In the episode, I got the honor of interviewing Bri, a mental health advocate and a blogger. In the interview, she tells us about her mental illness and shares her journey from its origins to today, where she deals with a plethora of diagnoses daily. We discuss how the pandemic has changed mental illness, how she deals with medications, the different diagnoses, the people in her life that make her happy, and what she thinks about the stigma surrounding mental illness, including borderline personality disorder. You can find Bri on her blog The babbles of an Unquiet Mind. The address for the blog is here.
What a year, 2020. I think we can all agree that we have learned something new about ourselves and about the world. We saw polarizing political issues amid the worst pandemic in about 100 years. We made decisions about where we stood, and it matters not about right or wrong as much as we decided with our voices and by voting. Life will probably never be the same after a year like this one, but it has been a year of change for me.
What can I take away from 2020? Do you have time for a novel? This blog post might become a series that I write as we near the end of the year, as with all things in my life it is up in the air. I let the universe lead me along with my inner I, and it allows me to be in the now. That was one of the things that I learned, thank you to my life coach alongside Eckhart Tolle, and while it works, I am still learning to adjust to here, without being in the useless past or looking toward the future. The past is done, and the future is unknown. Even with everything that I do now, it is important to me to always know where I am with my mental health, anxiety, depression, and how I feel.
If you listened to the podcast about my last year, it reveals a lot about what I went through since my mother’s untimely death on December 15, 2019. I was in pain beyond measure. I went to my default mode that I had used before and after my diagnosis in 2007. I allowed the pain to go into a box and not deal. That made the pain so much worse, and it grew into my infamous dark passenger. Eventually, it would take me over, and it became such a significant part of my daily life. Though I could still function and do my daily work, including school, work, and writing. It was all to keep the pain at bay and not feel the feels. Keep working, and it can’t touch you, except at night when I would have uncontrollable anxiety.
In April of 2020, I met a kindred spirit, and she became my life coach after I worked in a seminar with her in May. By August, after deciding to begin life coaching and taking a chance on myself. I began a four-month journey that ended on December 1, and it was a lifetime game-changer. I learned all the things that I had inside to be what I set out in my initial session, to live in the now, be myself, and above all, she made her coaching in a way that fit my reading and writing learning lifestyle. Those four months, I felt more like myself than at any time in my life, and since then, I have repaired relationships, myself, and worked on the flow of living in the gray area. The real James, the genuine inner I, has come out. It was life-changing.
As a society and the global world, we learned that we are more alike than different, but there are still things to fix. We live in a pandemic world where we have to wear masks, a simple task, to help stop the spread of a deadly virus. We learned to social distance and stay at home, only going out for the essentials for months on end. The racial divide in America is becoming a forefront issue, long overdue, and we learned that Black Lives Matter, and it is not just about injustice; it is the system not working for specific cultural sections of our society. The divide only worsened as we learned that we can come together and vote for change, give a voice to those who need it, not be where we are, and be where we should act as Americans.
I love politics so much I minored in Political Science as an undergraduate. More Americans voted in 2020 than any other election in history, and while we all may land on different sides, it is time we become more together and less segregated. Unfortunately, the world got to see just how divided Americans are with how we voted, but democracy prevailing even with the outdated electoral college makes me proud to be an American. We are Americans first, and the America I know is a melting pot of every human being regardless of where we come from because let us face the facts, unless you are a native of this land, we all came from somewhere else, and many had no choice in the matter of how our ancestors were brought here. We have to be better to one another, and while pandemic showed us so much to fix, there is a long way to go from this point. Let us continue to be together and show the future, the kids, that we can be better.
In 2020, I read more books in one year from every genre imaginable than at any time in my life. I am a voracious reader. Some of the best literature I have been able to absorb came from the era of American Realism and Naturalism. I got to read Jack London, Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Charolette Perkins Gilman, and Mary Freeman, just to name a few. I reread my favorite and classic books, and with a lot of resistance, I gave away books to small bookstores to find new homes. I found a home in second-hand book stores and what they bring, and I binged on the likes of books that I love. I read about grief and living in the now. Reading is love.
