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. 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. 

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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: What's Going On? Why I've Been Missing The Bipolar Writer Podcast

Episode description This is a catch-up episode of where James is right now as we head towards the end of June 2021. Catch up with James and learn the new journey he has been on over the year.  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 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: What's Going On? Why I've Been Missing
  2. The Energy Leadership Index (ELI) Assessment
  3. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Alaina
  4. The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Colleen
  5. Bullying and Mental Health

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.

My Journey to Stability, Pt. 2

“…you’re the spawn of the Devil!” 

After watching the pictures fly across the room, my husband turned back to his screen, acting unfazed by my actions or words.  His response, or lack thereof, only confirmed my decision; I had to reveal him to the world as the true demon he was to me. Red flags waved the last four years, but I brushed them away, creating excuses for his behavior and words. He was a narcissistic bastard taking advantage of my ignorance. For all those years, I blamed myself for everything he did said, convincing myself it was my fault for the way he treated me. I needed to learn my place in his sick world. Being young and naive, I did not realize how I was being manipulated by someone who was supposed to love me.  

I wanted to scream, but the sound never left my throat. Instead, I staggered over to my chair, sitting down with an obscene lack of grace and nearly toppling over. My desk was a mess, but what I was looking for was within easy reach. The Jameson thudded against the wood as I snatched up a white bottle. Effexor was the anti-depressant I was prescribed after a questionnaire was given to me for the Bipolar diagnostic process in 2007, of which it was determined I had Major Depression, not Bipolar Disorder. Several attempts to find a medication were made to help me feel somewhat normal. None of them worked, but I stuck with Effexor despite the roller coaster. 

By Shara Adams

I did not feel suicidal, but the world needed to open its eyes and see him for who he was. The world needed to see me, to save me from the hell I was living. Rising to my feet, I opened the white bottle and poured out a handful pills. I reached for the Jameson without counting the capsules and set my reserve; I knew what I had to do to save myself and destroy him. My shoulders rolled back with determination, but my thoughts remained a jumbled mess from the alcohol and my inundated emotions. The world was spinning, and I did not know what to think or feel. All I knew was I had to escape the pathetic excuse of a man. 

“Is this what you wanted?” 

Turning to face me, I smirked with satisfaction. I had his full undivided attention, for once. The impact I planned on having with my actions, played over and over in my head. I did not know what was going to happen, and my mind did not consider the consequences which were possible. Blinded by the potential freedom, I could not back away from my decision. As I held the pills in my hand with a drink in the other, I threw them all to the back of my throat and followed them with the last of the Jameson.

Relief washed over me as I sat back down, ignoring him. I felt I had done the right thing, but after several minutes, the world started to disappear and I began to question myself – like always. I tried to blame it on the entire bottle of liquor, which I had consumed in a matter of a few hours. About ten minutes later, a knock on our apartment door brought the light back, but I could not move. Before I reached the count of three, five to six people swarmed into our small space and surrounded me both physically and verbally. I was confused as to who they were, why they were here, and what they were asking, but I responded to their probing questions as best I could. The realization hit me like a brick after several questions: they were paramedics.

My husband had called 911. For once in his life, he may have done the right thing.

By Shara Adams

More stories can be found at pennedinwhite.com

A Special Thank You to my Friends & Family

Right now I’m at a period of my life where I’ve been focusing more and more on my own inner work & personal development. It’s something I neglected and put off for far too long. I held the belief that if I pushed away the painful memories & experiences I could forget about them forever. I’ve learned though, that’s not the truth. At some point they will resurface and force you to deal with them.

For being 23 years old I feel I have experienced so much already in my lifetime. I grew up in an abusive household for almost 18 years being abused by my mother on a daily basis. I was sexually assaulted at the age of 19. I struggled with an alcohol addiction during that period as well. I hit rock bottom and almost killed myself. I was hospitalized for my mental illness. I was in & out of depressive episodes along with manic episodes. It was only two years ago when I got the help I needed & became stable again.

During the years when I was away at college and struggled with my alcohol addiction I stopped caring about the others around me. I stopped caring when my friends voiced their concerns about me and wanted to help me. My actions became careless and reckless that cost me friendships at that time.

I think back and wonder that if I did listen to them or if I showed more compassion maybe some of those people would still be in my life. I wonder that if I didn’t struggle with alcohol and mental illness that some of those people would still be in my life. It also showed me, who my true friends were, the ones who stuck by me through it all and are still in my life today.

