To All Those Who Follow My Blog

To the Followers of my Blog,

Thank you.

When I started this blog almost three months ago my expectations were small. Share pieces of my life with the world as I work towards the ultimate goal of writing my memoir. Share my experiences with being Bipolar, living with anxiety, insomnia and the many wrong things about my life.

I wake up most days excited with the prospect of sharing another piece of my life, and to connect with real people in the mental illness community. I feel so connected to the people who comment and read this blog. I am excited to unveil pieces of my writing because I know how it will be perceived.

I am looking towards my future with this blog and my writing. To many more followers and people to connect with on this blog. I wanted to end this post with this, if you are anyone ever needs someone to talk to about what is going on in your diagnosis, I am always here.

J.E. Skye

The Bipolar Writer

When My Creativity and Depression Collide

It has been an interesting week for me both as a writer and a human being. I have been able to write and be effective this week, but not at the level I would like to be at some days. In the past, my creativity has always taken a backseat to my depression in past years especially at this time of the year.

November will always be the hardest month of the seasonal element of my Bipolar One diagnosis. My history in this month has been nothing but bad over the last ten years. Ten years of bad experiences have to lead me to dread this month and it is no wonder that my mind wonders the “what if” scenarios dance in my head.

I have tried my best this year to be proactive and not let my depression keep me from my goals. This month started out good, or at least okay, but to be honest, my depression has started to control my effectiveness in all aspects of my life. Even today I had trouble finding the creative spirit to write this piece or do any work on my memoir. I considered just taking a break and trying again tomorrow, but I desperately want to change the narrative that I can’t be effective during the month of November.

I have struggled the first two weeks of my winter semester. I have gotten my school work done, I always make sure to get that my school work gets done especially since I am so close to finishing my degree. It doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle to stay focused. It only gets harder from here with pending projects coming almost weekly for school, and I worry about my effectiveness of completing tasks, and if I will have to choose between school work and writing (my blog and my memoir.)

It is in my nature to be the kind of person that worries about every aspect of my life. My creativity and my writing have really taken a turn over the last few months in a positive way. I have found my place in my writing for the first time ever. Even writing my first screenplay and the novel version of Memory of Shane, my creativity was never consistent. I started the screenplay last year around this time and my depression often kept me from finishing it until the New Year.

I think one thing that is affecting me so much is my feelings about my ten-year anniversary that is less than ten days away. So much can happen between now and then, it scares me sometimes to even think about that I have really made this far. I never thought I would get here ten years ago or even five years ago. I have had to struggle every step of the way, and more than once I have taken major steps back.

At the same time, I am in a great place in where my creativity in my written work is the best it’s been. I always feel better after a long writing session at my favorite coffee shop. I haven’t felt this good about writing in so long.

The best thing for me is to is work through my depression. Even writing this post, when I honestly felt like not writing at all, has helped me. Maybe I can finish editing my screenplay tonight as I get it ready for some fall screenplay competitions.

I am curious to hear from my followers, what do you find effective when depression and creativity collide.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Aleks Dorohovich

Excerpt From Act Three – Memory of Shane

This is a scene from act three of my screenplay Memory of ShaneI wrote this scene after I completed the first draft and its a special scene to me. This scene shows Shane just hours before his suicide attempt at the end of the screenplay. It has no dialogue, yet it to me represents some of what I felt before making the decision to take my own life. If the scene looks familiar it is because it is a mixture of depression and anxiety that comes with such a decision. Here is another blog with a different scene.

INT. ADRIANA AND SHANE’S APARTMENT – AFTERNOON SAME DAY

MONTAGE:

– Shane is rapidly pacing the living room of his apartment. His laptop is open on a coffee table and a cup of coffee sits next to it, the steam still coming from the cup.

– After a beat, he sits down on the floor in front of the laptop leaning against the couch. He begins tapping on the keyboard of the laptop what seems to be a letter for Adriana.

– He gets up again unable to hold his focus on his work and begins to pace his living room once more.

– After a moment, his breathing starts to quicken as he takes deep shallow breaths. He moves to the kitchen and takes a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and takes a long drink. A look of panic washes over his face as this does little to help his breathing.

– He pulls his phone out of his pocket setting it on the counter next to the water. He starts to rapidly open and close his hands over and over.

– He picks up the phone from the counter and begins to make a call to Adriana but he quickly pushes the end button.

– His breathing quickens faster and he starts to feel faint. He grabs his water and then makes his way to the couch as his legs buckle under him.

– He pulls a pill bottle out of his pocket and puts several small round white pills on the table. He takes one and puts it in his mouth and gulps more of the water in the bottle.

– He continues to sit as he opens and closes his hands. It is a long time before he decides to take another of the white pills.

– After a while Shane sits calmer than before, his panic attack seems to have has subsided. He moves from the couch back down to the floor in front of the laptop and starts to type again.

END OF MONTAGE

Photo Credit: Alexander Lam

For the Love of Coffee

In my life, coffee and writing go hand in hand, so does coffee and reading.

There is nothing better than when that first sip of coffee hits your taste buds. The world changes. Everything comes into focus on all levels. I listen better. I feel as if nothing is out of reach. I feel as if I could write a million chapters in my novel. Yes, it’s just a temporary sugar high, but why not? Coffee is life.

This post is different than the ones I have written so far since creating this blog. I wanted it to be lighter, and about one of my favorite subjects.

