My Journey to Stability, Pt. 3

by Shara Adams

A circle of blurred faces surrounded me, all talking at once. The level of chaos outpaced my own mind and I struggled to keep track of what was going on. Drugged and intoxicated beyond capable cognition, the world began to slip away once again. In the mess of voices, the realization of my fragile state caught the action of the paramedics and I was whisked down the stairs from the apartment to the ambulance. Because of the design of our place, a stretcher was worthless. They half carried, and half walked me down the precarious stairway. Once I was inside the bus, one of the paramedics joined me and began a pleasant conversation with me.

Blonde hair and blue eyes watched me intently. It may have been my lost mind, but at that moment, he had the most beautiful eyes that I had ever seen. Smiling, I was lost in his hypnotizing gaze. His voice was soft and inviting. I felt like I could listen to it forever, and I did listen to it the whole way to the emergency room. He conversed with me to keep me awake and cognitive of what was around me, and it worked perfectly. It also kept my mind off the fact my husband had not come with me. I did not notice this fact in the middle of everything going on; he was completely absent from my side.

Once inside the ER, I was forced to drink charcoal from a small cup, and it did not take long for it to make a reappearance. It was absolutely disgusting, and my toxic stomach contents were having none of it. Frustrated nurses yelled at me for throwing it up and then gave me another cup – but I never touched it to my lips. Without something to focus on, I was slipping away from the bright lights of the room. Metal walls of the elevator were my final memory before losing consciousness. I have no recollection of being in the ICU or being ‘asleep’. No dreams or thoughts; it was as if I went to bed and woke up the next morning but waking up this time was a much different experience.

Stirring in the hospital bed, my eyes opened several days after my arrival. I felt lost and confused at my surroundings, but my eyes fell on a familiar face and relief washed over me. I am sure she felt the swell of relief as well. My mom had driven about 740 miles in eight hours to be by my side. We later calculated that she had averaged about 95 mph the entirety of the drive, never being pulled over. There was always a driver going faster than she was, and they were the ones to get caught. Her foot never left the gas pedal, and I will never make fun of her panic.

Once awake and somewhat aware of where I was, I noticed the lack of a certain person from the room: my husband. This was something my mom attempted to fix, but it was only mildly successful. He came to visit me once during my entire stay, but never said a word and refused to look at me. He sat on my bed and I rubbed his back, but nothing I did to interact with the stone-faced body made any difference. His blatant resentment was more than I could overcome. I began to wonder if I went too far to prove my point, but it also seemed to be working.

The chaos from the apartment had compartmentalized in my mind, blurry and distant memories, just like that night.

by Shara Adams

For more stories by Shara Adams, visit http://pennedinwhite.com.

My First Time.

I have never been hospitalized before. I think that I am pretty good at hiding things, but I couldn’t hide this from myself. I knew there was something wrong. I wasn’t sleeping more than a couple hours, I was becoming emotionally abusive, and I was falling back into overspending. Mania. This isn’t the first time I have been manic this year, but I hope it is the last. I moved into a new apartment earlier this week and I already can’t make rent. I am exhausting. I am tired from being me.

I took myself down to the hospital which I think we can agree is a feat on its own. Not having insurance was both a blessing a curse. The plus side is that I could choose whatever hospital I wanted and the downside is that I am uninsured. I can’t help but laugh that this insanely expensive vacation I just took and I didn’t even get to go to the pool. I am constantly, actively working to better myself. I take my medication, go to all my doctors appointments, religiously see my therapist, use the breathing exercises. I am not immune to it. It wasn’t at all what I had expected. Clean, hospital like in some ways, slightly degrading, and cold. BUT I am blessed to have gone to a place that provided me a private room and bathroom. Granted, everything was bolted to the floor and the bathroom had no door. Overall it was a really nice place filled with people actively trying to get better.

I was sad and anxious that I was taking all these days unpaid, but I had to. I had to go and get help. It was an out of body experience watching me set fire to all the relationships that took years to rebuild. One conversation has sent it all tumbling down. Here I am, trying to intervene and slow the damage. I was discharged yesterday afternoon and it seems that my grandparents are going to be the hardest to recover. I suppose it is divine timing because we just moved away after living next door to them. I am fortunate to still have my mom in my corner because it would be hell living together for the next year if I am going to be the source of her pain and anger.

