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June 20, 2012


Hmmmmm. I can see how that could be very healing. I'm curious about the inner workings. It sounds a little uncannily familiar. If it doesn't interfere with you getting better, could you email me?

I'm glad you're not getting rid of the blog. This is certainly scary stuff you're having to face and I understand why you want to get out of facebook and curb other unhealthy outlets... I'm relieved the blog was spared.

That previous post is heartbreaking at times. did you travel east? probably a little bit south of here where the road eastward goes. I felt a little panicky when you talked about the "connectedness" feelings, but relieved when you said it's really -- because it has to be, right?! (I read somewhere about ADD helping you connect things and that's what scared me a bit).

OK. I write too much. Sorry. We're here for you. Take as many breaks as you need, my friend. I hope things can get better and better.

I'll take this opportunity to disagree with the spirit and content of your message above. For the last 12 years, you have been a creative inspiration to me, and I'll take this opportunity to formally reject the idea that you've been forcing yourself creatively on anyone on these internets.

It may be a good idea to remove yourself from Facebook for awhile, but only because of the inner turmoil it is causing you; the rapid cycling of bipolar disease causes you to have bursts of creativity which then during your down-swing cause you intense embarrassment. For my part, your creative output will always be a welcome punctuation to my day— and regarding its intrusiveness, well, anyone who thinks otherwise has certainly modified their feed settings accordingly.

Returning to the important point. You talk above of your self-respect, your respect for your own creative value, as being part of an inaccurate self-concept, as being an embarrassment that you must hobble before you rise from this depression, to stop your future self from producing lovely works again. I reject this, but with loving concern in my heart for you, having known you for so very long, I greatly respect all of your creative outlets. I've known you through student publications, poetry readings, childish doodles, painting, printmaking, web diaries / blogs / support for those struggling with infertility / motherhood / feminism, support for breastfeeding women, mini-comics, stand-up comedy, a book chapter, scintillating conversation, and many other things that simply fail to come to mind. In each of these endeavors you've thrown your heart, your creative fire into it, and made something uniquely your own, something precious in this world. But through it all you've wrestled with great uncertainty and self-doubt. I know good writing, I know good comedy, I know good research, I know the value of something that comes from a good and engaged heart, and you have all of these things.

I know you are going to come out of this. I'm here for you now and I'll be here for you then. We've been a team for many years, we will continue to be a team for many more.

When your friends tell you it is OK to take a break, it is not because they agree with the spirit of your message above, it is not because they think you are an embarrassment, it is because they love you and want you to take a break if you need it, if it will help you heal, regroup, and return in whatever form is appropriate for you to do so.

With love and respect,
as ever, your husband

What Sean said. I hope that a break with provide you with some peace and some time to heal. But do not ever feel you are forcing your creative output upon the world. I have loved your writing from the first time I read it - 2004? You were my first teacher about home birth, and a one of the many bloggers who have helped me to understand in my soul what infertility is really about. While this blog is only a tiny fraction of who you are, I sense enough to know that I really LIKE you. Not manic you or depressive you or obsessive compulsive you (that was a postpartum period to look back on with a few laughs!) just you. In all your messy splendor. So rock on Jo, in whatever form makes you happy. But I'll still be reading, if you choose to write.

Jo, I can't find the right words. I love your blog, and your Facebook posts, and Sassmouth, and The Leery Polyp. I've been around a long time. You helped me through the IVF years, and now your parenting posts make me smile, laugh, snort, and jump back in the ring with my four little ones. I will miss you, and even though we've never met, I feel like we are friends. I'm sending you love and peace from Virginia.

Dear Jo, what Sean said, again!

I have always loved your writing, your take on the world - the honesty and hilarity and integrity and detail all combine into something that I love and cherish seeking out.

I understand if you need space/peace/time/whatever. Do what you gotta do. But I will always be ready to hear from you again, no matter what is inside of you.

