Actually, if I'm being honest, if anyone came up to me, introduced herself and said what I wrote in yesterday's post, I'd run away as fast as my legs could carry me. While I have purposely become more "blunt" in my dealings with others, I usually don't "spill my guts" upon first meeting people. I like to get to know them a bit more slowly than that.
And while my good friends all know about my illness, it isn't something I would spring upon someone new--before we developed some level of trust. I usually try to put myself in the other person's shoes. If I just met someone, and they began sharing their most intimate secrets right away, I would feel uncomfortable.
What's interesting is that the concept of "online friends" is an entirely new entity to me. This blog--which I've been writing for a little more than 13 months--is my first sustained online presence. And while there have been a number of faithful readers, and a few who truly have become friends, unlike some other bloggers, I can't sustain online relationships with a large group of people.
Perhaps the main reason is that I don't spend a lot of time online. Staring at a screen doesn't make me feel well. I don't read a lot of blogs--bipolar or otherwise; I prefer reading books. Unlike others who are bipolar, I'm not interested in the entire field of mental health. For the most part, I try to focus on aspects of bipolar recovery, depression recovery, and wellness because that's what I'm interested in, and that's why people read this blog.
But my personal interests are wide-ranging. If I look at the books surrounding my bed--which is mostly where I read--right now I'm reading about photography, music, walking, woodworking, adjusting to college (I'm trying to help my son), the mind and the brain, playing the electric guitar, and color theory. I just finished reading Steinway & Sons, and a half-dozen murder mysteries (that's how I relax). I'm also reading Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives: How to Overcome Adversity and Achieve Positive Change in Your Life, Creating from the Spirit: Living Each Day as a Creative Act, and The Story of Elderhostel.
So, what am I saying? I genuinely like the community I've created here. Having never talked to one bipolar person before I started writing this blog, it's been gratifying to find kindred spirits. In a world where there's so much negativity about being bipolar, I like the fact that people who comment on my blog have such a positive outlook. I have learned that seeking wellness with others is easier than trying to do it alone.
On the one hand, developing online relationships has been a tremendous growth experience for me. As I've become more isolated in the "real world," I find it very satisfying to share my deepest thoughts about illness, wellness, and other important life issues in cyberspace.
On the other hand, developing online relationships has made me realize what I've been missing offline. On Monday, I plan to write about why it's been so difficult to maintain "real world" friendships, how my bipolarity has affected those relationships, and what steps I plan on taking to reenter the world once again.