Just a reminder that The Bipolar Writer Collaborative Blog will be done as of March 12, 2021. I will leave it until my birthday on April 10 for the free version for WordPress and then be gone forever. I hope you come with me to @ Buy Me a Coffee. Support or become a member through the button below.
The Bipolar Writer Podcast Interview with Aby
My latest interview is with a dear friend. I call her Aby, and she is a member and moderator of the Infinity Warriors of Mental Health discord channel. I have known Aby for almost a year. It is an honor like always to share others’ stories, even those that I know personally.
Desiree Loeven – pen name Aby Kittiwake. She is a mother of 3 and married for over 18 years, writes poetry and fosters animals in her spare time. She belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and her faith means everything to her. She is diagnosed with ADHD, Major Depressive Disorder, and C-PTSD.
How can you become an interviewee? Just email me @ email@example.com.
I will record the Zoom interviews and use Anchor.fm to put the podcast on different platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcast or anywhere you listen. The only thing that will go live will be the audio file, and while I save my interviews, it will be on my cloud. The podcast is all about exploring the stories of depression, self-harm, anxiety, suicide, mental health issues today, mental illness stories, and everything in between. I would love for you to be one of the people who began on the Bipolar Writer Podcast’s ground floor. Thank you for your time, and you can use the contact page.
It is my hope for The Bipolar Writer Podcast to become fully listener-supported. You can become a supporter of the podcast here. You can also support the podcast by clicking the button below, where you can buy me a coffee.
So how can you support The Bipolar Writer Podcast and James Edgar Skye? Well, there are several ways.
There is becoming a listener supporter through the anchor.fm where I do my podcast episodes. That link is here. It is simple to support Apple Pay or a credit card for once month, and you can end your support whenever it feel right to you. There are options for $0.99, $4.99, and $9.99, and all options will go 100% to the podcast. No need to create an account.
Last is Buy Me A Coffee, a great platform in my mind and where I want to grow most of my lister support for the Podcast, blog, and in some ways, my writing. You can be a monthly subscriber or a one-time supporter. There are options for extras that include one on one mental health advocacy Zoom call, where you can ask mental health questions about blogging, tiers with my books, and other unique extras. The options for payments are credit card or PayPal. Soon, my support website Buy Me a Coffee will be t-shirts, mugs, and stickers available as soon as I get all that together with more support. You can click the button below.
What Kim is offering in this package are the ELI Assessment and a debrief. The two ways that come are one-on-one debrief with Kim or possibly a group debrief on Saturdays. I, James Edgar Skye, am offering to be a part of that process if you trust me as an option because I know what it feels like to go through a debrief.
If you are interested, you can reach out to Kim Johnson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and be open just to have a conversation about getting your ELI done TODAY. The debrief is typically done within 24 hours and on Zoom, but those details will be worked out with Kim and yourself. If there is a chance you want to jump right in, there is a special going on with my buy me a coffee website that you can purchase the ELI directly from me. Make sure to fill out the form that comes with the purchase. I will relay the information to Kim promptly, and she will reach out.
Here is the link: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Jamesedgarskye/e/29676
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The Bipolar Writer Podcast is listener-supported, and for as little as $5 a month, you can help support the mental health advocacy that I do by visiting http://www.buymeacoffee.com/jamesedgarskye. Please help this podcast grow by sharing with friends or anyone that you think will benefit from the experiences of others and myself.
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June is Pride Month. It’s about being proud of who you are and your sexuality, whatever it is. Homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, demisexual, asexual; it comes in all shapes and sizes. The point is being proud of who you are. I identify as demisexual. This means I cannot reach full sexual arousal unless I have an emotional connection with the person. I’m not going to go into further details in this post.
June is also PTSD Awareness Month. May was Mental Health Awareness Month so we’ll continue spreading awareness. June 27 is PTSD Awareness Day, and I’ll share more about that around that time. I have PTSD from various traumas I’ve experienced since childhood. This also caused me to have anxiety and depression. I have spent the last few years attempting to overcome some of my issues. I succeeded in some places and failed in others.