It’s why I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to my family and closest friends who stuck by me through my darkest moments. I thank you for not giving up on me when I was at my lowest points. I thank you for not getting mad or leaving when I wouldn’t listen to your advice. I thank you for always being there to support and show me love even when I didn’t want to receive it.

I believe it’s always through our darkest struggles and moments that shows us the people in our lives who truly care. It strengthens us to rise up even higher than before. So again, thank you to all those who showed me support and love through my darkest moments.

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A Dark Time in my Life

Three years ago I made a decision that has been, for the most part, a smart choice–I quit drinking.

I love drinking, and whiskey is my drink of choice (I prefer Jameson Irish Whiskey.) I stopped drinking for a significant reason. I was using drinking as a way to keep the demons at bay. What was worse is that I drank in secret. I always had at least one bottle on my writing desk.

I was never much of a social drinker unless I was on vacation. Some of the funniest “James’ drinking stories” always ended with me not remembering what I had done. I would get blackout drunk. I always said it was “because I was young.”

The truth is, I got so used to the numb feeling that blackout drunk got me. It meant that for a while I could forget about the million things that went through my mind. I loved the feel. I didn’t realize how addicting that feeling was and it became an obsession.

In a particularly bad depression cycle in late 2014 to 2015 alcohol became a way to cope, and not in a good way. I tried to justify it as, “hey I am a writer, and writers always drink at the end of a good writing day.” It quickly became a way that I could sleep, albeit blackout drunk.

It got terrible at one point. I woke up one morning and realized that it was not helping my depression at all. I would wake up worse than the night before. It became a haze of not living and finding myself at the bottom of a bottle.

I knew it was a problem. I am not great at the whole group sharing experience, so I did what I know, I quit on my own. It was not easy. There were days where I fell of the proverbial wagon. Eventually, it got easier. I started to write daily. I kept a journal of my thoughts and daily things. I found ways and reasons to stay sober.

It is no surprise that it helped to start therapy, and get serious about getting treatment, that I found the will to quit. Since that time I had one beer, at my graduation party back in October, but that was it. I decided to write this post because of my recent depression. I wanted so bad to slip and buy a bottle of whiskey. I talked myself out of it, and I am glad. With everything going on in my life, it would be all bad to go down that road.

Anyway I hope that my story is a cautionary tale. Alcohol and mental illness is not a good combination. Stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

unsplash-logoJack Ward

unsplash-logoKasper Rasmussen

A Dark Time in my Life

Three years ago I made a decision that has been, for the most part, a smart choice–I quit drinking.

I love drinking, and whiskey is my drink of choice (I prefer Jameson Irish Whiskey.) I stopped drinking for a significant reason. I was using drinking as a way to keep the demons at bay. What was worse is that I drank in secret. I always had at least one bottle on my writing desk.

I was never much of a social drinker unless I was on vacation. Some of the funniest “James’ drinking stories” always ended with me not remembering what I had done. I would get blackout drunk. I always said it was “because I was young.”

The truth is, I got so used to the numb feeling that blackout drunk got me. It meant that for a while I could forget about the million things that went through my mind. I loved the feel. I didn’t realize how addicting that feeling was and it became an obsession.

In a particularly bad depression cycle in late 2014 to 2015 alcohol became a way to cope, and not in a good way. I tried to justify it as, “hey I am a writer, and writers always drink at the end of a good writing day.” It quickly became a way that I could sleep, albeit blackout drunk.

It got terrible at one point. I woke up one morning and realized that it was not helping my depression at all. I would wake up worse than the night before. It became a haze of not living and finding myself at the bottom of a bottle.

I knew it was a problem. I am not great at the whole group sharing experience, so I did what I know, I quit on my own. It was not easy. There were days where I fell of the proverbial wagon. Eventually, it got easier. I started to write daily. I kept a journal of my thoughts and daily things. I found ways and reasons to stay sober.

It is no surprise that it helped to start therapy, and get serious about getting treatment, that I found the will to quit. Since that time I had one beer, at my graduation party back in October, but that was it. I decided to write this post because of my recent depression. I wanted so bad to slip and buy a bottle of whiskey. I talked myself out of it, and I am glad. With everything going on in my life, it would be all bad to go down that road.

Anyway I hope that my story is a cautionary tale. Alcohol and mental illness is not a good combination. Stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

unsplash-logoJack Ward

unsplash-logoKasper Rasmussen

Mental Illness, Escapism, and Addiction

I have been on medication for my bipolar disorder – and depression before it – for a great number of years. The most recent cocktail of drugs has been the same since late 2015, when I nearly ended my own life, and it’s been keeping me pretty steady, as these things go. I’m not perfect, but the extremes of mood, the violent anger, and the crushing depressions are lessened, if not gone entirely.

