2020 – A Year in Review, A Different Year

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

What a year, 2020. I think we can all agree that we have learned something new about ourselves and about the world. We saw polarizing political issues amid the worst pandemic in about 100 years. We made decisions about where we stood, and it matters not about right or wrong as much as we decided with our voices and by voting. Life will probably never be the same after a year like this one, but it has been a year of change for me.

The Bipolar Writer Podcast

Buy Me A Coffee

What can I take away from 2020? Do you have time for a novel? This blog post might become a series that I write as we near the end of the year, as with all things in my life it is up in the air. I let the universe lead me along with my inner I, and it allows me to be in the now. That was one of the things that I learned, thank you to my life coach alongside Eckhart Tolle, and while it works, I am still learning to adjust to here, without being in the useless past or looking toward the future. The past is done, and the future is unknown. Even with everything that I do now, it is important to me to always know where I am with my mental health, anxiety, depression, and how I feel.

If you listened to the podcast about my last year, it reveals a lot about what I went through since my mother’s untimely death on December 15, 2019. I was in pain beyond measure. I went to my default mode that I had used before and after my diagnosis in 2007. I allowed the pain to go into a box and not deal. That made the pain so much worse, and it grew into my infamous dark passenger. Eventually, it would take me over, and it became such a significant part of my daily life. Though I could still function and do my daily work, including school, work, and writing. It was all to keep the pain at bay and not feel the feels. Keep working, and it can’t touch you, except at night when I would have uncontrollable anxiety. 

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

In April of 2020, I met a kindred spirit, and she became my life coach after I worked in a seminar with her in May. By August, after deciding to begin life coaching and taking a chance on myself. I began a four-month journey that ended on December 1, and it was a lifetime game-changer. I learned all the things that I had inside to be what I set out in my initial session, to live in the now, be myself, and above all, she made her coaching in a way that fit my reading and writing learning lifestyle. Those four months, I felt more like myself than at any time in my life, and since then, I have repaired relationships, myself, and worked on the flow of living in the gray area. The real James, the genuine inner I, has come out. It was life-changing. 

I would recommend to those dealing with mental illness and suicide to reach out to Grounds for Clarity LLC.

As a society and the global world, we learned that we are more alike than different, but there are still things to fix. We live in a pandemic world where we have to wear masks, a simple task, to help stop the spread of a deadly virus. We learned to social distance and stay at home, only going out for the essentials for months on end. The racial divide in America is becoming a forefront issue, long overdue, and we learned that Black Lives Matter, and it is not just about injustice; it is the system not working for specific cultural sections of our society. The divide only worsened as we learned that we can come together and vote for change, give a voice to those who need it, not be where we are, and be where we should act as Americans.

I love politics so much I minored in Political Science as an undergraduate. More Americans voted in 2020 than any other election in history, and while we all may land on different sides, it is time we become more together and less segregated. Unfortunately, the world got to see just how divided Americans are with how we voted, but democracy prevailing even with the outdated electoral college makes me proud to be an American. We are Americans first, and the America I know is a melting pot of every human being regardless of where we come from because let us face the facts, unless you are a native of this land, we all came from somewhere else, and many had no choice in the matter of how our ancestors were brought here. We have to be better to one another, and while pandemic showed us so much to fix, there is a long way to go from this point. Let us continue to be together and show the future, the kids, that we can be better.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

In 2020, I read more books in one year from every genre imaginable than at any time in my life. I am a voracious reader. Some of the best literature I have been able to absorb came from the era of American Realism and Naturalism. I got to read Jack London, Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Charolette Perkins Gilman, and Mary Freeman, just to name a few. I reread my favorite and classic books, and with a lot of resistance, I gave away books to small bookstores to find new homes. I found a home in second-hand book stores and what they bring, and I binged on the likes of books that I love. I read about grief and living in the now. Reading is love.