The biggest thing for me is to no longer feel ashamed of having a mental illness. And to no longer feel ashamed of past transgressions. I’ve made many mistakes. I’ve lost people I cared about because I wouldn’t face my problems. I won’t feel sorry for myself anymore. I ask that everyone have pride in fighting against a mental illness. Be proud of the progress you’ve made. The point of Pride Month is to love yourself. So, bring awareness to your community and be proud of everything you’ve overcome.
James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction. Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com. He resides in Tucson, AZ.
I’ve always managed to work through any depression. I may be completely down for a couple days, but I force myself back up and keep going. I recently hit another depressed time. A few things built up over a couple weeks. It all happened fast, and I didn’t have time to process one thing before another kicked me down. I was ready to start dealing with each thing and I got another blow. I was negative for a couple days. Given the circumstances, my reaction was normal, but it was a strain on those closest to me.
One of my friends told me they needed a break from me and my negativity. That’s when I broke. I knew it wasn’t forever. I knew they weren’t telling me to stay out of their life. But it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had never felt lethargic before. That night I learned what lethargy feels like. My whole body was numb, and I walked on auto pilot. I cried until I ran out of tears. I spoke with another friend for a couple hours. They told me I had been more negative recently.
They noticed a considerable change. I hadn’t noticed. I didn’t realize how far into the sludge and the darkness I had gone. All the other things that pushed me down looked like a result of my negativity. I felt none of it would have happened if I had taken care of myself. I had an opportunity through the company I work for to receive six free counseling sessions. I don’t have medical insurance which I always used as an excuse for not finding treatment. I admitted that I need help and I’m trying to find it.
I threw out the alcohol in my home for fear of becoming like my alcoholic father. I’m giving my loved one’s space, so I don’t drag them into my misery anymore. Looking back, I can see how I’ve been moving towards this point for the last two years. I did so much for my healing and still managed to lose myself along the way. This reminds me of the story of a toad in hot water. Put the toad in hot water, it jumps away. Put the toad in cold water and slowly heat it up, the toad will boil to death.
I’m the toad and the negativity is the water. I didn’t realize how bad it got. I didn’t realize how much of it was my own fault for not taking care of myself. This is less about blaming myself and more about holding myself accountable. Now that I know I’m accountable, I have to be accountable for my happiness as well. I don’t know how long this will take. I’ve been sharing my personal stories on blogs for two years. It’s helped me heal. I will continue writing, but I need to focus on myself and my own goals. I still have stories to share. It’s my favorite things to do. Fair well for now. Don’t stop fighting.
I got my first counselor when I was six. She was an anger management counselor. I had a temper at a young age. Results from my home life. I saw anger and violence at an early age. I mimicked that behavior with my peers. The class was cleaning up the room before recess or lunch or something. I was putting a puzzle away. Another kid tried to help. I told him I got it. He helped anyway. I got angry and hit him with a chair. He was trying to be helpful and kind. I don’t even remember his name.
This incident prompted my parents and the school to get me into counseling. I don’t remember anything we spoke about. She gave me a calendar and told me to put a sticker on each day I didn’t get angry. If I went a whole month without anger, she would give me a present. I remember the excitement and anticipation. When the month finished, she gave me a pencil sharpener. It was a dome shape and looked like half a baseball. I remember thinking that present did not live up to my expectations. Regardless, I had that pencil sharpener for several years after.
When I was eight, my whole family went to counseling. My parents met with a couple’s counselor. My two older sisters went to group counseling. They may have had private counselors, but I don’t remember. I had my own counselor. I remember playing games and drawing pictures. We had many conversations, but I have no memories of these. I recall our on our last session she gave me a small ceramic elephant that wore pants and a button up shirt. I liked it and held onto it for several years along with the baseball pencil sharpener.
This counselor also helped me create something I could use when my parents were arguing. Many people refer to this as a survival kit. I don’t remember the name she used. I found an old Maxwell House coffee can. When they were still made of tin or aluminum. During one of my sessions, we used construction paper to cover the can and I decorated it. I don’t remember the instructions she gave me for the can. I put all sorts of things in it including my little elephant. The baseball pencil sharpener could have been in there at one time or another.
