THE BIPOLAR BLACKSMITH – TOP TIPS

I am writing this bipolar blog about me, the artist blacksmith, very tongue in cheek.  Bipolar is a very serious illness but I wanted to keep this light hearted with some humour.  With that in mind I am writing as though it is one of my blacksmith top tip blogs… just in case there are some other Bipolar Blacksmiths out there wanting to learn from my experiences.

A BIPOLAR BEGINNING FOR A BLACKSMITH BUSINESS

I suppose I should start with saying something like “There are definitely a lot of highs and lows in having Bipolar” (budumm, sstcsshh)…. but actually I think my Blacksmith Business saved me from bipolar, and conversely the bipolar set the foundations of my Blacksmith Business. As, such I have tried my best to use it to my advantage by building like a ‘nutter’ in the mania and designing in the dark patches.

The manic side of me is happy to be part of the many Artists who suffer with bipolar but the depressed side would love to have a clear head, and the psychotic side, well … you can be the judge here, but it is probably the hardest thing for those close to me to deal with.

I was diagnosed bipolar in 2004 and on medication for 5 years.  I am now fortunately drug free and managing to get on with my life and blacksmithing relatively well, and now have a baby to worry about…….
Top tip:  Mood mapping by Dr Liz Miller is a great book for understanding yourself better.  I am really not into self help books, they make me feel worse, but this is different and really helped me understand myself and I would definitely recommend it.

It was actually great for BexSimon, the Blacksmith business, when I was getting into a real bipolar pickle with myself, having panic attacks, thinking people were after me, jumping at my own shadow, hearing voices and wanting to hug the entire train carriage of people, as I had to focus on something to try and keep myself from going completely mad!  And at the start of the blacksmith business I worked!  I worked my socks off.  I filled my brain with blacksmith work to try and quash the darkness and conspiracies going on around me……..the Bipolar me!

It was only after I suffered a panic attack in front of a client, that I knew I needed to find out what was wrong with me, and finally I was diagnosed and treated.  
Top tip:  have your own instruction manual.  Find out what makes you happy and function.  Eg I need to exercise in the outdoors, eat well and NOT drink too much!  This helps me not to go over the lines to much.

The pictures above are from when I was really ill.  I just made collages and dark drawings to try and keep my mind from sinking to ‘out of reach’.  I had to keep myself doing something, even if it was something small.  I have a sketchbook full of stuff that one day I will turn into works of art.

BIPOLAR BLACKSMITH WORK

One of my biggest blacksmith commissions is based on mental illness.  I was commissioned by the Campbell Mental Health centre in Milton Keynes to design and make a gate and perimeter fence around the grounds.  I worked with the patients, many of whom were bipolar, and together we came up with the designs.

From one side, the fence is cut out from sheet, so the design is the negative space, this represents the dark depression and as you follow it around it changes into a railing with the detail welded on, this is coming out of the darkness and into the light, positive space.  The gate is called ‘the possibilities are endless’,  and in it we had lots of panels with different things going on in a very sun like shape, this represented that the future is bright after treatment.  This gate leads you out of the grounds…. encouraging you to go and explore the world again!

Bipolar is a pain in the arse sometimes, as my husband can tell you, putting it mildly……………
Top tip:  Have someone you trust to talk things though.  It’s good to be open with someone about what you feel and think what’s going on, so they can tell you what actually is……..even if you don’t really believe them sometimes because you think they are far to laid back to hear the conspiracies going on around you!

But we should remember that some of the greatest and most creative people have, or had, Bipolar; Spike Milligan,  Vincent Van Gogh, Steven Fry, my Granny……the list is endless!  It’s all part of the job really.  Hammer, sketch book, Bipolar.
The one thing I do hope is that my daughter is spared from it, bipolar that is not blacksmithing!

3 thoughts on “Bex Simon

    1. Hello Jiamai! 
      Thank you for checking out our website and reading our stories! My name is Joy and I am one of the folks who does some organizing with SIBs on the back end. Bex is a friend of SIBs who is involved with the group and allowed us to share her story on our website. Originally it was posted as a blog on her website, https://www.bexsimon.com/. I would recommend reaching out to her there, or through instagram, @bexsimonartsmith. I am sure she would be glad to hear from you and would be happy to answer your questions. 
      Thank you again for your message. Have a great day! 
      Joy and everyone at SIBs 

  1. Hi Mrs. Simon,
    I too was diagnosed with bipolar. I’m 46 married with three kids. I know at least one of my daughters has bipolar and my son and older daughter seem to have ADHD from my wife side of the family. The daughter with bipolar is hell on wheels, smart, clever, learns quickly and doesn’t take crap off anyone. My wife has said she is either going to be the leader of a gang or the president. I have also been on the pharmaceutical roller coaster being a guinea pig. I had a good doctor it wasn’t anything he did, but I was smart enough to know that our bodies metabolize or at least try to metabolize anything we put it into. In short, meaning a lifetime of being a guinea pig. I too have the ups and downs. I’ve been looking at learning blacksmithing for the last decade or so but it never seemed to be the right time. I’m currently back in school working on my associates of fine arts and am planning on using the art skills to pursue oil painting and blacksmithing alternating between the two as well as when I am competent in both disciplines to use one discipline to feed the other in metal art decoration and paintings. From that point who knows what may develop. As my Art History professor put it. “Learn the rules then you can break them. ” Oh I saw you or someone on this site stated that Picasso had bipolar, so did Leonardo di Vinci, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and many other notable historical and pioneers in many areas of life. I found an article written by a psychologies that was researching the ties between mental illness especially bipolar and those that came over from Europe, France and Spain during the 1400’s and the early 1900’s. The Dr. stated that without those like us that had the insanity enough to take a 3 month boat ride into a land of unknown we wouldn’t be where we are today. Just as Thomas Edison (bipolar, home schooled, spent 16 hours a day in his shop, created over 100 different ways not to create a light bulb, but didn’t give uppitiest) as well develop the rechargeable battery, we wouldn’t be where we are today or have the technology and information that we have today. Don’t forget or let others fool you into believing that bipolar is all bad. It definately has a negative side and effects but it also allows those of us that can use it for positive means to reach farther, dig deeper and work harder than those that don’t.
    Remember to listen to your body and mind and take breaks when you need to, keep notes of the good and the bad and then go back when you aren’t emotionally wound up and look for the positive that you can use out of it. Be self aware and allow yourself to make mistakes, because everyone does and a lot of times that is when we learn the most. Get plenty of rest and lots of vacations if you can. As for work “Write drunk and edit sober.” Take care and keep sharing it helps you and others. Thanks.

    Clay

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