Why a Mental Illness is a Big Deal

I’ve been depressing for awhile now -as in, dealing with Depression. I’ve also entertained its close friend, Anxiety; plus a few hangers-on like Disassociation, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Social Phobias. I didn’t even know those existed till they walked off with some of my mental furniture.

Once I’m back to staring at the cracked ceiling of an empty apartment, I wonder why mental illness is such a BIG DEAL. Why does it always have the ability to kick my butt this badly every time?

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Because, Mental Illness is a BIG deal.

Yesterday, I witnessed a boy who collapsed into a hysterical fit when his mother said they had to ride in the elevator. A perfectly healthy friend had to reschedule her doctor’s appointment for “a better day.” Another friend told how she could not sleep in the same room as her baby, since the baby’s normal breathing patterns kept her up all night.

Minor issues become major. Small things are big. Mole hills are mountains!

So, now what? Treats? Bed? Movie marathon? I wish. Those things cost money! We need practicality before the rest of our sanity escapes out the window, and takes the rest of the chocolate with it.

Knowing that a mental illness blows things out of proportion is empowering. How? When one of my kids starts melting down, I KNOW to back off and get him a snack. When fear and anxiety cloud my horizon, I KNOW to get outside for a walk. When my friend says she needs to talk, I KNOW to drop everything and listen.

Am I freaking out? Don’t have a mental couch to collapse on? I take a break. I breathe. I run a meditative exercise. Try it; re-focus with what works for you. Then, try the basics: sleep, food, love, happiness.

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On the flip side, stop doing the little things that make it worse: staying up, eating crap, avoiding affection, and wallowing in sadness.

Sounds easy, right? It really is. The trick is to not make it difficult. “Just go get in the shower,” I tell myself. “Just get in there and sit -you don’t even have to wash yet.” Or, “Wrap up in a blanket and hang out on the porch. You don’t have to get dressed.”

See? Believe me, I’m in the camp of making a simple thing much more complicated. I also know how BIG I feel once I get past the little, white lies of my mental illness.

 

©2020 Chel Owens

My Dark Thoughts Weekend

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If I am honest. It’s been weeks of these thoughts, but they came at me hard today. I have tried to hide them, but I can feel the familiar feeling that accompanies these thoughts. It’s the dark place that I am always afraid of never leaves someone like me. The thoughts that I wish were in the past, but I am unsure of myself when things are this bad. This weekend was scary. I was not myself. I was going through the motions knowing where my mind was, and today it took me over. Those thoughts that I cannot even speak because then it becomes real.

My mental health has always been ironic. I celebrated ten years of suicidal thoughts and my last suicide. I can say that before today I would never go down that road again, and yet I did. I imagined the world without me. I got lost in all that is wrong with me right now. The feelings I am not dealing with on all levels. These thoughts are gone or perhaps that is what I tell myself so that I can wake up tomorrow and try to find the normal.

I have my doctor’s appointment with my psychiatrist tomorrow (Monday), and it is a good thing. I have to let her know that these thoughts have become a part of me again. I needed time off this weekend, and I didn’t seize the opportunity. I looked at everything and fell apart. I want to drink my troubles away like the old days. I want to just feel that beyond this blog, I can talk about these things. Tonight I go to sleep genuinely trying to find out where I am in this life. There is always tomorrow and the hope that I can have a conversation with my doctor. The Bipolar Writer is not in the right place, but I am safe. I will not allow these thoughts to consume. It might be a temporary weakness or a bigger problem, but I will continue to fight.

I can fight this demon. MY dark passenger. MY friend.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

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My Article for PSYCOM

I can’t believe it has already been a couple of years, but I wrote an article entitled What I Wish People Knew About Bipolar I Disorder. I wanted to share it again today because I have come such a long way as a writer and mental health advocate. This article was and still is a big deal to me.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

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

It’s Okay, to not be Okay…

When People Ask if it is Okay

It is Okay to Not be Okay…

I was asked recently about my feelings about something that each of us has faced in this mental illness life…

Is it okay to not be okay?

The answer is easy. Yes. There is nothing wrong with not being okay. This question is especially important to me as we continue to isolate because of COVID-19. I had to admit to myself first that currently, I am not okay. My depression has been peaking for the past few weeks. I am dealing with it like always with writing and one other way.

