The Commentologist

funnyThis week has been draining due to poor sleep and losing my patience with my two spirited young girls far too often.  Meanwhile. I’ve been sooooooo frustrated with writer’s block, which, coincidentally, happened as soon as I stopped writing over thirty minutes consistently.

Apart from reading L.E. Henderson’s book A Trail  of Crumbs to Creative Freedom: One Author’s Journey Through Writer’s Block and Beyond (the perfect book for me as she insightfully addresses bipolar disorder, creativity and writer’s block),  I’m following some well-known writing advice.  The advice is to simply write and not worry about what you’re producing.  It can all be trash, but the point of the exercise is to move the hands and engage the brain and one’s pen…or laptop keyboard, if you’re like me!

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As simple as that advice sounds, I can’t write gobbledygook – I need to write about something that interests me.  Today my topic focuses on Facebook friends, commenting, reading blogs, commenting on them and “liking” posts.

I’ve been thinking about all these things for some time now.  Last year I had deactivated my Facebook account.  After reactivating it last fall, I noticed I had no meaningful connection with hundreds of my “friends”, so I trimmed down my list.  My guiding rule was to unfriend people I had no contact with for over a year, with the exception of longtime friends and a few other people.

I had two fall-out experiences as a result of my choice.  One person I barely knew messaged me and wrote that she didn’t understand why I was no longer Facebook friends with her.  I explained my rationale and then I  friended her in a feeble attempt to people-please.  She accepted my invite, but I haven’t heard a peep from her since.  

The other person who messaged me gave me a harder time, and I wrote about that in a previous post because she acted so weird.  I totally stand by my decision, but unfortunately I know I’ll be seeing her this summer face-to-face.  My husband told me last weekend she showed up at the community pool and she’s an avid member, as is our family.  Oh well – if she’s angry, she can’t drown me there – there are too many lifeguards!  Plus I’m pretty strong these days and can kick some serious ass.  Don’t mess with a mom with bipolar!

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As far as Facebook goes, obviously there are pros and cons to using it, but so far the pros have outweighed the cons for me since I reactivated my account.  I’ve “met” some wonderful people, and lately  it has been the ideal vehicle to share my puppy pictures with everyone.  (I realize that these folks don’t need to see 30 pictures of me and Lucy within two weeks, but I figure they can give me a well-deserved break!) For now I’m remaining on Facebook.  I do spend far too much time using it; precious time that could be spent on writing my book or blog.  Maybe I should look into those programs that shut you down on Facebook after using your account for an hour!

(I most likely won’t do that.)

I had yet another Facebook-related snafu happen a few days ago.

It began with my sharing a post about an Australian news article that I thought sugarcoated bipolar disorder.  I wrote my opinion about it without apology.  I received a comment from one of my Facebook “friends” who I never see or have communications with.  I’ll refer to her as “Snafura”.  Snafura and I have barely anything in common except for being mothers with bipolar disorder and for living in the same area.  Her lengthy rebuttal to my Aussie article post and her subtle passive/aggressive tone frankly pissed me off!

Snafura generally appears out of nowhere every six months to comment on my Facebook account in her annoying, oppositional style.  I consider this to be a form of lurking.  Meanwhile, I never follow her feed, and I have no idea what’s going on in her life.  That’s just fine and dandy with me.

You’re probably wondering the obvious question: “Why haven’t you unfriended her?”

Well, I haven’t unfriended her because we live very close to one another, and I don’t want to rock the boat if I run into her, which will inevitably happen if I unfriend her according to Murphy’s Law.

I’m not losing any sleep over this, but it helps to “write it out”.  It feels invasive when someone with whom I have virtually (or literally) no contact decides to comment out-of-the-blue and be argumentative.  It also disturbs and annoys me because I would never do that to someone else.

There are different privacy settings on Facebook, and I was thrilled to find one called “Restrictive” in which I don’t unfriend a person, but I can keep her from viewing my newsfeed.  I signed Snafura up for that right away.

