“How can I be creative without being destructive? …being at the bottom bottom, or all the way at the top.”
Sarah Jickling, piano teacher, barista, blogger, musician and beyond. She is in a couple of bands, one being “The 6 Figures,” and is currently working on her solo project “Good Bad Luck.” I worked frantically with Sarah at Nelson the Seagull cafe where we would chat briefly here and there. Interactions are a funny thing, you attempt to get to know someone by piecing together as much info as you know about a person to figure them out. However, in true Bentwood fashion, I had the opportunity to sit down with Sarah to get to know her from a very honest stand point.
What does passion mean to you? When I think about passion, I think about the thing that drives me to keep going since there are a lot of days when I don’t want to keep going. I don’t want to get out of bed. The thing that makes me get out of bed is whatever is driving me. Sometimes it’s music; Sometimes it’s even just that I get to see the sunshine; A lot of the times it’s that I’m going to make a difference in someone else’s life through my music or activism or whatever I do.
What is your most meaningful passion? Right now, my most meaningful passion is sharing my stories and experiences with mental illness through music, blogging and even tweeting. I like hearing other people’s stories and making a connection.
Sarah Demystifying Bipolar - It’s a genetic disorder that can be triggered by trauma. It’s chemicals in your brain and doctors had done brain scans of people with bipolar and they can see the different parts of the brain that are acting up. It’s really about brain chemicals. There’s a spectrum of bipolar. There’s bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 and then there’s stuff in the middle. I have bipolar type 2 which has hypomania and depression. Hypomania is lots of energy and sometimes extreme anxiety. You are very creative and get lots of stuff done; you don’t really sleep; and then you crash down and that’s when you stop. It could be 2 days of this and 3 days of that and it cycles, I have rapid cycling.
Bipolar 1 on the other hand is characterized by mania which I don’t have a lot of experience with, but from what I’ve heard it can include hallucinations and psychosis and stuff like that. In order to be diagnosed with bipolar 1, you have to have experienced mania. Bipolar 2 is a lot more about the depression.
What moment in your life influenced? I was writing in a way that I felt like it was just coming out of me. I’d be like, “How did I just write that song? I don’t remember what happened?” That’s tied up with the mental illness thing. A lot of people who have bipolar are creative. There’s a lot of discourse right now going on about the connection there. A lot of people think that it’s really linked which makes the treatment of bipolar difficult because do I want to get rid of the symptoms and is that going to get rid of my creativity and stuff?
How has your passion changed? When I was diagnosed with bipolar I didn’t actually talk about it online for maybe 3 years. It’s been a real process of opening up and then getting that feedback. That’s really how it’s changed is the response from other people. That’s changed my passion. I assume my own parents struggle with my mental health, “Sarah’s, you know, she’s working on stuff,” this is because I dropped out of university from being bipolar. I have gone through a lot of issues because of being bipolar and it’s not something that you really want to tell other people.
What struggles keep emerging? In a way, it is money because I have a really hard time working. I’ve had to ask so many people for help just to keep my head above water. That’s been a real struggle, asking for help. Before I was working full-time and trying so hard to support myself. I would end up always having some sort of breakdown and quitting my job just by calling and saying, “I’m never coming in again.” I would end up moving back with my parents and I would be constantly crashing.
Asking for help and accepting my limitations, that’s been a struggle too, and once I accepted it, it made things a little easier. That said, I’m also having a hard time accepting that I can’t move as quickly as other people in my career because I’m comparing myself to people who don’t have mental illness. I catch myself saying, “Why can’t I be where they are?” I have to keep reminding myself, “Their experiences are different than mine and my journey is different.”
What motivates you to continue? There’s a lot of times when I’m feeling down and then I think about the people who are tweeting at me and who are following me on Instagram who are saying, “Thank you,” and, “Keep going.” It makes me pause for a moment and say, “Wait, I have to keep going!”
What moment do you lose yourself? Honestly, I guess one of the problems with that is it’s often when I am at my worst. I am just in tears and I’ve been crying for hours, sitting down at the piano and writing a whole song. I’ve actually been experimenting with a healthier way for me to write songs because I don’t want to have to force myself to go off my meds and get to a really bad place in order for me to just start coming up with stuff. That’s a balance that I’m looking for right now, how do I get that flow without becoming hypomanic or depressed?
Do you have any advice for people following their passion? I hate being right here, I want to be over there, and that’s how you end up signing with the wrong people and wasting all of their money by doing things before they’re ready. I just think don’t rush it, and enjoy the process of it.
“There’s a lot of different ways to tell stories and to touch people, and that’s what I want to do, no matter how I do it.”