Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blogging to Learn

I've learned an interesting lesson this week, which is that for me--because I'm a person who blogs to heal and learn rather than blogging for money--I should only post about topics that satisfy my own needs.

While I went out of my way to respond to an anonymous reader who was recently diagnosed as bipolar, and to another who asked about dealing with uncontrolled manias, the fact is that as I'm writing this, neither have left comments on this week's postings.

And, as is evidenced by my stats and the lack of comments, this series isn't particularly interesting to my regular readers. So, my initial desire to respond to two people who asked for help has been replaced by a low-level irritation because I spent more time than usual on writing these posts, they're not subjects that interest me at this stage in my own healing process, and I got very little in return for my efforts.

While it may seem somewhat petty to some of you, the bottom line is that in the last 29 months I've posted almost 600 times, and spent a lot of energy responding to comments as well.

Today I realized that expending this kind of time and energy only works for me if I get feedback--which I usually get immediately from my regular readers. new policy is to eliminate all anonymous comments, and go back to my policy of posting on topics that interest me. That way, even if no one comments, I can still find pleasure in the fact that I have explored a topic of interest to me, and learned something from writing about it.

I wonder if any other bloggers feel that way? If so, please let me know. In the meantime, I'm taking tomorrow off, and will return on Monday...hopefully in a more charitable mood.


Danielle said...

I did feel this way until I switched over to my Simply Fifty format. Now I am so happy and content and relaxed with my blogging format I don't feel the need to consume myself with comments and stats. I totally understand where this post came from...been there myself.

Sama said...

Hello Susan,

Thank you for your efforts. I apologize for not responding to your article. Undoubtedly, there are people who enjoy and benefit from your writing. Since your intention was to write this for you, I hope it has helped you and will continue to help you.

May you heal and find your happiness.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Danielle,
Thanks for letting me know. I usually feel the same way. If I write about I care about, then the stats and comments don't matter that much to me.

If I write about what I need to say, then it doesn't matter whether others need to hear it.

But, this week I didn't, and it made me feel less well. There are lots of BIPS out there who write for newbie's, but, for me it's just going over "old stuff" that I've resolved.

So, in the future I will refer people to other bloggers who can satisfy their needs rather than making myself ill by dwelling on illness rather than wellness.

Thanks for weighing in on this. It is an important post for me.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Sama,
Thank you for your charitable response, which was much kinder and nicer than my post.

We all have our days; yesterday was one of mine. But, I still learned something from all this. When I focus on illness, I feel ill. When I focus on wellness, I feel well.

So, I need to do that, and it has nothing to do with you. But, I geuninely appreciate your response.


marja said...

I understand your feelings, Susan. It IS disappointing when you spend the time, effort and energy (often emotional energy) to write and few people visit and even fewer comment. I've had a lot of that lately, but I know it's because I'm not posting regularly. I think a lot of people have given up on me. You haven't, and I'm very grateful for that.

But I have decided that I post only on things that interest me and only when I feel truly inclined. My writing needs to feed me too. It has to be a joy to do.

Over the past many months I've found that I post mostly when I feel really low and need to talk about it with other BIPS. I also post more easily and with more eagerness when I'm somewhat high.

When I've written a post that I want lots of people to read I leave it up longer, without adding a new one, giving more people a chance to read it.

Right now there's something I really want to write about. Perhaps I will today. I think enough people have read the one I have up now. Not many, but I'm satisfied.

sallyo said...

I'm just starting out, but yea, I feel the same way at times. But that's all right, it's as much for me as anything else, and if someone can benefit, that's great.
I really do like reading about your wellness activities. Keep up the good work.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marja,
You know you have a special place in my heart because you were the first person to comment on my blog so very long ago.

But, that's not why I comment on yours. It's because you're one of the few people I find to be inspirational and genuinely honest about how you feel.

And've become a dear friend to me!

P.S. Thanks for sharing on this topic. It's quite helpful for me to know how others feel.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear sallyo,
Thanks for much for sharing on this topic--again it's very important to me. And thanks for letting me know about the wellness activities. That's truly one of my favorite topics!


Lena said...

