I recently published a memoir. After the intense focus to get it finished, the frustrating parts of the self-publishing process, the triumph after finally achieving some huge goals, I felt down. This tends to happen for me, with accomplishments and it can be exaggerated with bipolar disorder (now managed best I can).
I had therapy today and I want to touch on that. I'm now at a stage where I'm more maintaining my mental health, rather than actively processing trauma. Hence moving beyond advocacy.
I've been in therapy for over nearly five years, for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I expect therapy will stop by the end of the year, which will feel sad, as it's been wonderful to have someone to talk to in confidence.
What has also been therapeutic and part of my personal growth, is my creative journey (including solo art exhibitions and writing books).
Now, the biggest downside to self-publishing that it's very hard to connect them with potential readers. Yes, the marketing. I have very limited energy and I'm on a low income.
I'm passionate about the creative process and sharing snippets of my journey (which I guess is a form of marketing) but I loathe trying to sell something. Those who sell lots of books either tend to have a large social media following (which can be a reason why they get considered by 'traditional' publishers) or spend lots of money on advertising.
There are some options for those on low incomes like myself. My previous books went to #1 and #2 in fairly large categories on Amazon during a promotion that didn't cost me much. My books have gone to over a dozen countries. Yet, I still haven't made a profit on them.
Some people have been dismissive of my accomplishments (very challenging with my disabilities). To even complete a book at all, let alone more than one, is extremely challenging with the impairments I have. Even my psychiatrist was shocked, after I could hardly string a sentence together (disorganised thinking).
I'm good at research, hence know some strategies. It will likely plummet, as there are millions of books but my memoir is currently in the top 100 of an ebook category, days after publication. Without any ads, without selling very many and with no reviews yet. It's not random, it's making decisions from my research and past experiences.
I'm not sure how much people look at new release lists but it's currently number 2 in bipolar disorder (ebooks). It's likely to sink though, if I do nothing (I've currently been updating links).
So why the low?
What goes up, must come down. That applies to mood - a low after a high. It also happens with achievements.
I had to tap into my perfectionism to prepare the book for publication. It was an intense focus (which took me off the pain from recent surgery). Perfectionism can be useful for some things but it can also have a negative impact on my mood.
I was despressed after I got distinction (97-98% in a piano exam, as an adult). It's actually in my medical records - a psychiatrist wrote that I was depressed, yet preparing for a piano exam. My teacher was excited for me, and she couldn't understand why I was depressed.
My psychologist said when she did her training (7 years intensive training), she and her peers were warned to not be surprised if they experience low mood after the elation of completing their qualifications. They had dinner to celebrate, then at breakfast, they all had low moods. One didn't turn up as was too depressed.
Highs and lows are in the realm of normal human experience. It's exaggerated to the point of a disorder with bipolar disorder.
Incidently, when I told my psychologist how the surgery for skin cancer went, including that I was conscious for it, she said 'dissociation can help protect us' (I shut down to cope with invasive medical procedures).
My psychologist observed that I got a bit worked up today. My book is the end of a 15-year advocacy journey for me. It's too toxic for me to continue with it.
Celebrating on a trigger anniversary
I suspect another reason I was keep to publish in September, is that it marks two years since I was very aggressively cyberbullyed. I have made very little mention of it in the book but enough to show how rididulous it was, yet it also had a terrible impact on my mental health.
So I have been very intensively working on it, the past few months (also because I liked the idea of publishing it when I'm still 50).
So what now?
I'll write that into a new blog post. What my next steps are. In a nutshell, have a little rest then focus on the new goals towards the bigger purpose. The key is purpose. That's been life-transforming for me.
My memoir is: Bipolar Courage: Are You Sure You're Not Autistic? About the highs and lows with the mutual attraction and clashes with an autistic man, exaggerated by our diagnoses.
It's not easy to search yet, so I will post links on my books page.