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!

Community Mental Health Discussions on Discord

James Edgar Skye (The Bipolar Writer) is collaborating with Grounds for Clarity on a new Discord Channel called Community Mental Health Discussions. It will be a place where you can come anonymously if needed discuss the many topics that come with mental illness and mental health. Our goal is to have open-ended discussions that are open 24/7. Myself and Grounds for Clarity will be moderators.

Want to join? Go to www.discord.com

  • Sign up for a discord account.
  • Then add me as a friend – JamesEdgarSkye#4190
  • Send me a message that you are from WordPress, introduce yourself if I don’t know you, and I will add you to the group!
  • If you have any questions or need help simply reach out.
  • Or email me @ jamesedgarskye22@gmail.com

Here is the introduction to our discord:

Welcome to the first of its kind Discord community in which our goal is to provide a safe, anonymous, immersive, and experiential learning experience into mental health discussion. 

We will provide a safe, anonymous, immersive and experiential learning experience into mental health discussion by sharing our personal stories. Here, we value transparency, your story, your authenticity…. in a place where we accept everyone’s point of view.

And what that means is, we may not always agree with one another and we believe within our community safely challenging one another’s perspectives is the key to collaborative discussion. 

We strongly desire for everyone to speak from the lens with which they view life including but not limited to: 

  • Politics
  • Religion/ Deity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Ethnicity
  • Racial make-up
  • Education
  • Culture
  • Physical/ Mental/ Social/ Emotional/ Environmental/ Spiritual factors
  • Lifestyle
  • Age (Group is reserved for 18 years and up)
  • Mother tongue
  • Professional/ Role in society
  • Taste of music
  • Sense of humour
  • Criminal record
  • Sports affiliation
  • Military background

Discord Moderators can be personally messaged if you wish to voice a concern. However, we strongly encourage open discussion during “stuck” times in conversation in order to foster mutual respect. 
The right to delete comments, ban individuals and block chat members is reserved to Discord Moderators as follows:

James Edgar Skye
Grounds For Clarity 

If you have any questions please contact me or leave comments below. This separate from our weekly Saturday discussions that we will be hosting on Zoom. (See tomorrows blog post.)

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 israel palacio on Unsplash

Now I See

Yesterday, I received my very first pair of glasses. I didn’t realize how blind I was. I now see everything so differently. So crisp. So clear. It’s insane. I had no idea that I wasn’t seeing things clearly. And it reminded me of myself when I realized something was wrong with my brain.

I have struggled with crippling depressions ever since I can remember. And these depressions are a lot longer than a week or a day. They last from 6 months to 3 years. My most recent depression lasted 3 years and included 6 months of not eating, which resulted in my body nearly shutting down. It included many, many nights of self-harm. And when I finally came out of it, I dove straight into my very first manic episode.

My manic episode lasted for a little over a year. And it took 9 months to figure out that something was wrong with me. During the first 9 months, I was extremely reckless, hyper-sexual, and felt indestructible, all-knowing, and ecstatic. I didn’t need sleep because I was fueled up on manic energy. I was creating art, music, books, and I wasn’t going to stop just to sleep. In order to stay awake when I did get tired, I turned to drugs, which is COMPLETELY out of character for me. The mania caused me to lose my appetite, so I lost a lot of weight again, and the drug use just made it worse. I overdosed 6 months into my mania (didn’t tell anybody, though). During the next 3 months, I was desperate for money and I was still hyper-sexual, so I began taking money for sex. This is also COMPLETELY out of character for me. It was after I got roofied that I realized something had to be terribly wrong with me.

I went to my PCP, who said it sounded like I had bipolar disorder. However, they weren’t equipped to handle mental illnesses, and asked me repeatedly to go to a psychiatrist. I put it off because I was feeling great (still manic). I also didn’t want to admit I had a mental illness. It didn’t take long before I tripped and fell face-first into another depression. This one was intense, and lasted 3 months. By the end of the 3 months, I was experiencing depression and mania at the same time.

I became extremely reckless with men again, and I was hallucinating a terrifying black demon. I couldn’t sleep anymore. I couldn’t even go into my bedroom; I was so afraid. The only way to get the demon to go away was to cut myself. So I started etching little red ditches in my thighs every time it happened. I begged for help. I went to the hospital and begged to be admitted to the psych ward. They even saw my thighs. They wouldn’t take me because they said I wasn’t a danger to myself or others. I never felt more invisible and helpless in my life.