Yes, the best type of dialogue you can cultivate is the type that genuinely engages you. It is not selfish for you to write only about those topics which you find to be stimulating. Ultimately, it will be a more valuable offering to the reader. Your passion will communicate so much more than if you forced yourself to write.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Lena,
That's always been my motto. But, sometimes when people ask me for help or ask my advice, I feel compelled to help them.

However, I've finally learned my lesson.


KJ said...

I am never happy when I write posts directed at stats or comments. Sometimes it is necessary but most of the time when I write what is authentic to me I am much more fullfilled.

mmaaggnnaa said...

Hi, Susan -

Yup! I just recently came to a crossroads in my blogging . . . the same dilemma. The work I’m doing right now (which is scheduled to be published around November) may not be very interesting to my readers. I debated about not publishing it, or making it available as an embedded .pdf file . . .

But, then, I realized that my blog is for me, for my healing . . . and not for my readers. I just happen to be providing a window into my healing process for anyone who cares to look in. If people aren’t interested, they don’t have to stick around.

Thanks for being so bold in identifying and honoring your own priorities and agenda! Good for you!

- Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

Wellness Writer said...

Dear KJ,
I mostly feel the same way, except I do care about the comments. Alas...


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marie,
Yes, it is helpful to know how other people feel, isn't it? Thanks for sharing. I genuinely appreciate it.


GirlBlue said...

Susan always remember that this is your blog, your place to find yourself and heal in your own way, you are not responsible for your readers feelings, wants or desires. There are a lot of resources out there to explain what goes on in our heads and while it is nice to read someone who understands how we feel and can articulate it that does not mean that it then becomes your job to be a resource for us all.

I hope I put that well, I'm feeling awfully edgy myself and suspect that that may have come out harsher than I meant it to be.

The bottom line is write what you want to write about, do it for yourself not because you feel you have to. If someone wants info its as simple as

Wellness Writer said...

Dear GirlBlue,
Thank you for your comment on this. I do appreciate your point of view, and I know you have my best interests at heart.

I guess that one of my "weaknesses" is that I do try to accommodate my readers whenever possible.

The reason for this is that I felt so alone with the illness for so many years, and received such bad information from my doctors, that I feel a responsibility to help people if I can.

I was always amazed that when I visited psychiatrists and was paying $100 for a half-hour of their time (when insurance only paid $30 for each visit) that they wouldn't have tried harder to help me.

And whatever symptoms I had, most of them said, "None of my other patients have had similar symptoms (or a similar response to this medication).

At the time, I found it impossible to believe, but this was before so much was available online, so I couldn't find confirmation."

So, after years of feeling that few people helped me, and few listened to me, it's difficult for me to treat others in a similar way. the same time, as you mention, my own healing is my top priority and there are other resources out there.

I've decided that if I can find a few sites I trust (which provide solid information) to refer them to, then I'll feel okay about focusing my own blog on the topics I want to write about.


Ms. said...

Susan, this is Lily, guilty as charged. I'm typing this, not in typical bipolar fashion, of defending myself and finding your concerns invalid, but out of genuine interest & sincerity. Your blog was on the back of my mind in the past two weeks, and I knew you took the extra effort to respond to my questions, and I so badly wanted to get back to you!
Truth is, your advice was so refreshing and real, and I took it literally (in not obsessing over the diagnosis and obsessively reseraching all over the internet finding the "answer"). I stopped! I printed out your articles and showed them to my partner, in hopes that she would also understand and accept it too, as she is in denial about it. She accused me of being negative, and that reading up on bipolar was making me more depressed and that it wasn't helping matters at all. Yes, I did get depressed, but it was all part of the grieving process, of anger, denial, confusion and finally accepting it, and feeling much relief when I came across your blog. It really hurt me that my partner was in denial of it, when I am in the process of trying to accept it! I was so conflicted with the diagnosis, for a number of reasons,
A) I am totally anti-medicine, and have always been all my life, and it was dismaying to learn that all the "research" pointed to medcine.
B) My partner and I had been planning to have a baby, and have been trying for almost two years, unsuccessfully. We took a hiatus and recently started again a few months ago, so this new diagnosis really threw things up in the air, and finding information about being bipolar and having children is very limited, due to the articles talking about "weaning off" the medications, etc when I am medication-free. And what does this mean for my offspring? Is this something I could handle, being responsible and accountable in bringing a child in this world that will struggle, like I did? (although I now know it is much easier with awareness) I so badly want to be a mother, I love kids. So much conflict there, but the plans are on "hold", and will figure that out later.

