Relation-blips and Self Medication (..A blast from the Past)

I’m going to share some of my imaginary book. This chapter is in the journal section and is entitled ‘Relationblips’

I used to sweat like crazy, partly meds, partly anxiety. Rivers. So, relationships? At all possible? No because my relationship OCD would be so overpowering even before I got there. Therefore, obsessing was ripe and my ‘affair’ would be rumination (part of the same compulsion of mental argument) about the person’s loyalty and my own loyalty, finding ‘answers’ to this, and I would also be arguing with myself as to whether I carried myself and appeared okay, the latter being a compulsion until recent times. Everyone does I know, but let me explain, I’d be obsessed with my partners’ safety – over-protective to a compulsive degree. Sometimes it was clear that I was ‘obsessing’, other times it would be a very private affair. I had it more severe in more recent years, though, with a potential mate. The story was that I was not interested… the truth was that I was genuine but distracted by my condition therefore, too preoccupied.

There have been a few times throughout my life when people have presumed I am high on drugs like cocaine (as I appeared charged up due to anxiety) as well as weed (as I appeared dopey due to fatigue and a delusional feeling). It is a real shame that I was not (for the most part). The internal conflict and anxiety years ago was just chronic. Say if I had an obsession to ‘answer’, the conflict would cause sweat and confusion, and that is the least worse symptoms. Imagine being in a night club, which is stressful already, and then having an obsession feeling like a conflict, becoming totally preoccupied, the only relief getting as wasted as possible. For the most part I started smoking as a stress reliever as soon as I could (not to be cool like my peers). This is accurate because I remember thinking my auntie smoked ‘cos of her problems so perhaps it’ll work for me. I was right, it did help the anxiety. Any immediate relief was welcomed. I’m not saying others don’t use these things as stress relievers too, but I am accurate, for me it was purely that in those moments, I remember thinking these things and nothing else, many a time. 

I used to drink a lot. Drinking gave me some relief, some fun times, but not all the time like others. My relationship with alcohol has been varied I have had the pleasure, but short-lived and bizarre. I, however, feel that upon my initial diagnosis of OCD at twenty-two, I should’ve embraced sobriety and become a hermit in a tree, but let’s not have regrets as this future to come is the only future I am destined to have. Spiritual again… perhaps I should travel to Holy Isle.

This section is about relationships, so let me explain, by the time I sought out a girlfriend, I was rather ill, I wasn’t fully aware of it, but selective mutism was the least of it. I could not pay attention. I simply could not. I didn’t know it was mental illness, but deep down I knew something was up. Because of the diversion of the obsessions I was very much ‘compulsively happy’ instead of being calm, happy and trusting like I am a lot more so now. I applaud my efforts but upon reflection, understandably did not succeed at living a functional life. I did not want to lose my virginity, any more than I neededto find an answer to an obsession, or attempt using alcoholism as a relief from my condition. Not many knew of my struggle, as I was a nice person who was a bit weird sometimes, and of course ‘happily compulsive’, nevertheless amusing when intoxicated. We are talking about young adulthood here. When I’m calm confident assertive and caring, like I am a lot more nowadays, I’m a really great guy. I just couldn’t tap into that sh*t. I just couldn’t there was no way the doubt stream was giving me a break. I did split up ‘because of me’, it was no excuse, and I did not understand what was going on in my grey nut, keeping mental illness ablaze, therefore, could not explain that I did. Of course I ended things with old girlfriends, with subconscious intentions to fight my illness.

Often short-lived through alcoholism and bizarre at times. Nevertheless, I tried what I thought we deserved with someone I found attractive. I was wrong, it wasn’t what we deserved, what I deserved was treatment. What I am getting at is that despite honourable attempts, nothing resembling a relationship or a fling was possible and I wish I had realised what mental health was about and trusted my instincts that something was seriously wrong with me. There is no point in having a partner if I am anxious about the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘should haves’ all the time. There’s no point if mental health is just going to decline and ignoring it does not work. Perhaps I was still on the same desperate belief I had way back in the beginning, perhaps I was hoping I’d ‘snap out of it one day.’

Of course, we never know what may be around the corner and one can fall in love instantly when we least expect it and in another dimension, my experiences would have been fruitful. I regret I wasn’t there, in the moment, doing all the things I could do right now free of my condition. Many opportunities for happiness fell from my grasp. But, right now I’m happy with the way things are going to play out.

