A Look Back: The Mask We Wear in Mental Illness

I have learned to be better and more open to the world about who I am with my family, my therapist, at times by many psychiatrists. The blog that I write, and of course with my memoir, has been my way of shedding my masks over the years. It took me years after my last suicide attempt to get to a place where I could open up.

This is an in-depth look at a chapter in my memoir. I wrote a short post about this subject and I extended the post to really explore the subject.

This is a look back at the top blog posts for The Bipolar Writer Blog which will end March 12, 2021.

An in Depth Look at my Masks in my Mental Illness Life

Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash

The masks we wear in our mental illness hide the real people that we are inside. I have spent most of my life hiding behind the many different masks that I wore to protect myself from feeling my emotional pain in front of the world.

One of the most common themes in my life is the mask that I have had to wear throughout my diagnosis and even the masks before my diagnosis. The mask, or even masks, were the result of trying to hiding the demons that I was fighting internally both spiritually and within my own mind.

When I put on a mask it was to make it seem, if only for a moment, as if I was as normal as any person standing next to me. My mask was always a happy facade that people had to buy because I never let anyone inside see the real me.

The mask has changed over time, but it really just changed because of the situation that I found myself in. I think one of the issues that make men and women within the mental health community wear their masks is that there is such a harsh stigma about the people with mental illnesses.

Photo by Seif Ak on Unsplash

So much judgment goes with having a mental illness that it is just easier to hide who we really are to the outside world. I can remember people telling me, “well why can’t you just get better. The rest of the world has to get up and do things, why can’t you?” Often, when I would post on social media how I really felt, it would garner negative reactions which made me turn even more inward to hide behind my mask.

One of the worst things is when people say is, “why can’t you just be normal?”

Since my early teen years, I saw this stigma on mental illness on a daily basis. People around me made fun of “those people” with mental illnesses and it scared me. I did nothing about it in my own life of course, and I even went along with the teasing to try and fit in with the crowd. I just didn’t understand my own private suffering and failed to see that perpetuating the stereotype of mental illness was my own way of hiding.

As a teen, people who thought about suicide or self-harm were looked at as outsiders and I was one of them. At the time I didn’t believe that people could get depressed. I was that young, even though I was dealing with depression on the daily basis, I just didn’t understand. One of the first masks that I wore was that of a normal teenage kid.

This version of myself did what normal kids do, I had friends who were normal and I was as active as an introvert could be in school. I joined a group of teenagers called the Sheriff Explorers (an offshoot organization of the Boy Scouts that involved law enforcement) and I was active in the activities weekly because my parents wanted me to do something productive. I had to be normal on the outside but I was always a mess inside. My mask was very good at hiding the real me.

I was even good at becoming a part of the group, and I even became part of the leadership of this group moving through the ranks quickly and making the rank of captain of the organization by the time I was eighteen.

At times it came naturally to be this version and wear this mask, but for the most part, it was a front because there were so many days I felt not normal, so much on the outside.

So I pretended to be a part of the group. I made it seem as if everything was perfect in the outside world and it made me feel good that when people looked up to me they didn’t see the mask, but it was there. They saw what I wanted them to see.

When I aged out of explorers and lost the leadership position it was hard to let go of this mask. I think at some level I loved the power I had when people looked up to me. The way people talked about this great person I was even though inside I was screaming with emotional pain. I could be someone else for a time, something I often felt when I put on my mask. It hurt and it is no surprise when I lost this mask and I had to deal with my emotional pain my depression spiraled into my first suicide attempt.

The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina The Bipolar Writer Podcast

Episode Description Alaina became an advocate for mental health in 2017 following a psychotic episode. During this episode, she experienced delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations. Initially, she was diagnosed with brief psychotic disorder, which mental health professionals believed was stress-induced, as Alaina was a full-time Ph.D. student. Later in the same year, Alaina's diagnosis changed to bipolar I disorder. While she did not complete her Ph.D. program, she is currently in school for ultrasound, and she will begin a master's program in health administration in the fall of 2021. If you would like to know more about Alaina, you can follow her blog at http://www.thebipolarbuzz.com and subscribe to her YouTube channel, Alaina Raquel. -Alaina If you are looking for all things James Edgar Skye, you can find his social media visiting https://linqapp.com/james_skye The Bipolar Writer Podcast is listener-supported, and for as little as $5 a month, you can help support the mental health advocacy that I do by visiting http://www.buymeacoffee.com/jamesedgarskye. Please help this podcast grow by sharing with friends or anyone that you think will benefit from the experiences of others and myself. You can also find me on the following websites. You can also find me on the following websites to book your interview, ask questions, and reach out to me. http://www.jamesedgarskye.me Purchase my books at: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/support
  1. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina
  2. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Colleen
  3. Bullying and Mental Health
  4. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Krystal
  5. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Gavin

