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July 14, 2012



It's hard (almost scary) to read this since I've always loved your writing so much and felt thankful that you were writing and sharing your thoughts with us. I imagine it must be scary to be going through this period in which you're now aware of your diagnosis and trying to adjust the medication while looking back into your life and figuring out how it's been and how it can/will be. I imagine it must be way harder to write this than for me to read it (and it's a stupid thing for me to write such an obvious thing).

virtual hugs, my friend. I don't quite know what to write and I hope that it somehow helps. We're here for you, and we're touched by your story too, as we've always been. I think giving up writing (in this case blogging) wouldn't be a good thing for you... but you are the one who knows what's best for yourself, of course, who am I to say this? And yet I do, at least because blogging has been so good to me throughout all these years. Sigh.

I have my own inner demons that occasionally open up my own gross fears and disgust, but cannot fully grasp when another person is dealing with their own minds. I would never have known there was this inner turmoil about your creations if you hadn't said it. It's tragedy that it doesn't give you the full and complete joy to see what you are capable of, and how it positively affects those around you. And I know compliments, however genuine and absolutely sincere, won't be the magic that suddenly helps, so I won't insert any [here]. But please, Jo, "inflict" yourself on this willing world. Keep doing it. The world appreciates it, while at the same time wishing there was a seed of self-appreciation. Much love, Jo.

Ditto, all that [waves hand in general upward motion]. Only you can know what's best for you, but from the outside, this sounds an awful lot like Every Great Artist's Story, Ever. And your writing? Is really, really that good.

Aw jeez you guys!

Lilian, you know, I have felt this way for pretty much as long as I can remember. I did have periods of creativity in college when I was taking classes that required me to make things (studio art, poetry) and then I would kind of wait for a hypomanic period to roll around (not that I knew what that was) and do a LOT of work all at once. And then after the semester was over I would throw most of it away.

And I lately realize that as gross as it is, it does seem to help to talk about it rather than keep it in and assume that everyone in the world feels the same about me and about themselves. (I never could understand how people could be expected to keep portfolios of art, for example.)

So in a way, this is actually the *least* scary time of my life! :) I finally know why this is happening! Huzzah!

And I do think that normalizing discussion of mental illness is important. So just as I once participated in a movement to normalize discussion of infertility by INCESSANTLY TALKING ABOUT MY OWN VAGINA ON THE INTERNET, I will now NEVER SHUP UP ABOUT MY STUPID BRAIN ON THE INTERNET. :) You're welcome, world.

Just one pro tip: be extremely careful adjusting Wellbutrin up or down. No, even more conservative than you're thinking. Even after your mood-stabilizer has been effective for years, slight changes in antidepressants, including Wellbutrin, can send you careening into the sun and surprise, it's 5-years-ago again. The finest shrink can only go on what trends she reads in journals and what she observes herself, and I personally have been responsible for enough "hmmm, that's an interesting response" moments for enough shrinks to have learned that they really can't predict if a change will be positive or not. I once raised Wellbutrin and got problematically irritable. So I lowered it again and got even more irritable. I had to add a new med to treat the irritability, and suspect that if I'd just done talk therapy to deal with the depression that launched the whole affair, I'd still be on just two meds. But I also suspect I want a pony, and so on.

Dan, huh. I am still at half my expected dose -- still doing the step-up -- so I'm not sure whether to hang tight or keep going up the steps.

What Kristin said.

1. There are no rules. There are only the rules that you make up.

2. Life is a creative act. That's why to draw or write or love or take a chance on anything. We already know how it ends. Might as well do stuff while we can, I mean, why not?

2. Destruction makes creation possible. It's ok to tear your stuff up if you want to. If it bothers you that you tore your stuff up, put your drawings away for a few weeks or months. Carry on.

3. When you later visit your work, maybe do so with the intention of learning from it. Let it teach you. Name the best parts (no wrong answers- first instinct is typically the most powerful).

4. Sounds to me like you have a "new language" emerging artistically. It night even be your "native tongue." Exciting. Imagine if you were actually suddenly starting to speak a new language, like, words that you have never heard before suddenly started rolling off the tongue. That would be alarming. And it would be really annoying when others started to tell you how much they like it...

Love you, Creeker.

You are an amazing writer with *real* talent. I've thought so for years!

I have been a long time follower. I have boys the same ages as your girls. I took the road you often pondered -- going for a third. And here's a terrible thing to admit: I partly wanted to get pregnant because it seems to be an anti-depressant for me. Pregnancy is not easy on me and it definitely ups my anxiety, but I'm very comfortable in my anxiety, if that makes sense. (In grad school I had an amazing psychiatrist that told me he thought that if he took away my anxiety (with drugs) it would scare the crap out of me because I literally would be a different person than I'd been my whole life.). Depression, unlike anxiety, is harder for me...it rolls in an out, but it's not a constant like anxiety. Anyway. Yea. I partly wanted a third to take away depression. And now I'm expecting a baby girl (!?!?) in a few weeks.

In terms of some of the other stuff. I have to verbally remind myself that things aren't all or nothing, now or never. You know, verbally allow and accept the possibility that just because I can't or won't at the moment does not mean that I can't or won't ever; that, in fact, it is like that I can or will in the future, but just not now. It takes some sort of burden off. Like in the grocery, when I feel like if I deny buying the chocolate cake then I am making some decision about my lifelong relationship to chocolate cake. I have to remember that my decision now is not one about my whole future, just about the now.

Hey juliag! Wow, and congratulations! I don't think it's a terrible thing to admit, any more than my admitting that the thing that finally shut the door on a third for me is the knowledge that 1) that would mean changing meds or doing without and 2) since both pregnancies brought on bipolar episodes, the odds of a third one having the same effect are pretty darn high. We do what we do, you know?

It is nice to see you again. I remember you.

"I will now NEVER SHUP UP ABOUT MY STUPID BRAIN ON THE INTERNET. :) You're welcome, world."

I hope you really mean that, because there are a whole bunch of us out here who really need (that's NEED, not WANT) you to continue writing.

I think you have to work through the idea that your creativity exists for an audience. I was journaling in a speckled comp book long, long before the internet. No one saw it but me. *So why do it in the first place??* Because the creative process feels right to those of us who need to do it. We have to do it for ourselves first. Sure, people like what I make sometimes and they even (egads!) purchase it. But I do it because I love to do it. I also make and write a ton of utter shit. But that is just part of us. We aren't all Dave Eggers all at once. Me, I never will be. But when I put a little poem together that says just what I'm trying to say, it's a damn satisfying feeling. I love you.

I think hypo mania is like an odd cousin to binge eating. Not the binging of a bag of Doritos and a quart of ice cream etc, but the kind when you eat for pleasure, and then it goes too far and you feel full and sick and contemplating vomiting. The desire to destroy your creations is confusing. It's like you don't even get to own the beauty and spark of the period (hypo manic phase). (((((hugs))) and live

Well -- I have to say that it's not the idea that my creativity exists for an audience. Even if I never show things -- or plan to show things -- to anybody it STILL carries this poisonous shame and hatred with it. Eh. Therapy time. :)

And yet that doesn't seem to apply to blogging. Small mercies, y'all. (I am happy you find it it your liking, though.)

Sarah, that analogy is soooo dead on.

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No. Where did you hear of such a thing? Please tell me your doctor isn't adnidg the Wellbutrin just to try and revive your sex drive? Not only is that WAY too much antidepressants, but it will probably make your sex drive or what little bit you have left completely disappear. No way will it revive it. Sorry.

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