A week later, I called my boss and told them what was happening to me. She has bipolar disorder, too, so she immediately called 911 and asked them to do a wellness check on me. Instead of coming to my house, they called me and asked if I was okay. I wasn’t ready to go to the hospital yet. I wanted to say good-bye to my daughter (who I sent to my mom’s because I knew I wasn’t safe). So I told them I was fine. Thankfully, my cousin decided to call them again, so then they actually came to my door. It was just in time, because I was just trying to cut a path in my arm that was deep enough to bleed out. They saw my arm and said if I didn’t come with them, they would 302 me (give me no choice). I said PLEASE take me, I’ve only been trying to go for a month. So, I finally got the help I needed, and it was 2.5 years ago. I’ll write about my stay in the psych ward another time.

My whole point is that sometimes you don’t realize how blind you are to your situation, actions, behaviors, etc until something is put in front of your eyes to make you see it. For me, being raped opened my eyes. And then my brand new glasses made my vision clear, for real. 😉 The important thing is to make sure that once you see your issues, you get the right help for them. And then do the research so that you can be self-aware and catch episodes before they have a chance to spin out of control, which we all know happens very quickly.

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure: Two Sleeps

photo of santa claus sleeping

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I have two nights remaining, or two sleeps, that’s the way we used to count down the days until Christmas, by the number of sleeps.  I have two sleeps until I leave for treatment.

My to do list is starting to get shorter.  The pile of things to pack is getting taller.  The exhaustion is increasing each day.  The head cold is progressing and has resulted in an absolutely horrid, knife in the head feeling kind of a headache that has been throbbing on the left side of my head all day.  The withdrawal symptoms from the one medication I was taking are slowly subsiding (slowly being the operative word).  The ability to do basic things, send a text message with accurate spelling, for example, are becoming challenging.  The driving anxiety has returned from a hiatus that started in May.  I am not welcoming it’s return, but I know it is due to being overall heightened and my body basically throwing a hissy fit.

However, as I was discussing with my brother today, I am persevering.  There is this candle or fire lit deep within me that I swear can not be extinguished.  I am the most tired I have been (without being depressed) yet I am up before 6 AM, getting going and doing what needs to be done.  Should work need to be done after hours, I take care of it.  I am plugging along, some days slowly, and at a toddler’s pace, but I am making movement in a forward direction.

It hit me today, and brought tears to my eyes, how much I am going to miss my people while I am gone.  To see their faces, to hug them, to text them when I am thinking of them, just to spend time with them.  But, I know that I need to let go to heal.  I need to relinquish my reigns so I can work on my deep and inner issues so I can be well from the inside out and allow for a transformation.

In all honesty I do not know what to expect and should I put expectations on an outcome I set myself up for failure.  My goal is to adhere to the program and to be compliant.  And for those that truly know me this will be a challenge.  But, I have committed to myself that this is what I will do.  Come hell or high water, I will do what is asked of me and I will do it with all of me.

Shall, I not have the chance to write before departing, I thank you for your support, kind words and positive energy as I embark on my big adventure.  Your support means the world, moon and stars to me!~

Cupcakes and Sprinkles,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

 

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure: The Home Stretch

round grey and black compass

Photo by Supushpitha Atapattu on Pexels.com

I leave for treatment on Thursday.  It seems to have come upon us quickly in that slow agonizing kind of way.  I am the kind of person that once I have my mind made up, I am set and I am ready.  When I have to wait it is pure agony for me.

I know that good things come with waiting.  I have been able to spend good quality time with my family and my friends.  This weekend we had family photos taken and I was able to take my son’s senior portraits (what an honor!) I have been able to make my list and not only check it twice, but a good nineteen times at this point.

With the time I have had since being accepted into treatment and actually leaving I believe will be three weeks.  It has been a long, tiring, draining three weeks.  I have attempted to get “caught up” work wise, but alas, this does not seem like it is going to be one of the things that is going to be checked off my list.

And that is one thing I am learning.  I am trying, really hard, and I am doing the best that I can.  And that’s the best that I can do.  I am fighting through horrible side effects due to withdrawal from one medication and side effects from another new medication.  Then there’s stress that causes the body to breakdown it’s personal shields and cold season, and oh so much fun.

