Signs of Hope

Signs of hope are everywhere. Hope is always present. Sometimes we have to search for it but it is always there.

It has been about two and a half months since the last time I wrote.

Since the last time I wrote, the world changed…

and asked me to stay home.

I isolated for years before it was cool. I practiced the “safer at home” way of life before it was a thing, before it was the respectful thing to do, before we were told to do it to protect ourselves from the Corona virus.  I was a pro.

I have been staying home for over two months now and am ready (most of the time) to be with people (most people). I need (most) people but at the same time I am also nervous to go out into the world. I fear meeting, to me ignorant and selfish people, who refuse to wear a facemask. I think wearing a face mask adds a layer of protection for all of us and I believe face masks represent a symbol of love, care and respect for other people in the world. I worked very hard to be alive and staying healthy. It is my time to shine and live a good life. I am ready for it and will do anything and everything to make that happen. I do not want to get sick with the Corona virus.

Last week I was finally allowed to see my beautiful nine month old granddaughter Leora again.  She is my greatest joy and love and has my heart.

Before the Corona virus happened I began doing my art again and preparing handmade items to sell at a local craft show, for the first time in my life. I was busy creating art and was enjoying it tremendously. Of course because of Covid 19, my craft show got cancelled, so I opened up an Etsy shop and began the long process of putting my art on Etsy.

One day, I got an email from Etsy asking people to make masks.  Well, I can sew so this was a no brainer. I began googling tutorials on how to best make masks and as they say, the rest is history.

I’ve been sewing masks for people in my family, for local people and for people on Etsy now since the end of March. I have sold 134 masks on Etsy and made approximately $2000. I have also sold over 70 masks for family, friends and other people locally. Some of those were sold for a lower fee than my Etsy orders and many I make for free.

This has been my part-time job since the end of March and I have been making the limit that SSDI allows. I can only keep my Etsy store open for a few days before I have to remove my mask listings because I get too many orders for the month. It has been a blessing for me financially that is for sure. It has also been a fantastic distraction as I stay inside following the safer at home guidelines.

My mental health has been okay. It has been fantastic many days, but other days I must work hard to stay mentally and physically healthy. It is difficult for me to know what is normal. Maybe this is how it is for most people during this difficult time. Overall, I am doing well.

I am always so very thankful that God has given me another chance at life–to live my life to the fullest. He has given me the opportunity to make my children proud of me which is my greatest goal.

After people do not need my masks anymore, I pray I can sell other items on Etsy. So, when my mask making slows down I plan to make and list many more items.

One of my goals is to have a large listing of items for mental health recovery with inspirational cards, magnets and buttons and much more. I have a few items like that and have more to add when I get time. Currently, I have most listings as downloadable prints and cards for $2.00 or $3.00 each. Please check it out if you would like.

The name of my Etsy shop is… Signs of Hope and More. If you are on the Etsy page (Etsy.com) just type SignsofHopeandMore with no spaces and it will bring you to my store or here is the direct link…

http://www.etsy.com/shop/SignsofHopeandMore

I used Adobe Illustrator to make my logo and banner. I took a class over ten years ago and taught myself how to do it again and am still learning–trying to get better.

If you visit my shop you will notice the masks are not currently there as I had to remove them temporarily until I catch up. I have bout 20 masks to make locally and then I will finally be caught up again and will list my masks again.

You can find a few mental health recovery downloadable prints. As I mentioned I will try to add more very soon and will let you know when I do. Here are a couple samples.

recovery pink cardrecovery circle purple

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Here are samples of some of my masks. If you need a mask let me know and I will try to work something out for you.

 

I am also finally ready to self publish my completed memoir. For those of you that have been following me, you might know that I attempted to publish my memoir the old fashioned way. After one traditional publishing company was interested in my manuscript and asked me to send my entire manuscript to them I was over the moon excited about it. They declined publishing my memoir but gave me ideas of how to improve it, so I diligently rewrote my memoir and resubmitted my memoir back to them and also to a few other publishers. I decided I would give it one more try the traditional route.

They declined my memoir but am happy I gave it very best shot. I worked hard on it and now I am totally ready to self publish.

