Is Sleep the Answer

I have been putting off talking about my sleep apnea and getting my machine that helps with the apnea until I am a few weeks into the new adventure. Sleep has always been a significant issue in my life. While there are so many positive benefits to having a CPAP machine, I wanted to see if after a few weeks in if there were some real changes to my sleep habits. I have to say, this time around, I am having a much easier time adjusting to the CPAP machine. My past experience two years ago was not great, and I was skeptical that things could change. I am happy to say that I was wrong.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or (CPAP) is a type of sleep therapy to treat sleep apnea. As I stated in my previous blog posts, my sleep apnea is considered very severe to a point that was stopping breathing at 30 minutes to every hour, and sometimes more. This was resulting in me getting zero rem cycle sleep. That is all bad.

So, I got my CPAP machine, and officially I have been using it for a month. While it is not an overnight fix, I still struggle a bit staying asleep, but it has been beneficial in me getting real sleep, which is everything to me.

The dark circles that have been a staple part of who I am are fading away, which makes me believe that my sleep is improving. There is an app for my machine. The app focuses on how many hours I use the sleep therapy, how much air leaks per night, how many times I take the mask off, and the most important, how many times I stop breathing per hour. The amazing thing is in my second sleep study, they found the right air pressure that gives me the best chance to get to rim sleep. Even better, the machines now are really advanced with better dehumidifiers, and it starts me out on low pressure. As I gradually fall asleep, it ramps up the pressure. This very important because my air pressure peak is very high (it starts out at a four and ramps up to 15).

I see my sleep doctor early November, and I will find out just how effective it has been, but I have less than one episode an hour of stoppage of breathing, and I am waking up feeling better than when I was not on the sleep therapy. It, like anything in this life, is a process. I hope that more sleep will lead to fewer depressive episodes and less anxiety. My anxiety is my biggest issue next to sleep.

So, I am hopeful. I am staying on it and not giving up this time on sleep therapy. I still have some mask issues, but it is not so bad this time around. I hope that things get better by the end of the year. I will be writing a post about my doctor’s visit and just how effective sleep therapy really has been when they look at the chip in my machine.

If you have sleep apnea please share your stories below.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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Journaling Through Anxiety

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When I make a mistake it’s not just some harmless incident. It’s monumental; it’s life changing. It’s like I’ve taken all of my progress, all of the time I spent learning to forgive myself, and wiped it all away. Clean slate. Back to the beginning.

Sometimes when I try to explain this, people don’t understand. “It’s okay!” they exclaim, “We all make mistakes, why do you care so much?”

The reason is, anxiety and depression can make even the smallest mistakes feel like the end of the world. I overthink, I overanalyze, and I put way too much focus on the little things. Often times this leads to sleepless nights, or in the worse cases, panic attacks. In the field of psychology, there is a term for this distorted pattern of thinking: magnification. As the name suggests, you take one incident and blow it way out of proportion. Soon enough, it’s the only thing on your mind.

Oddly enough, I started to notice how often I fell into magnification when I began making progress with my own general and social anxiety. I realized that I would stress myself out over everything, even if it’s something that has no real effect on my future. It got to the point where I kept a running tally in my mind all day. There would be times where I felt like I was in the clear. Then I would make a mistake and have to start all over again. 

 

I forgot to open the door for that kind old man this morning. 

I took too long to take the change out of my wallet. People stared. 

I was late to my second class of the day. Why can’t I do anything right?

I didn’t score high enough on that test. 

I forgot to put my blinkers on when I was making that turn. 

I think I said the wrong thing to my friend. Are they mad at me? They’re mad at me. Are they judging me? 

The little things that wouldn’t even cross someone’s mind linger on my mind long after, like nagging flies that won’t go away. My mind was never at peace.  I would add all of my mistakes up and come up with a grand total- the total I would use to determine how worthy I was of forgiving myself. The more mistakes I made, the less worth I had, and the harder I would have to fight to redeem myself. 

It sounds extreme, I know, but anxiety and depression can be consuming. 

When I talk with people about anxiety and depression, magnification or absolutist thinking appear to be a pretty common occurrence. We’re overly critical of ourselves without ever acknowledging our accomplishments. When I began writing this post I grew curious, so I found an article on Very Well Mind called “Cognitive Distortions of Magnification and Minimization” that helped broaden my knowledge on the subject. 

I wanted to share a strategy I find very helpful in overcoming this distorted thinking pattern called a panic journal, or what I call ‘journaling through anxiety’.