I did amazing things in my writing, including re-publishing my memoir The BipolarWriter: A Memoir, which was a fight to get back, and in December, on the anniversary of my mom’s passing, I was able to publish my fictional novella Angel on the Ward.Two books in one year are more than I could imagine. I was able to edit my major novel, the first in a six-book series, The Rise on theNephilim, and continued to grow my business, The Bipolar Writer Ghostwriting Services. New projects through my business will be significant in 2021. I have exciting writing projects like The Many Faces and Voices on Mental Illness, the two-year project. I found my place again in writing here on my blog again.
To be continued in part two, to be released on Christmas Day.
Stop. It was told to me by someone in the context of when things become too much. Overloading on staying productive, working to make things happen in your business, school, work, or any situation, STOP.
This is such a fast-paced world that we live in, even in a pandemic. It is all about being on that hamster wheel of life. STOP is such a powerful word in your vocabulary because you can say it to yourself. Stop being so worried and let it go. You can tell yourself to stop letting stress take over your life. It is okay to say stop, I have had enough of life today, and I need a break. There is nothing wrong, and yet the emphasis by everyone around us is to not stop. Keep going because it will be okay if you immerse yourself in things that keep you busy or, worse, the distractions in life.
Don’t worry, I have been one of the worse offenders who did not tell myself to stop when stress is a part of my daily life. For a long time, I had used distractions and even the thing I love most in this world, writing, as a way to not stop. All work and no play makes James a dull boy. For so long, I was stressed to the max, where it began towards the end of summer, and since my mother’s death, it affected my health significantly. I could not stop. It got so bad that suicide became an option in October. It was worth it to hit that lowest of lows because it made me realize that I was working myself with school, starting a business, the many writing projects, and everything else that I could to distract. Just stop, James.
When I finally took the advice of this kindred spirit, it was a lifesaver. It is not a perfect world as sometimes I forget and get overwhelmed about things like money and my business. Still, I have been telling myself to stop more and more feeling the effects of slowing down to enjoy some of the things that make life great. In this pandemic world where things, at least here in California, are closed down again, and I can’t go downtown to sit outside a coffee shop or visit my favorite bookstore. I can still tell myself to stop when I have hit my limit for the day, and it varies. I can write for hours some days and very little to none others.
Take a moment to stop and just listen to the birds outside while you are sipping on your morning coffee or, in my case, tea. Let yourself breathe and see how it changes your day. I sometimes can sit for hours on end in front of something I am writing, and so I use the technology at my disposal to remind me to get top and walk around—dance for a few minutes every hour or so. Find ways to make lemonade out of the lemons of life. Okay, enough of the metaphors, but it is okay to STOP. Life within creativity will always find a way, and you only have a finite time on this earth. You might as well make the best of it while you are still breathing. Just STOP, the most powerful word in your vocabulary. Listen to what the universe is telling you to live in the now.
I will admit that 2020 for The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog has been nothing short of impressive. Writers, of the blog you were used to seeing from month to month, have either stopped writing here or in general. There have also been some new amazing writers, and I also want to point out those who stayed the course that I want to commend. You, my fellow writers, have made this blog go from an idea to a global viewing audience.
I miss and long for the days where writing on here daily was a reality for me, and I am making an effort to, when it feels right in the now, to share my experiences. An event or situation came up recently that has shed some light on how isolated I have been since March. It was my mother’s death that was the catalyst, but COVID-19 gave me a reason not to be a part of life. I was not living, and there was so much pain in my life. The worst part was that I was up to my old way of doing things, not feeling the feels. In short, I was suppressing all feeling and numbing the pain.
Back to the situation, I had a suicide plan in place, and I will not make excuses for the why, but say I was in unbearable pain, and my natural default was to turn to the one place I never thought I would go, again–suicide. Life is the way it is, and I talked myself out of the plan and reached out to someone that put me on a safety plan after a day. This was just last month, and so it is still raw, and the safety plan is still in place. I want to be more vulnerable here on my blog. Talking about suicide is something that I do but always about the past, but I have a new appreciation for how people like me can go that low. There is nothing wrong with suicide.
I know that will anger some people and especially those who have lost someone to suicide. I am not saying that suicide is right or wrong. That is the point. There is no wrong or right only suicide. Those who have never been there are the worst feeling in the world, but there is a moment of total spiritual awakening that nothing on this planet matters or is holding you here. It is something that I am not romanticizing, but it is a feeling of peace. When you are at your lowest, you need that, and I hope if you are feeling suicidal right now, you reach out to someone, do not do what I have always done, and hide the feelings.
