Taylor’s Interview Feature

Many of us in the mental illness community can trace our “story” from the very beginnings, and many stories start when we were teenagers. In my own experience when I was a teenager, I never wanted people to know, or to tell my story. I wonder all the time what would have happened if had gotten help as a teenager? That is what makes Taylor’s story— a young woman from Knoxville, Tennessee— all the more amazing. At age nineteen Taylor has already been through so much, and yet she was willing the be featured on the Bipolar Writer blog, this is Taylor’s story. One we can all learn a few things from her journey.

(Taylor’s blog) https://taysblog2017.com/

Taylor’s Interview Feature

When a journey begins, it is usually at the point where life and mental illness starts crashing into one another. Taylor’s journey begins four years ago in 2014, with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety. In October 2014, Taylor attempted suicide for the first time by trying to overdose on 105 painkillers.

“I sent one of my best friends a suicide note, through text, expecting not to wake up the next morning,” Taylor explains. “To my disappointment, at the time, I did wake up.”

The next day Taylor’s friend, believing that her friend had committed suicide, was hysterical. Taylor’s other friends were clueless as to why her friend was crying hysterically, and it was at this moment that she told her friends what she had done.

“They ended up telling my guidance counselor because I told them I did plan on doing it again and no one was going to stop me. I was so sick mentally that I couldn’t see past the darkness.”

Taylor looks at her life before her illness with so much light. It was a time of happiness being surrounded by family and friends. Life was more natural when Taylor had the coping mechanisms to deal with life, it was a life where she found goodness in everything. Then, what seemed so sudden, life was changing. It reached a point where Taylor couldn’t take it anymore.

“By that, I mean, I couldn’t just smile every time I had a personal problem and acknowledge them,” Taylor talks about the experience. “My problems became more frequent, and I couldn’t handle all the negative changes in my life, all at once. I just had enough, and I didn’t know how to cope with it.”

0A168A00-8D67-430F-A0C1-A0AF7CB75F61.jpeg

Taylor describes life before her mental illness like a sugar rush, and when it became too much, she crashed. It became a deterioration of her mental illness, and it led her to suicide.

To get through a single day, Taylor turns to her faith and talks to God. Taylor is very religious, and she grew up with her father as a preacher and now a pastor. It helps Taylor to connect with her parents daily because they serve as her closest confidants and best friends— especially her mother.

“I am so greatful for the constant pushes they give me everyday to be productive, eat, and take my medicine. The simple things.”

Every day is a constant battle for Taylor with herself. At a level, Taylor wants to get better, but the motivation to do anything on any given day can seem impossible at times. When she isn’t in class, you can often find Taylor sleeping in bed. It is physically hard most days for Taylor to put her feet on the ground. Just to get ready for school is exhausting because Taylor finds herself once again in the throes of not being mental well in the present.

B4B2E2EF-112B-4EC3-9AF8-620AC9DB3F36.jpeg

“I am nineteen-years-old and my parents still have to call me and remind me to take my medicine otherwise I won’t,” Taylor explains about taking her medication. “Not because I don’t want to get better, but because I don’t like the way it makes me physically feel when I take my medication. I feel sick and lethargic when I take my medicine, but I also feel happy and satisfied. It is a constant battle of wanting to feel good physically or mentally.”

At only nineteen, mental illness has already changed Taylor, and she has grown accustomed to being alone. It makes her less social and more of a hardcore introvert when the Taylor before was more extrovert. It is easier in her life to be extremely antisocial, and Taylor often finds herself doing things on her own.

The struggle to deal with life with a mental illness can be severe for a young woman still trying to find her place in this world. It has resulted in the loss of many of her friends because it is easier for Taylor to push people away because of the constant ups and downs of her struggles. Taylor understands that this is a part of her life now, but it is never easy.

There is one positive thing that Taylor wanted to share in this interview feature:

”I want the mental illness community to know that it is okay to not be okay. I have had to learn that myself. People with mental illnesses already see themselves as a burden, so they don’t press their issues on others causing a buildup within themselves until they just snap. We can only handle so much. I want this community to know if they or someone they know are not feeling like themselves lately please seek help and talk to someone. I am always here anyone and everyone— always,” Taylor explains.

Taylor has discovered the therapeutic feeling of writing her feelings and thoughts within the confines of her blog. It is fantastic for Taylor to share her thoughts and help others like herself being young in this mental illness life. In her own experiences, Taylor expresses the wish that she had someone in her darkest of hours.

