I found this prologue to a creative writing magazine that I used to publish in college. Funny how you look back at the things you write and see the bipolar illness so clearly. I remember when I wrote these first magazines, I thought they were filled with hope. In the piece below, I had begun to realize that so much sadness ran throughout the whole of my writing.
A fifth grader remembers fourth grade and asks what a fool he’s been. I do the same with the old issues of Mindswim. I am nearly embarrassed. There is an overwhelming current of sadness throughout the canon. I had hoped to write myself out of it. I wanted to prove that the greatest hope is found after finishing the toughest journey. But as the project went on, the sadness was not weeded out. Instead it grew into a suspicion of government, of media, of any authority. It is a likely end for a young writer without a strand of confidence who relies upon a worn-out gray sentiment as motivation. I don’t wish to defame this sentiment, it gave me the initial reason to write. But there are goals that art must meet and not all artwork achieves them. One cannot rely upon a tingling sensation in the breast as supreme arbiter of all artistic choice. I entered a viscious era when everything I wrote seemed perfectly meaningful. Perhaps my goal wasn’t clearly defined or my only real audience was myself. I fell. I don’t warn against using dreadly emotions as fuel for creativity. Emotion tells us exactly what it is to be human. I say be careful, because ideas are real, and those born of fear lead to narrowing corridors. The fourth issue predates a psychotic episode and overflows with flags which clearly point to self destruction. Mindswim 5 was written about that episode and is the first issue the supersedes the fatalistic, angst-ridden muck. It does so because it recognizes the morose bog as mental stasis and an emotional flat spin. To the reader of Mindswim 6, I say greetings, you’ve made it this far (and don’t worry about where its author has been.)
There are two ways of doing things, doing and undoing, and they are very similar.
Think of the two sides of your hand. One side, the palm, always doing things. And at the same time, the back side of our hand is undoing them.
The dialect of fear is the language we speak when we are doing things primarily with the back of our hands. This is the doing without doing. The dialect of fear is the language of depression, of anger and jealousy.
Egress is synonomous with exit. P.T. Barnum made the word famous by posting a sign reading "This Way to the Egress" at a sideshow tent in his circus. The visitors who followed the sign, believing that perhaps an egress was an exotic bird, soon found themselves outside the tent again.
The phrase Infinite Egress explains the post-psychotic or manic-depressive episode period because, at once, we find ourselves on the other side of the traumatic experience, wondering how a series of rationale decisions has lead to a mental breakdown. We feel just as tricked by our intuition as the people who payed to see the egress at the circus. And the cycle can repeat itself, despite the conscious behavioral changes we make. One exit becomes many and the egress infinite.
After a psychotic episode at the age of 20, I found no one with whom to the share my experiences. I began to write about the egress but many years passed until I started to understand the process fully.
We will post submissions about the egress: the psychotic experience, the depression, the mania, the brilliance of the insights that are found, and the cure.