I have faced a central choice point, a strategic decision, in the creation and ongoing writing of this blog. What voice do I come from in this blog – do I hold a professional/expert persona or add my unique personal, survivor’s voice to the general dialogue about bipolar disorder. My answer has been to try to do both.
The hallmark of this blog will be to explore bipolar disorder through my personal experience – one survivor’s voice. I will share my experience, my journey, with sometimes harrowing honesty, knowing that I run the risk of some people – especially other professionals and “experts” writing me off as “still too ill” or “not healed enough”. I will place a primary value here not on being healed (are you ever really fully healed from this disease? I feel suspect of anybody who claims to be) but on the road to healing. I feel confident that my healing process is on track – that I have the supports in place, have already done lots of work, and have a vision of where I am going.
But my path is still sometimes very rocky, and I am choosing to share that also. I know that this approach will speak powerfully to my brother and sister survivors. But I also think it can be useful to anyone – helper or family or friend – who wants to really understand this disorder from the inside, from someone who not only has been there, but is there. The title of this blog, after all, is “bipolar integrity”. I am primarily in this blog emphasizing integrity as referring to wholeness, which comes from integrating your manic and depressive sides. But there’s also no way to get around the conventional understanding of the word integrity – honesty, ethics. If I don’t call it straight here – tell my personal truth, let you see me as I am – I maybe ought to pick another name for the blog
But mine is also a voice that has been shaped by 20 years of working as a clinical psychologist – who by nature and training is oriented towards theories, towards deeply understanding what this is all about. And I’m by training and background a researcher – someone who wants and needs to go beyond personal experience to data, what am I specifically, tangibly learning about this disorder. So I will share theories, but they will primarily by my theories – my current understandings (shaped partly from my grounding as a mental health professional) of how this disorder works. If you want coverage of what the mental health establishment is saying about bipolar disorder, there is lots of this out there. I will also, in time, try to provide links to places where you can find this,
Similar to the choice between playing the expert on this blog or presenting one survivor’s experience and understandings (I am walking the line of being both), I have faced the choice of how much to position this blog according to the competitive marketplace. Some of my friends have encouraged me to do extensive research about what is currently being published in the field. How are other blogs set up, especially very successful ones? They say I need to learn the formula for success in this field – and need to take great pains to establish my own niche. My decision in regard to this “competitive intelligence” has been “in due time”. I want first to find my own voice and present my take on things. I don’t want, yet, to be influenced too much by what other people are doing or writing.
There’s also the question of the technical vs. the content dimension of publishing a blog. Some would tell me to not put this blog out there until I have done more with the design elements of this blog – to make it prettier, to give it more bells and whistles. i do want to do these things: an attractive blog is more satisfying to read and if i am going to emphasize creativity and uniqueness, it will be good to make this blog more aesthetically satisfying and give it a fresh look. And I am already trying to add lots of photos to the blog, to go beyond strict text, to make it prettier and more aesthetically satisfying this way. I am only a beginning photographer, but taking photos for the blog is also creatively satisfying for me. One voice in me says that I should hold off putting my photos on the blog until I am a better photographer (I am already working on that, and it’s a lot of fun) or have learned technically how to lay them out better on the page, but my instinct is to jump right in and share them – and to break up the tedium of non-stop text. I’m not even insisting of myself that the photos have anything directly to do with the content of that post – enough for them to be pretty and give the post something beyond words
But i don’t want to wait until the technical and design elements of the blog are more in place to start putting the information out there – there will be time enough later to focus on this. I do want eventually to do enough research about what else is on the internet – other blogs and websites – to be able to list good links here, to be able to steer you readers to what else could be helpful to you, especially what else might complement what I am offering, to fill in the gaps.
Some people would say that you should put up posts max 1x a day – that more than that will just annoy your followers and they will unfollow you. But the artist in me says “Don’t refuse the Muse” – I’ll just post them as they come and trust that it will all work out.
One final choice on the blog has been how rigorous to be about making all the posts directly focus on bipolar disorder. I have here made the choice that, since the quest for a bipolar person – as I see it – as for wholeness, to become a complete, authentic human being, then if I have something to say or a telling experience to describe about this journey towards radical integrity (my term for this wholeness), then I will share it.