I Sleep Four Hours or 14 Hours

Sleep feels like an irrational beast. It’s rare that I get a full night’s sleep. If I do, I sleep more than needed and still feel tired. The number of hours I sleep usually don’t matter. It might be eight hours but broken into segments. Broken by nightmare or waking several times for no reason. This all depends on if I fall asleep to begin with. Some nights I don’t sleep. My body always feels restless like I haven’t done enough work in the day. More often than not, I sleep less than six hours every night.

For a while I took vitamins to help encourage energy and sleep. I took one vitamin pill a day for weeks. I discovered a pattern. I started writing down when I had a nightmare. I only wrote down certain kinds of nightmares. When they involve me running from something or escaping something. Sometimes I would know what was chasing me, other times it was only a feeling of danger. I had these nightmare every two weeks, sometimes every week. I stopped taking the vitamins (magnesium, calcium, and zinc). Then I stopped seeing or remembering the nightmares. I imagine I still have them but never recall.

When I lay in bed, regardless of the time of day, my whole body vibrates from my heart pumping. Sometimes it feels like my chest is pounding when I’ve laid still for hours. This makes it difficult to rest and fall asleep. Along with these physical symptoms, my mind races with negativity. I’ve worked hard to limit this, but I still struggle. The anxiety and depression only add to the restlessness. The more nights I get poor sleep, the more negative I become. This is still nowhere near as negative as I used to be.

I plan to get more vitamins to help me sleep. Part of me doesn’t want to have the nightmares again. It’s a catch 22. Poor sleep without nightmares or better sleep riddled with constant nightmares. My chest is often pounding when I wake from my nightmares. It’s not much different from lying in bed before sleeping. I have fewer negative thoughts when I have the nightmares. It’s likely the better of two evils. My mind wants to work through the trauma but never has the means or an outlet. This must be why I write horror fiction in my spare time.

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My Insomniac Life

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting,

dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.

We loved with a love that was more than love.

Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream  

only by night.

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall

say where the one ends, and where the other begins?

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; And each separate dying ember

wrought its ghost upon the floor.

 All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and

poetry.

 And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted—

nevermore!

– Edgar Allan Poe

My Insomniac Life

* This is a long chapter but an important one as it is a major part of my own mental health– sleep is always an issue in my life.

This is a long chapter, and I apologize for it being so. This might become a series as I start to work on my insomnia again.

kaluci-145201-unsplash.jpg

Insomnia has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I like to joke to people that “it’s in my blood to not sleep.” But, it is a severe issue in my life. You ask any professional they will tell you that good sleep is key to your mental health.

Unlike most of the things wrong with my life, like living with Bipolar disorder or my social anxiety, I have never felt in control of being an insomniac. I have been through several sleep studies in my life, but they never amount to actually helping me. I have worked on my sleep hygiene but, to no avail, it doesn’t really help me get to sleep. My biggest problem is the actual getting to sleep.

I can remember growing up eight or nine and not being able to sleep. Over the years it has become impossible to get to sleep without medication. I can’t remember the last time I could lay down and go to sleep without medication. I sometimes joke about this because I feel insecure about my rest. If I really think about it, I spend more time at night trying to shut my brain off enough to get sleep, than actually getting to sleep. I have tried every sleeping medication on the market, both prescription and not, and at best they’re a temporary fix.

annie-spratt-583425-unsplash.jpg

What has gotten me through the last few years is that I take the antipsychotic Seroquel to help with my Bipolar disorder and it is one medicine that can sleep. It’s the one medication that has been consistent in my life because it does a great job at shutting my brain down (although the side effects of having trouble getting out of bed as well as being in a constant haze have always been the worst.) Over the years my dosage of Seroquel has changed.

At one point in my life, I took that max dosage of Seroquel allowed for a patient at 600mg every night. This was early in my diagnoses in 2007, and it went like that for years. Most days that dosage got me to sleep, but the problem was that oversleeping became an issue. When I would oversleep, it would make it harder to sleep the next day. I grew wildly inconsistent with my sleep, and sometimes I would go days without sleep even with the high dose of Seroquel. My days were spent mostly in a haze, at least a few hours after waking. The drug is potent, and I felt that sleep would be impossible without it.

Around 2012 when I was starting to get back to normal, and going back to school was on the horizon, my doctor and I came up with a plan to find a workable dosage where I could still function. Eventually, we settled on a 300mg dose. It worked for three or four years and while I even got less than five hours of sleep, but at least it was something.

