Members of the Same Tribe

The Update

I am in awe of the experiences of the mental illness community that I have been a part of over the past ten months of blogging on WordPress. I believe that we are all members of the same tribe with different journeys and experiences.  In my interview series alone, I have had the honor of sharing some amazing stories of individuals living in spite of their mental illness.

This summer I want to continue to share the stories here on the Bipolar Writer, and I hope to do that with enough stories to start a new book. Those that have an interview feature on The Bipolar Writer blog, I am looking to expand on those interviews with more questions. For those that are interested, please see my contact page.

For those that were interested in me guest blogging on their blog, I am still working on some articles. I made a list and will be working on that list in the coming weeks.

Let’s remember that this community, the mental illness community is only as strong if we work together to fight the stigma of mental illness. When we give mental illness a face, it means that we are fighting this together.

As always. Always Keep Fighting

James

Contributor Writer’s for The Bipolar Writer Blog

I have been genuinely overwhelmed by the mental health community this month in the right way. The outpour of people willing to share a piece of their own writing that talks about mental illness on their own blog is one thing, but to allow someone like me into their lives and share pieces of their wisdom is another thing.

Mental Health Awareness month is about raising awareness about mental illness and what it means to live this life. It is never easy to share our mental health experiences. It took a lot to get to the point where I could share my most inner thoughts about my illness.

That takes me to contributor writers. It is not the first time I have offered this for The Bipolar Writer blog. So far, the people that have been a part of my blog beyond being guest writers have been a fantastic experience. What is a contributor writer? This is how it is described on WordPress.

Contributor – has no publishing or uploading capability, but can write and edit their own posts until they are published.

What this means is I add you as a blogger that has limited access to my blog. You write the posts, and you choose pictures from the library connected to my blog. I publish the pieces. As long as you keep the blog posts about mental illness topics, it is a natural process. The blog posts are your own connection to your blog. The comments go to you, not to me.

If you want to be a part of my blog, please email me at jamesedgarskye22@gmail.com

Space is limited as I only take on a certain amount of contributor writers. A moved out some contributors that no longer contribute which has made more room.

James

P.S. If you can please contribute to blog. All earned money goes to publishing my memoir. I will update the latest on my memoir later this week.

Photo Credit:unsplash-logorawpixel

Guest Posts on The Bipolar Writer Blog

Guest Blog Posts for Mental Health Awareness Month

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I know its the 11th of March and I should have done this sooner, but I wanted to open up some guest spots on my blog for the rest of the month. What does it mean to guest blog on The Bipolar Writer blog? Well, it’s simple, and here are the required things that I want from my guest bloggers.

  • Original content on any topic of mental health, mental illness, or mental health awareness.
    • You can talk about the stigma of mental illness.
    • Anything related to mental illness will be accepted. It can be a poem, a short story, or simply an article about an mental health topic.
  • Edited and proofread content
  • A link to your blog
  • At least a featured image for the post (but the more pictures you chose makes for a more exciting blog post.
  • (Optional) Name connected to post

It is that simple. I want to stress the importance of proofreading the piece that you submit. I will at times proofread an article given to me as a guest blog, but I am often busy.

If you would like to guest blog merely send all the required information above to my email address @ jamesedgarskye22@gmail.com

I look forward to seeing what my fellow bloggers offer regarding exciting pieces for mental health awareness month.

Let’s fight the stigma surrounding mental illness together!

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit: https://www.pituitaryworldnews.org/may-is-mental-health-awareness-month/

Working on Something New for Social Anxiety

I wanted to use this blog to talk about my last appointment with my therapist and what things I am working on this week. One significant change is that I will be meeting with my therapist once a week instead of every two weeks. The reason for this change is that we are working with a limited amount of time as I have many plans for this summer that are hinged on if I can get my social anxiety under control.

I am still having issues. An example was yesterday (Saturday) I had to go to the store at a time when my worst anxiety happens— from 6-8 pm. I was okay driving, which was a nice change of pace, and for the most part, the trip was uneventful. But, as the length of the trip to the store went on, and as the crowd around me grew, I could feel my anxiety climbing. My level hit a 7, which is usually a precursor to a panic attack. Luckily, my therapist, has me working daily on my mindfulness breathing, which meant I was able to get my social anxiety back under control.

