Fear is a Coward

Funny thing I notice about Fear. He’s big and bad and burly while he’s at home lurking in my what-ifs and what-mights. He pokes at my stomach until I’m nauseous. He pounds on my chest until I can’t breathe. He shakes me and rattles me until I’m dizzy. He yells at me until I’ve relived every negative event and conversation I’ve ever had. He laughs at me as I make up reasons why I can’t, I shouldn’t, I won’t. He looms over me as I cower in my corner of shame.

But then I do go. I do step out. I close my eyes and jump. The landing is not always soft and it’s not always smooth. But I never remember a time when Fear was there waiting for me. I jump. Fear flees. He hides out of sight while I dance, while I talk, while I collaborate – and all this with people who never turn out to be the bogeyman Fear led me to believe they were. And I don’t turn out to be the dunce Fear accuses me of being every day.

I accomplish and then I return home. Fear is hiding away, embarrassed to have been found out for the coward he is.

I go to bed. I’m sure Fear and I will meet again tomorrow, when he gets the nerve to come out again.

The Re-release of “The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir”

I have been working on getting back to this point. I am announcing that once again, The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir is finally available to buy once again on Amazon!

Working on getting my memoir republished all has been a humbling experience. So many hurdles came with republishing my memoir, but I learned a lot throughout the tribulations of these experiences. It is the same with being Bipolar–it is a learning experience. That is the essence of my book!

I will link to my author page below. If you purchased the first version of this book, you would notice that there is a different cover now. I wanted a fresh start with the cover design. I have put my book on Amazon in print and digital, if you want to purchase my book, please do from my author website page because there is a digital version of the old book still on Amazon. There are some old copies in print too, but those will not be under my name. I hope that the end of the week, the other digital copy from my publisher, finally takes off their edition. It takes time. Please purchase my with the cover above with the raven. I will be setting up some special offers for the re-release on Amazon!

Please purchase my memoir from my author website here!

Always Keep Fighting

James

Six Months of Silence from You  

Maybe I should be grateful you’ve disappeared from my life. Though it’s hard to think that way, you’ve been a friend since we were pre-teens. Our lives both treacherous, though yours more so. A horrible mother who abused you, a stepfather who cried when he saw you because you reminded him of his dead daughter, a sister who turned everything into gold.

I wanted to be there for you, and as kids, I helped you escape. We’d run through tunnels under the highway to play in the stream on the other side. Take boxes from the back of the supermarket to make forts as big as mansions. I helped you write Mike a note and put it in his mailbox so he’d know how cute he was. Then I ran with you when his mother caught us and yelled, “I better not see you girls messing around here again!”

High school divided us. Our social circles drastically changed and pulled us apart, but we still kept in touch. The first time you were sent to the “nuthouse,” as you called it, I got a phone call. I pictured you behind bars eating nothing but slop. I wanted to come to get you, but at fourteen there wasn’t much I could do but hate your mother alongside you. Before you were able to return to school your parents moved three hours. You vanished. It might as well have been the moon.

Silence grew between us for over a decade, but we reconnected on a random night at the beach. The crowd was rowdy and you hated being pushed around, so you left. I knew where to find you, walking alone on the beach. That night I knew we’d always been friends, even when we had distance between us. Off and on we’d see each other after this, and often email several times a day/week, depending on the reason.

We shared our anxieties and fears. The difference was I sought help and you remained in denial. I wanted to tell you what was working, but you wouldn’t hear of it. I let this slide, because I loved you.

At times you’d disappear, but I knew you’d come back when ready. We’d read each other’s stories and talk about the horrible and good things our husbands did. You’d tell me how proud you were to raise two boys, even though you never wanted kids. I cried to you when I couldn’t conceive, and you did your best to understand.

The years went by like this. We’d hug once or twice a year in person, your smile infectious and warm. Then it was all taken away when I saw you at your worst.

Paranoia struck you so hard. You called me in a panic, your voice quivered and you spoke with no brakes in your sentences. I’ve heard this before, only on mentally ill people that have gone beyond an immediate return point. The flags were waving, I begged you to go to call, email, text a professional for help. You continued to lay it on me though. Claiming stories so bazar I felt lost. I called in our mutual friend, who pushed you harder than I would to get help. You needed her, not me, but you didn’t want either of us. You claimed she wasn’t who she said she was, and that you would report her to the police.

