To allow people into my book. I am releasing a few chapters here on my blog, as well as my author website, where you can also find blog posts here. This chapter chronicles the “lost years” just after my diagnosis of Bipolar One. You can purchase my book on Amazon here.
Chapter Sixteen: The Lost Year of The Bipolar Writer
THE FIRST THREE YEARS of my diagnosis are what I consider the lost years of my life. There were so many things that went wrong in these years. If I am honest, these years set me back in my mental health recovery. I sometimes hate that my mind wonders to how different I could have been without these lost years. If I had accepted that I was Bipolar and believed that things could change. I don’t know where I would be, but that is a false equivalency, because these years made me better.
I realize what I went through during those lost years, is why things are better now. It took me years to realize this truth. I struggled, went through hell, but somehow, I made it through. It was about a week after my last suicide attempt, when I had just gone through several seizures that I realized my life had to change. When I was laying in that hospital bed, I realized I wasted three years of life. I didn’t really exist in the real world, only the world that I created.
My lost years. I will never get them back. No matter how much I look at the past. I am in a better place in the last three years then the first three in my diagnosis.
In these “lost years,” as I am fond of referencing them as, I was so lost. I couldn’t tell you what day of the week or month it was most days. It was even worse when trying to figure out the year. Time just passed me by, and so did everyone in my life. Isolation became my best friend and at times, I talked very little.
It was endless depression with very little peace. It was the darkest time in my life. My thoughts were often on the fringes of suicidal idealizations. I thought about all the ways I could die through suicide. I was a man without a purpose, or a will to live.
I remember less about the individual days during this time in my life. I spent most of it lying in bed, or on the couch watching movies. It was where I spent almost every second of my time. There were times where, I would play my video games, but the common thing was I was usually in bed.
At one point, I set up a makeshift desk that sat on my bed where I could place a television. I connected my Xbox 360, which always seemed to be on. I could play video games, and then switch to watching an endless supply of movies. I had a ginormous collection of movies on my external hard drive. I surrounded my bed with blankets, to give my living area an aura of complete darkness when I needed it. I rarely slept at night, preferring to rest after an extended 45-50 hour gaming and movie sessions. They always ended in the day for some reason.
I would take my Seroquel then, and sleep for 14 hours. The days meshed into a constant haze of sleep and endless depression. My thoughts were always dark. I didn’t care about life. I had a single light in my bed space. It was my own little self-made prison, but I reveled in the isolation. I would go days and weeks without leaving my dark space and days without showering. I loved my dark place, because it was mine and isolation along, with depression were my friends. What I failed to understand was that it was only making life worse.
I remember I had these goals. It seems stupid now, but back then, these goals were my everything. Any game that I would play, I had to get at least 75% of the Xbox achievements or more of game. For a long time, my score on Xbox live was at 89%. These things mattered in my life when nothing else did. I always remember this, because it was essential to be a real gamer to people. I remember how for a moment, when I could complete every achievement on a game, I felt a glimmer of feeling good about myself. These moments were fleeting.
I was a role-playing gamer. Being a gamer was all that mattered in my world in those first three years. I didn’t care if I ate that day. Or if I drank enough water. When I did eat, it was all the wrong things. I didn’t take care of myself those early years. If I am honest, I never thought I would make it to my twenty-fifth birthday. In some ways, I almost didn’t.
I only left my house when it was trips to the hospital or to see my psychiatrist every month. I remember going to the hospital one time for a severe panic attack. The nurses pumped me full of Ativan because my heart rate (which is always high I found out) wouldn’t go down. I remember this memory because of the nurses. They thought it was remarkable I was still awake given that they had given me so much Ativan. My life was a mess.
I lost so much in those early years. Life passed me by. I didn’t care about anything or anyone outside myself. It showed in the times that my parents had to drag me to the hospital at 2 am, and I didn’t care one bit about how this effected their days. I never once dawned on me that my parents were living in hell too. When these events happened, they still had to go out and work the next day. My family was always waiting for the next drama I would bring.
Most of the people in my life gave up on me. In those early years, I was on my own. Living but not living. No one came to visit with me or to hang out. I was in complete isolation from the world. I wasn’t interested in politics or what was the ‘in fad’ or who was famous. I lived as if there was no tomorrow. It was the only way I could keep my thoughts from spiraling out of control.
It didn’t always work. When I couldn’t distract myself enough, it would mean that it was going to be a bad night. My thoughts consumed me, and the only way to ease the emotional pain was to self-harm. Cutting on my arms became of a way for me to release all the emotional turmoil that tormented me daily.
The blood running down my arms was my release for the few hours that the physical pain would be the only thing on my mind. As time went on, I cut deeper. I stole razor blades and used them until they became dull against my skin. I could live with the physical pain any day. The emotional distress was hell every second of my existence so why not find a release?
Nights were always the hardest. I would cry silent tears, because I couldn’t figure out which way was up in my life. I felt lost and alone. I was alone. Those three years between my first suicide attempt in 2007, and my last were the worst ever. I didn’t live, not like I should have been living.
It became too much as the years pass me by. I never got better, only worse. Cutting became useless. The emotional pain that I put myself through was killing me. I wanted out of this life. What was the point of existing when you don’t live?
It came down to one day in June 2010, where I thought my life would end. But my story, it was just beginning. I didn’t know it at the time. That is how I lived my first three years of my diagnosis.
Always Keep Fighting
James Edgar Skye