Meet my guest, Tara Meissner, author of Stress Fracture

Stress Fracture A Memoir of Psychosis book coverMy son, a talented jazz composer and musician, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age twenty-one. As I got more and more informed about the disorder I heard that studies linked creativity with bipolar disorder, and my son’s behavior seemed to indicate the studies were true. He refused to take his medications because they evened him out too much and hindered his ability to create his music. He, and I imagine others with bipolar disorder, very much liked their manic highs. However, I, like my guest today, Tara Meissner, author of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis, never believed that all people with bipolar disorder are creative. It is also not true that all people with mental illness are violent, as so many people believe.

Thank you Tara Meissner for being at Choices while on your WOW! Women on Writing book tour. I’m so glad you are here to share your views and bipolar experience with us. Being open about this disorder will go a long way to help erase stigma.

Bipolar and the Creativity Link Myth

by Tara Meissner

If you enter “artists” and “bipolar” into a search engine, you will find an impressive list of successful artists (living and dead) believed to have bipolar disorder.

Among them are musicians Kurt Cobain, Sinead O’Conner, Axl Rose, and Frank Sinatra, actors Patty Duke, Carrie Fisher, Mel Gibson, Marilyn Monroe, Robin Williams, and the fairly recently revealed Catherine Zeta-Jones; and writers Edgar Allan Poe and Virginia Woolf.However, a complete list of actors, writers, painters, musicians, and other artists has vastly more people without bipolar disorder. I must assume an aptitude for creativity does not need to include a bipolar diagnosis.

I am reminded of a statistics course warning that correlation does not equal causation. It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that having bipolar makes the mentioned celebrities special in someway, that the same biological recipe for bipolar disorder contains some bonus creativity gene. However, of the 2.6 million Americans living with bipolar, many, many, many are not successful artists.

Psychological studies dating back to the 1970s have argued for the creativity connection with mental illness. And the idea of madness and genius has dated back to at least the time of Aristotle. American author Kay Redfield Jamison, whom I greatly admire, wrote “Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament” in 1993. A book that I think fails in comparison to her memoir, “An Unquiet Mind,” published two years later.

The idea that bipolar comes with a propensity to creative genius is commonly assumed.

Believe me when I tell you that having bipolar disorder is in no way a blessing or a gift of creative genius. Although, I have always had an interest in the arts, my talent is only able to be developed with the benefit of a stable mind achieved through treatment.

Consider Bethany Hamilton’s remarkable story of surfing following the loss of her arm, which was popularized in the 2011 film “Soul Surfer.” Losing a limb did not make her a stellar athlete.

She was not able to surf because she lost a limb. Rather she accomplished this feat DESPITE her physical limitations. It is my opinion that having an amputation no more makes someone more athletic than having a mental illness makes someone more artistic.

I do consider myself a creative writer; I actually took a lot of painting and drawing classes in high school and college as well. The written word is my vehicle of choice for artistic expression. However, I am most successful in producing quality artistic work when I am mentally stable, that is when I am not in a manic or depressive state that occurs with bipolar disorder.

While depressed, I feel more intensely and those raw emotions trick me into thinking I am accessing a great depth of human experience. And then when I am manic, I enjoy creating much more than when I am stable. I entertain grandiose ideas that I am brilliant.

However, the output created during either of these unstable mental states is actually crap. It is only when I am mentally stable that I am able to create a coherent piece of art. With the benefit of level headedness, I can interpret my art and most importantly finish it.

I also think it is a disservice to put all bipolar people in a box as creative people. Just because something is tall, that doesn’t make them a basketball player. Romanticizing bipolar as some sort of creative gift is insulting and done only by fools. In reality, untreated bipolar disorder causes disability, job instability, homelessness, crime, addition, and suicide. It does not cause creativity.

Treatment is what makes beauty in life possible despite the obstacles that result from a bipolar diagnosis.

***

Book Summary:

Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is a moving and honest psychology memoir about the things that break us and how we heal. It offers a raw view a 33-year-old wife and mother swallowed by psychosis. The psychotic episode includes meeting Jesus Christ, dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, and narrowly escaping eternity in the underworld.

Casually called a nervous breakdown, psychosis is an entrapment outside of self where hallucinations and delusions anchor. Family, doctors, and fellow patients witnessed a nonverbal, confused, distraught shell of a woman. In the security of a psychiatric care center, the week-long psychosis broke and spit out a bipolar patient in the cushioned place of middle class medicine.

Outpatient recovery consumed the better part of a year with psychiatric treatment and spiritual contemplation. Left scarred and damaged, health returned allowing her to tentatively embrace a grace and peace earned through acceptance of bipolar disorder.

