100th Post; A Blog Origin Story

Before I started this blog I knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t know what to write about. In the past I’ve written about fashion, textile design, and costuming, I’ve written about celiac’s disease, and recipes I’ve tried, and I’ve written the usual free-form creative stuff, but I couldn’t find a topic that could hold my attention for very long.

That’s sort of the story with everything in my life though, my interest in things really waxes and wanes and it is hard for me to focus, both on just a single thing at a time and in general.

Someone I went to high school with has been writing a blog for a while now about her pregnancy, she has often linked it to her facebook account, inviting anyone to read it. The entries are cute and sometimes whimsical, she has a very rustic, yet feminine sense of style that I’ve always admired.

When I first thought about writing about bipolar disorder, there seemed to be an obvious rift between her blog and my (still imaginary) blog. After all, it wouldn’t be appropriate to post mine of facebook, right? Baby clothes are a socially acceptable topic of everyday conversation, but mental health is not.

But why the hell not?

This pregnancy will last nine months of her life. I will live with bipolar disorder for my entire life, so shouldn’t I get to talk about it? Just because people don’t understand it, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t, right?

So with a little manic fervor and some balls, the decision had been made. I would write a blog about something that is permanent in my life instead of something I could lose interest in, what seemed like a good solution to my problem with keeping focus. Not only that, I would make it readily available to people who actually know me, even the ones who didn’t know I have bipolar disorder.

When I was younger one of my biggest frustrations was that people didn’t seem to understand me. Hell, didn’t even understand me! The problem wasn’t that they were rejecting the information I gave them, just that I didn’t give them the chance to understand. For years I expected people to read my mind or just know how I felt, though some magical, mystical power, but I never just told anyone.

Now that I am being open about having bipolar disorder and what that means to me, the change has been life-altering. That isn’t even an exaggeration, I’m getting all teary-eyed just writing this!

People who I’d grow apart from have told me they feel closer to me than ever. Some of my friends with bipolar disorder and the community here in Seattle has been nothing but supportive and encouraging of what I’ve had to say. I’ve even had “normal” folks tell me that they could relate to some of the things I’ve written about, which they didn’t expect to happen! On top of the support from friends and bipolar peers, I’ve also discovered the support of the blogging community which has been really reassuring.

The apex so far for me was a couple weeks ago, literally every person I had made plans with over the course of the week made a comment to me about this blog. I got phone calls and emails about it. And, to top the cake, my dad called me to have an in-depth conversation about bipolar disorder with me for the first time ever.

It isn’t that my dad has ever ignored me or the issues I’ve been dealing with, I just never really told him what was going on. I was, admittedly, totally scared, because for the longest time I didn’t know how to talk about it. I’m still working on the talking out loud portion, but I’m extremely grateful to have this platform to express much of what I have to say.

If you don’t tell people who you are, they can’t reject you. But, they also can’t fully embrace you either. I expected some resistance, some level of rejection by putting myself out there, but instead I’ve found myself embraced by so many more people than I ever expected. Trust me, your support has not gone unappreciated!

I know it can be terrifying to be open about having bipolar disorder (trust me, I was physically ill for an entire week after writing my first post and linking it to facebook), but for me it has been far more rewarding than I ever could have expected.

Thanks folks, you all totally rock!

I also want to make a brief shout-out to a couple of the bloggers and websites that have acknowledged what I’ve been doing.

Thanks to Disorderly Chickadee, who tagged me with the Liebster Blog Award. She’s got a rockin’ blog herself, full of intellectual and insightful information. Check it out!

Thanks to Lulu at As the Pendulum Swings and Kevin at Voices of Glass for both tagging me with the Versatile Blogger Award. Lulu’s presence here in the online blogosphere is a marked one and she is both insightful and amazingly supportive. Kevin’s blog continues to push the envelope for me a little bit, challenging me to think about and consider things I haven’t considered before.

Lulu at As the Pendulum Swings started a project for 2012 called, “Blog for Mental Health 2012” which I am lucky to take part in, involving taking a pledge and committing to blogging for mental health, showing pride, dedication, and acceptance to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma. Props!

I also want to give a quick thanks to Bring Change 2 Mind for being an exceptional non-prophet dedicated to helping eradicate stigma, but also for publishing a brief short story about my own mental health experiences on their website. Thank you!

Finally, I just want to say, thank you for giving me hope. I imagine a future where people don’t have to live in fear of others finding out about their diagnoses and don’t feel like they have to hide parts of themselves from the rest of the world out of fear of discrimination and harassment. I know it is unrealistic to expect everyone on earth to be as accepting as the people around me have been for the last few months, but the truth of the matter is that I am witnessing something. I am living something I didn’t think would be possible for a long time.

It is possible to live openly with mental illness. 

And if that doesn’t give me hope, nothing will.

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8 responses to “100th Post; A Blog Origin Story

  1. People often go about their lives, projecting a certain persona. That’s okay for them, because probably doesn’t deviate too far from who they really are. Bit, it takes real courage to be yourself. It is the most honorable thing a person can do throughout the course of their lives.

    I commend you for your honesty. I also commend your insights through introspection. Not too many people are courageous enough to look within. Even less would say anything about it.

    Thanks for this. And I hope that you will continue to be a pillar of hope and knowledge in the community.

  2. “It is possible to live openly with mental illness.”

    Strange, but true. It always makes me so happy to encounter someone else who has found this out. Congratulations, you get to be yourself! And that’s pretty awesome, because many people never have that experience, mental illness notwithstanding.

    And may I add that I am very proud of you. I truly feel that education, while incredibly important, will only go so far in the fight to eradicate people’s misconceptions. The thing that really needs to happen is that people without diagnoses need to know the people with them. They need to know that we are individual human beings, writers and doctors and sales clerks. Not “the mentally ill.”

    Good for you for bringing about change. And good for the people in your life for being human enough to embrace all of you.

  3. Sarah the reaction I have gotten have been so bad I’m scared to do it again. Looking forward to next thursday’s meeting to talk about it. I’m scared really scared I hope you understand what I mean. I feel like I’ve lost my life I coming out to certain people. I’m a very open person but this challenge seems so hard. Like I’ll die if I rejected. So scared. Right now I’ve lied to people about me or myself. I say I’m retired. For now it’s a lie I can live with.

  4. This is a really interesting post, especially since I’ve been struggling a little lately with having to ‘hide’ this part of myself. I admire your honesty – especially linking to your blog from Facebook. The fact I would never dream of doing this confirms my suspicions that I need to do a Facebook friends’ cut!

    While my close friends are aware I have Bipolar Disorder, only select colleagues at my latest job are aware of it. These are the people I can trust not to judge me. Unfortunately, I hear comments people make about customers they think are ‘mental’ or ‘nutty’ so that doesn’t encourage me to correct them. Then again, it’s probably just a matter of time until I say something.

  5. Admin Bob Fish.

    Just wanted to say thank you for your captivating read and links to other interesting blogs and most of all some of the confidence you have managed to instil in me with just one post.

    Hopefully I will continue with my newly started blog with even just a sprinkle of that which you have just expressed as if I do, I think, I may well feel as if I have achieved at least something that is worth while and maybe even something which is constructive in nature.

    Although I as of yet I do not have the boldness to link my my real self with my blog I may do in the future as it seems it might not be a bad thing to do after all yet my suspect nature resists it still.

    Again thank you.

    :):

  6. I’m so glad to hear that blogging has been such a positive experience for you! I’m finding it valuable too, not just in terms of some camaraderie but it’s also just plain therapeutic. I also find I have more ideas for posts than I can currently keep up with, which is great.

    I am so glad we all have such hope for being able to be open about mental illness, and I have such respect for people like you who are blazing the way. I hope to get there someday when I’m a little more secure in my career. 🙂

  7. You’re doing a fantastic job. There’s not many blogs I jump on straight away, but this one’s GOLD. You’re changing lives and making a difference in the world and showing people that if you can do it, they can too.
    Whatever you do – don’t stop!

  8. Lorraine Marie Reguly

    I just landed here as part of my research into finding out more information about the Liebster award… and I read this entire post! I also have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, after being diagnosed for years with severe depression. Some days are more difficult than others, but I forge ahead one step at a time. I also started a blog. Feel free to take a look at it if you wish…

    I also want to wish you the best of luck on your journey!

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