Day One

With my struggles recently I wanted to post this blog post that I wrote just after I completed my ten-year anniversary since my first suicide and diagnosis in November of last year. At the time I was only a few months into The Bipolar Writer blog. Looking at this post makes me realize I have come so far in year one. I will always keep fighting.

Day One – A Start of a New Journey 11/17

Its day one of a new journey, and its time to look towards the future.

The time has passed. I hit my ten-year mark and the only looking back I will be doing is when writing my memoir. It was a wonder to finally get to this point. My past is in the rearview mirror, and I am here for the present. My future isn’t written yet and so I am making it a point to live in the moment.

Depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even my mania is still a part of me, but I what I have learned in the past few months is that writing about what is bothering me, is the most therapeutic thing in the world. Even with my future unwritten, I want to talk about what I am looking forward to as we move towards the end of 2017 and beyond.

I am really looking forward to completing a major project, my memoir. I talk about it all the time and I am working around the clock to finish the first draft by the end of the year. It may happen, and it may take longer, but I am hopeful while at the same time not worrying about the part of this that is out of my control. Things happen and while there is always a need to finish, it is best to stay within who I am as a writer.

I am also looking forward to completing the novel version of my screenplay Memory of Shane. It was such a process to write the screenplay and it was grandiose of me to think I could write the novel version right after its completion. I was too close the project because it has been a major part of the last year and a half, but after few weeks I became burnt out rewriting a story that I know all too well. So I am hoping my April of next year I can be ready to pick the project back up, maybe sooner if the timing is right.

Speaking of my screenplay, I am excited to be entering full-length screenplay for the BEA Festival of Media Arts student screenwriting competition. It would be amazing to win this competition, but it will help to just get my screenplay out there in the world. There are a couple of end of the year screenplay competitions that I will be entering to end my year. I am really excited about the opportunity that my school is partnered with BEA.

Then there is my blog. What an unexpected journey it has been to grow my brand as The Bipolar Writer. It is great to connect with real people in the mental health community. I getting ready to expand my blog by interviewing others like me. I think it will help me hone my feature writing skills that have come with minoring in journalism.

My thinking is twofold for this blog, interviewing other bloggers to help showcase their own experience and their blog, and also having guest writers on my blog. Its a scary thing for me, but I have already had people ask me to help them tell their story and to showcase their blog. I am most excited about this project because there is so much we can learn through the experiences of others. I am thinking once my blog hits 2,000 followers would be the best time to make this idea reality.

I am also happy to be nearing the end of my educational journey. It has never been easy but somehow I get through every semester given that depression, anxiety, and insomnia take their turns making my life difficult. Through it all, I have become stronger, and I have honed my writing skills through education. It is one of the reasons my writing has improved over the last few years.

I am excited about​ what is coming and where my writing will take me in the coming months and into the new year.

What are you looking forward to as we approach the new year? Let me know in the comments below!

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Octavian Rosca

My Social Anxiety Life – Part Six

If you haven’t yet read my blog about the things I am thankful for, please do. This will likely be my last blog post until the end of the week on Sunday. With a shortened week and a pile of school work, my only focus for the rest of the week will my school work and my memoir. I have to prioritize.

This is the sixth installment of a series that chronicles my issues with my social anxiety. I wanted to post this today while it is still fresh in my mind. Last night I had one of my regular panic attacks when my thoughts of what my Thanksgiving day will bring in the form of a social situation that I would rather avoid, consumed me. I will explain in a minute, here are the other blog posts in the series.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

If you have been following my blog over the last month or so you know that things between my best friend and I haven’t been great. Okay if I am being honest they have been downright horrific, to the point where she has disappeared from my life. When she asked me to do something so unspeakable, she has sent two texts in well over a month time. We have spoken about five words total.

It would be easy to just let her go from my life, but she has been one of the most important people in my life over the last ten year and even more than beyond my diagnosis. We have had spats like this before and didn’t talk for a few years. At that time I cut off pretty much everyone in my life, but she walked back into my life when my grandfather died in 2014.

