My heart feels so heavy in my chest. It weighs so much I feel like it will drop to my feet by the start of next week.
I’m not sure if second hand trauma is a real term or not but I think it’s what I’m experiencing.
**Iam going to be talking about suicide so if thistopic is triggering for you please do not read. Take care of yourself first! **
Last week my neighbor killed himself. His girlfriend found him in the shed in the middle of the night. She screamed so loudly she woke up my boyfriend, me and many of our neighbors.
The next day was very difficult for me. I did not know him, we never spoke, but experiencing the aftermath of his actions was very intense. My boyfriend and I stayed up until all of the first responders left.
I started to feel better about what had happened until last night. Last night our neighbor was outside sobbing in her backyard. This weekend is the viewing and the celebration of life so I think she is really struggling with those events coming up.
Hearing her pain made it hard for me to sleep and has made today difficult to get through. All day I’ve had trouble focusing at work because of what I heard last night.
I’m a very sensitive person so hearing everything going on weighs heavy on my heart. I can’t get in to speak to my therapist for a while so writing a blog post is the next best thing.
This weekend I need to focus on my mental health and get myself to a better place in my mind. I want to relax, clean up my house and eat good food. I think exercising would also be good in a situation like this.
I’m sorry to put my second hand trauma on your shoulders.
Have you ever experienced somebody else’s traumatic experience? How did you cope with that?
If not, what are you doing lately to take care of your mental health?
Well, I knew that yesterday was going to suck. While it did in some ways, it was not as bad as it could have been if I let the depression take over my life. Still, four months seem like a lifetime since I lost my mom. I know I talk about my mom a lot; it is still so fresh, like a wound that will not heal.
I know the world is hurting with people dying every day. I sympathize with all who have lost a mother, father, sibling, grandparent, uncle, aunt, or any human life to any illness or natural causes. It sucks. My blog is the one place where I can express myself best through my writing. Loss of life is one of those inevitable things. Losing my mom was one of those things in my life that could have, and still might crush me. I am still in the stages of mourning, and it never feels real, like my mom is going to text me today, asking me something. It was the suddenness of my mom’s death that has been the hardest to get over.
I made a decision yesterday that for the remaining time of the first year, I am going to take a mental health day on the 15th of the month. That way, I can work on focusing on staying healthy during isolation. My depression was terrible yesterday, but I got up and took a shower. I put on some fresh clothes and ate some breakfast. I watched a favorite movie that was both mine and my mom’s, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I am a huge Audrey Hepburn fan, and I love that movie.
The worst part of the last four months is that the toll it has taken on my dad. I have to make sure that he eats at least dinner. While I am at home in isolation, his job is considered essential, and so I can’t make sure he eats breakfast and lunch. I know this has been so hard for him, and he had gotten so skinny.
We have one another, and I have other siblings, but when your spread ut over two states, it makes it hard. My siblings have their lives, and I chose to be with my dad. In truth, I have to be because of my mental illness, but I do my part. So I have to watch out for him. There are times when I have to be strong in his presence because he is dealing with the unimaginable pain of losing the one person he loved more than anything in this life.
So I survived yesterday. The one thing I regret is drinking a beer, but it was there, and my self-control has not been great lately. I lost four years back in February, but it has not gotten to an everyday thing, so I am okay for now. I am always a fighter.
I have been living with the unimaginable for the last three months. I understand that death and losing the ones we love, especially our parents, is something that we all will deal with or have in this life.
I lost my mom on December 15, 2019, at 9:45 am, the exact time I began writing this blog post. I have talked about losing my mom, especially since my recent depression over the last week was this looming date. There is no getting around this, and I have not dealt well with the loss of my mother. I am somewhere around bargaining and depression in the grieving process. I had a lot of anger in December and January, but I have finally gotten to the depression stage.
Grief is grief, and so many people today are dealing with the loss of someone they love all over the world. My grief is nothing special. When it comes to mental illness, there is so much that can go wrong when it comes to dealing with depression-related grief. Those of us in the mental illness community have to be more vigilant because our depression could last for years.
Again, I am not saying that mentally healthy people do not deal with depression. Someone like me who is Bipolar can spiral quickly into extreme levels of depression very quickly. It is like quicksand, but the depression, which I call mine my dark passenger, can overtake you to unreal levels of depression and suicidal thoughts.
My Mom Was a Beautiful Soul
At some point, I will be able to talk more about my mom and the amazingly beautiful person that she will always be in my heart. The one thing that is worth mentioning in this post is that I would not be here today without her.
In 2010, when I almost lost my life, it was my mother who finally had enough and made me promise to stop the destructive path that I was on for three years. I owe her everything that I have today because she believed in me. There would be no James Edgar Skye or The Bipolar Writer without my mother’s faith that I would get my life back. She always looked out for her family and me before her own problems, and that is what made her soul beautiful. My mother will always be an amazing woman.
