A Decade That Changed Everything Part One

This will end up a series that I will write in December 2019, as the decade comes to a close. I hope to share some wisdom now that my memoir The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir is published and out in the world. Each will have some theme that I think is relevant to the idea of the last ten years. I imagine walking side by side that person I was at the start of the decade, he was a different James than the one now. He now has so much to share.

A Few Things I’ve Learned

Image by Harut Movsisyan from Pixabay

A decade is a long time, and so many things can change in this life. It matters not if the change is good or bad, because change means that something is happening, and you can decide to take it or leave it. You can make the decision to change because its time, or you can get lost in what the change means.

Take me. In the first decade of the new millennium, I was younger than I was now, just a teen trying to find his place. While I was active for the start of it, there was a lingering feeling that something was wrong. I was suicidal at times, and in 2007 I tried to take my life. I spent the next two years denying that there was something wrong with me, that I was not Bipolar, and that my life was worthless. I barely lived, and then on that fateful day I tried to last take my life in 2010, in the middle of the first year of the new decade, I had a choice. Continue down this path, or finally face the truth–there was something wrong with me.

In the hospital, first for the suicide and then for the seizures I had after, it allowed me to think about this mental illness life and finally decide to start the healing process.

It was never easy, and it did not happen overnight. It actually took an additional three years before my life started on this path that I am now: author, graduate student, freelance writer extraordinaire, and mental health advocate. Having the same therapist for the last five years really helped, and the revolving door of psychiatrists made things hard at times. I lost my grandfather, whom I was close to cancer, and there were so many varying depression cycles in length and intensity over the past ten years. But I am still here and fighting.

I founded this blog in 2017, and I can say with certainty that we, the collaborative writers and mental health bloggers that call this place home, have made an impact. I started with an idea, and it became a blog and then a memoir. I have written this year a 213,000-word fantasy fiction novel, one novel in a series of six, I am currently editing this piece. I have written poetry and short novella this year, and things are always looking up.

Image by Jim Semonik from Pixabay

Hope. That is what I am always saying in these blog posts. I was ready to die in 2010, and yet I was one of the lucky ones.

If you’re suicidal or close to that darkness, please know that it is not forever. Suicide is never the answer because we will always leave behind someone that will have to live with that decision. If I learned anything this decade, that is it, that it may feel right at this moment, but there are always consequences to our actions. So live because there is always hope. Learn from my mistakes, and if you need to, please reach out. I am always there for my people in the mental illness community.

Lastly, if you want to know more about my experiences, please take a moment to read my book, The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir. In it, I share some of the things that have helped me over the years. I want this book to help others like me in this life, especially those at the beginning of this journey. I also want to help those at any stage of this mental illness life because I lived it, and I have so much to share. You can find my book on Amazon by looking up James Edgar Skye. I will link it below, as well. Yes, I am plugging my book, but I truly believe in the power of shared experience.

https://www.amazon.com/author/jamesedgarskye

Always Keep Fighting

James

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Dream It, and Then Just Do It

I was reminded today that if you want something you just have to go for it. It’s easy to sit and dream away the pounds, spend the money you will earn from all the success you are planning, hear the accolades in your head from those who are inspired by your work, imagine how your book will smell when you flip the pages, how the cover will emulate the amazing words on the inside, what kind of author picture you will take and how it will look sitting in the Barnes and Nobles….sorry, got distracted by my fantasy 😊

It’s important to dream, we need to dream, small, big, feasible and even what some may call impossible.  Dreaming fuels us, it’s exciting, it drives us outside of our comfort zone toward where we are meant to be, but many times this is where we stay, in dreamland. We know what we have to do, we know that in order to run a marathon we must train, and yet as we dream of the finish line, the early mornings, the long miles and the sacrifices are just not as glamorous as the medal. We know that in order to have a successful business, we must build it from nothing, and it takes time, effort, blood, sweat and tears, and in order to publish a book, you must write one. We know this, and yet we sit in dreamland, frustrated our dream hasn’t happened yet and wondering why.

