The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog will be around for another year. I will admit that I had my doubts about keeping the site, but there is still more work to be done.
I created this space as a place for writers with mental illnesses to express themselves in a collaborative controlled environment. I think this site lost some of its focus in 2019, and in early 2020, but I am partly to blame. I stepped away, not realizing the impact that it would have on this entire idea that I created.
With that said, I will be creating an author website in addition to this website, but as you noticed, I will be writing more often here as time allows. I am also allowing some writers to move on and removing those who are no longer writing. Which opens up space for others to write on this blog. If you are interested, reach out.
With the news of James’ mom’s recent passing, I find myself reflecting on my own parent/child relationship. How lucky am I to have her, and how much I feel for James. Please consider donating here to his family’s gofundme to help with expenses. I know that this place that he has created has helped me immensely. It has done more for me than I can put into words and I hope that we can open our arms to be a comfort in return.
I have always had an incredibly tumultuous relationship with my mother growing up. I know now that I was a bit unpredictable to say the least and with reason. What I didn’t know is how much of a comfort she would be to me now.
My mom is disabled and she lives with me. I am just on the cusp of 30 (HELP!) and many people who hear this picture an elderly woman who can’t feed or bathe herself. They look at me with sad eyes and apologize. They provide niceties about how “you shouldn’t have to take that on!”. The truth is she takes care of me. Yes, I end up grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and the occasional bathing when she is really hurting. But she does a lot for me too. We can start with the obvious: She hasn’t killed me.
I was, in all honesty, a mean little bitch. I told her I hated her, stole from her, lied, and had even hit her once growing up. I wasn’t some pot smoking, partying, rebellious teenager. I was just, bipolar. It is kinda funny now, but it really isn’t at all. I was so “moody” as we had thought that my mom wanted to send me away to a camp in an attempt to reform me. I was even more manipulative. She took me to a specialist on numerous occasions to be evaluated. The mental illness is heavy in this family. My devious ass saw right through their questions and lied my way home. Things only got better when I acknowledged I had a problem and sought out help. I only got better then.
That woman is a saint. In a few short weeks she will be 50. She had me young and endured more than she should have. She put up with me and sometimes had to keep me at a distance. So yes, I take care of her. I pay the bills, do the grocery shopping, fetch her medications, and at times I bathe her.
But she is still doing more for me. She still puts up with my sudden mood changes. The volatile sport that is Bailey. She bites her tongue when I tell her I am having an “off day” as I have grown to call manic episodes. She helps me monitor my spending during this time so I can stay on the right track. My mom stays up with me when insomnia strikes and we binge watch Netflix and crack jokes. She sets her alarm, but has no reason to get up early. It is for me. One time they raised the dose of my Seroquel and slept through three alarms and multiple calls from my boss. She keeps me accountable.
She stays on the phone with me when I choose to move 1000 miles away on a whim. When I left her with my grandmother to care for her. When I am sobbing because I am off my medication and afraid of myself. She doesn’t push me to get back into life when I move back home. She doesn’t comment on the amount of time that I have gone without combing my hair or showering. Instead, she waits for me to be ready and offers to help me sort it out.
I am so grateful for my mother. I am grateful that I have her. I am grateful for the things she does for me. I am grateful for the way she has loved me in spite of the way I have behaved.
I have no idea how it feels to lose a mom. The closest I have come is to emotionally feel like I have lost her as a teenager when she had to love me from a distance. I know now that when we speak about that period of time, we both weep. I especially am brought to tears when she tells me how hard it was to not be there, to not communicate. I know that when she is gone from this Earth, it will hurt like hell. Life will never be the same. I will have to remind myself of her words and how her heart aches when she is away from me as well, that she did not abandon me.
All of this to say that we are so lucky to have people in our lives that support us through….well, us being us. It isn’t easy to see past the terrible parts of mental illness. It is all risk and no reward. My heart absolutely goes out to James and the others that find themselves one less ally, friend, parent, sibling, or other relative to walk through life with. I hope that you know that you meant the world to them. I can say that with full confidence. You have to love someone more than a lot to stick through it.