Wishing you well on figuring all this out. As above - although I have never met you, you feel like a friend. And I am pretty sure you are delightful! Self-doubt's a bitch. Hang in there!

Aww, I'm so sorry you are having to go through this. It almost sounds like you are packing in years of mild self-doubt into a couple of short weeks. I hope you can find a way to balance your creativity without the manic states very soon. A little of what you posted here sounds a little depressed--I hope you are finding a good balance while all the chemicals sort themselves out.

Thank you for your bravery, once again, in sharing this. Like so much of what you've written about in the past, it is very helpful to those of us on this side of your computer screen.

And only 4 hours after you post this, I'm scanning everyone's FB pages, wondering if FB has you as "Jo" or "Joanna" or "Jo-Anna", thinking isn't it curious that S doesn't have you listed as his spouse, not finding anything under one last name, remembering that it would be under the other last name, but no, not that either . . .

We barely interact and I missed reading something, seeing anything, from you in 4 hours. Let me state quite clearly, the thought was NOT (as your head might tell you), "OMG, Jo must be dead, normally she'd have posted 90 zillion stupid things by now, let's all dance" -- it was, "Where's Jo? I miss her . . ."

hugs & kissses girlie


I also read your stories about your daughter's births. They made me imagine the possibility of something like that for me. So I had my second daughter at home. It was the best experience of my life. It changed who I am and how I see myself. It made me strong a way I never was before and it made me believe that some things you don't have to work for - some joy is just sitting there waiting for you to accept it.

That was real, it happened, on May 20, 2010 in North Bay Ontario. Your writing helped it to happen, maybe even made it possible. It will never change, its a gift you gave me and I and my daughters have it forever.

Peace to you this night,


(p.s. I don't care if you think that you got these words of affirmation b/c you were dramatic and sad and that that's wrong and now you're embarrassed - its not wrong, you are dramatic and sad at the moment, and the affirmations are yours by right - you earned them and there's more where they came from)

I was missing you on FB, I'm glad you posted this to explain. I'm sorry to hear you ever feel embarrassed about this sort of thing. I've often thought I'd like to be more like you.

I will keep up here as best I can. And of course feel free to get in touch if you need an ear.

I've never considered anything you posted an embarrassment. How can writing your thoughts be bad? How can sketches be bad? I don't really get that viewpoint. So I agree with everyone else in saying that you should take a break if you want one, but it's sad to think you can't even let yourself draw a picture. You are allowed to speak. You are allowed to create. Please be kind to yourself.

I'm just a lurker, but when I read
"I'm more like a bubo than a repository of insight" I worry. Going a little private to work out inner turmoil is one thing, but the self-loathing in your description scary because it is too familiar to me. I guess what I'm trying to say is that "bubo" doesn't reflect an accurate self concept.

Jo-Jo, your husband said more eloquently everything I wanted to say. Did you know that you were one of my inspirations to start writing back when I blogged at Bomb in My Belly? That I fell in love with your kick-assedness and intelligence and humor and creativity, and you have never, not once, made me feel like you are inflicting yourself on me in any way. You enlighten and enrich me. You make me laugh. You are one of the good hearted and I know you will find your path again. And you are gifted and talented and have many paths which you could follow. xoxoxo

Sean has nailed it of course. Hang in there. Xxoo.

I also went looking for you on FB just now because I missed you. I can't add any eloquence here, but I agree with so many of the things said. I love your writing, I love your FB posts, I've been reading things you write since ...oh gee, 2004? I understand how taking a break could be healing, but know that I will miss you and eagerly await your return.

Yes, what Sean said.

Lots of love to you. xoxo

Thanks for posting this. I noticed yesterday you had deactivated your facebook account. Which is, of course, fine, but I was honestly worried about you. Do what you need to do, but please know you weren't forcing your ideas on anyone. It is very easy to hide people on facebook and even easier to not open this website if anyone is not interested in what you are saying.

I wish I lived closer and could swing by with a casserole. Or something else maybe since it's kind of hot for hotdish.