As an adult, I continued to wear masks. The hard worker mask was always my favorite mask. This version of me was always early to work and always worked hard. The praise I got from my bosses and co-workers only helped the mask become more defined. I could hide who I really was for eight hours a day, only to be consumed by darkness every night. I didn’t mind wearing this mask because it gave me the ability to leave my house and do things. I could go for long drives to clear my mind or go to the beach and watch the waves or the people living their lives. I often isolated myself as an adult, but I did things with people at least once a week like going to the movies to “feel something.”

When my life changed after my diagnosis my mask became a reason to lie to people. When I attempted to commit suicide for the first time I had to create a new mask. This version of myself told people “I am okay. It was a mistake.” I told that to my doctors, nurses, family members, and basically anyone who would listen. The mask helped me reconcile the fact that I was in so much emotional turmoil that I couldn’t let people in, and it became my shield against dealing with the pain.

In my mind, I was getting really good at hiding who I truly was to others and it showed in the fact that all three times that I tried to commit suicide in the first three years of my diagnosis it was a surprise to my family. It was less a surprise that I was capable of doing such unspeakable things, my family came to expect it from me, but the timing was always weird. It would be after spending time with my family as I lulled them into thinking that things were okay. I would go to my doctors’ appointments (which were always accompanied by my mother during this time) and talk about wanting to improve and get better. It was always a lie and yet another mask I would wear. I got really good at hiding my emotional turmoil in my mind.

I have talked about the years I lost with my depression cycles especially early on in my diagnosis. I even lost a year and a half between the last time I worked and my first suicide attempt. I think the only time I ever took off my mask was those moments where I could be alone. I found that role-playing games became a great place of solace for me because I could be someone else for a change. I could be the hero in the story where in my world I was the guy who was always depressed and liked to fail at committing suicide. The mask would come off in those hours and though my emotional pain was strong I could deal with my life for a time. It’s possible that this was just a different version of myself again because I never dealt with my issues until after my last suicide attempt, and even then it was years before I could write about my life.

I never imagined I would be a place in my life where I would be able to talk about my mental illness or the masks that I wore. One of my favorite masks, only because it was really tragic, was the boyfriend mask I wore in my relationships. The last relationship that I had been in the middle of one of the worst depression cycles in my life. I tried to be the good boyfriend. I bought her things and spent time with her. We had a good relationship, but when I was diagnosed the mask became heavy. Pieces of the real me starting to seep through the mask. My girlfriend saw some of the real me and I panicked. I ended the relationship with my girlfriend and closed myself off from letting people become a part of my life.

It is so hard for me now to even seek companionship now because I am afraid of showing all that I am. Even as I write my memoir, my relationships have always been the hardest to write about at this moment. I haven’t had a relationship in ten years because I am afraid— afraid of letting people into my life. I’d rather be alone where I am most comfortable. To the world, it’s another mask I wear.

I never wanted the world to see my weakness when it came to who I am when I get depressed or even manic. I can only speak for myself when I say that my masks were there to protect myself from the world seeing my emotional pain and that has been my best friend for most of my life. At my weakest moments, I hid from the world because it was a familiar feeling.

It was about three years after my last suicide attempt that things started to change in my life. It started small. When I came to the realization that suicide was never the answer to the issues I became more open to my psychiatrist. When I was finally able to get a therapist, I found that I could be open in a controlled environment. It was never easy, and even now almost three years into my time with my therapist I still keep things hidden from her. I have been willing to be more open and take off the many masks of my life. Just recently I talked to her about a friend who asked me to help her do something unspeakable and it was tough to talk about, but I found a way.

I have learned to be better and more open to the world about who I am with my family, my therapist, at times by many psychiatrists. The blog that I write, and of course with my memoir, has been my way of shedding my masks over the years. It took me years after my last suicide attempt to get to a place where I could open up.

I only started to get better when I removed the mask and let people in. In my mind, I still wear pieces of my many masks. In a way, it shattered when I finally opened up about my life. I can say the more that I write here and be open to my readers the more the pieces of the mask disappear. The more I can be effective the better I feel.

