I’m not reclusive enough. To which I responded “I am reclusive!” To which I received laughter. And, yes, it sounded a bit weak to my own ears.
Added to the hindrance of my nature is my nurture. I had a wonderful childhood. The sort that would render Dickens and the Bronte sisters unable to produce any of their harrowing material. Young Copperfield would have had summers of endless warmth and laughter. Sweet Miss Eyre would have had a simple, stable, deathless experience growing up. And Dickens and Bronte would remain completely unknown.
Would they have traded fame/brilliance for better, brighter lives? Would you? In An Unquiet Mind, psychiatrist Kay Jamison describes her lifelong struggle with Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder). She frequently stops taking her medication even though, as a doctor, she knows exactly why she needs it. She stops taking it because, aside from buoying her from depression, the pills repress her mania – the place from which she produces her most creative, genius, moving work. For the most part, she would rather take the bad for the sake of the good.
She describes mania:
” There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one’s marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against– you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.”
And also describes depression:
“Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding and no reassurance is ever enough. You’re frightened, and you’re frightening, and you’re “not at all like yourself but will be soon,” but you know you won’t.”
Carrie Fisher, Kurt Cobaine, Stephen Fry, Mel Gibson, and Amy Winehouse are/were all Bipolar.