Another Meetup? Whaaaat??

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Have you heard of Meetup.com?  I don’t even remember how I came across it, but I’ve been a member of Meetup.com for several years.  Last year I attended only one Meetup –  a mom’s night out in my little town.  Over dinner at a new Italian restaurant I found that I didn’t have much in common with my dining companions.  Coincidentally the three of them recently relocated to our community from the fast-paced Bay Area, unlike me, so I felt a bit out of it from the get-go.  While the evening wasn’t excruciating, I wanted to make an early exit nonetheless. (I did it as gracefully as possible!)

I was the only mom present with older children.  That fact also didn’t help me connect with the other moms, despite my trying hard to be friendly and even, ahem “normal”.  (yeah, right!) Even the food was an expensive disappointment. 

To top things off, I had given up alcohol due to my MAOI bipolar medication. The other moms drank red wine and none of them stuck to just one glass. My social anxiety was in full force and I craved a few glasses of wine like the others apparently did.  I didn’t drink a drop, for to combine my medication with alcohol is a huge no-no and potentially even fatal!    

Although the evening was a let-down, I felt very proud of myself for giving it a shot.

Despite that bummer of a Meetup, I hoped that someday I would find a group that fit me well.  Browsing through Meetup’s website you’ll find a multitude of eclectic groups offered in my area.  It’s fun to take a look!  Some groups are pretty out-there, with occasionally hilarious themes. (“Cuddling Groups” and “Bigfoot Searchers” anyone?)  Of course there are the tamer-styled Meetups, such a book clubs, a WordPress group with a whopping 500 members, dog walking groups, movie nights and writers’ groups.  Oh, and don’t forget the Alien Sightings Meetup and Tantric sexual arts!

I arranged for Meetup.com to email me whenever a group matching my pre-selected interests is formed.  Specifically I’ve wanted to be contacted when a mental health group is created.  Once I spotted a social anxiety Meetup that sounded cool, but it met an hour away from my home so I passed as that was too far away for me.  A few months ago I started yearning to be around others who hate their social anxiety as much as I do, so I went in search of the “faraway” group only to see it had disbanded.

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Boo Hoo!

In 2013, I decided to taper off my bipolar medication, and I promptly became hypomanic. Whenever I’m hypomanic, my social anxiety vanishes.  So last spring I started my first Meetup group.  I shelled out $18 for one month’s organizer dues, and decided that the group’s theme would be for women interested in natural healing for mood disorders.  While in the planning stages of that Meetup, my hypomania turned into full-blown mania, and then sank down into suicidal depression.  I admitted myself to the hospital yet again. Needless to say my Meetup group folded before our very first meeting.

Three days ago Meetup emailed me offering a 50% reduction in first month fees if I created a group within five days.  It would only cost $9.50.  At first I thought, nope!  But I didn’t delete the email.  

I couldn’t ignore a little voice inside me that said, Well, you could try it and see if there’s any interestI thought about it some more.  No…I’m not gonna do it.  You don’t need one more thing on your plate.  And you need to work more on your damn book, not plan support groups!.

The pesky little voice grew stronger, adding, You’ve been wanting a Meetup do-over.  Even though you haven’t made time to see your closest friends (you know who you are, S.!) you know you’ve been struggling with social anxiety and you’ve been lonely in your isolated mountain town.  The internet has given you some wonderful online friendships, but you need more ‘IRL’ community with women like you.  Maybe having a group like this would really help your smorgasbord of mood disorders more than you realize!

So I took the plunge.  

What the hell,  I rationalized.  It’s just $9.50 to get started, and if no one joins, I can cancel it!  I knew I’d be creating a group with very specific parameters, so I wouldn’t have high hopes for many responses.  Still, I’d keep an open mind all the same.

TWO DAYS LATER…

After spending an inordinate amount of time playing around with my Meetup group’s title, description, its appearance, and researching other bipolar wellness Meetups’ agendas, the gung-ho wind completely vanished out of my sails.

I had an attack of massive “Meetup Remorse”:  

What the hell was I thinking???? I’m not ready for this! No way!”

