Hypomania aka Fried Brain

My Brain on Overdrive. Totally Fried.

Those who know me well would hardly be surprised to hear (or read) that my mind is fried. Focused? Who me, focused? Nope. Instead, one project or comment gets me going in one direction, another in another direction. I end up juggling multiple projects, with my mind racing and jumping all over the place.

So here’s what’s going on. I’ve intended for a few years now to publish a collection of my blog posts as a book. Not able to import my posts into Scrivener, I labored to cut and paste them back in 2014 and later in 2017.

Recently, I hired Sarah Fader as a book coach, and with her help realized that I have a memoir in me. I’m starting to see them as two separate projects — a memoir and a collection of blog posts or short essays — and am itching to get the posts I had copied and pasted published. I want them off my back, out of my mind. They want to be collected and published. What can I say? The writing demands it!

At the end of May, I’m attending a writers summit where I will workshop my memoir (or post/essay collection, or both). In the meantime, I’m going off in multiple directions, as is like me when overstimulated. Overstimulation, social and intellectual, triggers mood cycling and hypomania in me.

Here’s an example of how reactive I am: In real life and on Facebook, I’m a member of OC Writers. Last Wednesday, writer and group admin Greta Boris posted this question:

It’s Wisdom Wednesday. Keyword: mailing list. Do you have one? If yes, how are you growing your subscriber base? Do you send a monthly newsletter? Inquiring minds want to know.

My first reaction was: “Nope. I’m really bad about it because I find mailing lists obnoxious.” But, then I went ahead and created a MailChimp email list (click on link to a my fancy sign up page on MailChimp), which now has a total of five members. Creating this list involved a crap load of work.

To protect my personal privacy and for basic professionalism, I didn’t want to use my personal email or my personal address. To create an email account using my URL, kittomalley.com, I signed up for G Suite as the owner of my URL. Sounds simple, but I jumped through hoops to verify that I owned every iteration of my URL (kittomalley.com, http://www.kittomalley.com, kittomalley.wordpress.com, etc.).

For a mailing address, I rented a local mailbox. Luckily, the owner knows me and I was able to handle the transaction over the phone and by email, because I was sick when I was doing all this work online. The new mailing address has the added benefit of protecting my privacy online, for I’m licensed with the state of California as a Marriage and Family Therapist. (Recently completed CEUs to renew license.)

Once I had completed all that, as the graphic nerd that I am, I went through several design iterations for the mailing list pop-up, ending up with the least obnoxious: a simple white footer with no graphic design elements that allows readers to scroll my content without clicking to close the form. I’m just asking for email addresses. Don’t want to ask for too much information.

Honestly, I’m not sure what exactly I’ll use the list for. Not to send notifications of blog posts. People can sign up for those through WordPress.com. Rather, to let people know perhaps on a monthly basis the status of my book(s). Perhaps to write a monthly newsletter. Who knows? Just don’t want to inundate anyone with email. Hate email spam, thus my initial reaction.

Oh, I almost forgot. Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, my parents’ fifty-sixth anniversary. My husband and I visited them at their memory care community. Yes, they both have dementia. My father due to alcoholism. My mother secondary to a stroke. Visiting them is always emotional for me. My father asks the same questions over and over. My mother cannot speak and at best understands 40% of receptive speech. She doesn’t understand symbolic language either — the part of her brain responsible for language has been destroyed. Her frontal lobe, too, was damaged leaving her with behavioral complications on top of underlying undiagnosed mental illness predating her stroke. As I’m her daughter and not her psychiatrist, I can’t really diagnose what was going on with her, I can only say that she could be emotionally abusive. Those stories I’ll save for my memoir.

Upon returning from our visit, I decided to take on finishing our income taxes. I had completed most of the return on TurboTax. Just had to go through a pile in my inbox that dated back to my mother’s stroke. Seems that’s what I had put on hold. Going through the papers triggered painful memories. As I look at the dates on documents, I recalled what we were going through at those times.

My mother had her stroke one month after my son started at a new private high school due to his health problems and frequent absences. My son still struggles. Honestly, as the parent of a son struggling with multiple complex intertwined health issues, I feel like a failure. I do not have a magic wand. I cannot take away his suffering. I cannot make him get up out of bed. I take him to doctors. I try to get him to eat, or at least to drink.

Sounds like a lot? It is. I rely on my husband. We order take-out. I write, I blog, for I can. It’s something I can do. Something I can control in the midst of so much I cannot control.

Thank you.

How Many Books Am I Writing?

How Many Books Am I Writing?