“Whenever I am having a bad day, I focus on my blog, or ways I can advocate for mental health. I want to help someone who is possibly on the verge of ending their own life. My overall goal is to help people while also helping myself. I do that by acknowledging my own struggles, pain, and letting others know it is okay to do so.”

Taylor is thankful for the people in her life that make living worth it in the end, and her family and friends mean the world. It brings Taylor to tears thinking about the family and friends that stuck around helping her become a better version of herself. Taylor is forever thankful for those people.

“I am also a huge fan of Scandals lead actress Kerry Washington and singer Beyoncé,” Taylor explains about things that make life worth living. “I know it sounds silly, but Kerry’s advocacy and how she lights up a room every time she steps it has helped me so much in my recovery. Beyoncé’s music has soothed me and has made me feel empowered in more ways than one.”

It would not be the last time that Taylor has tried to take her life since 2014. On some occasions during the previous four years, Taylor has found herself in the hospital after a suicide attempt. On her, last suicide attempt, in particular, landed Taylor in intensive outpatient therapy which has been her start to the road to recovery. Taylor expresses that she is grateful for her last suicide attempt because she survived— its another chance at redemption and recovery.

405B4611-D952-4DA6-BD73-1D944C047123.jpeg

You can find more on Taylor on her blog:

I always take great care to share a story on one of my fellow mental illness bloggers and Taylor’s story is one that needs to be told. The fact that Taylor is so young and is finding her way in this mental illness life makes for a fantastic story. I know in my heart that we will hear great things from Taylor in the future.

Interviewee: Taylor

Interviewer: James Edgar Skye

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

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoARTP

unsplash-logoJordan Bauer

unsplash-logoAlexander Lam

Does Bipolar Disorder Run in Families?

 

I can trace Bipolar disorder in my family in at least three generations on my family tree. It’s interesting looking at my own tree, it feels like walking through a forest. Every tree is a little bit different, but they share parts of the same family. I have no idea if that made sense.  

I have and never will claim to be a professional in the realm of psychology and to treat mental illnesses on a professional level. My area of expertise comes in what I have experienced in my own life and what I have learned about myself over the years. So when I say, Bipolar disorder runs in my own family, at least one side of my family tree, I say this because it’s what I have come to realize over the years.

I want to start by talking about my biological father. I say “biological father” out of habit. He was never a real part of my life, and I was raised by my father (who is technically my stepfather.) The man who raised me might not be my father biologically, but he is the one person I have always called father (I honor this man by using his first name as the first name in my pen name, James Edgar Skye.) I note this because I don’t want confusion if the topic of my biological father comes up in later blog posts.

People always say that I look like my biological father and considering the resemblance it makes sense. What I know about my biological father is that he has had issues in his own life. I remember him mostly through the stories my mom told me, she married my biological father and loved him at one point, and stories about his own struggles with depression are similar to my own. Stories of being in the bathroom with a gun to his head wanting to end his life. The same issues that he dealt with in his life, and I would assume still does, mirror my own problems. We both at some point in our lives wanted to end it all.

It was only a few years after I started to get better where mom helped me make the parallel connections of my own struggles with that of my biological father. She would tell me stories of the time he locked himself in the bathroom with a gun to his head wanting to end his life. The same issues that he dealt with in his life, and I would assume still does, mirror my own problems. We both at some point in our lives wanted to end it all.

It goes deeper than that because unlike myself who has been treated for my issues over the years my father and other family members have not gotten help. My grandfather had issues with uncontrollable anger, and I can find parallels to when I turned to rage when I am in a manic episode. Hearing the stories about my father and my grandfather has helped me make connections to my own experiences and to my belief that Bipolar disorder is hereditary in my family.

I know it comes from one side of my family tree and not the other. I also have a select few of relatives from this family tree that have also sought treatment for the Bipolar disorder. It is a real issue that affects multiple people in my family, and it makes sense to believe that Bipolar One something that can follow similar patterns with a family tree.

I decided this would be a great subject to write about in blog post because it’s something that I often talk about with others I have met with a mental illness. Even the professionals, my psychiatrists, and my therapist have told me over the course my diagnosis this is possible. I think anyone with the disease Bipolar disorder should look at their own family tree, it might a great way to connect with other people you know within your family and better understand their own experiences.

On this subject, I know more about Bipolar disorder than other family connections to other mental illnesses. I am curious to see what people comment on this blog post.

I think the other side of it that no matter the reality that Bipolar disorder is something that can run in families is that, while we learn from the experiences of others, it is also true that our experience and expertise is in our own journey. It’s great to look at outside sources to better understand our journey because we can identify our own struggles in the struggles of others but never forget your own journey.