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That is a change for me, using mindfulness throughout my day instead of just when my anxiety leads to panic attacks. I am tracking my anxiety levels on a 0-10 scale. My therapist and I noticed my “normal” level that I feel comfortable is a five— that is still high. Typically on the scale, we are using, a level between two and four is ideal. I have hit four on occasion, but my new target is an average level at three (it’s a realistic number.)

I am also tracking my weekly progress with anxiety using the Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale (OASIS), and I have seen my anxiety fluctuate over the last few weeks with scores as high as 15 and as low as 12.

With depression I am using the Overall Depression and Impairment Scale (ODSIS) which similar to OASIS, and while my levels have been okay the last few weeks, with a score as high as 10 and as low as 9. I know this area will go down as I finish up the last few weeks of my current semester. In the past I got my score down to a five on this scale so I am shooting for that type of results.

I continue to focus on my avoidance behaviors which are leading me to work on Emotion-Driven Behaviors (EDB’s) this week. I can use my experience yesterday for the worksheet (which I will find a way to post this week) as one of my EDB’s. The eventual goal for my therapist and I is to use real world situations to focus on what is causing my panic attacks in social situations.

It is a lot of work and I am weary because I don’t know if there is enough time before my first trip to get my social anxiety under control. My focus is there, but I am still losing control when I am out in the world.

So, as always, I will keep fighting. I hope you will too.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoFelix Russell-Sawunsplash-logoFelix Russell-Saw

unsplash-logoTimon Studler

Tony’s Interview Feature

If there is one thing that I have learned while writing interview features on my blog is that in every walk of life for someone dealing with a mental illness, the story is different. Our stories are what define us, and hopefully, make us better people in the end.

I always imagined telling the story of someone much like myself, and in truth, I have a real affinity for stories. It was amazing the number of people willing to have me share their story.

When I first met Tony, it was on my blog, and over the course of just a short time, he shared pieces of his experience within my blog posts. When the opportunity came to share the major parts of his story, Tony jumped at the chance to be featured on The Bipolar Writer. Here is the story of one human being and his journey from his orgins to today—Tony from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

How does one deal daily with the struggle of a mental illness? Tony’s explains his daily experience in this way, “Having depression is like having a fog, of varying colors, consistencies, smells that kind of sharp itself, hovers, reveals and conceals different things at different times.”

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It is always easier to capture how a person feels in their own words, and in the interview with Tony, he uses his creative side to describe the daily struggle with depression.

When talking further about depression Tony had this to say, “Sometimes, heavy as a lead blanket, sinking to the ocean floor. Other times sparse, allowing more breathable air, less stifling. Sometimes it’s grey, other times its pink. But the fog is there, it just looks and feels different at times.”

The “fog” that Tony describes is commonly thought of how depression feels, and it can mean the difference between a good day and bad one. For Tony, the fog means simple daily tasks taking up most of this morning with time stretching out like a wad of gum, seconds cutting like blades, and every moment weighted down by the depression.

Tony can trace his diagnosis to his childhood days. When he was very young, Tony was diagnosed dysthymia (mild depression) with severe depressive episodes in which he describes as, “Kind of like cloudy, with a chance of storms.”

It was much later and recent when he received the diagnosis of Bipolar Two and avoidant personality disorder.

An avoidant personality disorder is described as a psychiatric condition characterized by a lifelong pattern of extreme social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and sensitivity to rejection. But for Tony, this diagnosis means so much more, “It’s a tendency to retreat than to face things (problems) face on.” This is common with someone with a mental illness, but for Tony, his avoidance is rooted in the history that is can only be told in his own words.

“I don’t really remember having a mental illness or not having a mental illness.”

It is easier to walk in another person with a mental illness’ shoes if you know his story, and Tony’s story is one of amazing perseverance in the face of turmoil. Tony was adopted at birth by a devoted family with loving parents, but he describes their personalities as much different than his own. “My adopted father was a hard-working gregarious man who severe Bipolar disorder who had to go off work permanently while I was still young,” Tony recalls.