For those on the other end of a suicidal person reaching out, we do not want people to fix us in my experience, for most listening and finding out if they are in a safe place more important. At the end of this post, I will again link Livingworks ASIST, go to the website and see what you can do for those who are suicidal if you are not.
Where did we go from reaching out to suicide? It is simple. I was not reaching out, and in this world, we need that human connection, especially the mental illness and mental health community. So, to my point, I want to once again meet the readers of this blog. Shoot an email, and that is great, but as I have learned with my business, no matter where you are in the world, this fantastic thing called Zoom connects people all over the world!
Seriously, let us connect in new ways. If you want to Zoom, please reach out. Create a group of people and invite me. Human connection in a COVID-19 mental illness world, especially in the winter, is paramount to us, making it through the tough times. Or as my life coach would say, there are no problems, just situations.
I want to end on a positive. Things are good. While the event is in the rearview, it is not over, but I am in a place where I can take on the pain, and my safety plan is what has been the reason to take responsibility. Ultimately, we have to do when we are suicidal, it is taking responsibilityfor our choices, not an easy task. I know. Stay safe out there in the world.
I had plans for 2020. I am sure there is not one person that was not affected in the mental illness community that was not affected by COVID-19. One of my major plans was to lower Seroquel to a more manageable level that I feel less like a zombie in the morning, then the novel coronavirus hit, and I was using Zoom to meet my psychiatrist.
One of the fears is that not seeing me in person means that the trust that I spent over a year building that was crushed by the coronavirus. It is not that the trust was not there, but instead, you never know as a medical professional how isolating like I was advised to do would affect me in different ways. I understood this, but I was also frustrated. There is no doubt I had to learn patience (this came in life coaching.)
The idea of waiting is new to me, but not all is bad. After months of back and forth and resisting the urge to make changes on my own, I decided to broach the subject again, and the result was more to my liking. It was an incremental change from 400mg to 300mg, but it has made a difference. I still sleep, but I am waking up at a better time while still being rested. It is important to note that having my CPAP machine helps me get to sleep quicker, and that is important to note as to why the case I made was valid over time.
There is always this point that I need to make: medication changes should always go through your psychiatrist or medical professional. They are the ones that got you on these medications, and they are the professionals. I can’t stress that enough. Change is good but in the right way. The next step is the continual work on my social anxiety and panic attacks, which have been better if I am honest. That has been in the changes that have happened to my approach to stay in the moments of now. The tools I learned in life coaching have helped me create space with my own physics. Thank you as always for reading.
My Life Coach can be reached at email@example.com. If you feel suicidal, Kim specializes in helping those who are like me; I recently had my own brush with suicide again in October, and Kim was a pivotal part of why I am still here with her life coaching alongside her ASIST training.
Blogging will always have a special place in my heart, as it was here, within the confines of this blog, that I found my place with my writing. I found a group of people with like-minded ideas about sharing the stories of mental illness. The encouragement I got allowed me to write my memoir. I wonder, though, will I always be able to write here or will a time come that I will move on.
I think that is why I am pushing so hard lately to get a great list of authors on the website to always have words written here. I don’t mind paying the yearly fee to keep this blog going if it is still a safe place for mental illness/mental health advocacy writers to call it home. If I can swell the number to fifty members to end 2020, it might be the perfect storm where this blog goes on without me.
Where is this coming from? I have been dealing with stress more in 2020 than at any other time in my life. I know everyone is dealing with anxiety, depression, and stress. The list is probably longer than that if I am honest. For me, it is many things at once. Starting my business. Finishing my Master’s degree. Publishing my novella. Writing projects and writing this blog. Going through Life Coaching while still trying to find the confidence in my writing. Then, of course, losing my mom. Almost a year has gone by. How do I deal with that in December? My hope is to not be a mess.
I love what I have created here, and for the foreseeable, I will continue to write as much as humanly possible so that things will be in the right place in my life. The need to share my story continues here, and the magnetic pull is still here. Writing blog posts is my center, and it helps me continue throughout my day, so a baseline would be an accurate account of why I still write here. When that day comes when I am ready to move on, then I will. There is too much as stake to give up this space for good because the mental illness stories we share help fight mental health stigma. Perhaps someone reading this post will find their place among the writers here. Stay strong in the fight.