I’ve made a lot of progress in my own social anxiety and how I view my own mistakes. It’s taken a lot of self reflection and hard work, but I’ve found that I’m rarely consumed by these self defeating thoughts lately. It all begins by learning to look at the bigger picture. (Before I continue sharing, I want to remind readers that this is based on my personal experience! Recovery is never a one size fits all)

It’s important to remember that when you magnify things, the world appears a lot smaller than it really is. That’s why your mistakes feel monumental. When your field of view is centered only on what you’ve done wrong, you aren’t giving yourself the room to reflect on all that you have done right. 

I began to remind myself of this daily, and developed a habit of writing down what I was worried about, down to the last detail. During overwhelming episodes of anxiety, having a panic journal became a huge relief for me. 

For example, I wrote about what happened during a job interview that lead me to a panic attack later that night. I had gotten through the majority of the interview just fine, that is until the end, where I found myself stumbling on my words. I couldn’t think clearly afterwards. The rest of the day that was the only thing on my mind and I went into a downward spiral. At the end of the night I concluded “The interviewer hated what you had to say. You clearly didn’t get the job.” This created a snowball effect of worries in my mind. Those small mistakes I made during the interview that day had me convinced that I would be unemployed and hopeless. 

So, I wrote down all of my thoughts without a filter, without stopping to analyze a single thing. I went to bed that night feeling a little better, because at least I had gotten my feelings out. 

A few days later when I got a phone call that I did receive the job, I looked back at my journal entry. My anxiety convinced me that I failed, all because I was so focused on the few mistakes I made, without taking into consideration any other aspects of the interview.

It helped in many other situations, no matter what the source of my troubles were. I came to realize that in most cases, I went into panic mode before I could fully process the events of the day. My thoughts were simply irrational because they were a results of the mind tricks anxiety played on me. In a few cases, my concerns were realistic and writing down my worries was a useful way to sort out my thoughts. 

Take any sort of journal, whether it’s on paper or on your phone, and write down everything that’s on your mind. Give yourself time to go through the emotions and just let your stress out. Later, once you’ve had enough time to calm down, reread what you wrote. Does it make sense, or do your thoughts look like the result of your anxiety? Can you pinpoint areas where your thoughts look irrational or magnified? Or, are these problems that you truly do need to address? Releasing your emotions then reflecting on them may give you the clarity you need to work your way through it. 

If you’re looking for tools to aid you in your recovery, I highly recommend trying this out. Journaling isn’t only effective, but it’s easy and accessible for those who can’t afford to speak to a professional for whatever reason. Using a panic journal may not work for everyone, but it’s worth a shot if you’re recovering from an anxiety disorder. 

(Thank you for reading, I hope you find this helpful! Best of luck on your journey.)

 

The $2 Patreon Challenge

I ask a lot from the followers of this blog. Maybe too much. I about to publish my first book with a legit indie publisher and The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir is becoming a reality and will be published soon. Update: I am in my final edits and working on my cover with my artist. It sounds like everything will be done on 8/15 as a tentative completion date. I need help continue to be able to write full-time.

The last count for this blog 12,400 followers and I love that so many people are a part of this collaborative blogging journey. I want to challenge my followers to subscribe to my Patreon account for the minimum $2 tier. I know for so many, myself included, we have so many responsibilities when it comes to this mental illness life. The sign up is easy, and I offer a lot, even at the lowest tier. There will also be a special blog post for those that become patrons in June and a release of a never before seen poem for those who join this week.

$2 is a lot of money, but in reality, it’s just a cup of coffee actually less. I would love for people to join for higher tiers but all I am asking is the $2 a month from half my followers will help me to finally be able to add a podcast and other mental health advocacy things to this blog life t-shirts and The Bipolar Writer merch.

With that said, I hope I can get many of you to rise to the challenge. If you can’t I understand, if you can’t subscribe, please share this post. It would mean the world to me. The process is a simple one, just click the link below and sign up and subscribe to a tier. If you have questions feel free to ask!

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Realizing my Dream – The Bipolar Writer Memoir

It feels strange to be so close to publishing my memoir which is the culmination of almost two years of work.

From the idea to now having the right publisher, to going through the editing process has been an amazing experience one that, as a writer, I really needed.

I needed to write this memoir. It was always there, the idea, and my other writing projects since have been successful because I finally got to the point where I have a publisher. Now, project ideas and completing projects (my 200k word fantasy fiction novel is at its first draft, and I am close to self-publishing my novella) have made a stressful year at least one where I am completing my goals.

I have not really taken a step back and realized that life is not so bad, that despite my mental illnesses I have done great things that will continue to help me not just continue this road to recovery but make me feel good–something missing in my life of late.

I am close to realizing my dream of being a published author, and I should take stock in that feeling and help it drive the next few weeks of my life. No matter how things get bad, things can always get better. I am living proof of that, and today I will say that life is not all bad. There is light in my life in all the darkness.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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When Mania Gets in the Way

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Last week (June 10th-16th) was a tough one. I was picking up my nieces at an early time about an hour away at the airport, and I had to drive my best friend up to pick them up.