The problem is, her family and my own are very close. Her brother is also my best friend and unlike his sister, we have always been close. Nothing really gets between us because we know and trust one another. Every Thanksgiving as long as I can remember their family comes to our house for the holiday, and this year is no different.

Last night I started to overthink last night and my anxiety began to take hold of me to the point of a full-blown panic attack. It was well after midnight which is where many of my worse panic attacks happen to me. I tried everything. Music. Relaxation. Meditation and mindfulness breathing. For almost two hours I was a ball of anxiety, and my only salvation came from an extra Ativan with the one I had already taken a few hours prior. Eventually, I got to a point that I could sleep around three in the morning.

That is what led me to write this sixth installment of “My Social Anxiety Life.” It is not all that hard to figure out my triggers of the anxiety attack. I don’t do well in situations like the one I will face today with my former best friend? Actually, I don’t know what to call her. Are we still friends? Will there be awkward silence between her and myself? Should I just hide in my room and just forget dealing with Thanksgiving drama?

I think there is a real lesson. Nothing good happens after 2 am (I wonder if anyone will get this reference.) I need to learn to write down my thought before they happen. I knew where my thoughts would go, and foolishly I thought just not dealing the issue like CBT has taught me, instead I thought things would be fine. You would think I would learn by now that this is never the case. But I can reflect today here on my blog and move on. Today might suck at times but I can always walk away. The holidays are supposed to be peaceful, but with family, nothing is ever peaceful.

I hope everyone has an amazing Thanksgiving. Always keep fighting.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Timothy Eberly

What J.E. is Thankful For This Year

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow bloggers.

I thought long and hard about writing my thoughts on the things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. It has been a crazy week for me, it always is during Thanksgiving week, but with the passing of my ten-year diagnosis and suicide anniversary, it was extra special kind of crazy. Still, I am thankful for many things and here is just a few.

1. I am alive, and that means the world to me.

2. Thankful for all the positivity that my fellow bloggers have brought to my blog.

3. I am thankful for finding my place in this crazy world and how I am working towards carving my own little niche in life.

4. I am thankful for those people who are in my life today and have always been there as family and friends that I would trust with my life.

5. I am thankful for the strength to write my story down and be honest within the space I am allowed on my blog.

6. I am thankful role-playing video games and music because, without both, my depression would consume me most days.

7. I am thankful for every blogger who has shared a piece of their lives with me on my blog, you mean the world to me.

8. I am thankful that I have the ability to write and change the stigma of mental illness as much as one writer can.

9. I am thankful for starting a new journey, a new ten years where I will conquer everything I can in life.

10. I am thankful that in 2010 someone, God most likely, intervened in my suicide and kept me on this earth. I truly believe I can connect with people through my writing.

11. And lastly, I am thankful for every blogger who spends a moment of their day on my blog. I couldn’t write without you.

What are some of the things that you are thankful for? Please share in the comments below.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours. Share smiles with the ones you love. Be happy that we are alive.

And always keep fighting.

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit: Pro Church Media

Angel on the Ward – Part One

I am very excited to share this short story entitled Angel on the Ward. I broke it into pieces because it is a very long story.

This is part one.

The story is set in November of 2007 during my first suicide attempt and diagnosis. The story covers the entire week of Thanksgiving, almost six days, in which I spent my first time in the psych ward. The parts of the story will be released over the course of the next week in honor of my ten-year diagnosis/suicide anniversary, I made it!

This short story is still a raw piece and it will eventually make its way into my memoir once I finish editing. Its written in a short story format with some dialogue. It is far from perfect written and I post it here on my blog to gauge if this story is any good. I wrote this piece ages ago for a short story class and it just evolved over the years. I spent the last week adding to it and I am hoping the end piece will be good enough for my memoir.

