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.
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.
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