I have been reflecting so much over last few months on my own journey that a post like this makes sense to write about here where I am have been sharing my life. Knowing that Bipolar disorder might be something that can affect other people within my own blood makes me wary of the future. The big question becomes, could I pass this on to my own children?

It’s a scary thought and one that often comes to mind when I think about my future. If I found someone that I connected to at such a level that we would have children, I would always have this thought in mind. It haunts me because it is a scary thing passing what is wrong with me to another human being.

For so long I always figured having children is probably not in the cards for me, I still think this is true, but it comes from a specific place. It may be true that I could pass on the Bipolar trait so to speak, and that would be the safest path to follow not to procreate. These thoughts don’t pop up often since my diagnosis. It is why my relationships have never really lasted. I am terrified of the life I have lived and the possibility of passing on my history.

It’s funny though, the more open I have been over the last year, and especially the last few months I have seen what just opening up my again has brought me. Real connections. For so long I have been disconnected from the real world because it was easier to go into my introverted personality and hide there for the rest of my life. Writing about my journey has never been an easy task, and knowing that my life is more open will undoubtedly change my perspective on relationships in the future. But I can’t shake the real fear that someday I could pass being Bipolar to another.

I think change is good. Now that I have written about my own belief that Bipolar disorder is something that runs in my family I can have a better perspective on life.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Matt Antonioli

 

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

Yesterday

Yesterday I met with my new counselor and she thinks along with me that I may have an underlying anxiety disorder that has been missed by a number of psychiatrists and therapists. She couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in the past. To be perfectly honest I believe that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I have anxiety about everything and nothing seems to calm it down. Now I know that some of my anxiety comes from the fact that my husband has started a job in the past few weeks and that is bringing its own anxiety but I don’t understand why I am panicking at work.

I have never panicked at work until last week. Yes, I have been stressed out a lot lately but what does that have to do with my anxiety. I can’t live like this anymore. I feel like no matter what I do that anxiety follows me everywhere. It follows me to places that I haven’t been and to places that bring back happy memories. Even as I write this I can feel the anxiety creeping up because I am in a big house by myself humanly speaking. I mean I have my three dogs with me but I need someone to bounce ideas off of to make life easier for everyone around me.

We had talked about my parents and how they just don’t care about anything that I do. They care more about my brother than they do me. They have never cared about what I did because my brother would always get the last word, scream, presence, and gesture in. I will always feel like the black sheep of the family. I was the scapegoat for everyone’s problems. I was the glue that held everyone together. No matter what I did I was always wrong. For those of you going through the same thing or even have gone through the same thing please tell me how you got or are getting through this difficult time.

The past week

The other day I found out that my counselor had to quit her job and her last day is the 20th. she had decided to move on from her job as community mental health professional. I thought that she would at least be my counselor till I was finished with treatment. Although she is changing jobs I’m very upset with her. I have borderline personality disorder (bpd) and i struggle with people just up and leaving me. I’ve had this problem since I was younger. I’ve lost many counselors to changing jobs or insurance not paying for my treatment. I hate losing counselors. I get to become friends with my counselor until the end of my treatment. 

I get connected to my counselors in a professional sense. I can’t become friends with them outside of the sessions we have. I just feel left alone with her leaving me in the hands of another counselor that i haven’t even met. I’m scared that I’m going to clash with my new counselor. I don’t want my case to be left in the hands of someone else. I’m scared that they’ll screw me up worse than I already am. 

On top of all of this I found out last week that my boss was leaving the store I work at to another store in the company. I’m scared and nervous about this too. I’m mostly worried that I’m not going to get along with the new boss. I’m afraid that I’m going to quit or get fired, because I’m screwing something up or because I don’t work well with the new store manager of my store. I don’t want to lose this job. I don’t want to lose my counselor. I don’t want to lose anything.

I feel like they’ve decided to take other jobs to themselves. I don’t mind people wanting to better themselves, but I have BPD and struggle with people leaving me. I don’t want to lose anything or anyone. I especially don’t want to lose any of the professionals in my life. Losing anyone on my team would be devastating to me and I’m losing two people from my team. I’m scared the new people on my team will be snobs or not caring. I’m used to people not caring that are outside of my team. So someone new coming on to my team without the old people telling them what is going on with me is a little scary for me.

Voice for the Voices

I have an older brother who is just under a year older than me.  My mother always reassuringly tells me how she felt suicidal when she found out she was pregnant with me when he was that little.  That never mattered to him or I.  He used to come and lay down underneath my cot, tap for my bottle, take a sip, and pass it back.  When we got a little older, “we” levelled up, and he would go and exchange the milk for guava juice.  When we went to pre-school, he boisterously protected me on the playground, sealed my juice bottle after lunch, and dutifully sat me down in my row when the bell had gone.  But that was a very long time ago.

