Jess Melancholia is a blogger at The Bipolar Compass, Huffington Post and bpHope from California. She
writes to heal…
Why do you Write To Heal? Has something happened that moved you to using writing as an art form, such as an illness or traumatic experience?
Yeah something definitely happened that’s for sure. It’s so hard to talk about because most people just don’t understand what it’s like being bipolar let alone having a manic episode. When I’m in mania, nothing matters. Nothing can stop the urges and sensations except for medication and even then it’s extremely difficult. When I’m manic, I get something called hypersexuality; which is essentially manic-induced sexual addiction. For anyone who has experienced this you already know how bad it is but for those of you who don’t it’s a real thing. That and it’s an absolute nightmare, especially when you are happily married! I cheated on my husband and felt like the worst person in the world. I couldn’t stop shaming myself for what I did. It was awful. I kept telling myself I should’ve tried harder to resist the temptation but it was just too powerful. So I decided to do some research and found out that it’s actually pretty common. Through blogging I was hoping to do two things: find support and understanding from people who have been through what I’ve been through and end the horrible stigma associated with hypersexuality and mental illness in general.
For me, bipolar disorder is more than just a heavy burden to bear, it’s sheer torture at times. The only thing that seems to relieve some of that stress is writing. It allows me to get everything off my chest without interruption. When I write I tell my life in the form of a story. If I look at my life from the perspective of a journey, it helps me track where I am and how far I’ve come. I find that using analogies when describing what is going on in my head is calming and less threatening. I write like this to better understand myself. I’m lost and therefore need a compass to guide me but all I have is a Bipolar Compass; which doesn’t work very well at times. My mind is a vast landscape with Purgatory, a Cemetery, a Forbidden Forest, a Firth, and a Trail of Stability. Depending on where I am, I’m able to let my readers know exactly how dark or out-of-control I feel. In that way, maybe they won’t feel so alone. By not describing my “enemies” as demons, it keeps me from treating them like demons. They feel like demons.Depression and Mania are my demons and they tend to consume my entire being much like Fog and Fire, respectively. You’d understand more if you read my blog.
So you write to cope with your mental illness?
Writing for me brings clarity and purpose. My mind works and reads like a spiderweb. Thousands of thoughts going in all different directions that it’s so hard for me to talk out my feelings in the moment. I can’t seem to find which direction to go. I feel like if I don’t just sit down and write out my feelings in a cohesive format then it’ll get lost in translation. When I finally finish a post, there is this immense weight lifted off my shoulders because I’m able to reassure myself that things are hard but I can keep fighting. Being able to go back and reread my posts lifts me up and shows me how much I’ve grown and changed. This and writing allows me a bookmark to go back and remind myself that things were bad but I made it through in one piece.
Do you see yourself continuing writing to heal, and do you think your work has/will change in time?
I can’t imagine my life without my blog. I just can’t anymore. Writing brings me the ability to connect with people online that I honestly consider great friends. I love them despite having never met the vast majority of them in real life. Their constant and consistent support and conversations bring me hope. They give me purpose. When I was hospitalized a little over a month ago they asked me if I was suicidal. The very first thing that popped into my head was “No” because of my blogging community; which includes my husband and best friends. I feel I owe it to them to keep fighting for my life and my sanity. There have been people who have thanked me and said I inspire them through my writing. I can’t tell you how amazing that makes me feel. They tell me they never thought that someone else is going through the same struggles that they have gone through.
Quite honestly, my writing has gotten much more raw and honest. It’s amazing to look back on my previous work and see how timid I was and how ashamed I was for just being bipolar. Now I feel like I’m closer than ever before to becoming the person I always wanted to be and writing allows me to be that brave warrior I think I can be.
Did you blog before becoming the brave warrior you are now?
No not in the least. I’m not the “writer” in my family. I hated English class because there was too much writing involved. The only thing I did was journal in high school because I had the most intense crush on my now husband. That was so cute and I still have the journal. I love reading it!
What’s your blogging goal?
My inspiration is the fight against stigma. That drives me. If there is anything this country needs it’s less ignorant people like Anne Coulter who says “Guns don’t kill people—the mentally ill do.”
That’s a powerful quote. Is that around when you started?
I wrote after that but that woman certainly keeps me writing.
Did your blog’s content happen organically or did you say to yourself, “I need to do this to help myself”?
A little of both. I actually read on one of these how to get over an affair websites and found advice that says “Don’t blog about it.” Right then, I thought to myself, “Well no. I need to get this out. Fuck that! I’m going to start a blog!”
Now how often do you write/commit to your work?
I only write if the words are flowing. Mostly when something happens. In my case it’s often. Drama likes to follow me around. I’ve called the cops on it so many times and I have a legal restraining order but nothing. Pretty sure I’m going to get shanked soon. But seriously. If there is something going on in my head and I feel like I need to say something, then I’ll blog. Other than that I can’t and won’t write as well as I do. It baffles me when people post 5-10 times a day. How do they find the words?
Do you have a different profession besides this?
Yes actually. Without giving too much away I work as a molecular biologist at a biorenewables company. I absolutely love my job. I’m a total nerdy scientist with my name on my lab coat.
Lastly, what dreams do you have for your writing?
Not to brag but I’ve been told that my writing is really good and that I need to write a book. I was given until 2025 I think. My hope is that through my story things will change with regards to how mental health is treated on this planet. It’s awful. That’s the reason I choose to remain anonymous for now. I can’t risk my job and I don’t want people to walk on egg shells around me. Not anymore than people who know who I am already do. That’s the dream.