I know we are just rounding into Fall from the summer, and winter is still on the horizon. Whenever I talk about SAD for some reason, I always think like a geek that “Winter is coming.” Watching Game of Thornes always reminded me that the seasonal affective disorder part of my diagnosis is real in the winter months. These are the months that I struggle most, and in an ordinary world, I could handle it. We live in a COVID-19 “new normal,” and I worry about those who will be struggling more than usual.
For myself, it will be some rough months. I have my mom’s one-year griefversary of her passing. I will use what I learned, including detached emotions, to deal with, but I will have days. This time around, I have a plan. People who care and I can reach out to when things become muddled. I am going to allow the depression that comes to have its space in my life. Why let it control me? I have for many years, and that has gotten me nowhere good. The seasonal affective disorder is real, and I usually suffer from October to about May. It has been better the last, and I have better tools to deal with it this year.
So much is happening in our world. We have to remember that our mental health is more important than what is going on in the news or social media. One of the things I am considering is a total social media shut down until the end of the year for me, that means outside of this blog, I will delete my social media accounts from my phone, the only way that I access social media. I have a friend that is considering giving up her phone by 2021, and that even sounds like a good idea if I wasn’t launching my business.
I have so much to do, including putting the finishing touches on my book and publishing it in October. All I am waiting for is my graphic artist to come through. I am nearing the end of a two-year trek to finish my Master’s in February, and I am considering Literature Ph.D. programs as the next logical step in my profession as a writer. My business and grieving my mom means the next three months will be exciting, engaging, and heartbreaking. SAD will not get me down.
I have not done this in a while, so I pose the question to those reading this post right now. In this new normal world we live in, are you taking precautions like me to ensure your seasonal affective disorder is not worse this fall and winter months because of COVID-19 or any other factors?
Please leave you responses below, I would love to hear your take on COVID-19 and seasonal affective disorder.
The discord channel, The Infinity Warriors of Mental Health, now has its own website! I want a special thanks to Aby and Em to taking the step for the discord website to become a reality. Those who don’t know I am the owner of The Infinity Warriors of Mental Health Discord channel, and it grows every day. Please consider joining us and frienfing the blog so we can share our journey together.
For those in the mental illness community that wants to have a safe place to share your daily struggles, you can join anonymously and use it as a resource as the members of the group are just like you. Our members are living and working through their issues with mental illness. We foster a place or serenity and peace and a place to belong. It is just a basic WordPress blog right now, but as we go on and the group grows, we will become a force in the world with a valid domain name.
Welcome to the first of its kind Discord community in which our goal is to provide a safe, anonymous, immersive, and experiential learning experience into mental health discussion.
We will provide a safe, anonymous, immersive and experiential learning experience into mental health discussion by sharing our personal stories. Here, we value transparency, your story, your authenticity…. in a place where we accept everyone’s point of view.
And what that means is, we may not always agree with one another and we believe within our community safely challenging one another’s perspectives is the key to collaborative discussion.
We strongly desire for everyone to speak from the lens with which they view life including but not limited to:
All inclusive in a respectful way is what we strive to achieve at this Discord channel.
Discord Moderators can be personally messaged if you wish to voice a concern. However, we strongly encourage open discussion during “stuck” times in conversation in order to foster mutual respect. The right to delete comments, ban individuals and block chat members is reserved to Discord Moderators as follows: JamesEdgarSkye#4190 or SilverLinings#0367 or Aby#9662
I drove to school this morning listening to a Rachmaninoff piano concerto while taking in a breathtaking orange-red sunrise over the Eastern Cape veld.
As always, the 35 minute drive allowed my thoughts to wander.
I was thinking about gifts. Blessings. Questions with no answers. Faith. What we believe to be true about God. The “WHY’S” we so often ask.
A friend is going through something similar to what I went through in my mid 30’s, wanting to settle down with the “right” guy, wanting to start a family, maybe feeling a bit desperate because the “right guy” is nowhere to be found! And sadly, the potential “right” guys are running a mile because no man wants to be at the center of the frustration of a 30-ish female with her biological clock ticking louder than the Big Ben every hour on the hour.
…and the WHY’S just keep coming…
( What follows is not another “Okay, here she goes on a religious mission”…I’m not about to hit you over the head with a virtual Bible. Stay with me to the end please)
Why Is God ( or the universe )allowing this loneliness? Why is God not answering my prayers? Why did God allow me to move to this place when He knew the unhappiness I would experience here? Why is God silent?
Why does God allow loneliness, death, loss, heartbreak, violence, war, the impact of the Corona virus for that matter?