My own anxiety rushed through my veins, tingling and frightening every second of my day. I absorbed your delusional ride and let it take me down until our mutual friend dragged me back.

We made a pact without you. We told ourselves we would give it one more push, involve your family, give you resources, but then we had to walk away. You were being so vicious I didn’t know you. I told myself it was your illness; I still know it was.

That was five months ago. I didn’t know where to go after that. You didn’t trust who I was. I walked away saving myself. Now I know nothing about you and every day it kills me.

On February 8, 2019 I wrote. How Do I Get My Friend Help? She read it and in rapid-fire sent emails attacking me. She found my bruise and pressed her thumb into it, twisting and poking. From the day we met she brought up things I don’t remember; assaulted me as a mother, wife, friend, and human. I couldn’t read the entire emails, though I saved them. I don’t know why I’ve saved them. Maybe to remind me not to contact her? I want to though. At least to know how she’s doing. To see if she’s alive.

Melisa Peterson Lewis is a blogger at Fingers To Sky with over two-hundred personal essays on book reviews, her writing process, gardening, and soul searching. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

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Off My Chest

So, as you can probably tell, this is not going to be like my usual posts. My brain has returned to its normal, insanely fast pace. I of course didn’t really do anything positive to help myself. I watched some of the saddest music videos I could find. Of course, you know that I believe music to be one of the most powerful things that humans have ever created. A single certain song can make or break your whole day. Today, the song that set my spiral was 1-800-273-8255 by Logic. You may or may not know that that’s actually the number to the National Suicide Hotline. And of course, it has a very sad music video, and very sad lyrics. I found myself sobbing at the end, and went on my usual depressive train…I am not proud of myself, because I worked so hard to become not depressed, and here I am, willingly slipping back into it. Granted, this is not my old clinical depression, this is simply situational depression. Yet, that doesn’t make it suck any less, and that doesn’t make it less terrifying to me.

What I have to get off my chest, is the two main reasons that I wanted to die while I was depressed. These may sound like small problems to you, but to me, they meant everything.

The first reason I wanted to die, is that I am a empath. See, sounds trivial, but let me explain. You see, when I see, or hear about people struggling, with anything, my depression deepens because I cannot help them. It really all stems from the phrase, “You can’t save everyone”. That single phrase kills me inside. There are things going on in peoples life that makes them suicidal. Or maybe you were/are like me, and you’re suicidal for no reason, all the time. You know, now that I think about it, I probably should have started with reason two, because they are rather intertwined. The second reason I wanted to die, is the world f*cking sucks. There are such injustices in the world, slavery, oppression, corporations pushing products down our throats. I like to think that I’m what the kids call “woke” in that I see everything wrong with the world. Yet, I’m only one person. I can’t fix the worlds problems. You see how the two problems are intertwined? It hurts me to my core that there are so many problems in the world, and I can’t fix any of them. I can’t save everyone, nor should I. But that’s where my empathy takes control of my mind. I so badly want people just to love each other, and love themselves. So, I started blogging to help with my own issues, and I really wanted to help as many people as I could reach. The internet is a wild thing, we are all connected now, literally. How can I focus on myself, when there are so many problems in this world. Now, I have to stop myself from thinking like this, because it will drive me deep back into depression, and I cant go back, I won’t.

For real though, like what the actual f*ck is hate? Why do some people hate other based on their skin color, gender, sexuality, whatever. It pisses me off. It pisses me off even more that I used to hate people based on things they couldn’t control. Yet, the wealthy and greedy all only care about money or power, or both. I mean, we could cure cancer, but do you know why we won’t? There is more money to be made treating the disease than curing it. That’s f*cked isn’t it?! Why the actual f*ck is there a market for child sex? Like WTF is wrong with people? Why do corporations continue to destroy the planet, and then blame our individual actions? Like me using a plastic straw is worse than dumping millions of gallons of trash into the ocean. This world is just full of such bullsh*t, and I couldn’t stand it. That’s why I wanted to die. The rich and powerful continue to trick the rest of us, making us think we can change things. But as soon as we affect their bottom line, it gets swept under the rug.

