There are, it seems, 10,000 blogs in English talking about various mental illnesses. Mine is one of those.
Of course, I want to talk about other things as well, with an emphasis on sharing my experiences in midlife dealing with bipolar2 and anxiety issues.
I don’t think I’ve been doing a very good job of it. I’m not good at self-promoting. I feel I have something to say but, really, are my experiences any better or worse; is my writing better or worse than the other 10,000 bloggists? I read some incredible blogs, some that literally want to make me stand and cheer.
I look at what I write and it seems flat.
I really used to be better than this. I was a columnist for two daily newspapers. I’ve been a journalist most of my life. I used to get a lot of kudos for my columns and it kept me going. I enjoyed writing them. I am acutely aware, right now, that my short sentences must sound like a jackhammer on the brain.
In the last several years, I have forced myself to write through the illness for my own mental health. This does not always produce entertaining or enlightening material. And let’s face it: no one wants to read vanilla blogs.
It is a great sadness to me that writing only comes when it comes. Several days go by and I just can’t do it, even though I have something to say. And when I do, it all seems so flat; sort of the writing equivalent of a flat affect personality.
Is it the medication? I think that plays a part. When I miss the highs and lows I also miss a lot of the creative spark that could send my writing flying in all kinds of exciting (and dangerous) directions.
Am I more afraid? Perhaps, but I’m getting over that. Pretty much everyone who knows me knows what I’m dealing with. There are certain things and people I can’t write about, family being one of them.
I think it is possible that I fear wasting the reader’s time. I’m probably doing that right now.
Author David Foster Wallace worried extensively about his medications hashing his creativity. A switch in medication led him into a downward spiral resulting in his suicide. Considerations of dropping medications for the sake of creativity are not to be taken lightly.
As much as I miss a lot of the old me, I understand why I must stick to my medication. The mania that was so self-destructive is held at bay and the depression, well . . . it’s handled as best as can be expected.
My psychiatrist has suggested subbing Celexa for Lexapro when I get back from New York. I doubt it will make me feel like a ‘new man’ whatever that means, but I’m more willing to experiment (with her supervision) than I would have been two years ago.
The basic problem is I can experience all the lows but the highs bring with them a certain glib silliness without the energy and creativity I would like to experience again.
My psychiatrist said I should mentally prepare myself for our (my wife and I) upcoming trip New York City. I told her that I was doing that by imagining every terrible thing that could happen to us.
Why do I do this? Simple – it’s insurance for the anxiety. If I go through every bad thing that might happen, if it does happen, I’m mentally prepared for it and it’s less of a big deal than being surprised. If nothing happens and I have a good time – it’s a bonus.
This is the typical thinking of people with anxiety issues. It’s why so many of us find it hard to relax and have a good time. Going to New York is me pushing myself far out of my comfort zone on the off chance that I will actually enjoy myself. It beats sitting on the couch wondering: what if?