You may have figured out by now, this is really my personal pep talk. I need to replace all the we’s with I’s, but I feel better about myself if I’m not the only one getting lectured 😉The frustration I have for myself can sometimes be overwhelming because every time I think I’ve defeated that pesky fear, it shows up as procrastination, social media, Netflix binges, social media, cleaning out and organizing closets that have never bothered me until the moment I sit down to write, and social media. Man, I really need social media anonymous. Its just so easy to fall into the blackhole of pointless thought, cute dogs and funny cats. It’s like a vacation for the mind, but it can be so difficult to reign it in.

Fear masks itself in many tricky ways, but the worst is when it appears in its true form, and whispers, “you’re not good enough”.  However, this post is my reminder, that the last time I looked fear in the face for the lie it really is, I wrote my first children’s book cover to cover 13k words in 10 days. I just did it and it felt amazing.

So today, after getting into the ring with fear once again I am reminding myself of that moment, and how I squeezed my dream tight, let it go and then chased it until it was mine.  Our dreams are ours, in our hearts, on so many personal levels for so many reasons, but until we make up our minds to share it, that’s exactly where it will stay, but the moment we let go and begin to chase it, the more likely that dream will become our reality.

Keep dreaming, and just go for it!

Much Love,

Lisa J

A New Idea – The Bipolar Writer Blog

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to connect with more authors from the blogging world and also social media. I have been turning an idea over in my head over the last couple of weeks–a place where authors can sell their books through my platform. I am not sure how it could or would work.

I can also offer services like book reviews on Amazon and other retailers. This could be a place where people share their books related to mental illness or any authors. Why not? I think this idea could be the big thing for the Bipolar Writer blog 2019. I could really make use of the growing blog presence on my blog.

I am always looking for ways to expand my blog, and I have a local artist that I have worked for that wants me to grow my blog. I will think about it and find out what it would take. What are your thoughts?

Always Keep Fighting

James

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Idle Hands, Busy Work and Fighting Off Depression

As a writer, the most important thing I can do every day is, well, write. After all, they say a writer is someone who wrote today, and by that measure I’m more of an ass-sitter than a writer.

Most days.

It isn’t to say I don’t write; even if it takes months – or in the case of 22 Scars, years – I will eventually get things out. But on a day-to-day basis, I more often sleep and procrastinate. I’ll often lie in bed, daydreaming about where I want my writing to go, or thinking of what to write for the evening’s blog, but in the end nothing gets done.

Depression’s a bitch.

The thing is, the less I do, the more I feel depressed, and the more I feel depressed, the less I do. It’s a cycle I’m sure many of you are familiar with. And that cycle, for me, breaks when my bipolar upswing takes effect, and I write feverishly for perhaps a week or two, before sliding back into a period of low mood that might last for another four months.

I wrote 22 Scars – as in, time spent daily writing words for the story – in about two months. Yet I spent the previous twelve years pretending I was going to write it. A bit of planning here, half a chapter there … but nothing ever really happened.

And herein lies the biggest problem. If I aim to use writing as a method of working through depression – after all, the whole point of 22 Scars was to be an ode to my teenage despair – then I need to actually write, because otherwise I know I’ll just fall into despair.

It takes a great deal of personal and emotional effort to make yourself do anything – never mind something creative, like writing – when you don’t feel like doing anything at all. When you hate yourself, and hate your work, and want to just lie in bed all day. I love sleep, because it’s an escape from the drear of the everyday.

And most days, the energy to break through that wall just isn’t there. I just can’t see past the dark veil that clouds my mind, my judgement, and my desires.

Around this time every year I make plans and commitments to better myself, to keep writing more and more frequently, and to actually make something of myself. And in around a month or so, I’ll give up on those plans, because fuck that shit.

But I can’t say it’s all for nought; two years ago I decided I would finally sit down and make my young adult novel come to life, and lo and behold – I did it. It took a few months of very, very hard work – during which time I nearly imploded with the weight of the depression that the story brought out of me – but I made it happen. I published it in late 2017.

Last year, I made the same commitment for my fantasy work, and got my third novel out there a few months ago.

So what does 2019 hold?

