I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I have mostly lost the audience I had attracted to this blog. If you’re reading this, that statement probably sounds too strong, and yet in my heart I know that it is largely true. Looking back I realize of course that the height of this blog’s popularity, around March of last year, coincided with an extended manic period. Part of me IS impressed with all of the great people I was able to draw in at the height of my mania and the great conversations we had on some of my most commented posts. But the part of me that is in fact depressed as I type this now is not surprised that I was not able to retain most of that audience over the course of a year. If you regularly visit and comment on someone else’s blog, chances are they will regularly visit and comment on your blog. While it is most always based on a genuine relationship of goodwill, there is definitely a quid pro quo and the fact is that if you’re too depressed to even think about visiting your friends’ blogs, few of your blog friends are going to make the time in their own busy schedules to visit and comment on your blog.
I find myself genuinely mourning the loss of so many of the other blogger and social media relationships that have fallen by the wayside this year. Sometimes I know it really is as Billy Joel once sang “...you say a word out of line, and find that the friends you had are gone forever. Forever.” It really does seem to me that when I published Why I Don’t Wear A Button Anymore and in the discussions that followed on that post I lost a whole bunch of friends, trying as I did to be a neutral host who welcomed friends with vehemently disagreeing perspectives to both be a part of my blog comments. I confess I rather envisioned myself presiding over a high brow salon, where great minds came to disagree (respectfully) on big important issues. But loosing a dozen perhaps great commentators really knocked out the great discussions I’d been attracting, and as the year went by other friends also drifted away, as the places we each hung out online evolved and changed . Which is why I have almost a thousand Facebook friends….and only a handful of people read my blog.
It is easy of course to blame mission inflation on Empire Avenue for a great deal of the lost visitors and comments. Last March I offered a 500 eaves mission and got four dozen or more comments on a post. The last time I tried to use missions to get blog comments, I offered 25,000 eaves and was frustrated beyond belief that there were still people who took the eaves and didn’t leave a comment. The inflation, and the fact that many of my closest friends whom I chat with all the time intimated that they didn’t like having to leave a comment for my missions, led me to reluctantly just stop trying to use missions to drive comments. Lately it seems that even 10K to press the Like and Share buttons often draws in only a few takers. Last year Empire Avenue was the secret to how I drew all sorts of great visitors and commentators. This year, I can’t make it work worth a damn. I have been thinking that what I should do, is try to follow up with some of the folks who have drifted away. In most cases we remain Facebook or Twitter friends. Part of me fears that it would be low class or rude to try to talk publicly with people who have drifted away. But I think that more of me is curious and hopes that some of these folks…..may have more they are willing to share or say on this site.
Life is funny. My friend Ryan tagged me in a post and I wrote something to the effect that “I’ve tried and tried and tried” but just can’t seem to finish an update to my book.” But after commenting in that thread and then wandering into a few other threads where I still have lots of Empire Avenue friends. Cautiously, I opened the file. I read over the entire book, including all of the revisions and additions I had already made. I typed a couple of new paragraphs. I read it again. And decided that Walking Down The Avenue is ready for copy-editing and beta reading. I’ve already sent the manuscript out to several people and I expect that I will release and begin promoting the new revised Walking Down The Avenue around March 1st.
I realized today that I have been rather manically babbling about my friend Susan’s novels for at least two weeks now. I will be publishing and promoting two more Susan book reviews. And then come March I will be shifting into talking about my own book. In one sense, that I got more than 300 of my social media guru friends to read and tell me how great the earlier version was, was a kind of success. But folks who are guruing on the Avenue are really not the target audience for what really is a great Beginner’s Guide. My book would be most useful to someone if received about an hour before they started on Empire Avenue. Sadly my psychic abilities don’t work online, at least not to the extent of being able to know who will decide to try out Empire Avenue before they make that decision. Sometimes I can read people face to face so well it’s almost scary. But skilled as I may have become at conducting relationships in far flung pixels, I really can’t read people online.