TBC 4,096 character limit??

Ms. said...

C) I am a mental health therapist. I have been in the job for almost a year now, and I am so so angry at myself for not catching it earlier, for not resolving my issues earlier, and for not learning coping skills, before I took on the job. I knew I've dealt with depression all of my life, and the depression was getting better, much shorter and less severe. All of my previous jobs have been literally "stress-free", yet I couldn't handle it because it was so mindless, I was not stimulated, and was not challenged or motivated to do the work. I thought the opportunity to go back into the field would be the "answer", it was my passion,it was what I got my degree in, and I'd actually be helping people, instead of taking on "bullshit" jobs with good money, that meant nothing to me. So lo and behold, the mania reared its ugly face, in a time of extreme stress, and I had my first blown manic episode in May. I didn't realize it at the time, and as with most folks in denial, I thought it was purely "situational". There were a lot of triggers, jam packed into several days, that it was just wildly coincidental. I can handle crap, but pile it all up on one day? Just plain crazy stuff, that you know the universe is at work here. I was blind, and what woke me up, was seeing myself in a client. Which was a month ago yesterday. I dont identify with the "common" bipolar symptoms, but when this lady shared bits about her background and her personality, I said to myself "oh my god. This is me" How pathetic this must sound. It had to take a client for me to finally see myself and realize who I truly was. And this is the montrosity of it all, I am highly educated, I have been through several therapists and a psychiatrist who prescribed me Zoloft, and I instantly felt its effects, and told my counselor that I felt like I was on speed. He told me that I need to continue to take it, and that it takes a month for me to get used to it. I tried breaking it down into half, into quarters, and it still had the same effect and I stopped after a week. How is it possible that being trained myself in the mental health profession, my professors, my supervisors, my therapists, my psychiatrist, that I didn't see it, and that no one else saw it either??

So this just spinned off into another episode of being angry and pissed off, because I am in the wrong job, and I can't handle the stress. And to top it off, a lot of my recent referrals are bipolar too, and I am "white knuckling" it, barely able to restrain myself while I hear their stories, and thinking inside "oh my god, oh my god.. just shut up and listen, don't say anything.." How they have no idea that I truly do know and understand how they feel.

So now i am wrestling ambivalent feelings about my job, and Im struggling with it. I looked into other current job opportunities, and there are some that I could pursue, that would be better suited to my needs, but I tell myself, is this the impulsive part of me, would I really be happy with doing something mundane? Would it be productive to anyone had I left? I truly love my job, I just wish I could press pause, and heal myself, and come back when I am ready (or more like, seasoned and mature!) If it wasn't for my experience on the job, then maybe I would have never "discovered" myself? Was all this meant to be?

There are also a number of factors at hand here too, but that would be just too revealing, and I don't want to endanger any of my professional or personal interests here.

And on top of all this, trying to learn coping skills at the same time, without the assistance of medication. Am I truly being honest with myself? Can I really handle this? I am surrounded by the "medical" experts everyday, where the doctors say you need to take medication, and I as their therapist, encourage them to remain stable on their medications as well. Talk about inner conflict!

Ms. said...

So I know I need a vacation, and even planning for one has become stressful.

My original point, my partner still does not accept my diagnosis, and the fact that she doesn't believe me or trust me, really hurts me, considering that I am a trained mental health expert as well. She wants me to go to the doctor, and get the formal diagnosis, and that is when she'll believe it. I'd gladly oblige, however I just know that experience itself will be very stressful, and I don't wish to put myself through that - as you mentioned above "paying 30 dollars for someone to tell you something you already know" and the 100% gaurantee that the doctor will push medicine on me, and that I'd have to build my strength in resisting his professional opinon and defend myself in my reasons why I don't want to take medication.