If anyone can help me self publish my book and has advice for the best route to take I would be very appreciative. I can’t spend a fortune as I do not have one. lol.

In your opinions, who is the best self publisher out there? I am open to any help I can get.

The title of my book is: SHAME ATE MY SOUL. It is titled that because you know what? Shame did eat my soul but I got it back and I am still fighting to live a happy, productive and love-filled life and stay mentally and physically healthy.

Recovery is possible. I am living proof. You too can be the living proof. Let’s all keep fighting and be THE LIVING PROOF.

Today I have my first appointment with my psychiatrist over the phone. I am a little nervous for it for some reason. It is in about an hour.

If you have read my many words, you are amazing and I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Stay safe, be well and be kind.

By the way I hope you visit my Etsy shop and like it and…

if you need some hope…

you will find it at…

Signs of Hope and More.

Seriously though I always hope your days are filled with hope, love and peace.

Much love always,

Sue

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope 

A Letter to Myself on my Birthday – 3rd Edition

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Happy Birthday, James. It will be a strange one, but all things can only go up from here.

This is officially my third time writing a letter to myself on my birthday, April 10th. A date that the Bipolar Writer came into this world not knowing where he would end up, and yet through the chaos of 2020, I can count myself among the lucky ones to be able to celebrate my birthday. I do not take this birthday lightly as I might have in the past. You can find the previous versions of this idea below.

2018 Letter

2019 Letter

Since the last time we were here a year ago, you became a published author. Wrote your big fantasy fiction novel, wrote a novella, and a few short stories, all headed towards publication. Your dream of being a published writer is finally achieved, and yet you have so much further to go, and while that can be scary, it can be invigorating. Never give up this dream, James, no matter the struggles you are sure to face over the coming months and perhaps years. It is all relative.

The worst thing that happened to you since last time you wrote this letter to yourself is you lost your mom. A monumental life-changing event that almost crushed you to the point of no return. The grieving process will be a long one, but you have proven to yourself that you are more durable because your mom will always be a part of you. She helped you get here, never forget that, and always remember that she waned you to continue your own fight and the fight for others.

Where do you go from here, another birthday alive when no to many years ago that might not have been a possibility?

You find yourself at a crossroads in so many facets of your life. For one, I am nearing the end of my graduate degree before my next birthday. It is all planned out from now until the end, and it though it may feel bittersweet, you have come such a long way as a writer, a person, and a human being.

You know that there are so many great things in your life but never forget the big ones. Traveling and teaching in Korea after your Master’s. Taking a trip to Tokyo and the Holy City. These things may seem impossible given where the world is on your birthday, but never give up on your dreams. Only you have the power to stop them from becoming a reality.

There is no doubt that things are always moving fast in this life and that during a pandemic, you saw what people could be as humans. Empathetic to those on the front lines of COVID-19. Your greatest hopes are people seeing how anxiety, depression, and anything that comes with a mental illness is something that is not made up. So many people are living in a world of anxious thoughts and depression that could lead to suicide and self-harm. Something new to so many, but for us, those in the mental illness community, have to live with every day. Perhaps compassion and empathy could be applied to once and for all-conquering the stigma of mental illness. I know you will always be fighting.

If you are feeling the voice that accompanies suicidal thoughts, please know that it is not the answer. James has been there, and it only leads to two things. Death or regret. There are more options. James is living proof.

It feels hopeless sometimes, James, but you know that there is always the other side of your anxious feelings and depression. Trust in the people that are a part of this blog. The people that are on your side telling you, “you are not alone.” You are not alone in any of this mental illness life.

James, it has been real to be a part of this amazing journey that is your life, and I hope that we have many years to come.

If there is one thing that I would want on my birthday, it is for people to read my book. It is free on Amazing Kindle Unlimited, and you can find it here.  Of course, buying my book would be amazing as well, and you can find the links to my author site and where to purchase my books below. I thank you for coming here on the day of my birth and sharing in my letter to myself on my day.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

Photo by Becky Fantham on Unsplash

So Many…

There are so many men and women out there during this pandemic, waiting, longing and eager to send their friends, partners and parents flowers.

