Where I’m at…

So my last (first) blog post gave the barebones of my personal journey of recovery and
my evolving assessments of what principal ingredients provided the spark. I’m still learning the
“art” of blogging but feedback from others have stressed the need to understand and “reach” my
audience. The identity of my audience will evolve (comments are always welcome) as will my
ability to be open and vulnerable in my writing. What I think sets me apart is my personal story.

 


It is something I’ve kept closely guarded. For example, I went through many of my college
years floridly psychotic but did not tell anyone outside of my psychiatrist. Somehow I finished.
My ambition to have a “normal” life in my adult years led me to rigorously maintain secrets
from colleagues, acquaintances, friends even family. I prided myself in my ability to “fool”
everyone.

Despite my successes, looking back I would not recommend this route for others. I try
hard not to succumb to regret, as it serves no purpose, but for certain my quality of life over the
years would have been better if I opened up and allowed myself to be vulnerable. As my career
developed I began to flee the network of friends I had developed and began to substitute them
with those of accomplishment and no diagnosis. In a way it was a Faustian bargain. It felt like a
return to an older self but it intensified much of the internal pain. A large part of my daily
experience was now being quarantined. My ability to enjoy life was quite sporadic. In fact it
still is.

As I write this, certain admissions start to make me feel uncomfortable. In years past I
was mortified by the possibility of a prominent news source (New York Times in my fantasies)
writing up my website and “outing” me. Looking back I wish they had. I certainly would relish
the attention now. However back then I had conditioned myself that my illness reflected poorly
upon my character and it fostered a deep sense of shame. While I was quite brave to confront
and work very hard to overcome my challenges (there were many days where the workplace
crushed my spirit), I was way too concerned about the opinions of others. Sadly it was my self-
imposed stigma which impinged so much on my ability to enjoy life.
So despite wishing I had done some things differently, I am at a good position in life. It
feels good now to reflect and realize there are constructive uses of ruminating about how I got to
where I am today. The process of internalization is now mounted in reverse and I look forward
to finding ways of giving back and helping others. I am very fortunate. It is liberating to state
that

An ancillary benefit of this blog is to foment attention to my website
Nolongerlonely.com. From the beginning I have tried to portray the site as a welcoming
community that is not a face-less corporate being—that it was established and is being run by a
mental health consumer. As such I am reluctant to use terms such as CEO but I suppose that is
an accurate moniker.

So in the interests of transparency let me bring my bio up-to- date. As of mid-April I am
semi-retired. I have left my Library Director position at Berkeley College and have devoted my
attention to Nolongerlonely. I will be supplementing my solo work here with part-time hours at
local public libraries. Having spent the past three months in close contact with other
entrepreneurs at a tech incubator at Queens College I have learned a lot. One principal lesson is
that it is expensive to learn on the job! Having said that, changes are afoot. I will be outsourcing
a lot of my marketing with an expert and we will be analyzing the results to find the best way to
expand my audience. This should result in more sign-ups. Email marketing will be set into high
gear as a re-engagement campaign with existing but absent users should build our user database
and help our coffers. Google analytics will help me understand my users and increase the
number of conversions.

One of the lessons learned is that a tech startup is very difficult to do with a single
founder. My eyes are wide open and if I find the right person I will bring him/her aboard. I’ve
learned that a smaller piece of a larger pie is better than a large piece of a smaller pie. It would
be a great comfort to bring someone into the company who has had previous success and to have
that person to sit across the table from while hashing things out. Beyond that I will assess the
need for outside investors. I have been honing my elevator pitch and attending pitch contests.
Shark Tank watch out!

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