Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Unexpected Benefits

I've been writing about living with mental illness for a few months now. Quite the accomplishment for me. Us creative bipolars fall into two categories I think: those with a never ending source of ideas that flood out easily and those that are gripped by fear of failure. I'm the latter. I'm getting better at embracing my creativity and actually producing things, but it's definitely a process that is taking me time.

So how then have I managed to consistently keep up this blogging thing I wonder? Let's see... 

I have been told by many people who have heard my story that I should write a book. Apparently surviving the hell I've been through and coming out the other side happier and healthier is impressive to some people. Even my mother, who could barely acknowledge my mental illness for most of my life, now brags about what I've overcome. It's all very strange to me. I certainly didn't choose this course of events. Who would?

I started this blog for one reason. After years of relative contentment, I started to get severely depressed after moving to the UK from the US to be with my new husband. I was confused by my conflicting emotions of pure joy to be with my love and the uncertainty and upheaval of leaving all I knew behind. I was starting to spiral and I needed to get the thoughts out of my head. I was suddenly realising that even though my illness was fairly well under control it wasn't gone. I became very scared. Scared I could lose everything I had worked so hard for once again. What if I woke up again in the hospital heavily sedated with little memory of the events that put me there? Could I survive it all again? I was gripped in fear!

I made myself do all the things I taught myself to do when I felt the depression creeping in. I tried to paint, went for walks, played games, watched movies, etc. but I was still struggling. I thought about that book everyone told me to write. Too much. Too big. Too scary. Then I started thinking about blogging. I did a little research, signed myself up on Google+, downloaded a blogging app, and wrote an intro. I scrutinised it for a couple days before finally publishing it out into the great unknown. I was so proud that I actually put something out there. I never anticipated what would happen next. People responded to my story.

I couldn't believe it. People actually read my blog! And better yet, they liked it! Amazing! This response encouraged me to write again and again. I got involved in the online support communities and started developing a repoir with lots of people. I find myself reading other blogs and researching topics almost daily. I thought I would run out of ideas quickly, but actually I find myself getting sparks of inspiration at nearly every turn. My biggest hurdle currently is focusing on one topic at a time. Suppose that's a good problem to have creatively speaking.

I have started to relax a bit. I work on projects. I explore my area. I smile and enjoy my surroundings. It has all started to fall into place. I am making friends and starting a new part time job. My new home is becoming a home! My blogging experience has actually given me a lot more insight into my illness and its manifestations. I think I'm actually getting better at recognising aspects of my illness I just chalked up to character flaws previously. I thought my blog would just be an electronic journal essentially, but it has become much more. It's a learning tool for me and those who read it. It's a cathartic and creative outlet. It gives me social interaction of sorts. And perhaps someday the foundation for that book? We shall see.

I tell my story with the hope that my experiences can help and inspire others with mental illness. Who knew I would help and inspire myself!