My Delusions

So, as you are all probably painfully aware, depression is an illness that can take all of the life out of living. This was the case for me. For roughly 8 years, out of the 20+ years I’ve been depressed, I had nothing to live for. I tried to kill myself twice before 2011, when I was barely a teenager. Obviously, both tries were rather unsuccessful, I think that I have my poor planning skills to thank for that. My childhood was not great, but not awful either. Granted there was nearly constant bullying from people that I thought were my friends. However, you get into my teenage years, and it all seems to go even further downhill. I lose my will to live, secretly attempt suicide twice, and go through the motions with school, chores, relationships, etc. It wasn’t until 2011, that I really planned out my “next” suicide attempt. I had shoplifted 2 bottles of over the counter sleeping pills, that I originally was using for my insomnia, which I suppose could be related to my depression or even my anxiety. Though, I had gotten to a point, where I just couldn’t stand living another day. Going to school. going through the motions, getting bullied, going to football practice, coming home to a dysfunctional family, I just couldn’t do any of it anymore. So, over the course of about 3 hours, I drafted my first real suicide note. Posted it to Facebook, and then took roughly about 150 sleeping pills. This was my first serious suicide attempt. By serious, I mean, it actually had a chance of succeeding. Luckily for me, someone called the police once they saw my suicide note on Facebook, and I was saved, by the “skin of my teeth”. I woke up probably a day later, on a respirator machine, in the ICU of the local hospital. My parents both there beside me, with a rather obvious mix of anger, sadness, and joy written all over their faces. I then promptly got committed to an in-patient facility, and began my near lifelong journey in the mental health system. If any of you reading this are also residents of the lovely United States, you know that our mental health “system” is severely lacking, and filled with stigma.

So, the next few years weren’t easy, by any standpoint. Though I graduated high school, enrolled in college, had a rather serious girlfriend at the time, and life was going, not great, but well…at least for a little while. It was in college that I finally tried medication for my conditions, and not quickly, discovered that I was medication resistant. So, I believed that with a mix of medication and weekly therapy, I would be able to get back to living my life. For several years, it kinda worked, though I was still plagued by incessant suicidal thoughts, and severely deep depression. I also developed a rather unhealthy dependence on alcohol, but that’s for another time. Fast-forwards a bit, to 2016. I was technically a senior in college, but due to my inability to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I needed a fifth year in college. As a small side note, I couldn’t pay for my 5th year, as the scholarship I was “awarded” only lasted the 4 years. I was barely keeping my head above water at this point. Seeing my therapist every week, was basically the only thing keeping me alive. Though, with the constant suicidal thoughts, I always had a plan in motion to kill myself, I would just never act on it. My therapist knew this, and gave me some leeway in not committing me. The problem is, I was spiraling the drain, and I knew it, but I did nothing to stop it. What definitely didn’t help, was my chemistry teacher was also my academic advisor. He, when I went to him to schedule spring semester classes, told me that I would never amount to anything in life, or be hired by any company, if my GPA wasn’t above a 3.0, which it wasn’t. This single line is what pushed me over the edge. Turned, what I call “passive” suicidal thoughts, into “active” suicidal thoughts. One day, during my chemistry class, with Professor…oh I’m sorry…DR.WHATEVER THE HELL HIS NAME IS, I got fed up with listening to him pretending to be a good teacher. So I stormed out of his class, went to my therapist, and told her that I was probably going to act on my plan…SO, in what not to do to someone standing on the edge, she called the police on me, and had me committed to in-patient…

Fast-forwards a few more years now, I was single again, and have gone through several jobs with promising companies (contrary to what my advisor said) and began working at a rather large laboratory company. I, once again, began circling the drain, and I saw it coming from a mile away. I hated my job, hated my life, yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah you get where I’m headed with this, right? So, this time, wanting my life to be different, and not go back to in-patient, I quit my job. Right there, on the spot, no warning, no advance notice. I then began to look into ECT treatment, which you all have probably heard me talk about before, so I’ll skip explaining it. After about 6 months of ECT treatment, I finally began to feel better. I went from, essentially, the bottom of a ravine, to the peak of a mountain, in the course of a few weeks. Yeah, I’ve read the articles that ECT causes permanent brain damage, and that the “elation” that I felt, was simply a symptom of the concussions ECT was giving me. I don’t believe any of that. I was saved by ECT, because it was more or less, my last resort. After a couple months of feeling like I was on top of the world (or so I thought). I began to “level out” and stopped being so happy all the time (which probably was as unhealthy as depression) and began experiencing what “normal” feels like. It was then that I was scared that a I would fall back into my deep depression, as my mood was starting to dip. What I didn’t realize for a few weeks, was that life is basically a whole lot of “blah” feelings, with a little bit of sadness or happiness sprinkled in at the right moments. So, coming off of this “high” I was on after my depression faded, I was scared of falling back into depression. I was under the impression that this “happiness” I felt, was going to be the way I was from then on. Of course, I was wrong. And contrary to my beliefs, my mood stabilized around a sort of “grey” middle-ground between happiness and sadness. This was not something I had ever experienced before, so I was (needlessly) worried for quite some time.