So, up to last September, I copied and pasted blog posts into Scrivener with the intention of publishing them as a book. My old posts get lost in my archives. As I’ve mentioned before, Scrivener is a challenging writing software program, even for this lover of technology.

The brief introductory overview of my mental health journey is growing into a full blown memoir. Those old posts just can’t wait for me to write a full blown memoir. They want to get printed in ebook and paperback form now. They insist that I can work on the memoir once my mind is clear of them.

Though I have ancient history creating marketing collateral, websites, and newsletters, I have never formatted a book. Not only that, but for all its hype, I’m not loving Scrivener. I organized my posts and downloaded a draft ebook today to see what it looked like. Not horrible, but not what I want… At this point, I need to learn how to reformat the book.

Do I get those posts off my back and into print form? Do I focus on writing the memoir? I know that I can do both… but… I have to pace myself, prioritize my time, and focus my energy.

Wish me luck.

Playing with MailChimp. Not Writing.

Am I Writing? Nope. I'm playing with MailChimp. From Me To You. KittOMalley.com

What have I been doing all day? Working hard on my memoir? Fleshing out memories I’ve jotted down on a yellow legal pad and in emails to myself? Editing Chapter One with feedback I’ve been given? Starting my rough draft of Chapter Two?

No. Not even close.

Instead, I’ve created a popup to annoy you. I mean, to let you sign up for my spanking new email list. Honestly, I have no idea how I’ll use the list. Steep learning curve today.

Signing up for MailChimp, I realized that I have to provide a public mailing address. Not wanting to give my home address out to the public, I rented a mailbox (aka “Suite”) at a local business. With that new mailing address, I updated my California Marriage and Family Therapist license address online, further protecting my privacy (you all know how very private I am).

Next, I set up G Suite for my domain, so I can send emails from @kittomalley.com, rather than use my personal email. Headaches in getting Google verifications, again and again for variations of my URL.

Then more headaches in designing my MailChimp popup — going through multiple iterations, until I was happy with the formatting of both the mobile and desktop popups.

Did the popup work when you visited my site? Did it annoy you? Want to sign up? Please…

Quick Update

What’s Up?

What’s Up with Me?

This morning I woke up feeling sick to my stomach. Unlike my son, feeling crappy doesn’t keep me from eating nor do I sleep all day. Even though I was nauseated and loopy, I managed to finish my first chapter of my book. Working with Sarah Fader as my book coach starting last week, I’ve drawn up character sketches, a book outline, and a draft of the first chapter. The first chapter focuses on childhood up to eighth grade: born in San Francisco, five years in Saudi Arabia, two years in Massachusetts, ending the chapter in Rancho Palos Verdes. The second draft will begin with our move to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. My goal is to have a working draft by the time I attend the Sunriver Writers’ Summit in late May.

Parenting a High Needs Chronically Ill Teen

My 17-year old son’s been sick and suffering from migraines (again, still, nothing new). He frequently gets ill, has had migraines since he was a toddler, and struggles with anxiety and depression.

Honestly, I’m exhausted trying to care for him, trying to take him to doctors’ appointments when he won’t or can’t drag himself out of bed, trying to get him to eat when he doesn’t feel well, trying to get him out of bed and to school. He’s been a very challenging kid to parent. Now he’s a young man — a sweet, highly intelligent, and handsome young man — but difficult to help, difficult to parent. I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried.

Recently my husband took him to his psychiatrist (my son has an army of specialists). They agreed on lowering his topiramate dose. My son doesn’t like the negative cognitive side effects of topiramate, nicknamed “Dopamax.” When I took it as a mood stabilizer over a decade ago, I was a complete idiot. My son can’t find words or understand concepts as quickly as he once did. He complains that he used to read his Spanish vocabulary once and had it memorized. Now he has to read it multiple times. I told him, “Welcome to everyone else’s reality. Most people must study harder than you do.”

My son keeps hoping that he’ll outgrow the migraines, which he still may, for testosterone protects against migraines. He had asked to see an endocrinologist hoping he’d be prescribed testosterone, but the pediatric endocrinologist wouldn’t prescribe it. He just told Matthew that he had delayed puberty (late bloomer), and that he’d catch up.

When I heard that the psychiatrist again suggested lowering the topiramate dose, I emailed his neurologist who responded that it was a bad idea, for his migraines return whenever the dose is reduced. Got him back up to his therapeutic dose, but he’s still not 100%. Last night he threw up, as he did once last week. Migraines + viral illness = miserable son sleeping 24/7.