But, I am a fighter.  This journey will probably be the hardest one I have ever chosen to take, but I am going to muscle through each and every foot step of it, perhaps not with grace and certainly not always with a smile on my face, but I will do it and it will be worth it in the end.

Sprinkles and Cupcakes,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure

woman wearing grey long sleeved top photography
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

In less than two weeks I am going on an adventure.  There could be lions, tigers, or bears (oh my!~)  It was suggested that I pack light and there was a whole list of what to bring, and an even longer list of what not to bring, and I am stressing over the whole packing situation, because, well that’s what I do.  I am not so good when it comes to packing.  To have to limit myself to specific items for an extended period of time is like putting me on one of those stretcher machines they used back in the old day to dismember people.  At least that is what it feels like to me.

I love clothes.  I love to dress a little fancy, to accessorize with jewelry and to wear nice shoes and more eclectic clothes so to be going to a place where this is not necessarily appropriate, I feel like I am being suffocated.  How will I be able to show my personality, I say as I throw myself down on my bed with gust and expression of disbelief and sadness.  I can’t wear boring clothes (with emphasis on the O) it’s just not my thing.  Oh heaven’s bee this is just impossible, I can’t go.

The reality is that I AM going, whether I pack my bag or my spouse packs it and I will have more joy in the process if I just suck it up and do it myself, because although I love him to pieces, he will probably not pack my favorites and then I will be mad and realistically, I will only have myself to blame.

Next obstacle is getting ready for the adventure because it is a 45-day long adventure and that ladies and gents is a long time to be on an adventure.  I have been handling it pretty well (and in that I mean that I am staying strong, until I am weak and breaking down in tears, sobbing my eyes out and letting my fears get the best of me).  So, that’s my definition of pretty well.  I have been so busy with work and life that I have not allowed myself a lot of time to let what’s going on really sink in.  I am staying busy and just plugging along and getting things done and checking things off the to do list as if nothing huge and giant is coming up down the road.  One may say I am acting like I am in denial or acting in some sort of avoidance.  But it’s my coping mechanism and has been for many, many years.  Staying busy, keep the mind engaged and then it stays out of the mucky muck mud and then we do not have mental breakdowns.

Last night I took part in a sleep study.  I stayed away from home in a sleep lab for the study and it was hard.  I felt utterly alone, even though there were plenty of staff who were quite attentive to my every need.  I was missing my people and my pets.  I felt like this was a trial run to my big adventure and I did ok.  I did not cry, but I also had all my electronics and was in contact with my humans.  When I go on my adventure, for the first three days, I will have no contact with my humans, and I think this will be most challenging and will really cause me to use all my strength to get through this trial.  Moving past the three days, there will be a landline phone that can be used, so no texting, no computers, no electronics, no music.  I will be going through total withdrawal and this is going to hit me hard.

I chose to look at this trip away as an adventure because it’s the power of the mind.  If I state that it’s an adventure, it changes the mindset to a positive one, it implies that there may be challenges, but that they will be exciting, breathtaking, exhilarating, memorable.  If I were to say in a solemn tone that I was going in for a stint in treatment, that to me, has a negative connotation to it, and I am trying to surround this opportunity with as much positiveness as possible.

This is a big adventure for me.  I am scared, but that is overshadowed by the fact that I am looking forward to this opportunity and the blessings that I am hoping will come.  I have the support of my support network and so much positive energy, there may be a solar flare.

In a few weeks, I will sign off for 45 days.  Ill be writing, no question about it, but will not be able to post until around Christmas.  I pray that while I am away my soul is healed, along with my mind and my body.

Sprinkles and Cupcakes,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. While it’s great there’s a month dedicated to this, it should be 365-day year awareness.

I understand suicide can be a touchy subject especially for those who have struggled with it themselves or have lost a loved one to it.

I wanted to share my personal story with suicide because that was something I struggled with for a long time.

I was 14 years old when I started getting suicidal thoughts. I was in high school and was completely miserable. I was living in an abusive household suffering abuse from my mom on a daily basis. It was physical, verbal, & psychological abuse. Living in such a toxic environment and experiencing that abuse on a regular basis caused me to go into a severe depression.