So they waited a long time to show these flowers how pretty and wonderful these people are. But they have to wait a little longer…

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Sending you angel love and blessings.

Love, Francesca.

When This is all Over

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

There has been something weighing heavy on my mind lately. We are living in a different world than we were at the start of 2020. People are inside more than ever, and every day our lives are changing because of the coronavirus.

Yet, I have seen so much compassion for those on the front lines. People are reaching out to those that are losing members of their families. For those who are the unfortunate ones that have gotten the virus. I am amazed by the outpour of support of one of my contributors of this blog, you can read about her story here. I see it on social media. I see it everywhere. I make it a point to thank those people who still have to go out in the world where they are at risk every day.

Yet, we are not always compassionate when life is good. We forgot in these times that there is still real hate out there, and it affects our society as a whole. Look at the Asian Americans that are being attacked simply for being Asian. The coronavirus knows no race, color, religion, or sexual orientation. Is it not possible that we, as a whole society, can be these empathetic to everyone we come across? Not just when we are in a pandemic. A wise person told me recently that we are more alike than different.

When this is all over, let’s be better people. Let us put people in power that want to help the people without a voice because they are the disfranchised. I hate getting political here, but we have seen how politics are being chosen over helping people. Let us remember how, since people have been sheltering in place that the environment has been helped and improved in a short time. Let’s have compassion for people dealing with anything that is taking over their lives. We can be better people, we have been doing it for a month now.

I am by no means not part of the problem. How many times have I not said thank you for someone doing their job? I know that sometimes I feel disconnect because I am an introvert, but now more than ever, I crave connection to others. I want mental illness to be recognized by all as a real thing that we have to solve. There are so many problems in the world that we need more compassion and empathy. We are the human race, and we need to do better, not just during a pandemic.

One last thing. If you have to go out into the world, make a plan, and limit yourself to exposure. Get items delivered if at all possible and make sure that you sat thank you to those who have to work in this crisis. If you see a nurse, paramedic, grocery store worker, delivery drivers, or anyone who still has to brave the world because they are essential, be kind. These people are the real heroes of this pandemic. Always stay safe.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

Photo by Alex Wigan on Unsplash

Message of Hope- After A While- Veronica A. Shoffstall — Go Dog Go Café

Hello Everyone– In these times of uncertainty and fear, I wanted to share a poem with you that I cut out of a newspaper 26 years ago. To give you a …

Message of Hope- After A While- Veronica A. Shoffstall — Go Dog Go Café

Message of Hope- After A While- Veronica A. Shoffstall — Go Dog Go Café

I just had to share this beautiful, encouraging poem originally posted by The World according to Redcat. A message worth keeping through the years.

Chapter Sixteen – The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir

To allow people into my book. I am releasing a few chapters here on my blog, as well as my author website, where you can also find blog posts here. This chapter chronicles the “lost years” just after my diagnosis of Bipolar One. You can purchase my book on Amazon here.

Chapter Sixteen: The Lost Year of The Bipolar Writer

THE FIRST THREE YEARS of my diagnosis are what I consider the lost years of my life. There were so many things that went wrong in these years. If I am honest, these years set me back in my mental health recovery. I sometimes hate that my mind wonders to how different I could have been without these lost years. If I had accepted that I was Bipolar and believed that things could change. I don’t know where I would be, but that is a false equivalency, because these years made me better.

I realize what I went through during those lost years, is why things are better now. It took me years to realize this truth. I struggled, went through hell, but somehow, I made it through. It was about a week after my last suicide attempt, when I had just gone through several seizures that I realized my life had to change. When I was laying in that hospital bed, I realized I wasted three years of life. I didn’t really exist in the real world, only the world that I created.

My lost years. I will never get them back. No matter how much I look at the past. I am in a better place in the last three years then the first three in my diagnosis.

In these “lost years,” as I am fond of referencing them as, I was so lost. I couldn’t tell you what day of the week or month it was most days. It was even worse when trying to figure out the year. Time just passed me by, and so did everyone in my life. Isolation became my best friend and at times, I talked very little.

It was endless depression with very little peace. It was the darkest time in my life. My thoughts were often on the fringes of suicidal idealizations. I thought about all the ways I could die through suicide. I was a man without a purpose, or a will to live.