I am hoping to recruit some of my friends who continually invest in new users to be ambassadors for my book to the newly arrived. I’m thinking that when my friends are already buying shares, saying hello and trying to start relationships with them, they might could say a few words about this very helpful and useful guidebook that takes away so much of the confusion and mystery of one’s early days on the Avenue. I’m thinking that if I provide four or five blurbs, which could be inserted into any sorts of messages, on EAv, on FB , etc. my friends might be able to convince some newbies to invest a dollar to save themselves weeks if not months of learning curve. If you’ve been on the Avenue awhile and would be willing to help promote the book to new players, please leave a comment or shoot me a message on Facebook. Except for to experienced players who will help with proof-reading, fact checking and promotion, I’m not going to give away ANY free copies this time. My goal is to find a way to sell 300+ copies to the actual intended audience. Wish me luck?
Reading over several months worth of these daily blog posts last week, I was struck by several themes which I am coming to recognize I return to again and again. I also particularly noticed that I have talked rather more than I realized about my bipolar disorder. (I consider this a good thing, by the way; I wanted these posts to be somewhere between personal diary and essay and to be openly bipolar. The funny thing about coming out as a gay person is that it can open your eyes to all sorts of other ways in which we compartmentalize and devalue other people. Coming out as a “homosexual” proved to be only the first of a seemingly never ending series of closets I find myself liberated from.)
It does seem to me, however, that most of the time when I have talked about bipolar issues it has been when I was in a depressed cycle and struggling with that aspect of this illness. On reflection, I’m genuinely happy that I have shared those depressive episodes. I am also more genuinely grateful than you can ever know to each and every one of you who read those posts and left a comment. I most certainly did feel the love and support conveyed in all of your kind words. I was genuinely appalled to see that when I am depressed, even if I post I often quite fail to reply to any of the comments. And I was deeply touched to realize that some of my friends were actually worried about me when I posted about troubles and being down and then just disappeared for awhile.
The purpose of this post is to record that on the last day of September I seem to be at the very height of my mania. I have composed and scheduled multiple blog posts. I’ve also written a new page for this blog, responded to a couple of dozen comments on older posts, had a wonderful one on one chat with a dear friend– whom I may never meet face to face in person. Yet someone whose love and caring comes across to me through the words we exchange on this little computer screen. (For me, typing back and forth in real time is my optimal means of communicating with another person. When I worked in a relatively loud office, I often hovered just over someone’s screen. They typed to me, I whispered to them. My hearing impairment did not stop me from being a fantastic help queue lead in a call center that handled mostly telephone inquiries. I dare you to say that my relationships with those people were in any way diminished just because I often could not hear what they said when speaking.)
This what my blog looks like when I’m manic.
Cute animal photos. It almost feels like a cheap shot, although I really did just type the title into an image search and chose one of the results. And fwiw, I really have been feeling kind of past tense today. While I am somehow forcing myself to keep up with this blog, I am not moving very fast at all on my new writing project and have totally let slip Twitter and #definethis. I’m not getting much of anything done and feel awful while not doing it. I think on top of everything else I have a change of season cold. It’s kind of like ”not my day”-squared.
I look at the IM thingy and see that my friend is logged on. But I don’t say hello cuz I’m not really in much of any mood to chat. I really need to do some work on my recycling project and get some more cans bagged and turned in for lovely, lovely cash money which will make the rest of the month oh so much easier to get through. Yet the mere thought of going out on the patio and bagging cans leaves me yawning and insisting it must wait until daylight hours tomorrow. One way or another I have promised myself I will make several trips and bring in lots of cans this week.
I’m sorry that I just don’t have it in me these days to do all of the socializing that I used to do and that I suspect I may well do again when my mood shifts again. But I just don’t have it in me these days. And I am truly grateful to all of my friends who read these blog posts and keep up with me. Even when it’s not so easy.
