Touched by Fire

I’ve been reading Touched by Fire. It’s a study on mood disorders – particularly bipolar – and artists. It’s so fascinating but also eating me up a bit. Reading the facts about Poe, Van Gogh, Woolfe, Tenneyson, Lord Byron…on and on…it’s cathartic to feel not alone and certainly in good company, and depressing to read how many end up dying by suicide. Poets are way up there statistically speaking. 7-8 times more likely to go into a mental hospital and a good 25% more likely to commit suicide. Poets are also more likely to experience psychotic breaks, so that makes me feel a bit better about losing my grip. The productivity charts and moods – Robert Schumann composed 140 songs while manic. And nothing during a long bout of depression.

I have been struggling to find some sort of metronome to abide by. So that there’s some…discipline to my life and art. Balance. The prolific geniuses whose words ring immortal were both insane and disciplined. They were completely fine until they weren’t, and they’d return. The constant was the art. My rule of thumb is I gotta write something everyday. It can be long journal entries if it’s all I got for the day, but something has to come. Inspiration generally punches me in the face whenever it wants, and I tend to grab at it until I can word vomit it into life. The muses speak regardless of my moods, but productivity wanes when the sky is black. There are many starts of poetry with large x’s and angry f-bombs in my journal. I figure as long as I keep the tap open every day, it’s all good. This book has reassured me my instinct is supported by many prolific writers whose moods dictated their lives like mine do.

I wouldn’t say this is a read for everyone, it would probably be beneficial to a narrow margin of folks who love studying psychology and themselves and have an inclination toward any arts. It’s pretty triggering too, so you’d have to be in a good headspace for it. I’m finding it helpful and crying a lot. It’s genuinely…profound to connect with the realization that all of the things that torture me are also the palette, the very pigment that creates everything I write. That the pain I suffer constantly is the very mechanism that allows me to translate into writing…I find myself in a state of peace amongst one hell of a ride.

Art saves the soul so that the soul can become

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