Those who know me well would hardly be surprised to hear (or read) that my mind is fried. Focused? Who me, focused? Nope. Instead, one project or comment gets me going in one direction, another in another direction. I end up juggling multiple projects, with my mind racing and jumping all over the place.
So here’s what’s going on. I’ve intended for a few years now to publish a collection of my blog posts as a book. Not able to import my posts into Scrivener, I labored to cut and paste them back in 2014 and later in 2017.
Recently, I hired Sarah Fader as a book coach, and with her help realized that I have a memoir in me. I’m starting to see them as two separate projects — a memoir and a collection of blog posts or short essays — and am itching to get the posts I had copied and pasted published. I want them off my back, out of my mind. They want to be collected and published. What can I say? The writing demands it!
At the end of May, I’m attending a writers summit where I will workshop my memoir (or post/essay collection, or both). In the meantime, I’m going off in multiple directions, as is like me when overstimulated. Overstimulation, social and intellectual, triggers mood cycling and hypomania in me.
Here’s an example of how reactive I am: In real life and on Facebook, I’m a member of OC Writers. Last Wednesday, writer and group admin Greta Boris posted this question:
It’s Wisdom Wednesday. Keyword: mailing list. Do you have one? If yes, how are you growing your subscriber base? Do you send a monthly newsletter? Inquiring minds want to know.
My first reaction was: “Nope. I’m really bad about it because I find mailing lists obnoxious.” But, then I went ahead and created a MailChimp email list (click on link to a my fancy sign up page on MailChimp), which now has a total of five members. Creating this list involved a crap load of work.
To protect my personal privacy and for basic professionalism, I didn’t want to use my personal email or my personal address. To create an email account using my URL, kittomalley.com, I signed up for G Suite as the owner of my URL. Sounds simple, but I jumped through hoops to verify that I owned every iteration of my URL (kittomalley.com, www.kittomalley.com, kittomalley.wordpress.com, etc.).
For a mailing address, I rented a local mailbox. Luckily, the owner knows me and I was able to handle the transaction over the phone and by email, because I was sick when I was doing all this work online. The new mailing address has the added benefit of protecting my privacy online, for I’m licensed with the state of California as a Marriage and Family Therapist. (Recently completed CEUs to renew license.)
Once I had completed all that, as the graphic nerd that I am, I went through several design iterations for the mailing list pop-up, ending up with the least obnoxious: a simple white footer with no graphic design elements that allows readers to scroll my content without clicking to close the form. I’m just asking for email addresses. Don’t want to ask for too much information.
Honestly, I’m not sure what exactly I’ll use the list for. Not to send notifications of blog posts. People can sign up for those through WordPress.com. Rather, to let people know perhaps on a monthly basis the status of my book(s). Perhaps to write a monthly newsletter. Who knows? Just don’t want to inundate anyone with email. Hate email spam, thus my initial reaction.
Oh, I almost forgot. Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, my parents’ fifty-sixth anniversary. My husband and I visited them at their memory care community. Yes, they both have dementia. My father due to alcoholism. My mother secondary to a stroke. Visiting them is always emotional for me. My father asks the same questions over and over. My mother cannot speak and at best understands 40% of receptive speech. She doesn’t understand symbolic language either — the part of her brain responsible for language has been destroyed. Her frontal lobe, too, was damaged leaving her with behavioral complications on top of underlying undiagnosed mental illness predating her stroke. As I’m her daughter and not her psychiatrist, I can’t really diagnose what was going on with her, I can only say that she could be emotionally abusive. Those stories I’ll save for my memoir.
Upon returning from our visit, I decided to take on finishing our income taxes. I had completed most of the return on TurboTax. Just had to go through a pile in my inbox that dated back to my mother’s stroke. Seems that’s what I had put on hold. Going through the papers triggered painful memories. As I look at the dates on documents, I recalled what we were going through at those times.
My mother had her stroke one month after my son started at a new private high school due to his health problems and frequent absences. My son still struggles. Honestly, as the parent of a son struggling with multiple complex intertwined health issues, I feel like a failure. I do not have a magic wand. I cannot take away his suffering. I cannot make him get up out of bed. I take him to doctors. I try to get him to eat, or at least to drink.
Sounds like a lot? It is. I rely on my husband. We order take-out. I write, I blog, for I can. It’s something I can do. Something I can control in the midst of so much I cannot control.
I left a comma out of that sentence. It should read, ‘you know, you’re right’ as in, spot on advice. When I take on too much the ‘system’ kicks in.
Just sharing my experience, and what others have told me.
You know you’re right when you say that the illness forces us to stop. It’s easy for me to justify working 24/7. I think it’s an over-compensation. Thank you for that insight Kitt.
