Writing My Book and Speaking Out Loud

Writing My Book. Speaking Out Loud. Stock images of laptop with notepad and pens and auditorium with podium.

I’m Writing

This morning I had a productive and encouraging book coaching session with Aaron J. Smith of AaronJSmithWriter.com. With his help, I’m rewriting my previously self-published work, Blogging for Bipolar Mental Health.

The current working title of the revised memoir is Bipolar Thoughts (or My Bipolar Thoughts – which do you prefer?).

Today we worked on my introductory piece, “My Mental Health Journey,” which chronicles my story of living with depression and bipolar disorder from age eighteen to now. This 5300-word narrative combines and expands on my previously written long-form pieces.

Following the narrative, I’ve organized my writing into sections containing short form pieces which convey my thoughts. The section themes are: Bipolar Thoughts, Write with Purpose, Advocate, and Caretake.

Organizing my short form content into these sections overwhelmed me. But, I chipped away at it over time and got it done.

When I first published my book, I cut and pasted content from my blog. Though I knew it was duplicative and needed rewriting, I found the prospect of a major overhaul daunting, overwhelming, paralyzing.

Aaron has been a HUGE help in breaking down the tasks at hand.

My next step (my homework before our next session) is to write a compelling conclusion to “My Mental Health Journey” about why my story matters to me and how it matters to share it with you, my readers.

After that, we will edit the short pieces.

Public Speaking Gig

Writing the conclusion to my “My Mental Health Journey” will have to wait until next week, for this Friday I was invited to speak at a downtown Los Angeles high school mental health assembly.

My first public speaking gig as an individual independent of any major health non-profit!

The speech is scheduled to be 25-minutes long. That’s a LONG speech! I’ve spoken for NAMI Orange County (NAMIOC.org) and for the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF.org), but never by myself in front of an auditorium and never for 25-minutes straight.

Assuming the principal’s approval pending a background check, I’ll be hard at work this week on the speech. My plan is to repurpose “My Mental Health Journey” into speaking points.

Knowing that doing so will be stressful and overstimulating, likely triggering hypomanic symptoms, I made a reservation at a nearby hotel the night before the speech.

At first, I thought of asking a friend if I could stay with her the night before the event, then I realized that doing so would overstimulate and exhaust me even more.

Socializing gets me going in a bad way. I ramp up. I get overexcited, anxious, irritable. I speak faster, filling the air with more and more words. My thoughts race. I can’t concentrate. My mind stops, free falls, unable to find what it’s looking for. It’s exhausting.

The night and early morning before I speak, I need no distractions or stressors. Not only must I avoid social stressors, I must avoid the stress of driving in Los Angeles gridlock. I need peace and quiet.

Wish me luck! I welcome your prayers and positive energy as I prepare for the speech.

Love, Marriage & Mental Illness

Happy Anniversary to My Beloved! Love, Marriage & Mental Illness. KittOMalley.com
There’s hope. You can find and nurture love when living with mental illness.

Been married 22 years today. Started dating 25 years ago. Some of us living with mental illness can and do have stable relationships. Some of us need someone else in our lives. My husband and I support each other, help each other, complement each other. Plus, we made a kid, now a young adult.

Not easy. Not by any means. Stressful to love someone with mental illness or another chronic illness. Caretaking is not easy. But, it’s worth it. At least for us it has been.

Important that you express gratitude. I’m thankful for all my husband does for me and our son. Thank you, sweetheart.

My Eulogy to Grandma

Sitting on bed holding up end of small bow tie quilt
Here I am back in February 1993 with the quilt I made.

This afternoon I came across the memorial announcement for my grandmother’s death (which brought tears to my eyes) and the eulogy I wrote for her memorial (which I share with you, for I still believe that God calls us to carry on).

My Eulogy to Grandma

February 1993

I brought this quilt here today because, for me, it symbolizes what I believe God calls us to do when an ancestor, when someone we love, dies. I made this quilt the past two weeks out of scraps from a quilt Grandma and my mother made eight years ago, as they mourned my grandfather’s death. Making this quilt helped me to mourn the loss of a wonderful, loving and generous woman, to have hope for the future, and to carry on Grandma’s work.

As I sat in bed with the flu these past couple of weeks, thinking I’d be too ill to join you in mourning Grandma’s death, I was struck by her endless creativity, by the gifts she bestowed on us, and the traditions she passed down.

Looking at the quilt and afghan Grandma had made filled me with respect for her creative talents and hope for our future. Hope, for in marrying Grandpa and loving him devotedly, and in giving birth to and raising her daughter and son, she laid the groundwork for future generations. We – her children, grandchildren, and those who dearly loved her – have been blessed as the recipients of her many gifts.

Margaret Mary Hebner taught us all a great deal. I remember her teaching me how to sew, knit, crochet, needlepoint and embroider, bake bread, make ice cream and granola from scratch. She taught us how to love devotedly and generously, as well.

I will remember her always as the perfect grandmother – generous, creative, and loving. We were truly blessed to have been created and loved by Mary Hebner. She nourished us well with her many gifts.

Small Steps

Small Steps. Me & My Dad.
Never too early to learn good oral hygiene (I was probably teething)

Progress sometimes comes in small steps. This weekend I walked the dog with my husband, which meant I stepped away from my computer and actually went outside.

Beautiful outside. Weather warm. Sky clear. Saddleback Mountain gorgeous, every nook and cranny visible as if I could reach out and touch it.

Honestly, I find it hard to overcome inertia, to get up and get out. But when I do so, when I go outside, I benefit. My mood improves. My spirit lightens. Both my physical and mental health reap gains.

Sunday I even ran a car-load of stuff to Goodwill, including my father’s old clothes. My father died a year ago next week, and I’ve been holding onto his old clothes since then.

To remember him, I’ve kept his flannel shirts. Wearing his flannel shirts, I feel enveloped in the warmth of his love, like I’m getting a big hug from him.

When we were little, he’d call us over for big bear hugs, but there was nothing rough in his hugs. Just love. Protective love. The big loving protective hugs of a father for his daughters.

My eyes are tearing up now. Good tears. I was loved. I loved my dad. He loved us dearly and deeply.