An Inconvenient Truth

So I am well aware that someone else penned (and owns) the Title:  An Inconvenient Truth, and their’s was shocking and thought provoking.  Earth shaking, land sliding, terrible tidal waves. Ground breaking.  Thought provoking.  And I think yes, me too.  Me too a lot.  I have earthquakes,   I have landslides, and tidal waves every single day.  And as I’ve said before, some people think this is invisible.  That my internal storms don’t exist.  Don’t matter.  Aren’t serious enough.  Are invisible. Can be shaken out of stuff, made worse by the we pretend mental illness doesn’t exist environment I and other people with mental illness live in.  And I’m here to say it’s time for a very serious climate change.

Perhaps important to start by dispelling a few myths about mental illness that are held:

We aren’t criminals and don’t like jail:  Anyone who has been inside a jail – criminal or otherwise – will tell you it isn’t a pretty place.   There is very little that promotes mental health or rehabilitation to be a better person, including the I don’t know, being locked in vibe.  This is the same for psychiatric hospitals.  In the hospitals I’ve been to and paid for (yes, I paid for this) there is fancy chicken mesh on the balcony least you take a one floor plunge.  There are bars on all the windows. Someone tells me when to go to bed, when to stop smoking and asking why I’m crying too much.  Wow.  Let me have a panic attack about the fact that you are treating me like a kid when I have so painfully been treated like I wasn’t, when I was.  Aside from that – we don’t have Summer Camp  in Africa.  Please don’t Camp Counsellor me, with psychiatric medication, that I pay for, in a hospital.  No.  If I want to sleep, please leave me alone.

I am purposefully acting like a pool of sadness slime:  People with mental illness are often told they are lazy, sleep too much, need to get up, need to be productive.  Need to wake up when they haven’t slept, when they really, really, really while everyone else was snoring, wanted to.  I don’t own a sufficient amount of disgust to convey on this.  I’d have to muster up CENTURIES of disgust to spit in retort. Contrary to popular perception:  I don’t like depression, and I’ve not come across a person with mental illness who does. I am NOT purposefully crying the day away, not able to move, inhaling candy, cigarettes and anything generally unhealthy on purpose.  Basically, I am not pretending to be sad, I am not pretending that my depression is deeper than it really is because I actually really don’t want it.  No-one who really experienced depression actually wants it.  Also the “are you having an eyeore day” joke isn’t cute.  I don’t have a raincloud that follows me, eyeore stands upright and eats thorns not chocolates, so there is NO similarity.

Emotionally Extra:  Since I was little, I used to think and feel in exclamation marks.  And I had neither the capacity nor the vocabularly to express myself.  And in retrospect, my ability to voice what I felt and was feeling reduced, not increased, because of the frosty reception I received when displaying the mental illness of me.  Each time I was told I was extra, that I told neverending stories and that I shouldn’t wear my heart on my sleeve.  As a little girl that was a shocking idea.  Didn’t my heart need to be in my chest to function?  And so because I was the problem, people have continually given me “advice” about how to contain myself, cry less, smile more.  Smile and wave even.  At times where I felt like I could barely put one foot in front of the other.

So I have news – I will no longer be told I’m an incovenience.  I will not listen when I am told that I am extra.  No.  Instead, I am here to start a hurricane of hope, a landslide of lithium (cause why not) and a group of people who are decidedly extra that want to be extra with me too.  Because like the movie An Inconvenient Truth – the reality is, that people with mental illness are becoming the majority.  Depression will overtake – according to projections – deaths due to some other life threatening illness.  The point is I’m not inconvenient, I’m not extra, and yes I can eat candy like no other, smoke dangerously asleep, and topple beautiful mugs in a store when you (and I) least expect it.  That doesn’t mean I deserve to be treated like an inconvenience.  No-one does.  Stand up people with mental illness.  Let’s create a new storm that floods out stigma.  Rains out discrimination.  I know I want to.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoTy Feague

Changing the Domain Name Here

This blog post is not “mental health” update. Instead, this is an update for The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog and its writers, readers, and collaborators.

As of today, the domain name for this blog will change to thebipolarwriter.blog

You will still be able to find the blog under jamesedgarskye.com but I eventually that will be moved to a created author site.

Thank you for continuing to use The Bipolar Writer a “safe place” to share your mental health journey.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

rawpixel

A Mental Health Struggle – Social Anxiety

My Struggles with Social Anxiety and Isolation

gabriel-762937-unsplash

The last few have been a struggle for me when it comes to my social anxiety. Leaving the comfort of my house has been almost impossible because I fear the inevitable panic attack. I know this summer was supposed to be when I conquer this part of my mental illness, but the hardest part is not isolating myself to the point where don’t feel comfortable leaving my house. It becomes a comfort zone and one that is not good– it only makes my issues with social anxiety worse.