I remember less about the individual days during this time in my life. I spent most of it lying in bed, or on the couch watching movies. It was where I spent almost every second of my time. There were times where, I would play my video games, but the common thing was I was usually in bed.

At one point, I set up a makeshift desk that sat on my bed where I could place a television. I connected my Xbox 360, which always seemed to be on. I could play video games, and then switch to watching an endless supply of movies. I had a ginormous collection of movies on my external hard drive. I surrounded my bed with blankets, to give my living area an aura of complete darkness when I needed it. I rarely slept at night, preferring to rest after an extended 45-50 hour gaming and movie sessions. They always ended in the day for some reason.

I would take my Seroquel then, and sleep for 14 hours. The days meshed into a constant haze of sleep and endless depression. My thoughts were always dark. I didn’t care about life. I had a single light in my bed space. It was my own little self-made prison, but I reveled in the isolation. I would go days and weeks without leaving my dark space and days without showering. I loved my dark place, because it was mine and isolation along, with depression were my friends. What I failed to understand was that it was only making life worse.

I remember I had these goals. It seems stupid now, but back then, these goals were my everything. Any game that I would play, I had to get at least 75% of the Xbox achievements or more of game. For a long time, my score on Xbox live was at 89%. These things mattered in my life when nothing else did. I always remember this, because it was essential to be a real gamer to people. I remember how for a moment, when I could complete every achievement on a game, I felt a glimmer of feeling good about myself. These moments were fleeting.

I was a role-playing gamer. Being a gamer was all that mattered in my world in those first three years. I didn’t care if I ate that day. Or if I drank enough water. When I did eat, it was all the wrong things. I didn’t take care of myself those early years. If I am honest, I never thought I would make it to my twenty-fifth birthday. In some ways, I almost didn’t.

I only left my house when it was trips to the hospital or to see my psychiatrist every month. I remember going to the hospital one time for a severe panic attack. The nurses pumped me full of Ativan because my heart rate (which is always high I found out) wouldn’t go down. I remember this memory because of the nurses. They thought it was remarkable I was still awake given that they had given me so much Ativan. My life was a mess.

I lost so much in those early years. Life passed me by. I didn’t care about anything or anyone outside myself. It showed in the times that my parents had to drag me to the hospital at 2 am, and I didn’t care one bit about how this effected their days. I never once dawned on me that my parents were living in hell too. When these events happened, they still had to go out and work the next day. My family was always waiting for the next drama I would bring.

Most of the people in my life gave up on me. In those early years, I was on my own. Living but not living. No one came to visit with me or to hang out. I was in complete isolation from the world. I wasn’t interested in politics or what was the ‘in fad’ or who was famous. I lived as if there was no tomorrow. It was the only way I could keep my thoughts from spiraling out of control.

It didn’t always work. When I couldn’t distract myself enough, it would mean that it was going to be a bad night. My thoughts consumed me, and the only way to ease the emotional pain was to self-harm. Cutting on my arms became of a way for me to release all the emotional turmoil that tormented me daily.

The blood running down my arms was my release for the few hours that the physical pain would be the only thing on my mind. As time went on, I cut deeper. I stole razor blades and used them until they became dull against my skin. I could live with the physical pain any day. The emotional distress was hell every second of my existence so why not find a release?

Nights were always the hardest. I would cry silent tears, because I couldn’t figure out which way was up in my life. I felt lost and alone. I was alone. Those three years between my first suicide attempt in 2007, and my last were the worst ever. I didn’t live, not like I should have been living.

It became too much as the years pass me by. I never got better, only worse. Cutting became useless. The emotional pain that I put myself through was killing me. I wanted out of this life. What was the point of existing when you don’t live?

It came down to one day in June 2010, where I thought my life would end. But my story, it was just beginning. I didn’t know it at the time. That is how I lived my first three years of my diagnosis.

Always Keep Fighting

James Edgar Skye

I Worry About the Long-Term Effects of Medication

The theme of my mental health this year has been about making changes. One area is in the medication that I am currently taking. One that has been on my mind of late is Seroquel. What are the longterm effects on my overall health and even lifespan? Is it possible to completely get off this medication?

