Contentment and Frustration

One day at a time. I need contentment in the midst of frustration.

Today, I leave for vacation. I have packed and done laundry and been trying to figure out books to take and read while in the car. I am working on a memoir based on books and am starting to feel better about my writing. I have written more in the past few days than I have in months. I have requested feedback and am starting to feel more confident.

As I have managed these past few weeks in random fits of normal, manic, mixed, and depressed, I feel as though I might make it. I hate that I am not working and that I am unable to work. I get excited on days that I feel good and frustrated on days that I am depressed.

Yesterday, I organized my computer files and discovered a wide variety of writings from my first few years of experiences with psychiatric medications and treatment. The overarching theme was a numbness of spirit and dullness of mind.

“My brain has been gone since my crash, since my time staring into the dark abyss of suicide and all my times spent in the hospital. My words are fewer. I choke on what words make it to the blank page. Characters are flat and without purpose. I miss the plots, the twists, the edginess of my writing. I want it back. Somewhere along the way, I lost my voice,” I wrote in one document.

However, there are days when it is there. I have good days, of course. However, when my mind slows from depression or medications to combat the mania, I am frustrated and stare at the blank page.

I wrote in another document:

“There is a void now, where once danced words and characters and descriptions. I used to fumble my way through the dark where I would write deep into the night, words pouring forth from me, ideas forcing themselves onto the page. Now, I am stuck with silence. My dearest friends have failed me and I know not why.

I want to blame it on the pills, these tablets that make it possible for me to function. Somehow, they have damaged my capacity for clear thought and creativity. I long to rediscover my voice. To find that it wasn’t lost with the start of graduate school and the great depression, to discern hope in the seemingly endless days where my mind is as blank as the sheet of paper upon which my eyes rest.”


While I was in the hospital, I was given educational materials on bipolar; I learned that my condition is lifelong and incurable. It is only manageable. The doctors said my medications were complicated. I wish I could get off them, but must settle for management of symptoms without overly complicating my life. I have thought about how I always pursued working and being productive, but am now stuck with recognizing that I cannot function while working full-time. I have been hospitalized over 20 times, if not over 30; this tells me that it will take too much from my employment to try to manage my illness. Forcing myself to challenge my limits on a daily basis without effective self-care will just cause me to relapse again and again.

In regards to my anorexia (my twenty year struggle), I find myself doing well one month and being triggered to relapse at a change in my body size, or seeing a smaller person on television, in the store, or in the act of eating too much. I thought I had recovered and then I relapsed. That is the case of my life: recovery -> stress -> relapse.

For now, I must focus on one day at a time and pursue a contentment with my life.

Author: Darlene Milam

So, a little bit about me. I am a coffee lover, animal lover, and book reader extraordinaire. Not really the extraordinaire part. I want to be the next great American novelist, or memoirist. I am recovering from anorexia and engaging in daily battles with managing mental illness and other physical health problems. I believe in the power of healing through writing and want to share my story so others know they are not alone. Please comment, ask questions, like, and enjoy reading.

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