The 4th of July has never been the same, I get that it is this fantastic holiday that we, as Americans, celebrate our Independence Day, and I will always honor the day like all of us, just with a sad heart.
On July 3, 2014, we lost my grandfather forever.
Every year I have honored one of the greatest presence in my life, my grandfather. I once wrote a poem about him called The Bravest Man I Knew. I wanted to spend some time this year talking about the man that was always there for me when I needed him since I was a little boy.
My grandfather was born March 18, 1932, in Ewa Beach, Hawaii (pronounced Eva Beach because the “w” is a “v” in the Hawaiian language). My grandfather and grandmother were married in November (I forget the year). My grandfather served in the United States Army for twenty years. He was an amazing man who loved to buy cars, computers, and was very intelligent (where I get my own smarts).
A fact about my grandfather, he was in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
I wish he was here today as I near the end of publishing my first novel. I started going to school for my bachelor’s degree around the time that he got sick with cancer. The doctors gave him six months, and he fought for a year and a half. My grandfather had an amazing spirit, and he was always willing to help his only daughter, my mother, and his grandchildren, he even got to know five out of his six great grandchildren before he passed.
I still remember, he went fast. He was okay in June and then starting on July 2nd be started to lose consciousness and before we knew it he had passed on July 3rd.
It sucked. I was depressed for close to a year after taking care of my grandfather for that year and half. I have never gotten over the suddenness of how cancer can take a person. But he was this amazing man who lived his life, saw the world during his time in the military and drank coffee everyday (which is one of the reasons I am a coffee addict!) My grandfather was, is and always will be loved by those who knew him because he was an amazing man.
Just from these photos, you can see the people that loved him and that five years ago came together to honor this great man. I love my grandfather to this day because he taught me so many great things that I have today. If only he would have seen me continue my recovery with Bipolar 1 and panic disorder, but I believe he is still here in spirit and watching over us with my grandmother.
The last photo was taken weeks before my grandfather passed with his sister visiting. What you don’t see in this photo is all the sweets on his desk not just for him, but his great grandchildren. We all miss you grandpa!
I am a writer who needs multiple projects that are ideas, in first drafts, editing, and ready to publish. I am also seeking an agent for those out there looking for a writer. For right now, I understand the self-publishing process, so that is good in my book. I will continue to go down this route. I have a fantastic cover artist (if you are looking, please email me!) and people I trust besides myself to edit my work. I prefer to keep busy.
Here is an idea of where I am at right now just in works in progress.
The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir – (Non-Fiction) Republishing in March 2020
Angel on the Ward – (Fiction Novella) In formatting and working on the cover art. Getting ready to publish in April 2020.
The Rise of the Nephilim – (Fantasy Fiction Novel) In editing looking for an agent
Hyeon and the Precious Notebook(Short Story) Looking for literary magazine publication.
The Dark Passenger (Short Story) Currently in the final editing phases.
Vacation From Heaven (Non-fiction) this is my major ghostwriting project of 2020.
What can I say, I like to keep busy, even as a graduate student.
My Next Big Ideas
A Book Sharing the stories of the Mental Health Community
That brings me to other projects that I want to launch in 2020. The first being A collective book on the stories of the mental illness community. I have been throwing around this idea for a while, and I think it is something that will be long-term. I hope to travel and meet people to write their stories. The money will go to helping others with medication, seeking mental health services, and perhaps other projects. Not a dime will go to me. A lot of this project will hinge if I can convince my followers to become Patreons. I will use my books as incentives for those who want to be a part of my writing process.
A Mental Health Podcast
I have two people that will become contributors once I get all my ducks in a row for this project. Both have experience in mental health. One of these two mental health advocates has experienced differently from mine. One is a bit younger with varying mental illnesses, including PTSD, that she deals with daily. The other, he is the man whom I am ghostwriting his book, is much older but also has some fantastic experiences that significantly differ from my own, including getting off benzodiazepines, which is a tremendous story. It will have guests, and I have big plans for this project in 2020.