I have plans for a new novel, one that takes on mental illness again, but in a slightly different tone. It focuses on several characters, and their journey through a life of music, misery and angst. I really, really want to make it happen this year – as in, write it in the early months, publish it in the later months.

But it’ll take more than just a commitment to writing the novel. If I want to keep myself well, if I want to vainly prevent the dark slide into the abyss, I’ll need to write here, too.

Because writing, ultimately, is about communicating. And whilst writing a novel is one way of doing so, it’s a lonely, solitary process. And if I can reach out to a community of people who believe in and support what I do on a regular basis, it might just provide me with the motivation I would otherwise be missing.

So here’s to 2019, and here’s to all of you – because without you, I would be nothing.

Book Review: Inside and Out

Inside and Out by Terry Fisher

Nonfiction memoir in “Ode” format

You can purchase the book here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Inside-and-Out

 Inside and Out What is it About?

Inside and Out by Terry Fisher is a non-fiction memoir in the form of odes and musings that chronicle the author’s life. The various odes were written at different times in the writer’s life and talk about things like dating, friendship, the author’s struggles with mental illness, the love that she had for her pets, and her experiences as a labor and delivery nurse.  The author lets the reader into her life as bares her soul through the power of Odes.

“Many of the odes are funny, some are sarcastic, and some are sad— excruciatingly so.”

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My Thoughts on Inside and Out

In the many odes and musings in the book Inside and Out the author allows the reader inside the mind of a talented “ODE” poetry writer over the course of her lifetime. With every stanza Terry Fisher takes her reader through the ups and downs of this human life. Each ode gives the reader a glance at how life changes— all in just one to three-page odes. The people that were important in Terry Fisher’s life makes the pages shine. The pictures that accompany some of the odes allow the reader to make real connections into the life of the artist.

When Fisher talks about her pets in Inside and Out, she lets us into her family, and at the end of each ode, we learn more about how life is always moving forward. When tragedy came into Terry Fisher’s life, she turns to writing Odes and shares with us how pets are members of our family— and their loss is never easy to deal with in this life.

In “Ode to Depression” the author Terry Fisher gets real with her audience on the realities of living with depression. Terry Fisher uses her own sarcastic and funny way to talk about her own struggles with depression that memorably suits the message.

“The doctor said a vegan diet!/ What the hell, I’m trying it./ I take a mountain of pills each day— Morning ones. Night ones./ I obey.”

In other odes in the book Inside and Out the author takes us to some of the sad times in her life where she lost friends that break your heart. You see how Terry Fisher views the people and pets in her life— like family. Odes like Ode to John Belnap CRNA and Prayer for Mary pay homage to people in the author’s life that had a significant impact, at the same time we see how people can have significant implications in our lives.

What I adore most about Inside and Out is that the author Terry Fisher shows all sides of her personality and allows the reader into her world. I felt by the end of the book that I had become a member of the Fisher family— and I will cherish the experience that I had reading the book.

Message from the author to her Mother

Dear Mom,

I wrote a book that is brutally honest. It was either gonna help me or not help.

It is not meant to blame anyone, although sometimes it sounds that way. You were the best mother you knew how to be in horrible circumstances beyond your control.

I did not want to hurt you, but I love you so much it has been very hard not to share this with you.

I have a wonderful life. I know that. Great family, friends, no financial problems (thanks to all of you), no more work stress.

But I also have severe depression that is probably not curable. People get cancer. I got this. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I don’t.

But I so, so much want to share this book with you. Most people are surprised how funny it is.

This is me and I want you to know her. And I hope you will understand and still love me as much as I do you.

Love
Terry

You can order Terry Fisher’s Inside and Out here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Inside-and-Out

Reviewer: James Edgar Skye

All images and links are © of Terry Fisher and Book Baby Publishing

Links to The Bipolar Writer Blog are © to James Edgar Skye, and all pictures and links are authorized by the author Terry Fisher.

Reflecting on my Big Freelance Project

I am nearing the end of my first big freelance project of 2018. It was a transcribing and formatting job for a local writer, Terry Fisher, for her upcoming book of odes titled “Inside and Out.”