Part One is very long so be sure you have time to read the entire part. Enjoy.

The opening of my door wakes me from a light sleep. The morning nurse pokes her head in, and I can only see the silhouette of her body in the darkness.

“When you’re ready James there is breakfast out in the common area,” she says, “You should try and get up, it’s a cold outside so dress warmly. The sun is about to start peeking through your window,” My silence was deafening. After a moment, she exits closing the door quietly behind her.

I sit up for a moment with every intention of laying back down. The pillow envelops my head and beings to throb hard as the thought of laying down starts to take over my body.

The memories of the previous night became hard to suppress as I work to focus on my surroundings. The quietness of the room makes it all easy for the thoughts to consume me every moment.

My room is small and simple. Four off-white walls, two longer than the other in a rectangle that surrounds me swallowing me whole. Two doors come into focus. One is a huge door with a small glass window that a person can look through and spy on me through the hallway. It was this door the nurse used to make me and put the endless loop of thoughts back into my head.

The other door is a typical plain brown door with a handle. It opens to the small bathroom with a toilet, sink, and mirror. It seemed odd that there was no shower in my bathroom, and the window was also missing. My guess, for people like me in a place like this, windows could be a hazard.

Occupying most of the room is two beds. A nightstand is positioned on the left side of each bed. The contents of everything I had on from the previous night in my hospital visit now was next to me in a paper bag on my nightstand. A small brown cupboard was next to the door that led into the bathroom. I assumed these cupboards were used by the guests to put their long-term items. I had no intention of staying past this day. The plainness of this room was prison like and it was making me feel worse about the situation I now found myself in. The memories of the night before, the ones I fought to repress before my arrival at this place, came flooding back.

I am moving in a slow wheelchair. This memory was hazy at best. The drugs that I took were still somewhat in my system thought the black charcoal substance that was shoved down my throat took care of most of it. I could barely remember the emergency room, and the details put together starts to become a puzzle I am seeking to solve.

A male nurse and a security guard was the first thing I remembered pushing me down one corridor after another, opening and closing doors that were locked by keycard. I found it a bit amazing that it took two people to handle one young man that at best was heavily drugged. I remember thinking, why are there so many doors?

With no idea about the end of this journey, I remember going in and out. The drugs kept my hazy. When they had been explaining it to me in the emergency room I was failing to pay attention. For all I knew, I had dreamed the whole experience. It was wishful thinking at its finest.

Reaching our destination, it was just after going through another locked door. I could tell the arrival portion of this trip through endless doors because the security guard was now leaving the nurse and myself. It sunk in—this would become my new place of temporary residency. The nurse started to push me down a new but small corridor reaching the nurse’s station.

A large female nurse approached the other nurse and starting whispering to my nurse. This recollection made me laugh and smile a bit because I honestly have no idea if the nurse was large or if I just remembered it like that. I could remember the big open room in front of the nursing station with overly large windows. My eyes were only greeted with darkness beyond the big windows.

An eternity passed (or just seconds) and I was on the move again, this time down another corridor. This corridor was different, it had an open door waiting for me at the end. In only a hospital gown two nurses helped me into the closest bed to the door. I had no roommate that I could see. They put my belongings on the bedside stand then moved towards the door closing it behind them. They left me there lost in the endless darkness of my mind.

The darkness puts into perspective my situation, and what had led me here. It all started with darkness. I cry for what feels like an eternity. The days leading to this event were harsh and unbearing. I wanted to cry for weeks. I just let it all go. Eventually, sleep overtook me.

Coming back to reality, my thoughts continued to brew in my head consuming all the energy in my body and after a while, moving seemed like a good option. I could feel the throbbing of my head the result from the night before, and slowly I made my way to the bathroom.

The face looking back at me in the mirror was barely recognizable. Did those sunken bloodshot deep black eyes the blackest of circles really belong to me? The face staring back at me seemed lost, and unrecognizable. It could have been a trick. My body could be in the possession of my depression and just my body and just my mind remained. Convincing myself that this was really me, I decided such thoughts such as these were pointless.