We don’t know.
I often asked my mom “What will I do when you die?” Because the two of us were attached at the hip . She was my shopping, eating out , wine drinking partner and the two of us got up to all kinds of irresponsibility. She would say “Lets see what the waiter does if I order a bottle of wine with breakfast? ” And we would giggle at the waiter’s flushed face all through the entire meal.
Or … “I feel lucky. Lets go gambling!” ( on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of a hectic teaching week)
“Some day is today. I’m going to buy that Michel Herbelin watch right now !”
And off she went, buying the super expensive watch she’d been eyeing for months.
She was living on borrowed time. And I think she sensed it. During the last year of her life, she lived life to the fullest, doing whatever she felt like, not worrying about the opinions of others. She had fun, she was happy.
When I asked her what I would do without her she always said : ” You will receive grace.”
And I did.
Of course, I was heartbroken. But my life continued. I was comforted.
To me, the answer to our “WHY?” lies in the fact that God did not promise us an easy life on earth. Just because we are “Christian” or we try to be good-ish people we are not given a guarantee that pain will not be part of our lives. We are here to learn. Our lessons are painful.
Now read the words below. For me, they are true. We hear that WE WILL NOT BE ALONE IN THE STORM. The storm will come, make no mistake. BUT WE WILL RECEIVE COMFORT.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” – Isaiah 43 : 2
We need to trust our path. Because if there is one thing I know for sure from my own life it is this :
God’s ways are not our ways.
God takes our wrong turns and turns them into rights.
God gives us pain so that we can understand the pain of others.
We are , in the end, meant to serve.
( ps. I understand that many reading this post will say “I don’t believe in a God”. I also know from experience that during my worst depressed times I was so completely irritated with so-called “Christians” throwing bible verse at me, saying my faith just wasn’t strong enough. If this is you, I get it. But I have come to know that there IS a path for each of us. Sometimes the reasons for our suffering come many, many years later when we can look back and say : “Ahh. God, now I get why.”)
Before COVID-19 I already had a tough time getting out of my house. I had been trying to be more social and do things with other humans that weren’t family or my boyfriend. But then COVID changed everything.
I was so excited that I got to stay home for 95% percent of my week. I have been working from home since late March so the anxiety of interacting with my coworkers has been tossed out the window. I haven’t had to put together a real outfit or do a full face of makeup in months.
Now that things are sort of going back to normal, I’m terrified. I have had multiple anxiety attacks thinking about returning to the office. Over the past week I’ve had trouble eating which is a big signal to me that I’m really, really anxious. I usually don’t lose my appetite or have trouble eating if I’m feeling ok or am slightly anxious.
Depression is setting in with anxiety at the reigns. For me, depression makes me exhausted and I have no energy or motivation to do anything besides lay in bed or zone out on the couch watching people decorate ice cream cakes on TikTok. I have been struggling to find joy in the things that usually make me happy.
I sit back and wonder why it feels like I’m the only one dreading for life to go back to the way it once was. I feel like all of the progress I had made earlier this year (ok it wasn’t that much progress but progress is progress especially in mental health) has disappeared. I may have taken two steps forward but now I’m gone back two miles.
I have no specific reason to be anxious other than that I hate change. My brain can’t handle big changes, it takes me a while to re-center and get back on course.
I knew all of this was temporary going in to it but now that that time is nearly here, I’m scared.
I was supposed to begin next week going into the office full-time but I asked if I could stay home for longer which my boss agreed to. I feel a sense of relief but also guilt for not doing what I was told initially.
They are letting me transition back which I think will help me cope better than I would have with diving head first into it. But on the other hand, sometimes I need to be pushed into the deep end. More often than not if I dip my toes in, it can make things worse.
The weight of my anxiety and the return to “business as usual” feels so heavy on my shoulders. Some days I just want to let it collapse on top of me so I can rest.
During this time I want to really prepare myself so that I can get through the transition to my former life. I want to have an anxiety first aid kit that will include things that make me happy or can calm me down in a panic. I’m not sure what this will all entail but I’ll figure something out.
Please leave what you have in your mental health first aid kit in the comments! I would love to know!
How have you been dealing with returning back to normal life post-quarantine? Has your mental health improved or gotten worse? For those who have returned, what has been the most helpful?
Please stay safe everyone! Please wear a mask for the safety of yourself and others.