Max Bemis of Say Anything: A look into bipolar disorder and creativity
If you are diagnosed with a mental disorder, don't consider it a debilitating disease.
For me, I have always believed that people with mental disorders are more creative than so-called "normal people." And studies prove this — that writers have a higher risk of anxiety and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression, and substance abuse (being a writer myself, I don't doubt this).
The Huffington Post reports that researchers at the Karolinska Institute near Stockholm found that families with a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were more likely to produce artists and scientists.
Instead of dwelling on the obvious negative effects of a mental disorder, use it to your advantage. Maybe this will show you that, as much of a pain it may seem, there's a reason why you are the way you are.
Instead of staying isolated in your bedroom, which may seem desirable on some days, use your talents. Show them to the world instead of hiding it. And use this to raise awareness of mental illness instead of being ashamed.
Because, as I always say, there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Max Bemis, lead singer of the band Say Anything, does this. In the last few months, I have been listening to their songs a lot.
And I have to admit, I have a newfound appreciation for this band that I first heard about senior year of high school. And I have noticed how "real" and creative their songs are.
So it wasn't too surprising when I found out Bemis was diagnosed with bipolar disorder since I've always thought that the best artists, well, they can't be "normal."
And Bemis does not hide his disorder. It is actually a topic in many of his songs.
For instance, in the song Church Channel, he sings:
I wake up in a room and realize I'm insane again
This is the fifth time straight in a year
I've ended up in here
Eating pbjs and watching the church channel nightly
I didn't mind what I did
I fell behind on my nightly four-course meal of rainbow pills
And now I'm wondering what is fake and what is real
Before Bemis knew what was wrong, while he was in college, he would smoke pot during his lows. Which would bring him into an even deeper low, he said.
While in the middle of recording his first album, Bemis reached his breaking point. He became very paranoid – in essence, thinking he was in “The Truman Show,” Bemis said in an interview. He said this marked his first “manic break,” and he thought he was going to die.
“It was, I think, one of the most frightening moments in my life,” he said, adding that he went around Brooklyn, screaming at strangers and was sent to the hospital for one week.
And in that week, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bemis said, it took him three years to accept this diagnosis.
Bemis offered this advice: "You're not alone. ... There are so many cool people with these issues. These issues make you cool in your own way."
He said, more and more, as he has spoken up about the disease, people are becoming more accepting of the disease. Sometimes, if you let go of your self consciousness about mental illness, you'll realize you're not as different as you think.
And, as Bemis said, "People can be like, 'Wow, this guy is really awesome because of this."
It's not always a bad thing. It just depends how you look at it.