Since then, we’ve both been diagnosed, and tried to live with our mental illness, as best we could.  Sometimes it wasn’t best.  But I think what’s common is that we both didn’t know how.  No-one in my opinion has written a definitive guide on how to deal with scary hallucinations, voices, moods, anxiety, and all that other glorious stuff the mental illness Pandora’s Box throws your way.  Oh yes, and then there’s that practical thing of needing to eat chocolate, cigarettes and food (in that order) which you have to pay for, with a job, with mental illness.  And neither him nor I are able to do that at the moment for very, very different reasons.

He is currently in prison for a crime, well, he so painfully regrets that he cannot sleep, eat or be himself anymore.  I walked into the prison waiting room, and saw him there, saw my little brother with the badly knitted cable jersey my Mom had made, ready to close my juice bottle – and he shouldn’t be in prison.  Not him, not anyone with mental illness.  I asked him a little about the conditions and his eyes glazed over slightly.  What he did tell me was a refined version.  Was a version that I could not stomach, but that he had watered down for me.  I think tried to water down for him.

He has access to a psychiatrist once every three months, a psychologist once a month, and a social worker who monitors his progress (but with a view to discussing whether he is eligible or not for parole).  He has access to medication sometimes.  And that medication makes him sleepy which means that he cannot protect himself at night.  So they take turns to keep watch in the cell and hopefully so thwart some of the impending violence that looms every minute, of every hour, of every day in prison.  They are allowed access to sunshine once a week if at all, and even then it’s for a few hours.  Exercise is walking around the cells for a while, and even then you have to be on alert.   Supper is six slices of dry bread, and if you can get money from outside, you can buy meat (from the Government supply) and hopefully go to the tuckshop.  It’s not guarenteed though that you will actually eventually consume what you buy.

And all this screamed to me that it was not about rehabilitating him,  It was not about promoting his mental health and goodness knows the human rights of any and everyone in that prison.  If people really understood mental illness – I can almost naseously laugh – they would know that we need no other bars, no other punishments, no other deprivations.  In closing, I saw an awesome picture.  It said: “You don’t have to be a voice for the voiceless.  You just have to pass the Mic”.  And I thought Yeah!!  After having seen my brother, understand what he and others go through I’ve changed my mind though.  I’ve got news for you.  Where they are – where I am – where people with mental illness are who are discriminated against and hurt – there is no voice, and there is no mic, there aren’t enough eyes, ears, and hearts that are dedicated to stopping what is happening.  Please help me change that.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

The Craziness of Mental Health

I’ve read about the mental healthcare systems abroad, some of the “things” that are available (like therapy) and thought a lot about ours.  I’m not suggesting that things are rosy everywhere else, but merely to reflect on the system we have here.  I live in South Africa and most of the laws and policies here are like Nelson Mandela authored.  We put the D in democracy and the humane into human rights, thereotically.  In practice, it doesn’t work that way.

For example, I once “trained” a group of women in a rural area in our country on the beautiful domestic violence act we have.  Thereotically the police can intervene, you can obtain a protection order, and again thereotically, be protected.  In your home.  In your house with your children.  They listened, dilligently took notes and smiled when I paused.  When I found their silence too much I asked why they weren’t talking / participating.  One of the older women stood up and said:  “The closest police station is at least 300 km away for most of us.  The court is even further.  And you’d be lucky if they serviced you on the same day, IF you have transport money to spare / get there.  We have our own act.  If your partner is threatening violence, we hang a certain item of clothing on the line, which means I need help.  The woman who sees it alerts others in the street, and we all come for “tea”.  We stay there, with endless conversation, until the situation is diffused. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  But that’s what really helps us”.

I kept quiet.  I was humbled by what these women went through and how they tried to help each other.  But that didn’t mean that they shouldn’t be helped more, and that resources and attention shouldn’t immediately be directed to make their lives better.  In the context of mental healthcare things are even more ominous.  There are people with chronic mental illness who died because they were dehydrated.  Yes, there were other factors, but dehydration?  Not being fed?  If I consider what it’s like to have mental illness and to die for these or ANY reasons just isn’t ok.  No matter how we try to dissect it.  If you don’t have the money for private health care (it cost me about 800 US Dollars for myself and my children on private medical aid per month) you will find that there aren’t any services that are responsive enough to cater for people with mental illness, no matter how ill they are.

