So, Where Did The Bipolar Writer Go?

I know it has been a while. I have been on a small journey of self-discovery over the last few weeks. I have been up and down, even sideways at times. I felt depression and anxiety in full force. I was feeling lost in who is James and was, or how does The Bipolar Writer become more than just a place that I go when life is tough. I was not feeling the feels as my life coach would say. So, where did The Bipolar Writer go?

He was here all along, but he lived in two different worlds, the past and the future. The person that I have been since the death of my mom in December was someone different. I put everything into what I need to grow my business. To continue writing both for my business and above all the projects in fiction will allow people to know The Bipolar Writer. I lost my passion for writing and instead went to make a million plans all in the hopes of keeping me going and keeping me busy. I was still writing, and it was still good, but I was not me. That was key. It became my downfall in July. I felt so alone in the world, and I allowed myself to let old habits back into my life. I was not living in the present. 

I never thought I would lose my mother the way that it happened—the suddenness and having to continue to finish graduate school and keep myself from allowing the feelings in. I was hiding my pain, and it was growing into the monster thing that was hidden away in my mind. It wanted to be let go. I have been reading Permission to Grieve by Shelby Forsythia and also listening to her podcast. Both of these resources, alongside my self-discovery with my life coach (I will write more on this in another post), I began to realize I life-rejection and self-abandonment were my constant. (This book from Forsythia is really amazing, and I won’t spoil it here.) I was far from living in the present.

I was living by a narrative that was not my own, and I abandoned everything that made who I was inside. I had not once in my grief–the loss of my mom, the lost years of my life that I am always making me try to make up, and the loss of two relationships that altered how I treat people. I closed myself off to the world. I fell into my writing and school to try to grasp onto anything that felt good. I was not feeling good, and I was not myself. I have not been myself. I stopped living in the present and began to live in the future and the past. It is a destructive way of living.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

I had not once since my early 20 gave myself permission to grieve, as Forsythia would say. I lost parts of myself along the way, and I never thought to take a look back and pick those pieces back up. When I lost the one constant in my life that was always there to pick me up, my mom made me go way inside. I was so lost and let things like COVID-19 to not really live.

I was marking the months. Every 15th was a bad day. I had to let myself be depressed on that day–every month. I was still living, that is something that you do. You keep going and make all the plans because that is what society tells you to do. I was not really living. I need to grieve, but that means letting the person who I was before my loss—all of the loss over the last fifteen years. I have made decisions in my life moving forward.

I am connecting with a life coach who is teaching me to live in the present. It will be a four-month journey. I am using my love for reading to immerse myself in books on grief and living in the present. Reading is one of my loves, and I am taking away screen time (when I am not working on school, work, or writing) like when I am watching sports or streaming. If you know me, it is not easy. I am not giving up watching sports, but not spending my “downtime” streaming. I was for so long filling all my time with things, no matter what it is, just to do it. I was on my phone so much, and I was not living my life. I want to go back to my roots–books and stories. I love stories.

I want to be in the present, and I am working on self-care at the moment. Why am I writing this post? It is because it will help me find my voice again. I am learning to do things at the moment because you can’t know the future. The past will always be there, but I am no longer that person. I am ready for change. That means coming back here to where it all started—this blog. I want to feel the feels. I want to live again, AND I WILL.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

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Featured Photo by Daniella k on Unsplash

The Grieving Process of My Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

After my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, it took me many years before I fully accepted I had this life-changing mental illness.

The first step in any recovery is acceptance. I realized I had to accept the truth of the reality of my illness before I could be ready to seek the necessary treatments to start the recovery process. I had to be ready to fight and heal my pain and internal mental scars.

I wish my acceptance of bipolar disorder would have been automatic and not taken so many years because then I think my life could have improved sooner.

To begin to accept my bipolar disorder I had to go through a grieving process, which took me a long time. It was a painful process and journey for me.

