Am I Bi-polar ! ?

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Blog entry by BritBoxmaker posted 08-08-2011 09:04 PM 10622 reads 0 times favorited 36 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I don’t know whats going on at the moment. Project ideas coming so thick and fast I can barely get them down on paper. A couple of projects on the go at the same time. Can’t seem to stop thinking about my box making.

Then there are periods, like a few moths ago when I got ‘stuck’. No ideas, not working on any projects and no inclination to do so. Then desperation at being stuck.

Does any one out there recognise this as a bi-polar thing (yes I AM being SERIOUS so no flippancy please) or is it just regular behaviour? Does this happen to any of you out there? Can you re-assure?

Be seeing you.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

36 comments so far

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3613 days

#1 posted 08-08-2011 09:10 PM

Flight of ideas is only one component of Bipolar Disorder and your version doesn’t particularly concern me. I’d ask you about your sleep habits and any impulsivity you might be experiencing outside of the workshop. If you’re concerned, see a physician. I, of course, am a physician but I don’t like to play one on the internet;)

Give these a shot and share the results with your physician. The good news is, if you need pharmacotherapy, there are some good ones these days.

I think we’re all intermittently bipolar after all, right? ;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4028 days

#2 posted 08-08-2011 09:10 PM

I don’t think of it as a bi-polar thing Martyn, I think of it as like a relationship where there are lulls when you sit together in that safe familiarity and then you go through spikes where you re-discover each other again. Box making is a large part of your life. So you go through inspired moments where the ideas flow. After those ideas are gone, you go through lulls where you can’t make yourself conjure up a new design or method. Then you fall back into that mode until the passiveness allows the new trains of thought to come to the surface again.

My thoughts anyway…


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4656 days

#3 posted 08-08-2011 09:14 PM


I believe this is normal. I so it often. Creativity comes from many sources. I am sure you heard of “writers block”?

It is the same thing. Your creativity level runs high and your brain takes a break once in awhile.

Making notes and keeping a record of the ideas is a good idea. When the designs start flowing it is difficult to remember them all.

Keep up the good work.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3956 days

#4 posted 08-08-2011 09:23 PM

Al, I appreciate your input. Tests somewhat re-assuring. May talk to my physician if for no other reason than an objective viewpoint.

David and John, yes there seems to be no on/off switch for creativity and I suppose I should be grateful it happens once in a while.

Overall I’m a bit tense at the moment and very active. I’m sure sleep will catch up with me when it can.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3786 days

#5 posted 08-08-2011 09:24 PM

Martyn, there are tests for bipolar disease and depression. Also, contrary to what most people think there are drugs that can control bipolar disease. In most cases it’s all about getting the correct drug and the proper dose worked out and religiously following the correct timetable for your medication. I know several people with this disease and they have normal lives. However, you may not have any disease at all. It’s best to just go get a check up and let your doctor advise you on which doctor to see. It’s most likely just a certain phase of your personality popping out. You are a very creative person and sometimes these things go with the territory.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View kevinw's profile


199 posts in 4659 days

#6 posted 08-08-2011 09:27 PM

I work as a graphic designer and some days you have all kinds of great ideas and then the next day you feel like a total fraud. You feel like you have used every cheap trick there is and that you haven’t an original bone in your body. Just part of the rythms of creativity, although a very frustrating one.

-- Kevin, Blue Springs, MO

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2080 posts in 3559 days

#7 posted 08-08-2011 09:32 PM

It is the same with music. Sometimes the muse is so rapid that it leaves before recognized.

How many have made a note of a project (or any other idea that seemed good at the time), then later came back to it and said “What was I thinking?”

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3613 days

#8 posted 08-08-2011 09:34 PM

No sweat, Brit. If we analyze our behavior, motivation, and thought processes enough, we can diagnose ourselves with just about anything in the DSM. I’m an anti-social narcissist, myself;) You’re an exceptionally creative guy with a penchant for math and spatial orientation. There’s no doubt that your mind is operating on unique frequencies but that’s far from a pathologic finding. Oddly enough, your brain is highly prized in the dental field. You’d blow the DAT out of the water. If the obsessive thoughts become intrusive in nature, it may be time to talk to a doc about it. For very high functioning guys like yourself, there’s often a trade-off with meds but talking is often all that’s needed. You wouldn’t want to turn your brain completely off and zombie around, devoid of intrusive thoughts. No freaky boxes would get built! A true bipolar has no interest in coming down from a manic episode. They’re so productive! They’ll deny mania to the end while they’re up for four days straight maxing the credit cards. But it’s taxing on your body and it’s usually the impulsivity that gets them into trouble.

