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Welcoming the One Millionth Reader

I know its a bit premature (the blog visit count on my blog is only about 99,8000 yet and it will take another 2-3 days to hit that milestone) but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the ~1 million readers who have thought it worthwhile to visit my blog at least once. You know who who you are: thanks to the Moms and the Grandmoms (those readers who were the only ones to visit it in the early days) and thanks also to the Siblings and Cousins (those blogs which encouraged, accepted and sometimes generated a healthy sibling competition of sorts in the early days?).

Maker Faire 2008, San Mateo - a life size vers...

Maker Faire 2008, San Mateo – a life size version of the Mouse Trap board game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My blog is ~12.5 years old, finishing the tween years and preparing to enter adolescence (if I may anthropomorphise it….I don’t really know if in the species called blogs, teenage begins at 13 years or whether a 13 year old is already an ageing blog on the verge of retirement/ death?), and I have mixed feelings about it.

To begin with, the following lines from an old popular TV commercial sensitizing people against gender discrimination comes to mind:

‘Ka maine kokh sahi na jani?’

English translation: ‘Did I not give birth to the right child?’

As some of you may know The Mouse Trap has not been able to generate much discussion (only 45 comments as per WP.com stats and 1313 comments as per WP dashboard, most of which are my own scoop.it backlink comments), is a relatively ‘Quiet’/ introverted child (only 540 posts in ~12.5 years), and may even be a specially abled/ differently abled child (it may have missed its developmental milestones like getting a one million hits in the first five years itself:-) ), but I am more than satisfied with my baby. It bears repeating that each child is unique and special, and that I am a proud parent.

The only regret I have is whether I have spent enough time with my child? Did I read enough stuff, reflect on it, and then take careful time out to craft a good post? I know that my blog can never live up to the extraverted ideals – of posting daily, of taking care of SEO etc to ensure enough stimulation (visibility/ interaction) etc, but I am also doubtful whether I really worked that hard to make content the king. Did I not start taking my blog (and its readers) for granted? Did other commitments, like curating content on scoop.it or other social media, not take away from the time I could have spent with the Mouse Trap?

Also, am I expecting too much from my child, and that too, too early? I had decided to put ads on The Mouse Trap earlier this year, and the revenue I get from that is still not able to cover expenses for hosting The Mouse Trap on fast servers (so that the readers can have a good experience), so are my expectations unrealistic? Should I wait till young adulthood before expecting The Mouse Trap to be able to sustain itself?

But then when I look at shining examples of other young adults out there (like Brain Pickings or Wait But why?) who are walking upright, I know that the Mouse Trap could also walk one day on its own feet. The hope lives on!

PS: Thanks, last but not the least, to my baby (The Mouse Trap) which is a bundle of joy. Like all parents, I take great solace in your potential and warmth, whenever feeling down or in a low mood. Reading older posts brings back memories of joy and thinking about your future fills me with excitement and vigor. Long Live The Mouse Trap.

A tale of two diseases

I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). I am also bipolar.

Now which of the above statements shocked/ surprised you more? If I am guessing correctly the latter statement about my being bipolar came across as more of a shock/ surprise/ concern. Now what does that say about your own reactions to mental illness and your own involvement in perpetuating the stigma against mental illness?

Both of the above are chronic diseases to an extent. My OSA (snoring in popular parlance) cannot be treated by surgery, so the only viable option I have is to use a CPAP machine while sleeping to get a good night’s sleep. Bipolar disorder as we all know can only be contained, and I take my medicines regularly to ensure that there are no relapse into either a manic or a depressive episode.

Both, if un-diagnosed and untreated can cause havoc. OSA which was un-diagnosed/ untreated for about a couple of years or so in my case led to excessive daytime drowsiness, less alertness and lowered productively etc; if untreated OSA can cause increased risk of injury to self and others while driving as you may actually get into micro sleeps while driving. Even if not that dramatic, on a daily basis the quality of your sleep and waking life can become very diminished.  The downsides of having a manic or depressive episodes are well known- at least to readers of this blog. However, what may be less well known is that even in the throes of psychotic extremes, the risk to others from violence by bipolar people is very little and if anything they may be subjected to violence than otherwise.

When treated, that is when I use my CPAP machine regularly I have no problems at all due to my OSA either in my work life or in my personal life – I am as refreshed in morning as ever. Rather I believe I might be getting better sleep than the average person. When treated, that is when I regularly use medicine, and take other precautions like having regular sleep cycles etc for my bipolar, I am totally episode free- rather I believe I have an advantage when it comes to managing my energy and mood.

