Music is so very evocative to me. I spent a lot of money and time getting a copy of an obscure Christmas album that my parents owned onto CD so I could play it and remind myself of when I was young. So I associate powerful emotions with music a great deal of the time. That why if I ever want to remember what mania sounds like, all I have to do is pop in INXS’ “Greatest Hits” CD.
I had ordered the CD before Katrina hit Mississippi and received it once the mail started delivering again. I was captivated by it and played it over and over and over again–at home, in the van–just about nonstop. Its themes fit in perfectly with the obsessive thoughts I was having at the time about the young man who stayed over in the hurricane with my husband’s family. “Need You Tonight” was particularly resonant to me. As was “Suicide Blonde” and “Beautiful Girl”.
I wrote my first novel while listening to that CD. TOok me about four months to finish it. Wild times. I was in the throes of unmedicated bipolar disorder and wrote with manic determination and intensity. When I decided to go back and revise it, I went right back to playing INXS as I wrote. It sent me back to the time I was writing it and rebuilt the manic energy i thought I needed to write well.
I play it less and less as the years go by. I make sure when I do play it now, I’m in a good place mentally so that it can’t bring those thoughts back to me. I don’t necessarily avoid playing it–I still enjoy it for the music itself. BUt whenever I do, i remember how the mania felt and sounded during that time. It’s a powerful reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.