The Effects of Seroquel on my Life

This nothing new, as I have thought about this many times. Seroquel has and always been a part of daily life since 2007. In 2018, I got off of antidepressants altogether, and it was life-changing. Seroquel is so different because it is vital to keeping my manic side in check. I have had psychotic episodes in my past–it is why I was prescribed an antipsychotic right away. It also is helpful with sleep, another reason I take this medication. With the recent success with my CPAP machine, and helping me conquer my sleep apnea. I wonder if I can begin the process of phasing this dangerous medication entirely from my life. 

It is a worry on both sides. Lithium is supposed to me my mood stabilizer, and I’m not too fond of the effects of Seroquel. Feeling like a zombie in the morning. Not being able to get up for two hours when in reality, I wake up at seven, but get up at nine. The fact that it shuts down my whole body completely. Then there is the obvious, what has taken high doses of this drug done to my body or my lifespan. I know it has affected my teeth, something that they never told me about, but it is now something I have to deal with every day.

Next week I meet with my psychiatrist with a purpose in mind. Finding ways to lower my Seroquel to lower doses in hopes that I can still get sleep, but be able to function better. It will be a trial and error thing because I have been down this road before. In 2016, I was down from 600 mg to 200mg. Then sleep began to be an issue again I saw my dosage skyrocket to 600 then back down to 400mg, where I am currently at today.

It will always be a battle, but for the first time in my life, I can see a world where I deal with my mental illness of Bipolar One without medication. Then comes the next phase. Ending my addiction with benzodiazepines, that is a blog post for another time. I will say I met someone in the last six months, and he has gone through the process of removing Benzos from their life completely. It was not easy, but he proved to me it is possible. Stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

2020 Big Ideas

First and foremost I would love to share my new author site outside this blog. www.jamesedgarskye.me

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!

Stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Please if you can, Become a Patron!

If You Ever Need help

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: jamesedgarskye22@gmail.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.

Twiter: https://twitter.com/JamesEdgarSkye

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesEdgarSkye/

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

Always Keep Fighting

James

Kind of Like a War Hero

I’m a war hero.

At least I’m kind of like a war hero.

I survived a war,

but was never in the military.

I have battle scars,

but was never in combat.

I have PTSD.

That illness you understand for veterans.

I survived a war,

that I’m still battling.

I’m a survivor,

but I’m still surviving.

I’m a war hero.

At least I’m kind of like a war hero.

My father was my war.

He is still my struggle,

my battle,

my sorrow,

my pain.

I recently saw my father and my brain regressed to a frightened little girl.

Parts of me are still there. Shattered. Frightened. Sad.

Hidden in a corner in my closet, knees scrunched up tight, head buried in.

I will continue to fight, to grow again.

I will love my little girl self and hold her, comfort her and soothe her wounds.

I will be the parent she never had.

I love you Suzie. You are beautiful.

You are strong. You are so many wonderful things.

You can be all the things you couldn’t be before.

Be them now. Find them. Find you.

There is still time.

Find a way.

Become the new you. Anything you want to be.

I am kind of like a veteran.

A different kind of veteran,

but still I need to celebrate me.

I have PTSD, but not the kind you understand.

I was never in the war.

Not that kind of war. A different kind of battle.

I was never sexually abused.

It was not that kind of abuse.

It was the other kinds of abuse.

The physical and the words.

It was the words and how he said them that hurt the most.

The kinds you say I should just get over.

The kinds you think I should just let go.

It was the different kinds of abuse,

but still I have PTSD,

and I am a survivor.

I survived a war.

A different kind of war,

but still I am a survivor.

I survived my father.

I’m still surviving my father.

Each time I see him I return to war.

His words, his tone.

They trigger me back to enter that war zone again.

It is my war. My private battle.

A war I re-enter

each time I see my father

or when an image, a sound, a phrase, or a tone

triggers me back to the battles,

the fear, the pain and the heartache.

I’m a war hero.

At least I’m kind of like a war hero.

I survived a war.

My father

was my war.

I survived my father.

~written by Susan Walz

 

© 2020 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

Photo credit: Photo by Vero Photoart on Unsplash