I am terrified to have kids, because I KNOW that I won’t be able to leave the world a better place for him/her/them. And I’m just supposed to live my best life, while turning a blind eye to all this? How the heck can I do that? I so desperately want to live a normal, not even happy, just like baseline, life. These thoughts though, it is a real struggle. Now don’t get me wrong, there is true beauty in the world. I want to be able to focus on the good in life, I think that’s the only way I’ll make it, but I don’t know if I can. I need hope. It’s as simple as that. ECT did treat, and probably, cure my med resistant depression. But without hope, I don’t see my life changing all that much. Please. Whatever you do, just love yourself, love others, let’s make this world a place suitable for our children, our children’s children. Let’s just live and love life. Please.

Isami Daehn Interview Feature

There are times when writing interview features for The Bipolar Writer blog that it gets personal to me because I can directly relate to the subject of the article. When that happens, I feel as if I must tell the story right. Today I share the story of Isami Daehn, originally from Sagamihara, Japan— and currently lives in Nevada. You can find her blog at https://www.isamidaehn.com/

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Isami Daehn: A Story of Overcomer

In every journey with a mental illness, we all start at the point where an event or something significant influences how your mental illness affects the rest of your life. For Isami Daehn, her mental illness started very young due to abuse.

“It’s hard to say if I was born with a mental illness or if it formed over time,” Isami explains about her mental illness origins. “I would say that it is my biggest curse, but also my biggest blessing.”

Since her childhood, Isami has always wanted to help others, find her purpose, and at the same time feel welcomed. Isami believes that her mental illness has allowed her to connect with so many wonderful people on her blog, but to reliving the trauma she faced a child is something she would never want to relive.

“There are good people in this world that sometimes ‘just don’t get it.’ They mean well, but they will never understand.”

On a daily basis Isami has to contend with her diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with dissociative symptoms, a diagnosis she finally got in February of 2018. Due to the fear about the stigma of mental illness Isami decided to put off evaluation— this is a common occurrence in this mental illness life.

“I honestly do not remember a time I have not struggled with some form of mental health,” she remembers, “I remember having suicidal thoughts as a child and being depressed as early as age nine.”

What Isami sees in her life is being able to understand what it is like to have suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks ruling her life. This understanding has allowed her to step into a place with other people that otherwise may not have permission to go. “And I say ‘with’ because I am still figuring this thing out.”

The hardest part of the daily routine of living with PTSD involves people who don’t know or don’t understand what it means to have a panic attack that is PTSD related.

“It has often made me afraid to go into social settings even though I enjoy being around people for the most part,” Isami explains about this type of anxiety.

To get through a single day Isami is very much a planner. Each day she has an agenda that Isami writes the day before, it helps her get through her daily grind. It has become a routine in Isami’s life, and it coincides with her mood journal that she keeps daily.

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“This helps me clear my mind of any negativity. Prayer and meditation at the end of the day it also helps me reset my thinking,” Isami says, “I guess you could say it’s much mental preparation the day before. I know my mental illness isn’t going anywhere soon, so preparing to coexist with it seems to be the best option for me.”

Writing a mental health blog can be therapeutic and enlightening. I always ask my interviewees what they would like to share with the mental community— and this is what Isami asked me to share her little piece of wisdom.

  1. “I believe my blog has always been a place where people of any background can come over. I don’t believe there is a single person on the planet that is exempt from mental health issues.
  2. “But, if you read my posts you will probably notice that I speak from experience 99% of the time. So, from experience, I would share something with the faith community.”
  3. “If you read my story, you know the environment I grew up in did not believe in caring for mental health. You might relate to this if you grew up in a similar background. Although you may have left these teachings, there is a part of you that still nags at you and calls you a bad person for being the slightest concerned about your mental state.”
  4. “To this, I have to say; God did not only make you be a spiritual being. He created you with the intention to be a body, mind, and soul. Yes, caring for your spirituality is important for your soul, but neglecting the other two are completely contradictory to God’s design.”
  5. “You are not sinning for caring for your mental health. And trust me, the more you realize it’s okay to practice self-care, the more you will be able to care for others.”