My parents were very good-natured and supportive. There is autism and mental illness running through my family, this isn’t a problem as if I wasn’t so ill I could have communicated more effectively with them. Alcoholism and emotional problems were present in some respects but I do not feel they were a cause of my problems any more than cancer may be caused by various combined factors. Causes of a lot of mental illness are inconclusive; huge chemical imbalances, I’m undecided whether they are a cause or result probably a result more so than not in my opinion, therefore, environment and genes are causes as is the fact that everyone interprets experiences differently. I definitely have chemical imbalances such as when I would go selectively mute: the feeling, no one gets that anxious to have to do that.

Many people are emotionally unstable and if I were not so far gone, I would have rectified my relationship with my parents during my teens and had a much less miserable time as a result. I do remember OCD in particular suddenly appearing in the final year of primary school, man I was so clever to hide it. But even then I knew it was irrational but knew nothing of mental illness to be able to explain it. It was brewing, but I’d never had obsessions like that before – I was quick to hide it. Yea I know a mountain to climb for a kid. As OCDers, we often know how irrational our obsessions are which is cursed. Therefore, the only benefit of a more emotionally aware family was the fact that we may have realised I was hiding it and we would have got a diagnosis before I went off to live on my own, only because I would have really liked my mother to experience my good mental health before she passed away. This is no one’s fault. I’m a master of disguise.  

The main problem observable by my family during my adult life is that which is elusive, mischievous, deviant and tedious: the gambling addiction. I admit that it has gone on until the release of ‘mental blocks’ in recent times. It switched and mischievously hid, restricting my ability to actually work on my mental health. As I review this, I am ready to write the final section of my book, which is best to be written after addiction has completely gone and mental health is the only priority. It is, like I imagined, far easier to sit with the core feelings, and appreciate freedom, now I am not ensnared by the addictive urges and storylines which dictated my life to some extent. A year on now since I started writing, the addiction has only just completely gone. I’m not seeking reassurance or exaggerating, it truly has gone now. Therefore I am able to write and meditate with purely pure intentions. I may have been a master of disguise growing up, but now I can be a master full stop.

New joys are sobriety and mental health. All views are subjective, what someone thinks of you is part of their thinking, therefore it doesn’t define you.

The art gallery – how interesting.  The doubt stream tried to take up full bandwidth. I persevered and read about a few things. But I needed to create head space for the doubt stream, I couldn’t turn it off. Blown up ‘guilt’ was there…

The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir

It is already nearing the end of July. Even with everything that 2020 has thrown as us this year, the year is moving at a fast pace. I will be writing this week a few blogs that outline my future plans and projects, info on my Patreon account, exclusive content in video blogs for The Bipolar Writer blog from me, and the future. 

Today, let’s discuss my memoir because I haven’t really been talking about it much. My goal is always to get my work out there to the masses through this blog. Alongside my author’s website is the best place to market to you why you should purchase my book.

My memoir is about the first ten to eleven years of my diagnosis as Bipolar One. It revolves around the experiences that I had from 2007 to 2017. I wrote it as if I was sitting as a coffee shop with you, the reader, having a conversation. The memoir is very personal, and you get to see who James Edgar Skye and The Bipolar Writer became what he is today. My auhtor website goes into more detail.

There are plenty of ways to purchase my book.

  • You can purchase my book two ways on my author website through this link: Purchase my Book
    • The first link is to the paperback copy I sell on Amazon.
    • The second link is to the eBook, which you can purchase, and also it is available for free on Amazon KindleUlimited for free!

I am Looking for A Few Good Book Reviewers

I am also excited to offer my book for freely sending you a copy through the mail at no cost to you. All I ask is that you read the book and give your honest opinion. I will be offering it to the first ten people that reach out to me. Use the contact button at the top of the page if you are willing to write a review after reading the book, and I will get my book out to you ASAP.

Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

Chapter Seventy-Five: Is Recovery in This Mental Illness Life Possible?

In my continued efforts to be transparent in what you will find in The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir, I will be posting specific chapters in the coming weeks that I find helpful and will inspire you to purchase my book. If you would like to read my entire book, it is free on Amazon Kindle Unlimited and available on Amazon. You can find it on my author site for James Edgar Skye by clicking this link.  You can also become a Patreon of my writing, future podcasts, and help with my business by clicking Become a Patron! You can get cool swag like books at certain tiers that include my upcoming novella Angel on the Ward, a mug with my logo, a sticker with my logo, and soon I will be adding things like shirts and other amazing things. So, please join me on Patreon and become a part of my writing!

Chapter Seventy-Five: Is Recovery in This Mental Illness Life Possible?

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

ONE OF THE CRITICAL COMPONENTS of mental health recovery, in my mind is finding the things that work to make you happy. Over the years I have used different things to get me through the worst months of the year (my SAD months.) Depression during the winter months differs from person to person, because one person’s mental illness is not exactly alike to another person’s struggle.