For example, you can’t get into a psychiatric ward without being suicidal.  This based on my own and other people’s experience has meant that you need to have tried to commit suicide and required immediate hospitalisation / care.  Not if you were intending to.  No, preventative is nice.  We don’t (although there are a few attempts) have a sufficient suicide call in number for people who feel suicidal, or their families who are a concerned.  And I will not go onto describe the ambulance service, which as the rural women teacher taught me, is just not realistic in some parts of our country.   There are frequent drug stockouts, a lack of psychiatrists in the public health system and therapy is a luxury.

I have to face the reality of this system now.  I was retrenched and do not have the resources for private healthcare.  My psychiatrist costs $150 per session, my therapist $80 and private psychiatric hospitals (which are funnily still like jails) are thousands and thousands.  The implementation of our far-reaching mental healthcare act, like the domestic violence act is failing the people who it was designed to poetically protect.  And most people with mental illness do not in our country, have communities of support where they can hang the “I need help underpants” on the line.  We need to draw attention to the state of the system (or perhaps the lack of it), the way people with mental illness are treated and the services they are subjected to, and the not so silent genocide of people with mental illness in our country.  I intend to.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

Taylor’s Interview Feature

Many of us in the mental illness community can trace our “story” from the very beginnings, and many stories start when we were teenagers. In my own experience when I was a teenager, I never wanted people to know, or to tell my story. I wonder all the time what would have happened if had gotten help as a teenager? That is what makes Taylor’s story— a young woman from Knoxville, Tennessee— all the more amazing. At age nineteen Taylor has already been through so much, and yet she was willing the be featured on the Bipolar Writer blog, this is Taylor’s story. One we can all learn a few things from her journey.

(Taylor’s blog) https://taysblog2017.com/

Taylor’s Interview Feature

When a journey begins, it is usually at the point where life and mental illness starts crashing into one another. Taylor’s journey begins four years ago in 2014, with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety. In October 2014, Taylor attempted suicide for the first time by trying to overdose on 105 painkillers.

“I sent one of my best friends a suicide note, through text, expecting not to wake up the next morning,” Taylor explains. “To my disappointment, at the time, I did wake up.”

The next day Taylor’s friend, believing that her friend had committed suicide, was hysterical. Taylor’s other friends were clueless as to why her friend was crying hysterically, and it was at this moment that she told her friends what she had done.

“They ended up telling my guidance counselor because I told them I did plan on doing it again and no one was going to stop me. I was so sick mentally that I couldn’t see past the darkness.”

Taylor looks at her life before her illness with so much light. It was a time of happiness being surrounded by family and friends. Life was more natural when Taylor had the coping mechanisms to deal with life, it was a life where she found goodness in everything. Then, what seemed so sudden, life was changing. It reached a point where Taylor couldn’t take it anymore.

“By that, I mean, I couldn’t just smile every time I had a personal problem and acknowledge them,” Taylor talks about the experience. “My problems became more frequent, and I couldn’t handle all the negative changes in my life, all at once. I just had enough, and I didn’t know how to cope with it.”

0A168A00-8D67-430F-A0C1-A0AF7CB75F61.jpeg

Taylor describes life before her mental illness like a sugar rush, and when it became too much, she crashed. It became a deterioration of her mental illness, and it led her to suicide.

To get through a single day, Taylor turns to her faith and talks to God. Taylor is very religious, and she grew up with her father as a preacher and now a pastor. It helps Taylor to connect with her parents daily because they serve as her closest confidants and best friends— especially her mother.

“I am so greatful for the constant pushes they give me everyday to be productive, eat, and take my medicine. The simple things.”

Every day is a constant battle for Taylor with herself. At a level, Taylor wants to get better, but the motivation to do anything on any given day can seem impossible at times. When she isn’t in class, you can often find Taylor sleeping in bed. It is physically hard most days for Taylor to put her feet on the ground. Just to get ready for school is exhausting because Taylor finds herself once again in the throes of not being mental well in the present.

B4B2E2EF-112B-4EC3-9AF8-620AC9DB3F36.jpeg

“I am nineteen-years-old and my parents still have to call me and remind me to take my medicine otherwise I won’t,” Taylor explains about taking her medication. “Not because I don’t want to get better, but because I don’t like the way it makes me physically feel when I take my medication. I feel sick and lethargic when I take my medicine, but I also feel happy and satisfied. It is a constant battle of wanting to feel good physically or mentally.”

At only nineteen, mental illness has already changed Taylor, and she has grown accustomed to being alone. It makes her less social and more of a hardcore introvert when the Taylor before was more extrovert. It is easier in her life to be extremely antisocial, and Taylor often finds herself doing things on her own.