Writing a mental health blog for Isami has done absolute wonders in her life. “Before the blog posts, I thought NO ONE understood the pain I was feeling. However, I started receiving messages upon messages from people just like me. These people and I have become a community, and it has meant the world to me,” Isami explains about her mental health blog.

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For Isami, life itself makes life worth living every day. Living according to PTSD’s agenda can be quite miserable according to Isami, but along with the planners she uses she has a vision board full of pictures. It helps her to stay excited about the good things in life, to have something to look forward to in this life.

To end the interview, Isami had this to say:

“Have a support group. I sincerely don’t know where I would be without the support of my husband, sister, best friend, and my boss. Some people will truly care about you if you let them. You are worth being cared for!”

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If you would like to know more about Isami’s journey with PTSD and her past you can follow the links below to pages from her blog.

Isami Daehn

I always like to end these interviews with my thoughts on the story I have shared with you in this feature on Isami Daehn. I am genuinely in awe that Isami dares to share her abuse story, it is something that I still struggle in my own journey—I barely talk about it. At some point, I hope to find the courage to do so.

Always Keep Fighting.

James

Interviewee: Isami Daehn

Interviewer/Author: James Edgar Skye

Making Mental Health Changes

Change in Mental Health is paramount

You have to change in this life. If I have learned anything living this Bipolar mental illness life, it is this–nothing ever stays the same.

There are symptoms of your illness. Then you have to work through your issues with the hope that in the end, you can manage your symptoms. Mental illness is for life, but it does not mean you should stop living your life. I think that when many of us are first diagnosed with a mental illness it seems as if our life is ending. That is how I felt, and to be honest I denied there was anything wrong with me. That got me nowhere.

One change over the last year of my mental illness life is antidepressants. I used to change them at least once a year, and a couple of times it was twice in one year. I have been at this game with mental illness medication for over eleven years and you have to make adjustments. I had to learn first to deal with my depression with antidepressants, and over the years my depression cycles went from months or years to just days or weeks.

Then, with the help and observation from my psychiatrist, I was able to get off antidepressants completely. It changed my life. My depression is more even and I can deal when a cycle hit like the five weeks in 2019. This became possible because I was willing to risk a change instead of struggling with antidepressants. Change is good.

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There was a time in my life when I was doing nothing and going nowhere. Almost losing my life in my last suicide attempt changed everything and now I am working on my Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and English. I got my Bachelor’s of Arts in Creative Writing and English in 2018. It was a major goal that I achieved despite my issues with depression, social anxiety, and insomnia. I needed to get my life back–another change.

* TRIGGER WARNING*

I had to change my destructive behavior. The last time I self-harmed that I can remember was 2012. Since then I have only the scars on my arms and legs of the past. Some scars fade but the deepest cuts are still on arm–reminders of the pain. I had to learn that things in my life had to change for me to get better.

Until 2014, I never believed that therapy, and yet therapy saved my life. I never thought that people would give a damn about my story, and yet the success of this blog, and my upcoming memoir only became possible because I changed my attitude.

My point is this, you have to change to get better. Things will never be perfect. God knows I wish it was that life was perfect. Changing little things slowly and often can mean all the world. Be willing to better tomorrow, even if it sucks today. I am living proof that people can change and live with a mental illness. Stay strong.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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My First Clonazepam Update

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I wanted to talk more about my recent anxiety medication change. I am no longer on Ativan (which in itself a major positive thing.)

I started Clonazepam on Tuesday the 26th of March and that first day was very different. I took the early morning dosage and while I had some morning anxiety once the medication hit my system I could tell things were much different.

Here is a typical day on Ativan. I take 1mg in the morning. By noon-1pm I am already having major anxiety. I have to wait until about 5pm to take another 1m or 2mg based on the anxiety level. That will last me until about 9pm where I would have to take 1-2mg in hopes my anxiety still doesn’t spiral. In a typical week, I would have 3-4 panic attacks (as of recently) and i was a struggle every moment.

Taking clonazepam three times a day (it lasts about 6-8 each 1mg pill) has made my anxiety very manageable. I had one small panic attack when I forgot to take my evening dose. Other than that my social has been manageable. I feel better and more confident. It is a small sample size and I have a few weeks to go to see major differences, but this could be what I needed to finally be in a place to work out the triggers of my social anxiety.