This will end up a series that I will write in December 2019, as the decade comes to a close. I hope to share some wisdom now that my memoir The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir is published and out in the world. Each will have some theme that I think is relevant to the idea of the last ten years. I imagine walking side by side that person I was at the start of the decade, he was a different James than the one now. He now has so much to share.
A Few Things I’ve Learned
A decade is a long time, and so many things can change in this life. It matters not if the change is good or bad, because change means that something is happening, and you can decide to take it or leave it. You can make the decision to change because its time, or you can get lost in what the change means.
Take me. In the first decade of the new millennium, I was younger than I was now, just a teen trying to find his place. While I was active for the start of it, there was a lingering feeling that something was wrong. I was suicidal at times, and in 2007 I tried to take my life. I spent the next two years denying that there was something wrong with me, that I was not Bipolar, and that my life was worthless. I barely lived, and then on that fateful day I tried to last take my life in 2010, in the middle of the first year of the new decade, I had a choice. Continue down this path, or finally face the truth–there was something wrong with me.
In the hospital, first for the suicide and then for the seizures I had after, it allowed me to think about this mental illness life and finally decide to start the healing process.
It was never easy, and it did not happen overnight. It actually took an additional three years before my life started on this path that I am now: author, graduate student, freelance writer extraordinaire, and mental health advocate. Having the same therapist for the last five years really helped, and the revolving door of psychiatrists made things hard at times. I lost my grandfather, whom I was close to cancer, and there were so many varying depression cycles in length and intensity over the past ten years. But I am still here and fighting.
I founded this blog in 2017, and I can say with certainty that we, the collaborative writers and mental health bloggers that call this place home, have made an impact. I started with an idea, and it became a blog and then a memoir. I have written this year a 213,000-word fantasy fiction novel, one novel in a series of six, I am currently editing this piece. I have written poetry and short novella this year, and things are always looking up.
Hope. That is what I am always saying in these blog posts. I was ready to die in 2010, and yet I was one of the lucky ones.
If you’re suicidal or close to that darkness, please know that it is not forever. Suicide is never the answer because we will always leave behind someone that will have to live with that decision. If I learned anything this decade, that is it, that it may feel right at this moment, but there are always consequences to our actions. So live because there is always hope. Learn from my mistakes, and if you need to, please reach out. I am always there for my people in the mental illness community.
Lastly, if you want to know more about my experiences, please take a moment to read my book, The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir. In it, I share some of the things that have helped me over the years. I want this book to help others like me in this life, especially those at the beginning of this journey. I also want to help those at any stage of this mental illness life because I lived it, and I have so much to share. You can find my book on Amazon by looking up James Edgar Skye. I will link it below, as well. Yes, I am plugging my book, but I truly believe in the power of shared experience.
Last week I saw my sleep doctor where we talked about my sleep apnea. It was not good. The results I will keep to myself, but basically, it means that my sleep apnea, which I knew was terrible got worse over the last few years. I never got to the rim sleep that night, and it is most likely the cause of my increased depression, panic disorder, and social anxiety.
Sleep has always been an issue in my life since I was a young kid. I can’t remember a time when I truly got a good nights sleep. Sure I get so tired that occasionally I will sleep okay for a few hours a night, but I wake up regularly, and it sucks because there is a chance that the root of all my mental health issues is sleep. Sleep apnea is no joke as I have found out over the last week.
So tonight I go for my second sleep study this time they will connect me to a sleep apnea machine. For those who have never gone through a sleep study, the nurse hooks you up with a ton of wires all over your head, neck, and legs. It’s a very long process, and it makes it harder to sleep.
This is not the first time that I have done these tests and got a sleep apnea machine. I had issues with the mask, and eventually, my insurance decided that they would not pay for something that I was not using. Since the masks have improved and I am hopeful that tonight’s sleep study that things will work out better and I will finally be able to conquer this insomnia thing.
Part of this process will lead to my therapist helping work on my panic disorder, and I think overall, it will really help me get better. Depression, panic disorder and social anxiety along with insomnia have been kicking my butt lately, and I want the next five months to be the catalyst to finally finding myself and be in a better place with my mental health.
