I’ve never been a fan of therapy homework; it’s not a fun thing to do, touch on thoughts and emotions that you want to keep buried beneath the surface. But this last time, I talked myself into an art therapy assignment: capture my emotions in some kind of artistic form. I had this grand scheme of… well, I’m not entirely sure what, because perfectionist me got in the way, so I reverted back to my old standby of coloring mandalas.
It was a Wednesday night, and I was sitting at a friend’s tattoo shop, waiting while my husband got his arm worked on. I knew it would be a couple of hours, so I had brought along my colored pencils and a mandala book to keep myself occupied.
On an emotional level, I was slightly manic, a little bit irritated. I flipped through the book a few times and ultimately landed on a design that had flames around the outer edge, thinking that I’d start with the flames and work my way inward. This was the night I learned that my old artwork had been thrown in the trash. Normally, I don’t start shading until I’m done with all the basic coloring, but that night, I wanted those flames to burn. Unfortunately, time was running out and I had to pack up before I made very much progress.
The next day, I woke up with the need to get out into nature. I left the mandala at home, and by the time I came back to it, I couldn’t get back into the same emotional headspace. I felt guilty whenever I looked at the book, like I should be working on that mandala because it was an assignment. But I just couldn’t feel that same emotional impact. I may as well have been coloring a picture of a My Little Pony prancing around with the Care Bears.
And you know what? My therapist was absolutely delighted.
Because emotionally, I was done. I was able to walk away from the intensity of where I was at and not let it consume me for days. I was able to hit the pause button, and be okay with it. Yes, it is, to the naked eye, strikingly unfinished. There are white gaps everywhere. The shading isn’t done. But on an emotional level, it’s finished. For now.
That feeling of ‘should’ is precisely where I have been with this blog for quite some time now. I even pondered shutting down the blog several months ago because I wasn’t posting the way I thought I ‘should’. It felt unfinished.
After a conversation with a writer friend of mine, Shawn, I came to realize that I’ve been trying too hard to force myself into pointing this blog in a direction it doesn’t want to go. I’ve been advocating for mental health awareness for so long that I’ve painted myself into a corner as a mental health blogger. Don’t get me wrong: there is absolutely nothing wrong with niche blogging as such. But it isn’t for me. It isn’t the writing that happens in my head that doesn’t get written.
My blog was essentially holding me hostage.
I tried to deny it, but I thought about it some more after our conversation, and Shawn was right. I stopped writing because the snippets of posts that I was mentally composing didn’t fit in mental health. “But wait,” I thought, “when did mental health become all that I am? When did I become just a mental health blogger?”
It isn’t. I’m not.
I have bipolar disorder; I am not bipolar disorder. It is a part of me; it does not define me.
It’s time to hit pause on that part of the writing. I’ll still write about it. I can’t make it go away, but it isn’t forefront in my daily life anymore. I’m not struggling to live every day anymore.
I am growing. I am remembering.
And I invite you to grow and remember with me.