I hope your moments of peace get longer and the spaces between them shorter. I imagine things had to be pretty hard before you got help, so it's likely you have a long way up and down before you hit a level spot, but know that we are pulling for you. I do not know your husband, but I have on good authority that he is a good and smart guy. So you should listen to him.

Oh, I just hate to read about your anguish. I have been "with you" for years and years now, and I LOVED having you on FB. I respect your need for privacy, hope and pray for healing for you, and dearly hope you won't go away from the internets for good -- I will miss you terribly.


jo, i'm holding you in my prayers now. i don't know if this is the right time for you to hear what all you have meant to me -- which i lay in bed last night thinking about after reading this post, and realized is even more than i would have thought had i not spent some time cataloguing it -- but really, it's huge. you are part of why i am a writer, you are part of why i am the mother i am, you are part of why i embrace my faith as i do (and don't), you are part of why i have been able to recover from anxiety -- you, your passion, your wit, your creativity, all of it. i owe so much to you.

love marta

Jo, I came here today because I missed you on facebook and noticed your account was gone. I respect your decision to do what you are doing and if it helps you, then I am glad.

I was trying to think of a way to articulate my feelings about this post, and then I read what Sean wrote, and I couldn't agree more or say it in a better way. I've been inspired by you, I've wanted to be more like you. I've admired your honesty and your keen insight and intelligence. I've shared laughter, absurdity, outrage, joy, and pain with you for more than seven years. It's been an unfair relationship because you've given more freely of yourself than I have. I was happy when we hooked up on fb so you could see part of my life, too, since I'd been privy to yours for years.

Only you know how you feel and you can determine what you need right now along with your loved ones and therapist, but from the bottom of my heart I urge you not to be embarrassed of the parts of yourself you have shown us here or on facebook. You've been a kindred spirit and someone I admire. I know we don't always present all of our real selves via these channels but I feel like I know you well enough to love you and wish you all the best.

I can't say anything better than what Sean said. And I don't know you aside from having read/followed your internet output for many, many years. So I will repeat Sean's words:

I know good writing, I know good comedy, I know good research, I know the value of something that comes from a good and engaged heart, and you have all of these things.

So I don't know you "IRL," but I don't much care. You have shared important ideas, insight, information, fabulous warmth and delicious humor over the years. Do what you need to do, you have nothing to apologize for here on the internets. It has been a better place for your presence.

What ever you choose to do or not to do, you have the love and admiration of a middle-aged goofball in Berkeley. FWIW.

I was a regular reader of your blogs for many years, until you stopped blogging. Every so often I check back and I was glad to see, the last time I did, that you were blogging again. Now I check in again to see the most recent posts and my heart goes out to you. I don't know what to say except that I hope you feel better soon, and listen to Sean because he knows what he's talking about.
Personally I have often wished I could be as brave as you are in "putting it out there". Your words make others feel less alone. But if sharing your pain is bad for *you*, and I understand how that could be, you are totally right in taking a break from doing so. But you should never be embarrassed. You're a really good and honest person who has been willing to share the truth of her experience. You are a smart and creative person no matter what you do or what you think about yourself. Take good care and I'll keep checking back.

No, no, no, no, no! It can't be bad to write and draw and create. Especially when you (Jo) are so talented but even if you weren't - creation and expression are good! This doesn't read like clarity, it reads as depression. Manic depression.

I have been reading you for YEARS (many many) and I have never commented. Never anywhere, on any blog. I am...awkward even in the virtual word.

BUT, I have been reading and it is because your writing is good & you are likable!

What your husband said.

From an awkward internet stranger.

When I read your post, I thought: "That's the 'depressive' in 'manic-depressive' talking." And I realized that you'd never really shown that side on your blog or on FB before. I felt a big rock in my stomach. No wonder you want to get better. And if you need to drop both FB and the blog to put yourself on the road to healing, well...you do that.