I am doing better today. Better than yesterday, better than a week ago. I just have to keep pushing forward. My anxiety is manageable right now and I hope that it stays that way. I hope that this made inpatient stays a little less scary for those who haven’t experienced it.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Overthinking vs. Reality

As somebody with anxiety and depression, overthinking is something I do on a daily basis. I will play scenarios over in my head wondering where I went wrong. I ask myself why I did whatever it was and why I can never seem to get things right.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m making mistake after mistake at work. It seems like no matter how hard I try to get it right, I mess up and probably disappoint my boss.

She had sought me out for this job almost a year ago. She created a new position for me because she wanted me on her staff. But I feel like now she is likely regretting doing so. I imagine her asking herself why she went out of her way to bring me on when I turned out to be a failure.

I have been worried for weeks that she wants to fire me. That all of my mistakes have piled up too high so it’s time to topple them down on top of me by letting me go. My other coworkers seem to have it all together, that none of them struggle with fucking up like I do.

We all know perfection isn’t attainable. Perfection is a goal that none of us can achieve. I’m fully aware of this but I still can’t help but kick myself for making mistakes. I still want to cry and hide under the covers of my bed when I make an error. I still want to shout at myself in the mirror, asking why I can’t be perfect.

I don’t think the fear of being fired, upsetting others and making mistakes will ever be something I overcome. They may seem silly on the outside but to me they are real, terrifying fears.

What makes all of this extra annoying is that it may all be in my head. Overthinking is my reality but it is not always what is real.

Do you struggle with wanting to be perfect? How do you work through making mistakes? How do you bring yourself back to Earth when you’re overthinking?

Also please leave a comment telling me one good thing that’s happened to you in 2020! ☺️

National Suicide Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Awareness Month and September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. You never know what other people are going through. Be kind whenever possible; it’s always possible. Maybe this is something you don’t show much concern with because it had never affected you directly. You never know who in your life may decide to take their life. Even if you think someone is self-harming because they want attention, that doesn’t make their pain less valid. Existence is pain. Sometimes that pain is overwhelming. We can overcome that pain if we seek help from both professionals and from people in our lives.

If you’re hurting, or think your life is meaningless, there are plenty of places to seek help. If this post speaks to you, I want you to leave a comment. I may not respond, but if you feel alone, look at some of the other comments. Many people, hundreds of thousands, feel the same about their lives. You’re not alone because so many people have the same feelings. Reading articles from TheMighty.com helped me when I was looking for some comfort. I felt people there were in the same boat and I felt less alone. I’m sharing the resources listed on The Mighty website below.

Suicide Prevention Resources

If you are feeling suicidal, there is hope. 

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255

You can reach the Crisis Text Line 24/7 by texting “START” to 741-741

You can call The Trevor Project, an LGBT crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline, 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386.

You can call Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 if you live in the U.S. Call 877-330-6366 if you live in Canada.

To find local resources in your area, visit To Write Love On Her Arms.

If you are hard of hearing, you can chat with a Lifeline counselor 24/7 by clicking the Chat button on this page, or you can contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889.

To speak to a crisis counselor in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

If you are a veteran (or your loved one is a veteran), you can reach the Veterans Crisis Line by calling  1-800-273-8255 and Pressing 1. You can also send a text to 838255.

Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

For additional resources, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education).

You can read the following stories from people who’ve been there (from The Mighty):

And for additional messages of hope, click here

You are not alone.  

My Fourth Week of my Life Coaching Journey

Identities are egoic and they are a major part of living in the past and future – Eckhart Tolle

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye’s work and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

If you are looking for your own journey into lifestyle coaching that envokes change in your life, if you are stuck under a mental illness diagnosis and want relief from someone who has experience in the core of what causes suicide, please reach out to Kim Johnson, @ Groundsforclarity@gmail.com. You can find her at www.groundsforclarity.com

Week Four, How Letting go of Identities is Golden

I have been working hard at letting go of identities, or at least that is the plan. Identities throughout my life have been controlled by individual identities, especially those that have to do with my mental illness. The Bipolar Writer came from an identity as a writer who happens to be Bipolar, but that does not define who this person is writing this blog post. It is just me writing. Stringing together words, so they work, and so you can read them. My brand is still The Bipolar Writer, but letting go of that as an identity was tough, but it was just the beginning. When I began to let go of the identities, the metaphorical pencil was not easy.