I opened this can and played with my toys every time my parents argued. Sometimes I played with those toys even if my parents didn’t argue. It was my escape from school and from home. I realized recently that I’ve spent most of my life trying to escape. I have nightmares once every two weeks. Sometimes every week. I’m always running from some unknown thing. Or I’m chased by a creature of some kind. Always trying to escape something. I had the epiphany that every time I have a new idea for a business or job, I’m only trying to escape my current situation.
I’ve stopped living with roommates because they made me feel trapped. I couldn’t afford to live on my own, but I still left. I’ve held several jobs over the last ten years. A couple I remained at for many years. But I couldn’t move up any higher. I felt trapped at those jobs, so I left. Most people don’t realize that running from something is not the same as escaping. I’ve been running my entire adult life trying to escape. I’ve only succeeded in getting trapped somewhere else. I haven’t faced my real issues. I’m not sure I know what they all are.
I don’t blame the counselor for helping me escape my childhood trauma. At the time, it was the best solution to an inescapable problem. But this solution doesn’t work for adults. Children don’t always have the ability to face a problem or get out of a situation. Adults do. I’ve been overcoming many issues and I’m trying to deal with problems I didn’t know I had. The only way to escape these issues is to face them and heal. I first have to learn the difference between escaping the problem and overcoming it.
Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. Codependency. On any given day, I’m dealing with one or more of these issues. It has taken several years for me to understand what I’m going through. I didn’t realize I was codependent until recently. That one hit harder than the others. Most of my behaviors stem from one of my issues. It feels like my entire personality is a lie. Everything I held with pride as part of who I was; it all comes from poor mental health. I’ve had a minor identity crisis for the past year. I’m rediscovering who I am as a person.
The first thing I discovered about myself was I didn’t like myself. Most of that dislike grew from anxiety and depression. And from not receiving much of any positive attention for the majority of my life. I rarely receive compliments. When I do, my first thought is to point out my flaws. The next thought is that person is lying. They’re not genuine. I’ve been working to ignore these thoughts and say thank you. It feels selfish sometimes to only thank someone for anything. Then I remember how much one thank you would mean to me. I’ve rarely gotten a thank you for anything.
I spent my life not aware of how much I disliked myself. I often felt I didn’t deserve happiness. I felt I had to earn it in some way. But no one could tell me how to earn it. Life doesn’t come with a manual. No one tells you how to take care of your body. No one tells you how to make friends. No one tells you how to talk to potential romantic or sexual partners. Not for me anyway. Most people have their parents and families in these situations. I didn’t. My parents were dealing with their own issues.
I’ve searched for things I like about myself. Easier said than done. I have a daily mantra. I don’t always remember to say it. But I’ve been saying it more often. On bad days, I’ll say it 10 or 12 times. And each time I repeat it three times. It’s like exercising. I do 10 or 12 sets of three reps. The mind is a muscle. It gets stronger overtime. Nothing happens overnight. Positive thoughts lead to a happier life. I’m improving. I’m healing. But I’m nowhere close to the end.
My biggest fear with all this is I may never heal enough to have a romantic relationship. I’ve stepped back since I realized I was codependent. I want to work through that before pursuing romance. I don’t want to fall back into old habits. I’m certain I’ll be ready one day. But I feel older than I am. I’m too set in my ways being alone. I’ve wanted children but that doesn’t look like a realistic goal anymore. I’d be happy with a partner to share my life with. First, I have to believe I deserve good things. No one will love me until I love myself.
There are many foreign words that do not have an English translation. One example is the Japanese word mushaburui. It translates to shaking or trembling with excitement. Musha is the Japanese word for samurai or warrior. Burui comes from the verb furu which means to shake or tremble. One website referred to the word as “shaking like a samurai.” The English translation doesn’t convey exactly what the word means. One person described with a scenario. Imagine a samurai waking in the morning before a battle. They are shaking with anticipation. It’s both fear and excitement. Will they live? Will they die?