Y’know, I was under the impression that life would get easier once my depression was gone. While technically I was right, I was also completely wrong at the same time. I have always known that life is not easy, for almost everyone. Of course I also knew that this really depended on where and who you were born to. I have known for a long time, that I got rather lucky, as I was born a white male, to a successful mother, in the United States. Although, I was convinced that once my depression was gone, I would be able to do all the things I needed to do, that I couldn’t while depressed. Such as chores, simple self-hygiene, socializing, finish my degree, get a good job, pay my own bills, move out on my own. Y’know, become a true adult. While life certainly is much easier to manage without constant suicidal thoughts, and all the depression symptoms, it is not as easy as I thought it would be. I was unemployed for 7 months, in order to get my ECT treatments done. Though, because of my bills, I never stopped looking for a job after I quit my last one. Though, I have to say, until I was hired around the end of July, I have never had as much trouble finding a job, as I had during those 7 months. Even depressed, I had a seamless transition between two jobs, for more pay, and less commute. Though, without my depression, with all the energy and motivation that I had regained, I couldn’t find a suitable job for the life of me. I still dealt with all the same issues that I did while I was depressed. I couldn’t take care of myself, I could barely pay my bills, I didn’t do chores, I still had a drinking problem, I still had massive anxiety, it was like nothing even changed. My life was supposed to get better by leaps and bounds without depression, or so I convinced myself. The problem that I didn’t account for, is that life always sucks, whether you’re mentally ill or not. Life is always hard, and nothing will fall into your lap just because you want it. Like I said, life did get easier for me, but marginally (Compared to my “predictions” anyways).

I just had to realize a few things that most people learn in their childhoods (that I didn’t thanks to depression). #1, life is hard, for EVERYONE, regardless of circumstance. #2, life is not all happiness without depression. Like I said, it’s mostly this weird “grey” area, with a little bit of happiness and sadness sprinkled in. #3, if I want ANYTHING in my life, I am going to have to bust my a*s for it, no excuses. #4, my depression is in REMISSION, not cured. Unfortunately there is no cure for depression (yet), and it will worm it’s way back into my life at times. I just have to hope that I have enough experience to deal with it the right way, rather than just kill myself. Once I realized these things, life didn’t seem so bad. I go to work, pay my bills, hang out with my friends, actually live life. So if you are still struggling with mental illness, don’t delude yourself the way I did. Although life will get better if you get your illness under control, it won’t magically become super awesome. So continue with your treatment plan, go to therapy, take your meds, and just bust your butt, until what you want is realized. Having a dream that you are striving towards is usually a double-edged sword, take my word for it. It is great to have a goal in life, but you either have to make it realistic, or be prepared to never reach your goal. Granted, with a wild, outlandish aspiration, there will be a boatload of fun along the way, but it will be incredibly more difficult. So, y’know what, live your life the best you can. When your time comes, as all ours will, just make sure that you had enough good times to look back on as it all fades to black.

Hopefully this wasn’t too depressing for you people. I really wrote a lot didn’t I? Sorry…not sorry…hope you enjoyed reading. As always I would love to hear from all of you on what I should write about next. Especially since the future for the BPW blog is a little fuzzy at the moment.

ANYWAYS, hope you all have wonderful days today, and forever ❤

Into Me I See (Pt. 1)

I couldn’t possibly be more unhappy than I am right now.

I’m strapped into a long, metal tube with about one hundred strangers approximately 10,000 meters above sea level, flying back to my hometown in rural Australia. In the next row, three shtick heads are hooting, hollering and rough-housing like it’s a Friday night at the local pub. To top it all off, I’ve carried so much extra emotional baggage onto this flight that I’m surprised I made it past check-in.

Last night, I did something awful to someone I really care about. Something
I deeply regret. And now I’m doomed to spend the next three hours in my
elongated, flying prison reflecting on my selfish actions. I suppose it’s a
relatively light punishment, considering the crime.