The struggle to deal with life with a mental illness can be severe for a young woman still trying to find her place in this world. It has resulted in the loss of many of her friends because it is easier for Taylor to push people away because of the constant ups and downs of her struggles. Taylor understands that this is a part of her life now, but it is never easy.

There is one positive thing that Taylor wanted to share in this interview feature:

”I want the mental illness community to know that it is okay to not be okay. I have had to learn that myself. People with mental illnesses already see themselves as a burden, so they don’t press their issues on others causing a buildup within themselves until they just snap. We can only handle so much. I want this community to know if they or someone they know are not feeling like themselves lately please seek help and talk to someone. I am always here anyone and everyone— always,” Taylor explains.

Taylor has discovered the therapeutic feeling of writing her feelings and thoughts within the confines of her blog. It is fantastic for Taylor to share her thoughts and help others like herself being young in this mental illness life. In her own experiences, Taylor expresses the wish that she had someone in her darkest of hours.

“Whenever I am having a bad day, I focus on my blog, or ways I can advocate for mental health. I want to help someone who is possibly on the verge of ending their own life. My overall goal is to help people while also helping myself. I do that by acknowledging my own struggles, pain, and letting others know it is okay to do so.”

Taylor is thankful for the people in her life that make living worth it in the end, and her family and friends mean the world. It brings Taylor to tears thinking about the family and friends that stuck around helping her become a better version of herself. Taylor is forever thankful for those people.

“I am also a huge fan of Scandals lead actress Kerry Washington and singer Beyoncé,” Taylor explains about things that make life worth living. “I know it sounds silly, but Kerry’s advocacy and how she lights up a room every time she steps it has helped me so much in my recovery. Beyoncé’s music has soothed me and has made me feel empowered in more ways than one.”

It would not be the last time that Taylor has tried to take her life since 2014. On some occasions during the previous four years, Taylor has found herself in the hospital after a suicide attempt. On her, last suicide attempt, in particular, landed Taylor in intensive outpatient therapy which has been her start to the road to recovery. Taylor expresses that she is grateful for her last suicide attempt because she survived— its another chance at redemption and recovery.

405B4611-D952-4DA6-BD73-1D944C047123.jpeg

You can find more on Taylor on her blog:

https://taysblog2017.com/

I always take great care to share a story on one of my fellow mental illness bloggers and Taylor’s story is one that needs to be told. The fact that Taylor is so young and is finding her way in this mental illness life makes for a fantastic story. I know in my heart that we will hear great things from Taylor in the future.

Interviewee: Taylor

Interviewer: James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoARTP

unsplash-logoJordan Bauer

unsplash-logoAlexander Lam

My Insomniac Life

I wanted to share a chapter from the first draft of my memoir. I have written about insomnia before but this is an extended version of what it is like in “My Insomniac Life.” I will admit this is a chapter so it is quite a long one.

The Insomniac Side of J.E. Skye

This is a long chapter, and I apologize for it being so. This might become a series as I start to work on my insomnia again.

Insomnia has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I like to joke with people that “it’s in my blood to not sleep.” But, it is a very serious issue in my life. You ask any professional they will tell you that good sleep is key to your mental health.

Unlike most of the things wrong with my life, like living with Bipolar disorder or my social anxiety, I have never felt in control of being an insomniac. I have been through several sleep studies in my life, but they never amount to actually helping me. I have worked on my sleep hygiene but, to no avail, it doesn’t really help me get to sleep. My biggest problem is the actual getting to sleep.

9FBFB916-CD15-456F-A450-4F27C1A8AF1F

I can remember growing up maybe eight or nine and not being able to sleep. Over the years it has become impossible to get to sleep without medication. I literally can’t remember the last time I could lay down and go to sleep without medication. I sometimes joke about this because I feel insecure about my sleep. If I really think about it, I spend more time at night trying to shut my brain off enough to get sleep, than actually getting to sleep. I have tried every sleeping medication on the market, both prescription and not, and at best they’re a temporary fix.

What has gotten me through the last few years is that I take the antipsychotic Seroquel to help with my Bipolar disorder and it is one medicine that can sleep. It’s the one medication that has been consistent in my life because it does a great job at shutting my brain down (although the side effects of having trouble getting out of bed as well as being in a constant haze have always been the worst.) Over the years my dosage of Seroquel has changed.