What I have found useful in my life, is role-playing video games as they get me through some of the worst depression in my life. It is a way to escape reality for a few hours and focus on something different. It gives me an opportunity to reach goals, and feel good about myself when depression is taking over. It always makes me smile when I tell people that role-playing video games is one of the reasons I am here today, it is because some people find that idea ludicrous. I would not be here today for many reasons, and video games just happen to be one reason that I am here writing this memoir.

Writing is my greatest weapon, to deal with the ups and downs of my mental illness. The writing projects that I am currently working on, (which includes writing this memoir) and writing my blog are so helpful. At the same time, they are extremely therapeutic, and when my mind goes to the darkest of places, writing is my way to deal.

I had many lofty goals at the start of every year, and I get through them as much as possible, but there are still things that I would like to try out in this life—like photography. I have talked to other artists and photographers about how therapeutic taking pictures is for their mental health. When I use video games or reading books to escape my mental illness for a few hours, it is the same type of therapy for those using photography as an outlet. It’s something that is both active and positive, which is something we all need when in recovery from the many issues that come along with having a mental illness.

People ask me all the time on my blog, how best to deal with mental illness using different forms of media like books, video games, watching a film, photography, and even writing. Other bloggers have shared what helps them get through their worst symptoms and that includes things like meditation or yoga. 

What it comes down to, is tasks that can help a sufferer cope with trauma—and what they use as a coping mechanism, like get into horror movies and books, because they connect with that genre. I can relate to this in so many ways. I got into reading Edgar Allan Poe, because of the connection to the “dark romanticism” feel of his work, and his influence is in every aspect of my writing. I can pick up my collection of Poe’s work, open to a story or poem and completely immerse myself into that world. 

What I want people to get out of this chapter is this, there are so many ways out there to cope with mental illness, and it is essential for you to find what will help with your mental health. Before starting The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog, I was lost. I had my writing, but it was not enough. When I was writing just for me, there was no real human connection in my life. Writing a blog helped me to be more open, not only in my writing, but socially. I will probably never be the type that goes out into major social situations and make a bunch of friends that way, but it doesn’t mean that I have to go about it alone. 

Then I started a blog, and everything changed. I have used the blog to improve my mental health through shared experiences in mental illness, and now I am more open to sharing my experiences. I wrote this memoir because of the fantastic mental illness blogging community. Connecting with other writers and bloggers with mental illnesses has helped my mental health recovery. Find what helps you get through the tough times, and it will make these times less harsh. Never dwell on the negative and always move forward.

I believe that mental illness will be in my life until my last day. That means that there will be a level of suffering in my life. I can let this consume me and control me, which has been the case for a significant part of my life. But I also believe that there is a chance that we can recover enough to manage the symptoms related to our mental illness, to a point where we can be functioning members of society. I have come a long way with my depression and anxiety, to the point where I can still operate on days when either decides to takes over my day. 

I consider this my recovery stage in my life, because the old me used to collapse at the first signs of depression. I have lost years of my life at a time because depression dictated my life. It is the worst feeling in the world to realize that for years I barely left my house. I let depression take over. Now I have a Bachelor of Art degree and I am working on a graduate degree in English and Creative Writing. I graduated top of my class. I started a fantastic blog. I write every day, even when it is just for myself. My life has changed so much in a positive way. That is what recovery is for someone dealing with a mental illness. It is not perfect, but it is always moving forward.

Over the years, I developed ways of finding happiness, even when the worst parts of my mental illness feel as if it will consume me. When I struggle, I can look towards the good in my life. Mental illness, for the most part, is something that is manageable, and I believe this is true for all sufferers. Find what makes your recovery possible in your own life. You might surprise yourself.

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 Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash

Introducing The Bipolar Writer Blog Subscription Service

Photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash

The Bipolar Writer blog is a collaborative effort to share the best parts of my story and others’ stories in the mental illness community. My authors, over time, have made this blog what it is today. I want to introduce you to The Bipolar Writer Subscriptions. 

As I build The Bipolar Writer brand with t-shirts, coffee mugs, and hopefully other fantastic merchandise with my logo, I want to share with you that it is expensive to be a struggling writer, but it goes beyond that simple fact. I am growing my brand that includes my writing and marketing all my own. I have Patreon, which is growing slowly, and I have to use everything at my disposal to build my audience. Especially beyond the blog.