Luckily Meetup’s policy is to wait two days after a group’s creation before its announcement and listing goes live to members and the public.

Despite the fact I’ve felt better in a lot of respects after last summer’s hospitalization for bipolar depression, over the past year I haven’t felt social. I’ve rarely hung out with longtime friends.  My idea of creating a group given the antisocial state I’m in is nothing short of preposterous.  

As I’m sure you’ve figured out already, a more realistic goal would be for me to join a group already in existence.  Sadly there’s nothing like that in my area. When I researched other similar-themed Meetups around the world, I was surprised and envious to see such awesome, welcoming descriptions.  Cool examples include a “New York Women with Bipolar brunch” group, and a “Sydney, Australia Women with Bipolar group”. There are many more mental wellness groups that look so cool and again, I wish there was one in my backyard.

It was fun to dream about forming a group that I’d like to be a part of, but the time isn’t right. Maybe someday I’ll have a change of heart and I’ll be in a better place with my social anxiety to pick up where I left off.

 

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23 thoughts on “Another Meetup? Whaaaat??

  1. p.s. that’s so awful that you and your mother have been pulled down to the ground during walks – wow! Maybe I need to send that dog guru Cesar Milan a letter asking him to help you & the hounds!???

  2. Kitt, again I’m tardy with my reply but I think you’ll agree with me that it’s better late than never! I just “gently pressured” you to take your beasts for a walk today (via Twitter) – I suggest going to a trail devoid of other dogs if possible? Baby steps! I’m actually having challenges with Lucy when she encounters other dogs. She barks like a freak at them and pulls super-hard on her leash. The teacher @ Petsmart first wants me to get her a front-lead harness – she (and a fellow classmate of mine) said it makes a world of difference when the dog barks out of control like mine does. I’m not sure of next steps, but will keep you posted!

  3. And yes, aren’t writers’ groups welcoming? I found the one I attended to be so. And the one I started, everyone is nice. There can be a rotten apple from time to time, Dyane, but they usually leave.

    1. I would LOVE to be in your writer’s group, Wendy – I know I would feel safe & rotten-apple-free in such an environment! Why don’t you two come out here for part of the year and do a groovy seminar or somethin’? 😉 Santa Cruz, California *is* actually known as a mecca where bestselling writers live and lead groups, I kid you not!

  4. Kitt, you sound a LOT like me. I have gotten very bad on the exercise front and Nora does 95% of the housework. (Thank God she likes to clean!) I myself am a slug. Well, we both are. I wish I had the money for a personal trainer b/c that was the only way I got in shape. Someday. I’m not one to ‘just get up and walk.’ It’s like my feet are cement and the door weighs 1000 pounds. I do mow the lawn and that helps me move around. Don’t you know I wait until the grass is embarassingly long and we’re the eyesore of our street!!! :O

    1. Wendy, here’s a bit of bribery for you: if you and Nora came to California to lead a “Writing Masters” seminar, then I would be your personal trainer for a couple weeks gratis! I was an A.C.E. (American Council on Exercise)-certified personal trainer for two years, and I was pretty damn good at it! I should let you know that I do work with a whip. (just kidding.) (well, maybe not.)

      Mowing the lawn IS good but it sounds like it’s sporadic in your life, so it would be even better for you to add a bit of moving into your days. I wonder what you think of gyms? A lot of them come with training sessions built into the membership fee. The gym I worked at (a very cool, locally owned place called Toadal Fitness, ribbit rbbit) offered three training sessions with a year membership. It’s just a thought that you check out a gym near you….I prefer walking and my beloved elliptical trainer, but it sounds like that walking is not your ideal exercise and you probably don’t want to shell out $800 for a NordicTrack. (there *are* used ones though!)

