Ten Pounds Of Lithium And 300 Posts On My Blog Got Me Where I Am Today

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This is post number 300. I can’t think of another project I’ve worked harder at, or longer with than this blog…

The longest I’ve ever held a job was eighteen months; I stopped going to high school full time in grade eleven; I quit high school in grade twelve; before I actually graduated I was kicked out of college in my second semester; my longest dating relationship was 2.5 years, and; the band I fronted only lasted four months… which was probably 3.5 months longer than necessary.

I was a couple of years into my recovery when I started this blog. I believe it saved my life… at least in the beginning, I’m not sure what it’s doing to me lately.

I had a depression breakdown starting in 2000, and ending in 2002. Close to the end I was living on less than $100 a month, I was suicidal everyday, and homeless. I had been nearly-homeless before, as well as suicidal, and even lived on $120 / month before, but this time was different in intensity, duration and a complete lack of hope or vision as to how to get out of it, and the money was not guaranteed.

At the same time I was also doing research for a book on, among other things, my family’s history. In February of 2003 my publisher wanted to see some progress, so in one last gasp of creativity, while living in an attic apartment with no heat, and using a thirteen-year old 486 PC, I wrote 35,000 words for them, then I basically blanked out.

Seven months later I called my mother to say goodbye, I was off to find a bridge, but she suggested moving in with her might be a better idea. It took more than a year before I was able to write again.

My publisher had been… joyful, ecstatic, engorged, whatever about what I had sent them. But, after a year in therapy and finally taking medications to treat the manic depression, I wasn’t the same person who had written it. So my first tentative step back into writing was to edit what I had given them.

And, I think, I made it a lot better. Another thing that was better was my computer. Soon after I moved back home my mother upgraded to a modern system, so I inherited her ten-year old Pentium One. Which, to me, might as well have been IBM’s Big Blue.

A few months later I had put together enough money for Internet access in my apartment, as well as to split the cost of a brand-spanking new computer with my mother.

And then things went horribly backwards. While moving files from the old computer to the new one I accidentally deleted all of the edits to my book. I still had the original, but essentially I erased 45,000 words in edits, notes and additions.

I spent two months in bed. At one point my parents got a key from my landlord, and opened my door fully expecting to find me dead.

It wasn’t just the edits, or the words, it was the months and months of interviewing the family which abandoned me when I was a child. It was waking up in my home town one morning and in a moment of brilliant clarity deciding The Book was going to be my salvation, finishing the Book would get me back into a newsroom, it would bring me back into my life.

And for two months I couldn’t see past losing those 45,000 new words.

So, after not washing for weeks, wearing a giant hole in my sheet, wearing my mattress thin, turning my pillowcases black and growing a full-face beard, I typed “blog” into Google.

The first Salted Lithium was on Blogger. I never posted anything there, I just wanted to see how things worked, but their user forum and user interface were (and remain) designed and maintained by people who hate people. WordPress was the third platform I signed up for, and it’s far and away the best of all the blogging platforms I’ve come across since.

When I write, the medium I use is vital. If the paper in the notebook is too thin, I can’t concentrate on what I’m writing. If the pen makes noise, I lose my train of thought. If the music is too jarring, I just get angry and frustrated.

I’m a bit of a prima-donna like that. WordPress has the best online medium for writing. Microsoft Publisher, or QuarkXPress are the best programs — when you need time to think, you can mess around with the layout. The best pen is the Bic Pro+, Medium Point.

On November 14, 2006, after about a week of screwing around with Themes, I finally wrote my first post. Four days later, Clare showed up and left the first comment on Salted.

The community I joined gave me a connection back to the world, something I hadn’t had in years. And the reason we connected was something real, it was over something we shared… which was a need to find people going through what we were going through.

We were all searching for proof we weren’t alone. For proof we weren’t nuts. And we found it in our blogs. In what we wrote, in the comments we left each other, in the jokes we made.

We were all new at blogging, and new in our recovery from mental illness. I think it was a pretty intense time for all of us.

Now, I’m not so sure how I feel about blogging. At least as a tool in my continuing recovery. Most of the people I started with have quit blogging for Facebook, or nothing at all. I’ve been finding some bloggers who are as new to their recovery as I was when I started, and I recognize their questions, their anger, their initial stages of discovery.

I just don’t feel the anger anymore, I’ve answered most of my questions about the disease, and my recovery feels almost complete.

I know Salted has evolved into a ‘life blog’ — for the past… maybe a year, I’ve written more about my non-bipolar life than anything else. My girlfriend, her pregnancy, our baby… my childhood, my family, the causes of my clinical depressions.

This is, however, still a ‘recovery blog’. I’m just at a point in my recovery from manic depression where I’m not crippled by the disease anymore.

I’m not sure where I’m taking Salted, or where it’s taking me, or even how much longer it’ll be around… but, then again, other than a few months here and there, I’ve never been sure.

I do know I’m proud of the work I’ve put into this blog… weird, I think that’s the first time I’ve said that. I’m also ever thankful for the contributions I’ve received, and hopefully will continue to receive.

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300 Posts:

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first post: 18-Years Off The Pills, Three Years On

most read post: There’s No Art In Manic Depression

average post length (approx): 1200 words

total comments: 3,983

average comments per post: 13.27

photos published: 349

six years worth of Lithium (2100mgs): 4,602,150mgs

.

...thanks.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health, Second Salted Anniversary. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Ten Pounds Of Lithium And 300 Posts On My Blog Got Me Where I Am Today

  1. thordora says:

    Yeah, I feel you. I don’t quite know where to go anymore either…I don’t feel sick, but I don’t feel well, and I just can’t relate to that angry lost place anymore…

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention 300 Posts On My Blog And Ten Pounds Of Lithium Got Me Where I Am Today « …salted lithium. -- Topsy.com

  3. Kenn Chaplin says:

    Congratulations on 300 posts. Better to have left a body of work than a body!

  4. Bromac says:

    Congrats on the 300th post!

    Not sure what my days will look like when I’m not checking on Salted Lithium and Spin Me I Pulsate every day, but I knew it was coming. And I am immensely happy for you (both)

    You’ve earned your wellness. You deserve it…peace.

  5. Yo is Me says:

    wooo 😉

    i’m glad to have met you. you’re not quitting blogging, are you? ah well, as long as i can stalk you on facebook.

  6. Meg says:

    I hope you don’t quit. I enjoy your blog and I think the beauty in life is often in the simple and mundane. Yet it is easy to take for granted. I’m new to your blog but it seems your blog now is about a healthy man and his healthy relationship with his life and his son. I know my son wishes he had a good relationship with a healthy bio-dad. That might not be something he ever sees though. We can hope but we can’t make it happen. Only his dad can on his own accord. You can now offer your son something that not every son has and yet is what every child wants most of all.

  7. Gabriel... says:

    We have come here to praise Salted, not to bury him… it. By the end of this post I think the idea of quitting had popped into my head, but I’m not mothballing Salted yet. For the past few months I’ve been trying to figure out a way to expand my little blog… for example, I’d like to write more news or opinions on mental health current events. But for the past five months I’ve been trying to create a schedule so I can be with my baby and my girlfriend and not feel like a broken zombie by the end of the day, and I haven’t succeeded yet.

    Thanks for the comments, and the support…

  8. arifaery says:

    Thank you for this post. Is very real and quite beautiful. I especially liked your description of why blogging can be so helpful. Do you mind if I quote it?

    I hope that you continue to find that peace in your life.

  9. exactscience says:

    Thank you for all the posts.

  10. Way to stick with it!

  11. karenintheory says:

    300 posts… that’s impressive to say the least. Congratulations, and I’ve loved reading every one of them.

  12. MrBlueSkies says:

    Wow! Congrats on the 300 posts thing. Keep ’em rolling. 🙂

  13. timethief says:

    300 posts! YAY! You are definitely a blogger. Congrats! and please do not even consider mothballing Salted Lithium, okay?

    You say:

    I’d like to write more news or opinions on mental health current events.

    I say: Go for it!

    Love and peace,
    TiTi

  14. Gabriel... says:

    Hi TiTi, sorry it took so long to respond, my brain’s been a little messed up this week. Not only was this Post 300, but your comment was #4,000, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one to mark the occasion.

    And a huge thanks, of course, to numbers 1 to 3,999…

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