I would be dishonoring her faith and belief if I were to spiral out of control right now. It would be so easy to give up on school and my writing, but I would never do that to her legacy. My mother brought me back from the brink when everyone else in my life gave up on me. So, even on my worst days with depression or anxiety in the future. I will remember all she taught me.
One thing I will always cherish is that she got to see my book published and for me to become an author.
Today is a somber day, but I am going to write and edit a story. Play some video games and relax since there are no sports at the moment. With that said, stay strong in the fight.
How is it best to be, think, or feel, when we are threatened by darkness, whether from external factors or whether in our own minds? I think this is a question which concerns a lot of people now. We look around and things are difficult, there is suffering everywhere, terrible ecological anxieties, political upheavals. It’s easy to feel disconnected, overwhelmed and hopeless. Many of the support mechanisms that would have been available to more connected societies in the past – for example in the form of extended families – are no longer available to us.
As we live in increasingly dysfunctional and disconnected societies. We look for something to pin our hopes on, try to obliterate the stress we feel with our busy-ness. We turn perhaps to self-help manuals, books about meditation or veganism, make New Year resolutions, go to the gym, write more, work harder, party harder, rush around keeping busy trying to blank things out.
Hands up if you’ve been there.
I don’t mean to imply there’s anything wrong with yoga etc but I’m not sure if these things on their own can combat the kinds of stresses we are struggling with in modern societies.
The term ‘stress’ itself originally comes from physics and refers to the deformation of a body that has been subjected to external forces. We talk about stress testing metals for car bodies. We do not talk about stress testing ourselves, torn as we are between our own excessive expectations and feelings of powerlessness. But just as some metals bear up under stress differently, so do people. We are not all the same.
We need to hang on to our dreams and we need to hang on to hope.
Elie Wiesel who won the Nobel Peace prize 1986 said in his acceptance speech:
“Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future. Does this mean that our future can be built on a rejection of the past? Surely such a choice is not necessary. The two are not incompatible. The opposite of the past is not the future but the absence of future; the opposite of the future is not the past but the absence of past. The loss of one is equivalent to the sacrifice of the other.”
Wiesel was of course talking about a very specific past, the holocaust.
But how much suffering stems from past mistakes, problems, agonies, losses. We should not forget them, not even try. But sometimes forgetting seems like the only possible solution. How to cope with stress without resorting to harmful thought patterns and behaviours like blotting out activities? This I believe is one of the great challenges of our times. How to build a future that is not built on a rejection of the past? And though, yes, Wiesel was speaking at a societal level, what are societies but gatherings of individual people?
His speech continues with a personal memory:
“A recollection. The time: After the war. The place: Paris. A young man struggles to readjust to life. His mother, his father, his small sister are gone. He is alone. On the verge of despair. And yet he does not give up. On the contrary, he strives to find a place among the living. He acquires a new language. He makes a few friends who, like himself, believe that the memory of evil will serve as a shield against evil; that the memory of death will serve as a shield against death.”
In the reading I have done around this subject, two factors have emerged as important in maintaining hope in the future. Those two factors are keeping our eyes fixed on our own goals, and offering support to others. Self and others, the banner of a connected humanity.
Hope as Daisaku Ikeda says, is a decision.
“Hans Selye. Who pioneered the field of stress research offered the following advice based on his own experience of battling cancer: first, establish and maintain your own goals in life. Second, live so that we are necessary to others – such a way of life is ultimately beneficial to yourself.”
(Hope is a Decision, EG Press, 2017)
What Selye describes is what we call empathy. I think I am right in saying that of the major world religions, all place emphasis on empathy. Whether you subscribe to a faith or not, this is the gold vein in all that black granite of our suffering.
This doesn’t always feel logical or even possible. When we are suffering we want to curl up and lick our own wounds not be worrying about someone else’s. Nevertheless.
“The Buddhist sutras contain this well known parable: One day, Shakyamuni Buddha was approached by a woman wracked by grief at the loss of her child. She begged him to bring her baby back to life. Shakyamuni comforted her and offered to prepare medicine that would revive her child. To make this, he would need a mustard seed he said, which he instructed her to find in a nearby village. This mustard seed however would have to come from a home that had never experienced the death of a family member.
The woman searched from house to house but nowhere could she find a home that had never known death. As she continued her quest, the woman accepted that her child had died and began to realise her suffering was something shared by all people. She returned to Shakyamuni determined not to be overwhelmed by grief.”
( Daisaku Ikeda, Hope is a Decision, 2017)
We do not carry the burden of our grief alone. This is a good time to remember that.
