The First Medication Change of 2020

Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash

I had plans for 2020. I am sure there is not one person that was not affected in the mental illness community that was not affected by COVID-19. One of my major plans was to lower Seroquel to a more manageable level that I feel less like a zombie in the morning, then the novel coronavirus hit, and I was using Zoom to meet my psychiatrist.

One of the fears is that not seeing me in person means that the trust that I spent over a year building that was crushed by the coronavirus. It is not that the trust was not there, but instead, you never know as a medical professional how isolating like I was advised to do would affect me in different ways. I understood this, but I was also frustrated. There is no doubt I had to learn patience (this came in life coaching.)

The idea of waiting is new to me, but not all is bad. After months of back and forth and resisting the urge to make changes on my own, I decided to broach the subject again, and the result was more to my liking. It was an incremental change from 400mg to 300mg, but it has made a difference. I still sleep, but I am waking up at a better time while still being rested. It is important to note that having my CPAP machine helps me get to sleep quicker, and that is important to note as to why the case I made was valid over time.

There is always this point that I need to make: medication changes should always go through your psychiatrist or medical professional. They are the ones that got you on these medications, and they are the professionals. I can’t stress that enough. Change is good but in the right way. The next step is the continual work on my social anxiety and panic attacks, which have been better if I am honest. That has been in the changes that have happened to my approach to stay in the moments of now. The tools I learned in life coaching have helped me create space with my own physics. Thank you as always for reading.

Thank you always for reading.

For everything social media for James Edgar Skye visit my Linq site here. 

My Life Coach can be reached at groundsforclarity@gmail.com. If you feel suicidal, Kim specializes in helping those who are like me; I recently had my own brush with suicide again in October, and Kim was a pivotal part of why I am still here with her life coaching alongside her ASIST training.

For ASIST Suicide Prevention Training Program | LivingWorks please visit here: https://www.livingworks.net/asist

Buy my book on Amazon through my website.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo by Christina Victoria Craft on Unsplash

Losing My Safe Space

Since 1997 when my parents built my family home, my room has been my special place. I am safe here among all that is familiar. My four walls stained with blue sticky tack from years of hanging posters up and my cozy bed that I share with my cats.

Whenever I am feeling anxious or depressed I have always had the freedom to come to my room. Once I lay down in my bed, I feel safe. I feel comfortable in every way.

As I’ve written in a post earlier this summer, I am moving out on my mom’s house. My boyfriend and I are creating a home together starting with signing all the papers next week.

Am I depressed and anxious because of the change? Hell yes.
Am I already longing for the comfort of my home? You bet.
Do I already miss my cats? More than I am willing to admit!

This is a big change for me. Big changes and me usually means a roller coaster of anxiety then deep valleys of depression. The cycle eventually stops once I get used to the change but it’s getting through it that is the hard part.

What has always helped me through those big changes was the sanctuary of my room. If I had a bad day at school I would rush up to my room to play with my Barbies, dive into a good book or write a little story.

I laid in my bed during countless nights when I was so anxious I couldn’t sleep and the days when I couldn’t find the energy to stay awake due to my depression. My four walls have seen it all.

My room has been my safety blanket for so long that I fear losing it. I’m trying my best to cherish every moment I have left in here. But the more I think about it, the sadder I get.

How do you handle big changes? Is your room your safe space? If not, where is?

 

Also sorry for not posting super often recently. I am sure I will have a lot to write about in these upcoming months as I attempt to adjust to my new life.

Change Gives Me Anxiety

My last post and this one are going to be a little contradictory because circumstances have changed. I previously said that I am mentally ready to take a break from therapy, that I am in a good place to be independent.

Now I can’t wait to see my therapist on Monday morning because my anxiety is weighing on me. It’s not the worst I’ve ever experienced but I feel that the anxiety is growing each day. I really want to talk through what’s happening in my mind. I want to cry in her office and spill my guts.

“What is making you so anxious?” you may be asking.

Change.

Change has always been something that I hate whether it’s good or bad. One of the best times of my life was living in England but I was depressed for a big bit of it. I did a lot of isolating myself and watching every Wes Anderson film alone in my flat.

As I may have mentioned on here before, I am moving out of my childhood home and into a house with my boyfriend of 2.5 years. The thought of not being in my comfort zone that I have been in for almost all of my life makes me so scared.

I’m walking around the house taking in every inch of it. The carpet beneath my bare feet. The view of the street outside my window. The beautiful counter top in my bathroom. All of it so familiar to me.

I need to grow up which comes with a lot of discomfort, something that also makes me anxious. I will have to adjust to so many new things and leave many of my comforts behind. Mainly my cats, I will deeply miss not having them sleep with me every night.

I’m only moving a few streets away from my mom’s house where I live now but once I move all of my things out, I won’t have any true comfort to return to. My bedroom has always been my solace, my safe place. Without everything in it, it’s just a room.

It’s the equivalent of taking away my baby blanket.

There are lots of things I’m looking forward to in my new house such as truly feeling like an adult instead of a teenager, spending more time with my boyfriend, cooking in my own kitchen and having a porch.

