Want to Help People with Mental Illness? Learn About It.

I just posted this over on my Facebook Page:

Time for a social media break. A short one. A long one. I don't know. It's hard to see the constant talk of suicide. Hard to see people judging those who deal with suicidal ideation (and don't even know what that is) and in the same breath they're posting the Suicide Prevention Hotline and saying "you're not alone, just call me and I'll be there...." PRO TIP: if you really want to help people who are struggling, don't tell THEM to call YOU. People do that so often, don't they? To new parents, to people recovering from illness and surgeries. They say, 'just call and I'll be there,' instead of calling and saying 'here's how I can help.'

You want to help people with mental illness? Learn about it. Start by reading this article and the book by the same author as well. Andrew Solomon wrote, THE NOONDAY DEMON: AN ATLAS OF DEPRESSION. Start there. You want to understand Bipolar? Read Kay Redfield Jamison's book, AN UNQUIET MIND: A MEMOIR OF MOODS AND MADNESS. Hell, just read everything she has written.

Nobody picks to have mental illness. We don't willingly choose this. We don't like it any more than you do. It makes us uncomfortable too, but we're the ones living with it. Constantly. Every day. It never goes away. It's exhausting. So if you really want to help, prepare to help for the long haul because this doesn't go away. And most people don't get that and that's why many who suffer from mental illness don't reach out and don't let you know what's going on because we're pretty sure you'd be frightened by us or fatigued by us. These platitudes of 'I'm only a phone call away,' probably don't pertain to a true lifetime of mental illness and we get that so we are quiet.

From the article, “There was a point where I realized that, if I died of old age, I would win, because so many people with bipolar disorder kill themselves that simply not to kill myself would be a big goal. And I thought, ‘That’s really a low bar.’ And then I said, ‘No, it’s not a low bar, because it can be that hard.’ ” It’s hard for people who have never been suicidal to understand how seductive it can seem."

PS - I am fine. As fine as I can be after the rockiness of recently increasing meds and all of the news from the past couple of weeks. I'm never ever actually fine, like in a healthy brain kind of way. I'm fine, enough, for me. And Eric is back. And I have a wonderful support system in place. I just need a break from social media for a bit.

Med changes always suck and I upped my meds two days before getting sick in May so it’s just been a barrel of not-fun. I’m hopefully on the mend on all fronts but avoiding social media (which can be very triggering) is the smart move for now. I’ll be here with my patrons and the people I’m a patron of too. Much more calm on this platform, thankfully.

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The Waiting Place | When Creativity Doesn't Strike

My girls get on kicks with books and often ask to have the same book read to them over and over. Lately my littlest, Lyra, is into repeated readings of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

As the book moves from optimism to realism about the adventures and hurdles everyone faces in life, Seuss starts to describe a place I don’t like to be in.

It describes how life’s bumps, lumps, and slumps can turn into what he calls The Waiting Place:

I am intimately familiar with The Waiting Place and I never like it, not one little bit.

Reasons I can be in The Waiting Place:

A. I’m waiting on things beyond my control.

B. I’m in a depression.

C. Both A and B.

Here’s a diagram that depicts my creative productivity with Bipolar Disorder. As I’m either stable, or entering hypomania or mania, my creativity is pumping. When I descend into and slowly make my way out of depression, I’m unable to write, or pursue anything that requires creativity from my brain. 

Many people, not just those with Bipolar, can find themselves in The Waiting Place. I have friends right now who are:

- Waiting for a house to sell

- Waiting for election results

- Waiting for medical tests

- Waiting to hear on a job prospect

Sometimes we’re all waiting on things beyond our control. Other times we are in control, except for option ‘B,’ that pesky thing called ‘depression.’ Depression can keep me in the Waiting Place for a long time. 

Right now I’m experiencing option ‘C,’ a mixture of things I can’t control and mild depression. The mental and emotional exertion of speaking about Rebel Heart in public for the first time at the Women Who Sail Australia Gathering and then coming back and pushing hard for a week to get my manuscript sent out to an agent who requested it sent me crashing down into The Waiting Place. I’m slowly climbing up again but I’m also waiting to hear back from the agent and waiting for edits from my developmental editor. Those two waits I cannot control so as my creativity returns I plan on focusing on Project X, the Action Adventure novel, until I have more information from either agent or editor, or both!

What about you? Are you in the Waiting Place right now? For reasons A, B, or C? If you’re there, I hope your wait is not too long. 

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