The description of this word makes me think of a panic attack. Sometimes there isn’t any real danger when one has a panic attack, but the emotion is the same. The 2010 film “13 Assassins (Jûsan-nin no shikaku)” has a character who mentions this emotion. He says at one point in the film, “As a samurai in this era of peace, I have wished for a noble death. Now fate has called to me. See, my hands are trembling. It’s a warrior’s battle shakes.” Is the anticipation of one’s death not the same as a panic attack? It’s about one’s perspective of what they’re feeling.
This also reminds me of the 1998 film “Saving Private Ryan.” I have mentioned before how I related to Tom Hanks’ character in the film. At the beginning of the film, as the boats approach Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944, his hand is trembling. This is the same feeling the samurai felt in “13 Assassins.” This is the same feeling I have during a panic attack. When someone asks how I’m feeling, I can finally provide a word to describe it. Not everyone will know the meaning, but there is a kind of power in giving something a name.
The next time you’re feeling excited, be it negative or positive excitement, call it was it is. Mushaburui. Having this new outlook on what this emotion is, I can overcome some of my fear and accept the panic attack. I accept it as something natural. It prepares my body and reminds me of my own mortality. Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It means you go anyway. I’ve felt like I’ve lived in fear the last couple of years because my body would tremble at the thought of something. I will force myself to keep going. Whether I tremble or not.
Sleep feels like an irrational beast. It’s rare that I get a full night’s sleep. If I do, I sleep more than needed and still feel tired. The number of hours I sleep usually don’t matter. It might be eight hours but broken into segments. Broken by nightmare or waking several times for no reason. This all depends on if I fall asleep to begin with. Some nights I don’t sleep. My body always feels restless like I haven’t done enough work in the day. More often than not, I sleep less than six hours every night.
For a while I took vitamins to help encourage energy and sleep. I took one vitamin pill a day for weeks. I discovered a pattern. I started writing down when I had a nightmare. I only wrote down certain kinds of nightmares. When they involve me running from something or escaping something. Sometimes I would know what was chasing me, other times it was only a feeling of danger. I had these nightmare every two weeks, sometimes every week. I stopped taking the vitamins (magnesium, calcium, and zinc). Then I stopped seeing or remembering the nightmares. I imagine I still have them but never recall.
When I lay in bed, regardless of the time of day, my whole body vibrates from my heart pumping. Sometimes it feels like my chest is pounding when I’ve laid still for hours. This makes it difficult to rest and fall asleep. Along with these physical symptoms, my mind races with negativity. I’ve worked hard to limit this, but I still struggle. The anxiety and depression only add to the restlessness. The more nights I get poor sleep, the more negative I become. This is still nowhere near as negative as I used to be.
I plan to get more vitamins to help me sleep. Part of me doesn’t want to have the nightmares again. It’s a catch 22. Poor sleep without nightmares or better sleep riddled with constant nightmares. My chest is often pounding when I wake from my nightmares. It’s not much different from lying in bed before sleeping. I have fewer negative thoughts when I have the nightmares. It’s likely the better of two evils. My mind wants to work through the trauma but never has the means or an outlet. This must be why I write horror fiction in my spare time.
I’ve taken steps to cut stress from my life. My living situation was stressful, so I moved out into a one bedroom apartment. I worked a stressful job so I quit. I bounced around jobs for a few months before settling as a barista. I felt my life was simpler. Some days were still stressful. I still had panic attacks and some days I hated going to work. I didn’t understand what exactly was setting me off. Several things added to my stress triggers. I didn’t know where to begin to solve this issue. I started with what I could control.
I noticed when I was working, I kept my phone on silent. It vibrated every time I got a notification. While in a stressful moment at work, I would get several vibrations in my pocket at the same time. With too much stimulation; it made me angry adding more stress. I first turned off the vibration setting, but this only solved half the problem. I hate seeing the icons on apps indicating how many notifications I have. All the banners, buttons, and icons became overwhelming. I went through the settings of each app and turned off notifications. My phone fell quiet.