A few years ago I wrote a poem about how my mind is like the night sky. That the darkness is my depression, anxiety and all of the bad stuff while the stars are the happiness and positive stuff. I look up and I focus on the darkness instead of admiring the twinkling stars above. I’ve rarely been the one to look on the bright side.

Does change make you anxious and/or depressed? If so, how do you cope with this? I’ve never seemed to find a way to positively cope with change so I’m open to all ideas!

Taking a Break with my Therapist

I have been thinking for a while now that I want to stop seeing my therapist. Typing that makes me nervous about ending it!

I have been seeing my therapist almost 3 years, which is crazy to think about. She has been my support through everything that’s happened in my life. When I was suicidal, she was there for me if I ever needed her outside of our sessions. When I was struggling with self-harm, she never shamed me (I am 487 days clean!). She was helped me dig through my negative thoughts, depressive episodes and anxiety attacks.

My mental health has been pretty good for the past few months. I have been seeing her monthly to discuss what’s going on in my life, how my mental health is and whatever I’m worried about at the moment. I love seeing her but I think it is time to take a break with our sessions.

The idea of stopping therapy scares me.

It automatically turns on the anxiety bells in my brain and starts to tie my stomach into knots. My worry is that I will get bad again, that I will plummet to the bottom and not have her there to help me get back up.

She has helped me get to this positive place in my mental health journey. She has helped me with coping skills, rational thinking and how to question my anxious thoughts.

BUT

Change always makes me depressed even if it’s a good change. Growing up I would get depressed when I moved up to the next grade. I got depressed every time I moved back to college or moved home from college. Most big changes immediately send me into a depressive spiral.

I have a big change coming up that I am pretty sure will make me depressed even though I am excited about it. My boyfriend and I are taking a huge step together! We are buying a house! (Please don’t tell me in the comments that I should be married first or that I’m doing this backwards.)

I’m worried already about everything that comes with buying a house and moving in with a long-term partner. I worry that all of the stress will push me into a depressive/anxious mess that I would have to cope with without my therapist.

I meet with her the second Monday of July. There I will tell her what I’m thinking, maybe she will alleviate some of my worries.

What has your experience been like after you stopped therapy? Leave me a comment please!

Change Is Never Easy

I have struggled lately to reshape my sleep schedule. The funny thing about the situation is that it’s working at one level. I am getting to sleep quicker because I have been a productive person when I am up at 5 am. I am tired because my day is productive and that is the best thing for this mental illness life. This is great for someone who lives with insomnia. The change has been mostly positive, but the small issues seem to get to me.

I am still struggling with motivation to get up every day at 5 am. I have been doing it right most days, but the change has been hard to deal with because of my focus. When I wake some days, I feel the pull to stay in bed versus getting up and being productive. I want this new sleep/wake schedule to work. On the days where my focus is better, I am so productive during my day.

I have more hours in which to complete my checklist for school and writing. It feels great to be able to find a balance between school and writing. The problem? I am still fighting depression and anxiety.

I could feel it this morning when I woke up. I wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep and not face the day. For an hour I fought a battle in my mind trying to decide to take the day off or push through to that I can take a day off on Friday. It’s becoming one of those days where I will have to just survive these feelings.

Change can be so tricky in this Bipolar life. I know that this is the right path. I have seen the success. If I can get my depression and anxiety on board, then that will be what I need. So I will keep going today. It’s what I have to do— keep fighting. Always.

Change is good, it’s just never easy.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoKerrie DeFelice

A New Kind of Stigma

My writer’s ink has literally dried up in the last few weeks.  At first it was a “I’m too busy” thing, then it was a “people are helping me access treatment” thing, then it was a “I’m too happy” thing and then, believe it or not, it was a “I am accepted” thing.  And like the things that are peculiar and do everything in the opposite in Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss, I do not know how to speak or write happy, treatment access, acceptance stuff.  No.  I can write volumes about what is wrong with mental health services, how people are not accessing the life-saving support they need, how discrimination and stigma crush and damage the people who are living with a chronic illness that changes the course of their lives forever.

Yes.  I can describe depression, psychiatric wards and healthworkers who are as sensitive as I am after taking my Serraquel and heading for bed (that’s not very).  And I think I have done that within this very space on The Bipolar Writer.  Amazingly, many of you wrote back and said what can we do, how can we help.  My response a few weeks ago, was that people with mental illness globally should stand up, talk, talk, talk, take action, scream and shout, document and show what’s really happening EVERYWHERE until we see the changes that need to happen.  And we are assured that those changes would be sustained.  I still think that needs to happen.  But my experience – and these niggly things I’ve come across – make me want to add a lot more.

Not only do we need to highlight the darkness, the human rights transgressions and anything that fundamentally affects mental health – we also need to celebrate, and shout loudly about people, organisations, companies, communities that are accepting, that help, that accommodate, that assist people with mental illness.  We need to show that it can be done.  And that the results are awesome where it works.  That we can “function” just as well as our environment allows us to.  No, I don’t believe functioning is on a scale of 1-10 – but rather what is best for a particular person at a particular time, and BUT a lot of that depends on how they’re treated and received.  What they are provided access to.