But I'll still miss you. (Even though I've never met you. How weird is that?) For what it's worth, I don't care what mood your writing is coming from, ever. It is all you, and it's all wonderful. Like Claire up yonder, I've learned SO MUCH from you. The knowledge and insight I've gained from your writing has made a distinct difference in the trajectory of my life. I thank you for that.

And whenever you return, I'll be here.

I thought of you at the natural history museum in NYC. Somehow, the early camel bones reminded me of your sketchbook- a record of reality sitting in the middle of a culture that denies it. All of the little camels who died in piles on top of each other are part of the evolution that lead to playing at the creek, that lead to each Facebook post, each blog, and the evolution of yours and every life you have served, inspired and touched. You can throw away your art if you want to, but you'll still be part-early camel and I'll still be inspired by you, exactly the way that you are and exactly the way that you have been. And I'm not even worried for what you will become. It doesn't matter in what state or in what medium it is expressed. To loosely quote you and remind you: You are here to love and be loved.

Early camels don't wind up in display cases until their process is over. This is what can be disconcerting about sharing a process. There is no fixed goal. It's in flux. Sometimes it feels like the final display case, but it's not. Diagnosis or not- You will find great relief in your process if you will discontinue judging it or imagining how it is being judged. 100 people is 100 reputations. There is no right or wrong in this. And there is absolutely no one strolling around the natural history museum saying, "damn. Those early camels were an embarrassment."

You are nature. Just like the creek.

I also echo what Sean said.

My wish for you is that the crushing passes and never comes back with such force. The shame feels so real, I know, but please don't destroy things. When life is more even, when seas are calm, you will wish you could see these things, access them. No matter. I don't believe that this is a world where you don't create. It's okay to move on to something else, but your creativity comes from spirit, not from mania. Someday (soon?) you will begin to untangle the threads and separate the wild from the genuine.
I am not familiar to you, but you have let me access your thoughts and they have helped me, hugely, stay inspired in my life. All the way over here. Thank you.

Whenever you decide to come back to Facebook, I want to be your friend again. Actually, I just want to be your friend, period, because you are awesome and funny and smart. I hope that soon you can start enjoying the products of your creativity as much as we all clearly do.

Oh, Jo, I'm so worried about you...I knew I was missing something on FB - I always looked forward to your musings of the day. Sean has nailed my feelings on the head. Please come back when you're feeling more "even," if that's the right word, but take as much time as you need. We care. - Vicki

I missed you on FB. I always enjoy your posts. Please take care of yourself and feel better and do what you need to for you. Hugs.

I was reading what Sean wrote and nodding vigorously and then I saw who had written it, and whew. I am so glad you're married to someone like that.

And you owe us NOTHING, but we do love what you produce, and telling you that is not a burden.

I missed you on FB and came looking for you too. If you don't come back, I will keep checking in here. If you stop the blog, I will miss you dearly. Doesn't matter that I haven't seen you since maybe 1998. I found you again and have been so grateful for it over the last year. But the Internet has allowed me to be a bad friend, taking anonymously and not giving anything back. So just saying that I'm here. I hate your pain and am sending you vibes of peace and love and strength and patience.

What Sean said. I'll be missing you online and looking forward to your return. Wishing you good things.

You take all the time you need. Your creative expressions in blog forms, fb musings, tweets, etc are always amusing/thought provoking/interesting. But, you should delight in them as much as we do. I am a cheerleader in your corner. Your husband's post said it all.

Thinking of you. I'll be out here missing you until you're ready to come back. What Sean said.

Also know that you have *never* forced yourself on me. (I should be so lucky!) Take care my friend.

Dear Jo,

I'll have you know that just the other week in order to gather data points in preparation for a medical appointment I searched your site for a thread I had recalled (the Diflucan discussion). In fact it was that post and the comments it generated that prompted me a year ago to begin to investigate a treatment that was first mentioned to me a decade earlier. So that's one example of how your blog has helped others.

I'm sure your therapist and psychiatrist agree your taking a break is a good idea but do not agree with the self-deprecating line of thinking.

