Understanding the Ball of Yarn

June 2, 2013

I posted the following entry originally at the International Bipolar Foundation a few months ago. I found it to be especially appropriate today so I thought I'd share it here. 

Friday night I directed my original play with an audience of 250 people.  It was the culmination of two months of rehearsals and heaps of creative energy, and it was a success!  Saturday I was interviewed by a British filmmaker about mental illness and its affect on families. I told our story.  THE story that brought me here with you. It was gut-wrenching, yet therapeutic.  But now, I'm exhausted.          

I feel like an unraveled ball of yarn.

Those of us with some form of Bipolar, understand how our minds work for the most part. Some of us are gifted with creativity that drives us, especially during manic times. But for those reading this who do not relate, the creative aspect of Bipolar in some of us may be a bit of a mystery.  While there are countless scientific links between creativity and mental illness, specifically Bipolar, I do not intend to cite them here. Instead, I can only speak from my own life experiences, as I am no expert.

I am a teacher, a job which requires a diverse skill set including: content knowledge, compassion, organization, flexibility, and creativity. Beyond teaching, I also write poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and plays; additionally, I compose music and direct musical theater productions as well as plays. These are all outlets for my creativity. They motivate me in all aspects of my life. Teaching, writing, composing, and directing inspire me to wake up in the morning. They are my oxygen.

We creative types understand how this works. Like a colorful ball of yarn, wrapped haphazardly into the most perfect sphere, our creativity can be unraveled into shape after shape, form after form. Unraveling slowly at times, with care and precision, and at other times, rolling at lightning speed down winding flights of stairs; this technicolor orb reshapes itself again and again to bring life to our darkness. The creativity we express is our lifeblood, taking the form of art, music, literature, poetry, theater.

But there is a time to rewrap the yarn. A time to regroup and rejuvenate. After every creative venture, our yarn is strewn across the carpet, sometimes in knots, sometimes frayed, sometimes appearing as though a litter of kittens has toyed with it for hours. We must take our time to rewind it, to reshape it back into the tightly wrapped form where it will lay waiting for a new inspiration. This rewrapping, regrouping time is crucial. For me, it involves rest, solitude, and self-reflection. For those who love us, who yearn to understand us, they should know that once our yarn is unraveled, our creative energies depleted, we need time to begin again. We need time to rewrap our yarn.


  1. Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you found something useful here. ~Peace SHM