I did amazing things in my writing, including re-publishing my memoir The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir, which was a fight to get back, and in December, on the anniversary of my mom’s passing, I was able to publish my fictional novella Angel on the Ward. Two books in one year are more than I could imagine. I was able to edit my major novel, the first in a six-book series, The Rise on the Nephilim, and continued to grow my business, The Bipolar Writer Ghostwriting Services. New projects through my business will be significant in 2021. I have exciting writing projects like The Many Faces and Voices on Mental Illness, the two-year project. I found my place again in writing here on my blog again. 

To be continued in part two, to be released on Christmas Day.

Always Keep Fighting.

What is the worst that can happen?

James Edgar Skye

Visit my author website at http://www.jamesedgarskye.me

Purchase my Memoir and Novella here: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me/jamesedgarskyebooks

The Bipolar Writer Podcast

For everything James Edgar Skye use the QR code below Or use this link.

Photo by Albany Capture on Unsplash

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

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.

A sign of Depression – A Messy Room

There are always signs in my life that my depression is in bad shape. There are the easy ones to look out for like not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, and also staying there all day. I can tell that things might be turning for the worst when I fail to take a shower for a few days. Generally, when I am failing to take care of myself, there is a good chance I am really depressed.

There is one sign that isn’t always an easy one to spot in my life because it is more subtle, and it is the mess in my personal space, my room. The mess that happens is usually over a period days or weeks of neglect. The mess begins to pile up with small things at first. My desk becomes a makeshift bookshelf with all the books that I pull off my bookshelves for school or for pleasure reading begin to tower over me when I sit at my desk.

I fail to pick up my dirty clothes from the floor and a pile starts just next to my dirty laundry basket but never inside it. I start to see water bottles half drank on my headboard and my desk. When I get packages the boxes start to pile up in my closet to such a point that it is overwhelming.

My research papers in different folders from semesters current and past with the research folders for my current literary works are strewn all over the place. On my desk. On my bed where I sometimes spend time writing and researching at night. I only use half of my huge bed so the other half usually has books, clean clothes, and folders strewn in piles. Lots of folders.

My life becomes a complete mess and it is a sign that things need to change. One thing that I have learned is that the messier my life is the deeper my depression can go.

Looking at my messy room, I feel like spending the rest of my night cleaning. But that would most likely be counterproductive for me right now because I wouldn’t get enough done tonight to justify the actual cleaning. I will have to set aside a day this weekend to some wintertime spring cleaning.

I wanted to spend the rest of this blog post breaking down why a messy life is a sign that my depression is starting to get worse. When I am normal, I am a clean and organized person when it comes to my personal space. I prefer things to be organized and neat. It is a lot like my writing. I am overly organized when it comes to my writing. Every chapter has its place and I feel better when things are written exactly the right way. When I have better control my personal space is clean and organized. I make my bed. I put books away in their rightful places.

So why does my personal space become so disorganized and how do I let it get that way? It starts with a little thing like not really feeling like I had the energy to do a simple task like putting my books back on the shelf. It starts with one and then another before long a semester of studying and writing has everything spread out all over my room. I start to not feel like making my bed. I start to take my laptop to bed to write because it is a comfortable place, but I know this wrong. I take books and research work bed, a place that isn’t recommended to do for good sleep hygiene.

At night I prefer to overlook a mess pushing it aside until it grows to where I am today. I get really annoyed at myself for letting the mess in my personal space get this bad and at the same time ready to reorganize and prioritize my personal space again. I know things are changing with my depression as the season gets colder and I see less sunlight. For me, it comes down to getting things right in my life to keep my depression from spiraling out of control.

I think it will be different this year. I can already tell that two days into what is always the worst month of my life, November, that I have a better grip on my depression. I am a few weeks away from my 10-year diagnosis/suicide anniversary. I have been better at getting through my depression so far even on the bad days. I can write here when things get bad because writing has been so therapeutic for me. I am working on trying to complete my memoir by the end of this year at least a first draft. I have hope that I will be able to sell my screenplay.

All this together gives me hope that things will change for the good, and for the better. I can use my writing to really focus my life each day. It has been a really tough week and yet I have been active with my writing. My depression has certainly taken hold again. I have had one day this week where I let it control me, and it was a tough day. But I am going inward and choosing to write about my life. Here and in my memoir.