I should have realized last year that my sleep was starting to become a major issue again. There would be spurts of time over the previous year where sleep was impossible at 300mg. My doctor at the time made a choice to give me options. I would get 100mg tablets and continue to take the 300mg dose with the opportunity to go up to 600mg if needed.

It was slow, but the dosage over the last year has steadily increased. It started with 400mg to get me to sleep, and I would raise it to 500mg if needed. Sometimes it took that much more, but 400mg was enough.

Then this weekend happened. If I had known on Friday that my sleep would take a wrong turn, I might have worked harder to get back down to my 300mg dosage in the weeks prior. By I digress.

rafael-barquero-677303-unsplash

It started on Saturday. I knew I had to wake up around 5am over the next couple days, so I figured why not go to sleep at a decent time? It usually takes me two hours from the time I take my Seroquel, to the time my mind shuts down so I can sleep. I took my usual 400mg and went to bed— early. I honestly tried to sleep. I was in total darkness, and I just laid there not feeling even a little tired.

I figured it was a night for another single dose, so I did that, and still sleep escaped me. Hours had started to pass, and I began to panic that I wouldn’t get enough sleep, it turns out that was the least of my worries. Around 2 am, I decided I had to get some sleep before waking up and did the unthinkable. For the first time in five years, I took a max dosage.

This story doesn’t get better. I didn’t sleep that night/morning and still had to get up to be normal. I had to do the things that were planned. I was exhausted. I felt heavy. The worst part is, it was about to get worse. By the time the evening rolled around, I could barely keep myself upright, and I figured why not try and sleep? My anxiety was at a very high level, and it was already in my head things were only going to get worse.

I tried to go long into the night before taking my medication, but I finally had enough around 6pm. I received my regular dose, and I was barely aware of my surroundings. I laid down with the hope of falling asleep, and for some reason that woke me up. I lay there in my bed once again my thoughts racing faster than the day before. It had been close to 36 hours since I last slept. After an hour, I upped my dosage to 500mg. After two more hours of lying there, I took one more dose. After 40 hours, sleep finally consumed me.

This is where I find myself today. I am depressed about this because of it such a significant deal and its finals this week. I am worried that tonight will be another step in the wrong direction with my sleep. I have no choice but to really work on my CBT today so that there is a hope to get my mind right. I have to get my mind right.

Insomnia like depression never comes when life is good, and nothing can bring you down. It happens when your mental health has taken a beating you are failing to recognize the symptoms and even the triggers. When I am overworked, I tend to forgo the things that help me get by. CBT, meditation, or using my heat lamp in the mornings. When my routine starts to change like waking up later and later each day.

jd-mason-757201-unsplash.jpg

Your body always gives you signs. It does that to protect itself from total collapse. Considering what I have put my body through over the last ten years, my body is well versed in what is wrong. I implore you in this mental illness life to take a moment each day and assess where you at with your health. How many hours did you sleep? There is often a correlation between sleeping less and less each night and when my social anxiety starts to spiral.

Sometimes in this life, all three hit me at once. My social anxiety, depression, and anxiety. This is what I call my worst-case scenario because it takes its toll. For me, it starts with sleep. The less I get, the more issues I have in my day. I still don’t have it exactly right. I am weary that Insomnia will always be a part of my life.

Many of the conversations that I have with my therapist when my social anxiety is spiraling is how your sleep is? Insomnia can be a dangerous thing. I remember before all my sleeping medications and Seroquel that I would go days without real sleep. I once almost made it to six days before exhaustion caught up.

In those times my thoughts would race for days. I couldn’t tell you how I functioned and in a way, I didn’t function at all. I would do what I could to occupy my time. Playing video games often helped me. Watching DVD’s for hours on end (this was before the whole Netflix thing.) I would lay there in the darkness for hours until the morning light reached through my window to tell me it was another day. The worse my sleep got, the worse my other things like depression got.

In my chapters about my suicides, you find that insomnia is tied into each one. My sleep was so bad at one point that I took a sleeping aid on top of the Seroquel. The thing is, medication only works for so long. In about seven years I went through every sleep aid my psychiatrist could give me. Eventually, they stopped helping.

