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.

Amazon Women Fight with Words

Amazon Women FIght with Words. Kitt O'Malley, Warrior. Sarah Fader, Coach.
Amazon women fight stigma with words.

Intuitive Coaching & Tarot Reading

Thank you, Sarah Fader, for your intuitive book coaching session and for being a wonderful, supportive, understanding, compassionate friend. Here are the notes from our Sunday, April 8th session, which actually was an intuitive Tarot card reading.

Notebook by bed. Wake up. One page of what thinking. Stream of consciousness. Take pic with phone. Post as blog post. Invite community to comment on it. Whoever can read it will give you insight.
Keep a notebook by my bed.

Notebook by bed. Wake up. One page of what thinking. Stream of consciousness. Take pic with phone. Post as blog post. Invite community to comment on it. Whoever can read it will give you insight.

Talk to self like talk to clients. Not perfection. In morning when first awake, you are free and sedated (sleepy, not quite awake). Actively dream. Take 250mg Mg (magnesium) (Sarah recommended Natural Calm, but it has calcium and my blood calcium was too high when I took supplements with calcium). Compassion. Take care of yourself. Self compassion. [NOT] inner critic road.
Exercise self-compassion. Quiet the inner critic.
Talk to self like talk to clients. Not perfection. In morning when first awake, you are free and sedated (sleepy, not quite awake). Actively dream. Take 250mg Mg (magnesium) (Sarah recommended Natural Calm, but it has calcium and my blood calcium was too high when I took supplements with calcium). Compassion. Take care of yourself. Self compassion. [NOT] inner critic road.

Kitt, I am so sorry you feel this way about you. I am deeply sorry that you feel this way about yourself. Read Sarah Fader's blog post about parenting an ODD child. Must look at self differently. Stop owning perceptions of other people of yourself.
Look at yourself differently. Stop owning other people’s perception of you.

Kitt, I am so sorry you feel this way about you. I am deeply sorry that you feel this way about yourself. Read Sarah Fader’s blog post about parenting an ODD child. Must look at self differently. Stop owning perceptions of other people of yourself.

Validate other's feelings. I'm doing the best I can. Kitt, you are a brilliant, talented, educated, wealthy person. Writer's Block: [memoir draft so far] banal, not you. You are telling a story that belongs to you. You are holding back because you are afraid to hurt people.
Writer’s Block: I hold back, for I fear hurting people
Validate other’s feelings. I’m doing the best I can. Kitt, you are a brilliant, talented, educated, wealthy person. Writer’s Block: [memoir draft so far] banal, not you. You are telling a story that belongs to you. You are holding back because you are afraid to hurt people.

Channel that part of yourself that wants to fight in your book [memoir not yet completed]. Put secrets in book. Will feel bad. Be prepared. Maybe depression. That's OK. BeReal. Stop therapizing yourself. Go back to that warrior part of yourself. Amazon woman. Fight with your words.
Amazon Woman, Fight with Your Words
Channel that part of yourself that wants to fight in your book [memoir not yet completed]. Put secrets in book. Will feel bad. Be prepared. Maybe depression. That’s OK. BeReal. Stop therapizing yourself. Go back to that warrior part of yourself. Amazon woman. Fight with your words.

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.