Always keep fighting.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Jesus Hilario H.

I Read/Write/Watch Horror to Cope with My Mental Illness

I always enjoyed horror though I never considered myself a fan of horror. I remember watching Tim Curry portray Pennywise the Clown in “IT” (1990) when I was three or four. I pretended to sleep while my parents (and I) watched the film “Dr. Giggles” (1992) about an escaped mental patient who kills with a surgical theme when I was six. I saw the film “Return to Cabin by the Lake” (2001) about a murderous screenwriter as a teenager. These films standout because they reminded me of suppressed trauma. Repressed memories that only recently returned.

I recall watching many films and having no emotional response. Scenes that made most tear up left me feeling numb or indifferent. I felt out of place and segregated from everyone else who had ‘feelings.’ Even horror films didn’t scare me or make me jump. I felt I knew the scares were coming. In high school and the first few years of college, I was described as ‘creepy’ by many of my peers. I could easily sneak up and scare others. I’d walk behind them for several minutes before they noticed me. One friend remarked after going through a haunted house it didn’t scare them because they had known me for so long.

I didn’t become an avid reader until my late 20s, but I’ve always had interest in writing. In the first grade, I wrote a detective story. It had all the tropes of film noir though I didn’t know what those were at the time. Film noir has similar elements to horror with suspense building and dealing with killers without the fantasy elements. I always enjoyed reading the works of Edgar Allan Poe and he is considered the creator of the detective story.

Many of the stories I have written or plan to write deal with death in one way or another. Some may not be called horror stories but still have death somewhere. I have written a few detective stories as well and they’re much better than that first one in the first grade. Serial killers, murderers, monsters, and people who’ve lost their minds take center stage in many of my stories. These are the topics in which I am most interested. Why do I have this fascination with killers, monsters, and madmen? Why would anyone want to think about these horrors?

I believe this is my way of coping with my own trauma. Upon writing this, I am 32. My trauma began when I was four. It had such an impact on me, I had to begin anger management counseling when I was six. We were cleaning up one day in class to go to recess. I was putting away a puzzle or something and this other boy tried to help. I told him I got it. He helped anyway. I got angry and hit him with a chair. I reacted with violence because I was exposed to violence at home. I thought that was the best response.

As I’ve aged, repressed memories resurfaced, and I’ve started to feel. I tear up during emotional scenes in romantic comedies or dramas. I can feel my heart racing during chase scenes in horror or action films. Horror films and horror fiction remind me of the violence and terror I experienced as a child without causing a panic attack. Writing horror fiction, I believe, is my way of dealing with the trauma and getting all the pain out. My mind has tried to pull my repressed memories forward through horror fiction. I think this is why horror is becoming even more popular as so many traumas continue in our chaotic world.

I am not the only person to experience this and this is not exclusive to PTSD. People with different anxiety disorders have a similar affinity toward horror fiction. Here are a few other articles I’ve found on the subject.

How do you feel about horror when it comes to your mental health? Is it helpful as it is for me or do you struggle with watching or reading horror?

Photo Credit: James & Carol Lee

Ideas for Mental Health Recovery

arturo-rey-747851-unsplash.jpg

One of the critical components of mental health recovery in my mind is finding the things that work to make you happy.  Over the years I have used different things to get me through the worst months of the year (my SAD months.) It differs from person to person because one person’s illness is not exactly alike, so find what works for your specific mental health recovery.

What I have found useful in my life is role-playing video games as they get me through some of the worst depression in my life. It is a way to escape the reality for a few hours and focus on something different. It gives me an opportunity to reach goals and feel good about myself when depression is taking over.

charley-pangus-782885-unsplash.jpg

Writing is my greatest weapon to deal with the ups and downs of my mental illness. The writing projects that I am currently working on and this blog are so helpful.

