This painting above is familiar isn’t it for most of you?. It is actually a painting made famous by a painter name Vincent Van Gogh. If you are not familiar with him, he has produced the most celebrated and influenced paintings of all time. What people don’t know behind all that successful painting is that, he suffered from manic depressive disorder or also known as bipolar disorder now.
This other side of this Europe creative icon has a dark story to it. He has been combating various episodes of psychotic,mania and depression which eventually claimed his life in 1890. What does bipolar disorder has to do with creativity?
Well not all people with bipolar disorder are creative, and not all creative people have bipolar disorder. However, there does appear to be a connection between the genes that lead to bipolar disorder and a person’s creativity. I can name a few famous political figures, poets, song writers, painters and so on that suffered from manic depression like Kurt Cobain, Winston Churchill, Vincent Van Gogh himself, Mariah Carey and many more.
I never truly understand myself growing up untill i was actually diagnosed with it. People who knew me since school have seen how much i love artistic things. I loved to paint, sketch or indulge myself in anything that i can build like potteries. Many people don’t know that i grew up wanting to become an architect. I write with my left hand but do activities like play sports with right hand. I always find myself strange and unique than other people.
There are times i would just like to be alone and find myself having racing thoughts, ideas and heightened optimism but not sure where to channel all this energy to unlike all our famous figures i’ve mentioned above.
I always asked my dad if he could send me to art or music classes, because i knew i had thing passion in me and i had to channel it somewhere. And because i didn’t had the opportunity of going for such classes due to financial issues and also because my dad wants me to be in a science stream, i found myself getting more frustrated over the years with my drawing skills. I tried really hard to become good in it and even took extra subject in arts for my SPM exam and scored an A plus for it too. I was good but wasn’t great in painting and sketching. I guess i’ve always put high expectation on myself and that slowly was a sign of my destruction.
I eventually left my dream and also because i think life had a bigger plan for me, i choosed to be a doctor. So i went to medical school instead of architecture school. I left everything i loved to do and found myself haven’t been painting or sketching anything for many many years because i was too occupied with studying.
There was this thing in me that was bothering me so much i had to channel it somewhere like trying to be good in sports, playing guitar, table tennis and many more hobbies i opted. But also found myself back to the same frustration and disapointment. That moment i realized how frequent i was with feeling this way and i wonder why. Sometimes it could be so severe that i feel so useless and went into full blown depression episode.
Over the years after so many bad mistakes and choices that i made because of this disorder, i finally felt relieved after a diagnosis. I understand myself better now and how to manage the episodes. And if you are familiar with bipolar disorder graphs whether it’s Type 1 or 2, or unipolar and cyclothymic, its a real struggle i must say. Imagine experience episodes of mania to depression. I’m sure those who are suffering can relate and how much it could messed up our brain. If left untreated it could lead to suicides. I personally have self harmed and have suicidal thoughts in the past because i didn’t know what to do or how to balance it out.
Now that im supposed to complete my training as a junior doctor in order to get a licensed working in Malaysia, I have people telling me that i should just find a more subtle job other than this medical field as it requires both mental and physical preparation. That it’ll only make my disorder worse. But you see, i decided not to quit. I spent 6 years of my life studying medicine and i truly believe that God has bigger plans for me. I believe going through this phase of life is important in shaping who i meant to be in the future. So I CHOOSE to think it in a POSITIVE way and i hope it continues that way untill i succeed.
Irregardless of what type of bipolar disorder you may have, i’m sure everybody has their own up and downs. But if you really make full use of your disorder, you never know you might achieve or unlock something in your life. But whatever it may takes, always get help.