I know how wearing a mask in your mental illness can be a means to hide from the real world. The reason I decided to write about the masks that I wore in my life is so that those of us in the mental illness community can start to take their masks off and share their experiences with the world. I think the more open that we are with the world the better the stigma on mental illness can start to change. It gets tiring to hear mental illness only talked about when there is a tragic mass shooting and the people involved being “mentally ill.” It matters to me that this is how parts of the world see people with mental illnesses.

What I have learned in my experiences is that there are so many people hiding in silence behind the mask simply because it is better to not have people “fix them.”

For those who know people with a mental illness be understanding that it takes time to remove the masks that we wear. My people, those with a mental illness, are good people. I have met so many people willing to remove the mask but fear what that means in their lives. People tell me, “if only more people understood that I can’t just get better instantly” and I understand that feeling to want to hide behind a mask.

It became easier the more that I write about the masks that I have worn in my mental illness. It is liberating to no longer always have the mask on. There are still times where I feel the need to wear the mask but it is much thinner than it used to be. Someday it will be gone. Maybe when I have finished sharing my life in this memoir with the world.

Always Keep Fighting.

What is the worst that can happen?

James Edgar Skye

Visit my author website at http://www.jamesedgarskye.me

Purchase my Memoir and Novella here: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks

For everything James Edgar Skye use the QR code below Or use this link.

The Official Launch of The Bipolar Writer Podcast

I do not have an official “this is what the podcast will be,” which is okay. There are no right or wrong answers, only life in the now. Why not continue to be spontaneous like it has always been with the blog. One thing to note, The Bipolar Writer Podcast will be listener supported through Patreon. You can use the link below to become a part of the support.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

I have talked about the podcast before in a post. With a couple of episodes under my belt, I wanted to share what this means to me. It means everything and also what the podcast will be. In conjunction with The Voices of Mental Illness book and my upcoming work in the realm of nonprofit in 2021, the many things I plan on doing alongside the podcast. I want people to be a part of the experience. That means you, the followers of the blog to become a part of the journey through interviews. I will do the interviews on Zoom and then put them into episodes.

We will talk about mental illnesses, mental health, depression, anxiety, suicide, bullying, the divide between the mental illness community and the mental health professional community. Everything in between will be discussed, and no idea is off-limits.

The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina The Bipolar Writer Podcast

Episode Description Alaina became an advocate for mental health in 2017 following a psychotic episode. During this episode, she experienced delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations. Initially, she was diagnosed with brief psychotic disorder, which mental health professionals believed was stress-induced, as Alaina was a full-time Ph.D. student. Later in the same year, Alaina's diagnosis changed to bipolar I disorder. While she did not complete her Ph.D. program, she is currently in school for ultrasound, and she will begin a master's program in health administration in the fall of 2021. If you would like to know more about Alaina, you can follow her blog at http://www.thebipolarbuzz.com and subscribe to her YouTube channel, Alaina Raquel. -Alaina If you are looking for all things James Edgar Skye, you can find his social media visiting https://linqapp.com/james_skye The Bipolar Writer Podcast is listener-supported, and for as little as $5 a month, you can help support the mental health advocacy that I do by visiting http://www.buymeacoffee.com/jamesedgarskye. Please help this podcast grow by sharing with friends or anyone that you think will benefit from the experiences of others and myself. You can also find me on the following websites. You can also find me on the following websites to book your interview, ask questions, and reach out to me. http://www.jamesedgarskye.me Purchase my books at: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/support
  1. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina
  2. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Colleen
  3. Bullying and Mental Health
  4. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Krystal
  5. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Gavin

I do not have an official “this is what the podcast will be,” which is okay. There are no right or wrong answers, only life in the now. Why not continue to be spontaneous like it has always been with the blog. One thing to note, The Bipolar Writer Podcast will be listener supported through Patreon and also on Achor.fm has its own lister supported area. You can use the link below to become a part of the support. 

Become a Patron!

Buy Me A Coffee

If you would like to join me in an interview, there will be a page soon on my author website. For now, you can use the contact page or email me @ jameseskye22@gmail.com

Always Keep Fighting.

What is the worst that can happen?

James Edgar Skye

Visit my author website at http://www.jamesedgarskye.me

Purchase my Memoir and Novella here: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks

The Bipolar Writer Podcast

For everything James Edgar Skye use the QR code below Or use this link.

Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash

Alcoholism and Mental Health – Episode Eleven The Bipolar Writer Podcast

This is one of those episodes that makes me happy as it is just me, the mic, the ideas in my head, and you, the audience. On January 1st, 2021, I recommitted to my sobriety after losing five years after my mother’s death. Alcoholism has a history in my life, and I discuss how it came into my life, how it is not great to mix alcoholism with mental illness, how I used alcohol as a coping mechanism, and so much more.

This is one of those episodes that makes me happy as it is just me, the mic, the ideas in my head, and you, the audience. On January 1st, 2021, I recommitted to my sobriety after losing five years after my mother’s death. Alcoholism has a history in my life, and I discuss how it came into my life, how it is not great to mix alcoholism with mental illness, how I used alcohol as a coping mechanism, and so much more. What I want from these episodes is to learn through my own experiences, and if it reaches one person, then that is okay. I have done what I set out to do. 

Buy Me A Coffee

It is my hope for The Bipolar Writer Podcast to become fully listener-supported. You can become supporter of the podcast here You can also support the podcast by clicking the button below, where you can buy me a coffee. This also goes towards future writing projects. I also have a Patreon that you can find below, and some of the tiers come with some fantastic things like a mug once you’re a supporter for three months. This also goes towards writing projects, so please, if you can, become a supporter of James Edgar Skye and The Bipolar Writer brand. As Patron and Buy me Coffee grows, I will be adding amazing things like free books for the two that I have written, one is my memoir and my novella, both in the mental illness realm.

The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina The Bipolar Writer Podcast

Episode Description Alaina became an advocate for mental health in 2017 following a psychotic episode. During this episode, she experienced delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations. Initially, she was diagnosed with brief psychotic disorder, which mental health professionals believed was stress-induced, as Alaina was a full-time Ph.D. student. Later in the same year, Alaina's diagnosis changed to bipolar I disorder. While she did not complete her Ph.D. program, she is currently in school for ultrasound, and she will begin a master's program in health administration in the fall of 2021. If you would like to know more about Alaina, you can follow her blog at http://www.thebipolarbuzz.com and subscribe to her YouTube channel, Alaina Raquel. -Alaina If you are looking for all things James Edgar Skye, you can find his social media visiting https://linqapp.com/james_skye The Bipolar Writer Podcast is listener-supported, and for as little as $5 a month, you can help support the mental health advocacy that I do by visiting http://www.buymeacoffee.com/jamesedgarskye. Please help this podcast grow by sharing with friends or anyone that you think will benefit from the experiences of others and myself. You can also find me on the following websites. You can also find me on the following websites to book your interview, ask questions, and reach out to me. http://www.jamesedgarskye.me Purchase my books at: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/support
  1. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina
  2. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Colleen
  3. Bullying and Mental Health
  4. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Krystal
  5. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Gavin

Always Keep Fighting.

What is the worst that can happen?

James Edgar Skye

Visit my author website at http://www.jamesedgarskye.me

Purchase my Memoir and Novella here: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks

The Bipolar Writer Podcast

For everything James Edgar Skye use the QR code below Or use this link.

New Segment – The Bipolar Writer Podcast

If you want to be a guest and share your story, you can also use the email above. Right now, there is a list, but I am always looking to interview new people, and I plan on a heavy January schedule. I do interviews on Zoom.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I would love to add a new segment to The Bipolar Writer Podcast where you, the listener, ask questions about mental health/mental illness to me, and I answer one per episode to open an episode. I think it would be a great way to get the listeners involved in the podcast.

There are two ways to do this: email me at thebipolarwriterpodcast@gmail.com or visit the podcast at The Bipolar Writer Podcast where you can leave me a message!

What do I want you to ask? Really anything, and I will do my best to answer and research within the mental illness realm. Some ideas are about suicide, mental health in general, living with a mental illness, what a day looks like for James, depression, anxiety, and everything in between.

Buy Me A Coffee

If you want to be a guest and share your story, you can also use the email above. Right now, there is a list, but I am always looking to interview new people, and I plan on a heavy January schedule. I do interviews on Zoom. I hope that the community reaches out and continues to continue to share your stories. I plan on taking The Bipolar Writer Podcast to new levels. If you want to listen to my podcast, it is available wherever you listen to podcasts. I will also have it below. 