There are other things that I am working towards as we head into the final three months of 2018. I had many lofty goals this year, but there are still somethings that I would like to try out– like photography. I have talked to other artists and photographers about how therapeutic taking pictures is for their mental health. When I use video games or reading books to escape my mental illness for a few hours, it is the same for them with photography. It was one of my goals to start the year, but I got further away from it because of the cost.

james-carol-lee-793937-unsplash.jpg

What started this blog post was one of the fellow bloggers asking me how people deal using different forms of media like books, video games, watching film, photography, and even writing. This blogger mentioned that people coping with trauma often get into horror movies and books because they connect with the genre. I can relate to this in so many ways. I got into reading Edgar Allan Poe because of the connection to the “dark romanticism” feel of his work, and his influence is in every aspect of my writing.

What I want people to get out of this post is this, there are so many ways out there to cope with mental illness, and these things are essential to finding what will help with your overall mental health.

Before starting The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog, I was lost. I had my writing but it was not enough.

Then I started this blog and everything changed. I have used this blog to improve myself through shared experiences in mental illness, and now I am more open to sharing my experiences. I wrote my memoir because of the amazing mental illness community here on WordPress. It has been what has helped my mental health recovery. Find what helps you get through the tough times, and it will make these times less harsh. Never dwell of the negative and always move forward.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)

James

Photo Credit:

Julius Drost

Arturo Rey

charley pangus

James & Carol Lee

All About James – Part One

I am so close to the final draft of my memoir “The Bipolar Writer.” I want to share in two parts of the first chapter of my memoir, of the course of today. In the past, I have shown chapters in different parts of the process. This first chapter is so important to my memoir that I wanted to share it so that feedback is possible. It is perhaps my most polished and most worked chapter, that is not to say it is perfect (I am still considering having a few people look at all the chapters together when you are close to project you can miss things.) With that said this will be a real and raw look at James, the early years leading up to my diagnosis.

Who is J.E. Skye? The Origins of The Bipolar Writer

Part One

riccardo-retez-705622-unsplash.jpg

I chose to focus this memoir on the last ten years of my Bipolar life starting in 2007, when, on that wet November night, my life changed forever. My diagnosis became Bipolar One. It is where my adult life with mental illness began. I was twenty-two at the time. If I am honest, I had no idea the realities that would define the next ten years of my life. When I was twenty-two and starting this journey, I was young and naive, had little regard for my life, and the effects it would have on my relationships especially with my family.

I never thought I would see my thirtieth birthday, I was that suicidal during the first three years of this journey. I never believed that there was something wrong with me— my first mistake. It would take years to get to a point where writing this memoir was a real thing. I had to deal with the peaks and valleys of this Bipolar life to say, “hey I have something to share with the world.” It took those three very different suicide attempts over a three-year period that made me who I am today— The Bipolar Writer. A journey has a starting point, but there is always what happened before that helps define the start of this mental illness journey.

Those of us in mental illness community all have an origins story, and mine is no different. My journey began at twenty-two, but in truth, this journey starts at the beginning when my symptoms first started to take shape. It is easier to look back on it now because those early memories are hard to forget.

thought-catalog-214785-unsplash.jpg

I was born in the small town of Salinas, California— the central coast as it often referred to by the locals. The area is where John Steinbeck lived and wrote many of his literary works. My childhood was typical. My parents were hard-working (still are), and they always instilled in me their hard work ethic. I was a horrible as a kid in my early years, and often did more bad things than good. I had this extreme need as a kid to steal anything that wasn’t tied down in my house. More often than not I would get caught, which is a good thing, I would never make it as a thief as an adult. I got disciplined the right way, and it made me a better person as I became an adult.

I am a regular guy to the outside world. I have always had an affinity for books, writing, and music. I love Japanese food and the anime culture. Korean pop music is my guilty pleasure, and I am learning to speak the language. I would like to move to South Korea in the future or to Japan. It’s funny talking about the future because it wasn’t always a possibility in my life. That is the great thing about finding myself as a writer is that I have a future (more about that in the later chapters of this book.)

