The purpose of The Sean Costello Fund for Bipolar Research is to increase research, treatment, education, diagnosis and intervention for those with the disorder. Find out more about the work of The Sean Costello Fund for BP Research.

The Sean Costello Fund for Bipolar Research (USA)

Meet Emily Maguire and her music

My name is Emily Maguire and I am a British singer-songwriter. Like Sean, I also have the blessing and the curse of being bipolar. Like Sean, making music is my passion. I think of creativity as being the silver lining to the bipolar cloud. When I am well and writing songs, I am so unbelievably grateful for that creative energy there is no way I would choose to be cured of bipolar disorder even if I could be. I know I wouldn’t write songs the way I do if I didn’t have it. But unfortunately you can’t have the silver lining without the cloud and so there are plenty of other times when I feel desperate and wish I were anyone other than me.

I grew up without a TV at home so playing music and reading books was what we did. I learned to play the cello, piano, flute and recorder. I taught myself the guitar from Bob Marley songbooks when I was stuck at home in my 20’s with fibromyalgia pain syndrome. Someone suggested I try writing a song and it was a revelation, perfectly combining my love of music and poetry. Years later, back on my feet, I gave up my flat in London for a shack in the Australian bush where I made my first two albums.

Since then I’ve been touring and recording until 2014 when I developed chronic tendonitis in both my arms and was unable to play my instruments for the next 18 months. The depression that followed was long and brutal. I was so low I couldn’t even listen to music. Thankfully, as always, things eventually changed and I am now doing gigs again, I’m releasing a new album called ‘A Bit Of Blue’, and I have just published a new book of poetry and prose called ‘Notes From The North Pole’.

When I’m writing a new song there is no feeling like it. If I’m honest, I need a bit of a high to give me that urge to write, to create something out of nothing, to express this intense feeling inside me that otherwise turns in on me in such a destructive way. I have to write to stay sane, whether it’s a poem or a song or a piece of instrumental music. At the end of the day it’s all energy that can be transformed into something positive or negative – it’s up to me.

Staying well for me is all about medication and meditation. I’ve practiced Tibetan Buddhism for the past 17 years and that discipline of sitting on a cushion in silence twice a day has probably saved my life. But most importantly, I need my support network – the friends and family who keep a close eye on me, the doctors who support and understand what I’m going through. None of this can happen without research and that’s why the Sean Costello Fund is so important. There are millions of people like me in the world with bipolar disorder and far too many who don’t survive it. It would be wonderful if we were able to fulfill our creative potential without risking our lives.

In 2012, having just been referred to mental health services again, I wrote a song called ‘Over The Waterfall’. It is on my fourth album ‘Bird Inside A Cage’ and is the most direct song I’ve ever written about my experience of being bipolar. You can watch the video here.