1. Denial  I do not have bipolar disorder. I do not have a mental illness. You are wrong. I do not want this. I can still teach and do everything I used to do. I am the same good person. I am a great person so I cannot have this illness.

2. Anger – When I was first diagnosed, I was very ill from the side effects of the medications they were giving me and other reasons as well. I did not understand what was happening to me. This caused me to have a lot of anger. I blamed everyone around me and basically hated everyone, especially if they tried to help me. I was not a good patient at all, and I tried to fight everything they said and did to me when they tried to help me. I lashed out at others and made people feel bad. I have guilt for some of my past behaviors when I was first diagnosed, as I acted horribly. I felt like a horrible person at the time of my initial diagnosis. Ugh! My anger was very painful and intense.

3. Bargaining – Why me? If I stop taking all of my medications I will be “normal” again and I will be fine. I will show everyone they are wrong. If I stop taking my medications and stay away from all medical care, psychiatrists and hospitals and go back to my life the way it was before, everything will be OK. I will show everyone I am fine.

Going off all my medications was a bad idea because after a couple of years of not taking my medications and not receiving any help or support I had a full blown manic episode which lasted about a year. Because my episode caused me to become so severely ill I had to receive medical help again and have continued it ever since.

4. Depression – I realized the true magnitude of the loss of myself and loss of my life the way it once was. Everything changed for me. My old life was permanently gone with bits and pieces still hanging on but not many. I had no more control in my life. People were telling me how to live and who I had become. One doctor told me I would never be the same again but they could get me to live a functional life. What? That sounded like a death sentence to me, and it was like a death sentence for many years, as I tried to end my life many times. My life was put into a survival mode with doctors and professionals basically just trying to save me. I was not living, but I was trying to find a new way to survive for years. I thought: I am sick. My mental pain is horrific. They give me medication that gives me severe side effects and adverse reactions that I do not like and that change my personality. I have no friends, and I am so lonely. No one likes me or even wants to be around me. I am worthless. The old me is gone and died. I cannot function, move or even get out of bed. I can’t live like this anymore. My life is over. No one will even care if I am gone. I am all ready dead. I want to die.

5. Acceptance – Acceptance is the last stage of grief and the most vital and important step on the road to recovery of my bipolar disorder. The acceptance of my illness and my new life was a slow and gradual process. Things slowly started to improve and look better over time. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness, but I saw glimpses of hope and of what happiness was again. I accepted that things will never be exactly the same again. I gradually started to adjust to my diagnosis, and my changed life. My depression began to decrease in spurts but would come back periodically and ferociously at times. I began to figure out how to live with my symptoms and start living my life again. My mind started to work better, and I began to feel more normal and a part of life again. I soon began the important process and one of the most essential parts of my new life of redefining who I was.

I had to find my new identity and learn to like myself again and eventually love parts of the new me. I found a way to work part-time again in a field that suits me well by helping others in the home health field and I started going back to church. I started getting out of the house more and around other people.

I do have bipolar disorder. I do have a mental illness, and that is OK. I have a new identity and that is OK. I am still a good person. I believe God saved my life and I became born again. I am still the same person I always was but now I am a better, stronger, wiser and kinder version of  myself.

My greatest blessing is that I have always been and am still a good mom. My children were always my life support and still are. I love my three beautiful, amazing and wonderful children beyond words. I am so blessed to be able to be their Mommy. Thank you, God.

Sometimes I still grieve parts of the “old” me and think about what my life could have been. I try to block those moments of memories of my past out of my head, as the past is the past, and I try very hard not to live there. I try to live in this very minute and moment one day at a time.

I never thought I would have a mental illness, but I do and I must strive to make the best of my illness and always strive to be the best person I can be and become. It is a never-ending battle of struggles, growth and discovery and acceptance of the new me every day.

I have found joy in the experience of living.

~written by Susan Walz

“Don’t wait. Make memories. Celebrate your life.” — unknown

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