I am a coffee addict, and you will usually find me at a coffee house getting my coffee fix and writing. I am a fantastic role-playing game gamer. Ask anyone who has ever seen me play knows how good I am at strategy turn-based RPGs, but any role-playing game is what I have always used to combat my depression. If there is a boss that is unbeatable in the video game, I will beat it. My best boss battle ever for an “unbeatable boss” was beating Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts 2. It was amazing. My best series of games that I am proud of beating is the Dark Souls series (up to the latest.)

I am a guy who loves watching baseball, football, and basketball. I love rooting for my teams. I love hard. I am better at helping other people with their problems before fixing any of my own issues. If we become friends in this life, you become family to me. I am also Bipolar. I am all these things, and you find that in this memoir I will explore every aspect of my life.

jonathan-rados-732130-unsplash.jpg

I can trace my depression back to when I was a teenager around fourteen. It was the first time in my life that I felt comfortable being an introvert, and I struggled to keep up with my friends. Before high school, I went to my friend’s sleepovers and lived like an average kid. So many things changed in my high school experience that led me to be who I am today. I hung out with friends at school in high school, but not outside of school/ I preferred to be alone. I realize now that school became a “safe place” because it was a place that I had to be. When I graduated, there was not one friendship I took into adulthood. The small group of friends I have now are part of my adult life.

A safe place is a theme that shows up often in my life. I started to realize I could be happy alone. My depression would take severe turns during my high school years. It was easier to be with myself when depression took me over. It was a familiar feeling. Loneliness was something I did well when everything else in my life fell apart it felt right.

My sophomore year is an excellent example of events that shaped how I dealt with depression. It was a sad year for me, and I had to combat my depression on a daily basis. I ditched school almost weekly with my cousin. It was the first time in my life that turned to marijuana to cope with my depression and my social anxiety. It helped in the short-term but never in the long-term. Turning to something to keep me steady is another theme I learned at an early age.

I would spend days at the time in bed when not hanging out with my cousin or sitting around for hours playing video games. I ditched school so much, but I always had a good excuse in hand and could write excuse notes like there was no tomorrow. My parents never knew about the time I missed that year. To this day, I am not sure why the school believed that someone could be sick as often as I called in sick. In my sophomore year was the first time in my life that I failed classes in school. I got back on track that summer and took classes to make up for my bad grades. As a teenager, I learned that no matter what I could always find my way out of the bad that came with my depression.

At the time I chalked my sophomore year to something kids do. It was so much deeper than that because it was a sign that I was getting good at hiding things. Another theme that often comes up in my life. It was the first time that I let my depression control me for an extended period in my life. Depression became my constant companion after my sophomore year in high school.

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:

rawpixel

Riccardo Retez

Thought Catalog

Jonathan Rados

Defining the Next Step

Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality. – Edgar Allan Poe

Please use this link to donate

What’s Next?

max-nelson-748765-unsplash

I am always thinking about what is next for me. I am close to the end of my first year since starting The Bipolar Writer blog (I will be writing an anniversary piece that will be featured on the one year anniversary.) So what is next?

My memoir is in limbo as I am still in search for the right artist that can capture what I want in a cover. The cover is the most important part next to the story when you self-publish. It needs to be right.

I think my next project in the meantime will be starting a new screenplay. I have some ideas of where that would go. I have been working on the beginnings of the story of one of my favorite video games. Getting back to creative writing would be great. It has been a while as I am working on my memoir– a non-fiction piece of work. I also recently began to redo chapters in the novel version of my first screenplay (I kinda did that one backward.) Writing is just something that I need to get back to normal.

elijah-o-donell-760367-unsplash.jpg

Writing is what I do best, and it really is where I feel my best. I have less than a month before starting my Master’s programs, and I could really get the first act of my next creative work, while at the same time I can work towards finding my artist, finally publishing my memoir, and of course, creating new content here on The Bipolar Writer blog.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)

James Edgar Skye

Please use this link to donate

Photo Credit:

Andrew Neel

Max Nelson

Elijah O’Donell

The Bipolar Writer’s Top 10 Favorites Lists Pt. 1

I have been so serious lately with writing my blog. I have shared my struggles and my love for writing. My fellow mental illness community bloggers have seen the best and worst part of me, and I wanted to share some of the things I love in this world. The things that get me through my worst depression and social anxiety on a daily basis. This will be a new series.

