Edited with correct link: 3:36 PM 10/24/2020
I have been struggling with writing this post about the blessing and the curse of having bipolar disorder for over two hours. I have written and deleted, written and deleted. Then I googled and found all of my search words in Inga Stünzner‘s Bipolar disorder ‘a blessing and a curse’: How Ian Higgins sees life through a creative lens. This article is everything I was trying to write. If you want a better understanding of a person with bipolar disorder, read it. If you have bipolar disorder, read it. If someone one you know has bipolar disorder, read it. Please, for me, read it.
Perhaps later I will edit and add more of my own words, but for now someone else’s words say it all.
Indian medicine wheels, Stonehenge, cave drawings, the wheel – when has there not been circles? My own life has come full circle in so many ways. I have named several companies, groups, and events with circle in the name: Circle of Friends, Song Circle, Circle Round.
All humans had to do was look at flowers to know about circles.
MAXIMILIAN Sunflower, New England Aster, Plains Coreopsis, Zinnias, and Cosmos ( My yard – North Alabama)
Do you have a past history of beginning projects you do not finish? I do. Twenty-four days ago, I began the journey of writing my book A Life-well Lived. I have begun and am past the beginning. It is getting to the middle that will be hard. I have promised myself I will write at least five-hundred words a day. For me, the word count is easy; every day is not. Last night at eleven-thirty, I realized I had not written. I managed five-hundred words in thirty minutes.
Sudden stops are not my problem with projects I still believe in. The first two weeks I wrote at the scheduled morning time. Then one day, something happened that I needed to do during that time. Gradually I shifted writing time to whenever I was not doing something else. Remembering at eleven-thirty last night should not have surprised me.
My Life-Well Lived cup arrived in the mail today. Now every morning I will be reminded. An object I can see and touch is vital for me to acheive a long range goal. When I began Golden Ladder and Silver Cradle, my Nashville publishing companies, the first thing I did was pay for someone to design a logo for me. I had cassette labels and inserts, stationery, note cards, and business cards. Those companies exsited for me long before that did for anyone else although others believed in them quicker than they would have without seeing that logo. One Fan Fair a record label assistant called to ask how many passes I needed. At that time Golden Ladder and Silver Cradle were just me. I had created them in others’ minds.
This week someone sent me a text asking how I developed this blog. She is still in the maybe-vision stage. She does not want to begin something she may not carry through with. My advise to her was not to linger too long in the planning stage, to do something concrete. I suggested she get a free WordPress blog, select a free theme, and build the blog. She does not have to actually post until she makes up her mind. She may decide she does not want to invest her time in blogging or that now is not the time. Building the blog does not take the place of planning; it brings the vision into reality.
Stop and think of past projects you have abandoned. Do not worry about the ones in which you no longer have interest. The ones you wish you had completed, start again. Look for something you can see, hear, or touch that will remind you.
I did not order enough cups to give to others, but maybe I will. For now, I am the only one to pour coffee into that cup, already well-loved, and think of A Life-well Lived.
If anyone does want to pay $25 for a cup, let me know.
The book I am writing has a core cast of seven, six of my cowriters and me. I am in the process of Zooming short video chats with each to make my job easier. I can refer back to them when I am writing. This morning’s with Sandy was great – once we got past the first five minutes. We are so relaxed that seconds after telling her I was going to begin the recording, I drifted off into definitely woman to woman “girl” talk. Her feedback helped me, but it is not something I want to share with the world. I did trim those first four minutes. The next minute I have wandered off and am talking to Sandy off-camera. I left it because I laughed and hope someone else does. We can all always use a laugh.
The chats are more about Muscle Shoals than I expected. Sandy has memories of Muscle Shoals in the years I was teaching and out of music that I do not have. From 1997 to 2001, Jerry McGee and Mickey Buckins hosted a weekly writers night at the local Holiday Inn in Sheffield. I am realizing that Muscle Shoals songwriting history is not as well known as the recording history. Also, as good of friends as we are, I did not know her life story before we met. These chats are unearthing some unexpected treasures.
I hope you enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed talking. You may want to fast forward past that first minute or so – unless you want to hear two friends randomly talking.
Mark Narmore and I chatted this morning since he is one of the seven characters in the book I am writing. Mark is one of my cowriters, but I did not know some of what he shared.
