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!

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

Mania.

Please know that the following is me writing something when this discovery hit me. I plan to write about my thoughts on my manic journal on another post tomorrow.

No clever titles today.

I am manic.

I might start to ramble. I am trying not to, but you know how that can be. I started blogging because I wanted to be a voice in this community. Not only do I want to normalize mental health, but I want to be a friend. I want to be a friend to the people who are suffering from mental illness and I want to be resource for their loved ones who want to ask the hard questions.

This is something I need to share if I can focus enough. Mania manifests differently in everyone who suffers from it. Some of us aren’t at the point where we can pick it out, and others know their tells. I have been having trouble sleeping and using my herbal medications has become pretty consistent. I try not to use it on the regular so I am sitting here racking my brain trying to understand why I could possibly be experiencing this.

I was contemplating doing something: boom. My thought went to purchasing something. WHY. I JUST went over my finances a couple days ago because we had been eating out a lot. I realized how short I was on my savings goals for the big move coming up. I made a mental note to remember how disappointing that was if I started trying to spend unnecessarily. Do you know how much money I have spent on shopping recently? I am no addict but I am spending outside of my means. like 300 in savings here, 100 there. Granted it isn’t the rent or car note this time, but it may as well have been. I still have to buy furniture, pay the rest of the deposit, rent, the moving company, and the utility deposits. I start to get irritable typically, but my medications have been adjusted since my last episode.

So yeah, I am a reckless manic. I just realized that I have been manic. I just didn’t think of all the symptoms together and that sucks. Can’t see my therapist for another two weeks because she is booked, I don’t have the money to see my doctor. I have to build up the courage to tell my mom. She can hold me accountable and the guilt alone might set me straight lol.

MY mania isn’t violent, physical self harm, or intentional. Read that again.

MY MANIA.

but everyone’s looks different.

My mania is managed 99% of the time.

Pot.

**This post discusses the use of marijuana. Please do not read if you are triggered by discussions about drug use. I am not a medical professional and the below information should not replace treatment by a licensed health care provider. I also live in a state (Arizona) that has legalized medicinal marijuana. I am a rule follower by nature**

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I have been wanting to discuss marijuana and its uses in mental health. Personally, I use it pretty consistently. I do not drive, work, or care for anybody under the influence. Again, big proponent of rules over here. I believe in bodily autonomy and I don’t get to decide if you want to be around someone under the influence. I would never attempt to convince you of my beliefs as I respect everyone’s opinions.

I primarily use this for stress and anxiety symptoms, although it is officially prescribed to me for PTSD. I feel like my mind is in so many places at once sometimes. I imagine that it has the same effects on me that ADHD medication has on those with ADHD. It calms me, I can concentrate better, and my tension is no longer affecting me physically. I can’t convey in words how much better I feel. I sleep better with it as well. I have never let it interfere with my professional life. In no way do I feel like drugs are the answer to problems. If anything, I avoid smoking or alcohol when I am depressed or manic. As strong as the desire to numb the feelings is, I don’t feel that is healthy. I don’t want to associate bad times with great enjoyable substances. I don’t go out for a drink on a bad day. I wouldn’t smoke either. I will smoke when I feel anxious, but not when I am manic. when I am stressed, but not when I am making major decisions. I guess it kinda sounds silly that someone would follow so many rules that they set for themselves over something so trivial. I sincerely believe that there is a such thing as too much of a good thing.

So, yeah. I smoke pot. I feel more productive and relaxed just enough into easing myself back to the outgoing person I was. I have to let my guard down and try to regain the self confidence I once had. Anyway, I am rambling.

Let me know what you think?

-B

p.s. Full disclosure, this post was originally posted on my personal blog here.

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)

Bringing Color Back.

If you have followed along, you would know that I have had some pretty big gaps in medication management. Whether it be from my own failure to comply, medications that didn’t work, or just a hard time finding a doctor that stuck; it has sucked. I had been seeing a doctor since I got back from Texas and she was working to find the missing link in my medications. I was feeling so much better after resuming my meds that I was taking before the big blackout where I stopped everything. I still had this edge. This darkness peaking through the cracks that was slowly consuming all the progress I had made. I was cranky and then depressed and then fine. It was just a hint to let me know that something wasn’t right.

Then my doctor quit. She left the practice without a forwarding address. So on to the next.

WOWOWOWOWOW. This guy. He has just painted the color back into my world. He found the combination that worked and just in time. I was making some progress in getting back out into the world when every fiber in my body just wanted to stay home where it is safe, no judgement, no chance of troubles. Then BAM! Stay home because all my fears came true, it isn’t safe out there. So here I am, working from home. I am so blessed to have that still. To not have that taken away from me and further rock my little raft. I think about my people here all the time. I hope that you are all doing well. I would love to have a hang and maybe chat with some people if interested. I need that social connection just as I am sure others do. It is just as crucial as my medication.