I also drink. Not a lot – not every day – but when I drink, I usually drink too much. It’s contraindicated with my medications, but that doesn’t really mean much to me. I drink anyway. I drink, very specifically, to get drunk. I drink beer, I drink wine, I drink rum and scotch, and I drink quite deliberately, pacing myself over minutes and hours until I fall into a stupor in bed and sleep it off through the night.

I think, deep down, I’m somewhat of a hedonist. I don’t know if this comes from the depression or some other innate personality trait, but I am, for lack of a better phrase, a pleasure-seeker. I very much enjoy physical pleasure, and the sensation of drunkenness falls into this category for me. It’s a form of escapism that requires very little concentration or effort, and when it hits, I can just lie back and let it wash over me.

With medications keeping me level, why do I need escapism, you might ask. Why do I need a vehicle for altering my state of mind, when the whole point of the ‘official’ drugs is to keep my mind from entering that altered state in the first place?

I think a part of it is that I have conditioned myself over decades to avoid misery. I have been so miserable for so long that I instinctively gravitate to anything that feels good, happy or pleasurable. I have very little self-control in this regard; I don’t set rules for myself, like ‘you can have a drink after you do the dishes’; I just drink, and fuck the dishes.

Another part is, almost certainly, a dangerous level of chemical dependency. As I mentioned above, I don’t drink every day – but I do go through phases where I might drink daily for several weeks straight. I usually drink until I’m out of alcohol. It rapidly becomes habit. The same is true of other vices; I recently acquired a small amount of pot from a friend, and against my original intention of maybe once a weekend, I’ve been smoking three or four times a week.

This all leads me to question my behaviors, and the more fundamental motivations behind them. Do I smoke and drink because I’m miserable, because I’m addicted, or because I really kind of just … like it? Like all behavior affected by mental illness, it’s a difficult question to answer, because the very nature of mental illness is changed behaviors … but there comes a point where illness ends and addiction takes over.

I’m not an alcoholic; I know people who are, and I don’t ‘need’ booze to function. I’m not a drug addict; I don’t blow hundreds on weed, and I don’t smoke before, during and after work (for example). But I am dangerously close to this level of functional need, and I recognize it when the thing I look forward to at the end of the day is getting high and watching Family Guy reruns.

That’s usually when I stop – when I see the signs of tipping into the abyss, and take steps to right myself. So far I’ve always been able to come back from the brink, but I worry about one day …

Yet I continue anyway. I refuse to stop permanently. I refuse to relinquish the physical pleasures of drink and drugs. I don’t ‘need’ them, but I want them. Like, a lot.

And sometimes, I wonder if it’s really so bad. I’m aware of the long-term physical and mental changes and harm caused by alcohol and drug use, but I still can’t help believing that the immediate reward is worth it. Intellectually I know that liver damage, lung cancer and mental deterioration are some of the absolute worst ways to die, but emotionally … I kind of just don’t care. I’ve had people tell me that my health is all I have; I’ve heard the arguments before. But when your mental health fails you, you couldn’t care less about your physical health. And whilst the two are most definitely related, it’s difficult to have the second without the first.

That’s when I wonder if the escapism of physical pleasure isn’t worth it after all. The mental toll each day takes, whilst variable, is still a harsh one, and the ability to use a substance – of one kind or another – to forget it is dreadfully tempting. And I recognize this as a controversial perspective – why, you ask, don’t I deal with my problems instead of avoiding them – but I truly believe life is for living, and should be enjoyed daily, if at all possible.

What do you do, when your brain refuses to let you do just that? What do you do, when your own mind is a battleground of misery and despair? What happens when you wake up and simply can’t get out of bed? What is there to look forward to?

And in those trying times, is self-medication justifiable? Is it even self-medication at all – or just an excuse to escape from reality?

And is such escapism really so wrong?

The Woman of the Inn – A Sonnet

We met an age ago amidst a storm.

Her inn shone like a beacon in the night.

I longed for some relief, for some place warm.

The storm would pass and I’d leave at first light.

The lonely place was strangely filled with life.

A thousand men and women packed within.

And stranger still they all shared the same wife!

Each married to the woman of the inn.

I came to love her just like all the rest.

It was not long until we too were wed.

And I became so much more than a guest!

I didn’t care that life outside was dead.

Now I don’t feel a thing except remorse!

To hell with her!  It’s time for a divorce!

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