Hope is a Decision: Selected Essays of Daisaku Ikeda Eternal Ganges Press, 2017
With the news of James’ mom’s recent passing, I find myself reflecting on my own parent/child relationship. How lucky am I to have her, and how much I feel for James. Please consider donating here to his family’s gofundme to help with expenses. I know that this place that he has created has helped me immensely. It has done more for me than I can put into words and I hope that we can open our arms to be a comfort in return.
I have always had an incredibly tumultuous relationship with my mother growing up. I know now that I was a bit unpredictable to say the least and with reason. What I didn’t know is how much of a comfort she would be to me now.
My mom is disabled and she lives with me. I am just on the cusp of 30 (HELP!) and many people who hear this picture an elderly woman who can’t feed or bathe herself. They look at me with sad eyes and apologize. They provide niceties about how “you shouldn’t have to take that on!”. The truth is she takes care of me. Yes, I end up grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and the occasional bathing when she is really hurting. But she does a lot for me too. We can start with the obvious: She hasn’t killed me.
I was, in all honesty, a mean little bitch. I told her I hated her, stole from her, lied, and had even hit her once growing up. I wasn’t some pot smoking, partying, rebellious teenager. I was just, bipolar. It is kinda funny now, but it really isn’t at all. I was so “moody” as we had thought that my mom wanted to send me away to a camp in an attempt to reform me. I was even more manipulative. She took me to a specialist on numerous occasions to be evaluated. The mental illness is heavy in this family. My devious ass saw right through their questions and lied my way home. Things only got better when I acknowledged I had a problem and sought out help. I only got better then.
That woman is a saint. In a few short weeks she will be 50. She had me young and endured more than she should have. She put up with me and sometimes had to keep me at a distance. So yes, I take care of her. I pay the bills, do the grocery shopping, fetch her medications, and at times I bathe her.
But she is still doing more for me. She still puts up with my sudden mood changes. The volatile sport that is Bailey. She bites her tongue when I tell her I am having an “off day” as I have grown to call manic episodes. She helps me monitor my spending during this time so I can stay on the right track. My mom stays up with me when insomnia strikes and we binge watch Netflix and crack jokes. She sets her alarm, but has no reason to get up early. It is for me. One time they raised the dose of my Seroquel and slept through three alarms and multiple calls from my boss. She keeps me accountable.
She stays on the phone with me when I choose to move 1000 miles away on a whim. When I left her with my grandmother to care for her. When I am sobbing because I am off my medication and afraid of myself. She doesn’t push me to get back into life when I move back home. She doesn’t comment on the amount of time that I have gone without combing my hair or showering. Instead, she waits for me to be ready and offers to help me sort it out.
I am so grateful for my mother. I am grateful that I have her. I am grateful for the things she does for me. I am grateful for the way she has loved me in spite of the way I have behaved.
I have no idea how it feels to lose a mom. The closest I have come is to emotionally feel like I have lost her as a teenager when she had to love me from a distance. I know now that when we speak about that period of time, we both weep. I especially am brought to tears when she tells me how hard it was to not be there, to not communicate. I know that when she is gone from this Earth, it will hurt like hell. Life will never be the same. I will have to remind myself of her words and how her heart aches when she is away from me as well, that she did not abandon me.
All of this to say that we are so lucky to have people in our lives that support us through….well, us being us. It isn’t easy to see past the terrible parts of mental illness. It is all risk and no reward. My heart absolutely goes out to James and the others that find themselves one less ally, friend, parent, sibling, or other relative to walk through life with. I hope that you know that you meant the world to them. I can say that with full confidence. You have to love someone more than a lot to stick through it.
This is my GoFundMe under my real name David TC (I wasn’t sure if I could get the funds if I used my Pen Name James Edgar Skye.) Thank you in advance for donating!
So, my goal is $300. The cost to upgrade. If 100 people donate 3 dollars, I can reach my goal quickly (the donation button is below through PayPal.) I am going to try and keep this post going all weekend in hopes that I reach my goal. Please, if you can help it would be amazing, and if you can’t, I understand. I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here it goes!
If you can’t donate please reblog this post or share my GoFundMe link above, it would mean the world to me!