At one point in my life, I took that max dosage of Seroquel allowed for a patient at 600mg every night. This was early in my diagnoses in 2007, and it went like that for years. Most days that dosage got me to sleep, but the problem was that oversleeping became an issue. When I would oversleep, it would make it harder to sleep the next day. I became wildly inconsistent with my sleep, and sometimes I would go days without sleep even with the high dose of Seroquel.My days were spent mostly in a haze at least a few hours after waking. The drug is very powerful and I felt that sleep would be impossible without it.

Around 2012, when I was starting to get back to normal, and made the decision to go back to school was on the horizon. My doctor and I came up with a plan to find a workable dosage where I could still function. Eventually, we settled on a 300mg dose. It worked for three or four years and while I still got less than five hours of sleep, but at least it was something.

I should have realized last year that my sleep was starting to become a major issue again. There would be spurts of time over the last year where sleep was impossible at 300mg. My doctor at the time made the choice to give me options. I would get 100mg tablets and continue to take the 300mg dose with the option to go up to 600mg if needed.

It was slow, but the dosage over the last year has steadily increased. It started with 400mg to get me to sleep, and I would increase it to 500mg if needed. Sometimes it took that much but for the most part, 400mg was enough.

CAC97608-7B67-4093-8F44-094EF320069C.jpeg

Then this weekend happened. If I had known on Friday that my sleep would take a bad turn, I might have worked harder to get back down to my 300mg dosage in the weeks prior. By I digress.

It started Saturday. I knew I had to wake up around 5 am over the next couple days, so I figured why not go to sleep at a decent time? It normally takes me two hours from the time I take my Seroquel, to the time my mind shuts down so I can sleep. I took my normal 400mg and went to bed— early. I honestly tried to sleep. I was in total darkness, and I just laid there not feeling even a little tired.

I figured it was a night for another single dose so I did that, and still sleep escaped me. Hours had started to pass and I started to panic that I wouldn’t get enough sleep, it turns out that was the least of my worries. Around 2 am, I decided I had to get some sleep before waking up and did the unthinkable. for the first time in five years, I took a max dosage.

This story doesn’t get better. I didn’t sleep that night/morning and still had to get up to be normal. I had to do the things that were planned. I was exhausted. I felt heavy. The worst part is, it was about to get worse. By the time the evening rolled around, I could barely keep myself upright, and I figured why not try and sleep? My anxiety was at a very high level, and it was already in my head things were only going to get worse.

I tried to go long into the night before taking my medication, but I finally had enough around 6 pm. I took my regular dose, and I was barely aware of my surroundings. I laid down with the hope of falling asleep, and for some reason that woke me up. I lay there in my bed once again my thoughts racing faster than the day before. It had been close to 36 hours since I last slept. After an hour, I upped my dosage to 500mg. After two more hours of lying there, I took one more dose. After almost 40 hours, sleep finally consumed me.

This is where I find myself today. I am depressed about this because of it such a major deal and its finals this week. I am worried that tonight will be another step in the wrong direction with my sleep. I have no choice but to really work on my CBT today so that there is a hope to get my mind right. I have to get my mind right.

Insomnia like depression never comes when life is good and nothing can bring you down. It comes when your mental health has taken a beating you are failing to recognize the symptoms and even the triggers. When I am overworked I tend to forgo the things that help me get by. CBT, meditation, or using my heat lamp in the mornings. When my routine starts to change like waking up later and later each day.

Your body always gives you signs. It does that to protect itself from total collapse. Considering what I have put my body through over the last ten years, my body is well versed in what is wrong. I implore you in this mental illness life to take a moment each day and assess where you at with your health. How many hours did you sleep? There is often a correlation between sleeping less and less each night and when my social anxiety starts to spiral.

Sometimes in this life, all three hit me at once. My social anxiety, depression, and anxiety. This is what I call my worst case scenario because it takes its toll. For me, it starts with sleep. The less I get, the more issues I have in my day. I still don’t have it exactly right. I am weary that Insomnia will always be a part of my life.

7706EB5A-1726-4BC6-B71A-9907CC4B957C.jpeg

Many of the conversations that I have with my therapist when my social anxiety is spiraling is how is your sleep? Insomnia can be a dangerous thing. I remember before all my sleeping medications and Seroquel that I would go days without real sleep. I once almost made it to six days before exhaustion caught up.
In those times my thoughts would race for days. I couldn’t tell you how I functioned and in many ways, I didn’t. I would do what I could to occupy my time. Playing video games often helped me. Watching DVD’s for hours on end (this was before the whole Netflix thing.) I would lay there in the darkness for hours until the morning light reached through my window to tell me it was another day. The worse my sleep got the worse my other things like depression got.