“Life is a crap game, two bits a shot. When you’re cold, you’re cold and when you’re hot, you’re hot.”
I am definitely feeling on the down side this afternoon. I’ve been re-reading Rita Mae Brown’s novel Loose Lips (the quote above is from page 144) and while I have never been much interested in craps or dice, this little folk saying speaks volume to me at the moment. I slept for about 16 hours, then woke up with no spark, no energy. Feeling just totally blah. Ron is watching some show on some channel and I looked up and saw some restaurant cook stacking up chicken patties, sliced beef and other things into a huge tall sandwich. And my stomach turned and I thought to myself, ’yech’.
Everything is driving me batty today it seems. I was on Facebook and trying to type a reply to some comment thread or another. So a little chat box pops up at the bottom of the screen. This is mildly annoying but I just ignored it and continued to type. Then the screen scrolls, I am at the top of the page and no obvious means of returning to the sentence I was literally in the middle of composing. I tell you, it took great restraint to refrain from hurling my laptop at the wall. I did close the Facebook tab and have resolved not to use that site again today. Honestly, if I keep running into frustrations it may prove necessary to crawl into bed with a book and pull the covers up over my eyes.
If I am not mistaken, when I press Publish in a few minutes, writing this little blog post will keep me on my post every calendar day schedule. And in my heart, I know that at least is something to be proud of. But my inner editor looks at these three paragraphs of not terribly clever thoughts, that are really just a glimpse of the pain I feel today and thinks that none of this is really worth reading.
So I had my doctor visit. Got my insulin and my pills. Came home and slept a lot. Sad to say after a full week on the pills and insulin I still feel like dreck. Honestly I’ve just been too depressed to post to this blog every day, let along promote the posts, reply to comments and be real sociable on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
I am thinking that next month when my Medicare starts I’m going to try to insist that my doc at the clinic send me to see a shrink, who will hopefully put me back on anti-depressants and an anti-anxiety medicine. I’ve long known of course that my bi-polar is cyclical. and I also realize that I was manic for a long, long stretch. Yet this damned depression seems to be hanging on for freaking forever and I am growing very weary of it.
And yet, I try so hard to hang on to hope. Hope that some day in the not too distant future that I will be able to get all of the medicines I need to keep me well. That some day I will again feel real joy in my every day activities. That the day may come when I can read a newspaper and not fly into a blinding rage at people who politically oppose health care reform and civil rights. Yet I fear, as Supertramp sang in their song Rudy, “…that it may come too late. Too late.”
So yesterday I missed a day and kind of blew my goal of posting to this blog every day this year. I remain very depressed and struggling just to get through each day. The first good news is that Ron and I did get paid today, so we are not broke. The second bit of good news is that I have an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow morning and hope that by this time tomorrow I will be back on my insulin and pills and on my way to feeling better again.
I find myself hoping that I am this week truly bottoming out in this depression. Not only did I not post anything in this blog yesterday, I have also for two or three days now just blown off putting up the #definethis word of the day. I kind of think that if the only reason anyone played at all was because I offered an eaves reward for doing so, then they don’t really see any value in it and I just don’t feel as though I have the emotional energy to promote a game that no one else gives a shit about.
Since I have been oh so down I just haven’t had it in me to do lots of online socializing and my Empire Avenue share price continues to tank and I just can’t care about it right now. I do know that I have real friends who do care about me, and I do cherish them very much. I also know that sooner or later this depression will pass and I will get manic again. When I have all that manic energy and enthusiasm, I’m sure I will get back into online socializing and my scores and share price will recover. I will be grateful to all of my shareholders who just hang on and wait for that day to come. And I resolve that I will not waste one iota of energy worrying about any who don’t.
I _so_ wasn’t in any mood for April fools jokes today. I have a Facebook app that notifies me when any of my Facebook friends either deactivate their Facebook profiles or un-friend me. I was frankly startled this morning when it informed me that four people I like and chat with regularly are no longer on my friends list. It was strange I looked at each of their profiles and noted the friend button continued to be displayed at the upper right. It took me a long time to happen to look at the screen where it told me it was just an April fools joke.
