Thirty.

30. Thirty. The big 3-0. I want to mark this time. (peep that pic of me celebrating graduation in late May)

If you would have asked 20 year old me what the next 10 years held…she would have thought that it sounded scary and wonderful, but it could never be her. She blamed everyone for her problems. She was endlessly in love with Joseph Anthony but She was months away from the hardest break up she had faced. She was wonderfully oblivious that her life was about to change courses in a big way. She didn’t really have a lot of close friends outside of Joe. Hannah was dating David and you all didn’t really get along with David. She had a less than ideal relationship with her family and believed that it was beyond repair. There were a lot of questions about where my life would lead me. She was also very secure with herself. She of course thought she could improve in her exercise and diet, but she had confidence and it was obvious. She had no idea that these fleeting, endorphin filled time was mostly a product of her bipolar.

 

This didn’t seem like a big deal until I thought of how fast it went by. How quickly 30 years of my life happened. What have I accomplished?

 

I am well established in my career. I have been in the health care field for 10 years.

I got my master’s degree.

I moved to Texas and back.

I have a pet kitty that makes my days better (You count your kids right?)

I received my diagnosis of Bipolar disorder and started treating it.

I repaired many relationships that I had broken.

I have moved countless times, and it has allowed me experience more than one small bubble in Arizona.

I bought the newest car I have ever owned this year.

I made the big decision to start fertility treatments and become a single mother by choice.

I have realized that it isn’t a relationship I fear, it is that I wouldn’t be accepted or understood. I am asexual.

I have made peace with the fact that I will most likely have my mom living with me for the rest of her life. I am truly okay with it.

 

30-year-old me is on a camping trip in the future. This is 29 years and 359 day old me. Present me is sitting in my room. She is in Mesa and live in a crappy one-bedroom mobile home with mom. That is right, you now care for your mom. Mostly financially because she can’t work but is still independent.  She sleeps in a recliner because you haven’t been able to afford the lift bed she needs. We just got approved for the apartment we are moving to. You prefer to rent an apartment over owning a home and having all the responsibilities or renting a home and having to landscape. This apartment is a dream. You have always looked at the high-end apartments as something you dream of living in. You dreamt of living in a beautiful apartment that looks like a model home. You love the idea of living in a really nice place and decorating it so that you are proud of it.

You love living with your mom. You rarely argue, and she holds you accountable on your self -improvement.

You packed up your shit, quit your job, and drove to Texas where you lived with your dad and Nicole for a year. Much needed. Super impulsive.

Things are rocky with your sister right now. She is following your footsteps and headed down an emotionally destructive path. That is a scary thought seeing as how you went without a diagnosis for your bipolar until you were 25. You have had a couple of relationships that fizzled out. It has been 7 years since your last one. It only feels like an embarrassment to say that when you imagine other people’s reactions. You are oddly okay with this. You have spent the last 7 years working on yourself, nurturing your mental health and mending relationships. You reconnected with Joseph. He turned into a real bar fly when you two hung out together. I do mean hook up if you are wondering. Turns out he had an ex-girlfriend living in the same house. You still love him, and you still think he is selfish and inconsiderate. He has gotten weirder and less mature if that is possible. He loves to wear leggings and outlandish attention drawing outfits and attend raves. He did meet a girl last year. They are expecting a boy next month. You don’t know that Joe has grown up, you think he just found someone to act like a kid with. She has a son in high school….don’t know if that was a teen pregnancy or she is that much older than us.

Hannah is still your true friend. She has changed A TON. She stands up for herself, has really matured career wise and is making more than you! She still feels like she doesn’t know what she is doing with her life. She is living it. She needs to look around. She is still letting pretty boys walk all over her. You constantly build her up and she is so critical of herself and her appearance. She got a boob job that she hates…and botox! As long as it is safe and makes her happy, I will never judge her.

You made the decision that you would start fertility treatments and become a single mother by choice. It is a long and expensive process, but you want it badly. Your mom and grandmother both had issues and could not have any kids after 30. Your aunt Cherril has cervical cancer. She isn’t doing well either. She has decided to not have any kind of treatments and doesn’t even want to take pain medication.

You write. You write in notebooks, on the back of paper plates, you have a blog, you bounce around on your ideas and just end up writing them all in a jumbled mess.

You lost your confidence and have gained at least 100 lbs. But your confidence was gone long before the weight came. After Sean, you were down. You were approaching the BPD diagnosis, but this sent you on a journey that you can credit your life to.

