I am still manic, showing no signs of slowing down. It is delightful, but also exceedingly dangerous. Some studies suggest that each severe manic episode you experience in your lifetime robs you of functioning for the future. Chemical highs from the brain may do as much damage as those induce by substances consumed. It is possible that for hour I spend in exercising frenetic energy, I am limiting both the quantity and quality of my life.
A good friend who battles bipolar herself reminded me of this today. Our exchange went something like this:
Tony: BJ, if you are interested in receiving a free e-newsletter about When Despair Meets Delight, simply reply with your email address. Thanks!
BJ: Tony, I am not interested, and here is why: I am concerned about you. As much as I want you to succeed, I am concerned you are taking on too much. If and when things are okay for you with all of these things you are doing, then I may be interested. Believe me, I truly want you to be successful, but not at the expense of your health and having to please all of those following you…like with deadlines, etc. I have seen the manic come out when you begin to take on too much the same happens to me. Please know I will be praying for you and rooting for you. But also know I want was is best for your continued success in life.
Tony: I greatly respect this, BJ. You know as well as any what limitations those of us with bipolar have. You are also right that I have been manic and the risk of crashing is high. Please know as my friend that this is a calculated, supervised risk. I am reviewing each step with my therapist and I have a team of support persons who are doing much of the work, leaving me with what I do, and enjoy best — writing. Still, I greatly appreciate your prayers and will heed your advice to exercise caution.
To say I am not disappointed would be a lie. I am confident I’m following a path God wants me to take. But I may be rushing my pace. BJ points out that my pace may be pushing it. Perhaps I would go further if I slowed down, treating it more as a marathon and not a sprint.
But this isn’t how it works for me. It is true the race is long and the best way to perform is to maintain a steady pace. But my body/mind won’t allow this. Regardless of how I behave, I go through radical cycles of mania/depression. The best I have found to do is to get ahead when I can work so I don’t fall behind too far when I can’t work. This pattern was atrocious for being a pastor, husband, father of four children, and sole breadwinner. The pressure of meeting deadlines and performing consistently at optimal level was simply too great for me to bear. Something had to give and it ended up being me.
So, how do I avoid this in my writing vocation? I recognize God speaking through BJ, I just need to listen to what God is saying. One thing is sure, I have to let go of much of what I do now if I’m going to room to do something different. How will I do this? For one thing, I will shift my social media time from recruiting readers (which has taken countless hours these days) to producing content. I love to write and write to live. Putting words on the screen is never a burden for me. Marketing my product can be wearisome. Some is necessary, mind you, but if I am going to run this marathon, I need to do a little each day, not a bunch all at once.
The good news is my book is written and the missing pieces to completed publication are essentially in the hands of others. I am delegating tasks pertaining to selling, packaging and shipping. I have help with marketing. I would like to sell books primarily from my website so I am able to inscribe them, save money for my readers and keep more money for myself. But if orders become overwhelming, I will farm it out either to someone who could use the work or to Amazon exclusively, God forbid.
For now, thank you BJ, for reminding me that I am only human. And more than this I am one with limitations others don’t have. I rely on friends like you to help me maintain, to keep me sane.