These days, I write short pieces of memoir and creative nonfiction, but in the past, I worked as a journalist, both freelance and as a staff writer. I remain very interested in weaving blood-and-bone journalism, the narratives I collect through interviews, with my own story of recovery from bipolar disorder. I believe that other people’s stories of loss, struggle, hope and recovery can inform and illuminate mine and vice versa. We are all in this together, and none of us should be forced to struggle alone. Someday, I hope to write a book focused on what works in recovery that weaves my story of recovery with the stories of others, gathered from interviews, who have recovered from diverse challenges.
Currently, I am focused on publishing short essays on my newly-launched blog, “Catching the Dawn: A Journalist’s Journey of Recovery from Bipolar Disorder.” I hope to reach both audiences who are interested in writing/memoir and individuals seeking to learn more about mental health. I intend my story to be both specific and universal: unique to me, but also a story of struggle faced and overcome. We all face struggles, and we all have stories. I hope my story will resonant across boundaries.
As a kid, I consumed books, but I didn’t write. I aspired to write: I dreamed of being a novelist when I grew up. Or a human rights lawyer—I also wanted to work for the United Nations. But writing always seemed like too big a dream, something beyond me, something for other people—until I made it to college. At that point, I took a literature class in which my professor asked us to write a short story. After I turned it in, my professor invited me to discuss it. During office hours, she talked about the story as if she were analyzing the literature we read in class—looking for symbols, tracing metaphor. I was stunned. She suggested that I take a creative writing class and enter my story in a competition. I will always be grateful to her: Her encouragement set me on a path to becoming a writer.
As the years have gone by, I have found writing to be an amazing outlet for the intense highs and lows generated by my bipolar disorder. It is a place of expressive freedom—a place just to be me. I can be as ugly or beautiful, as raucous or as reverent, as reflective or as silly as I need to be in my writing. It can be secretive or public: I can make connections through writing or I can retire to an inner world. I can do both at once.
The page is a place of total acceptance. For me, there is nowhere else quite like it.
I keep a journal that I write in every morning. Years of working as a journalist has reduced my handwriting to illegible chicken scratch, so I find that I have to type: I keep my journal on my laptop. Things tend to move from my journals into essays or onto my blog. I might start an idea in my journal that I then expand upon for an essay or a blog post. I think of my journal as a compost bin: Things get thrown in there—thoughts, emotions, quotes, a running tally of my days—and then they ferment, breaking down into rich black soil out of which a larger piece of writing will grow. My journal itself is a bit of a mess—I give myself permission for my journal to be a mess because I know beautiful things develop from it.
I also read a great deal, more so now that I have a Kindle. My reading informs my writing. I tend towards reading books that feed me spiritually; Brian McLaren, Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen are just a few of the writers I have read lately. These writers address the human condition, which is suffering, but also joy. As a person with bipolar, who feels emotion so intensely, I find it helpful to process the thoughts of wise people on how to survive the suffering, the joy. The joy must be survived as well as the suffering, I have found.
Meg LeDuc was born in Detroit and grew up in Mt. Clemens and Romeo, Michigan. She graduated with a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. As a student, she won the university’s Hopwood Writing Competition three times. After graduation, she worked as a journalist, both freelance and as a staff writer. In 2014, she won a Michigan Press Association Award for News Enterprise Reporting. Currently, she works as a communications coordinator. She blogs about her recovery from bipolar disorder at www.catchingthedawn.blogspot.com.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell the truth without shame.
Angelica had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.
Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
Readers’ Favorite Finalist
USA Book News Best Book Finalist
Great Midwest Book Fest Honorable Mention.
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters