Monday, March 2, 2009

Thoughts on Being a Wellness Writer (Part 1)

Two years ago when I started this blog, I played around with a few different blog names. The first was Bipolar Wellness. The second was Bipolar Wellness Writer. And the third is Wellness Writer. Since my mission for the blog was to focus on wellness rather than illness, Bipolar Wellness seemed like a good point of departure.

And then I decided that since I focus on my thoughts, feelings, and experience, I should personalize it so that it's clearly one writer's perspective. Once I realized I have a huge problems with psychiatric illness labels, and because I think labels contribute to illness, I switched to Wellness Writer.

Having explained all this, I must say that once this depression began...and since it has lasted interminably, I have thought again about about changing the name. "How can you consider yourself a wellness writer if you get depressed?" I asked myself (and perhaps others have been wondering about this as well).

During the worst phase of the depression, I said to myself, "You have been dishonest with your readers by appearing so upbeat so much of the time. Why don't you ever share the true devastation? Now, that you're ill, and you clearly can't 'heal yourself,' they'll never read you again."

I still feel that way to some degree although my new therapist (this was a very positive step since I haven't been in therapy for 20 years) disagreed. He said, "Don't your wellness activities work for you?"

"Yes, they do," I replied. "And in fact, I utilize them all the time. They're not exactly wellness activities per se, it's just about having a positive outlook in life, and doing things that make me feel better. Years ago when I was so sick so much of the time, I kept on looking for inspiration, advice, humor, and positive steps to take, and I couldn't find it online. So, I decided to fill that niche."

"And don't you feel you can still do that?" he asked.

"Well, for awhile I felt like a real fake because once the depressions hit hard, it feels like everything I know goes out the window."

"But, if your readers are in a different place than you are, will what you've written help them?"

"Yes...it will," I said, after thinking about it. "The moment I have any real energy, and feel at all cheerful, I'm back to doing all my stuff. This week alone I did the Zen of Electric Sanding Activity, and I learned some new songs on the Autoharp in anticipation of volunteering for seniors once I feel better. I've been spending time reading quotes on positive thinking, and I've been getting sunshine, gardening, and blogging--all important wellness activities.

(to be continued tomorrow)
P.S. I got the logo on a site called Club La Santa, and promise to use it only this one time.

13 comments:

duanesherry1 said...

Susan,

You have to be one of the most honest people I've met in my life....

I think part of what happens with depression is that we see ourselves in a way that is not quite the clearest of views....

This may be part of what's happening to you with your effort to be introspective....

You are a very honest person, and someone who's given a great deal to others....

You've worked incredibly hard to find things that work for you, and you've openly shared them with others....

The fact that you've been dealing with your own depression during some of this....In my mind, doesn't make you "dishonest", in fact I think it makes you even more reliable, someone people can identify with, and trust....

You aren't talking about things you've never experienced....You're discussing things that work for you, with a readership who suffers as well....

This, I think is true understanding and empathy at its best!

I have always had great admiration and respect for you Susan, and gratefulness for your willingness to so openly give to others.

If recovery comes to those who experience pain, yet continue to be giving....then, you are an example of recovery!

I know you've struggled with whether to continue your blog, or to stop writing....

I hope you do what is best for you....I hope you do what gives you the most amount of peace and happiness inside....Then, whatever decision you make, will be the right one for you.

Thank you Susan for all you share!

Duane

John D said...

Susan -

I'm so glad you haven't followed the advice of that therapist you mentioned in January. His idea that you stop blogging so as not to dwell on illness/wellness sounded ridiculous, frankly. You wouldn't have poured so much into this blog if it hadn't been an important activity in getting better. It's great that you're back. I haven't been commenting here, but your writing is extremely insightful and helpful to me.

By the way, I did a little review of your blog in Stumbleupon, hoping that others would find it too.

My best to you -- John (storiedmind.com)

Gianna said...

no one is well 100% of the time..