I tried my best to get all my school work done before the week started, and then proceeded to stay up for about 32 hours straight so I could sleep Tuesday afternoon, and wake Wednesday at around 2 am morning refreshed and ready to travel.

Part of the issue is that I generally get to bed between 12 am and 2 am, so it was impossible to try and sleep without being exhausted. If I sleep at 2am and had to wake at 2 am therein lies a significant problem. I thought the plan made sense. Sleep 12 hours and wake up better rested and then Thursday was a later pick up around 10 am so I can sleep at my reasonable time. The problem? I never anticipate that staying up for that many hours is inviting mania into my life. Mania is precisely what happened, and it was not pretty.

First off, it was a crazy week. Full-time graduate student, working on my next fantasy fiction novel writing 5,000 words a day and finishing the second edits of my book that is in the publishing phase so that I can reach the final edits. All these things got done at the expense of my mental health and my work for the week. I bombed both assignments, something I have never done as an undergraduate (I graduated with 3.92-grade average) or in the three-plus courses of my graduate studies.

I did what I always do, overextended. It is possible that I was already manic. It tends to happen more during the summer months that the winter months. But, no matter how I slice it, mania and depression took me over, and I let it get to me without knowing. It took this week, and learning of the failure of the last week, to hit rock bottom. I considered quiting this semester. I looked into alternatives, and I think I found some solutions which will allow me to stay in school. It would be all bad to quit this semester.

I got back to work the last two day finishing my paper, and I am hoping that things will get better from here with my editing, which was the major issue last week. Mania tends to sneak up on me, and when it gets too much, I crash. I am a fighter, and I will continue to do what I do best–all that I can to be the best mental health me.

Stay strong in the fight,

Always Keep Fighting

James

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When You Lose the Love to Blog

I wanted to preface this with I love this blog. Since September 2017 this blog has been my lifeblood. I have spent so many hours building something great so that one day if needed, it could run on its own.

I wanted a place that was safe for other mental health bloggers to write. I think I have achieved that here on The Bipolar Writer blog. Recently, I have started to fall out of love writing on my blog. It is not that I don’t want to write, I feel as if I have not much to say anymore as I transition into fictional writing. My mental illness/mental health life is just not interesting to the masses anymore.

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Between my memoir and the blog I always felt as if there is still something to write on my mental health. Now that my memoir will be published which along with this blog has been my life since September 2017. I feel so drained the last week as if I could not write another word about my mental illness life.

It really felt as if I had fell out of love with writing. There is so much going on, and I knew that being a graduate student I would have to write less here (I used to write daily, and I am down to one or two posts every few weeks.) I have sat here on WordPress staring at the blank screen not knowing what to write about in my life. I feel so bad that I am not here talking about the ups and downs of this life because that is always how it has been.

This is shaping out to be the busiest that I have been in a long time. I want to share every triumph like just a week ago going on an actual job interview, something that I have not done in so long. I am always doing freelance writing work, but that is a different thing entirely. It went well but I was so busy after that I was unable to share the good news. I didn’t get the job, but it was because of the schedule along with my school schedule was impossible.

April was a great month. I found someone to come up with a fantastic concept for the logo for my The Bipolar Writer brand. This logo is going to help me launch some fantastic things in 2019.

I am finally going to be publishing my memoir. The blood, sweat, and tears to get it done with the million edits will finally become pay off. I wanted to share all these amazing things and yet when it came to writing a blog about my luck all I got was my blank page (I did talk about my Patreon, which I am oft to do lately, but I felt like couldn’t brag about the amazing things happening in my life.

It has been a tough semester, but that is not an excuse that I feel should be used. I will be working towards writing more informative blog posts from here on out. It might only be weekly, but I can’t walk away from all this. I hope my fellow contributors and followers will understand. Stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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A Moment of Weakness

How I Wanted to Quit Blogging– For a Moment

I have been overwhelmed lately. Graduate school, my work in freelance, and of course my writing has stretched me thin. My issues with a rapid cycling mixed episode and my social anxiety are making each day a challenge.

Anyone that follows my writing here on my blog knows that this place has been so amazing in my life. I have never shared more of my experiences here than anywhere else on the posts of this blog (the small exception is my memoir.) I could not imagine walking away, but sometimes I feel there is nothing left for me to say. In the past two weeks, there has been a feeling of distance between my writing here on my blog.

It could be the time of year. I always tend to struggle to find my focus during the colder winter months. The recent time change has allowed me to be more productive and I see that my mental health is improving, which is everything. It is a small sample size, but I am always better when the weather is much better.

