Hi, I’m RM! I’m and editor, blogger, freelance writer, bipolar survivor and a green mama wannabe. I used to blog somewhere else then I had teens and had to move my blog elsewhere so I’d stop embarrassing them. Those familiar with my previous blog will understand the RM reference. For those of you who are meeting me for the first time feel free to browse the blog and Welcome!
Why all the secrecy — “code name,” cartoon selfie and nary a photo of my family or myself throughout this blog?
• Because I’m a bi-polar, mother of three teenagers, website owner, freelance writer, blogger, and wife of a highly regarded businessman and youth coach who lives in Small Town, Massachusetts where everyone knows your name (and your business) and they don’t mind gossiping about it, inflating the truth about it, judging you because of it, alienating your children as a result of their own version of it, calling you up all concerned to learn more about it even though you haven’t talked to some of these people in years … and that’s all before they ever read a blog post.
• Because there is still a stigma surrounding mental illness and I don’t want my openness about my own psychological diagnoses to impact my job, my kids, my husband’s business or my relationship with people before I even meet them.
• Because I use my blogging as therapy, and as I say frequently in some of my posts, when I’m blogging I’m saner, more organized, more creative and happier than when I’m not. those who’d like to use my therapy against me or my family, do not need to know who’s writing this blog.
• Because I blog about my life, and that means I blog about my kids, and as I said before, all three are teenagers. So you can imagine what it’s like for my kids to have me blogging all about them — their lives, their struggles, their mishaps and accomplishments, teen angst, embarrassing moments, boy/girlfriend troubles and more. Add to that the chance that using my real identity would in turn reveal theirs …. Fuhgeddaboudit!
So for now I’m RM and my family members are: My Husband, Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3.
About my history with depression and bipolar disorder
The year prior to my bipolar diagnosis (and if I’m being honest, the seven before when my symptoms first began appearing) I lost myself.
The former confident, self-assured, goal-driven, creative, social part of me disappeared.
Simple frustrations would leave me in a puddle of tears. I was irritable and intolerant of everyone and everything. And I began to withdraw into the safety of my home, avoiding socializing with others as much as possible.
Then I was diagnosed with depression, started medication, a new job, and soon I began to return to my old self again, albeit slowly.
Until a year and a half ago, when the same old symptoms returned coupled with some new ones. Anxiety, compulsive thoughts, and a newfound loquacious side of me that had the tendency to get me in trouble and leave me drenched in shame and self-loathing pervaded my days.
I became an unrecognizable shell of myself, sleeping 13 hours each night and, struggling to get through my morning in what felt like a sleep-deprived haze despite the hours of sleep. that haze usually demanded I lay on the couch for just a minute or two, until I could persuade myself to continue on with my day.
And that’s where my children would find me when they returned home from school —comatose and unable to rouse.
I feared this would be my children’s only memories of me, and any trace of memories involving the mom who used to make alphabet cookies and homemade play-do with them; who volunteered in their classroom and chaperoned their field trips; who planned elaborate birthdays with scavenger hunts and buried treasures, and Little Mermaid and Buzz Lightyear photo ops; and who loved them “up to the moon, around the galaxy, between the stars and back again” … would be gone. I was afraid my children would remember me much like my own mother remembered my grandmother — a drunk, depressed, pill-popping shell of a mother, who could barely take care of herself, let alone her kids. (Note: Her eldest grandchildren (my sister and I) were blessed with a very different version of this woman.)
Oh did I mention I self-medicated with a daily dose of wine which amounted to at least two or three glasses an evening?
Needless to say I wasn’t blogging at this time, and I was drowning.
In February 2015 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder — I was manic depressive. And, surprisingly it was a welcome relief.
About this blog
It has been nearly a year on mood stabilizers (after several unbearable attempts at finding the right one). And though the pervasive thoughts and logorrhea were dulled, the depression remained, as did the ever-present and overwhelming feelings of self-doubt and unhappiness. Not even the antidepressant I was prescribed just days before Christmas this year could help.
Why not go to therapy? one might ask. Well, I had been in therapy for years, and I pretty much knew the drill and what I had to do. Many times I would walk into my therapists office and say, “I know I need to do x, y and z, I just need to find the motivation and desire to do it.”
So I began thinking of other ways to find my way back to myself. Which is where this blog comes in.
Months ago I decided I was going to start blogging again. I’m healthier when I blog, happier. But I needed to find a way to blog with anonymity. Some may ask why not just start journaling, nothing required me to put my writing out there publicly to others. But I know from readers of my former blog, that my posts helped a lot of them.They made them laugh.They made them feel less lonely. And sometimes it made their own perceived inadequacies and unhappiness look a whole lot better than they looked before reading a particular post.
So I began the search for a new blog name, that search lasted two months, because anything I came up with didn’t fit. It didn’t feel right.
And then one weekend I received several signs that pointed me in the direction of a new blog. There was an O Magazine cover that shouted out to me in big bold letters “Your are not alone! We’re starting a conversation about anxiety, depression, help and hope”(O Magazine, February 2016). And then a day later I came across another “The Year of You! Unlock the secrets of true motivation and watch your life soar” (O Magazine, January 2016). I also attended a CD launch for a friend that week, and was moved to tears and overcome with a wave of emotions I have yet to define. During the introduction to one of her songs my friend mentioned a women whom she had met at a retreat who had inspired her in the creation of this very album, a women who I read, by coincidence, two days later, was a favorite of Oprah’s. In fact, Snatum Kaur had appeared at a small birthday gathering for Oprah in her Maui home — a surprise to O from some of her closest friends.
Also that same week, after browsing through some recorded tv shows on my DVR, I grappled with the whether to lose myself in an episode of “Madam Secretary” or immerse myself mentally and spiritually in an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. I decided to go with O and randomly chose an episode titled “Living with a Whole Heart,” in which Oprah sat with author Brené Brown who offered advice for overcoming shame and living with a whole heart. I was thoroughly moved, enlightened, and about halfway through the episode I knew, without a doubt, the name of my new blog. I also had a vision for my future and I plan to fill the pages of this blog with excerpts of my life as I work towards creating this vision.
Determined to approach this project differently than others in my life — impulsively, immediately and all in, only to be all out a couple of months later — I sat with the idea and let it marinate for a few days … and soon this simple idea began to cultivate itself into a clear, cohesive, structured writing project and self-healing journey.
I would start an Oprah Project — 365 days of living with O as my guide (utilizing the hundreds and thousands of resources Oprah has made available to the world through the years).
It began on February 29, 2016, my 11th birthday in 44 years (yes, I’m a Leap Year baby), and how fitting to begin a journey back to myself on that very special day of my birth that only comes every four years for me.
But after a month of living The Oprah Project and not blogging about it (and doing some research about reviving my blogging), I decided I needed a better blog title. One that encompasses all phases of my life.
So here it is, and how fitting don’t you think. Because no matter what phase of life you’re at it’s always a juggling act.
Enjoy the ride!