I am a wellness writer too and I'm sick as hell...all human beings get sick for a variety of reasons and it's not a failing and it doesn't mean they don't have a healthy soul and essence that is asking to be expressed.

Life is a journey of pleasure, pain, health and illness, WELLNESS is about navigating all of the well, in my opinion. NOT about being in perfect shape or blissed out all the time...

that DOES not exist and one would truly be unwell if they had the delusional thought that it did...

you are a Wellness Writer...

I am sick and find wonder in my life everyday...my heart and passion is being expressed like never before...great things are coming to me through this illness because I am well in spirit...

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Duane,
Your comment brought tears to my eyes. Of course, part of the reason is because my emotions are highly volatile these days (smiling face). Truthfully, it's because of your kindness and support (both online and off).

I began the blog for all the reasons you mention. And you're right, it has taken me years to develop a wide array of wellness activities that work for me--much of the time.

And by the comments I have received, I know they have helped others.

Also, I know that during a depression, my judgment is impaired, and my perception of myself does change.

Duane, I can't tell you how much your comment means to me. And your thoughts about recovery have given me a lot to think about.

Again, thank you! You are dear dear friend!

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear John D.,
Thank you so much for commenting. You're right, it was ridiculous advice. At the time, I was so depressed and so desperate to find someone who could help me that I was willing to consider an approach that is not in concert with my basic beliefs.

What attracted me to this psychiatrist, was that he is the only psychiatrist I've ever talked with (and there have been six over a 15-year-period) who believed I could get well.

Having said that, so much of what he believes was so distressing to me (although I think his intentions are good) that ultimately it made me feel far worse.

When I'm not depressed, I pride myself on my analytical ability, which has been sorely lacking for the past few months.

Anyway, John, thank you for letting me know that what I've written helps you. It matters a great deal to me.

And thank you for writing about my blog.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Gianna,
I wrote you this long comment, and lost it, so here goes again...

You're a dear dear friend, and thank you for commenting on this. Knowing how sick you are, it heartens me to know that you consider yourself a wellness writer. And, in fact, I realize that I do too--for all the reasons you mentioned.

When I'm severely depressed, it does feel like a huge failing.

The analytical side of me says, "If you've done all this research, and figured out what triggered your illness in the first place, and what contributes to it, and you've developed all these wellness activities to help you feel better, and so forth and so on...you should be better.

In fact, I am better...much of the time. But then when a depression hits, I become so disappointed and feel like such a failure that it's overwhelming.

Gianna, thanks so much for sharing your feelings about all this. To say that being ill "doesn't mean you don't have a healthy essence and soul that is asking to be expressed" is truly something for me to think about.

And to say that "Life is about navigating pleasure, pain, health, and illness" is, of course, true and something I need to remember during the bad times rather than feeling like I'm only a successful wellness writer when I'm well.

Thanks for your perspective and support!

With love,
Susan

iHanna said...

If you're a fake for what you write one day because the next day you feel/are/act in another way we are ALL fake. Everyone of us. And the subject of wellness belongs to everyone, just as love and compassion does - even in our weakest moments when we ourselves can not remember them... You are worthy Susan, and you ARE a wellness writer even when you feel shitty and blue and have self-doubt! I'm glad you're writing again, writing IS you.

duanesherry1 said...

And, you're a dear friend as well.

With blessings of peace to you and your family,

Duane

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Hanna,
Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your perspective on this, and your candor. I'm so glad you feel that "Writing Is me." On my good days, I do as well.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

And to you and yours as well, Duane!

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Hanna,
I loved the comment on the Zen of Electric Sanding too! I laughed out loud!

Susan

marja said...

Who want to hear advice from someone who is well all the time? How could such a person possibly understand? Henri Nouwen wrote a little book called "The Wounded Healer." The best healers are the ones who themselves are wounded.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marja,
Another interesting perspective! And I'll have to read that book! Thanks for your comment on this topic!

Susan