Confronting Your Shadow Self

“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection.” – Carl Jung

This last month I stumbled upon something new called shadow work. It was something I’ve never heard of before and it intrigued me. Shadow work is when you take a closer look within yourself at the parts of yourself that you hide. The “dark side” of your personality; the negative parts you might be ashamed of, fearful around, or feel guilt around. It’s something we all have inside of ourselves, but it can be hard to acknowledge and address it.

The psychologist Carl Jung was the one who coined the term “personal shadow.” This is the part of the psyche a lot of people tend to neglect and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Even when you pretend it doesn’t exist your personal shadow can operate on it’s own without us being fully aware. It’s when the unconscious mind assumes control while our conscious self goes on autopilot. The longer you repress your shadow the more you start to see those qualities in the others around you.

At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to work on my self-awareness and to heal myself from within. I spent the last three years focusing on my physical health; I didn’t spend as much time on my mental health and inner work as I should have. Something I’ve learned through my journey is that the mental transformation is just as powerful if not more powerful than a physical transformation.

Shadow work is for everyone, as humans we all have parts of ourselves we like to hide or feel embarrassed to share with others about. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I’ve had to overcome numerous obstacles like the abuse my mom put me through for almost 18 years. All of those painful memories & experiences I had growing up, I pushed so far back in my head wanting to never think about them again.

When I stumbled upon shadow work it made me realize that I need to stop pretending that the memories don’t exist. Yes they are painful and I’m embarrassed about some of them, but they are going to resurface at some point in time so I can fully move on and continue my growth. Diving into the shadow work and committing to the process was a little scary for me. What scared me the most was fully addressing all those memories & allowing myself come to terms with them.

One of the first steps of shadow work is addressing the memories or emotions you’ve hid from for so long. You also must figure out and identify possible triggers that cause certain emotions with those memories. When you’ve identified the memories & triggers you can start to work on moving on from those to create new beliefs that will bring positive light into your life.

For me this is just the beginning of my own shadow work and bringing awareness to those dark parts so I can bring in new light. If this is something that does intrigue you I encourage you to look more into it as well. It’s something that everyone can benefit from and will only bring in more positivity in the long run.

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The Pain of Self-Harm

I was inspired by the ruler of this blog’s recent post about his self-harm story so I wanted to chime in with mine.

*I don’t want anybody to read this then get the urge to self-harm. If you’re not mentally up to it at the moment, don’t push yourself. Do whatever is the safest thing for you.*

Self-harm became a comfort for me.

Reading that you may wonder how hurting myself can ever be comfortable. But let me explain.

There’s some science somewhere that says cutting releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel good even just got a little bit. I used to hurt myself over and over and over again until I felt that my internal pain was manageable again.

I would hurt myself when I felt like total shit. When I felt that the only thing to make me feel better was to hurt myself. But once the endorphins were done swimming around, the pain begins.

At my lowest point I didn’t care that I was hurting myself on a daily basis. I didn’t feel guilty and the pain that it caused gave me something to feel instead of being numb.

At other times in my life I would feel immediately guilty. I would beat myself up about it, “Megan you shouldn’t have done this! What were you thinking doing this again?”

Hiding the fresh cuts was always the part that I hated most. It felt like another way that I had to cover up my pain instead of talking about it with someone.

As of today I haven’t self-harmed in over a year! This is a huge accomplishment for me because I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long since I began hurting myself when I was 18 (I’m now 25, almost 26). Writing that makes me feel strong!

I know that I will always struggle with the urge to self-harm. Using positive coping skills plus the power of distracting myself have been my keys to success.

The scars that I have all over my body are a reminder of how far I have come in my mental health journey. If you have scars too, let them remind you of how strong you are and that you have made it through many difficult times.

Stay strong everyone! — Megan x

The Bipolar Writer Needs Help… Again

https://www.gofundme.com/rasing-to-upgrade-the-bipolar-writer-blog

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!

You Can Also Donate Below!