Finally, out excuses for not making my way to eat breakfast, I made my way back to the nightstand to see if there were any clothes worth wearing in the paper bag, a hospital gown was not going to do. My clothes from the night before were the usual for me—a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and my hoodie. For some reason, no shoes could be found in the bag. I made my way over to the cupboard but again no shoes. I thought this was an odd thing but thought it best to let it go. I thought to myself, “Well that was weird.”

Leaving the room shoeless, I made my way down the hall to the open room that I had been in the night before. I could feel the daylight caressing my skin as I made my way to the room with the big glass windows that had changed with the new day. It hit me quickly that I had missed many things with my arrival on the ward. A glass door was positioned in the middle of the glass windows and its opening was to a small courtyard. I could see a few tables and cement benches to sit on. It became obvious that this area was just an illusion of serenity with the flowers and trees near the cement benches.

A cement wall could be seen the opposite of the glass door. It gave a true feeling of the reality that this place was a prison, and that courtyard was just an illusion. It was more of a prison than the actual ward. It seemed a real mind fuck to me. Why have an open area when clearly this was an illusion? Is this how the mentally ill are treated—with psychological warfare?

As I continued through the open room there was a small television with pink couches surrounding. Everything was so pink in this place. We pass the same nurse’s station from the night before, but a different nurse occupied the station. Further away there were more pink couches that lining the glass windows with other couches leading to another area with large tables. I could see other patients sitting eating their breakfast. It was a strange array of people. Some patients sat quietly, while others not so much. Wanting to be alone, I found an open table with no one sitting and placing myself with my back to the other patients. A nurse brought tray that contained my breakfast.

“Here you go dear,” says a new nurse as she sets my breakfast tray in front of me.

I made the decision to greet everything with silence. It was just easier. I spent the next several minutes poking at my breakfast with no real interest in eating. As I sat there in silence, the opening of the locked door from the night before caught my attention. A young girl about my age came in. A different nurse was gently pushing this fragile young woman. She looked very fragile and I noticed her wrists were heavily bandaged. She tried to take away the pain the only way she knew how, and I could relate. The result was the same I thought, trapped in a place with walls and windows, but no escape. Pondering this, I realized that this could be my future.

Her nurse was pushing the young woman gently in the wheelchair over to my table and for a fleeting moment, our eyes met—before her eyes moved back down toward the floor. She was so beautiful. The hospital gown she was in only made her beauty intensify in my eyes. The same nurse puts a breakfast tray in front of the young woman but she less interested in eating them I was at that moment. My eyes were locked on this girl and it was impossible to turn away from her, there was something about her that made want to know this young woman. Was it the connection that we share being here for the same reasons?

With just a whisper I tell her my name, “Hi, I am James. For a moment, she looks me over and in her eyes, decides something.

Then, with some relief, her quiet answer was a single answer, “Angela.” Not wanting to press her for more we ate in complete silence for the rest of breakfast.

That first day on the ward was a day of many lessons rolled into a day I will never forget. I spent the morning sitting reflecting on what had brought me here. Even though I had lived through it, the whole thing was one big blur.

A single theme was persistent in the weeks leading up to my suicide attempt. I knew as much to be true. The will to not be a part of this world was weighing heavy on my mind before getting to this place. It took me no time to realize that this was Thanksgiving week.

In fact, when I thought about it deeper, I realized it was the day before the big day. That made the night before a Tuesday. As I put things in chronological order in my head, it easier to function. Still, it was hard to piece it together with everything because all of it seemed so whirlwind like the event took up months instead of days and weeks. The pain was still raw and as I worked on recalling the memories, it was better to get it all in order now before having to visit the doctor.

The emotion pain. How long had it been there? This pain was unlike hurting your ankle, what I felt for so many months was worse. This pain was emotional and it cut deep. Depression became my best friend and worst enemy. Often, it whispered to me that the pain would only get worse, I had no real options. It told me I was alone in this world, and that death was always going to be my fate.