Text messages and phone calls are still on but not much else. If I want to check my notifications, I have to open the app. My stress levels have gone down. I’m not getting overstimulated. I still struggle in overcrowded social situations. I manage things better by controlling things I can control. I wish I could go back to the time when notifications made me happy. I felt connected and like others were thinking of me. Now notifications feel meaningless. They’re extra unwanted noise. I’m quieting everything in my life. This will help quiet my mind and the healing can continue.
I recommend disconnecting from the online world for a day now and then. Think of it as recharging your social battery. Go out into nature, read that book, write that story, explore a new place. The notifications never go away. I’m trying not to worry about clearing them anymore. I’ll get to them when I get to them. There’s no need to rush anything. Easier said than done. My mind is always racing. I want to slow down and be calm. I still have panic attacks, but they’re not caused by my phone anymore. I almost look forward to checking notifications again. Almost.
Sometimes I’ve thought about how others would react if I passed away. Everyone’s had that thought I’m sure. Wondering who would cry or who would attend the funeral. It’s hard not to imagine the church setting empty during your funeral. It was a long time before I felt people in my life would get upset if I died. I never thought of killing myself, but I never thought anyone cared if I was alive or dead. Finding the motivation to keep going every day with those thoughts can be difficult. I don’t know how I worked through that.
Now that I know people, I have people who would mourn my absence if I passed, I still struggle with motivation. I know those closest to me love me, but I’m not happy with my life. I’ve felt trapped in a hole for too long and there’s often no escape. I keep going somehow but I hate living. I hate that I can’t receive my basic needs. I don’t want to live in a world I can’t afford to live in. Will things turn around for me this Summer? At least I’m saving money but most of it will disappear if I don’t have a job in the fall.
I have many passions and many reasons to keep going. Pursuing those passions does not always sustain my finances. If anything, it costs more to be creative with little return. No appreciation. No support. It’s hard to continue doing what you love when no one loves you for doing it. I’m taking steps to change my situation. The future is still unclear, but I’m feeling positive. If I plan well enough, I can do what I love in a sustainable way. I can pay my bills with my passions.
It will be a long time before I’m 100% self-employed, but I can see the light at the end of tunnel. It’s years away, but I can see it. I don’t want to die because my goals are reachable. I don’t want to die because I never want to hurt my friends that much. I have many reasons to keep going. I’m holding on to all those reasons as long as I can. I’m forcing myself not to give up. My fear is what will cause me to give up. What will make me decide living is too much? I hope I never find out.
My friends from large families never understood why I don’t enjoy family gatherings. I don’t like crowds, even if I know everyone. I don’t see my family often enough to know any of them. This is my extended family, but what about the family I grew up with? I have my parents and two older sisters. I have not spent time with these four people together in over 15 years. That’s the last time I can remember the five of us together. Growing up with childhood trauma can cause one to isolate themselves. My family broke apart and never came back together.
My parents separated when I was starting my teenage years. My sisters and I were happy to see them get away from each other. I never realized at the time how abusive my father was. My oldest sister moved out and moved back in with my mother a couple times. She made her way into the world after some time. My second oldest sister, the middle child, she enlisted in the Army. A good way to get far away from home. I was alone for a couple years before going to college in another city.
I later moved to another state to finish my education and never went back home. I visited a few times, but never moved back. I never wanted to. After a while, I stopped visiting too. I rarely speak to anyone in my family; extended or other. I don’t know any of them well and have no interest in getting to know them. My life has improved without them. Still, my friends don’t understand my aversion towards families and gatherings. Growing up, these were times for arguments and sometimes violence. I have only negative associations with holidays.
I attempted to mend fences with my sisters and parents at different times. There’s some progress but the five of us will never be in the same room together. I’m the only one who hasn’t married and doesn’t have children. I almost don’t want to have a wedding, so I don’t have to invite anyone in my family. My broken family makes me feel I can’t have a family. This isn’t true but I can’t break the feeling sometimes. I struggle with interpersonal relationships. Distrust and pain filled my first experiences connecting with other people. This is something I’m still working on. I want to prove to myself that I can have a family.