I am going to stay positive.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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My Last Panic Attack

It had been a while. To be honest, I don’t miss panic attacks. I hate them because I lose myself in the panic attack, and control is what I crave most.

It was inevitable. Depression in my life always leads me to increase anxiety. An when that happens, a panic attack is sure to follow–and last night was no different.

It was one of the worst in a while. I couldn’t keep still. My focus was all over the place. My mind was racing. There were real thoughts and fears that I was not going to live through the night. My breathing was shallow for so long, and I was hyperventilating for what seemed like forever.

The entire ordeal lasted almost an hour it took about four milligrams of Ativan (I took my regular 2mg dose at about 9pm, and my panic attack happened around 1am. I had to take two more milligrams just to find my center again. It had been a long time since that has happened.

I have been good with my Ativan the last month since I changed how I take my 4mg of dosage each day. 1mg in the morning and afternoon/early evening and 2mg before I sleep. This new routine almost eradicated my late night anxiety. Unfortunately, depression and anxiety is a dangerous mix and almost always leads to panic attacks in my life.

My depression has been a little bit better. I still have to resist the urge to stay in bed and be unproductive. It takes everything I have to work through the depression and try to keep my routine.

The only thing that I didn’t get to today was my daily workout. With the weather being freezing (for California) and my mood something had to give. I was able to write for a few hours including this blog post and finish one of my papers for school.

I feel a bit broken, and I need a mental health day (maybe in the coming weekend I will find some time to just layabout.) It would be the perfect timing. My sleep has been problematic (I will discuss this in a separate blog post.) When I am depressed, I tend to overdo life, thinking that I have to work harder just to get through my day. While that is true, I am still learning that I can let go. Tomorrow is always another day.

Always Keep Fighting

James

My GoFundMe Page

https://www.gofundme.com/rasing-to-upgrade-the-bipolar-writer-blog

Now, I had to use my real name for this (I write under my pseudonym James Edgar Skye) so don’t be surprised by the name–David TC. Also, this allows me to show how much has been donated (I will give the running total at the end of the post.

unsplash-logoHailey Reed

unsplash-logoRobin Benzrihem

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What is Cyclothymia?

I was asked recently to talk about cyclothymia and to talk about how this falls under the Bipolar spectrum.

I have never experienced cyclothymia, my mood swings have always on the extreme depression and manic sides, what I do know is that cyclothymia is a milder version of Bipolar disorder. From what I have gathered from others that deal with cyclothymia is that depressive episodes are mild and never go into full-blown depressive episodes. On the mania side, the manic episodes are considered symptomatic of hypomania which a milder form of mania.

From what I have read over the years is that cyclothymia is rare because it often leads to a diagnosis of Bipolar One or Bipolar Two. As with any type of mental illness, it is imperative to seek treatment if you believe that you suffer from cyclothymia. What are some of the symptoms of cyclothymia? They are similar to most mental illnesses.

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling tearful
  • Sleep disturbances – sleeping much more or much less than usual
  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Fatigue
  • Concentration problems
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered pleasurable
  • Weight changes – due to eating much more or much less than usual
  • Lack of motivation
  • Impaired judgment, planning, or problem-solving abilities
  • Low self-esteem
  • Pessimism
  • Loneliness
  • Submissiveness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Difficulty handling conflict
  • Lacking meaning and purpose in life

That is about the limit of my expertise when it comes to cyclothymia. I would be very interested to hear from any of my follower’s whos diagnosis is cyclothymia.

Stay Strong in the Fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt

unsplash-logoIssam Hammoudi

Symptom Credits from https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.cyclothymia.html

Merry Christmas – From The Bipolar Writer

rawpixel-445788-unsplash.jpgMerry Christmas from The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog

It has been a fantastic year for The Bipolar Writer blog. The growth of this blog was beyond my imagination. I am happy to have an amazing group of mental health bloggers who have really made this blog a special place.

Thank you so much for being a part of this amazing journey. I look forward to what this blog brings into the new year!

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Tom Rickhuss

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