My thought cycle of self-hatred is interrupted by one of the obnoxious
morons in the row ahead of me. He shouts to the flight attendant like she’s a waitress and demands that she brings another round of ‘CC and dry’ to him and his pals. The benevolent bringer of beverages makes her way down the aisle in a manner that is polite, yet stern.

“Sir, please refrain from raising your voice on the plane.” Her smile is
also polite, yet stern.

“Also, that’s your third drink in the last 20 minutes.” Smile, smile. “You
have to wait a little while before we bring you another alcoholic beverage.”
Smiley-smile-smile.

The annoying drunks go back to being drunk and annoying. I glance at the
flight attendant and our eyes meet. She smiles again, warmly this time. For a nanosecond I don’t hate myself.

She takes a step towards me, and leans in. Why do all flight attendants
smell like a flower shop in the middle of a small country town? I love that
smell.

“Can I get you something to drink?” How nice. Girls never offer to get me a
drink.

“No, thanks.” My smile is polite, yet troubled. There is no room for ‘CC and
dry’ when I’m already full of guilt and shame. She nods in acknowledgement and sashays away to serve the next loud idiot or heart broken, sulking loser.

Next to me, an attractive young couple are giggling away like a couple of
kids on the back of a school bus. I turn my head slightly, so that I can see
what all the fuss is about. It seems like one of them has managed to stuff
their jacket pockets with sushi, and the sheer genius and hilarity of their
secret snack idea has them both in hysterics. I’d laugh too, if I didn’t hate
them so much. It’s so unbearably adorable that not even blasting Burn The
Priest
through my headphones is enough to blot out the cuteness. It
reminds me of the things me and Freya used to do together, and how they made me feel.

My thoughts inevitably turn back to last night, at Freya’s place. When I
arrived there, I just wanted to talk. But I’d worked my mind up into such a
frenzy, and I was so scared of losing myself in her that I behaved like any
scared animal would – I attacked. I told her that I didn’t want to see her
anymore, because she was needy. I told her that she was slowly smothering me, stripping away the life I had built up since moving to Melbourne six months ago. I told her I don’t want to be her emotional punching bag. Then, I stormed out.

I got exactly what I wanted. She’s gone now, and I have my life back. I’m
free.

So free, and so alone.

Part of me wants to take it all back, to say I’m sorry, and set things
right. But is that because I miss her, or how she made me feel?
Is it just the guilt and shame that makes me want to apologise, or is it
something else? Would I even deserve a second chance, after saying all of those terrible things?

Fuck, this is going to be a long flight.

I decide to fire up an audio book called ‘Silently Seduced: When Parents
Make Their Children Partners’
by Kenneth M. Adams. The book explores how some parents, driven by insecurity and loneliness, use their children as
surrogate partners. It describes the impact this can have on their children’s
emotional development and ability to form healthy, romantic relationships in adulthood.

Yes, perfect. This will take my mind off things.

The book goes on to explain that if one person in a monogamous relationship is emotionally unavailable, the other person will look elsewhere to satisfy their unfulfilled needs. They might start spending more time at work, hoping to find satisfaction by building their career. They may turn to drugs and alcohol, chasing new experiences and cheap thrills. Or they might try to fill the void by maxing out their credit cards with some good old-fashioned retail therapy.

In some cases, however, they will use their children as crutches to keep
their hearts from collapsing.

Sadly, it makes a lot of sense. We’ve all heard stories of parents that seek
validation through their child by forcing them to become what they personally never could. But sometimes, the parents push in another direction. They force a child to become a shoulder to cry on, or an ear for their frustrations. The child becomes the voice of reason when the parent is unstable, and is the one to pick them up when they inevitably break down.

It certainly not the loveless environment that most people think of when
discussing childhood trauma. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s too much
love. The wrong kind of love. And for a child, it’s the only love they know.

It’s hard for a child to neglect the emotional needs of a wounded parent.
They brought you into this world, after all. They raised you, and protected
you. You owe them everything. But after a while, this surrogacy begins to drain you. Love becomes a burden, like a warm blanket on a hot summer day. It’s an overpriced cocktail of guilt, shame and resentment. You learn that to love, is to suffocate.

Each passing chapter of the book peels back a new layer of my childhood.
Each new concept is another piece of the puzzle. Slowly, I’m starting to see
why being close to people scares me so fucking much. Why I become detached, even spiteful, towards those that have shown me nothing but compassion and understanding.