However, given all the above, which disclosure do you think has drastically lowered my chances of employment (if I was seeking employment, which I am thankfully not:-)); which disclosure would have led to discrimination in the workplace or at least got me some amused and funny looks? About which of these are my friends and acquaintances likely to gossip more? Why as a society we are still not that accepting of mental illness and stigmatize those who have it?

Some immediate consequences I can think of:

  1. readers of The Mouse Trap will no longer take my interest in psychology as non-partisan. They will think of me as being interested in psychology only due to my being bipolar (to set the record straight I became interested in psychology in 1996 during my IIT delhi days, while my first episode happened while I worked with Hughes in 2001).  Also when I take a position like association of biploar with creativity, I will be considered biased; however nobody will say that a ‘normal’ person advocating otherwise is biased due to his being ‘normal’.
  2. Some will start to see signs of craziness in my old/ new posts and wonder whether when I was writing them I was in a normal frame of mind or episodic. Its usually my style to try and combine seemingly disparate research ideas and that is especially prone to this analysis.
  3. I will start getting sympathy, but like anyone living with say OSA or diabetes etc I think one should just ignore the fact about my being bipolar and not let it redefine my relationship with you. I am much more than a person with bipolar or OSA, and I prefer it that way.
  4. there will be some embarrassment for my near and dear ones.

Why did I not disclose for so many years?

  1. because I feared discrimination (and funny looks) at the workplace. It might have been imaginary but I was not strong enough to experiment. Now that I am self employed the stakes are much lower and I don’t care.
  2. I myself was grappling with my being bipolar. For initial some years it was hard to accept; later I struggled with accepting medication as necessary ; but now for quite some years I am at peace and thankfully episode free.
  3. As I believe it never affected adversely my performance at work , I did not deemed it necessary to inform my employers etc as I thought ,and still think, its none of their business.

Why did I decide to disclose publicly about this?

  1. I have no delusions (pun intended) that I am Deepika Padukone that my talking about a mental health issue is going to raise awareness drastically; still I want to do my bit to fight stigma and the journey starts with oneself. I had a decent career in software despite my being biploar and being biploar hasn’t stopped me from taking risks and experimenting with a second career; hopefully that can inspire or provide mental support to a person or two.
  2. Some immediate triggers- a mouse trap reader on facebook privately messaged me asking if I only have theoretical knowledge about psychosis etc or if I had some personal experiences too. I think it was a legitimate question that deserves a legitimate answer.
  3. Another immediate trigger- I came across a tweet by https://twitter.com/akhileshlinky about his year end ‘confession’ about being bipolar and I though heck why not ‘come out’ yourself.
  4. but really, it doesn’t matter to me one way or other – the only upside of sharing more publicly is that it can help combat stigma.

 

What I expect from you?

  1. don’t define me exclusively as being biploar.
  2. reflect on your own attitudes about mental illness and try to overcome that implicit bias
  3. resist discrimination and stigma

Lastly, thanks are due to my family and friends who have been prone to this ‘secret’ over the years and who have provided the necessary support and encouragement.

The new look of Mouse Trap

Daily Disney - Tick... Tock... Tick... Tock...
Image by Joe Penniston via Flickr

I am almost done with the new look of The Mouse Trap blog. I strongly encourage my RSS feed subscribers to come visit the new blog and give me feedback about the look and feel of the new site.  There are a host of ratings and review plugins added that would let you rate individual posts as well as individual comments. Do explore the site and I am sure you will have some constructive feedback.

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Migration to the new blog completed

Migration from the old blogspot blog, to the new the-mouse-trap.com blog is now over. I’m posting this over at the new blog. Feeds have been properly migrated, so you should be reading this in your feed readers and would not need to subscribe anew to the new blog.

A lot of older stuff has been lost in migration (mostly the sidebar), do let me know via comments which sidebar facilities you use most often and which I should make efforts to restore?

Welcome to the new Mouse trap

Hello Readers,

Welcome to the all new The Mouse Trap.  Please note the new domain name http://the-mouse-trap.com .

I will be juicing up the new mouse trap blog in a few days. Meanwhile please do update your blogrolls, links and RSS feeds.  For existing subscribers to the old blogger blog, nothing should change and their RSS feed would be redirected and they do not need to unsubscribe and resubscribe.

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