I am my own worse enemy because I can pretty much work and do school from the comfort of my desk. The last time I went to a coffee shop to work or study was last May when I was finishing my degree. So many things happened to me this summer that kept me from going where I was happy. I moved to the rural area to the city which for me was a big adjustment. I spent the summer writing, and it was great, but I failed to recognize that I was slowly getting comfortable staying home and writing.

I created bad habits that I have to break because the reality is fall and winter are not my best months.

alisa-anton-166247-unsplash.jpg

Fall. It is the transitional time of the year that I hate. I can feel the struggle with anxiety start to mix with depression this week, and that is all bad. It culminated on Thursday to a point where I had a panic attack and then struggled with depressed thoughts about letting myself get to this point.

I am not giving up though, and yesterday (Friday) I came up with a list of things that I need to do so that I can begin to change my habits.

  1. Begin to integrate my workout routine– again.
  2. Meditate in the morning and in the afternoon.
  3. Eat healthier.
  4. Make plans to go out and have a cup of tea or coffee at my favorite coffee shop.
  5. Focus on sleeping better through the night.
  6. Restart my bi-weekly therapy appointments.

That last part, getting back to therapy, is perhaps the most important one on the list because during the summer months I tend to get away from therapy because I feel better and energized. My depression is almost non-existent, and I feel the need to forgo therapy. It always ends up hurting me, but I am stubborn.

I think these changes will be good and it should help me to refocus my social anxiety. Wish me luck.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Jordan Bauer

Gabriel

Alisa Anton

Always Stay Positive, Always Keep Fighting

Have you ever been on a roller coaster? A big one? Where it has these heights that are truly high, allowing you to see for miles around? And then it has these drops that make you think that you will crash and burn? Roller coasters are fun. But now I want you to imagine being on the sort of roller coaster I just described, permanently. And I also want you to imagine that on this roller coaster, you can’t see what’s in front of you. You can’t see where the coaster is going, you are at the mercy of the track. Imagine every day of every week, of every year, you constantly go through intense highs and frightening lows, without having any warning. Welcome to being bipolar.
I’ve been dealing with bipolar disorder for years now. Oddly enough it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I was able to put a label on what was wrong with me. Going through intense manic and depressive episodes weren’t normal, I knew that. I just didn’t know what to call it.
Learning you have a ‘mental illness’ isn’t an easy pill to swallow. At least for me, it wasn’t. Dealing with a mental illness is even harder. How do you deal with an enemy, when the enemy is your brain? Its linked to you, it’s a part of you. Wherever you go, it follows you. And it often chooses the most inconvenient times to manifest itself. It’s always just beneath the surface, waiting to come out. And the war is never-ending. So, how do you fight?

What helps me is remembering a simple phrase. It’s the title of this post, “Always stay positive, always keep fighting.” For me, always stay positive means looking at the good in situations. Like last week, I was taking a long car trip. I had woke up that day in a fantastic mood, and a few hours later, I felt so down. No particular reason. I was just thinking about things that bothered me, and I felt myself getting dragged lower, and lower. I came dangerously close to getting depressed. I then remembered my little phrase, and it reminded me to think of the good. I focused my mind on everything great that happened that day. I had a great cup of coffee, I was reading a book I really liked, I was with my family, and we’re all healthy, I have an incredible, amazing girlfriend. I was staying positive. I wasn’t pretending that life was beautiful. I simply refocused my mind. I have to go back and single out every good thing that happened to me that day. It’s usually something small. It gets tedious sometimes, but you have to do it.

“Always keep fighting” is something I picked up from James Edgar Skye. I realize he didn’t come up with the phrase, but I learned it from him just the same. Repeating that to myself helps me refocus my mind. It reminds me that dealing with bipolar disorder isn’t a war to be won, it’s a battle you fight daily. You have to take each day as it comes. And you must never give up. Never quit. Sometimes depression will try to drag you down and consume you. Sometimes the mania will launch you into overdrive, and you’ll feel like you’re on a speeding train with no brakes. Sometimes you’ll want to just give in and not try to fight at all. But I’m encouraging you, don’t. This life is worth it. Your life is worth it. It’s worth fighting to be happy.

Fighting gets exhausting sometimes. Sometimes you can lose focus. That’s why the phrase is short and simple. It’s easy to remember and yet it has so much packed into it. Stay strong. Always stay positive, always keep fighting!

unsplash-logoNathan Dumlao

Continue reading