Photo by Miles Burke on Unsplash

 I was struggling with the identifiable labels in my life. The ego wants us, me, and you to not let go of the identities that define us (letting go of the pencil may seem easy, but the ego wants you to think of a million ways to let go.) Seeking problems when there is no problem is what the ego seeks out, and we feed it. I am learning to let these things go. It feels useful to predict that you are going to feel bad, right? You want to feel bad because at least you know what your feeling. Its a sense of control that not having an identity means you are starving the ego, and it does not like it at all. Let all those identities define you, and I can tell you from experience the freeing of dropping those identities are amazing. Living in The Now, that is the goal because you are already there.

Intellectualize. What an unusual and useless word. I do that so much in this life, intellectualize. I am learning to make adjustments to stay away from the past and future and stay in the now. It is a fantastic place to be. Something my life coach said to me stuck with my week: Appreciating that what us going on in my life for me, but it doesn’t matter because there is an equal opposite reaction. You can’t have the good without the bad. We were talking about the grieving process that I have been going through really only since July. The feelings will be up and down. It comes with the territory. Being in the now allows for a more steady baseline. 

It feels right to write. Projects for my business will come. When I let go of trying to grow my business, I am learning it just continues to grow–naturally now. When I overthink my business, when I lose a client, the default is to doubt things. I have to label it good or bad, and I can tell you its exhausting. The clients that want to work with me will be there. They are already coming into my life without the hard sell. Sure I will grow my client list but organically. People reach out to me daily from this blog. Who knows. Someone may see that I am a ghostwriting memoirist with a focus on creative nonfiction and reach out. I have already gotten clients since I stopped putting a label of good or bad on future clients’ potential. 

It may sound cliche, but it is excellent to put positive vibes out in the world. When I send out positive vibes, things really come to you. I know I have experienced it so much lately. When you pursue the “wants” in life, you will always “need” more, and your cup will never be filled. It is not worth it, I am telling you, my friends.

One of the most significant doubts in my life is me. I always feel great when I am working on my craft. The “me” is me being my biggest doubter and critic. Every project, I doubt about my writing, and it is silly because it is wrong. The identity “The Bipolar Writer” is the one that is doubting. At some point in my life, I became The Bipolar Writer. It became something I identified that made me think I was special. I’m not extraordinary at writing; it is just what I do, feeding the ego. I let The Bipolar Writer identity go along with some I never expected. Why do we hold on to labels and identities? Why does it have to be “I am a writer” instead of writing how I write and say screw the label. The true presence is creativity. I let go of the identity of the writer. I just write.

These are some of the other “identities” that I have let go of is Mental health advocate. Again that is not saying that blogging and my book will not help people. I got into this to share my experiences with the world. Again, why does a label have to attach to what I am doing for the community? It is excellent to say “let it go,” but you have to be the present now and put action behind letting go. If I am writing about my experiences as someone dealing with Bipolar living, then that is what I am in the now. I can move from moment to moment. Pivoting to what will make me happy now. So much expectation comes from being Bipolar, but why does it have to be so? They are an unnecessary part of my life. There is no conflict, and there is no problem. 

My Week Leading to Week Five of Life Coaching

I went into the week, shedding some of the identities that needed to be gone, but I had work to do. One of the amazing ones that I let go of is gamer. It has been a significant identity that I had to be because it “helped me with my anxiety and depression.” I let go, and at the same time, sold my last remaining gaming system. Yes, it was for personal gain, but at the same time, it was letting go. Things happen. I had a TV in my room that I never use, and my cable company charges me for a cable box I never use. So I gave away my TV and returned to the box. It matters how you do things in my life. I took into my week from Kim that we are all the same, and nothing should be taken too seriously. Peace is what I wanted this week, and perhaps I got that, but more I stayed in the now. Anything can happen.

The last thing Kim asked me to do something that atypical. I did that, I said hello to random people while I was out, social distancing, and wearing a mask.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash

Week Three of Life Coaching

“I don’t know.” Perhaps one of the most underused answer that has so much meaning.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

Photo by John Baker on Unsplash

If you are looking for your own journey into lifestyle coaching that envokes change in your life, if you are stuck under a mental illness diagnosis and want relief from someone who has experience in the core of what causes suicide, please reach out to Kim Johnson, @ Groundsforclarity@gmail.com. You can find her at www.groundsforclarity.com

You are here, and I would argue that you are here in the present. That’s one of the greatest things that I have learned from my Life Coach, Kim Johnson.