I have been investing in myself lately. I got a new microphone and setup to do exclusive videos, and I am looking at ways to create merchandise that you, my reader, can take advantage of, including my memoir. (Side note, my Patreon account already has merchandise available at different tiers). What comes with the new subscriptions. Well, it will be adjusted over time, but here is what I have so far. 

  • For the higher tiers, a free copy of my Memoir The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir and a copy of my upcoming fiction book Angel on the Ward. (You must be a level $25 subscriber for three months to offset the costs.)
  • Merchandise for levels $25 and above.
  • Exxclusive video blogs for levels $10 and up.
  • Personalized letter for the basic $5 tier.
  • You can also personalize your subscription to whatever you would like to subscribe to at a certain amount unique to you. The sky is the limit! 
  • I will be adding things as this takes off.

Tiers

The tiers below are really simple, and you can adjust them up and down when you click to subscribe. It will take to a place where you can make your monthly subscription. Please let me know if you want to end the subscription at any time.

That’s it, and I have no expectations that this will work, but I would rather want to know this is out there in the world! Thank you for all that subscribe to my new subscription service.

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 Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Find Your Purpose and Joy

There have been many things I have learned throughout two decades of stumbling, and crashing and eventually living and thriving with mental illness. As we know, acceptance is the first step in recovery. Acceptance comes in many forms. There is the acceptance of your diagnosis and the realizations of losses– some of them temporary and some of them permanent and only time will tell that.

As your world constantly changes, you must accept that your identity and the way people see you and view you may change. That was a hard one for me. Some of my views of how people saw me was caused by my own self stigmatizing and assuming people thought less of me when I had no idea if they really did. I think we all need to be increasingly aware of self stigmatization because it can be damaging and worsen symptoms and recovery. It took me years to figure out that I was self stigmatizing.

One thing to remember is that joy is always possible. Don’t think it is only possible after you get better. Look and search far and wide for the small joys that are available to you. There are some and in fact there are many. They are there.

One key to living well with mental illness is learning how to BE EFFECTIVE IN YOUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES – no matter what they are.

You must figure out what your purpose is for that moment in time. There is always a purpose. You always matter and you are always here for a reason.  Maybe it is just to survive this moment because future moments will be better. Maybe it is to give a person a smile and make them feel better.  Maybe your spot in line will change and improve another’s person day and situation for the better. There are so many little things we never think of, but each one is important.

For instance, when you stand up dominoes to align so they will will all strategically fall one after the other after the first one is nudged, each one of those dominoes must line up perfectly for the ripple effect to work successfully. Each one of us is necessary and important for our environments to be successful. We all have a purpose and are necessary dominoes in this life and world. If just one of us is missing or out of alignment, it disrupts our family, group of friends or any setting we are in.

Find your purpose and search for joy. I know living with mental illness makes this seem like it is impossible, but I guarantee that if you choose not to look at all you will definitely never find it. We must stay on the positive side of life. I know this now because I wasted many days, months and years seeing the negative side of life. I realize now that it made much of my life worse. I know today looking back that there were so many beautiful moments and bubbles of joy I missed out on.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~Maya Angelou

With recovery there will be occasional setbacks, but the comeback is the important step. After each setback the comebacks become easier. Soon you won’t have so far to travel to come back after the setback. Eventually you will have a beautiful, new and improved destination.  Each day joy and peace will become easier to attain and closer to your everyday existence. It will become part of your of life.

Keep your heart and mind open to the goodness around you. Soon you will find all the goodness and joy that surrounds you. When you find it and hold onto joy you can share it with others. Call someone, visit or send an old fashioned letter, an email or text to brighten someone’s day. When you brighten someone’s day it will help brighten your own day. The ripple effect of sharing joy and love is contagious.

~Written by Susan Walz

“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”  ~Maya Angelou

 

Please check out my new memoir SHAME ATE MY SOUL.
I realized how shame was instilled in me at a young age and increased after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Shame was one of my biggest problems. I needed to get rid of it. So, I did and gave it back to the people who gave it to me. Shame was not mine to bear. That was a huge part of my recovery and healing.
My book is available on Amazon as an Ebook and paperback.

book cover: Shame Ate My Soul by Sue Walz

I really hope you will check out my book.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Photo Credit: Featured Image Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Don’t Forget MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

I have been encouraged by the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement and pray it will make a positive change in America and around the world. It is time and it is necessary. Please keep in mind as you read the following words I do NOT want to EVER take anything away from the Black Lives Matter movement. I am listening and I am learning and my heart is bleeding with everyone else during these difficult times all over the world.