Perfect!

When it comes to Facebook and this blog, I’d prefer having fewer friends/followers who scan my newsfeed & blog posts, who “like” my posts, and who make comments at least once in a while, than have 1000 friends who never take a look at my feed once they friend me.  (Forgive me for using all this Facebook-ese and for that gruesome run-on sentence! )

I call today’s post “The Commentologist” because  I’ve decided to make more of an effort to comment in response to posts by the wonderful bloggers I follow.  I read their posts on my Kindle each day, during the forty minutes I work out on my NordicTrack.  

At the very least, I “like” the posts so I can let the author know, “Yes, I was here.  I read your work.”  Then, if time and energy level allows, I write a comment ranging from a couple words to a paragraph.  It’s hard to comment when I’m on the elliptical – my carpal tunnel syndrome acts up in my right wrist.  It’s also not easy to type on a Kindle when you’re sweating buckets!  If I want to write a lengthier comment I make a mental note to do it after my workout.

I want to support the writers I’m networking with, and foster our virtual relationships.  It makes me happy when I see the WordPress orange notification symbol letting me know that someone “liked” my blog post.  A comment makes me VERY happy.  (Yep, I haven’t gotten any mean comments yet!) Because of that, I like the color orange even more than I did before WordPress entered my life.  I know that most of the people who follow my blog don’t read it, which is a bummer.  However, the bloggers who take some time out of their hectic days to respond to my writing are the reasons why I’m blogging instead of privately journaling.

I continue to encounter the super-famous blogs.  I belong to a network in which a blogger has shared how “viral” her posts are. (I’ve held myself back from making a snarky comment. 😉  The bottom line is that I become insecure and jealous of the mega-blogs. I need to stop wallowing in those feelings as soon as they hit me, and move on.  It doesn’t help one bit.  For all I know, these super-famous bloggers might have their own serious problems I know nothing about, right?  I have friends related to world-famous people, and I know it’s not all wine and roses in their world.  Still, when I spot that a blogger has 88 likes on a post, or 100 comments, my face turns green.  I hate that!

Speaking of green, I’ll move on to focusing upon greener pastures…

I’ll continue my study of commentology.  Perhaps I’ll even earn an honorary doctorate in the field!  If I’m following your blog, my hopes are that you will see my comments more often.  At the very least I’ll gladly take a moment to “like” your work to let you know I’ve stopped by and read about what matters to you.

Have a great weekend, you awesome bloggers!

Dyane

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Too Careful

imgresLast week I was inspired by blogger Kitt O’Malley’s succinct-but-potent post titled “No Trigger Alerts Here”.  Her writing served as a welcome catalyst to change my blogging perspective .  Hopefully my altered views will be reflected in this blog in the weeks to come.  However, as usual, I digress!

I was intrigued to learn what Kitt thought of trigger alerts, for I had published a blog post containing a suicide trigger alert on that same day.

In “No Trigger Alerts Here” Kitt asserts:

“I write from my heart and from my mind, not heeding any internal or external censor. That is how I think.  That is who I am.  Each individual reader must decide for themselves whether they can handle reading potentially disturbing material.  The best writing is often disturbing, mining the extremes of human experience.  Reading such works challenges us.  We must challenge ourselves. We must challenge the perceptions of others.”

I posted the following comment in response:

“Hmmmm.  I do agree, without a shred of doubt, that some of the best, most influential writing is disturbing.  I gravitate towards reading that kind of writing when I’m stable.

When I’m depressed it’s a different story.  Give me cotton candy reading, or actually when I’m really down, I sleep and even books can’t drag me out from under the covers and release me from despair.

When I write about suicide in detail, I feel obligated to post a trigger alert.  That sense of obligation comes from reading other bloggers who post trigger alerts – I basically thought it was the ‘thing to do’ in the blogging community, of which I still consider myself to be a newbie.  I admire that fact that you write what you wish to write without internal or external censors – the word that comes to my mind is “freeing”.   I will read anything you write without reservation or hesitation, as long as I am stable!!!”