      When it comes to housework, I’m okay at it, but not great. For months and months I wanted our house to be truly clean for a change. For my birthday present this past March I asked for a “deep cleaning” one-time service by a lovely, young married couple associated with Happy Planet Cleaning. (you can read my 5-star Yelp review of them here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/happy-planet-cleaning-services-boulder-creek)

      I cannot tell you how nice it was to walk into a clean home. They did little things that were above-and-beyond that sound minute, but truly cheered me up, i.e. cleaning the nasty outer doors of our fridge and re-arranging all the messed-up family photos on it so that we could actually see them! It was something that didn’t occur to me to ever do, but when they did it, I realized how awesome it was.

      :))) big P.S. thank you for your comments – I always love getting replies from bestselling authors! Also, I have shared the news via Facebook & Twitter that the price of your latest bestseller “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival” has dropped significantly, but I had no problem paying its initial price as it’s worth every penny!

      http://www.amazon.com/Two-Bipolar-Chicks-Guide-Survival-ebook/dp/B00JOW47O0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406221723&sr=8-1&keywords=Two+Bipolar+Chicks

  5. I agree with Kitt. Here’s the thing…. maybe you are starting the wrong kind of group. See, I have social anxiety too. You have one bad experience where you so bravely attempted to have dinner (what were you thinking sweetie?) with strangers. That is so BRAVE! See how brave you are? Now if you can do THAT and survive the anxiety, surely you CAN start your own. And for half off.sa
    Let me tell you a little story. And one more thing, yes your anxiety is real. Many of us have it, I’ve realized more and more that i do too. Nothing to scoff at. But there are times we have to ourselves what can I do to push myself. Just like you did when you went out to dinner. Little victories. I often don’t and feel trapped in my house. In my wee little house. In my office, which is where we writers spend many hours, perhaps half of our days on dealine weeks.
    Alas, as usual, I digress…

    I STARTED A MEETUP GROUP. There I said it. And yes, I did it. In 2009 when I was searching for other writers so I could feel like a writer; so I could be inspired by others. It wasn’t even so much that I could inspire others because at that point I had little inspiration inside myself. I barely had a rough draft. Who was I to impart anything or discuss anything publishing or writer related to anyone, dog, person, ant or otherwise. Let me tell you how and why. I told you why, partly.

    My roommate at the time had a tutor. He was all smiles, you know the kind that you’re convinced has never suffered from depression so you slightly despise them for being so happy all the time. Anyhoo, I found out he had a writers group and attended. I loved having a handful of writers who knew just how I felt. And we met in a coffee shop. How cool! Trite, yes, but it FELT where I belonged. And i was treking to this guy’s group a few times, often 45 minutes away, thinking ‘why should I be hauling my ass all the way up here, when there should be a group closer to me?’ I live in an artsy area. Surely there are other writers near me!’ And so I created one. One, the guy who ran the other one wasn’t even a writer. He was a tutor who liked being surrounded by writers. He was kind of fascinated by them which was kind of weird. I thought he was bordering a phony but he did have the leadership skills to keep the conversation going, do some research and gather the herd.

    Now, I, like you, was a bit terrified. Each week another person showed. We were a lean group at first, one, two, three and gradually we grew. After five years we had amassed (sp?) to 250 members. Now, granted some of these people who joined were from NYC and joined every writers group across America, it seemed. However, it grew. This is not to scare you, because it didn’t matter what the numbers said, the same 10 people, same core came to meetings. Then I decided why have hundreds of people who weren’t coming, weren’t devoted, just faces in a group. So, I had dues automatically linked after a 90 free trial and they all got chopped after that, unless they were truly interested in making the committment.

    Now, the meetup website dues are paid; I don’t stress about that. I don’t have to deal with money, though people still pay with cash and checks, that’s fine.

    The point is girl: what are you waiting for? You want to finish your book? You’ll need support and not just a silent room. START or for Pete’s sake, JOIN a writers group. Not some bunch of mommy whinos. (Sorry, had to say it.)

    You are doing yourself and others a disservice when you’re not sharing your talents and your spirit, most of all, with the local, writing community. It has been my single biggest joy. I don’t spend time really preparing or recording dues, it’s very easy. I announce meetings, I write down their names as they speak at each meeting and we set goals for next time. Voila! We have one “formal” meeting per month at a library locally. (Town library as county library is too much red tape.) Then we have an “informal” meeting the other meeting of the month. Two little meetings per month. The informal meeting is held at a Panera’s (warning: it’s a big too loud!) It we had a quieter coffee shop, I’d be there. We’ve bounced around.