I would spend hours locked in my room crying myself to sleep. I would always question God asking him “why me?”

“Why was this happening to me?”

“Why did I have to get a mom who treated me so terribly?”

It wasn’t much longer when I started to get suicidal thoughts on a regular basis.

My mom told me so many lies on a regular basis that it was hard for me to not believe them. She convinced me I was a burden to others & that I shouldn’t be on this earth. She told me things that no child or person should ever here. She told me she wished I were never born and that she wished she had me aborted when she had the chance. These are things I wish I could say never happened, but those were all lies she told me.

My thoughts started to become more negative and darker as the days went on. I started to lose feelings of happiness and forgot what happiness felt like. I started to feel numb & empty on the inside not feeling any emotions but sadness. I started to cope with self-harm when I was 14 years old. I believed it was the only way for me to feel something besides emptiness & sadness so I turned to self-harm.

That’s when the suicidal thoughts started to creep in and became more frequent. I started to believe the lies my mom and my depression told me. I believed I was a burden to others and that the world would be a better place without me in it. I wanted out of the world so bad that I came up with a plan when I was 15 years old to end my life. I had been prescribed pain medication from a dentist visit when I had to get a root canal and researched that medication and found that if I took all of the pills in the bottle I could never wake up again. That was my plan.

It was like playing tug o war in my mind though, there was that part of me that believed I was a burden and that I should just leave the world now, but there was another part of me that wanted to keep fighting. It told me to keep pushing through that those negative thoughts were lies and I could beat them.

I confided in my high school’s guidance counselor and he helped me push through the suicidal thoughts. I didn’t seek out treatment for my depression at the time even though I should have. Throughout high school I still struggled with depression and being active in sports helped me manage it.

After high school and when I went away to University the suicidal thoughts started to creep in again. I thought it was just homesickness since I was going to school on the other side of the country, but it was much deeper than that for me.

It was the summer of 2014 when I was home from University that I sought out treatment for my depression. I struggled with an alcohol addiction and one day when I had way too much to drink I couldn’t control the suicidal thoughts. I knew that if I didn’t seek out help that night, I would have harmed myself and may not be alive today. I had my best friend’s boyfriend drive me to the mental hospital and drop me off. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this and I told him yes I knew if I didn’t get help I was only going to get worse.

I spent three days in the crisis unit of the mental hospital. I was put on Zoloft and anxiety medication that helped ease my anxiety while I was there. I wish I could say going on Zoloft helped with my depression, but it actually made things worse for me. At the time I was diagnosed with depression and didn’t know I had bipolar disorder. When I was on Zoloft I felt like a zombie I was so out of it and numb, I hated it. I didn’t realize that for those who have bipolar disorder, anti-depressants could cause you to go into mania, which it did for me.

When I was back at University that semester I was a wreck. I was in and out of depressive episodes along with being in manic episodes. My alcohol problem was out of control and my behavior was reckless. I was failing all of my classes and was drinking on a daily basis. I started to struggle with self-harm again and the suicidal thoughts again. I knew that if I didn’t leave University and get myself out of that environment things were only going to get worse for me. That’s when I withdrew from University and moved back home to Florida.

I wish I could say everything got better for me when I got back home to Florida, but my depression grew worse. The psychiatrist I was seeing was no help at all to me and didn’t listen to my problems. He didn’t care to give me a proper psych evaluation and just wrote me a script for the next anti-depressant out there. I continued to struggle with self-harm and battled the suicidal thoughts daily.

I was empty & numb living in an endless cycle of my depression.

It wasn’t until the end of 2016 when I finally found a psychiatrist who gave me a proper psych evaluation and diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. Getting on the proper medication and changing my lifestyle to healthier habits, put an end to the suicidal thoughts. It was like the fog had finally been lifted and I could see clearly again. I started to see a therapist for a few months as well that helped me work through some of the issues from my past.

I’m happy to say that I am stable now and have not harmed myself in over three years now. I still find myself going into depressive episodes every now and then and will catch the suicidal thoughts creeping into my mind. I’ve become a lot stronger than I was three years ago and can fight off the thoughts much better than before.

I know living with a mental illness will be a life long battle for me. I’ve spent over ten years now fighting the demons and while it can be exhausting, I know I will survive the fight.