(I was not in a rocking chair though it looks as if I were. Learning curve. I knew I would talk with my hands.)
All things in good time is one of my mottos. Now is the good time for me to write a book. I am in self-isolation so have never had more time or focus.
I have been writing ever since I can remember. In the first grade I wrote a story about a goat driving a car and smoking cigarettes. In the seventh grade, I sent a handwritten short story to a major magazine that I am pretty sure did not recieve many handwritten manuscripts not following guidelines. Someone took the time to send a polite rejection letter. I wish I had saved that. Writers seldom throw anything away unless in a state of frustration or temper because the writing is not as good as they want it to be. I still have the story in some box somewhere.
For the last forty-five years, I have been either a teacher or a songwriter. I never could balance the two so bounced back and forth. I am now and have been a songwriter more years than a teacher. I have written hundreds of songs, many journal pages, and a book in that time. The book I did not throw away but have been tempted. I still think the story is good and may write it someday, but the writing itself is not good to the point of bad. Friends who read it had a hard time finding anything to say. I sent it to three publishers, got rejection letters, reread it, and put my copy in a closet.
I retired from teaching and transitioned into songwriting. At seventy-five I am in transition again. I am proud of my age and my life, but there’s something more yet to come. I always know it when I am in transition but seldom know to what. Still writing songs is part of it. Sharing my life with this blog and interviews is part of it. Those I have been doing. The new part is writing books. I no longer feel I am in transiton.
I am still floundering a bit on my book, so I asked my Facebook friends to tell me what they think I should write about. Their suggestions helped me; now I know what I do not want the book to be. The suggestions were to write about my experiences. My kneejerk response to each was no! I do not what to spend months on a book about me. What they want to know will be in this blog. There’s a whole world out there with many conversations. As a writer, I do not want to be wrapped up in me. I want to be more than the sum of my past.
One of the facebook responses, sealed the deal for me. I am a writer. A friend questioned why I would spend that much time (three months) writing a book – what would it accomplish in the end? My response was because I am a writer.
This is my declaration of independence though I did not know it when I sat down to write.
Thank you for being part of my journey.
Have you ever been at a stage in your life when you knew you needed to take action. You did not want to stay stuck. You wanted to find something that would propel you. I have been there and found what works for me.
I have immersed myself in writing. First, I enrolled in Jeff Goins’ Intentional Blog course which is not free. That’s an important point for me. If I have paid for something, I am motivated. Then I attended the virtual WordPress Summit 2020, again, not free. In addition, I have taken advantage of several other free Jeff Goins webinars and e-books as well as other WordPress webinars.
My answer came from a friend who told me I should take the Intentional Blog course. I took her at her word. Only after I enrolled and another friend was so impressed, did I research and realize what a good decision I made by trusting her and taking her advise. I am impressed. Jeff who is the writer of five bestselling books shares his journey and helps others on theirs. You can take my word about Jeff or go to https://goinswriter.com/.
I now have the nuts and bolts to build this blog and to write a book, but as of now they are rattling around in my mind bumping into each other. It is time for me to sort through, organize, and structure not only my writing but also my life. The first leads to the second.
I am a seventy-five year-old woman still journeying through life, a catalyst for others, an avid flower grower and birdwatcher, a quilter, a Muscle Shoals songwriter, a retired educator, and more. Sharing that in words and songs does not come easy. I write songs; I blog. What’s next? A book. I am putting in the hours to do all three well.
You can help me commenting on my posts and emailing me. I am in physical isolation, but I need interaction.Please, go to the Contact page and follow me and/or subscribe to my email for a weekly email.
Zinnia, Phlox ,Plains Coreopsis, Bachelor Button, Cosmos, New England Aster, Vervain, Five Spot, Larkspur, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Corn Poppy, Marigold, Wild Columbine, Evening Primrose — all grown from seeds except the New England Asters.
Zinnias, coreopsis, black-eyed Susans, daisies, echinacea, larkspur, cleome, sunflowers, four o’clocks, butterfly milkweed, cosmos, asters, marigolds, poppies, phlox, bachelor buttons, amaranth – in abundance in my yard each spring, summer, and fall. I plant seeds; Mother nature does the rest. Nurseries sell these plants in pots ready to put in the ground. I can not afford buying plant at a time. Why would I when I can buy and save seeds resulting in an abundance of plants?