    Anyhow, that’s my rant for the day. Join or start, but I agree with Kitt, definitely become a part of. Often you can find one that’s free but definitely join the closest “normal” (haha) writers group to your home. Avoid say “romance writers of xyz” as you’re obviously not writing a romance. Or “Horror Hounds of H… County.” Find a generic writers group close to home that suits you. Are they all too far away?
    Darn, you know what that means: START ONE.

    here’s the deal, I used to get so nervous before meetings. now, it boosts my self-esteem. If I don’t watn to talk much, ask ppl how their writing is going. We usually go around in a circle and discuss what we’re working on, what our goals are, etc.

    Good luck. Join. Be a part of. And, stay away from the soccer moms. You are much, much more. Express that and become free freeeeeeee!

    1. Wendy, here I am…finally writing you back and I hope you checked off the little WordPress box for you to get notified of the reply. (Sometimes I forget to do that myself, so I might tweet you about it.)

      ANYWooooooo, wow, your comment provided lots of food for thought: chocolate truffles, chocolate chocolate chip ice cream, beignets…ooops – wrong line of thought! I giggled when I read your comment “What were you thinking?” in regard to that mom dinner. I might have been a wee bit hypomanic, but not enough to sweep away the S.A. that true hypomania does for me. And your observation of the “mommy whinos” – HILARIOUS and that even had a double entendre in it! Divine!

      Even though we’ve never met, I had a feeling you *didn’t* have much S.A. Well big whoops there – I was wrong, wasn’t I? :0

      I loved reading this comment of yours. It was super-fascinating to read about the creation of your group and I don’t mean to sound mean, but it was pretty damn funny to read about your jolly housemate in particular. Perhaps he wasn’t really a human but an alien of some kind?

      In any case, I think it was brilliant to work in the 90-day free trial of your group so that you don’t have to cover organizer dues and so that it deepens commitment too.

      Hmm. I will chew on this. If anyone could inspire me to start a writer’s meetup, Wendy, it’s you. I love how you emphasize the true benefits of doing such a thing. Without sounding like too much of a braggart, I am extremely experienced in logistics. Aside from creating the DBSA chapter and running a few of those groups, I’ve done special event production, volunteer management, publicity and all kinds of non-profit related la dee da tasks. (you know that!) In other words, I could easily find a meeting place. It’s just the other 99% of the work, which is showing up! What do you think creating a group with a memoir focus? Too limited?

      XOOXOXO
      THANK YOU for taking the time to write, inspire and genuinely care!

  6. There’s a “Highly Sensitive People” (based on the description in Elaine Aron’s book) meet up in SF that I’ve thought about dropping in on! Looking forward to seeing you next week. 🙂

  7. Hey Dy, yeah I think you need to be in the right frame of mine to setup and effectively manage a meetup group. I am in awe of some of the group organizers of the groups I belong to, given the amount of work they put in to keep them effectively running. I am fascinated by a “Cuddling Group” in regards to the effects of the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone”. Sometimes I crave a good cuddle! And a Sydney womens BiPolar group is wonderful. I will look later to see if they have a group for men. I guess I joined theatre and movie groups because they provide a pleasant distraction with a peformance to talk about. No awkward silences as I have experienced with dining groups that require participation without a topic to focus on.
    I could not setup a group at the moment as it would fall apart. But maybe sometime in the future…….?
    cheers, Glenn

    1. I’ve created groups and led them with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, & yeah, that took a lot of work. I had to totally promote them from scratch too (at least Meetup does a good job with listing groups and directly contacting members who have the key interests that match your group’s foci) I can’t believe that there isn’t a cuddling group in Sydney. There must be! If you want to read a description check this link out describing the group near me – there are almost 300 members in it – wow! http://www.meetup.com/Cuddle-Party-South-Bay-Santa-Cruz/

  8. I second the thought. You should find people to connect with that have similar interests. If your disorder comes up then talk about it. I will have to say I completely understand you. Being the odd person in a group only makes my anxiety even worse.