The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina The Bipolar Writer Podcast

Episode Description Alaina became an advocate for mental health in 2017 following a psychotic episode. During this episode, she experienced delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations. Initially, she was diagnosed with brief psychotic disorder, which mental health professionals believed was stress-induced, as Alaina was a full-time Ph.D. student. Later in the same year, Alaina's diagnosis changed to bipolar I disorder. While she did not complete her Ph.D. program, she is currently in school for ultrasound, and she will begin a master's program in health administration in the fall of 2021. If you would like to know more about Alaina, you can follow her blog at http://www.thebipolarbuzz.com and subscribe to her YouTube channel, Alaina Raquel. -Alaina If you are looking for all things James Edgar Skye, you can find his social media visiting https://linqapp.com/james_skye The Bipolar Writer Podcast is listener-supported, and for as little as $5 a month, you can help support the mental health advocacy that I do by visiting http://www.buymeacoffee.com/jamesedgarskye. Please help this podcast grow by sharing with friends or anyone that you think will benefit from the experiences of others and myself. You can also find me on the following websites. You can also find me on the following websites to book your interview, ask questions, and reach out to me. http://www.jamesedgarskye.me Purchase my books at: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/support
  1. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina
  2. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Colleen
  3. Bullying and Mental Health
  4. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Krystal
  5. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Gavin

Always Keep Fighting.

What is the worst that can happen?

James Edgar Skye

Visit my author website at http://www.jamesedgarskye.me

Purchase my Memoir and Novella here: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks

The Bipolar Writer Podcast

For everything James Edgar Skye use the QR code below Or use this link.

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

The Bipolar Writer Episode Six

Excitement always comes to mind when it comes to sharing the latest episode of The Bipolar Writer Podcast. I have to admit that it has been so impressive that all the people who have become listeners in the short time the podcast has been live.

Men’s Mental Health

Photo by Jonathan Farber on Unsplash

Excitement always comes to mind when it comes to sharing the latest episode of The Bipolar Writer Podcast. I have to admit that it has been so impressive that all the people who have become listeners in the short time the podcast has been live. I am in awe of all the people lining up for a guest spot, and these are extraordinary times to share with the world. I even had my first international interview, all the way from Malaysia, that you will be listening to soon. It is memorable to be working on my mental health advocacy again on a new platform.

Buy Me A Coffee

Episode six looks at Men’s Mental Health – Why Are Men Not Talking About Mental Health? It is an essential topic for me, and you will see the passion I have for this topic. The episode is bit darker, although is my thing. It is possible what you listen to what I am saying could be wrong. If I am wrong, then okay. I have the experience to back it up, you will see a future episode with a retraction, but I see what I see within the community.

I wanted this podcast to be different, and yes, I am sharing the stories of others. It is a significant part, but I must also shake things up within the community to end the stigma. In this episode, what I say might be controversial to some, and you will see it a lot in solo episodes, but the point that will be made will make my point within the episode. Please listen to the entire episode because this subject must be discussed, so you can leave comments, reach out in emails, or even leave me a message on my phone (my number is on this blog). I hope you enjoy it!

The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina The Bipolar Writer Podcast

Episode Description Alaina became an advocate for mental health in 2017 following a psychotic episode. During this episode, she experienced delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations. Initially, she was diagnosed with brief psychotic disorder, which mental health professionals believed was stress-induced, as Alaina was a full-time Ph.D. student. Later in the same year, Alaina's diagnosis changed to bipolar I disorder. While she did not complete her Ph.D. program, she is currently in school for ultrasound, and she will begin a master's program in health administration in the fall of 2021. If you would like to know more about Alaina, you can follow her blog at http://www.thebipolarbuzz.com and subscribe to her YouTube channel, Alaina Raquel. -Alaina If you are looking for all things James Edgar Skye, you can find his social media visiting https://linqapp.com/james_skye The Bipolar Writer Podcast is listener-supported, and for as little as $5 a month, you can help support the mental health advocacy that I do by visiting http://www.buymeacoffee.com/jamesedgarskye. Please help this podcast grow by sharing with friends or anyone that you think will benefit from the experiences of others and myself. You can also find me on the following websites. You can also find me on the following websites to book your interview, ask questions, and reach out to me. http://www.jamesedgarskye.me Purchase my books at: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/jamesedgarskye22/support
  1. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina
  2. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Colleen
  3. Bullying and Mental Health
  4. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Krystal
  5. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Gavin

I hope you enjoy!