Stay strong, keep on keepin on friends.

My Demon Said To Me

Broken and alone
Chilled to the bone
Confused, spinning
From the chorus in my home
‘You’re not enough
You’re not enough
You can’t do it on your own’

I concede
I give in
Okay, I’ll listen
I must admit
I’ve come to love
The way the cold blade glistens

But when I close my eyes to go
Among those who
Took fate by the throat
Something whispers
Soft and slow

I tilt my head
To lean in to the muse
And my demon says
No one can hurt you

As long as I’m here…no one can hurt you.

Living With Mental Illness is Like Swimming With A Great White Shark Lurking Nearby

Recently, I have been waking up every morning and thinking, “Another day. Ho hum. Just another day,” while feelings of melancholy fill my heart and ache my soul. Although writing this reminds me that it is not just another day. It is more than another day and I am blessed to be in this day, blessed to be alive. I need to remind myself that every day is a precious gift and I need to find a way to celebrate it and find a way to celebrate me and love myself.

However, the truth is often times mental illness wins and is stubborn, shuts me out and obviously has a mind of its own. The reality of depression hits hard as I try to fight to keep my sanity before it wins and destroys once again as it has done so savagely in the past, before it overtakes what I have battled to win.

My PTSD triggered some depression and memories of regrets and mistakes I have made after mental illness struck. Besides the painful symptoms of mental illness I often must fight through the painful reminders of the destruction that mental illness caused in my life, the mistakes I made while I fought to survive a disease that was killing me from the inside out. I must fight how the stigma of mental illness reared its ugly head through the years in many subtle and blatant gruesome ways.

Countless times my brain was in so much distress that I was not living but was surviving, doing anything just to make it through another day. I made many mistakes along the way. and behaved in ways that I would “normally” not do. I felt like if I did not do this or that I could not go on. It was the only solution and it was better than the alternative of not making it.

Presently, I am battling through the destruction that living with mental illness for over two decades has caused. I am looking at how my life turned out because I had the misfortune of getting mental illness. I grieve for what life would have been for me and who I could have become.

I grieve for friends I would have had. Instead I do not have any friends. Not one. Again let me repeat, not one.

Part of the problem with that is that I am afraid to make friends and have friends because I really do not know how to after all these years living a mental illness life. I also fear getting hurt. Living a mental illness life caused me to be hurt so often and so deeply I cannot touch that pain again. It frightens me so intensely that I stay away from it.

Today I do not feel like I am likeable. Who could like someone who has lived through what I have and has done the things I did for survival or not. I am not a good person because of the pain I have lived through. No one wants to deal with what the truth is. No one wants to hear it. It is too much. It is too much for me. I have to battle through it and no one else needs to or deserves to listen to what I have endured for too long. The pain that a mental illness life caused is beyond what most people could even remotely comprehend, so they don’t. They don’t want to know that kind of pain.

I can pretend for a while, but after a while the memories resurface and I have to fight through them. I try not to live in the past but that is where I am today. I will stop visiting my past soon and will keep soul searching. I will get beyond my melancholy so I can enjoy the beauty of living again. I will work through it because I have no other choice.

I will work hard to be present today. I will live for today. I will appreciate that I survived and overcame more than I like to remember.

Today melancholy causes me to want to and need to be alone. I will bask in my solitude. As I fight through the darkness melancholy is causing, I will search for the flicker of light. I will let the sun shine in on my gray mind and heart.

Melancholy is an old friend I have known since I was a child. It’s familiarity sometimes brings a peaceful contentment, but the reality of sightings of the great white shark lurk nearby.

© 2020 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: Photo by Alex Steyn on Unsplash

An Unwelcome Itch – a poem

Mental illness is a bitch

that leaves an unwelcome itch

I cant scratch away.

Believe me. I’ve tried all day.

Can’t remove this crud

that entered like mud

after Hurricane Fred

entered inside my head

and very soon spread,

multiplied and bled

throughout my insides.

Been swept away by the tides

of depression and anxiety,

maybe triggered by PTSD.

Who knows. Doesn’t matter

as long as I don’t splatter

and get any fatter

by eating from the platter

of anger and disgust.

Piss me off in the dust.

Come back coping strategies.

Do your healing thing, please,

before it’s too late

and love becomes hate

and I deteriorate

inside my crate of fate

which lingers and looms

above the darkest of glooms

and deciduous tombs.

Help me. I cry.

Like a sty in my eye,

you are unwelcome here.

Your presence I fear,

quick departure I cheer.

Oh, I pray it’s near.

Ready to be free of this mental illness bug

Such a cruel, heartless, destructive thug.

Why me?

Why not me?

Just flee out of me.

Mental illness let me be.

I’ve had more than enough

of your disgusting stuff.

I’m tired

and wired

like a barbed wire fence

poking me and hence

the discomfort and pain.

No wonder I’m stained.

~written by Susan Walz

© 2020 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

My mother.

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.