It kept me up for days at a time, and every racing through stripped away pieces of my sanity. My depression distorts my reality, and time seemed to slow. The lines of what was real and not real were blurry just a few days ago. The constant losing battle of dark thoughts.

But when the time came to finally face the fact that I would to suicide, a moment of clarity came over me, there was an option. A final option. It was time—it had to end. How to do it? My medication was the easiest accessible means. With no access to firearms and a high chance of someone noticing a missing knife, it was the only real option. It was just there for the taking. It was not long that thoughts became reality. Sleeping pills would work on two fronts, it would bring me to sleep and bring me death. Spreading the pills on my bed I counted them, wondering how many it would take to end it all. Putting my medication in my hand, it made that moment so real…

“James, it is visiting time now. You mother and father are here to see you.” I found myself laying on a pink couch. So, lost in thought that I barely remember moving from the tables to the couch. At some point, I had put on my favorite white My Chemical Romance hoodie to what I was wearing.

Moving from the pink couch, I walked slowly to the roundtables where breakfast has been served just an hour or so prior. I could see my mother and father coming through a different door, the one to the outside world.
My father had his usual stern look about him. They wore expressions of a mixture of afraid and sad, my situation was one that neither one of my parents was prepared to deal with. My mother looked sad and frustration was evident on her face. The look my mom gave me told a story, she was hurt and she didn’t have any clue how to fix this situation that I was in. That look would be forever etched in my memory.

It was hard to be around my parents. What can you really say to your parents when they are as lost in the same unknown world that you are in? This was all new to them. I had never said so loudly that I wanted to end my life. In their minds, I was always the kid they saw on the outside, the illusion that became my shield. The reality was sinking in, this was who I really was. Even the hospital visits over the last couple months were minor things compared to what I just put them through, but this was a totally different animal.

What seemed like an eternity, I decided to ask what was on my mind since I had woken up. “What happened last night?”

My dad, very apprehensively replied, “You mean, you really don’t remember?”

“Not really. I remember that I wanted to die. Obviously, that didn’t take. I remember taking pills but not sure which ones or how many. I really don’t remember getting to the hospital. The last thing I remember was going through a bunch of doors and here I am.”

I studied the look between my parents. This was getting me nowhere. The feeling of wanting to die had not left me. I still didn’t want to be alive, but at the same time, the need to shed this prison was my only priority.

What I thought was an obvious question slipped out of my mouth, “Am I going to get out of here? I mean it’s not like I succeeded in killing myself. Why did they place me in here?”

“James. They had to pump your stomach and shove a black charcoal substance down your throat. You tried to overdose. You’re lucky to be alive!” My mom told me practically yelling. I could tell that my mom was happy with the outcome, me being alive and all, but she was still apprehensive.

I had just tried to take my life less than twenty-four hours ago, and it seemed to me that she wanted me to reassure her.  But it would be a lie. It took all that I had not to let my parents know the truth of how I was feeling. It occurred to me that no one should know. Lying was my best asset in this place. It was the only way to get out alive. So I did what I always did, I acted as if I was sorry a pretend act to be sure.

“You’re not getting out today James,” my mom continued, “You’re on a seventy-two-hour hold because of what you did.”

“But, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Are they really going to leave me here? Are you?” The realization that this was a moot point and it was starting to sink in. The answer my father gave me was expected.

“You put yourself here James. No one told you to take those pills. If you are stuck here it is your fault,” he said to me. I couldn’t meet his eyes, and I just wanted to be done with the conversation. It was getting me nowhere. My instinct was to just give up. Why even try?

We sat there for a while making small talk, but my racing thoughts began to overtake me. Could they just leave me in here during the holidays? Yes, I did something that was wrong. But I am alive, and no harm no foul, right? In my mind, I thought, this was only affecting me, because I am the one stuck here. It was not like they ended up here, they got to leave when visiting hours were over. I was alone in this place with no escape. For the first time in my life, I lost my freedom and it felt like hell.