In my chapters about my suicides, you find that insomnia is tied into each one. My sleep was so bad at one point that I took a sleeping aid on top of the Seroquel. The thing is, medication only works for so long. In about seven years I went through every sleep aid my psychiatrist could give me. Eventually, they stopped helping.

My battle with insomnia has been a really long one, and it seems one that I will bring with me for the rest of my life. Maybe one day I will find a better way of managing those two-three hours it takes me each night to get to sleep. My point is sleep is the most important part of the mental health recovery process. If you struggle with it and haven’t sought help, there are many resources available to you.

Always Keep Fighting

James Edgar Skye

 

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoToa Heftiba

unsplash-logoAlessio Lin

unsplash-logoMike Boening

The Long Road to Betterment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eve’s Interview Feature

The Journey to Recovery

Recovery. It’s where each of us in the mental illness community strives to reach in our lives. It can feel impossible at times because with a mental illness often comes other issues. Rarely are we lucky enough to have one aspect of a mental illness, and that is it, but recovery is possible. Ask Eve from, Louisiana.

“I would like to share that recovery from a mental illness is possible. I would also like the community to be aware of co-occurring disorders. They need treatment to heal. There is a light to reach towards.”

In this journey, Eve first found herself in the chaos of life That has never been an easy one for her. Before her diagnosis, Eve was an active alcoholic that was living life on the edge, and not surviving it at all. Alcoholism is never good mixes well with a mental illness.

“I lost my mind late August 2012,” Eve recalls. “I was suicidal and extremely sick. I had a breakdown at the age of 33. I was admitted to the hospital under the impression I was going for a detox.”

It became more than that for Eve, as her doctors put her into the psychiatric ward. This was one of three different psych ward admissions that Eve would have no choice but to endure. In mind of Eve had lost herself, and it felt as if it would be that way forever. Like many of us, Eve became hopeless in the constant ups and downs of her growing mental illness.

Eve did what she could to survive often finding herself at the bottom of a bottle. Drinking became a way to function for Eve, and she drank to sleep, to work, and to function daily. When combined with her ever-growing depression it became a deadly spiral for Eve. It almost ended Eve for good.

“I will have three years sobriety in April of 2018.”

paola-chaaya-151131.jpg

Over the years Eve has endured a long procession of diagnoses. For Eve her diagnosis has been Major Depressive Disorder with anxiety. In January of 2017 Eve received her current diagnosis of Bipolar with anxiety and mild OCD. Eve has what her doctors describe as co-occurring disabilities.

A person with a mental illness often finds themselves lost in the daily struggle, and it is no different for Eve. In her life, Eve has found ways to cope with the daily struggles.

“I am able to record my moods, track them, and prepare myself for cycling,” Eve explains her struggles. “I began a new medication in September of 2017, a mood stabilizer. It has given me my life back.”

Eve now considers herself in recovery from her diagnosis of Bipolar disorder. There is no actual cure for Bipolar disorder. Eve finds comfort in this positive thinking that recovery is possible. She is living proof that it is true.

Still, Eve works very hard each day to continue her recovery. In the good days of Eve’s life, she is always smiling, and she knows that smiling is important. In the days that she can’t function she has to work harder. With her current medication, the hard days are becoming fewer and fewer.

Being Bipolar effects Eve’s life because of the unstable nature of the disease.

“You can not maintain balance without stability,” Eve explains. “And my source of stability is broken. I aim to achieve some form of balance, as much as possible. I go from one extreme to the next. My brain just doesn‘t work like others, making it difficult to communicate my perspective.”

Eve has found solace in writing her mental health blog. It has become a platform for Eve to discuss the extreme moods that she experiences. It has done wonders in her life. Eve through her blog has received validation and encouragement from her fellow bloggers. For Eve, talking about her journey has meant that she is in the recovery healing process.

In her life, Eve has found the good place and blogging has been a major factor. Eve has found the little things in life that make life worth living for her.

”My daughter makes life worth living, my family, a few friends, and a will to live,” Eve talks about the present. “I have not wanted to live a lot in my life, So giving myself credit, my will feels great. I am worthy of life.”

angelo-pantazis-266679.jpg

Eve has an amazing will to live and a spirit of recovery we can all look at as a positive thing. Eve has proven that with the right attitude we can start to recover from our mental illness. What amazes me about Eve is that besides having a mental illness she is fighting alcoholism. It is as if she is fighting multiple wars in her own life.

If you would like to learn more about Eve you can find her on her blog.

https://revengeofeveforeveranonymous.wordpress.com

Interviewee: Eve

Author: James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoBenjamin Combs

unsplash-logoPaola Chaaya

unsplash-logoAngelo Pantazis