Growing The Bipolar Writer Brand
Building my brand is going to be a fun project, and again, it comes down to if I can launch my Patreon account with enthusiasm. I am thinking t-shirts, coffee mugs, and maybe even one-day hoodies that show inspirational things alongside my brand The Bipolar Writer.
I wanted to share all of this because this is the year where I take everything to the next level. My followers are so important not just to me, but to the contributor writers that call this place home. I want to show the world what a community such as ours is capable of doing amazing things. That the support and understanding that I have experienced is the best. We need to change the stigma of mental health together!
The idea of sharing my number is not the first time I have done this, but I wanted to double down on my recent renewal of being more of a committed mental health advocate.
If you ever need someone who will help you through a tough time in your life, I hope to be that person, because it is important to me to be accessible to the readers of this blog.
My inspiration of late comes from the outpour of support from the followers of this blog. I am going through one of the worst experiences of my life. I can say with certainty that I am not suicidal even though my thoughts have been depressive at times. It is a significant thing to lose a mother. My mom would want me to dive deeper into my mental health advocacy, as she always told me, and so that is why I am doing this post. So here again, I am posting my number, you can find it on my blog as well on the main page.
James’ Number – 831-287-4369
If you need someone to give you some advice on how to get through how you feel, I will be there and answer as quickly as possible. The other route of course is my email.
James’ Email: email@example.com
I will also list my social media platforms so that if you are not comfortable with these ways of connecting to The Bipolar Writer, you can always contact me.
What I want is total transparency with being there for the people following this blog and the mental illness community. So I hope that those who feel like reaching out because they are suicidal or anything mental health-related do.
Lastly there is always the National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Relax. Such an amazing word. It is something that I do not do well.
This month my Patreon account has grown a little with the addition of three new members. As it is the end of the month, I wanted to have a special shout out to those who have joined my writing journey.
For the purpose of this post is only to name first names as a thank you.
For those that are interested signing up and becoming a patron, the sign up is easy, and the lowest tier is $2, and in the future, when my book is published this summer, I will be adding more to the tiers. So why not become a Patron of my writing??
I always celebrate the significant milestones of the Bipolar Writer blog. I know I am not around as much, but I wanted to say The Bipolar Writer blog has reached the 12,000 followers milestone!
I wanted to say thank you to everyone following this blog and keeping it going. To my contributors, thank you for being there even when I can not by creating valuable mental health content. Let us celebrate our mental health advocacy, mental illness, and mental health recovery wellness.
Always Keep Fighting
James, and the Contributors of The Bipolar Writer blog
It has been a struggle to keep up writing new content for The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog. With my hectic schedule with my graduate courses, my freelance work, and my writing projects there is just not enough time to do everything that I want to get done. I want to change this narrative.
So, this blog post is asking what type of new content would you like to see on this blog. It can me anything mental related and I will make sure that I write good post. So leave your ideas in the comments.
This year has been the one for many changes as my new psychiatrist since the start of the year continues to make my life easier so that I continue to be productive in my graduate studies and writing projects.
The first change has been a good one. I am no longer on Ativan, and I have changed over to Clonazepam, which has helped my social anxiety and my general anxiety. It had some early drawbacks like I was really tired the first two weeks of taking the medication, but eventually, that went away, and the results have been positive.
My psychiatrist wanted to change my mood-stabilizer from Lithium to Depakote, but I had a bad reaction to this medication to where it was raising my anxiety the longer I was one it, and I was able to stop the medication and stabilize. Sometimes in this mental illness, life medication changes are not great, and this is one of those trial and error things that comes along with this life. I was able to stay on the lithium which seems like it will continue to be my future.
Today I had an appointment with my psychiatrist today, and she wants to make more changes since the Depakote failed to work. Right now, I am starting a new medication again called ____, and I will know in the next few weeks if it will work with the medication that I am already on. I am no longer taking antidepressants, so this new medication is supposed to help curb depression, but it is not an antidepressant.
