Below is what I had written on the 'about' section of my website which I am updating. It has a tiny bit of my story and why I do what I do - making my own meaning and purpose keeps me going.
Bipolar Courage is a blog of insights and art by Xanthe Wyse from New Zealand. Xanthe has been diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder. Xanthe started Bipolar Courage when she was feeling down and feeling like she needed a new sense of purpose to keep her going. Having a meaningful project is one of the ways that Xanthe keeps going despite at times overwhelming challenges and struggle.
Xanthe was originally diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder after a breakdown at university when she was twenty.
The diagnosis was changed to bipolar disorder after hospitalisation in Australia in her forties after years of being on a rollercoaster then having another breakdown. She then returned to New Zealand for support, which meant being separated from her son. The pain of that separation is still raw.
She rejected her diagnosis because of the unpleasant side effects of the medications and also because no-one had really explained to her what bipolar disorder was. She knew she had definitely been depressed but she didn't understand what the psychiatrists meant when they referred to mania 'highs.' Her symptoms were not explained to her. She went on to have another mania episode and asked for help when she was crashing.
For several months after starting back on medication, she cycled between mania and depression. To keep going during an extremely difficult time, she decided to set herself a 'ridiculous' goal of an art exhibition, despite not having touched paints for over a decade and previously thrown paintings away (only one was kept by a family member). Her mind was racing hot like the Sun, so she painted an energetic spinning Sun and called it Spinning Orbit. A year later, she had a solo art exhibition for mental health awareness called Spinning Orbit showing her process art as therapy. She felt too anxious to put prices on the paintings as she felt they weren't 'good enough.' So she let the public decide and put an offer in if they were interested in one. To her surprise, 13 paintings sold including one called 'Screwed' made out of screws that she thought was too ugly to put on the wall and she intended to destroy after the exhibition.
Another 'ridiculous' project Xanthe has been working on is writing a semi-autobiographical novel called Pet Purpose. She chose the name over five years ago, so it has been a on-going project but she didn't formulate the story until she was painting for Spinning Orbit. Painting abstracts helped her tell her story in disguise but also process stuck emotions. Writing the drafts of Pet Purpose also helped her process trauma. Writing a novel is a much more difficult project as it requires organising the writing so everything links together. Which was extremely difficult when Xanthe's mind was forgetting even what she did a few seconds ago. The drafts of Pet Purpose were written out of order and are still in a process of being rewritten and edited. The main character also has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD and it has a pet theme and she has woven aspects of her own story into it yet significantly changed the storyline because it is such an intimate story.
With Pet Purpose now into the 'hard part' of editing, Xanthe has felt the need to set herself a new project before she finishes a previous one. Meaningful projects help keep her going. To help take her mind off the realities of her struggle, yet also to confront them. She hopes that Bipolar Courage and Pet Purpose will help people understand bipolar disorder, to reduce stigma and suffering. She hopes people will be inspired by one sensitive soul.
Update: Xanthe has made over 200 raw videos on You Tube about her insights and lived experiences with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder and how creative expression is therapeutic. She hopes to complete Pet Purpose in 2020 (still editing) then write the sequel, Soar Purpose. She is having a second solo art exhibition in September 2020.
Xanthe finds creative expression including writing and painting to be therapeutic and helps her to manage her mental health diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).