Seeing so many people protesting is encouraging to me because after far too many years of oppression for people of color, people of all races are finally listening to the fact that racism exists and must stop now. I see the images of protesting on the news and see them as a symbol of unity and love. The rainbow of races in the crowds is beautiful to me and is how the world should look.

Hearing the many struggles black people face daily from being discriminated against due to the color of their skin makes me angry and at the same time reminds me of each time I was treated poorly because of the labels of mental illness I was branded with. Again, please know I am not comparing the two because I know they are different but at the same time have many similarities.

The stigma of mental illness exists and is the biggest interference in the recovery of mental illness. The stigma of mental illness is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a mental health condition, illness, disorder or any other word you want to add to mental health. The words are all the same and by no means ever take away from the negativity and bias mental illness carries with its name.

The stigma of mental illness exists and is the biggest interference in the recovery of mental illness.

In my new memoir, SHAME ATE MY SOUL, I share examples throughout my book of the many times I was discriminated against and treated unfairly due to the stigma of mental illness. So, even though I am not black I can relate to the pain and shame people of color experience. I have been discriminated against not because of the color of my skin but because I was diagnosed with mental illness. I know it is different but in many ways the pain and shame it causes are one and the same.

I can also say I was treated unfairly by the police because of mental illness stigma. I share some examples in my book but the one I am going to share with you today is not in my book.

A few years after my diagnosis I got divorced and had joint custody of my two children with my ex-husband. My son was about five years old at the time and was a mama’s boy (and still is). When he was at his Dad’s house, he would call me on the phone repeatedly crying hysterically. It broke my heart every time. One day I felt so sad for my baby boy and was worried about him that I drove over to my ex-husband’s house just to check on him and give him some love.

I was sitting in my car holding my Keagan on my lap when my ex-husband came out to the car and pulled him from me causing him to hit his head on the car as he pulled him out. I was so heartbroken and worried seeing my Keagan so sad, I called the police to check on him to make sure he was okay.

The police officer was very cordial when he spoke to me outside. Then he went inside my ex-husband’s house to speak to him. When the police officer came back outside it was a different story. His demeanor with me had changed and he handcuffed me, arrested me and put me in the back of the police car.

He told me I was arrested because I should not have come over to to the house when it was not my night and charged me with a disorderly conduct. I called the police on myself. What? I was not disturbing anyone or loud or anything.

I was pregnant with my third baby at the time and cried the entire way to the police station. I told the police officer I had never been arrested before.

“What?” Really?” the police officer was shocked.

“Well, no. Never.” I said through my tears.

“Oh. I thought you had.”

“Why?”

I could tell he genuinely felt bad now like he wished he hadn’t arrested me. I wondered why he thought I had been arrested before, like I was a regular. I don’t look like your stereotypical criminal (not really sure what that is, but I don’t think I look that.)

I got bailed out and did not have to stay in jail overnight or anything. My charge was written down from disorderly conduct to a fine/forfeiture but still cost me $90.00. The worst part is that disorderly conduct was on my permanent record even though it was written down to a fine/forfeiture. I could not afford an attorney to get rid of it. It was and always has been humiliating to have to explain this charge and relive the experience every time I interviewed for a job.

Today, I realize I was arrested from the conversation the police officer had with my ex-husband who told the police officer I had bipolar disorder along with many more stigmatizing comments related to mental illness.

So, the sad truth is I was arrested because I had a mental illness. The police officer from my angry (at the time) ex-husband’s comments gained a new and different perspective of who he thought I was from his initial meeting of me, because of the stigma of mental illness and my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. His demeanor changed after he spoke to my ex-husband. Nothing I said mattered anymore and who I was didn’t matter. I became a mental illness — the stigmatized version of who he thought people who live with mental illness are.

On a side note — I have a heavy foot and tend to drive fast. Later, I was pulled over by this same police officer two other times for speeding and he NEVER gave me a ticket. My thought was because he knew he wrongly arrested me for NOTHING before. He felt bad and never gave me a ticket.

It’s a blessing to educate yourself about mental health versus experiencing it.

There is stigma and mistreatment that exists with people who have mental illness and police officers, just like there is for people who are black or brown. I know it is not the same or as bad.

I imagine how awful I would have been treated if I had a mental illness and I was black. Actually I can’t imagine.

I also self- stigmatized a lot and sometimes still do. Since I have been feeling well, am psychotropic medication free and one psychiatrist even told me I was misdiagnosed and never had bipolar disorder but had PTSD and was addicted to the Benzodiazepine Klonopin mostly instead, I do not self stigmatize as much and the burden of shame has been lifted. It is a great and freeing feeling.

We can never forget that MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS hugely

and we MUST END THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS today.