As the cute couple beside me chows down on their jacket sushi, I’m having a
full-blown existential crisis. I pause the audio book, and take a moment to
collect my thoughts. From this crisis, comes a moment of clarity – my return
home has presented me with a rare opportunity. An opportunity to know myself better, and get to the bottom of my mummy issues. An opportunity to see into me.

For the first time today, the guilt begins to subside. As the plane begins
it’s decent, I feel a sense of resolve forming within me. It may be too late to
fix things with Freya, but it’s not too late to change my behaviour and stop
being a shitty human being.

Once we hit the tarmac, I grab my bag from the overhead locker and follow
the Canadian Club clowns as they stumble down the aisle, bouncing off the backs of seats like they’re stuck in a really long, narrow pinball machine.

I step off the plane and take my first real breath in three hours.
Hopefully, my stint in the slammer did me some good. I’ve done my time, and now I’m back on the outside. I’m a free man.

“JAY! JAAAYYYYY!”

Or, maybe not.

It’s the voice of my mother. Suddenly, the space around me begins to
tighten. She wasn’t supposed to be here.

What To Do?

It’s been a while since I’ve last written on the BPW blog…at least it feels like it’s been a while. Memory is still pretty bad, but cognative function is slowly returning. I’m not excited that it’s returning, because not only did I get used to having no memory, it was actually comforting to have forgotten all the bad without trying. Lately, I feel like I’ve been in a slump. I’ve got a full time job now, so I’m back to work. It isn’t rewarding, but it’s a paycheck, which I desperately needed. I know that “normal” life is a lot of feeling whatever, then short bursts of happiness or sadness. It’s just weird for me, because I felt like I was at the top of the world during my treatment, or rather when the depression finally lifted. Now though, I’m getting used to the feeling of “normal” which isn’t a good or a bad, it’s just kinda blasé. It feels eerily familiar to the numbness of depression, but fundamentally different. It is a little worrisome, obviously, as I never want to go back to being depressed.

The question now is what the hell do I do with my life? I mean, I work 40 hours a week, like almost everyone else in America. But like, my hobbies have suspiciously vanished, my friends are, well, there, but living their own lives too. And I don’t want to cut in on that. I don’t want them to feel like I’m forcing them to make time for me. Y’know? I guess it’s just a part of getting older…people focus more on their careers and romantic relationships, and friendships kinda just sink to the wayside. I know it sounds like my friends are terrible friends, or maybe that I’m a terrible friend, but two of my dear friends, we have an understanding. We can not see eachother for months, then pick it right back up when we do see eachother, like there was no time in between. It’s actually a great style of relationship to me, because it’s very low maintenance, but offers all the benefits of a close friendship. Back to the point, I just don’t know what to do with my life now that I’m not depressed. I mean I can clean, and do chores and such, but my physical pain (slipped disk in my back) still limits me severely. I also want to do something I enjoy, y’know, something that brings me joy. It’s funny, because I’ve never thought of things like that before. Everything I did during my depression, was simply to get my mind away from the suicidal thoughts. Now that I actually want to live life, and bring myself joy and fulfillment, I’m at a loss. I enjoy writing, as you can probably imagine, but I can’t just lay in bed and write my time away. Writing is therapeutic for me, but also can be a source of stress, so it’s a fine balancing act. So I don’t really know what to do? I mean, I want to date again, but my social anxiety is still out of control, especially in romantic situations. I’m on many, if not all, the dating apps, but I don’t really just fire off messages, because not only could that be annoying to the girl, but the effort I put in to messages, and then to receive no response is saddening to say the least. So I don’t really spend too much time on dating apps, plus I may be old fashioned, but I like to meet people in person, develop a platonic relationship, before moving on to romance. So, what do I do with my free time? I am actually looking for answers, so if you have recommendations, let me know. Also, is this sort of weird middle area of emotions just life? Or what? I don’t know…maybe I’m just over analyzing. Let me know, please?

Off My Chest

So, as you can probably tell, this is not going to be like my usual posts. My brain has returned to its normal, insanely fast pace. I of course didn’t really do anything positive to help myself. I watched some of the saddest music videos I could find. Of course, you know that I believe music to be one of the most powerful things that humans have ever created. A single certain song can make or break your whole day. Today, the song that set my spiral was 1-800-273-8255 by Logic. You may or may not know that that’s actually the number to the National Suicide Hotline. And of course, it has a very sad music video, and very sad lyrics. I found myself sobbing at the end, and went on my usual depressive train…I am not proud of myself, because I worked so hard to become not depressed, and here I am, willingly slipping back into it. Granted, this is not my old clinical depression, this is simply situational depression. Yet, that doesn’t make it suck any less, and that doesn’t make it less terrifying to me.