So here is my new lists, The Bipolar Writer’s Top 10 lists.

My Top Ten Book Series (Some are since I was a kid)

  1. Game of Thrones Series
  2. Harry Potter Series
  3. Alex Cross Series
  4. Twilight Series
  5. House of Night Series
  6. Rizzoli and Isles Series
  7. Firelight Series
  8. The Dark Tower Series
  9. Goosebumps Series
  10. Lord of the Rings (and the Hobbit)

My Top Ten Movies

  1. Breakfast At Tiffany’s
  2. Les Miserables
  3. Funny Face
  4. Roman Holiday
  5. Ten Commandments
  6. The Dark Knight
  7. A Knights Tale
  8. King Arthur
  9. The Departed
  10. V for Vendetta

My Ten Television Series

  1. Game of Thrones
  2. How I Met Your Mother
  3. Supernatural
  4. Sons of Anarchy
  5. Breaking Bad
  6. The Office
  7. Parks and Recreations
  8. Entourage
  9. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  10. The Original Dragonball Z Series

So there you go. You know a bit more about James Edgar Skye. I like to know your thoughts and if any on my list makes your top ten. I will continue the series at a later time.

Always Keep Fighting

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoMercedes Alvarez

Brittany Elise’s Feature Interview

Are we defined by our mental illness? Brittany Elise from Fort Worth, Texas believes that your illness shouldn’t define you.

“There are resources and support networks for you. Don’t think your diagnosis is the end of the world. It’s the start of getting the help you need, even if you don’t think you need it. Find what works for you. Mental illness is not a-one-size-fits-all.”

The Beginning and her Incredible Journey

jamie-street-331990

Some battles with a mental illness can go on silently for years, it was that way in Brittany Elise’s life. In 2014 while in high school, Brittany was first diagnosed with depression. It was the silent battles that came to a culmination that became her diagnosis. In the summer of 2012, Brittany began to have thoughts of wanting to self-harm. In the winter of that year, she opened up to her parents.

“I would spend an hour or more at the time in the shower. Sitting there with the water running. Thinking about how much I wished the pain would go away,” she explains.

It was always hard for Brittany and her family, and it was common for negative thoughts to go through her mind. She would think “things would get better if.” What if her parents didn’t have pay for things for her. What if they only had to buy food for themselves? It can be an overwhelming to feel a burden in the lives of others.

“I don’t remember what made me decide to tell my family, but I remember my mom’s reaction,” she recalls. Her dad killed himself by slitting his wrists right before her birthday.”

Brittany’s mother held her until she stopped crying. It was in this moment that her mother convinced her to go see the intervention counselor at her high school. The counselor was effective for Brittany, but the following year the counselor was gone. Brittany felt good, but it was only temporary.

“Gradually it started to come back. I would be angry all the time and lash out at the world. I was making myself sick so I wouldn’t have to go to school. I would stay home every day. It got to a point where I was close to not graduating,” she explains about her past.

It got so bad for Brittany that her parent’s frustration grew, and they made her see the family doctor. It here that Brittany got first got her diagnosis of depression and at it was the first time being on medication.

The medication helped at times for Brittany but it was still hard. The depression was still in full force by the time Brittany graduated high school. Stress was a major factor in her senior year and it would be the little things that got to her. Her doctor limited her medication to six months, and for a while after high school she normal.

“I finished the six months right before starting my first semester of college. I was on top of the world. I had a boyfriend who I thought loved me. My family was in a slightly better place and I was starting a new chapter in my life.”

As most things do in life, Brittany’s world began to crumble. It didn’t help that a few weeks coming off her medication Brittany’s grandfather got sick. In hospice care, her grandfather was close to coming home. But after a few days of visiting they never saw him awake. After a week Brittany’s grandfather passed.