Just Click the Pay with PayPal button!

Always Keep Fighting & Thank You

James

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Topics of Discussion – October on The Bipolar Writer Blog

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It is Fall!! I love this time of year because the coffee selection goes through the roof. Just in time too because I am getting back into the groove of school, and coffee is life.

So, what shall we talk about in October?

These posts have been helpful in the past so it is great to open the floor to my fellow followers and bloggers to what topics the Bipolar Writer should discuss here. I would love your feedback.

Interview Features – The Series

I want to also open up my series of interview features again, so if you would like to be featured on The Bipolar Writer blog, please email me @ jamesedgarskye22@gmail.com for more info and the list of questions. I’d love to add more interviews by the end of the year.

With that said, I look forward to hearing from you my followers and to have the most amazing October.

James

Always Keep Fighting

Photo Credit:

rawpixel

Veliko Karachiviev

Why do We Fight to End the Mental Illness Stigma?

Have you ever told someone that the mental illness you are going through is just a “phase?”

Action Speak Louder Than Words

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Words hurt more than anything. It pains me when someone says to me “you should just get over it, everyone else has to.” That is probably true at some level, but the truth is so much more profound– if I could go a day without mental illness, it would be a blessing. It would be so much easier to wake up one morning and not fear the day. Not worry that my anxiety may spiral at any moment. That this morning could be the morning that I want to end it all for no other reason than the wiring is all wrong in my head.

Today I read a sad story about a young boy just nine-years-old that was bullied to the point that he took his own life. How can we live in a world where words from bullying are so bad that someone so young could take his life? We should live in a world where everyone is welcome, and not judged by things like who we chose to be or love. Sadly, we do not live in such a world, but we can continue to fight to end this way of thinking.

It may just seem like words, but words can cut deep, and can have a lasting effect. Words can make mental illness seem impossible to live within this world.

So what can we do? We continue to give the voice to the people of the mental illness community. The shared experience that we that have lived in this world is what can make a significant difference. Maybe together we can end the stigma and let people know that suicide is not the answer. We can not continue as a society if we treat those of us with mental illnesses as second-class citizens and resort to bullying because we fail to fit what society believes we should act or feel. Mental illness is not a choice.

What Can We Do?

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I have found sharing through experience, the entire experience– the good, the bad, and the ugly is the best way to combat the stigma. When we talk about our experiences, it helps those who will never know what it is like to live a day with a mental illness. We must educate those people with our amazing mental illness journey. No journey is simple and straightforward. Living each day with a mental illness and just surviving is a strength. Let us share that strength to teach.

At the same time, we must continue to educate ourselves by reading the stories of others in the mental illness community. When we are divided by our own differences, it makes it easier for people to say “just get over it.” The mental illness community is stronger as a whole.

Words matter. We can show how words can hurt us and make us want to disappear. We can also use words to our advantage when we share a common cause with those in this world that suffer from physical conditions. That can only strengthen our position because they know as well as anyone what suffering brings. Suffering is suffering, no matter physical or mental.

Let us Encourage Seeking Help!

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Above all, we must encourage those that are suffering alone without help to seek help. There is nothing more important than seeking help, and it is the most stigmatized part of mental illness.

I can recount many times that people have frowned upon the thought of me seeing a therapist. They ask how someone could be open to telling a perfect stranger your most profound darkest thoughts? It helps to have someone to talk to that is trained to understand. It was not always so, but I am proud that I am willing to seek help from a therapist and a psychiatrist. There are those that find solace in group therapy. I have found some peace with my social anxiety with cognitive behavioral therapy. Productive things like meditation, drinking tea, and working out the body and mind were all things learned through seeking help.

Writing is a great way to share your experience. I never thought I would get to a point where I would be writing about my experiences here on my blog for the world to see. I have found strength as a mental health advocate, and I don’t see myself doing anything else. Seeking help is a sign that you are coming to terms that something is wrong in your life. There is nothing wrong with seeking help, and we must tell those that are resistant the truth– it could mean the difference between life and death.