We all must continue to share our stories and continue to educate and fight kindly and bravely to end the stigma of mental illness.

Even though there are troubled times for everyone around the world,

WE MUST NEVER LET PEOPLE FORGET ABOUT US: THOSE WHO LIVE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.

Please check out my new memoir SHAME ATE MY SOUL. I realized how shame was instilled in me at a young age and increased after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Shame was one of my biggest problems. I needed to give it back… and get rid of it. So, I did. That was a huge part of my recovery and healing.
My book is available on Amazon
and Barnes and Noble
as an Ebook and paperback.
Book Cover final flower
Photo Credit: Photo of top featured image by Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash
Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Shame Ate My Soul – My Memoir is Published (finally)

My memoir is finally a book. It is done. It is completed. Finished.

My book is published and is available on Amazon in ebook or in print.

It is beautiful. I used Adobe Illustrator to make my book cover and edited it and formatted my entire book myself (and is also why it is not perfect).

My memoir has been in the making for about three years. I wrote my first (awful I might add) very rough draft during Nanowrimo 2017 and wrote over 66,000 words during the month of November. This was very therapeutic for me to write because I wrote my story raw and let out a lot of pent up anger and emotions as I wrote. Needless to say my first draft was not good for an audience to read, but was good and healing for me to write. I would recommend it to everyone as part of recovery.

The next November during Nanowrimo 2018 I rewrote my memoir with over 52,000 words using some parts of the first draft but removed a lot of the anger and parts I didn’t want to keep. After editing it a couple of times I was determined to try to find a traditional publisher and sent out many query letters. A couple publishers were interested and asked to send them my entire manuscript but then weren’t interested. One publisher gave me suggestions of how to improve it. That was very helpful and I rewrote it again and reduced my word count by about 5000 words and sent it back to them, but they ended up rejecting it again. It is okay because I know I gave it my best effort to find a traditional publisher. Now it was time to self publish.

Self publishing turned out to be wonderful and was free on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes and Noble Press. Woo hoo.

This is my book. My blood sweat and tears… and my HEART.

My book is available on Amazon

$3.69 for ebook

$15.00 for print

I have mixed emotions about my book being published now. I am excited it is finally completed and is a book now, but I am worried.

Worried that people won’t like it. Worried that people will think differently about me after they read it.

I have felt so good for over two and a half years that living a mental illness life like I did for so long seems like a lifetime ago. I started reading my memoir and it was hard for me to read because it brought me back to where I was and the feelings associated with it all. There are a lot of sad and difficult parts in my memoir to read, even for me. I worry that I had too many bad things happen to me and it will be difficult for people to read. But the beauty of my story comes from the triumph of recovery and healing. I persevered, conquered and survived and am now living a beautiful life.

After reading my memoir, I am reminded of all the many things I lived through and survived. It is hard for me to believe it, even though I lived it. What will other people think?

I am excitedly nervous to get the book out for people to read, but am terrified no one will want to purchase it or read it and if people read it they will not like it.

I can’t say I will overcome my fear and post my book on facebook and tell friends and family that it’s ready but I can say I will be strong and BRAVELY announce my book and see what happens.

So here it is. Here is my heart and soul exposed for the world to read. All of me (almost all) exposed. When we expose our true selves past and or present, it leaves us vulnerable. So, here I am vulnerable and bare, but feel it is necessary for me to share my story for many reasons.

I want to educate others about mental illness and to help people understand the pain, shame and stigma people who live with mental illness feel and experience. Most importantly, I want to inspire others and give people hope to know that they can conquer any obstacle and survive.

Recovery and healing are possible I am living proof.

Let’s all be the living proof.

Copyright 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Loss of Innocence (Fall 1987-14 Years Old)

Guns N’ Roses Welcome to the Jungle blaring on my Dad’s state of the art stereo system.  A fifth of Peach Schnapps and two 14 year old girls looking for a good time.  We invited two 18 year old guys to come over since my parents were out of town. We had met them previously at Star World, which was a teen dance club/hangout at the time.  We were still young and somewhat naive, but we were oblivious to the desires and intent of 18 year old men.  Our definition of having a good time was completely different than their definition.  We were all hanging out and drinking copious amount of alcohol and it didn’t take long for me to become fall-down drunk.  Bipolar, which now I’m convinced I already had at the time, and alcohol are not a good combination.  The next thing I knew, I was in my bedroom with one of the guys and kind of in and out of it from all the alcohol coursing through my veins.  He proceeded to get me on my bed.  Next thing I knew he was taking my clothes off.  I was frightened, but didn’t want to seem childlike, so I just went along with what he was doing.  I just remember being in a lot of pain, dazed and feeling really ashamed and dirty.  When he was finished, I stumbled to the bathroom and noticed I was bleeding.  I was scared, crying and did not want to leave the bathroom.  I was spinning from the alcohol and remember vomiting several times.  Once I had the courage to come out of the bathroom, I asked my friend to tell them to leave.  I couldn’t even look at him.  They left and I confided in my friend what had happened.  She tried consoling me, but there was nothing anyone could say to make me feel alright.  I kept this a secret from my parents, as I didn’t want to get in trouble and I was scared of what they would do.  This one act would change the trajectory of my life and send me spiraling down a path of destruction, hurt and pain…