Always Keep Fighting.

What is the worst that can happen?

James Edgar Skye

Visit my author website at http://www.jamesedgarskye.me

Purchase my Memoir and Novella here: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks

The Bipolar Writer Podcast

For everything James Edgar Skye use the QR code below Or use this link.

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Anxiety and Working: Cultivate this asset ASAP.

I have anxiety, worse I get intrusive thoughts that at times can really set me back and for lack of a better term plant me flat on my !@#. I have also maintained a full time job since 1988 (yes I am ancient). I’ve worked in many places and have had many different roles. How have I done it? I have worked on one important asset throughout my career.

The asset? A robust professional network. Now we hear this term, “a network” many times but what does it really mean? It means that you accumulate a list of people that you have worked with that are allies and references. Yes, it’s that simple but it’s critical because this asset can be the difference between getting a job and being unemployed. In the stress cesspool we all currently fight so hard to survive in, we have to have assets to help us survive.  A good network is one of the best assets you can have.

Quick story – I lost a job in 2012 the company was sold, and headquarters were moved to Denver. I knew it was coming but like everyone else at the company I didn’t know when. I looked for another job, to no avail and then the meeting happened we got our last checks and I was driving home. There I was out of work, stressed and pretty bummed out. I was angry, I was scared, and I was desperate. I had to pull over. I called my wife and told her I was on the side of the road that I was okay but would be late. She got very scared, a police cruiser pulled up and he tells me my wife called them because she was afraid.

I explained the situation and told the cop I was just clearing my head. He understood, but told me I needed to go home. He followed me, I was humiliated. It was a very low point for me, my anxiety was in full bloom, intrusive thoughts were sweeping through me, and I was losing control. I got through it but the next week was horrible, my kids were scared, my wife was scared, I was scared.

You will meet many people in your career, identify like minded individuals and cultivate a relationship.

I had bills, a family to support I was panicking. It took me weeks to recover from the stress, I recall sitting at my PC at home looking at jobs, and they all sucked. It was then that I reached out to my “network” which at the time consisted of 6 people. These were all professional contacts, none of them were great friends but we had worked together, and I had identified them as allies. Every one of them replied to me, 2 of them had jobs for me. One was at a much lower level then my last job, but it was benefitted, the other was a lateral move from where I was.

I was back to work within the month, because of my network. It’s critical for professionals to network with other like-minded people. This “network” is an asset that you need to maintain like your other valued items. I know this language may not sound normal for the maintenance of relationships but it’s critical to do this. How do you do it? Here are 5 tips to keep your professional network cultivated.

  1. A holiday email: Send your network a happy holidays email.
  2. Birthdays: if you know them, send your contacts a happy birthday email
  3. Do lunch if you can: From time to time reach out and see if they want to meet for lunch.
  4. Follow their social media: don’t stalk them of course but from time to time drop them a “hey” on their Instagram.
  5. Ask how things are going at work: They may be looking for a job too.

Keep it professional don’t go to personal (how are the kids, etc.) unless they do. Remember, as a person living with anxiety we need to look for help sometimes. It’s okay to need other people and its okay to use a professional network when things in your work life aren’t so rosy. I am so glad I had a network, who knows where I would have ended up. Ya we had a little money, we aren’t wealthy though. I recovered fast because I had cultivated this asset. I hope you never need one for the same reason I did but please, build one.

Contributor Writers for The Bipolar Writer Blog

I am only looking for contributor writers at this moment. What I do is add you to my blog as a contributor. All I need is to add your email. You can write about any subject about mental illness. You pick the categories and the post must have a featured picture. I will have the final say on if it gets published. If you become a regular contributor, I will change your status to the rank of author

Since day one of the inception of The Bipolar Writer blog I had a plan of how things were going to go on my blog. When I hit 2,000 followers the plan was to start a series of interviews of other members of the mental illness community. It was amazing to finally start my interview series where I feature the stories of others. It’s been successful so far.

I am close to another milestone for my blog and I am looking towards the future of my blog as I near 15,000 followers, I am looking to add more contributors to blog because the stories of others is important to me. These contributors roles are as follows according to WordPress:

Contributor – has no publishing or uploading capability, but can write and edit their own posts until they are published.

