Sunday, May 20, 2007

Defining Bipolar Wellness (Part 2)

Although I spent about ten hours in the last four days reading sentences and paragraphs by a slew of famous authors, some of whose books I've read many times and some, not at all, and felt that I was on holiday rather than at work and thinking about "illness and wellness" and what I've been writing about--when I awakened this morning, I realized that I now see my path more clearly.

To me, writing about wellness isn't just focusing on topics related to being bipolar. Before my diagnosis, when I was well most of the time, I felt good because I pursued my passions in the same way that Ms. Prose studies literature.

And these days, despite my diagnosis, I have a range of interests that have nothing to do with being bipolar. I read books on writing, music, photography (a new interest), woodworking, religion, art, wellness, table tennis, politics, song writing, and healing, among others. In the last few weeks, I have read Coming to Light, a biography of Edward S. Curtis, the photographer who spent 30 years taking photographs of Native Americans, In Search of Lake Wobegon by Garrison Keillor, and The Watchman by Robert Crais, featuring Joe Pike, who's one of the private detective characters I truly enjoy (not for the fainthearted).

I also participate in a lot of other activities. I take walks around the park near my house. I play the autoharp at my mother's assisted living facility. I'm taking a photography class at the local community college. I spent Saturday watching my friends' daughter participate in a drill team competition at a local high school. I love eating out and watching films. In the last month, my husband and I have rented Apocalyse Now (also not for the feint of heart), Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, March of the Penguins, and The Asphalt Jungle (it's film noir and somewhat dark), among other films. I'm researching a one-woman show, editing my memoir, and adding ten new chapters.

While Francine Prose concentrates on words, sentences, and paragraphs (and perhaps a wealth of other things as well), I concentrate on writing, reading, playing music, exercise, watching films, and taking photographs. It is these activities and interests that make me well.

So, when I think about writing about bipolar wellness, I realize that I don't have to focus as narrowly as I have in the past. Truly, I can write about anything that interests me.

Years ago, I pursued "cures" for this illness with a single-minded purpose. I felt that I would get well if I only could find the right vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. I hoped an acupuncturist would "cure" me if he could only find the right meridian points. I prayed a holistic psychiatrist would heal me if only she could do "whatever it was that she did" (which is a whole other story).

Before my diagnosis, I enjoyed my life because I pursued my passions. During the worst of my illness, I forgot all that because I was so sick. These days once again, I am pursuing my passions. Perhaps that's what wellness is all about.


Syd said...

Very interesting post. I agree that pursuing one's passions is key. I find that when I'm not well for long periods of time, my passion for things that I previously enjoyed immensely tends to wane. This time for me it was knitting - a craft that I've been addicted to for the past few years. Lately, I just haven't felt that spark, which was a sure signal that this depression was worse than most.

But, thankfully I was able to find a new interest (much like you and photography, I'd guess) - salsa dancing. I've been writing a blog on salsa dancing in my head for weeks. Maybe I'll actually get it posted soon.

I've learned that even if we lose interest in those things that once excited us, chances are that there's another interest out there just waiting to be discovered. And if we can find it, it may just help move us along our journey to wellness.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

I couldn't agree more! Actually, maybe I should consider salsa dancing. I'm looking for new ways to exercise that are fun and make me smile!


Anonymous said...


If you enjoyed Coming To Light, you may well enjoy a film on Curtis: THE INDIAN PICTURE OPERA .

It is a recreation of a 1911 ES Curtis stage show explaining the tribes of the west. Photos & lecture.
Search it on Amazon (dvd).