Love Yourself First

I always have to tell myself that, even though I am not okay, it is okay. The second thing–love yourself first.

Loving yourself first is where the healing really begins for us. We have to love yourself before that we can start the healing. If you’re like me, you forget when you are lost in depression that things always get better. This life is all about the ebb and flow of symptoms. How you deal with symptoms in the present, can mean how long your depression or anxiety affects you.

I always like telling this story because it is so vital to a blog post like this one. At the beginning of my diagnosis, I didn’t believe that there was something wrong with me. For years I fought to distance myself feeling that if I gave into being Bipolar something was wrong with me.

I lost three years of my life to this belief. I barely left my house. I became a shut-in. I could count on one hand the times I did something outside my home. Life started to pass me by. It took me years to get my life back.

It is okay to not be okay. The stigma that surrounds mental illness makes us believe that if we have a mental illness, we are outside of the normal. I believe that all of us in the mental illness community are the strongest people on the planet. Even in these unpresidented times we have to stay strong in the fight.

Always keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

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A Chapter From The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir

In this COVID-19 world, we are all adjusting. For so many, it is working from home. (I am always working from home) or being a student at home. Some things make us happy in this mental illness life, and we can’t lose sight of these things as we continue to shelter in place. One of the ways I stave off depression is by playing video games. Role-playing games are my specialty, and right now, my Switch is my sanity. I wanted to share another chapter in my memoir that shows the importance of finding something that helps combat depression. I hope you enjoy this post.

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

IN MY EXPERIENCES OVER my lifetime, role-playing video games have been a way for me to combat deep depression, and everything that comes from being Bipolar. What makes role-playing video games effective against depression, is that role-playing games will take me, for a few hours, out of my own world. For me, it is always a chance to get out my own head.

When I create characters for a role-playing game, I am creating a character that I can be proud of, when in real life I am just an average person dealing with problems that are often beyond my control. My characters usually do the right thing, unless my character is chaotic. In the end, I can be a hero that saves the world or gets the girl which is not like real life. But, it goes deeper than just being a hero. 

Role-playing games allow me to continue a journey of progression. When I complete quests, I feel accomplished. As my characters become more powerful through experience, it can raise my emotions and it puts me in a better mood. To me, quests in a role-playing game can teach to set realistic goals compared to real life, where I am often setting unattainable goals in my life. When I finally reach the in-game goals it feels amazing for someone with depression, sadness, loneliness, and restlessness as their constant campion in the real world. To feel good even for a moment is an amazing feeling. 

An example of an unattainable goal, would be to think that I can conquer my depression all at once during the winter season, when traditionally depression can reach its peaks during this time due to lack of sunlight. In a role-playing game, I can set goals like, building the ultimate weapon in the game, and when I achieve that success it can be a mood booster. I can remember some of the so-called “impossible bosses” that I have beaten over my video gaming career, and every victory put me in a great mood because I had to work hard to that victory. It is a lot like when I write, the feeling is similar, and it is invigorating. 

Getting back to how I create characters in role-playing games, it is not unusual to make a character that is far from who I am in real life. I think that is the point really. In my own gaming experience, I have little in common physically to my created character, but it is usually a projection of what I want to be, or at the very least, who I imagine myself to be. I create these characters that represent what I would love to be in real life. Like being powerful, good-looking, or even in some cases smarter than I am. 

When depression takes over and I get lost in my own head, it is so hard to just be “outside my body.” But with role-playing games, in just a few hours into playing, I have seen real changes in my mood every time I game. The things that were bothering me, seem to be in the rearview mirror while I play. I can interact with other characters in the game, and I can meet challenges head-on.

The role-playing games that I love the most, are the ones that challenge my mind. Turn-based strategy role-playing games, have long been a favorite of mine, because it takes so much to play the game. The right combination of characters (healers, tanks, and magic characters) and strategy win the day. 

I also want to talk about the Dark Souls series. I have beaten every game in the series, and those who have played the game know, it is the most challenging game out there in the gaming world, at least in my opinion. From the start, you play and (it seems) an endless slew of bad guys and bosses. In fact, one of the first things you fight in each game is a hard boss. It is the most frustrating and amazing gaming experience because it is a challenge from the start.

