Ladies and gentlemen. A couple of months ago, I posted a general update sort of announcing that I am still here and around. In it, I pointed out how aimless I felt, how disconnected I felt from my original goals and intentions with why I launched my website. In that post, I shared several random, indirect, unclear thoughts about my effort and direction. Aimless is a word I used.
That wasn’t quite the correct word. I think overwhelmed is a better word. Why overwhelmed? Well, I spent a significant chunk of my life quite aimlessly drifting through Bipolar-depression on a regular basis. There was never really anything I could see for myself in my future. As I’ve traversed on my journey, I came to realize I had a lot of ground to cover before I could see what was ahead of me.
This journey for me started a long time ago. It started in a suicide attempt when I was 15 years old, and the absolutely feeling of isolation and loneliness in that moment. It continued as I gained more experiences, stumbled along dark paths, and eventually found myself sitting opposite a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, spilling my darkest, most frightening moments to make sense of them. And like so many other people, I turned to the internet for more information and quickly realized what a toxic shithole it is for finding quality, actionable information for recovery.
I never believed those superficial messages of hope and “everything will be alright” that so many people pump out. My life experience, Bipolar Disorder, and my depression wouldn’t allow for that – as it doesn’t for many other people who share that perspective. My website and blog initially started as a loose idea to simply give people a place to start building their own knowledge. It quite rapidly evolved as people started asking questions, and I started hunting for factual, truthful answers to get them pointed in the right direction of where they could find the help or information that they needed.
I found that the skills I was developing as I was learning marketing also began to translate well into convincing people to talk to mental health professionals, or helping friends and loved ones of mentally ill people gain a bit more perspective. I found that my lived experience carried a lot of weight with people, and that I had to make sure I never overstepped my boundaries and stayed in my lane. But, then I couldn’t figure out what my lane is. Whose lane is it to try to get someone to realize they need professional help? Whose lane is it to try to get other people to realize just how serious and severe Bipolar Disorder is? Whose lane is it to try to help people navigate the massive gray area that separates the undiagnosed from the well and recovered?
A long time supporter and friend has asked me over and over to really clarify what it is that I do. And try as I might, I have never been able to concisely nail it down because it seems like everyone needs something a little different. Some people just need a friendly face and some understanding, others need to be heard, others are overwhelmed and need pointed in a direction where they can get quality help, others needed to be talked into contacting a crisis service or to consider going inpatient, and others just needed a fragment of hope that they could overcome their problems. Some people need picked up gently, while others need walls broken down with a wrecking ball.
At the core of it all, I think that the only way I can really describe it is that I’ve simply tried to be the friend that a lot of people don’t have. We mentally ill turn to our families and friends, but they usually don’t understand us. Our friends and family turn to their family and friends, and they usually don’t understand either. They view us as too bothersome or not worth the effort because they don’t have the kind of emotional investment in the situation as the people who love us do.
There is a lot of loneliness and isolation, even when you’re surrounded by people. And it doesn’t matter if you’re mentally ill, a supporter, or a loved one; because we’re all severely impacted, though in different ways. And that is a theme I have seen over and over and over and over again.
The goal I am setting my sights on is creating and developing a solution to that issue. You see, if you spend much time going through the plethora of information and groups that exist on the internet, you’ll note that a hell of a lot of them are not healthy places to be. A lot of the information and services out there focus on the extremes because those are what’s most destructive. And because funding is always tight in mental health services, it gravitates towards the lowest common denominator to try to catch the people that are in crisis.
But we need more than that. Less people would fall to crisis levels if they had meaningful support and a safe place to seek ideas and perspectives BEFORE things reached a catastrophic level. Furthermore, how many relationships, families, and friendships could be preserved if there was an easily accessible, safe pillar of support people KNEW they could trust to turn to? Whether mentally ill, family member, or supporter?
The options that we currently have available are generally bad. Free communities and social media groups ran by people who don’t understand the toxicity of the internet and enforce standards are detrimental to recovery and well-being. Hell, look at any depression social media page and watch everyone feed the depression of one another under the guise of commiserating. Crabs in a bucket, constantly pulling one another back in as they try to escape.
I want to build something better than that; and it’s going to take more knowledge and experience than I have to bring such an endeavor to life. It’s a simple premise that won’t be easy. I want to make peer and familial support easily accessible via your smartphone. I firmly believe that, if marketed correctly, this is a service that people would be willing to pay for if a high-quality, well-managed environment was guaranteed. Would you? Knowing that you could easily access a community of like-minded individuals pushing towards successful resolution, recovery, well-being, and a happy life? Knowing that your money was helping to empower and arm other mentally ill people and their families to recover?
This is going to be a long journey, probably a few years at least – and I want to share with you the first step on that journey.
Phase 1: About a Podcast
I have kicked around the idea with you all about a podcast several times, but there were many hang ups in my mind about it. And it all hinged on a phrase I’ve heard over and over from people, “I wish I could have you talk to my loved one.” Well, that would be impossible. What I can do is develop a serial, presentation style podcast that will essentially let any one of you go, “Hey, you should listen to this.”
The core of this podcast is going to follow the same principles I’ve used from the start, inspire hope through providing actionable information and insight. I’ve decided to organize it almost like an e-book, each season representing a chapter. The first chapter will be on “Perceptions,” that is, the numerous incorrect perceptions that I run into on a regular basis when trying to inform, convince people to seek the help they need, and avoid the many pitfalls that are on the wellness path.
Chapter 1 is going to be me laying foundation from my perceptions and experiences. I have it largely already outlined and planned out. The ideas I have for AFTER Chapter 1 are a bit different. Each Chapter will have a theme, and I will be sending out an email blast to my mailing list subscribers for their thoughts and ideas on what to include in those chapters; largely so I don’t overlook or forget anything.
In doing so, I hope to construct a podcast that will help a listener see that they can recover, facilitate understanding, and shift the listener to a mentality of active struggle for recovery and wellness. This is something that’s going to be a major undertaking, and it’s something I’m nervous about – which is a good thing. If I wasn’t, I’d be worried I was escalated.
The last time I brought this up, I had a couple of my international audience members ask me if it would be available in their respective countries. I’m planning on launching a companion website that will make episodes playable through the actual website in addition to traditional podcast avenues, so in theory, it shouldn’t be blocked because that will be a way to listen outside of iTunes or Play, which are more tightly managed.
Anyway, before I formally launch, I will most likely test the first few episodes with my mailing list subscribers for feedback. If you are not receiving updates from me in your email, you can sign up for my mailing list here!
And, as always, if you have any thoughts, questions, comments, or feedback feel free to share.