Visiting hours finally came to an end. I was emotionally draining to visit with my parents. They let me know that there would be another visiting hour later that evening and that my mom would come back. They left me there again alone with my thoughts.

I had not seen Angela since breakfast. I felt a weird twinge in my stomach. What was my obsession with seeing this girl? The girl I hardly knew? She was starting to consume my thoughts. I tried my best to justify it as a connection that was purely a “brothers in arms” type of connection. We were both in combat for our lives. That was too simple, it was much deeper than that, but I had not realized it just yet.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: paul morris

My Social Anxiety Life – Part Two

Part Two

I feel like I am walking into the unknown as I head towards my social anxiety.

This is part two of what I believe will be an ongoing series for “The Bipolar Writer” blog. In the last post of this series, I talked about my thoughts leading to a big night in my social anxiety life. Anxiety has always been as big in my life over the last two years as being bipolar and dealing with depression. It is this reason why I find myself talking about this topic.

Last night was the first time that I have been to a live event or movie in an over a year and a half. Close spaces with lots of people are the worst case scenario for someone with the type of social anxiety that I must deal with when I leave my house. It is where I found myself last night.

I knew this challenge was going to be extremely high. As I mentioned in my last post, I came close to canceling going altogether to the comedy show. I was really looking forward to seeing Jo Koy live, it is something I always wanted to do. The tickets were amazing and I realized that I made right decision to go and see a live show.

My work to make sure that I could get through the night started earlier in the day. I made sure to take a good nap for a few hours before it was time to get ready, that way my focus was on point. I took precautions like taking my Ativan with me and plenty of water (when I hyperventilate water and an inhaler usually helps keep my panic attack under control) and I also did two ten-minute slow breathing medication focusing on my thoughts about what was ahead.

This technique is something I have learned during my work with cognitive behavior therapy. I listen to my thoughts and then center myself back using my breathing. I have this great app on my apple watch helps me by telling me when to breath in and when to release my breath. For me, it has really helped with my social anxiety.

I felt somewhat confident as I left the safe confines of my house. The catastrophizing thoughts were still there fresh in my mind, and some new ones came about as I made my way to the theater where the show would be held. I worried about if I would have enough Ativan, which I did have enough of it turned out. I worried about if I would have to leave the theater if my anxiety spiraled. This was still a couple of hours before the show.

I had a great dinner at a place in downtown, I had the fish and chips, and it helped to eat something even if I ate only about a third of my dinner.

Then came the waiting in line, the finding our seats, more waiting, and then people showing up around me, my greatest fear. I had just taken an Ativan before dinner, and that was just an hour before getting into the theater. As the people poured in all around me I could feel the anxiety and panic growing with each passing minute. Moments would stop and I would forget where I was for a fleeting moment.

I started to feel some major self-conscious feelings in my head. What will these people think about me? Why did I decide to go out? I could have stayed home… why didn’t I? This was all before the show had even started. I did what I was supposed to do, and I did my breathing exercises again. I reminded myself that my worst fears are most likely the result of catastrophized thinking and almost all of it was really in my mind.

As the show started I started to calm down some, but I could tell that my anxiety was still at a high level. I have talked to my therapist and psychiatrist in the past six months about immersion therapy where I put myself in a situation that makes me uncomfortable. I hadn’t done it because of my overwhelming fear, but this was one of those situations that could be used as an experiment.

I got through the show. I laughed harder than I have in ages. I smiled and for moments of that hour and a half comedy, show life was better. By the end, I was glad I did the right thing and immersed myself into a situation that made me uncomfortable. I had a moment in the middle of the show where I felt my anxiety was spiraling into a panic attack so I took an extra Ativan. It helped. I feel bad it took extra Atican.