What I have to get off my chest, is the two main reasons that I wanted to die while I was depressed. These may sound like small problems to you, but to me, they meant everything.

The first reason I wanted to die, is that I am a empath. See, sounds trivial, but let me explain. You see, when I see, or hear about people struggling, with anything, my depression deepens because I cannot help them. It really all stems from the phrase, “You can’t save everyone”. That single phrase kills me inside. There are things going on in peoples life that makes them suicidal. Or maybe you were/are like me, and you’re suicidal for no reason, all the time. You know, now that I think about it, I probably should have started with reason two, because they are rather intertwined. The second reason I wanted to die, is the world f*cking sucks. There are such injustices in the world, slavery, oppression, corporations pushing products down our throats. I like to think that I’m what the kids call “woke” in that I see everything wrong with the world. Yet, I’m only one person. I can’t fix the worlds problems. You see how the two problems are intertwined? It hurts me to my core that there are so many problems in the world, and I can’t fix any of them. I can’t save everyone, nor should I. But that’s where my empathy takes control of my mind. I so badly want people just to love each other, and love themselves. So, I started blogging to help with my own issues, and I really wanted to help as many people as I could reach. The internet is a wild thing, we are all connected now, literally. How can I focus on myself, when there are so many problems in this world. Now, I have to stop myself from thinking like this, because it will drive me deep back into depression, and I cant go back, I won’t.

For real though, like what the actual f*ck is hate? Why do some people hate other based on their skin color, gender, sexuality, whatever. It pisses me off. It pisses me off even more that I used to hate people based on things they couldn’t control. Yet, the wealthy and greedy all only care about money or power, or both. I mean, we could cure cancer, but do you know why we won’t? There is more money to be made treating the disease than curing it. That’s f*cked isn’t it?! Why the actual f*ck is there a market for child sex? Like WTF is wrong with people? Why do corporations continue to destroy the planet, and then blame our individual actions? Like me using a plastic straw is worse than dumping millions of gallons of trash into the ocean. This world is just full of such bullsh*t, and I couldn’t stand it. That’s why I wanted to die. The rich and powerful continue to trick the rest of us, making us think we can change things. But as soon as we affect their bottom line, it gets swept under the rug.

I am terrified to have kids, because I KNOW that I won’t be able to leave the world a better place for him/her/them. And I’m just supposed to live my best life, while turning a blind eye to all this? How the heck can I do that? I so desperately want to live a normal, not even happy, just like baseline, life. These thoughts though, it is a real struggle. Now don’t get me wrong, there is true beauty in the world. I want to be able to focus on the good in life, I think that’s the only way I’ll make it, but I don’t know if I can. I need hope. It’s as simple as that. ECT did treat, and probably, cure my med resistant depression. But without hope, I don’t see my life changing all that much. Please. Whatever you do, just love yourself, love others, let’s make this world a place suitable for our children, our children’s children. Let’s just live and love life. Please.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Sometimes, life gives you lemons. At other times, it throws them at you. Really, really hard. Especially if you’re not looking.

In one moment, you might think you’ve got everything under control:

  • Job = secure
  • Bills = paid
  • Clothes = washed
  • Social life = uhhh…work in progress
  • Prescription = filled

And in the next moment…pure chaos. Cheers, life.

Whether as the result of some external event (eg. an untimely incident or unexpected circumstance) or internal influence (eg. a chemical imbalance in the brain or a traumatic memory), chaos hides around every corner waiting for the chance to strike, threatening dysfunction and disorder.

I believe that in small doses, chaos can bring a healthy amount of excitement and unpredictability to our lives. A life without chaos is a life without challenge; there is a yin to every yang, as they say. But to someone suffering from a mental illness, chaos poses a substantial threat. If we’re already struggling to keep our heads above water in day to day life, chaos can easily overwhelm us.

Depression is a constant battle, and when we’re treading water it’s easy to spend too much time staring into the abyss below and wondering what would happen if we stopped paddling. We get so caught up in the chaos and fear that we lose sight of the bigger picture and start behaving irrationally. Life throws us lemons, so we pick those suckers up and squirt the juices into our eyeballs. Not exactly the best move.

Sometimes, we need to be better than our emotions. Every now and then, it’s important to look up from the abyss and make sure you’re still headed toward dry land.

