021.
"Heni had adopted Tripod from a shelter. She knew that older cats and dogs, especially those with disabilities are less likely to be rehomed. At first, Tripod was very timid, sitting in the corner of a cage, head dropped and not moving. She’d had one leg amputated, presumably after an accident. Her history was unknown.
After initially hiding in a drawer in the bedroom, Tripod came out and started to appear relaxed. One day, when she was asleep, sprawled out across the back part of the sofa, Richie joked, ‘Cats are nature’s way of showing us that not everything has a purpose in life.’
Despite having three legs, Tripod was a very fast runner – she’d zoom out of the room faster than a cat with four legs when a stranger came to visit.
Tripod was raised as an indoor cat and Heni trained her to use a human toilet. She scratched at the toilet seat briefly before pushing the flush button. Richie had built an outdoor area with cat netting and access via a cat door so Tripod could sun herself outside. Richie was annoyed when Tripod climbed the insect screens to chase lizards. The only way Tripod could leave the property was to go out the front door.
The attendants at the animal shelter had advised Heni to raise Tripod as an inside cat because of the risks of cats killing wildlife and wildlife killing cats.
‘That’s Stralya for ya,’ joked Richie. ‘Where everything’s out to kill you.’ He pointed to an article in the newspaper with an x-ray of the inside of a python, clearly showing the skeleton of an entire cat wearing a cat collar with a bell still attached."
reading writing from hypomania
Reading all of Chapter 1 from Pet Purpose, which was written and edited in hypomania episodes.
Reading writing from mania
Reading out the full email that was written in a mania episode. I am in a mixed episode in this video and pretty tired.
Xanthe finds creative expression including writing and painting to be therapeutic and helps her to manage her diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).