Some years I have hired someone to break sections of my yard with a rotary tiller and then planted seeds. The last two years I have not connected with anyone with a tiller who will work for me, so I have pulled weeds and grass and dug spots with handheld garden tools. I either knell or sit on the ground to accomplish this much harder step. If I could find hired help, I would not do it all by myself. I am seventy-five with some aches and pains. Starting with grass or weeds to get a spot ready is hard but not as hard after a rain.
Look what grew from seeds in the spots I dug. I would say a huge return on the investment of my time and energy. I garden with Mother Nature. I use no marketed insecticides, herbacides, or poisons. I do water on a very limited bases until seedlngs are well established. I use egg shells and coffee grounds as fertilizer plus some marketed ones.
I asked friends what I do well that they would like to know how to do. One answer was growing beautiful flowers. If I offer a four week online course teaching you how, would you be interested? Let me know.
I help people. That’s what I do. I am a catalyst for change. Both of these were easier before Covid19. I have immersed myself in finding ways to help online. This blog and the book I am writing are parts of that. I am taking several online course. Developing my own online courses is next. First, I have to know how I can help. What do I have to offer? What do I well that you would like to know how to do? I have never had so much time available to design online courses.
How can I help you?
Either comment or send me email, or if you had rather, find me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/browncsteph/
Help me help you. I need the energy exchange!
Do you know anyone who struggles with bipolar disorder? If so, I promise you they struggle. If the person is close to you, chances are you have tried to help. I can not speak for them because we are all different. I can tell you what helps me as a person with bipolar disorder.
Nothing frustrates me more than someone who thinks they know what I should do unless they are someone close to me, a psychiatrist, or a therapist or counselor who has had some training or experience with bipolar disorder. The good ones have treated me as an individual and not as a stereotyped bipolar person. That distinction deserves a complete post. Do not think of that person as a bipolar person anymore than you would think of someone with cancer as a cancer person. I still work on not letting bipolar disorder define me. That is why I avoid saying I am bipolar.
If you want to support a person with bipolar disorder, educate yourself on bipolar disorder. Understand it as a medical condition. Talk to your friend or family member when they are not in the middle of or edging toward mania or depression. Encourage them to get professional help. This is important. They will not listen any other time. Even when in good place, they are likely to be defensive. They are unlikely to listen to logic. Hopefully your family member or friend will not have to be hospitalized or pose a threat to themselves or others. At that point, you do have to intervene by getting them to professionals. Do not make light of or be unaware of the statistics. Again, that deserves another post.
I have a group of family and friends who have my daughter’s and my brother’s contact numbers. They are my safety net. They are the ones I will likely listen to when I am edging toward a hypo-manic episode although I usually argue with them. I was diagnosed twenty-six years ago. I did not always trust them or anyone. You may ask why manic and even hypo-manic states are dangerous. Those are the times I may make rash decisions with long range effects, spend money impulsively, get into bad relationships, burn bridges I later wish I had not, think I am right about everything, and talk over everyone. I understand when people judge me based on those times and not normal times, but I wish they would not.
I am not ashamed that I got professional help, was hospitalized, am medicated, and still trust only a psychiatrist to prescribe. I am often told meds are not good. I know how wrong they are and how much they are putting their friend or family member in danger if they tell them that, but I do not try to educate them. Sometimes someone tells me they to do not think I have bipolar disorder. I take it as a compliment unless they actually think they know more than my psychiatrist, my family, close friends, and I. I do as well as I do because I stick to meds and take care of myself even when I am in a good place. I never think I no longer have bipolar disorder. I have tried and true strategies that usually work for me. My mantra is eat, sleep, take meds. Sometimes no matter how hard I try I go too high or too low and then rock back and forth between the two until I come back to center. Over so many years of coping I know I will get my balance again. I did not always know that. I am writing this because I am struggling a bit. Lately I have been full of energy and motivated but not so much now.
Do not expect to understand. Just let your friend or family member who is quietly struggling know to you they are an individual not a bipolar person. Do not think they could behave differently if they tired. Do not dismiss them or their disorder. If you are tempted to, research the statistics. Statistics
Stephanie C Brown Songs page has been updated. Some new songs. Some old no longer available.