Point & Shoot: Creativity

We had the luxury of a three-day weekend thanks to last Friday’s PA day, and right from the start it was an outpouring of creative energy. J and T are currently absorbed in rendering the adventures of a couple of superhero mice in cartoon strips – every day there are fresh ideas and new adventures to get down on paper. Just as well because the weather’s been like a Kelloggs variety pack – something different every morning.

We’ve had heavy mists that don’t burn off until lunchtime, blazing sunshine (with a high UV index so LOTS of sunscreen) that had J wishing for winter to return, and some hot and hurried summer storms that roll in, batter us into sensory overload, and sweep out again like an audacious visiting aunt, the damply steaming asphalt and smell of ions in the air the only clue they blew through at all…




The children entertained themselves while I got all Jack Bauer over a magazine piece, filing copy with minutes to spare. Their reward? Lunch al fresco – dhaal and mini naan breads followed by ice cream and marshmallows.

On Saturday K rolled up his sleeves and fixed the lawnmower so our little corner of the world no longer lowers the tone. Beaming with satisfaction he hit the kitchen full of creative zeal, determined to recreate something he ate at work last week – it seems the quality of the catering at the Mississauga office helps balance the misery of the hour-long commute. I’ll still be glad when this secondment is over though, the kids miss him on the days they don’t see their dad and the early mornings and late nights equate to solo parenting Monday to Friday and double time on dinners unless he picks something up on the way home.

Cooking is where K’s creativity manifests itself most. His ability to examine flavours and taste combinations from every angle, turning them over and pairing them with different ingredients to communicate a wealth of gourmet experiences is the equivalent of what I spend hours doing with words.


He seared some chicken pieces and baked them on a bed of oranges and lemons with thyme, chilli peppers – scotch bonnet, jalapeno, bird’s eye, Tabasco and cayenne – bell peppers, mushrooms, baby toms and chunky onions, drizzled with chipotle sauce and served with citrus rice, potato salad and a cooling mint and cucumber raita (both made with fresh herbs from the garden).

Dinner conversation was lively when we told the kids the Scotch Bonnet chillies they’d eaten were the second hottest on the planet. You could see them mentally filing the info away to impress their friends later.

Speaking of impressive achievements, did I tell you T broke a board in Taekwondo? That was enough to convince J it was time she signed up for classes. S is going to have to wait until she’s a little older.


Sunday morning found me back at the doctor’s for a lower dose prescription of the medication that made my life so difficult a couple of weeks ago. Since scaling back I seem to have hit the sweet spot originally intended. It’s been over two months since I last succumbed to disastrous extremes of mood and reason and through concentrated research into the subtleties of Bipolar II I’ve learnt much about the obscurity of the term ‘mania’. I’d envisaged only the euphoric, wildly excitable kind I saw in my father, but there are actually a range of behaviours it can be recognised by. My mistake was thinking it was a single one.

I’d always read about the inflated self-esteem or grandiosity of a manic episode and figured that ruled me out. My default setting is social awkwardness, there’s no-one further from ‘grandiose’ than me. But that’s the Asperger’s talking. It’s highly likely that when I’m agitated, nervy, my mind constantly aflame with one idea after another, I’m experiencing hypomania – the ‘lite’ version of mania. I become distractible, prone to flashes of irritability and twitchy with energy. The world (and my involvement in it) seems brimming with potential, the possibilities endless.

When my attention is absorbed things like meals, daily routines and household chores are encumbrances that threaten to dilute or derail my thought processes. Though my productivity goes sky-high there’s an underlying pressure to assiduously wring every drop of ability while I can, my window for achievement is an arrow-slit embrasure in the vast stone wall of moody psychosis.

Still, it makes no difference whether I’m feeling elevated or torpid – those antiquated examination tables at the surgery ALWAYS give me the heebie-jeebies…


By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


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