My Life Coaching Session

I have been three weeks in, and I know making the decision to go down this road was the right choice. I always say I believe in the process, and it has not diminished, and I began my session with a moral quandary. I was in the right place with my business. I picked up one project that I am committed to, and it will go great because I know the client well. I am a sucker for a good story, and I tend to not be objective when a story idea speaks to me. That happened with the second project that I had picked up during the week.

I tend to allow my past experiences to become a part of my present moments. I have been burned in the past. What happened was a client wanted to write a book with a 50/50 split in the end. One of the things in the contract was worrying me, and it was hard for me to commit to the project. I needed help from Kim because I was in a lot of ways making assumptions, generalizations, and interpretations in what was going on. I don’t know this person well enough to do a project on spec. As a general rule, I don’t work on spec, and it wasn’t about the money.

Photo by BENCE BOROS on Unsplash

I have trust issues stemming from my past and what does that stem from–fear. I was coming from a place of fear about the situation. I was worried about letting go of a project that gave me grief, and if it was all worth it. Letting go makes sense. Then I said, “I honestly don’t know.” Wow, that was freeing. It is a great place to be. I don’t have to know the answer. I like to control as a human being. Let go of the thoughts that ego is allowing to control me is so different from what I have been most of my life. 

What separates Kim from other life coaches, in my personal opinion, is that she gives it to me straight, no bull, and she told me the truth that I needed to hear, I didn’t have to keep digging down to roots for weeks. It was up to me, I have the choice, and I make the decisions (really we don’t truly make the decision.) My ego was not allowing me charity, but Kim came up with something else. If I didn’t deal with it, the situation would keep coming up if I can’t commit. If it was no, then accept and move on.

When you change the perception of the situation, fear is not an issue. No more hard and fast rules with my life, and my past coming up is something that I can work through the situation’s triggers. I have to lean into the moment because it will always come up.

The situation that I faced happened to me before, but I didn’t deal with it at all. That level of awareness and clarity was helpful. I had to learn that not talking about my issues and not dealing was not making me happy. I am great at not dealing with my problems. I was not grieving for my mom’s loss for close to eight months before reading Shelby Forsythia. I was judging myself for judging myself. Yes, that was who I was for so long

One of my session’s best parts is when Kim posed this question after telling me to stop and pause for a moment. What would a creature, water, or an inanimate object do if some force of nature destroyed it? Does it feel like crap forever? These things are not about their self-centered feelings like us humans. I can find a way to pull myself back into the present and not engage the thoughts. Just be, and slow down. Find a way to laugh at myself has been the hardest thing. 

My life is going in the right direction. School is just two more semesters, my business is starting to gain momentum, and my writing is excellent. My ego might get in the way, but I am in a better place. That is great! Life coaching is life-changing, and I know there is room to grow.

My Week

I decided that I am going to do more and plan less. I want a tattoo, so I am getting one (it will be a Harley Quinn one). I wanted to visit a friend, and so I dedicated a week to take a train and spend a week in Sacramento. Prices were cheap, and I just did it. I reached out to the woman that worked on formatting my memoir, and she gave me a price to format my novella. I am finally moving forward to get it published. I am moving forward in my life and doing more thinking and planning less. There is no more overthinking every second. I just do. It’s not perfect but subtle changes. I am also going to stop tripping about life.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

Clarity.

This is a two part post: The next part is scheduled to be posted tomorrow.

I want to start off by saying that I voluntarily see my psych doc weekly because I need a lot of accountability regarding my medication. It is a personal choice and in no way does it reflect my dedication to my mental health. I also have a therapist that I see biweekly. I am in no way manic and this is not a manic episode and it is not religious mania. I have been on a spiritual exploration for a few years now.

I always said that I was an atheist, and then I realized what an atheist is and I am not that. Then I said I was agnostic. I told people that I am too selfish to sit and learn about a particular faith to claim one. People really respected that and I meant it, but I wasn’t agnostic. I believed in a God, I just didn’t know which one. I prayed to a God. My God. It didn’t matter. I knew that I had no true control in my life. I wasn’t an accident. The world is bigger than me.