The one piece of bad news is that there is not really a change for Seroquel, one of the most essential medications that I take and also the bane of my existence.
The medication would be fine if all it was for was to keep any voices at bay (not that I hear voices anymore that was a long time ago), it was used as an anti-psychotic, and for sleep. But the side effects suck. The two main ones are major grogginess with waking in the morning and the weight gain. Since having to take more to get me to sleep, my weight keeps increasing no matter how much I work out and change my diet, which I have done.
That has been my 2019 medication changes so far. Maybe there will be some positive out of all these changes, it is too early to know for sure, but at least I have someone that is finally listening to me. That has been a pleasant surprise so far. Things are always changing and that is a good thing.
At times our journey to discover what is wrong with us can be a hard one, and it can go unnoticed for a time. Then we experience something that changes everything in our lives. That’s what it is was like for Victoria, a young woman from the Midwest— Indiana. Victoria’s journey begins with her official diagnosis— Vaginismus.
You can find more about the signs and symptoms of vaginismus in Victoria’s blog Girl With the Paw Print Tattoo.
A Struggle With Vaginismus, Anxiety, & Depression
The ride to discovery can me be a hard one, and it is never easy. It usually is a difficult one— and it was no different for Victoria’s journey. Victoria‘s official diagnosis is vaginismus. It occurred the first time her freshman year of College.
“After having sex for the first time. I discovered excruciating pain that went along with it,” she explains. “I did a Google search, and “vaginismus” came up.”
It was difficult for Victoria to understand, and for the months that followed, she hid it from the world. It wasn’t until a session with her therapist that she brought up the pain. It was Victoria‘s therapist that convinced her to seek real medical help.
”My first gynecologist knew I struggled with pain during examinations. Yet, they never addressed it. Now, when I say ‘struggled’ I mean I was held down on the table by two nurses as I cried. I shook uncontrollably whenever she examined me.”
It was a horrible experience for Victoria. At times her gynecologist couldn’t examine her because her PC muscles blocked her. It was still never addressed, and it continued to be a problem in her life. It finally took Victoria approaching her doctor and telling her that she had the condition.
Her response was, “Oh that makes sense! I always thought you never liked exams.”
When you receive a diagnosis such as vaginismus, it can be a daunting and an exhausting process. Over the years, Victoria has gone through so many doctors, gynecologists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and physical therapists.
“I was given a set of dilators and told yo use them daily. I was never given instructions on how to use them. This is typical.”
As with any diagnosis, it usually morphs into other issues in your life. Factors like problems in Victoria’s personal life helped fuel a new struggle with depression. In her freshman year in college, depression became a part of her diagnosis. Victoria was randomly selected to take a test in the Psychology Department in her college. It was the results of this test that the Professor, a therapist and the Head of Psychology Department, called Victoria into his office.
“It was the most nerve-wracking experience of my life,“ she explains. “I knew I was a mess, but I had to pretend I was fine. I walked into the room full of sunshine, and played it cool.”
It worked as Victoria confused the room. The results of her test made it seem that it would be impossible to get out of bed most days. They were shocked that the individual that took that test was before them. Victoria, like so many of us who first experience depression, laughed her depression off.
It was a futile thing to do, and on a break from school when Victoria went home, she went to a family doctor. Victoria got her official diagnosis of Depression. Victoria resisted her doctor’s recommendation to take medication and chose a route without anti-depressants.
“It wasn’t until recently that I began to see a psychiatrist. I now have been prescribed a variety of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. It’s crazy to think that it’s officially been one full year on meds.”
Anxiety is another side effect of her diagnosis. Victoria contends that she has always lived with generalized anxiety disorder. She learned to adapt throughout her life. It was her therapist in her freshman that gave her the official diagnosis of anxiety.
