I have worried, often, about writing too much about being bi polar but something changed this week that made me realize I had to write about it more, and, too, the posts I have written about living with bi polar disorder, the struggles, how I cope, and so on, have been some of the posts that have received the most comments, and thank yous, and not just from people who are bi polar but people from all walks of life. All people struggle with things in their lives and my messages about coping, my thoughts about all of it, as well as the self-care practices I have in place that I rigorously maintain, seem to have been of great value to others. And last night I was watching a documentary on J.D. Salinger that was fascinating. Though a novel the whole of The Catcher In the Rye was written out of his personal life experiences, more than most people realize, and one thing he said, the thing that he thought was the most important to him, was to write what you know.
The other thing I watched, a couple of nights before the Salinger documentary, was a film that altered my way of thinking about my work. It was called “Of Two Minds” and included several stories about people living with bi polar disorder. Mental Health issues are still, in so many ways, the great unknown. There is a stigma attached to them for most people. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard something from a person who meant well that went along the lines of, “Wow, when I heard you were bi polar I was shocked to see that you _________.” Fill in the blank. That I write, have taught very successfully for forty years, am an ordained minister, and many other things. I am all of those things, and, at the same time I am Bi Polar which, among other things, makes my life a complex proposition.
I guess what I have come to through all of this is that it is important for me to write about all of these things as well as the gifts and talents that I do have, the work than I can and am doing, and the way that I balance it all. If, through my work and life, as a woman living with bi polar disorder, I can help other people, then that’s what I must do.
A Slower, Smaller, Simpler Life…
One of my biggest fears the last several years was how I was going to be able to make a living. Being bi polar along with a few other things, and agoraphobic, (I had written some time back that I wasn’t going to call myself agoraphobic anymore after getting out more than I had been from absolutely necessity because of the fire, but once in this rental, on March 3, I have barely been able to leave and it has gotten worse ever since, I feel that I need to claim it, not so as to use it as a crutch but so as to openly talk about it in a way that might help others.) the ways in which I can work are limited. I can do a lot from home, all manner of things, but my biggest concern was if I had rough bi polar times what was I going to do to keep a business going, especially private mentoring sessions which is an important part of my income, something that I am good at and work that I absolutely love. My business coach for several months, Dr. Rachna Jain, helped me a lot with this.
When I brought this up with Rachna, afraid what I would do if I had a session scheduled and was having one of the really bad days or times that just coping at all is the best that I can do, she asked me a question that kind of flipped me over and helped me see things in a whole new way. She asked me what I would do if we had a session scheduled and she had to call and tell me that she had the flu and was really sick, what would I do? And I said that I would tell her to absolutely take care of herself, that it was no problem to reschedule, to which she answered, “So why should it be any different for you?”
I was literally stunned. If you have the flu no one would think about having to reschedule, but my fear was that if you have to reschedule because you are bi polar people would think you were just nuts and no one wants to pay a crazy person for mentoring sessions. Such is the stigma with mental health issues. The thing is I am really good at what I do and while I may have to reschedule it honestly wouldn’t happen too often, rarely if ever as it has worked out, except when my house burned down and threw everything out of the water. And people were very kind about dealing with that.
But there were other things. I have taken a number of online business courses, webinars, and so on, and worked very hard at them, and they were all very good, but the focus seemed to be about making the 6 or 7 figure income as soon as possible and moving things along at a much faster pace than it is realistic for me to do, and in the last webinar I was in when I got the nerve to ask a question on the live call a couple of solutions were offered to my question and when I tried to explain that those were not things that would work for me (without going into the whole bi polar thing) I was told that I was being resistant to help. I shrunk down into myself paralyzed with fear and for a week could barely breathe.
One day, I realized that I could do a business but I would have to do it my way. I pulled some things down from the website and am building a business around the things that I can do at home, and when I do the things that I can do I can grow a business that will work for me in my life exploring my gifts and talents, celebrating them, and maximizing them, and I rejoiced inside. I just need to go slower, think smaller to start, simplify what I am doing, and as I get the ball rolling and have enough money coming in I will hire a Virtual Assistant as so many people do now, a few hours a week, to help with the things that I need help with, hence The Spontaneous Art & Life Project & Women’s Circle was born and it is going beautifully. I am in love with these women, proud of the work that I am doing, and can see great room for expansion. There is a way that I can do this but it has to be my way and my way can be a success, it is already happening.
If you are bi polar or have issues in your life that make it difficult for you to work in what is considered the ordinary way, take heart! You can absolutely find ways that work. Be very gentle and loving and kind to yourself. Take the time not only to consider what your gifts and talents are but what, within those things, you can consistently do, giving yourself space to take a self-care day when you need to, and realize that some things that you like to do you may not be able to do ongoing business wise and know that that is okay and just take time to find your way. I will give you a couple of examples.
I love my art. I love my “100 Ladies Project” dearly. But I had to take down the page from my website that was about doing commissions for people. What taking commissions means for me is that I have to get a good chunk of work done within a certain period of time and the deadlines nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. Seriously. I took the page down and the sweet women who have paid me for commissions have been so kind. They are both in the circle and not only know that I work hard and will surely get it done for them, but they are understanding about my situation. However, I don’t want to put myself in a position where I am going to be panic stricken so that I nearly make myself sick, become paralyzed with fear, and can’t do the work at all. That’s what has happened to me. However, I can do my art without those kind of pressing deadlines so I intend to open an etsy shop and create art to put in there. I can do my art and sell it without the deadlines that come with commissions. These things take time to figure out, but as Marie Forleo says, in one of the greatest and most helpful quotes I’ve ever heard, “Everything is figureoutable.” And so it is.
The other thing was that thinking I could blog daily was crazy. It was doable — and I love blogging — before I got deeply involved in my business but I can’t do it all. Henceforth I will plan to update the blog 2-3 times a week. Taking care of my life dealing with bi polar disorder means I can do work that is constructive and sustainable but not if I give myself unrealistic deadlines that impose so much pressure I am just asking for my bi polary bits to act up. No, I must tend them gently, and thoughtfully, and then my life is manageable, even joyful!
Finally I am going to immerse myself in a business course that is just the perfect one for me. It is through the amazing Leonie Dawson’s Amazing Biz & Life Academy. Women the world over are taking her business course and their lives and businesses have been transformed, and the course is heart-centered, real soul work, and you can build a business that works for your life, working as many hours a week as you can, and be very successful. I cannot recommend Leonie’s Academy and course highly enough, and it is the only course I now recommend.
So I am now on my way, slower, smaller, simpler, gentler, and being very kind to myself. I am working with these things with women in The Spontaneous Art & Life Project & Women’s Circle as well and it is truly amazing what is happening through this work. I have created something that I am proud of, something that works in my world as a bi polar, agoraphobic woman, and I am happier than I have ever been to come to this.
Be gentle with yourselves dear souls, very gentle, and always kind, and you will find your way. Never doubt yourself. Doubt the people that say you can’t do it, and just carry on, knowing that you can.
Warm Regards, Blessings & Love to All…