I have shared that I found a publisher for my book, and that I now have an editor that working towards getting my manuscript ready to publish.
As of today, I have gone through all the changes of the first edit and made some changes of my own. I believe this is the best the memoir has been since the beginning. I sent back the updates, and I look forward to moving closer to publication. For those that have followed my blog for some time, you know that my memoir has been over two years in the making, and to finally have a publisher has been the best feeling in the world.
When it goes to publication, I will offering the book on a tier of my Patreon account. It will be great to finally share my entire story, at least so far.
Update of Other Writing Projects
I also wanted to use this blog post to update my writing projects are at various levels of completion.
The Rise of the Nephilim
The Rise of the Nephilim is the first book of a series that I am starting in the fantasy fiction genre. I am really excited to be way ahead of schedule with a 60K word count in May. I was supposed to start it this week, but at the turn of a new month I was already ready to start writing, and it caught like wildfire. I plan on finishing the first draft by August, which would be way ahead of schedule. There is still so much to write! I am excited about it, and after I edit the prologue, I will be offering it on a tier of my Patreon account.
Angel on the Ward
It has been about a month since I finished the first draft of my novella entitled Angel on the Ward. This was the first piece I wrote in the third-person omniscient but with a single POV. I already have a copy editor ready to look at this piece, and what I need now is the money. It always seems to work itself out, but right now, this project is in the editing phase. The hope is to use this short novella to help boost my Patreon account so that I can continue to grow a following.
Memory of Shane
Perhaps the most frustrating this is that I have a fantastic screenplay (totally my opinion) and I can’t find an agent. No agency takes unsolicited material, so I am stuck trying to go a different rout–look for a producer that will be interested in my screenplay and to enter screenplay competitions. If you know anyone in the business (Hollywood), please let me know, I want to get my screenplay out there in the world. I will be completing the first draft of the novel this year.
That is my update. I plan on writing a lot of blog posts the rest of the week so that I can make sure that things pick up on this blog.
One of the things I loved about blogging is the ability to share my experiences and love for many different things with my followers. One of those things is my love for music. I can’t imagine a world without music, and I listen to music every day of my life. One of the things that started here on The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog was the idea of sharing music that changes my mood. This is coming at a good time as a recent bout of depression and doubts have flooded my mind of late. So here are some music that changes my mood.
A Look at Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety
Imagine for a moment. Every second of your existence is a struggle. The struggle is with fear, rituals, anxiety, and depression. It has always been a part of your life. A part of your existence. You have no idea what or why things happen to you. This was the life that Julia Cirignano— from Boston, Massachusett has lived. It was the before her diagnosis life started Julia struggled, something that many in the mental illness community can relate.
“My diagosis with anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder came in high school. I have dealt with the symptoms my whole life.”
Like many in the community she struggled in high school, and it was in this time that Julia received a diagnosis in high school. It has always been hard for Julia to remember a time of peace. A life without an illness. In a life of constant ups and downs it was in high school while seeing a therapist that Julia first found a diagnosis.
The high school years of Julia Cirignano were the darkest of times in her life. It was also her lowest point. The daily struggle for Julia is to find balance in her self-care and in all aspects of her life.
“While I do use medication, one of the biggest things that helped me was focusing on the things I love,” Julia expains. “From a young age, I had a passion for horses, literature, music, animals in general, and more.”
Julia finds solace in her activities and it helps to keep balance in her mental health. Julia keeps her body fit, with boxing, working out, and staying productive. Along with eating well, Julia believes that keeping fit helps keep her mentally fit.
A single day with OCD and anxiety can be difficult for Julia. The key is to take each day as it is, and always stay busy.
“In my day-to-day, I try and keep myself busy because that keeps me happy,” she explains. “Accomplishing chores, no matter how big or small, gives me satisfaction. Nights are hard, like they are for almost everyone with mental illness. I drink tea and smoke weed to help with that.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Julia in the past. It was not uncommon for her dwell on the negative aspects of her mental illness. At the same time her illness has made her an empathetic person.