My battle with insomnia has been a really long one, and it seems one that I will bring with me for the rest of my life. One day I will find a better way of managing those two-three hours it takes me each night to get to sleep. My point is rest is the most essential part of the mental health recovery process. If you struggle with it and haven’t sought help, there are many resources available to you.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)

James

Photo Credit:
Quin Stevenson

kaluci

Annie Spratt

Rafael Barquero

JD Mason

Sleep Hygiene – Top Ten Sleep Tips

My therapist gave me this great sheet of sleeping tips that will help with my sleep hygiene. Insomnia is always an issue in my life, so I thought today I’d share each one of these tips and if any have helped me. Enjoy.

#10 – Keep your bedroom dark.

#9 – Get lots of natural light in the morning

This one is a good one. I went out and bought myself a lightbox to help in the cloudy coastal weather we often get where I am from, but going for a walk helps as well. I use my light box even in good weather for 30-45 minutes a day. It varies for each doctor recommendation. I never realized how important natural light is to mental health and sleep.

#8 – Don’t work on your computer late at night, or if you do get an application like “flux” to minimize the amount of bright light you’re exposed to.

This is a tough one for me. I always work the best writing late at night on my laptop, tablet, and even my phone (especially in bed). Often a great idea will come to me while I am laying down and I naturally grab my phone and making notes on my thoughts. I thought a great alternative could be making my journal more accessible or maybe a small pad of paper and a pen.

#7 – Don’t nap during the day.

This is an easy one for me to do. I barely can get to sleep at night, so it’s impossible during the day.

#6 – No Caffeine 3 hours or more after wake-up time.

This is the most unfair one in my opinion and the one that I regularly break. To compromise I made a promise to my therapist for no coffee after 12pm. For the most part, I stick to this plan and it has worked well.

#5 – Only use your bed for sleeping or romantic activities

More times than not at night I find myself in bed writing, and out these tips, this has been the hardest to give up in my life. I write so much better at night. I always have my phone at arms reach writing notes for chapters I will be writing the next day or ideas for my next blog post. I once started writing a chapter in a piece I was writing in at the start of my “sleep schedule,” only to find out it was 4am when I stopped.

#4 – Figure out if you’re a night person or a day person.

For this one, they recommend figuring it out and making a sleep schedule. I have learned that I am a night person who can’t sleep during the day. I must do my best at night to get as much sleep as possible.

#3 – Get a relaxation routine before bed.

The list says that this varies from person to person. Meditation? Taking a bath? Listen to easy listening music or a podcast? This is really what works for you, which I still struggle because writing relaxes me and they recommend not to have a bright screen in bed.

#2 – If you can’t sleep after 15 to 30 minutes get out of bed and do something relaxing.

#1 – Don’t drink alcohol in the evening.

            The last one is easy for me. I have been working on these tips to better my sleep hygiene but it’s a work in progress. Let me know if any of these tips help, or if you have others to add!

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Jay Wennington

My Insomniac Life

I wanted to share a chapter from the first draft of my memoir. I have written about insomnia before but this is an extended version of what it is like in “My Insomniac Life.” I will admit this is a chapter so it is quite a long one.

The Insomniac Side of J.E. Skye

This is a long chapter, and I apologize for it being so. This might become a series as I start to work on my insomnia again.

Insomnia has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I like to joke with people that “it’s in my blood to not sleep.” But, it is a very serious issue in my life. You ask any professional they will tell you that good sleep is key to your mental health.

Unlike most of the things wrong with my life, like living with Bipolar disorder or my social anxiety, I have never felt in control of being an insomniac. I have been through several sleep studies in my life, but they never amount to actually helping me. I have worked on my sleep hygiene but, to no avail, it doesn’t really help me get to sleep. My biggest problem is the actual getting to sleep.

9FBFB916-CD15-456F-A450-4F27C1A8AF1F

I can remember growing up maybe eight or nine and not being able to sleep. Over the years it has become impossible to get to sleep without medication. I literally can’t remember the last time I could lay down and go to sleep without medication. I sometimes joke about this because I feel insecure about my sleep. If I really think about it, I spend more time at night trying to shut my brain off enough to get sleep, than actually getting to sleep. I have tried every sleeping medication on the market, both prescription and not, and at best they’re a temporary fix.

What has gotten me through the last few years is that I take the antipsychotic Seroquel to help with my Bipolar disorder and it is one medicine that can sleep. It’s the one medication that has been consistent in my life because it does a great job at shutting my brain down (although the side effects of having trouble getting out of bed as well as being in a constant haze have always been the worst.) Over the years my dosage of Seroquel has changed.