One of the true beauties of blogging is when we learn from one another and not simply pontificate from up on high.  After reading Kitt’s post, I realized I’ve been really afraid to write posts that may offend readers – readers whom for the most part I’ll never meet.  I’ve been caught up with writing in a politically correct way to the point where my cautiousness has shut me down rather than fire me up.  I’ve felt stilted writing this blog for a long time, and I knew I was holding myself back.  But I had become complacent.  I’m a lazy person and that’s what us lazies generally do – change is scary.

Moreover, I’ve been avoiding writing in depth about topics that are on my mind every day such as body image, sex and bipolar, judgement, binging, family relationships, writer’s block and much more.  I’ve held back because some of my opinions won’t be popular, pretty, p.c., and certainly not poetic!   I’ve enjoyed reading about these subjects in others’ blogs, so it’s rather ridiculous that I don’t allow myself the same opportunity to write about what matters most to me.

The thought that what I write here could turn off someone “important” and “influential” career-wise down the line has lurked in my brain from the moment I started blogging. As long as I’m not throwing around racist terms or write offensively on purpose, it seems perfectly reasonable to write more freely about complicated topics.  Perhaps I’ll include topics and details that might make some sensitive readers press the “unfollow” button, but so be it.

Here’s another truth.  Even though I love to curse, whenever I’ve wanted to insert a foul word here or there in a blog post, I usually don’t do it.  In turn, by tamping down my true self, that has taken juice out of my writing. I’m stopping that habit now.  It’s pointless to freak out about any of this – I’m not even a career blogger  or have a zillion followers, so I don’t need to fret about losing a lot of readers, sponsors or blighting my reputation.

Today, June 1st, it seems like a good day to officially worry less about writing this blog.  I’m more excited than frightened about my resolution.  I may be potty-mouthed, “bipolar-wrinkled” (a topic for another day), frizzy-haired, and anxious, but I’m also silly, compassionate, creative and unique.  I have something unique to offer to the almighty blogosphere.

As a born Jew, I grew up being told that I couldn’t be too careful, and I took in that worldview with every fiber of my being.  While I’ll continue to be too careful in the “real world” in many respects, I will no longer be too cautious in this blog.

Too careful no more! 😉

For more of Kitt’s writing please follow her blog Kitt O’Malley – Life with Bipolar Disorder and Thoughts about God at:

http://www.kittomalley.wordpress.com

 

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My Wacky 2014 Mental Health Hero Award for Mental Health Humor

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Happy Monday Everyone!

I write this while quite bleary-eyed after a poor night’s sleep, so please forgive me for typos and syntax errors etc. more than usual!

Over the weekend I was notified that a customized, super-wacky caricature of yours truly and a brief bio. was published on PsychCentral’s Mental Health Humor section.  

I was honored as a 2014 Mental Health Hero!  

I was selected for this honor by the one and only mental health advocate/cartoonist/writer/DBSA Award-winner/BP (Bipolar) Magazine blogger/mental health consumer Chato B. Stewart.  If you open up the link below you’ll find not only Chato’s caricature of me,  but more illustrations.

You’ll see that Chato’s three young daughters drew their own pictures of me alongside my girls, which I think is really sweet.  Chato told me they get a big kick out of participating, and they’ve inherited an artistic flair for art from their talented father.  They love doing this special project with their dad!

Chato created this award several years ago and it has become an annual tradition.  What makes this year’s awards especially poignant is that over the past few months Chato has suffered from a severe bipolar depression.  He almost let this labor of love fall to the wayside and his three daughters implored him not to give it up.  The fact that he was able to do it is a total miracle in my eyes.

It’s all in good fun, and if you visit the link you’ll note that I’m part of a group of other “mental health heroes” you may be interested in checking out!

Dyane Harwood Mental Health Hero #mhmonth2014 | Mental Health Humor.