I have now completed the final manuscript of second book, When Despair Meets Delight: Stories that cultivate hope for those with serious mental illness. I have received three endorsements. The ISBN#s have been obtained. I have applied to list it in the Library of Congress. I am working with a graphic artist, Jolie Buchanan of Jolie B Studios on the cover design. She is also doubling duties by doing the formatting. I have contracted with my web designer Sean Pritzkau about revamping my website to feature this book and expand my brand to reflect more of what I do at Delight in Disorder Ministries — A Way with Words Publishing; Revealing Voices Podcast; Faithful Friends Support Group; and Tony Roberts, Faith & Mental Health Consultant. I have sold over 75 advance copies that will defray a good portion of the cost to publish the book, allowing me to approach the project as a ministry rather than a money pit. Things are looking good. Too good…?
There is no doubt that I have been manic the past ten days. My mind has been racing. I sometimes forget to eat or take my medication. I have not been diligent about my hygiene. I’ve been tackling obsessive tasks like projecting our budget into the next five years and then when an unanticipated expense or extra income comes in, I redo the five-year budget. Sounds crazy, huh? Well, that’s because it is.
But boy, do I feel good! And I’m getting things done. A lot of things. With the help of God and others, I basically transformed a 27,000 word partial draft in need of editing into a 32,000 word manuscript edited by Leanne Sype. I charted a complex self-publishing course that cost others tens of thousands and take months. All for the fraction of the cost and time. I could not have done any of this had I not been manic. Or at least hypo-manic, the more gentle sister of mania.
At the same time, I need to issue a disclaimer. The old adage is strikingly true. What comes up must come down. I have learned since college to do all I can to get ahead when I am manic because a depression is surely around the corner. By working ahead, I can withstand lengthy lulls without falling far behind. The trouble I ran into in pastoral ministry is that there are many things you can’t plan in advance. People don’t die according to my mood cycle. Disasters like pandemics aren’t something we can schedule around. The way I am able to function now is that I have the latitude to work when I can and not when I can’t.
I also need to issue a strong warning, shared with me by a faithful reader, Paul M. In response to a post where I was celebrating some of the good in mania, Paul sent me a reminder that it is not a bed of roses:
Since I’ve experienced mental illness and I battle Parkinson’s everyday this gives me a unique perspective. I often tell people that if God gave me a choice between Parkinson’s and mental illness, I would instantly choose Parkinson’s. People can relate to people with cancer or Parkinson’s or heart disease. These illnesses don’t effect our relations with others that much. But relating to the mentally ill can be a much greater challenge.
Many people don’t understand the mentally ill. Rather than being shown compassion, they can be mistreated by the police, etc. A manic high or a down day is one thing. But mental illness at its worse is mental torture. When I stared into the sun, burned holes in my retinas, and became legally blind for a few months, it was torture. When I squeezed my neck so tight that the white of my eyes became blood red as I tried to choke myself to death, it was torture. When I thought I had committed the unforgivable sin and believed I was going to hell, it was torture. (Yes, those things really happened to me back in the 1980’s) I wouldn’t wish that stuff on my worse enemies. Thank God those days are behind me. I never want to visit them again. In a way, I think I’ve had a taste of hell on earth.
It’s now just after 10 p.m. I will put this post to bed then prepare for bed myself. I want very much to stay up, but I won’t. It wouldn’t be good. I need to care for myself so I can care for others. I need to steer clear of the highway to hell that is paved with manic intentions.