Bipolar Quote
 photo credit:mostphrases.blogspot.com

Prior to this event, I was already on a path of wild abandon.  I can remember me and my best friend at the time experimenting with kissing, touching and going down on each other at 10-11 years old.  Gasp!  I know, I can hardly believe it myself!  Our maturity and capability to understand what we were actually doing and the implications were severely lacking.  I also remember being suicidal during this time frame. I again, never told my parents, because I did not want to upset them.  I struggled internally on my own for a long time.  I would run away from home for days/weeks at a time.  I was running with the wrong crowd and was exposed to alcohol and drugs.  Not a good combination for someone with a mental illness.  I remember my parents calling the cops and they came looking for me at a friends house and I was hiding in a closet not wanting to go back home.  I don’t know why I was so rebellious, I didn’t have a bad upbringing.  My parents were both loving and worked hard for us.  Nevertheless, I always felt lost and like I didn’t matter.  I think that is why I was always seeking attention – even if it was negative.

Bipolar me
 Me at 14 years of age

In future blogs I will document the course of my life and all the crazy, wild things I have been through!  I am sad I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus during my early years.  I did not grow up attending church; although, I did go to a Baptist church with my cousins every now & again.  Those encounters just made me scared of Jesus – fire, hell and damnation were preached.  From there on out I just thought I was going to die and go to hell.  I now believe that Christ took me through this journey so I could be a testament to his love, grace and forgiveness.  It was not until the age of 25 that I was saved.  The events that took place until then are quite unbelievable and I’m very lucky to be here today to tell my story!  I strongly believe in living your truth and not being ashamed of your past.  I had a brain illness that I had no idea about at the time.  I try to give myself grace and compassion for my younger self.  I did not get the treatment that I needed, as my parents thought I was just being a rebellious teenager.  A lot of damage to my soul and agony ensue on my journey to forgiveness.  If you or anyone you know is lost and searching, please reach out to me!  I have been there tenfold and I am here for you!

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation;
The old has gone, the new has come!”

Ephesians 3:20

“God has more in store for you than you can even imagine.”

The Re-release of “The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir”

I have been working on getting back to this point. I am announcing that once again, The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir is finally available to buy once again on Amazon!

Working on getting my memoir republished all has been a humbling experience. So many hurdles came with republishing my memoir, but I learned a lot throughout the tribulations of these experiences. It is the same with being Bipolar–it is a learning experience. That is the essence of my book!

I will link to my author page below. If you purchased the first version of this book, you would notice that there is a different cover now. I wanted a fresh start with the cover design. I have put my book on Amazon in print and digital, if you want to purchase my book, please do from my author website page because there is a digital version of the old book still on Amazon. There are some old copies in print too, but those will not be under my name. I hope that the end of the week, the other digital copy from my publisher, finally takes off their edition. It takes time. Please purchase my with the cover above with the raven. I will be setting up some special offers for the re-release on Amazon!

Please purchase my memoir from my author website here!

Always Keep Fighting

James

Chapter Sixteen – The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir

To allow people into my book. I am releasing a few chapters here on my blog, as well as my author website, where you can also find blog posts here. This chapter chronicles the “lost years” just after my diagnosis of Bipolar One. You can purchase my book on Amazon here.

Chapter Sixteen: The Lost Year of The Bipolar Writer

THE FIRST THREE YEARS of my diagnosis are what I consider the lost years of my life. There were so many things that went wrong in these years. If I am honest, these years set me back in my mental health recovery. I sometimes hate that my mind wonders to how different I could have been without these lost years. If I had accepted that I was Bipolar and believed that things could change. I don’t know where I would be, but that is a false equivalency, because these years made me better.

I realize what I went through during those lost years, is why things are better now. It took me years to realize this truth. I struggled, went through hell, but somehow, I made it through. It was about a week after my last suicide attempt, when I had just gone through several seizures that I realized my life had to change. When I was laying in that hospital bed, I realized I wasted three years of life. I didn’t really exist in the real world, only the world that I created.