“Some people may call me sensitive. I like to think of myself as a person who sees and feels all that’s happenings around them,” Julia explains. “I am affected by the energy around me, which is hard in the negative world we live in. I try to put myself in the best situations possible.”
Julia has learned many positive things in her journey. She wanted to share some of that wisdom with the mental illness community. What Julia has learned is to channel the strengths that her mental disability has given her.
“Yes. There are ways in which it has slowed you down,” Julia explains. “But, everyone (no matter if you struggle with mental illness or not) has to figure out their strengths as a human. I believe that with weakness comes great strength. I believe in opposites. I believe that when you hit rock bottom, you’re there to push off and bounce back to even better, richer highs.”
Julia has written a blog not so much for mental health but for writing. Julia recently self-published a book of poetry called White Wine and Medical Marijuana. It was an extremely personal book for her to write. Writing in Julia’s life is theraputic, and it comes as second nature in her life.
“For me. It was more uncomfortable and anxiety provoking to publish my book for my loved ones to see. The process of writing comes easy. It’s easy for me to publish and promote my work to people I’ve never met,” she explains. My fellow writers, or people who can relate to my mental illness. It’s hard to hand my book to people who know me well – especially if they don’t deal with mental illness themselves.”
For Julia, most people didn’t know the internal struggle with her mental illness. It was hard to show the ones Julia loves most in this world her book. In the end it was a positive thing. It brought Julia closer to her family.
The things that make life worth living for Julia are the people and pets in her life. “My family. My horse. My friends. Chocolate. Steak. Mashed potatoes. Ice cream. Books. My Bed.” In this mental illness life we have to find some peace. Julia has come a long way but she is right with her mental health.
I always love to write these interview feature article about members of the community of bloggers that discuss mental illness. Julia has taught us in her journey and her story that with the right attitude you can find acceptance in your diagnosis. It was an honor to write another interview feature.
I’ve lived with depression and anxiety my entire life so I understand the ups and downs of mental illness well. There are days when all things are fine then others where I wonder if getting out of bed is even worth it.
Right now I’m in a good spot mentally. It’s nice to have that moment to breathe in the fresh air of mental stability. The past few weeks have been lovely because I’ve had the opportunity to celebrate all of the family members I love.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on my journey and have been asking myself how long can I keep it together. I wonder how long will it be before I’m crying under my covers in bed because of my illness. I am worried about how long I’ll be able to stay clean from self-harm.
These spells of mental stability don’t last forever. Eventually I will fall back into my struggles. But how bad will it be next time? How soon should I prepare myself for when everything goes to shit?
Though my overall mind is calm, anxiety still tries to claw its way through my brain so I start worrying again. Then depression is right behind to try and drag me down from the weight of my thoughts.
I worry that my next episode will be miserable. I worry that I won’t be able to keep it together.
How do you keep it together when you feel like you’re crumbling into a million pieces?
Yesterday I turned 26 years old. I had an absolutely wonderful day spent with my family and my boyfriend. There was nothing lavish or anything but it was time well spent and I felt appreciated by everyone.
One of my love languages is quality time so getting to spend time with the people I’m closest with was awesome.
It is amazing how a few years can change your perspective about life.
I remember when I turned 24 I reflected upon how I was celebrating my birthday while I struggled each day to live. This happened towards the end of my 7-month severe depressive episode, I had no idea that my suicidal thoughts were going to soon be quiet.
I thought to myself, “This is so odd. How can I celebrate my life when all I want to do is die?”
Soon after April 13, 2017, I found the right antidepressants and was finally able to attend therapy only once a week instead of twice. I got a new job plus a side gig that cut my stress level by over half.
I fell in love when I thought I never would again.
Later that year I got to see the most beautiful sunset ever in Las Vegas and go to the desert in California (two places I had never been before).
Right now my mental health is doing pretty well so in this reflection, I am glad that I didn’t kill myself. I’m glad that there was a light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.
If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, I hope that this post gives you perspective. In the moment you think that life will never get better. But it does.