“To be honest, I don‘t remember what it was like before these diagnoses,” Victoria recalls. “I remember one memory of being completely blissful, and that when I was very young. I was outside in the backyard; the grass was extremely green, and the sun was shining brighter than it ever had. I would twirl around, and swing on the swing set smiling as I breathed in the crisp air. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the grass and the air and the sunshine on my face. I was fearless. I was free. I was innocent. I was happy.”
What is the Hardest Part for Victoria?
In Victoria’s life living with vaginismus is the hardest thing she has to deal with each day. The depression is a side effect of vaginismus, and she has found ways to make the anxiety not a big part of her life.
“With vaginismus, and therefore depression, It is feeling worthless and abnormal,” she explains. I feel like everything is my fault, and I’m a huge failure when it comes to relationships.”
Victoria worries that she has set her fiancé back when it comes to relationships. It is often the feeling for Victoria that vaginismus holds her back from enjoying her life. For Victoria, it feels as if life is passing her by.
“It’s not living. This, of course, is my biggest fear.”
Triggers are what Victoria struggles the most each day. One of the hardest triggers for her is to be alone in her apartment. Trying to relax alone can be a hard thing for Victoria. The negative thoughts and emotional turmoil can be consuming. Victoria at times has good days, and she is able to move on with her day. It’s the nights that can be the most difficult.
“Every night is difficult for me because I so desperately want to be intimate with my fiancé but can’t,” she explains. “This only intensifies my depression.”
It doesn’t help Victoria’s cause that depression and anxiety often set her back. She can remember a time before her anxiety medication where she was afraid to hang out with people. The fear of driving and being in large crowds frightened Victoria. It was fearful to even drive for her.
Luckily for Victoria, those days of fearing her anxiety have passed. Depression still haunts her every day. Those days where she wanted to stay in bed all day, she gets up and tries to go about her day.
”I find that tears sometimes swell in my eyes for no reason. I must wipe them away. I realize that I suck at communication with others because I’m not even thinking about anything other than my own thoughts. It makes me feel terrible and guilty. I worry that I am a terrible friend and partner.”
Victoria Wants to Share This With the Mental Illness Community
The one thing Victoria wants to share with the readers of this article is this. Not to judge individuals so quickly.
“You have no idea what they are going through in their life,” Victoria explains. “You have no idea what their daily struggles might be. Also, for those of you dealing with the same struggles, just know that you are never alone. Some days are harder than others, but you will get through this.”
Learning From the Blogging Experience
Within the confines of her blog, it has helped Victoria sort through her emotions. In a very constructive way. What helps is being able to sit down and talk about her mental illness and conditions. He blog is like writing a journal that you share with others. The people that follow her blog can empathize and relate to what Victoria is going through.
“I also love how blogging shares awareness. It makes me feel good inside to talk about vaginismus and shed light on this condition to the community. Hopefully, it will one day go further than just blogging about it.”
Ending on a Positive Note
There are things in our lives that make life worth living. For Victoria, it is her fiancé and the possibilities of beautiful adventures. Like traveling the world.
It has been a unique experience to share Victoria’s continuing journey with vaginismus, depression, and anxiety. I came across Victoria’s blog, and it was amazing to see how someone who has been through so much can be so open. She can still shed light on her illness and help others with her blog. It was my pleasure to write this feature article about Victoria.
I hope every person reading this article knows that each of us struggles in our own way. Victoria and The Bipolar Writer are of one mind when she says not to judge people for their struggles. When this happens, some battles stay hidden, and that is all bad. I wish nothing but positivity as Victoria continues her journey.
There are times when writing interview features for The Bipolar Writer blog that it gets personal to me because I can directly relate to the subject of the article. When that happens, I feel as if I must tell the story right. Today I share the story of Joy Daehn, originally from Sagamihara, Japan— and currently lives in Florida. You can find her blog at https://happy-thinks.com
Joy Daehn: A Story of Overcomer
In every journey with a mental illness, we all start at the point where an event or something significant influences how your mental illness affects the rest of your life. For Joy Daehn, her mental illness started very young due to abuse.
