I’ve written, published, and received monetary compensation about my bipolar illness since 1995. Though risky to divulge my shortcomings, it’s also rewarding. By sharing my tumultuous experiences, I help other people. The same goes for others with “sad” life experiences.
My bipolar material first appeared in literary magazines. Kaleidoscope, http://www.udsakron.org/kaleidoscope.aspx, specializing in both mental and physical disability, printed “The Prodigal Daughter,” the first bipolar story I ever wrote.
The Missouri Review, http://www.missourireview.com/, and The North American Review, http://northamericanreview.org/, picked up my fictional stories with mentally ill main characters, formulated on my personal experiences with the illness. “Having Anne,” published in The Missouri Review, was shortlisted for an O. Henry Prize in 2000.
A big, mental health publication bp Magazine is completely devoted to discussing bipolar illness. I wrote a few humor pieces for these folks.
I turned to venues on the internet. In EmpowHER, http://www.empowher.com/, I wrote about my early years with bipolar illness, and how I came down with the disease, how I was first treated, how I struggled to adjust, and how my friends and family reacted. I received more positive feedback for that gig. People liked how I made my mental illness experiences funny through “lite” bipolar personal essays.
At Author, authormagazine.org, I wrote specifically about how my bipolar illness affected my writing career. Then I blogged about bipolar
illness at PsychCentral, http://psychcentral.com. Since January, I’ve written ten blog posts for PsychCentral. Some of the posts included “A Tribute to Patty Duke,” “Living Through a Medication Change,” “The Good Family Myth,” “Is Your Diagnosis a Deal-breaker? How to Survive an Adoption Home Study,” and “Which is Worse, Mental or Physical Illness?”
Here are three other paying publications that I have personal experience with that specialize in health issues:
Woman’s World (see masthead of actual magazine for contact information) — This weekly magazine readers can pick up in their grocery checkout line prints beautiful stories about women who’ve dealt with difficult health issues. And they do it in a very upbeat way. (I like this magazine so much that I have a yearly subscription to it.) I’m currently working closely with an editor there who is considering publishing a story about my experience with cancer.
You & Me Magazine, http://www.youandmemagazine.com —”The World’s Medical Magazine,” You & Me publishes nonfiction articles, preferably in first person, about dealing with all medical issues. You & Me published a story of mine about lithium usage and pregnancy.
Pentimento, http://www.pentimentomag.org/ — This “Journal of All Things Disability” lists itself as a disability-themed literary magazine. They accept poetry, fiction, nonfiction and art and photography. This is a great little journal. I’ve been trying to break into it for years. That’s another story.
Through writing about my hardships and sharing my weaknesses, I’m thoroughly enjoying myself, and I know from the feedback I’ve received that I’m aiding others.
In being sincere about your trials and tribulations, you can find acceptances for your material because editors discern that you’ve “been there,” and you know what you’re talking about. In a way, you’re an expert on misery. Then there’s always “write what you know.”
In reality, my life is problematic and often tough, but it’s also filled with joy because suffering ultimately brings empathy for people, and that’s what it’s all about.
So if life has dealt you a difficult hand, consider creating articles, short stories, blog posts, essays, about your experiences. This is not a new concept. We all know that all good writing addresses human problems.
Now, go make some lemonade.
Laura Yeager has been writing for over 35 years. Some of her favorite topics include writing, religion, mental health, parenthood and her day-to-day life. Her articles about writing have appeared in The Writer Magazine, The Toastmaster Magazine, writersweekly.com and authormagazine.org. She is a mental health writer for PsychCentral.com. Her spiritual writing has been featured in several venues including Aleteia USA, Busted Halo, The Liguorian Magazine, Canticle Magazine and Guideposts Magazine. A graduate of The Writers’ Workshop at The University of Iowa, Laura teaches writing at Kent State University and online Creative Writing at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. www.laurayeagercancer.blogspot.com