Let me tell you about a time life threw me a nice, big, juicy lemon.

A few years ago, I was exploring my home state in Australia, driving through the ranges of north Queensland. On this day I’d driven to the peak of the Eungella ranges and spent the morning trekking through the rain forest, conquering the mountainous trails and generally being in awe of the breathtaking views of the valley below. My companion on this journey was a maroon-red ’02 Toyota Corolla hatchback, that I had affectionately named Colin. We had been through much together in our three-year long relationship, and yet nothing had prepared us for the tribulations we were about to face.

After hiking my last hike for the day, I returned to my four-wheeled friend to find that he was almost completely out of fuel. Shit. I wish I could say this wasn’t a common occurrence, but I haven’t met any genies lately.

I was about 70 kilometres from the nearest gas station, and even further from the nearest town. But I had complete faith in Colin, and he had faith in me. I’m sure that if I coasted my way back down the mountain, I’d conserve enough fuel to make it back to the bowser.

So, down the range I went, gliding gracefully along the winding road in my little red go-go machine. I felt every bump, crack and dip beneath the rubber as we rode the waves of asphalt to the foot of the mountain. Every tweak of the steering wheel, every touch of the accelerator and every pump of the brakes was made with intent. It felt good. I was in complete control.

Or so I thought.

In the distance, a sign was fast approaching. “Eungella Dam, turn left in 500m”.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, dear reader. I freakin’ love dams. Some might call it “an unhealthy obsession”, but I would call it “don’t judge me, asshole.”

I grew up a stone’s throw away from a dam, and they’ve always fascinated me. They’re a true testament to the ingenuity of mankind; monolithic structures with the capability of harnessing one of nature’s most unstoppable forces – lots and lots of water. Eungella was so far away from home, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get the opportunity to see this dam again. How could I pass up the chance at one last incredible view?

I pulled my steering wheel to the left, and barrelled toward my new destination. Surely, this would only be a slight detour.

I started bashing through the bush, leaving a large cloud of dust in my wake. The dirt pricked my eyes but I kept them peeled, scanning every bend in the road for a turnoff or parking area. Minutes passed, and as I strayed further and further from the beaten track, I could feel every meter travelled accumulating in the pit of my stomach. Deep down, I knew that I’d made a terrible decision.

“Surely, the lookout is just around the corner. You’ve committed to this, it’s too late to turn back now.” I’d taken a calculated risk, but I was never good at math. The lemon was in my hand, and I was starting to squeeze.

Colin’s petrol gauge was well below empty. I’m convinced that he was completely out of fuel at this point and was running only on the fumes of my sheer stupidity. My red solider, loyal and true, was on his last legs.

I was so focused on seeing this damn dam, that I didn’t notice the next turn was quite a bit sharper than the rest. I brought my foot down on the brake like an anvil, and the car began to slide. Perhaps in an act of protest after being pushed to the brink of exhaustion, Colin threw his back wheels off the road the same way and infant throws his rattle across the room during a tantrum. I went careening into a two-meter deep ditch and came to a humiliating halt.

Great. Now I’m really stuffed. It was going to take some real gusto to get up this slope, most likely wasting the last of my precious petrol in the process.

Here’s the thing. Sometimes, emotions make us dumb. Really dumb.

I was so distracted by the fear of potentially being stranded in the middle of nowhere that I wasn’t thinking straight. Chaos had taken the wheel, and I was being pulled along by a four-cylinder engine of emotion straight into a ditch on the side of the road. I was acting completely irrationally. I’d lost control. I’d chosen to stare into the abyss below when I should be been searching for the safety of the shore.

But no more. It was time to look up.

Let’s turn this ship around.

I put the pedal to the metal, and in a Dukes of Hazzard inspired moment of pure triumph Colin and I aimed for the sky and fired. Without the weight of my emotions holding me down, for a moment, I knew what it was like to fly. I was finally acting level-headed, and the Corolla was back on level ground.

By some miracle, I managed to reach the petrol station. I was on cloud nine, and approached the lady at the register like I’d just won the lottery.

“That’ll be $45.67.”

“Here, just take my whole wallet.”

I think we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve decided to squeeze lemon juice into our eyes.

When this happens, often the biggest challenge is having the self-awareness to take a step back and access your current situation, put aside your predispositions and decide what is truly best for your wellbeing. You’ll use any excuse in the book to avoid the answers that are often right in front of your face. You’ll allow yourself to be distracted, and put your wants before your needs. This is destined to lead you down the path of chaos, and one day you might find yourself stuck in the middle of the bush in rural Australia.