We must somehow pace ourselves. Luckily, the nature of mental illness itself forces reprieves on us. We simply break down. Our bodies, minds, and souls can only take so much intensity. That’s why your body/mind/soul dissociated and developed multiple identities. Honestly, I consider DID a creative response to extreme conditions.
Yes. Getting the art without getting too burnt is the trick.
Without a doubt. The pain fuels our art.
Yes…Actually I can’t. Thanks Kitt.
think you’re right. The thing about writing is that often, the very private is where the art is, it’s a balancing act without a mental illness. Thanks, Kitt.
Honestly, you do what heals you. That may mean protecting your boundaries, protecting your privacy to a certain extent.
I can see how that would be difficult and how it would disturb you. Perhaps you need not share every alter’s voice, for your own sake.
[…] via Hypomania aka Fried Brain — Kitt O’Malley […]
I’ve been working on this for seven years. The sticking point is that I have alters who don’t want to ‘own’ the work. For instance, some of the work is sexually graphic and that’s not my style. When I read this kind of work, I want to throw it away but I understand intellectually that the language is intrinsic to the work I don’t throw it away. I can’t accept the writing and I can’t deny it. DID is an odd thing; I have an unruly family of eight living in my skull. I’m thinking that someone who can see the how these seemingly disparate lives are linked.
That would be cool. There are therapists who work through writing. I’d recommend finding someone with a PhD, experience with PTSD, and experience with writing as a healing tool. Weaving those pieces together would be very powerful therapeutically, but could destabilize you as you uncover trauma.
I started writing when I was eight and it’s a labor of love; I don’t expect to get famous or to make a living on it. When I was a kid, I wanted to write one good poem and I think I may have written several good poems. To that extent, I got my wish. I do want to find a way to write a memoir but the memory gaps caused by my illness make it hard for me to see the whole; in that regard a coach is a good idea: someone who can see how the ‘pieces’ relate to each other.
Thank you, Mihran!
Kitt – Every time I read over a comment from you, I consider it one of the most positive energy!!
Sorry to hear that the feelings of happiness wouldn’t last. Sounds like you’re starting your day off well. Love that you sometimes buy flowers to brighten your room. My maternal grandfather was both a commercial and retail florist. His passion for flowers lives on in me.
My high school friend who makes a living as a technical writer told me that only 5% of creative writers make a living writing, or make enough to live on. Don’t recall the exact working. 5% makes sense, though.
Kitt – I am deeply out of words – In a typical day, I would wake up to a bright and sunny morning that put me in a good mood. Feeling that life was great and all was rosy, I might even buy some flowers to brighten up my room. However, these feelings of happiness wouldn’t last.
I can see that. Not the puny mailing list, but the idea that writing teachers make a better living.
Honestly, my mailing list is puny. A mere ten people. People make a better living teaching writing than they do writing.
Good luck writing the memoir Kitt! That’s exciting news! I’d love to read it. 🙂
The daily struggle against the disorganizing effects of a mental illness, whether bi-polar or a dissociative disorder, which leaves me wondering where I am and what I’m working on. This is the second time I’ve heard you mention a writing coach and I know I can use one to figure out how to make the manuscripts I have into a solid body of work. I’m going to have to find the money for this. Ah, yes, the question of the mailing list. I understand the value of a mailing list as a marketing tool but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve already said everything I need to say on my blog, perhaps when I’m ready to market my work.
Thanks for the advocacy you do on behalf of victims/survivors of domestic violence.
As women, we naturally want to take on everything, and help each person around us, eventually realizing it’s too dang hard to control all that stuff. You can only do what you can do, and everyone will still love you for it. Kudos on the upcoming collections. What a brilliant idea! Hugs…RO
Sandi, there is no right or wrong thing to blog about. When I wrote about my parents, my traffic went down, for most of my readers followed me for my bipolar content. But, my blog is mine. I write what I need to write when I need to write it. You can do whatever you please with your blog. Some writers maintain multiple blogs, but I find that cumbersome. I am who I am. What goes on in my life affects me and those I love. Same with you. You can make either or both your blog’s focus. You can use categories to separate or group the two topics.
Thank you for reaching out. We have much in common. I wish you the best as your mother’s dementia worsens. I’ll stop on by and take a look at your blog now.
Hi Kitt, I saw that you had started following my blog (which I have more or less neglected due to not knowing what is next and writers’ block, lol), anyway the point I’m getting to is that I also have been diagnosed as bipolar and I know all about getting distracted from one task and leading into another! The other thing I wanted to say is my mother also has dementia and it is such a heartbreaking thing to watch it progress. She has been my best friend for the biggest part of my life, not to mention a wonderful, nurturing mother. I see how frustrated she gets when she doesn’t remember things and it hurts to watch her struggle. She also had a stroke which brought this on I believe. I think I am blogging about the wrong subject. I would probably have alot more to say about Alzheimers and Dementia. For now, I have begun following you and I will attempt to keep in the know about your blog. I think I could learn a thing or two. Thanks for the follow! Sandi.
Thanks! Exactly what my therapist recommended today. Why I once again got myself huevos rancheros for lunch (picked it up myself this time). Still full. Overdid eating a bit.
Wow Kitt sounds like you are coping with a shit-ton of shit!! I commend you. You’re doing great. Remember to be good to Kitt. ❤️❤️❤️
Thank you so much, Eliza! Sending you love, too!
Sending love and light.
You are an inspiration. Hope you know that… and hope you get to relax and just breathe.
Uh…no, I didn’t tell him. I go through this every single March—I get a little hypomanic, and then I start dinking around with my meds. I didn’t realize it till I went through my posts in March for the past five years, and it happens EVERY time. You’d think I’d have caught on before. Maybe next time I’ll be more proactive and call my pdoc before the springtime crazies hit. Anyway, I’m back on all my meds and the hypo is going away. 🙂
As for med adjustment, my ramping self-corrects. I’m in bed this morning on my iPad. Fell asleep at a reasonable time last night.
Conferences are my Achilles heel. Hopefully I come out of May’s writers’ summit relatively unscathed.
Futzing with your meds? Hope your pdoc approves of and supervises any changes.
The nature of my hypomania keeps me from going off the deep end. It runs its course. I simply need to rest to recover.
Actually because my mind was racing yesterday, I got a lot done, including some writing on my memoir.
When I have hypomania, I can’t get anything done except run around and socialize, which only increases the hypomania. I can’t focus. There’s no way I could work on a book unless it was a 1-page book.
The last time I had hypomania, it was at my 1st writing conference at the spectacularly beautiful Pebble Beach. I was so excited to be there, I hardly slept and that began the hypomanic cycle. I didn’t have to take care of the kids or Craig or Lucy – plus the food was yummy (plus I didn’t have to make it or do dishes!), most of the attendees were really nice, interesting, creative types…. all in all it was like being at a great summer camp.
Thank God I brought Seroquel, but I didn’t bring enough – I barely nipped my hypomania in the bud. I was lucky it somehow didn’t turn into full-blown mania. Have you adjusted your medication in light of your hypomania so it doesn’t ramp up?
(If you have already mentioned medication somewhere, please forgive me!) Love you, Kitt.
All this sounds so complicated, I seriously doubt I could ever learn it. That’s what bipolar has done to my memory and executive function. Someday I want to cobble my blog posts together for a book too, but I’d need a LOT of help to do so. Maybe one day during a hypo/manic episode I’ll get it started. The trouble is I lose interest and never finish my projects. Hoping you can tame the hypo monster…I’m in a bit of a spell myself and have been futzing with my meds against my better judgment, which isn’t all that great at the moment. Keep on keeping on, Kitt!
Oh, Kitt, I’m so sorry you’ve struggled for so long. I hope your brain settles and gives you a bit of peace, so you can work on your memoir.
Just my select posts up to last September has a word count of 80,000. Enough for a book. Haven’t added much in the way of images. Just words. I use images as post headings to grab attention online. Too much for a book. A few well chosen photos may be appropriate for a memoir, unless I fictionalize it, which I may end up doing to protect family members’ privacy (may be too late for that…). Thanks for visiting, Teresa! Folks, Teresa is my niece by marriage to one of my husband’s sister’s son. My husband came from a large family with seven siblings, so I have many nieces and nephews, many with kids. I’m a grandaunt!
Look forward to your memoir, too! Let me know when it’s done. Thanks!
I did the tutorial in September, but have forgotten it already. The user manual isn’t terribly helpful (at least not for me as yet). I purchased Scrivener for Dummies, and am trying to give that a try. I need to tailor my formatting for my collection of blog posts. As for my memoir, writing that in Google Docs, so I can work online with my book coach Sarah Fader.
What about one book with your memoir with photos intertwined in your blog posts and short essays? That sounds like something very unique and visual that would entice flipping the page 😉
A million things, all going on at once, life is busy and then hypomania comes along and makes it busier! As for your son, I have never yet met a mother who has a magic wand, unfortunately they simply don’t seem to exist so we just have to do the best we can with what we have at the time and there is absolutely NO doubt in my mind that you are doing just that!
Yes, please do the memoir- I will pre-order right now!! I wrote my memoir, that bit was easy for me, the next steps are harder and seemingly unobtainable. I(after nearly three years of procrastination) finally got scrivener and cut and pasted from word where I had written the bloody thing, but it is the getting it sorted into the correct format to print it off as a manuscript I am struggling with – yes, yes, I know about the tutorial in scrivener and I distinctly remember not reading it properly too! Unfortunately I haven’t got the money to pay someone to sort it out for me so my memoir has sat there in this condition for a further 6 months… It will probably die with me lol.