Ron tells me I’m suffering hypersomnia. I really have been sleeping a lot lately. Just when it seemed as though I had finally gotten back into the habit of sleeping all night, I’ve found myself sleeping all night, waking up for a few hours and then going back to bed and sleeping most of the day. I’ve resolved that as soon as my money comes in this month I’m going to go back to see the doctor and try to get back on my insulin and pills. I know the seroquel will at first knock me out and I’ll sleep for a couple of days but after that I’m hoping it will help finally ease me past this nasty depression. And then next month (May 1st) I start on Medicare and hope to be on all of my medicines regularly again.
Here’s hoping that most of the April fools jokes you’ve encountered haven’t been at your expense and that your new month is off to a good start. I’m going back to bed and will see you whenever I wake up.
All my life I’ve been told that routines are essential. That they are what make it possible to hold a job or keep up a home. I never was much for routine, myself. While I suppose I did keep regular hours more or less, during my years of schooling and the thirty years that I worked before my retirement, even as a child it was never easy for me to keep a regular sleep schedule. I vividly remember in elementary school, sitting on the floor of my room in the wee hours reading Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books by the nightlight.
Being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder at age forty-seven has caused me to spend much time reflecting on all the years that came before. While I can hardly fault the psychiatrists who treated me in my youth for not making this diagnosis way back then (indeed, when I was a child the psychiatric profession did not believe that children could be what was then called “manic-depressive”) I have come to realize that what is wrong with me has always been what was wrong with me. And that much of the behavior I exhibited, which largely was regarded as defiance or wrong doing was in fact really just the exhibition of this disease.
A friend recently blogged about forgiveness, and I find that I disagree at least somewhat with her contention that it is wrong to press those who have suffered to forgive those who have transgressed against them. It seems to me at this far remove that it would be more than pointless to go on being angry about things that were done to me thirty or forty years ago. Much of what was done wrong was done that way not out of malice, but rather in ignorance. I know in my heart that I am far happier for having moved past and even, dare I say it, forgiven most everything I once suffered. I am grateful for the understanding I am still in the process of obtaining, of the psychiatric disorder I suffer from. And I am I do believe largely at peace with the life I have led. All in all, that seems to me a pretty fair accomplishment.
“They say it can’t be won, the way the game is run. But if you choose to stay, you’ll wind up playing anyway.”
Do you trust me? I’ve been thinking a lot about trust lately. The guys at connect.me had a pretty good idea– that trust should be based on inter-personal recommendations. But as Saul has pointed out, the foxes are already in that hen house. (Full disclosure– I am a connect.me trust anchor. I honestly don’t know what that means.) While I certainly wish the connect.me team well I honestly don’t see that site as having any major effect on trustworthiness online.
Even for folks who write dictionaries, trust is not an easy word to define. For instance, here is what dictionary.com has listed for trust:
reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
confident expectation of something; hope.
confidence in the certainty of future payment for propertyor goods received; credit: to sell merchandise on trust.
a person on whom or thing on which
one relies: God is my trust.
the condition of one to whom something has been entrusted.
I think I’ve most always filed trust into the ”I know it when I see it” category, much like the Supreme Court on pornography. It seems to me that so much of what we do depends a great deal on being able to trust the people we interact with. I’m convinced that Facebook and Google are dead wrong that knowing someone’s wallet name is a good reason to trust them. I’ve known (by their wallet names) a number of people who proved spectacularly un-trustworthy.
I don’t think I am ever going to write a dictionary. I’m honestly unsure if I will ever be sure of just what trust is. But I definitely don’t think that any web site is ever going to easily solve the issue of trust. And sometimes, it seems to me, social networking is very much like tap dancing in a minefield. Or living in an old Jackson Browne