Burnt out with Bipolar Courage
I throw myself with great passion into projects but inevitably get burnt out. My mental health advocacy as Bipolar Courage is no exception. I have actually been burnt out with it for a long time. This is my last blog post for Bipolar Courage. (Update: I wrote a few more blog posts (there was still some stuff to process) and done now.)
My first blog post for Bipolar Courage was in 2019, expressing what a depressive episode felt like. Starting a blog was an attempt to distract me from that, when I had setbacks with working on my first novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice. Then I moved onto vlogging.
Technically, my first advocacy vlogs were back in 2017, under a different channel, since deleted. Some of that footage, when I was off meds, is in a playlist on Bipolar Courage.
Starting to have a voice
I had blogged before, with Xanthe Wyse originally as my pen name, as I was too conflict-avoidant to express my opinion, unless semi-anonymously.
Later, in 2015, just before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I legally changed my name to my former pen name. I also deleted my previous blogs, hundreds of hours of effort, which had won several accolades.
Xanthe Wyse was the start of my having a voice, since 2008, after I won a major prize in an Australasian writing competition for an essay about mental health. Back then, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, before my main diagnoses were changed to bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.
I first attempted to vlog about processing trauma was in 2017 when I was off medications for bipolar disorder. I was starting to process trauma, in creative ways, while on a waiting list to see a clinical psychologist. That's how I managed to capture footage of elevation into mania (I didn't realise at the time what was happening). The compilation video made later for my vlog on YouTube is my most viewed video, ever.
The video doesn't even show a fraction of the rough time I had for months afterwards, most of which was not recorded. I pieced together the main events and triggers and wrote them into Pet Purpose, as I wanted to communicate what was going on on the inside and outside, from what was mostly not recorded on camera.
I am still an introvert and it's exhausting for me to speak on camera. I used to be mute as a child and under stress, I can be as an adult too. My mutism is now considered by clinicians to be social anxiety disorder and autism spectrum features, as it predated the childhood trauma.
Why I did a vlog
I decided to record video for these reasons:
1. to show that bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder isn't what most people expect
2. to address stigma with education and sharing my lived experiences
3. my diagnoses still show despite treatments (medications, therapy). More manageable but still visible. Video shows what the written word cannot.
4. it was a form of processing. I usually find writing to be easier but at times, it became easier to say something on video, to figure out what I was feeling.
5. to share my perspective with what clinicians (psychiatrists, psychologists) have said about and to me.
I haven't had too many trolls on YouTube. A few insulting my appearance (weight gain as a bipolar ?medication side effect). Ironically a few who said they followed me because they liked the weight gain (who knew that bellies are actually sexy?) There were some who insisted I must be self-diagnosed and that I must be an actress and don't want to get better. Unfortunately, stigma remains.
I haven't accepted any donations from my advocacy. I don't make a profit from my art or my books.
Where to from here?
I am tired of being pigeon-holed as being all about bipolar disorder. I have fought against the trend to make diagnoses into identity. I have several diagnoses - they are medical conditions, not identities.
I want to focus on what gives me meaning the most, which currently is my art (paintings, writing). I don't have a lot of energy consistently. I have a big surge, do something, then I am unable to do much for weeks. This is despite treatment.
Stressful events this year
I have been very drained by a battle with Accident Compensation Corporation, ACC who paid for my treatment for PTSD but spent more on psychiatrists and lawyers to fight me than to pay out the pittance in compensation for the mental injury I am still stuck with. I am eligible by law for reassesment, so I am expected to have that sometime in the next few months.
I am also waiting for a date for semi-urgent surgery above my lip for skin cancer (basic cell carcinoma).
I will need the sanctuary I get from nature to help get through these very challenging situations. My clinicial psychologist has applied for another year of therapy with me (at least ACC paid for the therapy, I suppose).
Easter has been a very stressful time for me, as it is the 9th anniversary of a big trauma linked to PTSD. I have been making some changes. Bought a golden yellow blanket to replace the purple one my mother loaned me. Xanthe means yellow or golden. I happened to see three sunrises in three different places over Easter, on a family roadtrip. The pic I posted on this blog is from that road trip, which I am still recovering from.
I had already started a website, Soar Purpose, a year or so ago. My Soar Purpose channel on YouTube is a space where I have been sharing some of my nature and bird video clips, without the pressure of speaking while facing the camera. I am behind the camera in all clips, and avoid speaking. It's where I have gone when I am down, vulnerable or exhausted, to rejuvenate.
The website is live but needs reorganising as I am developing my vision. I think Soar Purpose is going to be a centralised place for my creative expression (without talking in front of a camera). Soar Purpose is also a sequel novel title. A novel I will take ages to complete, I expect.
Thank you to all my supporters and subscribers. I won't completely go away just yet. I just want to be a bit more 'behind-the-scenes' ie behind the camera instead of in front of it.
I still need to set up my social media links to my website etc for Soar Purpose, so people know where to find me. Not sure if I will use it much but I set up a LinkedIn under my name, Xanthe Wyse. I think setting this up has been the turning point for me deciding about leaving advocacy behind and looking foward.
I had therapy today, and my psychologist said it's a good thing I am starting to look forward. I am looking forward with possibilities, in my own time frame.
I will make a low-key announcement when my memoir, Bipolar Courage is ready. I will blog occasionally on Soar Purpose and share some of my nature photos and videos but I will mainly try focus on completing and self-publishing the memoir this year.
I recommend blogging for anyone starting out in writing, as it's much easier to complete a blog post than to complete a book that has interlinking chapters (not just a series of essays). A blog post can be as short or as long as you like. It's easier to edit a smaller chunk of writing that might be linked to somewhere else.
I like to switch between different forms of creative expression as I will get burnt out with a project if I spent too long on it, whether a week or years.
I feel that I express myself better with visual arts and in writing rather than with speaking. Books are very challenging projects for me, which is why I do them. No fixed deadlines. In my own time, with my own goals.
Well, this blog post turned out longer than I expected, given how tired I am. Need to take the time to recharge and rest and then to try carry on.
Soar Purpose blog
I will blog at times, from this point forward at soarpurpose.com
I have updated new social media links on there.
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I am no longer blogging or vlogging as a mental health and disability advocate. The politics of it is too toxic for me.