My lost years. I will never get them back. No matter how much I look at the past. I am in a better place in the last three years then the first three in my diagnosis.

In these “lost years,” as I am fond of referencing them as, I was so lost. I couldn’t tell you what day of the week or month it was most days. It was even worse when trying to figure out the year. Time just passed me by, and so did everyone in my life. Isolation became my best friend and at times, I talked very little.

It was endless depression with very little peace. It was the darkest time in my life. My thoughts were often on the fringes of suicidal idealizations. I thought about all the ways I could die through suicide. I was a man without a purpose, or a will to live.

I remember less about the individual days during this time in my life. I spent most of it lying in bed, or on the couch watching movies. It was where I spent almost every second of my time. There were times where, I would play my video games, but the common thing was I was usually in bed.

At one point, I set up a makeshift desk that sat on my bed where I could place a television. I connected my Xbox 360, which always seemed to be on. I could play video games, and then switch to watching an endless supply of movies. I had a ginormous collection of movies on my external hard drive. I surrounded my bed with blankets, to give my living area an aura of complete darkness when I needed it. I rarely slept at night, preferring to rest after an extended 45-50 hour gaming and movie sessions. They always ended in the day for some reason.

I would take my Seroquel then, and sleep for 14 hours. The days meshed into a constant haze of sleep and endless depression. My thoughts were always dark. I didn’t care about life. I had a single light in my bed space. It was my own little self-made prison, but I reveled in the isolation. I would go days and weeks without leaving my dark space and days without showering. I loved my dark place, because it was mine and isolation along, with depression were my friends. What I failed to understand was that it was only making life worse.

I remember I had these goals. It seems stupid now, but back then, these goals were my everything. Any game that I would play, I had to get at least 75% of the Xbox achievements or more of game. For a long time, my score on Xbox live was at 89%. These things mattered in my life when nothing else did. I always remember this, because it was essential to be a real gamer to people. I remember how for a moment, when I could complete every achievement on a game, I felt a glimmer of feeling good about myself. These moments were fleeting.

I was a role-playing gamer. Being a gamer was all that mattered in my world in those first three years. I didn’t care if I ate that day. Or if I drank enough water. When I did eat, it was all the wrong things. I didn’t take care of myself those early years. If I am honest, I never thought I would make it to my twenty-fifth birthday. In some ways, I almost didn’t.

I only left my house when it was trips to the hospital or to see my psychiatrist every month. I remember going to the hospital one time for a severe panic attack. The nurses pumped me full of Ativan because my heart rate (which is always high I found out) wouldn’t go down. I remember this memory because of the nurses. They thought it was remarkable I was still awake given that they had given me so much Ativan. My life was a mess.

I lost so much in those early years. Life passed me by. I didn’t care about anything or anyone outside myself. It showed in the times that my parents had to drag me to the hospital at 2 am, and I didn’t care one bit about how this effected their days. I never once dawned on me that my parents were living in hell too. When these events happened, they still had to go out and work the next day. My family was always waiting for the next drama I would bring.

Most of the people in my life gave up on me. In those early years, I was on my own. Living but not living. No one came to visit with me or to hang out. I was in complete isolation from the world. I wasn’t interested in politics or what was the ‘in fad’ or who was famous. I lived as if there was no tomorrow. It was the only way I could keep my thoughts from spiraling out of control.

It didn’t always work. When I couldn’t distract myself enough, it would mean that it was going to be a bad night. My thoughts consumed me, and the only way to ease the emotional pain was to self-harm. Cutting on my arms became of a way for me to release all the emotional turmoil that tormented me daily.

The blood running down my arms was my release for the few hours that the physical pain would be the only thing on my mind. As time went on, I cut deeper. I stole razor blades and used them until they became dull against my skin. I could live with the physical pain any day. The emotional distress was hell every second of my existence so why not find a release?

Nights were always the hardest. I would cry silent tears, because I couldn’t figure out which way was up in my life. I felt lost and alone. I was alone. Those three years between my first suicide attempt in 2007, and my last were the worst ever. I didn’t live, not like I should have been living.

It became too much as the years pass me by. I never got better, only worse. Cutting became useless. The emotional pain that I put myself through was killing me. I wanted out of this life. What was the point of existing when you don’t live?

It came down to one day in June 2010, where I thought my life would end. But my story, it was just beginning. I didn’t know it at the time. That is how I lived my first three years of my diagnosis.

Always Keep Fighting

James Edgar Skye