Then I started finding myself longing to be like a lot of people who emulate Jesus. I wanted something to be passionate about and to continue learning about. I wanted a higher power that I could name and a way to get to know Him. I turned to the Bible. Turns out it is literally thousands of pages. Where would I start? Would I understand it? Will it capture my attention or overwhelm me and I quit?

I tried a few bible studies and I completed maybe 3 of them. I tried and quit several. I really wanted a starting point, a place to get a foundation for the rest of my learning. I joined a small group so I could dive into the Bible and its meaning with an intimate group. It was amazing, and then I felt called out about being the only single person in the room. I didn’t go back. Then I started googling “what the Bible had to say about….” and reading from there.

I was having a really tough time with my sister. We were going back and forth about everything it seemed. Who is cleaning more, who is chipping in more, you name it. It was causing a huge rift. we smoothed it over but I still feel this tension in the air. Like she is waiting for the shoe to drop. It is familiar because that is how I felt when I had to move back in with them. It is strange to be on the other side and needing to forgive. This is the first time it occurred to me to turn to the Bible first. So I googled, “the Bible and forgiveness” and “biblical stories about forgiveness”. It returned wonderful scripture. I then wrote some of it down. Once I reviewed what I had found, I picked out some of my favorites. I noticed a lot of them were from the book of Matthew. I found myself emerged in this story that finally told me the ins and outs of how Jesus came to be. It has all kinda tumbled from there. I think I pick up my bible at least every other day now. I still am not completely independent. I still reach for the internet for a starting point, but I still read from there. I just feel better. I feel like I am in love with learning and also seeking comfort and guidance. It really calms me. I started to wonder if maybe that calm can be obtained through meditation and manifestation. I believe in manifestation. Maybe it is the positivity that it exudes or the feeling of influence it provides. Either way it feels like I accomplished something.

So I started looking into meditation and homeopathic ways of treatments or guidance.

(continued in next post)

National Cheer Up the Lonely Day

Tomorrow (July 11) is National Cheer Up the Lonely Day. With social distancing, isolation, and quarantine, this holiday is important now more than ever. I’m certain many people have never heard of this day. The holiday was founded by Francis Pesek. His daughter, L.J. Pesek said he “was a quiet, kind, wonderful man who had a heart of gold. The idea came to him as a way of promoting kindness toward others who were lonely or forgotten as shut-ins or in nursing homes.” July 11 is also Francis Pesek’s birthday. I have yet to find any other information such as when Francis was born or what year the holiday was founded.

Autophobia is the fear of being alone. While many may not have the full-blown phobia, everyone at one time or another is afraid of being alone. For me, I’ve feared people would leave me which added to my insecurities and caused me to drive them away. I created my worst fear. When one feels this way, the smallest gesture can have the biggest impact. Sending a short message, an email, or letter can brighten their day. On social media, tagging a friend or sharing a link or post in a direct message (DM) can bring a smile to their face.

Remember, if you spend most days having conversations with several people, that doesn’t mean everyone else does. You may be the only person one of those people talks to for the entire day. There was one time a couple years ago when I went an entire week with no contact or conversations with anyone outside of work. I felt ignored and unwanted. I know others have felt this way. It takes little effort to remind people that you care about them. It’s also important to not assume someone is lonely because they spend a lot of time alone. Don’t jump to conclusions. Just tell them you care about them.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

Returning to Life After Quarantine: An Anxiety Story

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.

Fear is a Coward

Funny thing I notice about Fear. He’s big and bad and burly while he’s at home lurking in my what-ifs and what-mights. He pokes at my stomach until I’m nauseous. He pounds on my chest until I can’t breathe. He shakes me and rattles me until I’m dizzy. He yells at me until I’ve relived every negative event and conversation I’ve ever had. He laughs at me as I make up reasons why I can’t, I shouldn’t, I won’t. He looms over me as I cower in my corner of shame.

But then I do go. I do step out. I close my eyes and jump. The landing is not always soft and it’s not always smooth. But I never remember a time when Fear was there waiting for me. I jump. Fear flees. He hides out of sight while I dance, while I talk, while I collaborate – and all this with people who never turn out to be the bogeyman Fear led me to believe they were. And I don’t turn out to be the dunce Fear accuses me of being every day.

I accomplish and then I return home. Fear is hiding away, embarrassed to have been found out for the coward he is.

I go to bed. I’m sure Fear and I will meet again tomorrow, when he gets the nerve to come out again.