Paperback: 224Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Tara Meissner (June 23, 2014)
ASIN: B00L8G6C66
Twitter hashtag: #SFracMeissner

Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon. 

About the Author:

Tara2014Tara Meissner is a former journalist and a lifelong creative writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree and works part-time at her local library. Tara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Mike, and their three sons. She writes longhand in composition notebooks. Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is her first book.

Find out more about Tara here:

Blog:  http://wordscrazywords.blogspot.com/
Goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8339482.Tara_Meissner
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authortarameissner
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TaraMeissner

Tara’s WOW Blog Tour Dates:

Monday, September 28 @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway! http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Tuesday, September 30 @ The Lit Ladies
Join Tara Meissner as she guest blogs about “What Makes Someone a Writer” as she visits the lovely Lit Ladies today! Tara has also provided a giveaway copy of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis for one lucky winner today http://www.thelitladies.com/

Wednesday, October 1 (today) @ Choices
Join Tara Meissner as she talks about “BiPolar and the Creativity Link Myth” and shares information about her memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://madeline40.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 1 @ Lisa Haselton
Join Lisa Haselton as she interviews the courageous writer Tara Meissner about Tara’s memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. Tara has graciously provided an ebook copy for one lucky giveaway winner. This is a blog stop you won’t want to miss! http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 2 @ All Things Audry
Tara Meissner visits with Audry Fryer of All Things Audry and Tara gives her thoughts on the recent death of Robin Williams. Tara has also offered an ebook copy of her Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis for one lucky winner of the giveaway! Good luck! http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 3 @ Sherrey Meyer
“Being a Mom with BiPolar” is today’s subject as author and memoir writer Tara Meissner visits with Sherrey Meyer. Tara has also graciously offered a copy of her recently released Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis to one lucky winner of today’s giveaway. Good luck and enjoy! http://sherreymeyer.com/author/sherreya/

Monday, October 6 @ Franciscan Mom
Join Tara Meissner as she stops by Franciscan mom with a  guest post titled “Accepting Bipolar and Finding Grace” and offers a giveaway of her honest and touching memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://franciscanmom.com/

Tuesday, October 7 @ Create Write Now
Join Tara Meissner at Mary McCarthy’s Create Write Now as Tara discusses “I Knew I Was a Writer When…” and learn more about Tara’s memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://www.createwritenow.com/

Wednesday, October 8 @ Jerry Waxler
Read what fellow author and memoir writer Jerry Waxler has to say after reading Tara Meisner’s recently released Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://www.jerrywaxler.com/

Thursday, October 9 @ Lauren Scharhag
Join Tara Meissner as a guest author on Lauren Scharhag’s blog talking about “The Stigma of BiPolar” and get in on the giveaway for Tara’s memoir Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://laurenscharhag.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 10 @ Romance Junkies
Join Tara Meissner as she stops at Romance Junkies for an insightful interview about herself and her Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/

Tuesday, October 14 @ Bring on Lemons
Tara Meissner stops by to chat with WOW!’s own Crystal Otto as she shares her thoughts on “Bipolar and Living Well” and offers readers an opportunity to win a copy of her memoir through a giveaway. Don’t miss your chance to hear from Tara and take home a copy of Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis. http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 15 @ CMash Reads
Join author Tara Meisner as she discusses “Creating Time to Create” with a visit to CMash Reads. Read Tara’s thoughts and find out more about her recently released memoir Stress Fracture: a Memoir of Psychosis. http://cmashlovestoread.com/

Comments

  1. Thank you Madeline for hosting me on your blog today. I appreciate the opportunity to spark conversations about mental health. Tara

    • Madeline Sharples says:

      You are most welcome. And I’m willing to spark a conversation about mental illness any chance I get. Enjoy your WOW! tour. All best.

  2. A good book which I hope to read someday. Sadly there wasn’t a free ebook available on this leg of the tour. But I wish you both well. Thanks for hosting her Madeline, I am learning just so much from you and the awesome community of blogspherers 🙂

    • Thank you, Tara, for showing where Marie can win a copy of your book. I think it will be an important book for Marie to read.
      Marie, the list of Tara’s blog stops are at the bottom of this post and they continue until October 15. Please take a look. All best, M.

  3. Thank you Marie, There is still time to enter the book giveaway on WOW-Women on Writing. Also, please check out the other blog stops along the way for additional opportunities to win. The book is available at 10 libraries in Wisconsin. You may ask your library to get it for you via an inter library loan. Thanks again. http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/2014/09/tara-meissner-launches-her-wow-blog.html

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