At one point in my life, I took that max dosage of Seroquel allowed for a patient at 600mg every night. This was early in my diagnoses in 2007, and it went like that for years. Most days that dosage got me to sleep, but the problem was that oversleeping became an issue. When I would oversleep, it would make it harder to sleep the next day. I became wildly inconsistent with my sleep, and sometimes I would go days without sleep even with the high dose of Seroquel.My days were spent mostly in a haze at least a few hours after waking. The drug is very powerful and I felt that sleep would be impossible without it.

Around 2012, when I was starting to get back to normal, and made the decision to go back to school was on the horizon. My doctor and I came up with a plan to find a workable dosage where I could still function. Eventually, we settled on a 300mg dose. It worked for three or four years and while I still got less than five hours of sleep, but at least it was something.

I should have realized last year that my sleep was starting to become a major issue again. There would be spurts of time over the last year where sleep was impossible at 300mg. My doctor at the time made the choice to give me options. I would get 100mg tablets and continue to take the 300mg dose with the option to go up to 600mg if needed.

It was slow, but the dosage over the last year has steadily increased. It started with 400mg to get me to sleep, and I would increase it to 500mg if needed. Sometimes it took that much but for the most part, 400mg was enough.

CAC97608-7B67-4093-8F44-094EF320069C.jpeg

Then this weekend happened. If I had known on Friday that my sleep would take a bad turn, I might have worked harder to get back down to my 300mg dosage in the weeks prior. By I digress.

It started Saturday. I knew I had to wake up around 5 am over the next couple days, so I figured why not go to sleep at a decent time? It normally takes me two hours from the time I take my Seroquel, to the time my mind shuts down so I can sleep. I took my normal 400mg and went to bed— early. I honestly tried to sleep. I was in total darkness, and I just laid there not feeling even a little tired.

I figured it was a night for another single dose so I did that, and still sleep escaped me. Hours had started to pass and I started to panic that I wouldn’t get enough sleep, it turns out that was the least of my worries. Around 2 am, I decided I had to get some sleep before waking up and did the unthinkable. for the first time in five years, I took a max dosage.

This story doesn’t get better. I didn’t sleep that night/morning and still had to get up to be normal. I had to do the things that were planned. I was exhausted. I felt heavy. The worst part is, it was about to get worse. By the time the evening rolled around, I could barely keep myself upright, and I figured why not try and sleep? My anxiety was at a very high level, and it was already in my head things were only going to get worse.

I tried to go long into the night before taking my medication, but I finally had enough around 6 pm. I took my regular dose, and I was barely aware of my surroundings. I laid down with the hope of falling asleep, and for some reason that woke me up. I lay there in my bed once again my thoughts racing faster than the day before. It had been close to 36 hours since I last slept. After an hour, I upped my dosage to 500mg. After two more hours of lying there, I took one more dose. After almost 40 hours, sleep finally consumed me.

This is where I find myself today. I am depressed about this because of it such a major deal and its finals this week. I am worried that tonight will be another step in the wrong direction with my sleep. I have no choice but to really work on my CBT today so that there is a hope to get my mind right. I have to get my mind right.

Insomnia like depression never comes when life is good and nothing can bring you down. It comes when your mental health has taken a beating you are failing to recognize the symptoms and even the triggers. When I am overworked I tend to forgo the things that help me get by. CBT, meditation, or using my heat lamp in the mornings. When my routine starts to change like waking up later and later each day.

Your body always gives you signs. It does that to protect itself from total collapse. Considering what I have put my body through over the last ten years, my body is well versed in what is wrong. I implore you in this mental illness life to take a moment each day and assess where you at with your health. How many hours did you sleep? There is often a correlation between sleeping less and less each night and when my social anxiety starts to spiral.

Sometimes in this life, all three hit me at once. My social anxiety, depression, and anxiety. This is what I call my worst case scenario because it takes its toll. For me, it starts with sleep. The less I get, the more issues I have in my day. I still don’t have it exactly right. I am weary that Insomnia will always be a part of my life.