I honestly don’t know when the next opportunity will come where I can further immerse myself into a situation outside my house that isn’t a place (like a coffee shop) where I don’t feel at home. Maybe I could go see a movie. This was a good experiment and while I got out of it fine the middle of it really worried me. I feel sometimes that I am too reliant on my Ativan too much in these types of situations. It’s this reason why if I leave my house I always have my Ativan within reach.

I would like to hear some people’s thoughts on what I shared. Did I overact too much in the moment or did I do what I could to get through the night?

Photo Credit: Davide Foti

The History Behind Memory of Shane

I thought it was time to talk about my biggest project out there right now, my screenplay entitled Memory of Shane and its subsequent novel that I am writing. This story is really about two years in the making and since I am writing the novel version the idea continues to be ongoing.

The project started as a short story that I wrote for an advanced writing class about two years ago. I never imagined that I would write this story beyond this class because it was a good piece, and there were so many places I wanted to go with it, but the ten-page limit really made me believe that I was done. But, when the opportunity came to choose a story for my second screenwriting class (where our goal was to write the first draft of act one of a full-length screenplay) I jumped at the chance to explore my story again.

Writing the first act was so amazing. I really got to know the story down to its bones, and I knew the developing it into a screenplay would give me the opportunity to refine my dialogue skill to a new level. In my advanced screenplay class, we finished act two and looked toward the future for act three. I knew by the end of my advanced screenwriting class where I would go in the final act, it would be a few more months until I finished my complete first draft, and of course, there was a long editing period.

But where did this story come from? I will admit the story is a work of fiction, but as any writer will tell you, it is impossible for your real life not to make its way onto the page. The basis of Memory of Shane is a love story between Adriana, the young nineteen-year-old not looking for love and Shane the young writer hoping for his big break. What drove me to even start to write a love story was rooted in what happened in my own personal relationship with my girlfriend at the time in 2007.

I will write many blogs about the weeks and months that lead to my diagnosis. After leaving the psychiatric ward for the first time there was true chaos in my life. I was on new medication that I didn’t believe in. I had some idea where my life was heading, and so I was worried about the emotional toll that being in a relationship with me would be for my girlfriend. I loved her, and she was willing to stick it out with me, but I did the unthinkable and ended my relationship in a very Bipolar way. She came to my house and I broke up with her. I was a jerk there is no getting around that now. Looking back, I know my girlfriend would’ve stuck by me but it just wasn’t fair to her because, as I would find out, 2008 and 2009 were the worst years of my life.

What does this have to do with anything? Well with writing Memory of Shane I had the opportunity to explore if and how two people could coexist when one of the people in the relationship is bipolar. On some level, I wanted to imagine if a person like me could be in a healthy relationship. I worked so many scenarios in my mind that it gave me the ability to write a story that, at some level, could have been my own life. Our past choices are long gone now, but it’s great as a writer to explore your past through your writing.

It is almost impossible for my own life not to sneak into my writing, but in this work, my character Shane does reflect my own experiences with Bipolar One. We both fell in love at the start of our diagnosis although Shane tried to hold on to Adriana. Both Shane and I can trace our symptoms to our teen years. I even wrote a scene where Shane spends days laying down in his bed in complete darkness, I did so many times during my long cycles of depression.

Beyond the diagnosis, both Shane and I tried to take our lives three times, thought Shane was unfortunately successful becoming a statistic. There was a part of me that, when I wrote Shane’s death in the story, that once and for all that any thoughts of suicide in my own life were dead. I would no longer walk down that dark path that leads to suicide. It became true​ when I made the decision to end my character Shane’s life, I would lock that part of me away that piece of me forever.

After finishing my full-length screenplay of Memory of Shane it came down to if I would write the novel version. I put so much into this project, could I really do it again? It took months before I could revisit the idea again and eventually I gave in. It will be interesting for me to explore this story once again.

So, there is a little history on my project Memory of Shane.


Photo Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters