Extreme Emotions About Outlining

When I last posted two weeks ago, I referenced the idea of writing a book about my first year of treatment. Last week, I wrote an outline. I experienced so much joy at having done this. It was the first significant amount of joy I’d had since writing a resume months earlier. The next day I pulled out my records to add more detail to the outline and tumbled into a suicidal despair.

I actually considered calling the local emergency hotline, that’s how scared I was of how I felt. However, I know the on-call therapist. I know she would ask me to come for an in-person assessment. I know she would ask me to contract for safety and I would laugh in her face, and then she would insist upon locking me up in the inpatient unit. I was planning to go to an audition a few days later, and could not take the risk of being indisposed at that time.

So I instead used my Self-Soothe skill and fixed myself a(nother) cup of coffee. I used the ACCEPTS skill and distracted myself by playing mindless Facebook games. Then once I’d calmed down, I had a very rational chat with a friend from my Crisis Survival Network. I still felt depressed and suicidal for days, but it faded gradually over time.

This huge negative reaction came from reading through some very lengthy, rambling e-mails I wrote during the mania that preceded my diagnosis. I was especially reminded of how unsupportive my mother was during this time period, when I knew I desperately needed help but had no idea how to get it. I knew I should stop reading these e-mails, but I pressed onward. I was frustrated that it hurt to look back over all that had happened, and I felt that if I were unable to handle writing about these events, then my experiences over the past year were all meaningless.

When I spoke with my therapist the next day, I had already come up with the very sensible plan to take a break from the outline and come back to it later. I did manage to make a little more progress that morning before my therapy appointment with no serious ill effects. She made the points that my experiences would not be meaningless if I didn’t write about them, and that even if I were unable to write about them now that does not eliminate the possibility of doing so in the future. We agreed that I would continue, so long as I paid careful attention to how the work was affecting my emotions and stopped at the first sign of trouble.

So far, I have outlined everything for which I have my medical records. Yesterday I went to fill out a release of information form to request the records up through the present. There is a slim chance that there will be some documents missing due to the lag time between events and the addition of the documentation to my chart, so I may need to fill in one additional release form after these records are received. Otherwise, in a few weeks I should be fully prepared to complete the outline.

As the outline stands now, there is a prologue, 11 chapters, and an epilogue. I originally misnumbered the chapters and thought there were 12. I really liked the idea of there being 12 chapters like there are 12 months in the year, despite the fact that the chapters did not neatly line up with the calendar months, so I may try to rearrange the outline slightly to add a 12th chapter.


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