I am only looking for contributor writers at this moment. What I do is add you to my blog as a contributor. All I need is to add your email. You can write about any subject about mental illness. You pick the categories and the post must have a featured picture. I will have the final say on if it gets published. If you become a regular contributor, I will change your status to the rank of author:

Author – can write, upload photos to, edit, and publish their own posts.

If you are interested please email me at JamesEdgarSkye22@gmail.com

I am really excited to expand to allow more contributor writers on my blog. I think it will help to get different stories and blog posts on different topics within the mental health community. It’s an opportunity to continue the growth of The Bipolar Writer brand, and really talk about the issues as we fight to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

My Memoir

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron! You can get this amazing cup!

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

Why a Mental Illness is a Big Deal

I’ve been depressing for awhile now -as in, dealing with Depression. I’ve also entertained its close friend, Anxiety; plus a few hangers-on like Disassociation, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Social Phobias. I didn’t even know those existed till they walked off with some of my mental furniture.

Once I’m back to staring at the cracked ceiling of an empty apartment, I wonder why mental illness is such a BIG DEAL. Why does it always have the ability to kick my butt this badly every time?

Photo by Inzmam Khan on Pexels.com

Because, Mental Illness is a BIG deal.

Yesterday, I witnessed a boy who collapsed into a hysterical fit when his mother said they had to ride in the elevator. A perfectly healthy friend had to reschedule her doctor’s appointment for “a better day.” Another friend told how she could not sleep in the same room as her baby, since the baby’s normal breathing patterns kept her up all night.

Minor issues become major. Small things are big. Mole hills are mountains!

So, now what? Treats? Bed? Movie marathon? I wish. Those things cost money! We need practicality before the rest of our sanity escapes out the window, and takes the rest of the chocolate with it.

Knowing that a mental illness blows things out of proportion is empowering. How? When one of my kids starts melting down, I KNOW to back off and get him a snack. When fear and anxiety cloud my horizon, I KNOW to get outside for a walk. When my friend says she needs to talk, I KNOW to drop everything and listen.

Am I freaking out? Don’t have a mental couch to collapse on? I take a break. I breathe. I run a meditative exercise. Try it; re-focus with what works for you. Then, try the basics: sleep, food, love, happiness.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

On the flip side, stop doing the little things that make it worse: staying up, eating crap, avoiding affection, and wallowing in sadness.

Sounds easy, right? It really is. The trick is to not make it difficult. “Just go get in the shower,” I tell myself. “Just get in there and sit -you don’t even have to wash yet.” Or, “Wrap up in a blanket and hang out on the porch. You don’t have to get dressed.”

See? Believe me, I’m in the camp of making a simple thing much more complicated. I also know how BIG I feel once I get past the little, white lies of my mental illness.

 

©2020 Chel Owens

Signs of Hope and More

I am an Etsy shop owner.

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When I first opened my Etsy shop my goal was to make a line of gifts, cards, magnets, stickers and wall art for MENTAL HEALTH RECOVERY AND WELLNESS.

I thought… there is not much out there that I am aware of–not many cards or gifts specifically for people with mental health and who are in mental health recovery.

I thought… I know what has helped me the MANY times I was battling severe mental health SEASONS of my life for over two decades. I know what would have helped me.

I thought… some people want to help and are thinking of you, but they just don’t know what to say. So, the say nothing and that hurts.

I thought… a card or magnet could say what others couldn’t or didn’t know how.

I thought… I need to help others show their love and HELP others heal and feel better with a card or a magnet.

So, in the beginning my main goal was to create new art and adapt my old art with quotes, sayings and heartfelt words etc.

But then… the Corona Virus hit.

Etsy asked people to make masks on Etsy. I could sew, so this was a no brainer.

I had to put my goal for my Etsy shop in my back pocket for later and in April began making masks nonstop and selling them both locally and on Etsy. I made enough money so I didn’t have to work at a part-time job to supplement my SSDI.

Mask making became my job. In fact, masks were in such high demand I had to close my shop a few times to slow down business so I could catch up and so I would not go over my allowed SSDI income amount. It was unbelievable.

I loved being my own boss and don’t want to ever get a part-time job again. So, I am working diligently to create, make and sell new products.

I LOVE being my own boss.

I can go to work whenever I want. (Oh wait, I am always there.) I can stay up late to work as I tend to be a night owl and always have been, If I stay up too late I can sleep in. This is awesome because sleep has always been an issue for me and this helps greatly.

The best part is I am available to be there for my adult children whenever they need and I am available to visit and help take care of my beautiful grandbaby whenever they need me.