Tony’s mother, who was also a nurse, spent most of her free time with her husband’s issues leaving little time for Tony and his sister. “She too was loving and kind, but distant as well.” It was most likely this isolation that led Tony to begin to show signs of his avoidant personality disorder and it didn’t help that he was diagnosed so young with mild depression.

Tony was identified at a very young age as a gifted child and got through his elementary school days well enough, and weathered most of the storms at home. But, Tony began to use food as a coping mechanism and began to gain weight all the way to the beginning of his high school days. At this point in Tony’s life, we see how turmoil can lead someone down disastrous behaviors with depression as the copilot.

Tony remembers his early days and describes himself as having crooked teeth and a lazy eye, which led to severe bullying in teen years, “By the time high school hit, I was already 300lbs, and was bullied on a daily basis. I started having the shit kicked out of me. I hated school so much I would set my alarm to 2 am and hit snooze for the next four hours until it was time to get up so that I could fall asleep and wake that many times knowing I didn’t have to get up and face the day.”

With the daily torment of his peers and need to find a way to cope with the darkest depths of his depression, Tony chose to use hallucinogens dropping acid or eating mushrooms just to get through the moments of his school life. It only made things worse for that he was labeled a stoner and had little support from his teachers who cared little about the struggling teen.

“I dropped out, I isolated, I sat in my bedrooms for weeks on end, not showering, doing anything, barely surviving. I was depressed. I was allowed and encouraged to be depressed by an ill parent.” It can be tough living with a parent that mirrors your own issues, and these types of relationships, when reflected on later in life, this can feel destructive. 

It was tough going for Tony for most of his childhood and his teenage years. But as a human being, our journey is one that teaches us perseverance, and though it may seem as if this life is not worth living in the struggles of a mental illness, there is always a time when things feel okay. As if life is showing you a little light in the darkest places.

Tony eventually found that he could be functional after losing the majority of the weight he gained over the years. Tony found a few years of “normalcy” that often comes with the end of a depression cycle. In this period of time Tony made the decision to go back to school where he received his college diploma in Social Service Work. As most stories with a mental illness go, this short period of normalcy was quickly followed by a glut of personal tragedies in his adult life.

Everyone experiences personal tragedies in their life, but for someone prone to severe depression it will often sink the sufferer deeper into depression as a response. The shorter the period of time and succession of tragedies can often leave a mental illness to suffer little time to compartmentalize these events.

“I experienced in a short period of time my dad’s brief fight with cancer, my sister’s own discovery of her own battle with cancer, the ending of my marriage, which was followed with the birth of a daughter who was born at 1lb 3oz at 25 weeks with bleeding on her brain and a hole in her heart.”

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Even the strongest of us in the mental health community can only hold on for so long. It is no surprise given the succession of tragedies in Tony’s life that he had a psychotic break and was hospitalized for twenty-one days. Tony recalls that experience well, “It was frightening, but I felt safe, and I away from all the shit of the world for a short period, and I didn’t have anything to do but get better.” It was in this experience that Tony started writing and doing collage art.

In Tony’s experience, it is often tough to get through a single day with his mental illness. When he is symptomatic he uses routines that help him complete tasks in a ritualistic way. It helps that Tony gets through a day alive, but on the worst days, he only accomplishes a fraction of what he had planned. To combat the bad days, he focuses on his limitations, trying not to get too ahead of himself, and try hard not to take the bad too seriously. These types of behaviors come from years of dealing with the darkness and finding wisdom.

That wisdom showed when Tony was asked about if he ever had suicidal thoughts, “Yes, I have several times. Once I got close enough to downing a bottle of pills that I knew enough to drag myself to the ward. When you can’t trust yourself with your pills, you know you’re in trouble.”

Writing can be the most therapeutic part of the life of someone with a mental illness. I know in my own experiences that is true, and Tony has found his place in his own blog and writing. In talking about his story with me it has helped Tony to process the past and to look to be grounded in the present.