    1. Thanks so much. Yes, I’d like to find my “tribe” so badly. I have one amazing, close friend who lives about 20-30 minutes away. She has mood disorder challenges too. She has done a lot to help me. I appreciate your understanding…I know you do! I loved that post you wrote recently about these themes. I’ll let you know what I wind up doing…I hope to face my fears soon! :))) p.s. on a totally unrelated note, the Gravatar image of you is so cute and you remind me of a Roaring Twenties girl in it!!!!!!!!!

  9. That’s so awesome, Kitt, that your writing meetups have been inviting places! I noticed a new Meetup formed recently in my county called “Be Quiet & Just Write!” instead of “Shut Up & Just Write” – I got a kick of the gentler title.

    I admire you so much for going to groups. My s.a. is so severe right now I can’t see myself doing it. Also, the writing groups closest to me meet in the evenings. That’s when I poop out (energy-wise! ha ha) plus it would involve driving about 40 minutes each way. Excuses, excuses, I guess, but I’d rather write in the morning. I have two glorious weeks coming up in which I have a quiet house from 9-3 due to a science day cap – I’m hoping to finally get some solid writing done. 🙂

    1. Enjoy the free time while your girls are at science day camp.

      It is easier for me to socialize, yes. Rather than suffer from social anxiety, I get overstimulated and hypomanic when I engage in social activities. They overwhelm me. Different dynamic.

      Finding it diffficult to get out this summer because my son likes me home with him. He’s 14 but still wants me around. No doubt there will come a time when that will change. Though, I’m not sure. He seems to find it reassuring to know I’m in the house, even if I’m on another floor. He cannot see or hear me, but I’m here if he needs me.

      1. I’ve written it before somewhere, and I’ll write it again: you are a great mom. This is a precious time for you and your son. My humble opinion is that you stay home as much as you can with him because it will change. I know that it’s easy to get “cabin fever” and such…at least it sounds like you’ve been able to attend your evening groups while your husband is home. Still, it’s important that you get outdoors and get some natural light & fresh air. Can you sit outside in your yard while your son is home? Also, do you walk the dogs every day? I wondered if you and your son walk them together. It’s hard getting our girls to walk Lucy, but they’ve been alternating with us.

      2. That’s great advice that I should, but may not take. I’ll let you know if I go out on a mini-dog walk today. Mad at the dogs b/c the big one bit another dog at the dog park on Saturday. We have to pay vet bill. Our dogs are not well-socialized. (Bad dogs, lazy owners) My son will soon be grown and on his own, so yes this time is precious.

      3. No pressure to walk – it was just a thought for you to consider. We flaked on today’s doggie walk – poor Lucy!!!! I am SO sorry about your dog’s “indiscretion” & that’s a shame about the vet bill…long ago my dog was attacked by my landlady’s Akita and her chest was basically ripped out, but she had surgery & survived. So what I’m trying to say is that the incident you mention could have been much worse! (This is how we Jews think!) Lucy has not been friendly to other dogs yet. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. At her puppy training class she barks at the other 3 dogs, and along with one other hound named “Blue”, she has to be sectioned off from the other pups Chulo & Brisbey by a small fence and blanket covering it so she doesn’t see them!!! Yikes! I have never been to the dog park in nearby Scotts Valley, but there’s a cordoned-off small dog/puppy section and I’m thinking of trying it out. I’ll let you know how that turns out….

      4. Please do gently pressure me to take walks with or without our hairy beasts. We failed to socialize our dogs as pups. You are a more experienced dog parent than us, so Lucy will probably do just fine.

      5. I avoid housework and exercise. I enjoy walking/hiking; though not with my dog-aggressive, barking, pulling dogs over whom I have little control. They’ve pulled both my mother and me to the ground on walks. My mother’s shoulder was injured, and she had to undergo physical therapy.

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