I began this blog after being diagnosed with a mood disorder, and it was suggested that daily writing about my feelings could be a useful step towards understanding them. This blog was established as a form of writing therapy, and so far, it has been very cathartic and helpful. But a couple of times recently I have questioned its direction – and, indeed, whether it matters if it has one or not.
I initially attempted to focus on my illness and the impact it has on me, my body, my work and my life. I’ve read many other blogs that focus on the writers’ mental health issues and many of them are fascinating reading. Granted, when I first received this most recent diagnosis of Cyclothymia (I’ve had many over the years), I was excited in a way. The diagnosis makes sense, and it fits (although doesn’t excuse) what I know of my behaviour and all its idiosyncratic ways. This new “label” gave me relief and hope at the possibility of finally confronting it and taming it to the point of re-entering the world of “normal.”
But from the beginning (all those four weeks ago!) I did not want to turn this into a blog that made people feel sadness or discomfort when they read it. There are many bloggers with mental health difficulties who write with such desolation and despondency that I find it difficult to read what they have written. It makes me feel like an intruder, and I have to leave without finishing. I don’t want to write like that. I don’t want to cause other people to feel like that. I don’t want my illness to win.
So I considered the direction I wanted this blog to go in. The bottom line is that I have this disorder, and I am currently off work with a lot of time on my hands. I read up as much as I could about Bipolar and Cyclothymia, and I considered devoting my attention to creating a blog that discusses, describes and researches everything there is to know about them – but there are already blogs that do that, including two brilliant and extremely well written blogs that don’t baffle the ordinary reader with a load of complex jargon: Bi[polar] Curious and Living Manic Depressive.
I also considered devoting the majority of my posts to the daily/weekly analysis of self, as governed by this illness. There are many bloggers who do this, and only a few who portray themselves and their difficulties in a way that is comprehensive and readable. I’m particularly thinking of Managing Mania off the top of my head, although I know there are others out there who do a similar brilliant job of expressing themselves in an articulate way.
But speaking for myself, after a few initial posts I began to resent trying to think of something to write about my illness. I began to resent even mentioning my illness in a post at all (although I’m doing a pretty good job of mentioning it in this one!) Something about mentioning it and linking it to my writing makes me angry. It annoys me that I allow it to get so much press. It’s as if any coverage I give it increases its power over me – and I know I need to be stronger than it is.
I don’t judge other writers for allowing their illness to consume the posts they publish, and my own feelings on the subject are in no way intended to diminish the struggle others have to deal with every day. I just don’t think it’s the way I want to approach it.
I want this blog to be something my child can read one day, without feeling embarrassment or shame or discomfort, and without feeling he has intruded into my private space.
This illness isn’t going anywhere; it’s apparently here to stay now. So, I will mention it occasionally, I’m sure, and there will be periods when it plays a more central role in my writing than others.
But there are also going to be times when it is not mentioned at all, and instead, I will post photos of bugs and things and write about seemingly irrelevant bits and bobs.
So, for the record, this blog doesn’t have any real direction … and that’s OK.
© Alice through the Macro Lens