“My blog and being creative in general have meant the world to me. I am not someone who talks about things. I sit on them” he recalls. Tony believes that seeking help is an important part of his recovery, but engaging others through creative expression is an amazing experience that he cherishes.

art stacks

In Tony’s life, he often finds solace and happiness in the little things in his life that make it easier to deal with his mental illness. Tony has his kids, nature, art, music, friends, and family that are his support system in his darkest times.

Every one of the human beings in the mental illness community wants their story to be one of many that make a difference or end the stigma that surrounds all of us. “At some point in our lives,” he explains, “I am pretty sure we could all meet the requirements for a mental disorder diagnosis. It’s okay. If we are honest and brave enough to be vulnerable and tell people what we are feeling, it’s a start.”

Tony believes that we all have a vulnerability that keeps us from seeking help, but if we are willing to be open-minded and willing to accept that we have a mental illness it could mean getting the right help. Tony believes that it’s not about weakness, laziness, or morals. It is about your health and illness.

Tony wants to tell the world his story, the ups, the downs, his love for his poetry and his art; to be featured on The Bipolar Writer in Tony’s eyes is a vital part of his healing process. Tony’s is one of the many, but there is no doubt that his story has to be told.

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Here are some links to written poetry Tony wanted to share:

https://handsinthegarden.wordpress.com/2017/12/16/sleepless-the-fever/

https://handsinthegarden.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/the-lonely-crowd-worded/

If you would like to know more about Tony and his journey you can visit him on his blog. “My Hand in the Garden” @ https://handsinthegarden.wordpress.com/

Written by: James Edgar Skye

Interviewee: Anthony “Tony” Gorman

All art pieces on this article are done by Tony

Other Features written by J.E. Skye

Morgan’s Interview Feature

 

 

 

 

 

Freelance Work

I don’t often talk about the writing side but when I do it’s a big thing.

Going to school is not cheap. Neither is everything else that comes with the writing life. As I move closer to completing the first draft of The Bipolar Writer Memoir, I am thinking about the possibility of self-publishing. I have done my research and I know the costs of such a venture.

That leads me to look for freelancing work wherever I can in this world. I have already started to pick up local work. I am on Upwork. I put ad‘s on craigslist with some good and bad experiences. I thought something today. I have a blog. Why not reach out to those that need help here on my blog—for a price. That is what freelance work is, moving from project to project.

So what am I offering?

I can help with creating a blog from the start. My blog is my own it took me while to make everything right the way I like it. The content is all mine. I have experience in growing my brand without much help. It’s been a learning procsss for me, but hey I have skills. If you want to pay me to help you create a new blog site, I am here.

I can help write original content for you blog under any peramiters. I have already done a couple of these types of jobs and I create my own content on blog daily. I can research like there is no tomorrow for those of you that need that for your content I’m your guy. If you need someone to edit and proofread your blog posts before you go live, I can help.

Then there is the proofreading editing part of my freelance skills. I am an English major nearing the end of my Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. I minored in journalism, screenwriting, and political science. I have experience in proofreading and editing. The classes I have left are math classes and science classes. I have finished every writing class under my degree. I can help with ghostwriting or copy editing.

I do offer tutoring, but that is probably best for local work. One of my skills is researching. I am damn good at it. So if you need that, I can help.

I am not the kind of guy who charges is a lot. I am competitive with each project. I am online with PayPal so that is always a good thing.

I have a lot of things coming up this summer that I am going to need money for mosty trips. My graduation. My brothers wedding in Oregon. My annual pilgramage to Las Vegas. I would love to finally see Italy and South Korea. I have a good friend of mine in Germany. There is of course the whole student loans thing. It would be nice to pay off my interest before I start my Master’s program at the end of this summer.

I have things in play. My screenplay for one. But I need to be able to save every penny. If that means helping out people then I will do what ever it takes. I am not sure if this is even the right place to put a post such as this, but hey its my blog.

The costs of self-publishing my memoir will be high no matter how I look at it. I don’t need extra work in my life but I have to be open to all opporinites that come my way.

So if you need any type of freelance writing work, I am your blogger— or writer —James Edgar Skye.

So if your interested in any of my freelance skills email me. Let’s talk.

Contact me @ jamesedgarskye24@gmail.com

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoStanley Dai