I would like you to meet my gorgeous baby girl, my granddaughter, my heart, my miracle, my life… Leora Bravely who will be one year old on August 3rd.

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I am beyond blessed to be alive to participate in her life and love her up. I almost missed this. Proof how life will get better. Just hold on and keep fighting. Suicide is not an option. Oops. Sorry, I do digress. Back to the topic.

The mask business has slowed down, so now I am trying to create, make and sell other products.

I am attempting to learn SEO and how to get to the top of search engine searches on Etsy and Google searches. It is a slow and difficult task so far.

If anyone knows about this and other ways to sell and market online please share. I will be most grateful and appreciative.

Please visit my Etsy shop here:

Signs of Hope and More

This is my shop banner:

Signs of Hope Banner 2

I apologize ahead of time if the following information is confusing.

I am learning how to add items for sale as I go.

These are some of my products I sell on my shop. I have many many more fabric choices:

MASKS — $12.95

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Face Mask

Face mask with filter pocket, adjustable ear loops, wire nose piece, double layer of cotton, Reusable-washable-Handmade-expandable-pleats-stylish.

$12.95

MASKS AND MATCHING SCRUNCHIES — $15.95 for the matching set

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Face Mask with Matching Scrunchie

Face mask with filter pocket, adjustable ear loops, wire nose piece, double layer of cotton, Reusable-washable-Handmade-expandable-pleats-stylish with a MATCHING SCRUNCHIE.

$15.95

SCRUNCHIES — $3.00 — varies with type and size

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Hair Scrunchies

If you like a scrunchie I have shown, please describe the fabric. I have many more fabric options on my Etsy Shop to choose from. Please go there to check out the fabric and return here to make an order. Or order directly from my Etsy shop. Happy shopping.

$3.00

POCKET ZIPPER SCRUNCHIES–$4.00 (holds & hides keys, money, lip or chapstick etc.)

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Pocket Zipper Scrunchie

If you like a scrunchie I have shown, please describe the fabric. I have many more fabric options on my Etsy Shop to choose from. Please go there to check out the fabric and return here to make an order. Or order directly from my Etsy shop. Happy shopping.

$4.75

PLASTIC BAG HOLDER DISPENSERS — $12.00  (a decorative where to hide and organize your plastic shopping bags)

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Plastic Bag Holder Dispenser

Please describe the fabric you would like when making your purchase or order directly from my Etsy shop. Happy shopping.

$12.00

Please visit my Etsy shop here:

Signs of Hope and More

GIFT CARDS, STICKERS, MAGNETS, WALL ART: Currently $3.00 for downloadable digital prints

recovery purple brown frameIMG_20200326_163139~4

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Digital Downloadable Art Print

If you like an image I have shown, please describe your choice when making a purchase. I have many more on my Etsy Shop to choose from. Please go there to check them ALL OUT and return here to make an order. I will send a copy for $5.00 plus shipping. I am sorry but it is not possible for you to download from my blog. You can download on my Etsy shop for ONLY $3.00 a copy. Happy shopping. I CAN PERSONALIZE THE QUOTE OF YOUR CHOICE FOR $6.00 plus price of shipping.

$3.00

MY COLOR PENCIL DRAWING WITH QUOTE — CAN PERSONALIZE QUOTE

Martin Luther King Jr.

MY ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTING WITH OR WITHOUT QUOTE can customize quote

butterfly inspiration

CUSTOMIZED DRAWINGS — GIVE ME A PHOTO and I create something like this…

boy scan ETSY

I will continue to add more products:

  1. Next adding head bands– matching headbands for babies and Mommys.
  2. gift cards – for mental health
  3. stickers and magnets – for mental health
  4. wall art and quotes – for mental health
  5. I WILL ALSO BE SELLING CUSTOMIZED PENCIL DRAWINGS/SKETCHES OF CHILDREN, FAMILIES, PETS etc.

I hope you will visit soon. Please visit and then check back as I keep adding more items.

This is from my mental health line of products and can be used as a gift card, magnet, sticker or small wall art. I am working on creating more of this type of product.

Sorry the image is fuzzy but is not when ordering.

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Please let me know if you think it is a good idea. What would you like to see??? Please share. (the image is fuzzy–sorry)

Please visit my Etsy shop here:     Signs of Hope and More

I apologize if this is confusing as I am learning as I go.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Top Featured Image photo credit: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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**

 

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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.