So I ve been overwhelmed at work, and have been staying late every night, mainly because I am behind at work, and going home is a stressful event in itself, because my partner does not believe me and does "not want to hear about it" so without her understanding and support, I am a mess. I have been trying to explain, that all of this process is part of educating myself, and that it would HELP the both of us if she would be open to learning more about it (and ignoring the advice on the internet, where it says "RUN AWAY! 90% of bipolar marriages end in divorce!) She is frustrated because she has dealt with a lot in the past years, and is using the "past" against me, and just does not want to hear any of it.

It is now my conclusion that perhaps she also has some type of stress disorder as well, seeing as how she can't handle the truth and is shutting me out.

So that is why I was unable to respond in a timely fashion. My work blocks all web communications. By the time I get home, Im exhausted, we either fight or just go straight to bed, and the next day, the cycle starts all over again, and have not had the time to check the internet at home. I was depressed all last weekend because I was so exhausted from the week's events, that my form of recovery is to crash and sleep all day. My partner didn't handle that well, and kept going on about what positive things I have NOT been doing for myself in the past month, since I've learned that I am BIP. I was upset, because I wasn't allowed to share what I was really feeling and all the interesting stuff I've learned, because I would often be barraged with accusations of being negative, saying that I'm BIP like as if it was an excuse for my "behavior" and that I'm doing "nothing". I have been doing a lot, just that she didn't allow the opportunity for us to communicate on an open, empathatic level, and shut me out instead. I don't blame her, she has been through a lot, I just feel frustrated because I feel that Im being punished for the "past" when I had no idea what I was dealing with, and that I've made genuine efforts to stop with the negative thinking and actively thinking of how to maximize my creativity and other strengths, so that my symptoms can decrease, in the past month. And none of that means anything to her.

Ms. said...

I'm dragging on here, I would rather for this to be a personal email to you, but I dont have it, and I dont mind if you either decide to not post it or do, just know that life has been extra crazy and I've been cycling, and essentially, my whole sense of being is completely up in the air in terms of my job, my future, my dreams, my relationships. All of it is a big question mark. :/ And that's what scares me.

Everything has been so intense, and I really did not intend at all, to steal your energy. Please know I am eternally grateful to you, and you were essential in creating and justifying my path towards wellness.

I had been thinking about how I could start a blog, in creating a user identity, and the technicals of it, and whether it'd be helpful for me. I'm just not sure I can, with the nature of my job and my roles in the community and personal life. But while I do figure that out, thank you for pushing me to come up with a user identity. :) It was hard to come up with one, unexpectedly.. I really do hope to join this community, as I really have no one else I can talk to about this, if I'm not even able to talk to my partner about it. :(

(ok so now i know this is really long, being that i have to divide this into 4 separate comments! I just wanted to add that I have been taking steps towards wellness, it is still in process, and one of them involves finding a new therapist. And talking to my insurance company. Sigh!) also another disclaimer here: i dont mean to attract your energy in by reading my lengthy response either, and i am not looking for validation or anything from you..

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Lily,
I just saw your comments and it's late at night. WOW! What can I say? I certainly understand now why you didn't respond.

But, it's also late at night, and I'm too tired to respond in a way I'd feel good about.

So...what I think is best is for me to focus on your comments on Friday. You've written a lot that undoubtedly applies to others.

While I'm not a trained professional (like you are), you bring up a lot of important issues that I am certainly willing to address. And I'm sure my readers will be willing to share their feelings and insight as well.

I'm sorry you're having to go through all this. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to face a diagnosis and at the same time feel you're not getting the support you need from your partner.

My own situation was quite different, and my husband has been a saint. But, I believe he's the exception and your experience is more typical.

I also have readers who are spouses (or were spouses) of people who are bipolar, and I'm sure they'll share their take on all this as well.

Anyway, I appreciate your candor and honesty, and our virtual community certainly will try to address the issues you've brought up.

Again, as I said in my initial comments to you, if it were me, I'd find a therapist ASAP. There's nothing worse than feeling overwhelmed by work and at home and having no one to talk with.

All my best until Friday!