There’s no stigma anymore about talking to someone. I have a very low threshold for seeing my shrink and if anyone thinks I’m less of a man for it, so be it. This is certainly more directed at me than anyone but avoid turning down the volume with booze. It’s an attractive route, works great, but it’ll cause more trouble than good.

Be well, my friend!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3839 days

#9 posted 08-08-2011 09:40 PM

I must say Martyn that I go through phases very similar to what you are going through now. There are times for me, like now, when I can’t work fast enough and there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do what I need to do. I mentioned in my blog this morning that the ideas seem to be at an all time high. I don’t know what to do first. This brings a sense of anxiety to me at times because I feel that I may lose the inspiration if I don’t act quickly. I say this because there are times when nothing I think of looks good or seems right – even if it is very similar to the idea that I had on an upswing a week or more earlier.

I think it is part of the natural process of creativity and I try not to worry about it or get too worked up when it happens. I like to look at it as you are in a good place emotionally which allows your creativity to flow. I try to do what I can and I do write down all the ideas that are flowing so later on when I am not feeling so creative, I can go back to them and sometimes it helps spring board me back into the creative mode.

Are you bi-polar? I wouldn’t think so if these are your only symptoms. I believe that you are exceptionally creative and learning to channel that creativity can be challenging.

Go with the flow when you can and use the down time to rest and rejuvenate in between projects.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Wes Giesbrecht's profile

Wes Giesbrecht

155 posts in 3731 days

#10 posted 08-08-2011 09:56 PM

I think a very high percentage of artistic people have to deal with this.
Over and over again.
The best short answers I know are, when there are no new ideas, revisit an old one.
Just get busy and make another version of an old idea. Call it adding one to a series.
The new ideas will start again as soon as you get out of your own way.

Also, I find that walking, hard and fast for extended periods, is one of my best antidotes for depression
and stuck creativity.
I’m not bipolar, but I was born depressed. Literally. The degree varies but I deal with it every damn day.
I have a sister 69 year old who’s diagnosed bipolar. She’s been on every drug and combination of drugs in the universe as well as talk therapy at various times.
Non of the drugs ever work long term. All of them have side effects.

Also, I highly recommend a little book called Art and Fear.

-- Wes Giesbrecht

View CharlieM1958's profile


16289 posts in 5138 days

#11 posted 08-08-2011 10:09 PM

The symptoms you describe don’t sound like a problem to me. I go through the same thing in woodworking, as well as in writing music.

As others more knowledgeable than I have already pointed out, it is only a problem if there are other symptoms that you find distressing.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3956 days

#12 posted 08-08-2011 10:13 PM

Kevin and David Grimes. Yes I’m familiar with points from both of you there.

Wes, I’ll look into the book, thanks.

Sheila, thanks for the re-assurance. Indeed thank you all for that.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 3998 days

#13 posted 08-08-2011 10:34 PM

Well, Martyn. I can certainly relate to what you’re saying. I don’t know whether it is bipolar or multipolar or what, but often I find my mind racing far ahead of what I can catch up. Sometimes I jot down what’s running through (or imagine) in my brain. Since I am also a writer, there had been times when I just sat in front my puter and nothing happened. Other times, by fingers could not keep up with the thoughts and ideas! I don’t worry about it and I haven’t consulted any docs on the subject. I believe God has a plan for me and is preparing me for it. I just can’t rush His plan. So I do my best on anything I do and am enjoying it! You are a gifted man, Martyn . . . very blessed. I am not a physician, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you!

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3613 days

#14 posted 08-08-2011 10:44 PM

Hey Brit, check out the book “Emotional Intelligence”. You may have more than you think!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4315 days

#15 posted 08-08-2011 10:49 PM

For more than 7 decades I have experienced the same thing. One day creativity abounds, another day I come up empty. It confounded me for a long time, although I didn’t have any ups and downs to manage, its just that the creative ‘juices’ didn’t flow sometimes.
Then, almost thirty years ago I started experimenting with controlling my ‘brain states’. I refer to right brain style of cognition as opposed to left brain thinking. After some very serious digging I discovered I could select the appropriate brain state for a given task.
Its not anything one can explain easily and I recommend finding some books on the subject and giving them a go. “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards is one I endorse heartily. It purports to teach one to draw, but really, it teaches one how to invoke the ‘right brain state” for such creativity.
Unless you’re suffering some extreme “ups and downs”, I wouldn’t imagine bipolar disease is to blame.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

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