It’s been a great learning experience in how the self-publishing route works. I seem to be moving towards the inevitable direction for self-publishing my own memoir.

It was great to work with the local author on a long-term project versus my shorter freelance projects because I really got to know the author. See into the mind of another writer who is a lot like me.

You see, if you read the Ode to Depression that I posted last week, you see the long-term effects of how depression can have on someone. I know I worry a lot about what the future holds for someone like me and it was great to see another artist achieving her goals in a big way.

I also learned that you can really reflect your own life within your writing. The process can be an arduous one, but I never one say Terry give up even as things went wrong. I saw real power and determination even when there are no guarantees in this life.

My local fellow author Terry Fisher is really writing her book for herself. I can respect that in every way possible. It takes great strength to put your work out there not knowing what will become of it. Even if she is writing for herself, from what I have seen doing the transcription work for her book, the book has real potential.

So I wanted to say here on my blog Thank you, Terry. It has been an amazing journey. I know we have a few minor things to do but we are at the finish line.

I am, as always looking for freelance work. If you have a job let me know. I have been doing content writing a lot yesterday and I could write blog posts for your blog.

J.E. Skye

Ode to Keeper

This is another ode from Inside and Out by Terry Fisher. You can find all of them here.

Inside and Out

Ode to Keeper

Keeper. Now there’s a name for you.
16.5 years ago Matt knew just what he’d found—
And named him that, too.
All those years Keeper had been around.

Lasting longer than most marriages—
Little pip-squeak of a dog— could fit in most carriages.
In fact, Matt got him as a puppy in a basket—
Matt wasn’t ready— he’d just put Penny in a casket.

But Liz just left the puppy at his door—
Knowing just who he should be for.
When he popped up with a smile that stole his heart—
Matt knew he was a Keeper right from the start.

He was the one thing Matt could count on to greet him home—
So he never ever felt that he was alone.
But now holding his dead dog with tears in his eyes—
He said, “Now I’m all alone— I’ve had to say my good-byes.”

But we said, “You aren’t alone— you have great friends—
“Unconditional friends, not needing amends.”
But we are just simple two-leggers—
Nothing can beat the love of four-leggers.

You made a puppy very very happy for a long long time—
You’ll make another one so lucky and again the sun will shine.
Now Keeper is happy at Rainbow Bridge—
He’s there yonder, just beyond the ridge.

Tony Robert’s Interview

This is another addition to my series of “feature interviews” of my fellow bloggers in the mental illness community. You can find the entire series here.

Tony Robert’s Interview Feature

The journey.

It can be the best and the worst of times when dealing with a mental illness. In this life, we often don’t get to see the long-term effects of a diagnosis of Bipolar One. The stigma of the label “mental illness” hasn’t always been good, but the more we voice our stories, the better. The battles with depression waged over a long period of time can take its toll. Since starting to write The Bipolar Writer blog, I have seen stories that reflect short small samples of time living with a mental illness.

Tony Roberts of Columbus, Indiana, gives us a glimpse of the long-term effects of a diagnosis. It was in 1995 when Tony received his diagnosis Bipolar One with psychotic features. He was thirty-years-old.

It only takes one manic episode for psychiatrists to add psychosis to a diagnosis. The various factors in Tony’s mental health and present symptoms became what his doctors gave him for a diagnosis.

“I had a medication-induced manic episode and admitted myself to a psych ward.”

At the age of thirty, Tony was an accomplished man. In his life, he was a successful scholar-athlete. Tony graduated with a dual Bachelor’s Degree in English and Theology. He then got a Master’s of Divinity. Tony was also successful in his personal and professional life. Bipolar One disorder can creep up on you because a mental illness rarely comes out of the blue.

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“I married a beautiful woman,” he recalls. “We had two adorable children. I served as a pastor and published some spiritual writings.”

Tony began his battle with depression with anti-depressants. When his symptoms got worse, Tony’s mood would rapidly shift. He would go from the darkest pits of depression to the high energy and glorious euphoric feeling of a manic episode.

“I compensated for my paralyzing lows by catching up and getting ahead when I was high (manic). It was like balancing on a teeter-totter.”

The struggle to get through a single day when you first open your eyes can seem impossible. Tony has found solace in his writing, which in his eyes is the most effective form of therapy. Tony has written a spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission.

His blog Delight in Disorder reflects his memoir. On his blog, Tony talks about subjects like anxiety through the lens of his faith. Posts like Anxious Affliction describe some of his struggles with anxiety. Tony admits that he has only had a couple dozen panic attacks in his life, but offers what he has experienced to reflect the advice he gives.

Tony’s other works that have been very therapeutic to write are short stories and poems. Tony is working with another member of the mental illness community to start a podcast—Revealing Voices.

It has been a tough journey for Tony in his twenty plus years since his diagnosis. Over the years his illness has gotten progressively worse. It has led to major life changes that came as a result of his illness.

“I am no longer in pastoral ministry. I am divorced,” Tony explains about his present situation. “I live in my sister’s basement. My goal is to maintain some semblance of emotional balance, which has become my life’s pursuit.”

Having a mental illness is a major part of Tony’s life. It consumes every aspect of his existence. Within this existence, there is both good and bad in his life. Tony knows he has limitations that others with the same illness don’t deal with. At the same time, his faith is what guides his life. Tony has gained empathy. He knows that God is using his experiences to reach others that deal with mental illnesses.

Tony would like to share this piece of wisdom with the mental illness community.

“The best way to break the stigma is through sharing our stories,” Tony explains.  I have the opportunity to tell my story in public forums, mental health clinics, workshops, and conferences. Most importantly, I have shared my story in writing. I find there is no better therapy and advocacy than to share our stories.”

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Writing in his mental health blog Delight in Disorder has helped Tony in so many ways. It has helped him understand himself and others with a mental illness more fully. Tony’s life has greater meaning and purpose on his blog. The people that Tony has met encourage him when he is down and celebrates with him when life is good.

It is his faith in Jesus Christ that shapes who Tony is and what he does. It is also what makes life worth living.

“I don’t see this faith as something that makes me better than anyone else. In fact, because I’ve I have my faith, I have a greater responsibility to do something with it.”

There are other things that Tony counts in life as essential parts of who he is and what makes life worth living. Tony counts his roles as a father and grandfather as his most important role. What Tony wants most in this world is to be there for his children and grandchildren as they grow.

Suicide and suicidal thoughts often happen with a diagnosis of Bipolar One. In 2008, Tony attempted suicide with an overdose of psychotropics. “Oddly, I had not been suicidal at that moment and haven’t since,” he explains. “It was an isolated attack. I know it could happen again, but I am grateful it hasn’t since.”

It is important that I share the stories of everyone that I can on my blog. All walks of life on a mental illness journey are different. We can learn so much from one another. Some of us like Tony turn to faith to get through the tough times. A family is a common theme I have found in writing these features on mental illness.

What Tony says I agree with. We need more voices to end the stigma that surrounds mental illness. It has been a pleasure to sare Tony Robert’s unique journey.

If you would like to find out more about Tony Roberts, you can find him on his blog.

http://delightindisorder.org/

Interviewee: Tony Roberts

Author: James Edgar Skye

Photo Credits: The Photos of Tony are from his private collection. All Others are found here:

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Why I Added a Button to my Blog

I wanted to say the outpour of support with my followers that have donated to my blog, thank you for supporting me. Asking for help has never been something I could just do, but as I continue to grow my brand “The Bipolar Writer” I wanted people to know why decided to ask for help in purchasing my laptop.

I bought my current Mac Book Pro in 2012. It was a refurbished machine. I was to embark the life of a student and as a struggling writer just beginning the journey of writing, and it was all I could afford. This computer has been amazing for me over the long years and it been my constant companion.

I have written countless papers for my degree. I have written several screenplays including Memory of Shane. There were times when my computer was my place to write and journal my thoughts. Every poem and short story over the last five years has been right on this computer that I am writing this blog post on.

It was a great computer but like all good electronics, they eventually have issues. I have always taken care of the laptop because all the magic of what I do as a student, blogger writer, part-time journalist, and screenwriter has been on this one machine.