Together we can end the stigma, end suicide, and educate the world. No longer do we have to hide our illness because we are scared of the stigma. Let us fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Isaiah Rustad

Mikael Cho

Ana Tavares

Mikael Cho

The Long Road to Betterment

As human beings, regardless of our backgrounds, we’ve become conditioned to evaluate our success in life based on the monetary value of our material possessions. The impact of this trending train of thought has become detrimental to our society, and is especially toxic for those of us who already struggle to find our sense of selves, our true value.

This shift in humanity, in my opinion, grew exponentially with the rise of the technological era. While it’s existed within us for several generations, it’s much more prominent in the last few. And while recently there has been a small faction bringing minimalist living to light, currently more than ever we have become obsessed with the idea of owning the best and newest things.

This has been a difficult post to write because of my own current struggles on the topic. Where is the line between valuing possessions over what really matters, and yearning for a sense of security you’ve never known? There’s obviously financial security in the way of assets, and then there’s having a stable life. Who’s to say when we’ve taken it too far, and how do we separate the wants from the true needs?

I was raised as a welfare baby, my mom on social security, section 8, food stamps, and I’ve had government provided health insurance for my entire life. My mom still survives on the programs, and now I’m raising my daughter on food stamps and free health care as well. It’s not a choice, because while my husband works, it’s not enough, and I can’t bring in enough money with my disabilities to make the pain they’d cause worth the while.

I’m sure my mother wasn’t proud to need all that assistance to raise me, and I’m certainly not proud either. We recently began trying to apply for home loans, as we’ve both lived under mostly slum lords for our entire lives and we want better for our daughter. Long and painfully disappointing story short, we got denied this week and it broke me.

This switch has gone off inside of me, making me feel guilt, inferiority, and judgment towards myself. I swore I’d never raise my child on welfare, but this was before I knew of my physical restraints. Despite my lack on control in the matter, there’s a certain self resentment that comes with that, a sense of worthlessness. I thought I’d found the perfect home for us, actually allowed myself to get excited for once, and now someone else’s family will fill the home.

It’s been an incredibly trying week, with tensions always escalating and tensions always rising due to our current crappy living situation, and I haven’t felt this defeated in a really long time. Especially for those of us with mental illness, stability is incredibly imperative to our success, and it’s my firm belief that if I can finally achieve stability, maybe I can finally begin my journey to betterment.

What I thought was one step closer turned out to be two steps back, but I must still press on. I have to believe that there’s more left in life for me than just the current chapter, that the book will have at least a relatively halpy ending. Here’s to everyone else who’s had a disappointing week or felt broken by something outside of your control. Life gave us lemons, so I guess we’re making lemonade, no matter how sweet or sour it tastes.

PTSD, PPD, and Parenthood

My first mental illness diagnosis was given at age 3, and while I don’t have many memories of being in therapy at that young of an age, I’ve always felt as though it defined me. When you’re told something about yourself your entire life, things from before your earliest memories, it’s sometimes difficult to reconcile it within yourself. From as young as I can recall, I’ve been told about these tragic and devastating events that I can’t remember, but I wasn’t even old enough to recognize how truly terrible the things happening to me were.

My current combination of mental disorders is PTSD, major depressive disorder, avoidant personality disorder, agoraphobia, and OCD, with a dash of bipolar disorder. The collective adds up to be more than overwhelming most days, and sometimes, it’s downright unbearable. Despite all of this, though, I do not take any medications, attend counseling, or pursue any of the conventional treatment styles. After 15 years of being in therapy, once I turned 18, I decided that I wasn’t putting myself through it anymore. I went through more therapists than some people do friends, and still couldn’t find anyone that I could actually trust and connect with.

I thought I had everything under control for a few years, using things I loved to fill the voids of emptiness within myself – mostly with music and writing. It seemed as though it was helping, focusing purely on what I love, trying desperately not to give any thought to the things in life that brought me stress or extra anxieties about the future. I got pretty decent at living in the moment, being present in the now, enjoying the life I had while I had it, and I had stopped obsessing over the future, at least somewhat temporarily.

One day, after finding out that I was unexpectedly pregnant, I found myself crumbling apart again, all the walls around me crashing down one by one, leaving me exposed, vulnerable, and completely terrified of what life would become. Would I be able to manage, mentally and physically speaking, and if so, would my genes ruin the poor kid’s life before they’ve even breathed life? I had always been plagued by mental illness, almost constantly tormented by my own thoughts for as long as I can remember now.

Knowing how much I already struggled to keep it together, I knew ahead of time that with this pregnancy and the fear, anxiety, and stress it entails, that I would most likely suffer from extreme episodes of postpartum depression. Just what I needed, something else for my negativity to harness and turn into something that consumes me so much more than it should have. I worried about the kind of mother I’d be, would I be capable of helping her through hard times when I can’t even help myself?

Despite my reservations, my fears, and my lack of self-confidence, from the moment my daughter was born, I was in love, in awe, and completely overwhelmed by feelings that I’ve never even witnessed, let alone imagined that I would ever get to experience. She’s taught me patience (as much as any mother can have with a 3.5 year old), and she’s given me motivation to learn so much more about myself, and to push myself to try and pursue new things, to seek out any small semblance of joy from any given daily task.

Many people doubted my abilities to raise her, myself included, and one of the most fulfilling things I’ve experienced in life thus far, is feeling satisfied in the fact that I love her more than I thought possible, that I would do anything for her, and that I want nothing more than to protect her from any and all pain, and be her best friend. I’ve far surpassed even my own imagination as to how this whole thing could have gone, and it’s one of only two things I’ve accomplished in my lifetime that have made me feel proud.

It’s never going to be easy, but as they say, hardly anything is ever easy if it is also worthwhile. As for being a parent and trying to learn and grow as you go, nothing in life could ever be more worthwhile. For any other parents out there struggling with mental illness, just know that you can love just as fully as anyone else, and that it doesn’t make you any less worthy of having that love returned back to you tenfold. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt every once in awhile, you might just surprise yourself – I know I did.

Retrospective

There are times I find that it’s hard for me to accept how things have turned out in life, being 27 and unable to work due to chronic illnesses such as scoliosis and rheumatoid arthritis, to keep it short, has had a huge impact on who I am as a person. This definitely isn’t the life I envisioned for myself, and sometimes, like most, I feel a little sorry for myself. Before my disabilities took hold, before my daughter, my husband and I were in a relatively successful local band, and before becoming a mother, music was the only thing in life that I always knew was meant to be.

Once you’ve been within reach of your dreams and gotten a taste of what that feels like, it’s incredibly difficult when lost. At one point, I actually allowed myself to believe that all my wildest dreams could come true, that I would get every little thing I deserved for putting everything I have into being the best person that I can be. Once those thoughts take hold, everything else goes unnoticed, including the first signs that what you thought was wild success, may in fact turn into a complete and utter failure of a situation.

It took years for me to get the courage to perform on stage as a lead singer, I mean after all, my only experience had been singing in choir, and singing in the car and shower. But once I let myself show the world my talent, I never wanted it to stop – I wanted to show everyone, not just those who doubted me or worked against me, but to show people who struggle to find the self-esteem and strength to follow their dreams that it could be done, by a nobody nonetheless.

While the band has been dead for a few years now, I still haven’t finished grieving, and while I haven’t completely given up on the dream, the more time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to manifest any sort of true motivation to pursue it anymore. As sad as that is, it’s a product of my ever persistent lack of confidence, despite the fact that I proved to myself that I’m definitely not lacking the talent to make it happen. Instead, I hate my body and pity myself and find it hard to open up about it, but it’s not something that anyone I know can truly understand.