You need to know that it’s never too late to grab the steering wheel and turn yourself around. There are many factors that influence our decisions in this modern world, but ultimately, it’s your responsibility to know what is best for you and make the right choices.

If you only follow your heart’s compass, it’ll lead you astray. But, if you play it smart, you’ll find that the little diversions take on a whole new lustre as you start to appreciate life’s various side paths and gravel roads. You’ll be free to pursue your passions comfortably, whether it be writing, mountain trekking, or visiting dams. Know that when your priorities are in order, you’ll have more mental fuel to go the distance in life and enjoy a richer human experience.

So remember to keep your chin up, and keep swimming.

Comfortably Glum

When you’re living with depression, sometimes the scariest moments are the ones where everything seems to be going smoothly.

Recently, there was a brief but wonderful period of time where everything appeared to be going my way. I was kicking goals in every aspect of my life; I’d started exercising again, I was eating healthier, I was meditating regularly and at work I felt a sense of productiveness and fulfillment. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t dread the thought of getting out of bed in the morning. Finally, I’d reached the level of stability and sustained happiness that I’d been striving for.

‘This is it.’ I thought. ‘This is life!’

But alas, it was not meant to be. For you see, depression can be a real bitch.

As quickly as feelings of joy and satisfaction had poured into my life, a storm of self-depreciating thoughts was brewing that threatened to wash it all away.

‘You’re a fraud.’

‘You’re a failure.’

‘You don’t deserve this.’

Without warning or remorse, the happiness I had found was ripped away from me. I was on top of the world, and now these negative thoughts had brought me tumbling down to the bottom of the heap. I was lower than low. I was nothing.

Things were back to normal.

Now, I know I’m not the only one to have experienced this. It’s happened to the best of us – your life is seemingly on the up-and-up and for one sweet, delicious moment you get a taste of what it’s like to not be sad all of the time. But, that depressive brain of yours doesn’t skip a beat and soon it’s back up to its old tricks of convincing you that eating an entire tub of chocolate ice cream while listening to Bright Eyes on repeat is a good way to spend a Friday evening.

When we fly too close to the sun, our urge to come crashing back down to Earth and into the familiar realm of angst and self-loathing only grows stronger. Like a fully-charged electromagnet, the further we pull away the more desperately our depression seeks to snap us back into the position of being huddled in a corner underneath exactly twelve woolen blankets. We have 200,000 years of human evolution on our side, and yet we decide that soppy music and artificial flavoring is the best way to deal with our emotions. Why the hell would anyone be inclined to behave this way? What purpose does it serve?

Well… I have a theory.

There is one thing that humans crave more than pleasure, and that is comfortability. Our brains are built to resist change. If you’re reading this blog, then I’d be willing to bet that you’ve spent your entire life struggling to deal with some strain of mental illness. Depression is a dreadful and destructive force, but in a sick and twisted way, it also feels like home. For me personally, the more depressed I am, the closer I feel to my true self. I understand what it means to be happy, but sadness is still my bread and butter, baby.

When something threatens to take my precious sorrow away, my mind immediately hits the panic button – “RED ALERT! RED ALERT! WE HAVE POSITIVE THOUGHTS APPROACHING ON ALL FRONTS! HOLD YOUR POSITIONS!” What ensues is a fierce battle within my own subconscious – a battle of emotions. And because sadness has the home advantage, my depression will always emerge victorious.

Put simply, I’m not good at feeling good. My mood will always strive to reach an equilibrium and return to its default depressive state. This behavior stems from the deeply-rooted belief that I do not deserve to be happy, a sentiment that most of us share – but that is a topic for another time.

Today, there is only one thing I want to you to take away from this post. The next time you see the dark clouds of depression looming on the horizon, ask yourself this:

‘Is this feeling due to external factors, or is this just a reaction to being pushed outside of my comfort zone and into a place of happiness and well-being?’

If you feel like shit and you’re not sure why, you should accept the possibility that this is a mental block your mind has created to prevent you from experiencing positive emotions. You should treat happiness like a skill that needs to be practiced and honed. When you’re learning a new skill, in the beginning there’s a painful period where you will try, and you will fail. Then you’ll try and fail some more. And just when you think you’re getting the hang of it – guess what – you’ll fail again. But what’s important is that you keep trying, because with each attempt you’ll bring your default mood closer to the threshold of happiness. Even in your darkest moments, you need to keep fighting.

