I’ve always enjoyed writing.
I think it more or less started because I had severe speech impediment as a kid. Writing was a much easier way to communicate my thoughts and feelings, often frustrations, than trying to articulate them when I couldn’t say “R,” “S,” “TH,” or the occasional “L.” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed talking (I think I’ve always been described as loquacious) and telling stories and performing, but it took me five years of speech therapy to feel confident ever reading in front of the class or doing oral tests. I was always a little creative, but I never quite managed skill in anything that required work with my hands or reading music or any other sort of artistic expression. As I, and my vocabulary, grew as I encountered very real emotional turmoil, often overwhelming, events and feelings, writing formed an outlet.
As a child I always did well in language arts and teachers would often comment on my depth and detail and propensity for starting sentences with “and,” “but,” or “because” (done correctly, however). Once I discovered that I could essentially make proper run-on sentences using semicolons, I developed a little bit of a knack for employing voice; my sentences often reflected how I spoke, and I’ve never been described as succinct. With my voice came a sort of power to express myself in a way that was cathartic to my heart and mind, but safe and free of interruption.
I didn’t start actually journaling as we think of it until I was an adolescent. In fact, that’s me in the picture around age 12, the summer before I started Junior High School, writing about being frustrated that I was not only being separated from my friends for all but one class, but was sharing six classes with one of the girls who had bullied me in years prior to such a point that it was producing anxiety attacks.
When I first wrote about my experiences, I did so with the intent of helping me process things happening in my life, big and scary things that I didn’t always have the words for – things I could never tell another soul about. Because I wanted these secrets hidden away from anyone who might stumble upon them, I chose to write them as a sort of first-person narrative of goings on, not dissimilar from many of the first-person stories I had read through the years. I added in detail to give depth and so I’d remember it the best I could, and I wrote down conversations as I recalled them (and many years of remembering lines in drama often contributed to my recall).
This meant that I didn’t just chronicle my thoughts and feelings, I often wrote detailed descriptions about my day and accounts of conversations. Even the first words I ever jotted down in my tear-stained green spiral notebook, the real start of intentionally telling my story, were establishing a setting, not “dear diary.”
“It was a cold, very rainy November night,” I wrote with a cheap blue pen. “Most November nights in Oregon are like that.”
Anyone who picked it up might just think I was an aspiring author, working on an assignment or chalk it up to my creativity manifesting in a healthy way. I took my notebooks everywhere I went and took writing in them quite seriously.
I also have a very good memory for detail. While I’m useless at remembering important things like birthdates or anniversaries or any of my passwords for online anything – I can tell you what shirt I was wearing when I told the guidance counselor to go to hell, what I had for lunch the day I was hospitalized, and how many trips to the loo I took to puke my guts out the day I nearly got expelled from college.
You may notice that I will retell stories that are heavy with detail in my blog. As you read you might wonder how I remember as much as I did…. I’m sort of cheating as I flip back and see what was really going through my head at a particular time. I have a lot of memories to choose from!
For twenty years I wrote my life down like this.
Entries span from the smudged ink of that dreary entry, to shaky scribbles forged on a train journey across the Europe, to forced and tiny print written in the corner of the psych ward at St. Vincent’s hospital, to the light and hope filled recaps of my adventures in my rambling teacher days. Sometimes it would just be a sort of anecdote. Sometimes, when mania gripped me, I’d type through the night furiously to clear my head. Sometimes I’d recollect from my very young days; sometimes I’d fish through my travel journals and flesh them out. Some stories started out on a blank page on Microsoft Works on a desktop that ran DOS, saved to a 3.5 inch floppy disk that traveled from home to school with me, and has since migrated through multiple computers in several countries. Others were written straight onto Social Media through my tablet. Some never made it to the digital world.
Until now, when I’ve dug them up and ascribe to them some sort of lesson I appear to be learning, or string them together to tell a cohesive tale of my life. Through my memory and through my journals, my hope is really to process and sift through a lot of what has transgressed to bring me to where I am now.
Bipolarity. That’s what I call it. My ups and downs and all the in-betweens – the things that make me brave, make me angry, make me sad, make me beautiful, and all of the shame, frustration, challenge, success, resilience, and grace in between.
And when I write about it, about my bipolarity and the other things that make me exceptional, I see God’s presence in the ink.
About a year ago I decided I wanted to be more purposeful in my writing. I have a pretty powerful story – at least I think so – and after reading a lot of other people’s powerful stories, I couldn’t help but want to share mine too. Maybe to encourage, maybe to break stigma, maybe even just to get a few laughs (little me in particular is sometimes amusing).
And so I started writing – mostly narrative, but with a few important conversations I feel I can remember as though they were yesterday. Names are often changed for protection of everyone, but I’ve chosen to be as real as possible with the events that transpire. Why bother doing otherwise?
I hope as you get to know me more through my writing, you’ll accept that in most of it I’m more or less a sort of bumbling, often melancholic soul who is writing her story with a chewed up pen in a coffee-stained and notebook decorated in drops from paper cuts, realizing somewhere along the way that this, my, story needed a hero, that the hero was Jesus, and that He enjoys a proper plot twist.
It’s an adventure.
Adventures with God in Bipolarity…
… with my pockets full of lithium.
Not sure where to start? How about an introduction…