As I have mentioned repeatedly in my blog, I've spent the last few months rewriting and re-editing my manuscript. Actually, some of my fellows bloggers and friends reviewed it and made some great comments. I'm fully acknowledging them in my book so I won't do it here. But it was truly extraordinary to have fellow BIPS give me their thoughts about this illness and let me know if my perceptions resonated with them.
During this period of intense work--concentrating on sickness (Bipolar Depression Unplugged is the memoir of my illness) more than on wellness, I had to insure that I wasn't overwhelmed by sorrow, loss, sadness, and any number of other negative emotions that reliving a decade-long disaster can elicit.
For that reason, during this period, on the days when I finished writing (or the days when I didn't write), I only did those activities that were stress-free for me (other than worrying about my mom and fulfilling family obligations), fun, uplifting, and perhaps "selfishly indulgent."
So...that left a lot of other projects hanging. There are books by friends that I had promised to read and review and didn't (actually I read one and started one but haven't yet reviewed any of them). I volunteered to read the outline for a new website for another friend, couldn't do it in a timely fashion, and now she's withdrawn the offer. And I'm sure there's more...actually I've got a fairly long list.
On the one hand, I do apologize for disappointing people, and I've already begun reading their materials. In almost every case, I believe I wrote to tell them that their material would have to wait until mine was done.
While I feel bad, I guess I've also had to learn to deal with "disappointing others." What I know about myself is that I can only do so much. It's not necessarily a good realization but it is realistic. While I have been reading books during this past few months, they're mostly on photography and art. For some reason, this has been extraordinarily relaxing and has provided a visual and mental vacation of sorts.
While I have continued to write my blog, this kind of writing is far different than reviewing someone else's work. My posts are easy to write. They provide a certain level of catharsis. The more whimsical ones--like Bipolar Bubbling--make me laugh. They allow me to express myself and there is no pressure of any sort--when posting.
All the other work had some degree of stress attached to it. I want my reviews to be thoughtful. I want to spend time thinking about other people's work. I want to carefully craft what I say. If I have been asked for my comments or an evaluation, I want to provide insight and direction.
I'm not sure if I place too much pressure on myself when I volunteer to do this kind of work. And maybe everyone involved would have preferred that I think less and respond more quickly. But after all these years of self-reflection, I know that--for better or for worse--this is who I am.
So, I'm sorry if I disappointed people. I think that those of us who are bipolar are perhaps more understanding when a friend says, "I just can't respond to what you've asked right now...but I will as soon as I'm able."
But what I do know is that I've ended a two-month period of stress without feeling depressed, with very little downtime (just a few bad days), and I've tuned in a manuscript that I'm very proud of. Tomorrow, I'll start turning my efforts toward fulfilling my commitments and I'll do the best job I can--for everyone involved.
This behavior, and my feelings about it, makes me proud. I've come a long way in learning how to take care of myself!