“His funeral was the day before my first class and the next day, my relationship ended,” she recalls. “After my grandpa’s death, I started to get panic attacks. I’ve been to funerals before, but my grandpa’s hit me hard. The panic attacks were constant, but I hid them like my depression, and since they came at night, it was easy.”

Brittany transferred to a four-year college and things started to look up in her life. The thing is with life, things like panic attacks never come at the right time. The worse panic attack in her life came for Brittany when she went to a concert with her church group.

“I’ve never been claustrophobic, but I had my first major panic attack there,” she recalls. “This was the first panic attack that made my dad see that I did have something wrong.”

What we often learn in a mental illness journey is that some people will doubt your illness. They believe it made up or not real. This comes from never experiencing the feelings associated with a mental illness. It was the same in Brittany’s life. She explains how her father, up until she had her major panic attack, he didn’t believe that she had a mental illness. When they picked Brittany up from the concert they could see it in her eyes.

When Brittany got back to school she was able to see an on-campus counselor. When she got back on medicine she could see changes. But, in the first semester of her junior year in college, her depression and anxiety got worse. It became impossible to get out bed to go to class.

asdrubal-luna-485688.jpg

“After talking to my professors and my new counselor, I made the decision to take time for myself, and withdraw from classes. Moving back home helped some, but I haven’t been able to find a counselor to see.”

That is where we find Brittany in her journey with depression. It can be a hard place to be in when you have no outlet when you have no counselor to see. Dealing with her mental illness daily can be difficult for Brittany because of her anger. Her targets are often her boyfriend and family members.

“I’m moody all the time. I can go from “the best day ever,” Brittany explains. “To “I hate life and what’s my purpose” in a few seconds.

How Brittany Deals With her Mental Illness

In Brittany’s life, it can be difficult to be herself in a single day with her depression. It helps to have people in her life that understand the bad days. Brittany’s boyfriend suffers from depression and PTSD, so he understands.

Picture2.png

“If I’m having a panic attack, he held me until I quit crying. We adopted a dog, who we are training to be his service dog,” she explains. “He calms me instantly. He knows when our mental illnesses are affecting us before we do.”

Brittany explains that her dog is one of the best decisions she ever made in her life. It also helps Brittany get through a day by reading and writing. It helps her to spend as much time in nature as she can. It is her happy place. It can be a struggle like any mental illness for Brittany. But at the same time, she wouldn’t be who she is without her mental illness. Brittany has found her place within her diagnosis. A great feeling.

“It makes me a stronger person,” she explains. “Even if I am weak some days. I’ve learned how to live with it, and make it more of a back burner than having it affect me severely.”

How do we get back to the real person that we are inside? It takes the little things in your life that make it worth living. The Bipolar Writer often struggles with this. It is in the little things that Brittany finds her strength. With her boyfriend, friends, and family she has her biggest support system.

Picture4.png

“Even when they don’t completely understand my illness.”

Brittany has big dreams that she won’t let depression conquer. Instead, it will be Brittany doing the conquering. It is in her dreams that she also draws strength to move on. Brittany would like to finish her creative writing degree and become a fiction book editor. If possible she wants to write her own novel somewhere in the future.

“My pets. The dog my boyfriend and I adopted and the dog I grew up with is the biggest cuddle bugs. They are always doing something to make me laugh,” Brittany explains about the little things. “Especially when the big one farts all the time.”

Of course, there is Brittany’s tattoo.

Picture1.png

It is a constant reminder to fight and to keep the faith that she will make it through her depression.

Depression can be crippling in our lives. It has been in my own life. I can find strength in Brittany’s story because it is one that I know well. I hope in reading Brittany’s story, that you feel the same. A connection with another member of the mental illness community. It was a great pleasure to share the journey of Brittany Elise. I have a feeling one day we will see the amazing person that she will become in-spite of depression.

If you would like to read more from Brittany visit her blog.

www.brittanyeliseweb.wordpress.com

Interviewee: Brittany Elise

Author: James Edgar Skye

Photo Credits: Most of the photos are from Brittany’s personal collection

Other Credits:

unsplash-logoJamie Street

unsplash-logoAsdrubal luna