Serotonin Sabbatical

April was a bit of a difficult month for me, so I took a sabbatical from blogging. Or, I suppose it’s more accurate to say that I took a sabbatical from publishing my posts. There were several false starts and run-on rants that made little sense outside my own brain. (Racing thoughts can be a bitch.) Many thanks to the blog gods who held me in check so I didn’t launch one of those atrocities.

I make a big deal about being genuine with my baking and honest about my literary experiences. More importantly, I talk about how I use these outlets to cope with my mental illness. So, I think it’s important to be candid when I’m grappling with my condition. Because here’s the ugly truth: Bipolar, BPD, anxiety, and other “stuff” can be treated, but they never go away. I was in a stable state for a relatively long time, but the chemicals in my noggin and a potpourri of unpleasant events tipped the scales into an episode. I’m not out of it either but have good providers and a strong support system. I’m very lucky.

One thing that happens when my symptoms are acute, particularly if I’m experiencing hypomania, is that I have a reduced ability to engage in the activities I normally enjoy. I just don’t have the attention span. For example, were I to bake, I’d only be able to handle a recipe that I know by heart, or one that is very simple. It couldn’t be much more complicated than chocolate chip cookies. Otherwise, I’d lose interest before it even made it into the oven.

Same thing for reading. I can’t read more than a couple of pages at a time, and my comprehension of that material is mediocre at best. I even struggle to listen to audiobooks.

When these things happen, not to mention the real-life obligations I fumble, my anxiety ratchets up. I feel guilty and become convinced I’m failing at everything. If I can’t even find relief in my favorite pastimes, what hope is there for me? It becomes exceedingly difficult to remember that those thoughts are my illness speaking and they need to be challenged.

Anyway, if you have been following me for a while, or if you are just tuning in–know that there will be other timeouts in the future. I love this blog. I love the unexpected lessons I’ve learned while making peanut butter pound cake and shopping for antique rotary dial telephones. I love that it gives me an outlet to write in my voice so that I can explore the voices of my fictional characters elsewhere. But at the end of the day, I must take care of me. My health will come before content creation.

#NotAlone

It just so happens that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. If you’d like to learn more, find help for yourself or a loved one, or make a tax deductible donation to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, visit nami.org We’ll never be able to effectively reduce the stigma of mental illness if we don’t talk about it. So, this is me being real: cupcakes, hardcovers, serotonin and all.  Thanks for reading. #NotAlone ❤

In case you’re curious, this is what I managed to put together in April. No photos and mixed results.

  • Regular white bread
  • Lemon muffins
  • Zucchini bread
  • Dog treats
  • Brownies
  • Pound cake
  • Snickerdoodles
  • Oatmeal Scotchies
  • Orange biscuits

Have you ever taken a time-out for your mental health? Do you worry that if you pull back people will judge you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

3 comments

  • After my son died, I took 2 years off to deal with and sort out my emotions. Take good care of yourself.

    • How heartbreaking! I cannot even fathom. Thanks for sharing and you too, continue to take care of yourself. 🙂

  • Great, honest post. I hope that it will help someone who is struggling.

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