What is it like living with Bipolar? David Robertson, who works in the tech industry as a coder, describes it as ‘tamed chaos with wires everywhere.’ He also explains how writing, and writing poetry in particular, helps define him
I am in a vortex which protects me from the outside influences as I navigate backwards and forward through my time looking for and implementing solutions.
For me, the start of 2020 was the same as whenever stigma regarding mental health began. On a professional level no one believes you, few want to do business with you and the pitfalls for running a business are still there. So, on a professional level I have been disadvantaged by my diagnosis. Violins please – I have two degrees an HNC and am a Member of the British Computer Society. I am bigger than other people’s prejudices.
I am always looking for constants. Rocks. Islands. Things to cling on to for dear life. This is because in my world all is liquid (with my one beer a week!), malleable and uncertain. Lockdown occurred for me when I was made redundant in 2012 for the third time in my life. I remain working at home and Lockdown did not affect me, or my social arrangement which is an occasional lunch with my friend, her friends and sisters – and ride outs when allowed with The Norfolk Honda Owners Club. My lockdown experience has been solitary and normal. Writing and writing poetry define who I am, where I have been and how I treat life. And how it treats me.
My music teacher is a peer from our corridor on Norfolk Terrace, UEA, in 1986-87: Nick Walters of 2 Magnetic East (you can find them on Bandcamp) based in Kagoshima, Japan. I have visited him there and his knowledge of reading and writing music is not superficial. He is a teacher by trade, although not music, and he teaches me that as a favour, and I repay him by not practicing enough and regaling him during our lessons about politics and incidentals. In other words, we agree with each other. With music, the patterns I expose my brain to are not always on demand, like music, so I can turn that off and on and consume it in a controlled environment. It is my decision to listen to music, in other words. Other patterns are laid in my brain by life. I have, of one month ago, purchased two books on how to learn music and am looking for a local music teacher which might suit me better than my peer Nick. He has told me to look for someone I respect and to practice more. I would like to mention another musician who has lightened the load a bit: Steve Appleton of Norwich. I love listening to his twang, as such.
The poetry course is affordable at the moment, so why not? There is an intermediate course after and I can afford it, so why not? The real reason is, poetry is easy for me I have lived the sort of life that gives me the integrity to write about it as truth. If love is a feather with which to paint, truth is a sabre with which to teach. Or, an alternative is that truth is a sabre to rattle your cage. I have learned about stanzas. I know what a sonnet is (I think) and I learned how brilliant and caring poets can be. Really. If you know a poet befriend them immediately. I was born in Norfolk and was brought up in Australasia. Norfolk owns me. I am okay with that, if I danced to a tune it would be Norfolk’s. I am a biker, a motorcyclist. If I were to choose a life. It would be motorcycling above poetry. I am fortunate to be able to do both. Then I have worked hard to have the fortunate life I have.
I think that when a person writes whatever they are thinking at any moment in time they are recording their thoughts and translating them as accurately and in as ordered way as they can manage. It helps order the Near Universe and gives others a chance to interpret and thus negotiate with others thought processes, in order to make a way forward which is equitable to all. So, of course I recommend writing. Simon Watt’s peer-led Therapeice organisation has given me time to write a whole bunch of stories and anecdotal history which I can refer to for a wider goal of a book I have on the cards. Therapeice talks of therapeutic writing and there is no harm in that. Therapeutic writing might be more relevant than creative writing as it is both. Let us get through the month, alive.