“It’s hard to say if I was born with a mental illness or if it formed over time,” Joy explains about her mental illness origins. “I would say that it is my biggest curse, but also my biggest blessing.”
Since her childhood, Joy has always wanted to help others, find her purpose, and at the same time feel welcomed. Joy believes that her mental illness has allowed her to connect with so many wonderful people on her blog, but to reliving the trauma she faced a child is something she would never want to relive.
“There are good people in this world that sometimes ‘just don’t get it.’ They mean well, but they will never understand.”
On a daily basis Joy has to contend with her diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with dissociative symptoms, a diagnosis she finally got in February of 2018. Due to the fear about the stigma of mental illness Joy decided to put off evaluation— this is a common occurrence in this mental illness life.
“I honestly do not remember a time I have not struggled with some form of mental health,” she remembers, “I remember having suicidal thoughts as a child and being depressed as early as age nine.”
What Joy sees in her life is being able to understand what it is like to have suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks ruling her life. This understanding has allowed her to step into a place with other people that otherwise may not have permission to go. “And I say ‘with’ because I am still figuring this thing out.”
The hardest part of the daily routine of living with PTSD involves people who don’t know or don’t understand what it means to have a panic attack that is PTSD related.
“It has often made me afraid to go into social settings even though I enjoy being around people for the most part,” Joy explains about this type of anxiety.
To get through a single day Joy is very much a planner. Each day she has an agenda that Joy writes the day before, it helps her get through her daily grind. It has become a routine in Joy’s life, and it coincides with her mood journal that she keeps daily.
“This helps me clear my mind of any negativity. Prayer and meditation at the end of the day it also helps me reset my thinking,” Joy says, “I guess you could say it’s much mental preparation the day before. I know my mental illness isn’t going anywhere soon, so preparing to coexist with it seems to be the best option for me.”
Writing a mental health blog can be therapeutic and enlightening. I always ask my interviewees what they would like to share with the mental community— and this is what Joy asked me to share her little piece of wisdom.
“I believe my blog has always been a place where people of any background can come over. I don’t believe there is a single person on the planet that is exempt from mental health issues.
“But, if you read my posts you will probably notice that I speak from experience 99% of the time. So, from experience, I would share something with the faith community.”
“If you read my story, you know the environment I grew up in did not believe in caring for mental health. You might relate to this if you grew up in a similar background. Although you may have left these teachings, there is a part of you that still nags at you and calls you a bad person for being the slightest concerned about your mental state.”
“To this, I have to say; God did not only make you be a spiritual being. He created you with the intention to be a body, mind, and soul. Yes, caring for your spirituality is important for your soul, but neglecting the other two are completely contradictory to God’s design.”
“You are not sinning for caring for your mental health. And trust me, the more you realize it’s okay to practice self-care, the more you will be able to care for others.”
Writing a mental health blog for Joy has done absolute wonders in her life. “Before the blog posts, I thought NO ONE understood the pain I was feeling. However, I started receiving messages upon messages from people just like me. These people and I have become a community, and it has meant the world to me,” Joy explains about her mental health blog.
For Joy, life itself makes life worth living every day. Living according to PTSD’s agenda can be quite miserable according to Joy, but along with the planners she uses she has a vision board full of pictures. It helps her to stay excited about the good things in life, to have something to look forward to in this life.
To end the interview, Joy had this to say:
“Have a support group. I sincerely don’t know where I would be without the support of my husband, sister, best friend, and my boss. Some people will truly care about you if you let them. You are worth being cared for!”
If you would like to know more about Joy’s journey with PTSD and her past you can follow the links below to pages from her blog.
I always like to end these interviews with my thoughts on the story I have shared with you in this feature on Joy Daehn. I am genuinely in awe that Joy dares to share her abuse story, it is something that I still struggle in my own journey—I barely talk about it. At some point, I hope to find the courage to do so.