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What I make you mean. Saturday January 24, 2015

Quite some time ago a very dear friend said to me "You don't want the fact that you're bi-polar be one of the first things that people find out about you. Let them get to know you first; because many people have prejudices against any mental health issue."
(By the way, some of you may remember that I started my first Moodscope blog with the words "Hello, I'm Mary and I'm bi-polar." You guys are a slightly different audience.)

So, just this year I discovered the joys and use of Facebook — because I always was an early adopter (ahem). I've joined several writing groups and have begun to get to know other writers around the world.

One particular writer accepted my friend request. I started a chat thread initially asking some innocuous question about the time zone they are in and we were off, exchanging details about our families (our kids are roughly the same age), the fact we never get enough sleep, and so on. I read a novel by this writer and sent a message of appreciation and we were off again. Somehow we got onto the fact that this author uses a generic image on their FB profile instead of a photo, to preserve some anonymity regarding their writing and oops, my blabber-keyboard struck, sharing how I'm completely "out" about my bi-polar in spite of my husband's ambivalent views...

...and silence...

For two days I fretted and made the silence mean – well, you can imagine what I made it mean. I thought about it in the car while waiting at traffic lights. I thought about it while looking at Facebook and seeing that this writer was not on line and so was obviously avoiding this mad stalker from the UK. I thought about it in bed as I lay waiting for sleep.

Pretty silly, huh?

Eventually I plucked up enough courage to post "OK, embarrassed now. Oversharing too much? Promise I'm sane and not a stalker at all." After which I felt much better.

And hugely better when the writer came back and said "Sometimes I fear *I* am the one who overshares... Sometimes I read messages and don't reply straight away...then get bombarded with other things and forget to get back!"

That writer was not concerned that somehow my bi-polar is contagious and will spread from the UK to affect them via their computer; they're not concerned about me being a stalker. It's just that life got in the way. It has a habit of doing that.

We need to remember that life happens to other people too. Incredible though it seems, it's rarely just about us.

Think I'll write that one down and stick it above my screen for the next time I'm on Facebook.

A Moodscope member.

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Hopeful One Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 7:13am

Hi Mary- your post just reminded me of the negative bias our thoughts have probably from an earlier evolutionary time when this was an asset .Is that rustle in the grass a low lying snake?that kind of thing.But not really suitable for the world we live in. It also reminded me that mind reading is futile.You could be standing in front of me and I would not have a clue what you are actually thinking.I could make a guess but the chances of being wrong are phenomenaly high.

Anonymous Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 8:56am

Wow. I nodded with recognition all the way through your post; I am terrible for doing this. I'm sorry you had to live with all that fretting but it is great to be reminded that life does get in the way. Just because it is an instantaneous method of communication doesn't mean there is a constant presence at the receiving end! Thanks for the reminder and the 'oh thank goodness its not just me' moment.

Julia Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 9:07am

Your blog today is quite thought provoking Mary. It raises a number of different issues for me, such as do we define ourselves as an insomniac, a depressive, bi polar and so on or do we accept we have these tendencies/ diagnoses but they are not our raison d'etre. If I am meeting a friend after a bad night's sleep I invariably start off the chat by telling them I am tired! so that they will understand the reason for my lack of energy, wit etc. I probably shouldn't do this. Another issue you raised about worrying if we don't hear from someone after an exchange of views.... it's so normal to experience this. I don't think we can change how we feel. Silence is not an easy thing to deal with in relationships to put it mildly!.

Anonymous Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 10:10am

My heart goes out to you, Mary. Reveal is a tricky one, and the risktaking gave you o anxious moments! I open my mouth and reveal, and sometimes, no feedback..but it is often much later that I learn that I was right to go with my instincts. People are not all as open as you and me, Mary! And in the words of Jean Valliers, who was on radio today, we must reach out to others so that they can do the same back. If anyone else heard him, he was just so inspirational, put into words what I feel about better communication/ connecting. Whoever and whatever they are.

Anonymous Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 10:26am

Sorry, that should have been Jean Vanier. ( founder of l'Arche communities?)

The Entertrainer Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 10:57am

In this day of Social Media and knowledge sharing, I really can't see any huge advantage in being quiet about who we are, what we like and what we are like.
My suspicion is that everyone will find out in the end anyway!
I don't think I could make good art if I wasn't emotionally tormented some of the time.
I feel intensely, and that is a package-deal that comes with its highs and its lows... but I wouldn't want to miss out on the highs if it meant diminishing the lows. Somehow it seems to balance.
Of course, I haven't revealed ALL my secrets... not yet...

Anonymous Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 11:03am

I doubt there are many people in the world who do not worry about this, Mary. Especially us worriers.
We cannot hope to know what is going on in someone else's life and equally, they don't know what's going on in ours,. It's this realisation that should bring us a little perspective when it happens to us next time...let's stay hopeful that we can understand and remember this lesson! Karen :)

Julia Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 11:42am

Yes it does seem to balance I agree.
"I feel intensely, and that is a package-deal that comes with its highs and its lows" I love these words Lex.

Julia Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 11:56am

I have been thinking about your FB friend Mary and I can't help feeling she should have replied immediately, just a short holding reply, to such a personal revelation on your part. I hope that however busy I am, I wouldn't leave a friend wondering whether she'd said the wrong thing or not. Perhaps in her country bi polar isn't such a big deal? As I am writing this, I think perhaps I am not as good as I make out about replying to internet friends as I am to my few close friends where I live. But that doesn't mean I value my virtual friends any the less. Think I'm tying myself in knots here.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 12:59pm

oooh, Lex: more secrets..... do tell! ;) You are a wicked tease and we love you for it! Seriously, I totally get the fact we are (mostly) OK with being a package deal. Sending big hugs up to the far reaches of Scotland

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 1:15pm

Hi Julia, Thank you for your comment and loyal support (you are a treasure). there is stuff going on in this person's life which it would be inappropriate to include here, but when they came back to me it the silence made complete sense. Apparently Facebook convention is that you can leave "chat" messages for a while and come back to them later. I am still discovering things like that.I agree, our virtual friends can be very precious to us.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 2:31pm

And just what do you mean by that?!!! (paranoid response) - Um, that was a joke, by the way. Really good point, Hopeful One.

Julia Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 6:33pm

Thank you Mary! I am not on FB as I know I would spend far too much time on it (and also I like anonymity) but often wish I was. I know it's an important social media site for professionals, writers etc.I am happy that you are happy with the chat friend now!

DawnC.Ritchie Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 10:14pm

I think it's good to 'come out' Mary. I have more respect for you that you are actually being honest in revealing a balanced picture of yourself. If a person only lets you know of their lovely side, it's a little misleading if you're entering into a friendship.

DawnC.Ritchie Sat, Jan 24th 2015 @ 10:22pm

Ps, I've always been bad at assuming certain actions or words equal this or that, when in fact, as you said, it's pretty often not what they thinking at all. I assume I know what the person is feeling or thinking and act accordingly, for example, a person goes all quiet, I think they're mad with me and I withdraw from them ' cos they're mad. I recently learned that I do this and am trying to change. The easy way would be to ask ' what did you mean by that?' But then I think I would probably become annoying if I were to ask as many times as I'd need to to feel comfortable.

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