7706EB5A-1726-4BC6-B71A-9907CC4B957C.jpeg

Many of the conversations that I have with my therapist when my social anxiety is spiraling is how is your sleep? Insomnia can be a dangerous thing. I remember before all my sleeping medications and Seroquel that I would go days without real sleep. I once almost made it to six days before exhaustion caught up.
In those times my thoughts would race for days. I couldn’t tell you how I functioned and in many ways, I didn’t. I would do what I could to occupy my time. Playing video games often helped me. Watching DVD’s for hours on end (this was before the whole Netflix thing.) I would lay there in the darkness for hours until the morning light reached through my window to tell me it was another day. The worse my sleep got the worse my other things like depression got.

In my chapters about my suicides, you find that insomnia is tied into each one. My sleep was so bad at one point that I took a sleeping aid on top of the Seroquel. The thing is, medication only works for so long. In about seven years I went through every sleep aid my psychiatrist could give me. Eventually, they stopped helping.

My battle with insomnia has been a really long one, and it seems one that I will bring with me for the rest of my life. Maybe one day I will find a better way of managing those two-three hours it takes me each night to get to sleep. My point is sleep is the most important part of the mental health recovery process. If you struggle with it and haven’t sought help, there are many resources available to you.

Always Keep Fighting

James Edgar Skye

 

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoToa Heftiba

unsplash-logoAlessio Lin

unsplash-logoMike Boening

The Bipolar Writer Memoir – An Update

* Update: I am still editing and adding some chapters. I hope to have a finished draft by the end on June, or maybe May.

I can finally say my first draft of my memoir The Bipolar Writer is put together. It has been a struggle because I have been so busy. Now it is time for proofreading and editing at a more serious level. I am giving myself the rest of March to edit my memoir, and I will start talking to a few self-publishers this week (I have already talked to one extensively.)

For those who have experience in this area, do you have any recommendations? I am looking for a reasonable price (as like most self-publish authors I am paying out-of-pocket) but one of my primary needs is a company that will do proofreading and editing. I am doing my own editing, and I can’t afford to pay someone to edit my work so if it is included in the price that will help me. I am so connected to my work its easy to miss things.

Anyway. I am super excited to share this milestone with you!

James

P.S. If you can donate to the publishing of my memoir I would greatly appreciate it. I will be forever grateful, and you will get a mention on a special page of my memoir. I have kept a list of all who have donated— and if you have already. Thank you!!! It means the world to me!

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoAlexa Mazzarello

My Insomniac Life

I was looking through some old blog posts and I thought this one was relevant because I have found a new wake/sleep schedule that has been really good to me.  You can find more on my new sleep schedule here. Whats up Monday

The Insomniac Life of J.E. Skye

This is a long post, and I apologize for it being so. This might become a series as I start to work on my insomnia again.

Insomnia has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I like to joke to people that “it’s in my blood to not sleep.” But, it is a very serious issue in my life. You ask any professional they will tell you that good sleep is key to your mental health.

Unlike most of the things wrong with my life, like living with Bipolar disorder or my social anxiety, I have never felt in control of being an insomniac. I have been through several sleep studies in my life, but they never amount to actually helping me. I have worked on my sleep hygiene to no avail. My biggest problem is getting to sleep.

E377708D-6E50-46E3-8213-7B400D187413.jpeg

I can remember growing up maybe eight or nine and not being able to sleep. Over the years it has become almost impossible to get to sleep without medication. I literally can’t remember the last time I could lay down and go to sleep without medication. I sometimes joke about this because I feel insecure about my sleep. If I really think about it, I spend more time at night trying to shut my brain off enough to get sleep, than actually getting to sleep. I have tried every sleeping medication on the market, both prescription and not, and at best they’re a temporary fix.

What has gotten me through the last few years is that I take the antipsychotic Seroquel to help with my Bipolar disorder and so that I can sleep. It’s the one medication that has been consistent in my life because it does a great job at shutting my brain down (although the side effects of having trouble getting out of bed as well as being in a constant haze have always been the worst.) Over the years my dosage has changed.

At one point in my life, I took that max dosage of Seroquel allowed for a patient at 600mg every night. This was early in my diagnoses in 2007, and it went like that for years. Most days that dosage got me to sleep, but the problem was that oversleeping became an issue. When I would oversleep, it would make it harder to sleep the next day. I became wildly inconsistent with my sleep, and sometimes I would go days without sleep even with the high dose of Seroquel. My days were spent mostly in a haze, at least a few hours after waking. The drug is very powerful and But I felt that sleep would be impossible without it.

Around 2012 when I was starting to get back to normal, and going back to school was on the horizon, my doctor and I came up with a plan to find a workable dosage where I could still function. Eventually, we settled on a 300mg dose. It worked for three or four years and while I still got less than five hours of sleep, at least it was something.