The battle of emotions is more than a matter of life and death. It’s the fight for a life worth living. It’s a fight for everything.

And I know you can win.

Realistically, How Much is my Memoir Worth?

What Do I Charge for my Memoir?

I am at a crossroads. The self-publishing game is full of a plethora of information and no definitive answer–what does one charge for a work such as my memoir?

I have read that charging too much will turn readers away. At the same time, to really begin to fund some of the projects that I want to do with my fellow mental illness suffers I need to make some profit on this work.

I want to ask the community, what is a realistic price to charge for my memoir?

As with most writers, I want to make a decent living at this writing thing, and that means knowing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to pricing. I am ready for self-publishing and the excitement to finally share with the world what I have been working towards since 2017 is at an all-time high.

I always appreciate the thoughts of my fellow writers, bloggers, and mental health sufferers for the entire process of writing my memoir. What are your thoughts, please let me know in the comments.

Always Keep Fighting

James

The Bipolar Writer Needs Your Help!

As some of you know (and others don’t) I am ready to publish my memoir! Seriously. I have edited and moved chapters around, and I honestly believe that I prepared for this next step. I have a great cover and manuscript. The issue? Do I self-publish or try to find a publisher?

I have done a lot of research, and I found a company to publish the physical copy of my book. I have watched endless videos on self-publishing on Amazon and other online self-publications. What is right? What is wrong?

I want to do this right because this is my first official novel (and though its non-fiction and I consider myself a fiction novelist) this is important to my brand and me. My memoir The Bipolar Writer is so important to me, so I want to do this right and not rush into something I will regret. I will admit that I am apprehensive about where to go. I thought self-publishing was the right path, but I have doubts. I am turning to my family (YOU) for any advice you can give me.

James

unsplash-logoRémi Walle

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The Scars of My Past

I was at my therapist’s office yesterday in the waiting room and I was looking at the scars on my arm. It seems a lifetime ago when I used to use self-harm and cutting as a coping mechanism for my depression.

The deepest scars are still there and are a reminder of my life before my last suicide— the last time that I used to self-harm. The deepest scars will always be there and I am not ashamed of them anymore.

On occasion, someone will notice my scars because they are so visible when I am not wearing a jacket. I am not afraid to talk about self-harm. I explain to them that at one point in my life I was in so much emotional turmoil that I had to take the pain away somehow. For a few hours after cutting my skin, I could make the emotional pain disappear.

I learned after a time that it’s not a good solution and the feeling is always temporary. I haven’t felt the need to cut on my arms since 2010, after doing it for years.

It started for as a teen. I was lost my senior year of high school and I had no real purpose. I had cut before in previous years of high school but not to the extent of that year. I was in the midst of a depression cycle and I didn’t even know.

My self-harm always happened late at night after spending my day wallowing in my depression. To be honest, I slept better after cutting because all I could feel was the pain the razor blade brought me.

It was destructive behavior and it went on through most of my young teenage and young adult life. I was 25 when my last suicide happened and I decided that I would quit the destructive nature that was my addiction to self-harm.

I sometimes wonder why topics come up on my blog at different times. I was just sitting there in the office of my therapist thinking about how far I have come since my self-harm days and it makes me smile.

At the same time. I am worried about those that are turning to self-harm. It’s a dangerous step and one that often leads to suicide. At least in my life, it has. I want to tell those that are self-harming that it will be okay. Life isn’t always this bad.

I am always here for those that need help. The Bipolar Writer has learned a lot about himself over the years. I have been through a lot of things including self-harm. I am here because even with the struggles in my life I survived so that I could be here to share my experiences.

The scars of my past are reminders that you always have to move forward. Learn from your mistakes. If you are self-harming I hope you find the strength to stop. I did. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I look at my scars every time things look bleak. I have never been as bad as those times.

Always Keep Fighting.

James Edgar Skye

 

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoPatrick Tomasso

What Topics Should I Write in August?

I always have a good working list of topics I want to discuss on The Bipolar Writer blog. Often some of my blog posts are random thoughts that pop into my head about my journey with mental journey. I thought why not try something new in the middle of August?

Are there any topics you want to see me discuss on The Bipolar Writer?

If so let me know. I am happy to write about anything related to mental illness. I have two really good things— experience and opinions about mental health topics. Drop me comment or two about what you want to see here on The Bipolar Writer blog. It can be anything I can connect with my experiences with a mental illness or even off the wall topics you want my opinion on.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoGlenn Carstens-Peters