Death is such a strange yet familiar concept to me. It is strange because I don’t understand why people fear death. I know that it is simply natural to fear your life coming to an end; but I don’t understand it one bit. I seem to have a very romanticized view of death, that it is an end to the life that I don’t really want. Yet, I know that feeling is simply my depression talking, but since I’ve been depressed for so long, it’s become difficult to tell the difference between my true feelings and what my depression tells me. I have a feeling that I’m not alone in that respect. That many of you who suffer the same way I do have had the lines between your depression and your self blurred. It’s a very strange feeling to have these thoughts in my head that I don’t even know are mine. No, I don’t, and never have, heard voices telling me to do things, but its almost as if there are two sides to my personality. One being the overwhelming force of my depression, and the other being the meek side of me that wants to live. It is a constant battle between these two opposing forces, yet there doesn’t seem to be a clear victor. My romance with death almost makes me feel like Deadpool in a way. I love the thought of death, well at least the peaceful kind. Still, I have these fantasies in which I die a violent and heroic death all the time. For example, I would imagine myself being mugged at knifepoint or gunpoint, and refusing to give the mugger anything and just generally being a badass. Getting shot or stabbed because of my blatant disregard for the situation’s severity, yet still managing to subdue to suspect, and then later dying from my wounds. It has always been a dream of mine to go out in a spectacular fashion, to which people would be telling stories about how amazing I was. I know that I am strange for having these thoughts about death, especially when most people are terrified of it. Again, I’ve been depressed for so long, that I can’t even tell if this is how I truly feel, or its just my depression.
The good news however, is that my new meds seem to be working. I haven’t really had a suicidal ideation in quite a long time. What is really nice is that it doesn’t even feel different anymore to not have suicidal ideations. When I first went on medication, that worked, and I lost my suicidal ideations I almost felt lost without them. Now, I feel like a sort of weight has been lifted in a most amazing way. I mean to be honest, I can do without the side effects, like getting the shakes when I don’t eat anything for 8 hours, but I mean what can you do. All medications these days have such drastic side effects that you just hope the end result is worth whatever troubles you have to go through. However, still hate my job…so that is going to be weighing me down for a while. Not to mention I’m in debt up to my eyes. Although, every step I take forward, I have to look back to remind myself how far I’ve actually come. To make sure that when I take a step back, it doesn’t feel like the end of the world, when its actually just a minor setback in my perpetual progress. Anyways, thanks for listening to me rant for a hot minute, hopefully you can take something away from this article to help yourself, or at least feel not so alone.
Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. From the baroque era to black metal, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t listening to some kind of music, first on a little cassette player, then on CDs, and now of course through online streaming. In fact, the world of streaming music has opened my library up to hundreds of thousands of songs that I would never have thought to listen to before.
According to my iTunes library, I’ve listened to the 10,000 songs in my library over 300,000 times. Some I’ve listened to only once or twice, of course, but the top ten percent of plays – 30,000 or so – are of just sixty songs – by just ten artists.
From Coma White by Marilyn Manson, at 450 plays, to Brief is the Light by Sentenced, at nearly 500, these sixty songs are an unintentional reflection of my mental state over the years. On average, I’ve listened to these sixty songs at least once a week for the past fifteen years (since I first built an iTunes library), although of course there’ve been days when I’ve listened to some on repeat for hours at a time.
You see, music is my memory. I don’t have the sharpest recollection for things, people or events, but listening to a particular song will invariably revisit the feelings I was experiencing when I first came to know and love it. For me, music is feeling, it is emotion, and frequently, it is depression.
When I listen to My Hope, the Destroyer by My Dying Bride, I am returned to the gloriously dark, gothic days of my teenage depression, candles and vodka late at night, wondering if I was destined to be alone for the rest of my life. When I hear Join Me In Death by HIM, I remember the blood running down my arms as I cut myself repeatedly, wishing I had the strength to cut deeper, harder, more finally.
These aren’t necessarily pleasant memories, but they are the foundation of who I am today – the essence of my soul. It would be a disservice to forget who I used to be, and how it led to who I am today. There are still days when I simply can’t cope, when I want to sleep all day and forget the world; there are days when I just want to cease existing. This last week has been especially hard, coping with the death of a dear friend and being asked to read his eulogy.
And in those times, I fire up my Depression playlist, and I remember. I remember what it feels like to be alone; what it’s like to be numb, and miserable, and to want to die. These are powerful memories, and they’re important.
Sometimes people ask me why, if I’m already depressed, I choose to listen to music that reinforces the feeling. They wonder why I don’t listen to happy music to cheer myself up. The answer is that I don’t use music to change my mood; I choose my music to reflect my mood. When I’m at my darkest, I need strength; when I’m at my lowest, I need reassurance. And the memories of past sadness is, in a way, just that: a reminder that I’ve felt this way before, and that I’m still here.
Music, in the end, is timeless and eternal. And in this, it serves as a reminder that all things pass, for better or for worse. I too will die one day, and I don’t want that day to come having wasted what’s left of my life.
That doesn’t mean I want to write a book, or cross off a bucket list; to me, that’s not the measure of a life well spent. To me, it’s about feeling. And feeling, be it happy or sad, alive or numb, is the essence of life. For some, they get their feelings from movies, or books; some get it from food, or family.
I get it from music. I am eternally grateful for the music in my life, and I will continue to rack up the plays on those top sixty songs for the rest of my life. Every time I need to remember, every time I need to feel, those songs will be there for me.
So remember to listen, and remember to feel: we aren’t long for this world.
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