God forbid, if you have 10 million souls you die, and then die again and lose them forever is the most frustrating this in the world. But even if you lose all those souls, it is possible to get more. That is so relatable to life, because depression will eventually get you, it’s the way of the world for someone who is Bipolar. But, like the game, you can always bounce back with life. Just because you lost weeks, months, or even years to your depression, life has a funny way of moving on. So why not learn that failure is inevitable, both in gaming and in life.

It just happens that way but the game itself challenges every part of you. It is imperative that you strategize when using souls to upgrade everything from armor, to weapons, and increasing your health or magic. You have to be organized, and ready for anything that comes your way, because any monster can end your journey. It’s something I can take out of the game into my real life. I learned that challenges can be overcome, even when the deck is stacked against you. It means everything when trying to control your real-life problems.

Role-playing games are a great way to take yourself out of your mind for a time. It is also something that you can learn from, just by starting a journey in a game, and seeing it to completion. That is relatable to real life. The hero’s journey is something that we can all relate to, but it is good to have a journey in your own life. In role-playing games, the hero doesn’t always make the right choice but eventually, they learn from their mistakes and win the day.  Who couldn’t relate to that?

James

Always Keep Fighting

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

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Today I Felt the Full Effect of Depression

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Today is an excellent example that no matter what you do, depression will sometimes take over your life completely. No matter how well you are doing, depression is a pat being Bipolar. I woke up depressed with a very low mood, and it sucked.

I know I have to deal with days like today, I have dealt with them more since my mom passed. The issue today was that I could not break through the depression. I stayed in bed. I truly felt like I was drowning. It could be that it is just three months since I lost my mom that while I have been productive, there is still the matter of processing my feelings. I still have no idea how to live in this life without my mom being there, and everything around me is a constant reminder.

Just writing this blog post took everything that I had, but I felt days like today where depression takes over, are the type of days are something that needs to be shown to the world. Even If I am writing this from my bed. This was really the first day since January, where nothing felt right. I overslept. I wake up around seven every morning, and today I stayed in bed until noon. That is unreal to me.l I was sad about everything, and I had no appitite, I still have not eaten. It has been a stressful last few weeks. I had my book coming out again. I was working on so many things, and I am nearing the end of my semester. There has been a lot on my mind that I was not dealing with on any level.

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I have always prided myself on the fact that I can function even when depression takes over. I have had bad days, but I still do enough to feel productive. Today is a day where I am far from any real productivity outside of this blog post.

It sucks feeling this way, but writing has always been the way that I express myself, and if I can write something today and try to figure out what my triggers are today, well, that is something in the right direction. I know I am probably hard on myself, but I thought that I was processing things in my own way, but I have never been great at taking my personal advice and take it easy. Let the depression run its course. With that said, I will leave this post here. Hopefully, someone reads it that is having the same type of day and knows they are not alone.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

Its That Time of Year

It is that time of the year–baseball. Yes, it is only the beginning of Spring Training, but I love baseball.

When I say that baseball and watching my favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, is one of the things that helped save me, I mean it in that without baseball, I might not be here. That might be a bit over the top, it is not the only reason, there are many why I am here today, but in truth, it was something that became major in my life. It will always be from February to October, the sport I turn to when things in my life are too depressive or anxious.

I get excited for this time of year because baseball is such a mood booster for me. I get to watch for three or so hours the one sport outside of basketball and college football I follow throughout the season. Baseball is amazing. You can be the best baseball player on the planet and have a bad night, and then the next day, the player comes back and hits three homers. Baseball is a metaphor for how things go in my own life. The ups and downs, the highs and lows of a baseball season are magnified because they play 162 games a season.

The fact that even the player with the least experience can change the trajectory of a game. Even the best players can have long cold streaks, likened to how depression cycles can be like having cold streaks, and yet they can also break out of a slump. That is a metaphor for how depression cycles feel after it controls you, and you break free. It is why my love for baseball is something I love to share with the world. I even wrote a chapter of it in my memoir.