Your fourth paragraph sounds so much like depression talking. (I wouldn't usually say that to someone, but here it's in the context you've introduced, so I hope that's okay.) I know that you are in the middle of it, so it is difficult to see. That's why it is great that you have others who care about you and can see it and let you know. You know you can trust what Sean tells you. Can you take him with you to your next appointment, to provide that perspective to the therapist?

Doing nice things with the kids when you can is very good. If the idea that people count on you causes you to feel not valued (which you are) but instead overwhelmed by responsibility (understandable) and failing (which you aren't), focus instead on the fact that those same people love you, and try counting on them!

Please don't let go completely of things that bring you pleasure. Everything in balance, as you try to get yourself balanced.

Refuah shleimah.

Nobody knows how many titrations and adjustments will have to be made before you feel good again, so you're in the midst of a painful time of indeterminate length, more or less like being trapped in a cell with no door, not even seams in the walls to show where a door may have once been; it can appear completely, eternally hopeless. Obviously the poor bastards in this particular cell never get out. Then, one day, at 10:37 AM, 12 days after bringing risperidone up to 10mg because Trileptal alone wasn't good enough, and 30 days since starting Trileptal for the second time, because Lamictal gave you restless-leg syndrome, and 45 days since starting Lamictal, and 60 days since switching from Trilaptal to Lamictal because Trileptal wasn't good enough, the lucky chemistry is achieved, and the door appears, looking like it was there all the time.
Your drugs may vary, but the end-result will probably be rather typical: you'll feel a whole hell of a lot better, and join we your peeps in seeing your general creativity and bawdy intarwebby self-exposure for what it essentially is: deeply sane and profoundly healthy, without a meaningful downside at all, unless you're one of those sick asshats who intend to run for political office or school board or something.
In the meantime, you have to let this crappy, crappy time wash over you and around you, and realize how incredibly lucky you are to have a man like Sean to hold on to while you endure. I look forward to your deliverance from this shit. It will come.

Sean is amazing, and so are you. Focus on you and your people, and all will smooth out. and we'll all be here waiting, cause, well, we like your writing! we like YOU! I liked you when I first met you at that Penny Simkin thing in Harrisonburg. You were the only person in that room I felt any connection to. And here we are. Rock on, chick. we love you.

What everyone else said already, and far more eloquently than I could. Like everyone here, I LOVE seeing your updates on my wall, and FB is a less interesting place without you (fortunately, your sisters are still around to pick up some of the slack). And I was happy when you started blogging again and tweeting also, because it meant more writing from you. We knew each other half our lives ago, but I was SO very glad to find you again after all this time, and delighted to realize that sometimes old friends are just as you remember them. I've never been in the place you are now, so I have no firsthand advice to offer there...but I've seen enough people struggling with similar demons that I'm as sure as I can be that you'll come out stronger on the other side of this. Take all the time you need, lady. We'll be here waiting for you whenever you're feeling better.

What Sean said. It was exactly what I was thinking. I hope you find what you're looking for within yourself, but I kindly disagree that what you are seeing in this moment, and your actions because of it, are to be blamed on clarity. I'm sad to see you pull so far inward, but I also completely understand it (as I am having a full-out FUCK EVERYBODY I'M DELETING EVERY REMNANT AND ASPECT OF MY LIFE FOREVER FROM EXISTENCE freakout right now as well).

I'm not even sure where to start. Sean said it excellently, but I still feel the need to add. Perhaps because I still read, but rarely comment anywhere anymore, expecting people will somehow magically feel my joy, good will, and approval psychicly.
Your writings and creative outlets aren't self indulgent. They have a real impact on those around you. I have "known" you for somewhere near a decade. You've made me laugh, snort, cry, disagree, and above all, think. Yep, think. A lot.
So I need to thank you for that. And I need to beg you to return to creativity, with the help of your support network, when you are ready. But only when you are ready, and only in the ways that make sense for you.
Much love and understanding,

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