One example of the acceptance I received was in a job interview.  After a great discussion (which is generally how it goes) I decided after a heave ho in my mind that I needed to disclose that Bipolar lives with me.  For the first time since I was diagnosed a good long decade ago.  That I would only be prepared to work in an environment that was accepting of that.  And that Bipolar wasn’t a matter of running between two poles of sadness and happiness, as I’m built for comfort not for speed (and that would be exhausting).  More seriously, I said that my wellness at work was dependent on the relationship with the employer, and not “special allowances” but rather an understanding of where I am, what I need, and what would contribute to wellness going forward.  That my treatment team could participate (obviously without disclosing anything) in analysing and assessing what contributes and detracts from staying well.  That it was possible.  And even more importantly, that I was so, so, so worth it.  I have never believed that a day in my life.  Never.  Until now.

I don’t know if I got the job yet.  Maybe they were just being nice… I am, based on experience, skeptical.  But they have given me something I could not pay for already.  The belief that that a world where I – and people like me – can be accepted, loved, happy.  What can we do?  What can we change?  Our minds, our behaviour, our reception of people who are vulnerable, of people who need help, no matter what affects or ails them.  And, maybe, just maybe, we can do that with a smile on our faces.  I’m going to.   Be part of those who support us as opposed to those don’t.  I am 4M’s Bipolar Mom.

Olena Sergienko

Better Days

There is a battle

Between her ears

Waging war, for years

An infinite imbalance

No yin to her yang

She struggles to sustain

Representing the minority

Herself she make priority

Her journey has taken her to the devils lair

No darkness can compare

Her heights soar among the eagles

A happiness that should be illegal

No middle ground from which to stand

Barely surviving soiled land

Crisis, a friend

Clutching onto crisp air

As the depths swollow her whole

Stealing her light and soul

Life defined by tragic events

A path belonging to her

A distorted history

An uncertain future

Promises of better days

Longing she stay

Change is paving her way

Take the Road Less Traveled

Traveling down this mental illness journey has many different peaks and valleys, twists and turns. I have recently learned that we tend to believe what we believe about mental illness depending on where we are in our own personal journeys. Sometimes it makes it tough to detour from our side of the tracks.

It is difficult for us to know anything else other than where we are in our own mental illness journey. One thing I have learned for sure as I traveled this dark, but sometimes sunny road is that we must always keep an open mind. If we are closed-minded, we risk missing an important new therapy or type of treatment. Being closed minded causes us to be afraid to try a new medication or even the possibility that a decrease in medications could be the most beneficial treatment.

We need to keep an open mind in every aspect of life, but I feel it is even more imperative that we keep an open mind with mental illness. It is important to be open to new and improved types of treatments, therapies or medication use. We need to hear and listen to others’ advice because they may have new insights that could help us.

When I begin writing, I write with you, the reader, in mind but then I realize my words are reminders for myself. My words apply significantly to my life, as well. As I write, I hope my writing will help you in some way. Then subconsciously it shouts at me, “This is for you too. This applies to you.”

I write to help others. I write to everyone in this beautiful blogging community hoping I can educate, help and touch people in some way or preferably many ways. In the long run it helps me as well. When I am helping you, I am essentially helping myself.

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.” ~Robert Frost

When someone takes the “road less traveled” they are acting independently, freeing themselves from the conformity of others who chose to take the road more frequently traveled. They may be afraid to venture out and try new things.

When you take a new path or make new choices, you hope will leave a great trail and be a great example for others to follow. Ideally,  you hope the road you choose “becomes the road more frequently followed.”

If you never choose a new trail, the path will get boring. We all need to change eventually or life becomes stagnant. Change creates growth and the evolution of life. Someone needs to be a trailblazer. Be that trailblazer that makes positive change happen with mental illness and in other areas of life.

Music That Changes my Mood Pt. 1

All my life I have used music to get through the toughest night time depression and anxiety. I do plan on writing a post about how I use music (its a component of CBT training) but with this post, I wanted to share some songs that have helped me and have become a major part of a playlist on my iTunes that is for the sole purpose of changing my mood. So here are a few songs.

Fly – Jessica

This is my go-to song when I feel depressed the last few months. The words are amazing as is the singer. It’s in Korean but the English version is amazing as well.

Meg and Dia – Nineteen Stars

This song is quite special to me. It came to me from a friend and since listening to this song in 2006 it has always been my go-to song when I am depressed.

Jimmy Eat World – The Middle

This song has always been amazing and it the power of the words always helps me when my thoughts are dark.

Flyleaf – So I Thought

This song always reminds me of people that I have lost in my life due to my illness. That isn’t a bad thing at all.

Taylor Swift – Clean (Cover by Kina Grannis)

Clean is an amazing song that envokes real emotions about the relationships that we have had and how hard it is to get clean.

That is it for this addition, I am thinking of doing this once a week because music is one of the best things in life.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoSimon Noh