My laptop started to have issues about a year ago, mostly with application freezing on me. I usually have at least three writing applications open at one time along with my web browser and iTunes open when I write. But lately, I have been dealing with major delays in my writing because of restarts because of issues. Its been slowing my productivity but I get by.

I write this not because I want sympathy from my followers and to be honest I’d rather not write something like this, but some of my followers have donated some good-sized donations and it means that they want to make sure The Bipolar Writer continues. I don’t ask anyone to donate unless they can, but I wanted to share a little bit of the “why.”

I hope I don’t lose followers because of this post, and I want to you know I wrestled in my mind for the last week to even make a post like this because no matter what The Bipolar Writer will continue and I will use the equipment I have right now. I really hate writing this…

Again thank you for all those that have helped me by donating it will not be forgotten and those who can donate you mean the world to me.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Kari Shea

My Weekly Wrapup – 11/6 – 11/12

Nothing beats an early morning writing session, an extra hot/extra shot chestnut praline latte, and good music.

It has been a great week for me writing here on my blog and my memoir, but as I have learned this week sometimes you have to struggle with the bad things (depression) while achieving your goals. I did finish the final edits on my screenplay as well, so I really have no complaints.

I reached a major milestone with The Bipolar Writer blog reaching 1,000 followers, and it makes the journey a worthy road to go down. I couldn’t imagine my blog getting to this point with so many followers, and every one of my followers has my thanks and gratitude.

Let’s look at the past week before looking ahead.

In part five “My Social Anxiety Life,” I explored another part of my social anxiety, the thoughts that go through my mind late at night when I know there is something important happening the next day. These catastrophic thoughts can be crippling at times because it keeps me from sleeping, In this blog post, I explored the “what ifs” and the fear before anything has happened scenarios that haunt me at night.

In my blog post “My Manic Life – The Other Side of my Diagnosis” I explored the mania side of my diagnosis of Bipolar One for the first time on my blog. This blog post was one that I put off for as long as I could because, on so many levels, I don’t have the understanding of my mania. I explored my destructive behavior during manic episodes to include outrageous spending sprees. This is a great read as I shared another piece of the puzzle.

My mid-week blog post was one that I had been wanting to write for a while, “Journaling and Tracking Your Mood.” The aim of this post was to share how journaling my thoughts in a written journal and tracking my moods daily, weekly, and even monthly has been an effective way to see where I am at in a given day.

“How Therapy Changed my Life” was chosen this topic of discussion this week because I had been reflecting all week how far I have come since starting therapy. This piece is mostly about how therapy was effective in my own life and I emplored my reader to find a form of therapy that works for you, like group therapy.

I wanted to focus some of my energy exploring the topic of medicine, and more specifically my own struggles with Ativan. In “The Realities of Ativan” post explored my research for the first time on a medicine that has been a part of my diagnosis over the last ten years. This blog post was tough to write because at the end I still couldn’t answer if my need to increase my dosage back to a comfortable level is due to addiction or need. I will most likely expand this topic in the coming weeks.

I hardly get to explore a part of my writing on my blog and I think that has to change. In “Excerpt From Act Three – Memory of Shane” I shared a single scene from the third act of my feature screenplay. I like the feedback since I am moving this project to two different screenwriting competitions in the next month.

One of the goals of my blog is feedback. I wrote, “When My Creativity and Depression Collide” to see what kind of feedback I could get from my followers. It worked. This is a subject that plays out a lot with the seasonal element of my diagnosis takes over and my depression increases. My followers gave me encouragement and ideas to keep my creativity flowing regardless of my depression. It always feels great to make real connections.

That is the coming and goings with my blog over the last week. I will tackle some interesting topics again this week like giving up vices in my life that were hurting my recovery, more about my social anxiety, and a few other topics. This is the final week before my ten-year diagnosis/suicide anniversary, and in the week that follows I will be writing a three-piece blog post as I explore my thoughts on what ten years of being Bipolar has meant to me.

Always Keep Fighting.

J.E. Skye

The Bipolar Writer

Photo Credit: Alejandro Escamilla