I felt terrible because I love writing my blog, but with everything going on, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed and that something has to give because I am heading towards being overwhelmed. It was my own fault when I had last week off I decided to nothing but write. The days I took off were because I had no choice–mixed episode and all.

What is Next?

Drowning. That is how I feel right now. It is crazy because I am always thinking in my head, what is the next thing for me? I thought I had the answer, but the truth is I might have jumped the gun.

I was talking to a fellow mental health blogger and writer about Patreon. It sounded like the perfect next step. You come up with tiers that people can subscribe to, and you offer fantastic perks. It would be perfect. I could write full-time and quit freelance writing (which has been really difficult lately, there are just not enough hours in the day.) I might have been fooling myself. I am not ready for such a thing.

I am back to the drawing board on so many levels. One positive thing is that I am done with my memoir. I need to save enough to have an editor go over every inch, but The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir is ready. I hope to self-publish in May (I will do some querying in April, but it looks like self-publishing is the right thing for the memoir. (BTW: I am calling my followers Skye-Walkers… what do you think?)

With that, I wanted to show a concept of my cover. Let me know what you think of the cover in the comments. The artist is Anna C. Pishko.

Always Keep Fighting

James

My Patreon Account:

https://www.patreon.com/JamesEdgarSkye

A GoFundMe Update

We Reached One of Our Goals!

I wanted to say thank you to all those that were able to donate. The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog collaborators, and of course myself, are honored for all that upgrading this website to the business level will bring!

As for the goals, we raised enough money to upgrade for a year (which means we have enough to pay from now until September when it is due again, this is just an upgrade.) We are really close to the actual goal, which was to upgrade from now until September 2020. I will be putting the remainder of the funds into savings, and when I am able to get enough funds to get this blog through 2020.

New Things Coming!!!

I am excited for what is next. The WordPress business level brings this blog to new standards. I will be unveiling the new upgrades and a whole new blog.

Over the next week (after tonight at 12 am) you might see the website down, or the changes will be made with the site up. I have not decided.

I look forward to the next chapter!

Always Keep Fighting

James

A Final Push – My GoFundme Campaign

I wanted to say first, thank you all to those who have already donated towards upgrading The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog to the business level. There have been some fantastic large donations and also amaing small donations that have brought us closer, but we are still not quite there–as of today we have made over 300 dollars, which is really amazing! I think this final push will help us finally achieve our goal.

Always Keep Fighting!

What is the Goal?

The next level. Upgrading The Bipolar Writer blog to the business level for the next year and a half. This will give the blog more options on getting the collaborative work out there into the world. I also want a place where authors can showcase and sell their work on here (I am working on how this will be possible.) At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to spread the stories and experiences of those in the mental illness blogging community with the world and end the stigma.

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

This blog has always been self-funded by my own money, but the community has also helped me with funding from time to time. Every penny that I raise is going towards this blog and spreading the many stories that feature on this blog. It takes just small donations (significant donations are also welcome) and with the 11,100 plus followers of this blog donating 2-3 dollars we can finally reach the goal! The final goal will be $425. 

You can also help my spreading the word by clicking the reblog button or sharing this blog post on twitter or facebook.

My GoFundme

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

There are other ways to donate

PayPal

This is another excellent way to donate, and to do so just press Pay with PayPal and you can choose to give a minimum of $2.00 (you can decide how much based on the number of donations, so 3 times would be 2 x 3 and you would donate six dollars.) 

Venmo – 831-287-4369

I don’t mind sharing my number (I have before several times in the past.)

That is it. I am hoping to raise enough money by this weekend. 

James Edgar Skye

If You Ever Need The Bipolar Writer

I am doing something unorthodox today here on The Bipolar Writer. I hope that I have created a place where my fellow mental health sufferers can have a “safe place” to discuss their own issues. I often get emails from many who are seeking help or guidance or just want to talk about things. I want everyone who comes to this blog to know that if you are suicidal there is always someone here, I am always here to talk.

The unorthodox part is that today I am going to give my number to my followers if you are suicidal and you don’t want to reach out to help-lines (I have learned recently that they are not always great.) So, if you need to chat you can text me anytime. I will get back to you as soon as humanly possible. As a mental health advocate and someone who has been through the worst parts of mental illness alone, I want you to know I am a lifeline.

831-287-4369

You are not alone. Suicide is not the answer. Again, I am always here to talk anytime.

Always Keep Fighting

James

My GoFundme Campaign

I am still raising money so that my blog can reach more people through the WordPress Business level. This blog is partially funded with my own money, but it takes a lot to take The Bipolar Writer to the next level. It means the content on this blog can reach more people and help end the stigma of mental illness. If you can please donate! It means the world to the contributors, followers and of course The Bipolar Writer.

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