What is something in your life that you feel passionate about outside of things like writing (my greatest passion), or if it is writing, what are some of the metaphors you take from writing? Leave your comments below. I would love to hear about it!

Always Keep Fighting

James

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My First Bad Day Since My Mother’s Death

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Every day has been hard since I lost my mother to a stroke in December. I have found ways to stay busy with school, my work as a freelancer, and of course, my writing projects.

I knew on the horizon, there would be a truly horrible day. That happened yesterday. The origins of this lousy day started the day before. I was asked about an upcoming event that was a favorite of my mother, and if I was going. An aunt always has a hula dancing demonstration and crab feast to help the school she runs. It is a fantastic event, and one I never would have gone to had my mom convinced me last year to go (my family had been going for the previous few years.)

I knew at some point there would be a trigger that would lead to a bad day.

I was asked if I would be attending this event, one that my mother purchased the tickets weeks before her death. It became a trigger for me. More than any of the things that have happened over the last month and a half. I have been dealing by staying busy with graduate school, ghostwriting a novel for a local writer, and above else my writing. This was how I have been able to deal. I still think of my mom the moment I wake and the loss it has been not having someone who is there for me no matter where I am at in my life.

I had one of the worst panic attacks of the year that night. I felt lost. Alone. Afraid of the future. Not being able to move on. Realizing that at some point, I have to figure out what my life looks like without my mom. I always thought my mom had more time. That she would be able to see me publish more than one book. I am grateful she got to see my memoir published. The trigger was there just waiting for me to have a bad day.

The next day was horrible. The depression set in, and it was rough. I wanted to stay in bed all day. For a while, that was all that consisted of my day. I let the depression control me. It consumed every thought and every limb of my body. I felt as if my pain could not reach this level. I had a bad day. It was inevitable.

Eventually, I got out of bed and was somewhat productive. I got up. I took a shower and tried to eat. I will admit it was all junk food, but it helped get me moving. I met with my client, did my three hours of interview time, and it helped me to at least find a silver lining when depression was all I had going that day.

I went to bed that night, hopeful that things would get back to normal. The sunset was beautiful, and then the sun rose, albeit on a cold California day, but I woke. I got up and took a shower. I made my bed. Made plans for the day and executed them. I got back to my routine and also found some time to get back to writing here on my blog.

I am ready to keep moving forward, and maybe yesterday was just one of the steps of the long grieving process that I will endure in 2020. Looking back, perhaps I needed a day like this because I have been trying my best to be strong, mostly for my dad. He lost the love of his life, and I lost my mother. I thought I had to hold it in, and it got the better of me. I have to realize that crying is a part of the process. That this life is fleeting. Things will not always stay the same, and that is life.

I am glad I could share this experience, and I do plan on writing more here when things begin to calm down in my life. For now, I wanted to end this post with this, I am renewing The Bipolar Writer blog for another year. When I have some time, I will be going through my contributor list and working on getting new writers in and moving this blog into a better position. I have been neglecting this for a while due to time, but that is just an excuse. I look forward to seeing what we do in 2020!

Always Keep Fighting

James

How Publishing my Memoir Changed Everything

For those that don’t know, in November, my non-fiction book The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir was officially published and is now on Amazon (I will link at the end of the post.) To finally call myself a published author, was the most fantastic thing that I have achieved on this mental illness journey.

I have been lucky since my last suicide attempt. I got my bachelor’s degree, and I am working on my master’s. I started this fantastic blog. The biggest goal of my life was becoming an author. Now that I am published, I feel like things are truly falling into place in my life, and it feels incredible.

Now I feel like the other projects I am working on can finally move forward. The most pressing being my fantasy fiction novel and my novella, which will be the next two projects that I will be working on as both are in the stage of editing. I have so many ideas to take into 2020. I owe a lot of it to the people on this blog, both as contributors and followers.

Things are good for The Bipolar Writer, and we can only go up from here. I am a published author!!

Always Keep Fighting

James

P.S. If you have time, please purchase my book. You can find it on Amazon by looking up my pen name James Edgar Skye. The name of the book is The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir. It is available in print and Kindle edition. Thank you for your support. I will also link my Amazon page below.

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

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