I have bipolar 1 disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (my presentation involves mostly shutting down intense emotions which all erupt out when I’m manic).
I listen to music that fits my mood, themes, memories. If I feel emotional in some way, I will listen to the song on repeat while I do something to express the emotion (improvise a dance, walk in pace to the music, write something down, scribble, paint).
The mood shifts involved with processing can be pretty exhausting. Self-care is important, such as getting enough sleep and remembering to eat. I am on medications to try to prevent extremes of full mania and severe depression and also to help me sleep.
My brain is very busy when processing. I find writing mind maps to be helpful. This is how the majority of journalling is for me – mind maps and sketches, usually not full sentences. This is because my mind sees links in everything – very rapidly, especially if my mood is elevated (when my mind goes extremely fast).
I use colours that fit my mood and emotions and use felt pens when I want more emphasis. When I’ve been manic, my writing is large and scrawling and hard to read and I’ve used felt pen because biro was too difficult. Mind maps for me helps make sense of all the memories and the emotions are released with less pain while listening to music. My symbolic paintings are essentially mind maps in visual form.
My current painting, which like many of my process paintings is mainly about mania and grief. It is mainly about my changing my name after trauma (rape). The bird trying to fly was injured and suffered terribly. The goddess was dancing in euphoria. The princess crashed and died. The butterfly was the transformation (my new name) to survive the crash and to keep living. I don’t usually tell people what my paintings mean but I have been making some videos about the progress of this painting and some of what it means.
I realised that the painting also has some symbolism to the late Princess Diana. The month she died and way she died has personal connections for me – personal painful memories. For me, that has also happened with songs, films etc.