For those of you that have experienced something similar or going through a tough time please never hesitate to seek out help. There are so many resources available out there today and remember you are not a burden to others. Your life matters and you are never alone in this fight.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

A New Bipolar Writer Blog Milestone

12,000 Followers on The Bipolar Writer Blog

I always celebrate the significant milestones of the Bipolar Writer blog. I know I am not around as much, but I wanted to say The Bipolar Writer blog has reached the 12,000 followers milestone!

I wanted to say thank you to everyone following this blog and keeping it going. To my contributors, thank you for being there even when I can not by creating valuable mental health content. Let us celebrate our mental health advocacy, mental illness, and mental health recovery wellness.

Always Keep Fighting

James, and the Contributors of The Bipolar Writer blog

Become a Patron!https://c6.patreon.com/becomePatronButton.bundle.js

Remember…

Remember…

Remember who you are.

Remember how you got here.

Remember what you love.

Remember what happiness is.

Remember your friendships.

Remember where you’re going.

Remember to accept your diagnosis.

Remember that you are not your illness.

Remember to have hope, to love and have aspirations.

Remember to allow yourself to feel and to live.

Remember that you are human and perfect in your imperfections.

Remember to let go.

Remember to move on.

Remember.

To be.

Remember this,

That your existence proves that there is a perfect world;

That perfect world is within you.

Unleash your inner magic and allow your inner-tuition to guide you.

Love yourself.

Always, remember this.

Love, Francesca

You Don’t Need to be Ashamed of Being Hospitalized for your Mental Illness

Why is it that we’ve normalized being in the hospital for physical illnesses; but when it comes to mental health you’re immediately labeled crazy for being hospitalized. Society has played out hospitalization for your mental health in a negative way. Only the “crazy” people go into the psych ward.

I’m here to tell you that is wrong and the stigma needs to end. I was embarrassed and ashamed for a long time that I was hospitalized for my mental health. I kept it a secret from family members and friends because I was so embarrassed. I knew the negative stigma it had behind it and I didn’t want to be labeled as the “crazy” girl who spent time in the psych ward.

If you’re in the hospital for a physical illness it has a completely different stigma and no one is quick to judge over that. But God forbid you go into the psych ward people will immediately judge you for being crazy.

I committed myself into the psych ward when I was 18 years old. I was at an extremely low point with my depression. I was struggling on a daily basis with suicidal thoughts & self harm, and I knew that if I didn’t go to the hospital to get help I was going to harm myself.

I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me when I was in there, but I knew I needed the help. I didn’t know much about a mental hospital except for what I read in psychology books and some movies like One Flew Over’s the Cuckoo’s Nest. My perception was completely wrong and that’s why more people need to speak up about being hospitalized. If I weren’t hospitalized I probably wouldn’t be here writing this today.

I stayed the full 72 hours in the mental hospital and it was an experience I would never forget. My first day there I was a little scared because I was the youngest in the adult ward. I was admitted into the “crisis” ward since I had tried to kill myself and was with others who had struggled with suicide like myself. I was surprised with how normal everyone was though. In books and movies they make it seem like everyone is bat shit crazy going off their rocker screaming random words every second. That is not at all what it’s like.

Yes, there were some in there with more severe illnesses than others, but it wasn’t as bad as society makes it out to be. They had separated the sections to where it was a female section of the psych ward along with a male section of the psych ward. We were allowed “rec” time once a day for an hour where we got to go outside and socialize with everyone.

They had taken most of my belongings when I was admitted, so I was without a phone for those three days. There was a small library so, I did a lot of reading while I was in there. I also got to know the other women in my area as well. They were all very nice & welcoming towards me. It was interesting hearing their own stories, some were rape victims, domestic violence victims, been on and off medications, and just wanted help & support.

I’ll admit I was a little quick to judge my first day there and kept thinking to myself, “I don’t belong in here. I’m not crazy at all like the other people in here.” But the more I got to know the others, the more I realized they were normal too. Just because we’ve struggled with self-harm and have a mental illness doesn’t mean we’re crazy and should be an outcast to society.

Having spent the three days in the mental hospital taught me a lot. The biggest lesson it taught me was to not be so quick to judge. Each one of us is doing the best we can to survive and it is perfectly okay to reach out for help. It helped me accept my own mental illness and to receive the help I needed for a long time.