As I sit here at Starbucks right now, I am thinking about the justifications of paying six dollars for a cup of coffee. When did coffee get so expensive? What I order of makes a big difference in why I pay so much.

Of course, I go all out when it comes to my caramel macchiato. I must get the almond milk. Extra charge! And there aren’t enough shots in it so, extra shot. Extra charge! Let’s make it extra hot (hey, they don’t charge extra for that!). It is no wonder that my therapist recommended no coffee after 12pm.

I think I can remember my first cup of coffee. I was maybe fourteen. The coffee was less than a 1.50, and at 7-11 if I remember it right. You always remember when that first taste of coffee changes your world.

Over the years, I have consumed more cups of coffee that I care to admit from a coffee pot. Lots of sugar and creamer. It always amazed me that you have powdered creamer and regular creamer that isn’t milk. Never been a fan of the first. Sugar always stays the same.

Now life is so complicated. Now they ask me do I want a latte or macchiato. Almond milk or soy milk. Hot. Cold. Frappuccino? There is always the classic cheaper option at Starbucks, the house blend black, no sugar or creamer. It costs less and it’s a great option for the struggling writer.

Then Starbucks goes and throws a curveball at me. They offer me a selection of fall and holiday drinks. My favorites are the chestnut praline latte and the gingerbread latte BTW.

The way that I justify spending six dollars on a cup of coffee is if my production that day is greater than the price. My production has been great lately so I can relish in this thought the output outweighs the price of consumption.

I don’t spend six dollars on a cup of coffee every day, but I do drink coffee daily. I usually have options in my refrigerator like cans of a double shot of Starbucks espresso, or the new sweetened black coffee that Starbucks offers in a glass bottle at my local grocery store. (I’m starting to sense a theme.)

I don’t know if my love for coffee is good or bad. But in my life, coffee is life. If this post seemed all over the place that was by design, it is a very Bipolar-esk written piece.

I’d like to know your thoughts about coffee, and if, for you, coffee is life.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao

The History Behind Memory of Shane

I thought it was time to talk about my biggest project out there right now, my screenplay entitled Memory of Shane and its subsequent novel that I am writing. This story is really about two years in the making and since I am writing the novel version the idea continues to be ongoing.

The project started as a short story that I wrote for an advanced writing class about two years ago. I never imagined that I would write this story beyond this class because it was a good piece, and there were so many places I wanted to go with it, but the ten-page limit really made me believe that I was done. But, when the opportunity came to choose a story for my second screenwriting class (where our goal was to write the first draft of act one of a full-length screenplay) I jumped at the chance to explore my story again.

Writing the first act was so amazing. I really got to know the story down to its bones, and I knew the developing it into a screenplay would give me the opportunity to refine my dialogue skill to a new level. In my advanced screenplay class, we finished act two and looked toward the future for act three. I knew by the end of my advanced screenwriting class where I would go in the final act, it would be a few more months until I finished my complete first draft, and of course, there was a long editing period.

But where did this story come from? I will admit the story is a work of fiction, but as any writer will tell you, it is impossible for your real life not to make its way onto the page. The basis of Memory of Shane is a love story between Adriana, the young nineteen-year-old not looking for love and Shane the young writer hoping for his big break. What drove me to even start to write a love story was rooted in what happened in my own personal relationship with my girlfriend at the time in 2007.

I will write many blogs about the weeks and months that lead to my diagnosis. After leaving the psychiatric ward for the first time there was true chaos in my life. I was on new medication that I didn’t believe in. I had some idea where my life was heading, and so I was worried about the emotional toll that being in a relationship with me would be for my girlfriend. I loved her, and she was willing to stick it out with me, but I did the unthinkable and ended my relationship in a very Bipolar way. She came to my house and I broke up with her. I was a jerk there is no getting around that now. Looking back, I know my girlfriend would’ve stuck by me but it just wasn’t fair to her because, as I would find out, 2008 and 2009 were the worst years of my life.

What does this have to do with anything? Well with writing Memory of Shane I had the opportunity to explore if and how two people could coexist when one of the people in the relationship is bipolar. On some level, I wanted to imagine if a person like me could be in a healthy relationship. I worked so many scenarios in my mind that it gave me the ability to write a story that, at some level, could have been my own life. Our past choices are long gone now, but it’s great as a writer to explore your past through your writing.

It is almost impossible for my own life not to sneak into my writing, but in this work, my character Shane does reflect my own experiences with Bipolar One. We both fell in love at the start of our diagnosis although Shane tried to hold on to Adriana. Both Shane and I can trace our symptoms to our teen years. I even wrote a scene where Shane spends days laying down in his bed in complete darkness, I did so many times during my long cycles of depression.

Beyond the diagnosis, both Shane and I tried to take our lives three times, thought Shane was unfortunately successful becoming a statistic. There was a part of me that, when I wrote Shane’s death in the story, that once and for all that any thoughts of suicide in my own life were dead. I would no longer walk down that dark path that leads to suicide. It became true​ when I made the decision to end my character Shane’s life, I would lock that part of me away that piece of me forever.

After finishing my full-length screenplay of Memory of Shane it came down to if I would write the novel version. I put so much into this project, could I really do it again? It took months before I could revisit the idea again and eventually I gave in. It will be interesting for me to explore this story once again.

So, there is a little history on my project Memory of Shane.

J.E.Skye

Photo Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters