essay: the cyclothyme

The Cyclothyme



Thanks for the translation, and I love your portraits – they are sensitive and evocative.  I enjoy your blogs, even when you are in a depressive phase – they force me to reflect, too.

Although doctors should refrain from telephone diagnoses, especially remote ones, I wonder if you have ‘bipolar mood disorder’.  You certainly wouldn’t be the first artist suffering that, and it fits with alternating bursts of intense creative endeavour and depression.  Or maybe you just have the cyclothymic personality, as opposed to the duller, even, safer, bourgeois personality – or even worse, the bourgeois butterfly like moi.  Diagnosis is important as it provides the option of effective treatment and preventitive approaches,  if symptoms are debilitating.  There’s a wonderful short and sympathetic poem about cyclothymes, or maybe a limerick (“I came to life a cyclothyme…..”) – wish I could remember it.


Each of us, I think, tries to keep control, to resist the natural chaos and disorder of life, to have a way of making sense of it all.  Some of us do that by keeping an ordered little life, perhaps at the expense of creativity, if such was ever there.  Both life and people can be depressing, boring and uplifting; one only has to read the news;  around election time in Australia is about as bad as it gets in this rich safe country.  I and of course many others find art uplifting, and you have much to be proud of in that regard. I guess life is ultimately depressing because we must die and leave no everlasting trace.  Coming to terms with that helps; helps not to ‘set the bar too high’, or indeed too low.  My way of coping is in part to recognize that I’ve been fortunate just to come this far; I often meet asylum seekers who have come from terrifying situations where many friends and family have died.  I am painfully aware of friends and family and others (eg our Aborigines) who have died young, who haven’t had the opportunity to make the best one can of a reasonable life span.  Of course all this is part of ‘life’.   And anyway, why focus on the depressing things, if one of life’s purposes is to be happy – some say the only real purpose.  The depressing things can to a degree be tackled, dealt with, compartmentalized and not allowed to take over.  As I said, we most of us have our ways;  I’m sure you do too.  I think that other animals probably get depressed, if not to the same degree as our species.  Our dog certainly gets sad, but not for too long.  Our mental abilities seem to be both a blessing and a curse, and we could learn something from dogs!   So there you have it, the wisdom of my years, or a bunch of stale old cliche’s, take your pick (but don’t tell me).


Cheers and love, Rod



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