You started gaining weight and staying home. You went to the doctor for weight loss and then disclosed how you were really feeling, and she referred you to a specialist. Between the sadness and the weight gain, you felt ashamed. You stopped going out and packed on more weight. You are hyper aware of those around you. Careful never to agitate or inconvenience anyone. You have actually become pretty boring. You rarely show emotion and are too concerned about other’s opinions to be the silly person you were.

 

You hope that your next 10 years bring more joy, revelations about yourself, dreams come to fruition. You hope to overcome your biggest obstacle. Yourself.

In the next 10 years, you will have a baby. You will do two rounds of IUI before you get pregnant. You will become more confident in your work. You will increase dramatically in your salary as you are beginning to really establish yourself. You will become more involved in politics and religion…after all the wise Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all the places where decisions are being made.”. You will continue learning and educating yourself through reading and may even entertain the idea of a doctorate. You will most likely lose your grandparents. That is going to be the kick in the stomach of the decade. I hope you are somewhat graceful in your grief. I doubt this though. You will most likely have some issues in managing medications and potentially start being reckless at this time. I hope you come back here and remind yourself of how far you have come and how many people go through this.

My first 30 years have been challenging to say the least. I was dealt a tough hand and it didn’t help that I was manic for most of it. I have made strides in my mental health that have definitely rippled into the rest of my life. I am happy. Genuinely happy. I have you fine people to thank for some of that.

 

A Letter to Myself on my Birthday – 3rd Edition

The worst thing that happened to you since last time you wrote this letter to yourself is you lost your mom. A monumental life-changing event that almost crushed you to the point of no return. The grieving process will be a long one, but you have proven to yourself that you are more durable because your mom will always be a part of you.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Happy Birthday, James. It will be a strange one, but all things can only go up from here.

This is officially my third time writing a letter to myself on my birthday, April 10th. A date that the Bipolar Writer came into this world not knowing where he would end up, and yet through the chaos of 2020, I can count myself among the lucky ones to be able to celebrate my birthday. I do not take this birthday lightly as I might have in the past. You can find the previous versions of this idea below.

2018 Letter

2019 Letter

Since the last time we were here a year ago, you became a published author. Wrote your big fantasy fiction novel, wrote a novella, and a few short stories, all headed towards publication. Your dream of being a published writer is finally achieved, and yet you have so much further to go, and while that can be scary, it can be invigorating. Never give up this dream, James, no matter the struggles you are sure to face over the coming months and perhaps years. It is all relative.

The worst thing that happened to you since last time you wrote this letter to yourself is you lost your mom. A monumental life-changing event that almost crushed you to the point of no return. The grieving process will be a long one, but you have proven to yourself that you are more durable because your mom will always be a part of you. She helped you get here, never forget that, and always remember that she waned you to continue your own fight and the fight for others.

Where do you go from here, another birthday alive when no to many years ago that might not have been a possibility?

You find yourself at a crossroads in so many facets of your life. For one, I am nearing the end of my graduate degree before my next birthday. It is all planned out from now until the end, and it though it may feel bittersweet, you have come such a long way as a writer, a person, and a human being.

You know that there are so many great things in your life but never forget the big ones. Traveling and teaching in Korea after your Master’s. Taking a trip to Tokyo and the Holy City. These things may seem impossible given where the world is on your birthday, but never give up on your dreams. Only you have the power to stop them from becoming a reality.

There is no doubt that things are always moving fast in this life and that during a pandemic, you saw what people could be as humans. Empathetic to those on the front lines of COVID-19. Your greatest hopes are people seeing how anxiety, depression, and anything that comes with a mental illness is something that is not made up. So many people are living in a world of anxious thoughts and depression that could lead to suicide and self-harm. Something new to so many, but for us, those in the mental illness community, have to live with every day. Perhaps compassion and empathy could be applied to once and for all-conquering the stigma of mental illness. I know you will always be fighting.

If you are feeling the voice that accompanies suicidal thoughts, please know that it is not the answer. James has been there, and it only leads to two things. Death or regret. There are more options. James is living proof.

It feels hopeless sometimes, James, but you know that there is always the other side of your anxious feelings and depression. Trust in the people that are a part of this blog. The people that are on your side telling you, “you are not alone.” You are not alone in any of this mental illness life.

James, it has been real to be a part of this amazing journey that is your life, and I hope that we have many years to come.

If there is one thing that I would want on my birthday, it is for people to read my book. It is free on Amazing Kindle Unlimited, and you can find it here.  Of course, buying my book would be amazing as well, and you can find the links to my author site and where to purchase my books below. I thank you for coming here on the day of my birth and sharing in my letter to myself on my day.

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 Becky Fantham on Unsplash