I never knew until recently just how detrimental a role physical pain can play on your mental state, but it has eaten away so much from who I am, who I know I’m meant to be, and everything I wanted to accomplish in my life, that I completely resent myself and feel weakened not only physically, but spiritually as well. To some people, hobbies are silly and insignificant, and while music has always been so much more than that, I’ve got to allow this transition to take place and find some way to feed my creativity without relishing in the fact that I’ll may not ever be able to share it with the world in the way I always dreamed.

I’m not giving up, but it’s time to switch gears.

Guest Posts on The Bipolar Writer Blog

Guest Blog Posts for Mental Health Awareness Month

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I know its the 11th of March and I should have done this sooner, but I wanted to open up some guest spots on my blog for the rest of the month. What does it mean to guest blog on The Bipolar Writer blog? Well, it’s simple, and here are the required things that I want from my guest bloggers.

  • Original content on any topic of mental health, mental illness, or mental health awareness.
    • You can talk about the stigma of mental illness.
    • Anything related to mental illness will be accepted. It can be a poem, a short story, or simply an article about an mental health topic.
  • Edited and proofread content
  • A link to your blog
  • At least a featured image for the post (but the more pictures you chose makes for a more exciting blog post.
  • (Optional) Name connected to post

It is that simple. I want to stress the importance of proofreading the piece that you submit. I will at times proofread an article given to me as a guest blog, but I am often busy.

If you would like to guest blog merely send all the required information above to my email address @ jamesedgarskye22@gmail.com

I look forward to seeing what my fellow bloggers offer regarding exciting pieces for mental health awareness month.

Let’s fight the stigma surrounding mental illness together!

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit: https://www.pituitaryworldnews.org/may-is-mental-health-awareness-month/

A Declaration of War on Depression

If you’ve dealt with depression for some time like I have, you may have noticed that it is almost like depression has a mind of its own. It can easily take over your life and control every action if you let it. If you give your power to your depression, than you are giving it a voice. You are letting it weigh in on decisions that you need to make, where depression has no place. Whether it is what you have for breakfast, or if you should quit your job, depression should not be factored into your daily life. Yet, as we all know, this is easier said than done, I mean I wish that I could just not be depressed. Depression is a black cloud that hangs over you even on the sunniest days. Once it gets you in its grasp, it’s almost impossible to pry yourself free. This is nothing new to us, this is our lives, we know these things better than anyone else.

The question here is, what do we do with this information? Imagine you’re in the middle of a war, because you are, with your depression. You’ve spent countless hours researching and learning everything you could about your opponent. You now are basically and expert, you know it’s every move, and how it will behave in certain situations. Yet, you’re just sitting on this vital information, letting it gather dust. Depression even takes advantage of this fact, that you have all this information that could help you gain the upper hand, but do not use it. Now, this is no fault of your own, depression has planted so many lies in your head, and spies in your army. It has led you to believe that the information you hold is useless and will just be a waste of energy. Since depression was at one point your friend, that offered you comfort where nothing else could, you let these lies it tells you take over your thinking.

As we all know very well, we did not choose to be depressed, like people don’t choose to get cancer. We are sick with an illness of the brain, but we do chose to not do anything to help ourselves. Granted, making that choice is similar to pulling teeth, because of how ingrained depression is in our every move. I’m here to tell you to pick back up your arms, and dive back into battle against your depression. Use the intel that you’ve obtained through painstaking years of observation. Bring in your mercenary squads in the form of therapists and psychiatrists. You may see an illness, and you are not wrong, but I see a war that has been going on inside my head for years. Leaving everything around it in piles of burning rubble, my body in a weak shadow of its former self. My mind and body have been a battleground for a war that I did not want, and most certainly did not sign up for. Yet, I continue to let this war rage on inside me, i do nothing to stop it. Well that is over, now I will bring the full force of everything I have to beat this menacing opponent into the ground so badly that it will never even want to rear its ugly head ever again.

Join me and fight for yourself! Let’s declare war on depression.

Signed,

Wolfgang


Likes what you read? Read more by me at my own blog, The Smiles We Bear