I should have realized last year that my sleep was starting to become a major issue again. There would be spurts of time over the last year where sleep was impossible at 300mg. My doctor at the time made the choice to give me options. I would get 100mg tablets and continue to take the 300mg dose with the option to go up to 600mg if needed.

It was slow, but the dosage over the last year has steadily increased. It started with 400mg to get me to sleep, and I would increase it to 500mg if needed. Sometimes it took that much but for the most part, 400mg was enough.

Then this weekend happened. If I had known on Friday that my sleep would take a bad turn, I might have worked harder to get back down to my 300mg dosage in the weeks prior. By I digress.

It started Saturday. I knew I had to wake up around 5am over the next couple days, so I figured why not go to sleep at a decent time? It normally takes me two hours from the time I take my Seroquel, to the time my mind shuts down so I can sleep. I took my normal 400mg and went to bed. I honestly tried to sleep. I was in total darkness, and I just laid there not feeling even a little tired.

I figured it was a night for another single dose so I did that, and still sleep escaped me. Hours had started to pass and I started to panic that I wouldn’t get enough sleep, it turns out that was the least of my worries. Around 2 am, I decided I had to get some sleep before waking up and did the unthinkable. for the first time in five years, I took a max dosage.

This has been hard to write.

This story doesn’t get better. I didn’t sleep that night/morning and still had to get up to be normal. I had to do the things that were planned. I was exhausted. I felt heavier. The worst part is, it was about to get worse. By the time the evening rolled around I could barely keep myself upright, and I figured why not try and sleep? My anxiety was at a very high and it was already in my head that it was only going to get worse.

I tried to go long into the night before taking my medication, but I finally had enough around 6pm. I took my regular dose, and I was barely aware of my surroundings. I laid down with the hope of falling asleep, and for some reason that woke me up. I lay there in my bed once again my thoughts racing faster than the day before. It had been close to 36 hours since I last slept. After an hour, I upped my dosage to 500mg. After two more hours of lying there, I took one more dose. After almost 40 hours, sleep finally consumed me.

This is where I find myself today. I am depressed about this because of it such a major deal and its finals this week. I am worried that tonight will be another step in the wrong direction with my sleep. I have no choice but to really work on my CBT today so that there is a hope to get my mind right. I have to get my mind right.

If you were brave enough to make to this sentence, are there any ideas people can give me on how to deal with insomnia. What do my fellow insomniacs feel about this post?

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logokaluci

unsplash-logoQuin Stevenson

Sleep Hygiene – Top Ten Sleep Tips

Top Ten Sleep Hygiene Tips

My therapist gave me this great sheet of sleeping tips that will help with my sleep hygiene. Insomnia is always an issue in my life, so I thought today I’d share each one of these tips and if any have helped me. These tips hep added one to two hours a day of sleep. My sleep issues will never be perfect but sleep is the first step in self-care.

If you have time please look my latest post.

CBT – Mood Induction with Music

#10 – Keep your bedroom dark.

#9 – Get lots of natural light in the morning

This one is a good one. I went out and bought myself a lightbox to help in the cloudy coastal weather we often get where I am from, but going for a walk helps as well. I use my light box even in good weather for 30-45 minutes a day. It varies for each doctor recommendation. I never realized how important natural light is to mental health and sleep.

#8 – Don’t work on your computer late at night, or if you do get an application like “flux” to minimize the amount of bright light you’re exposed to.

This is a tough one for me. I always work the best writing late at night on my laptop, tablet, and even my phone (especially in bed). Often a great idea will come to me while I am laying down and I naturally grab my phone and making notes on my thoughts. I thought a great alternative could be making my journal more accessible or maybe a small pad of paper and a pen.

#7 – Don’t nap during the day.

This is an easy one for me to do. I barely can get to sleep at night, so it’s impossible during the day.

#6 – No Caffeine 3 hours or more after wake-up time.

This is the most unfair one in my opinion and the one that I regularly break. To compromise I made a promise to my therapist for no coffee after 12pm. For the most part, I stick to this plan and it has worked well.

#5 – Only use your bed for sleeping or romantic activities

More times than not at night I find myself in bed writing, and out these tips, this has been the hardest to give up in my life. I write so much better at night. I always have my phone at arms reach writing notes for chapters I will be writing the next day or ideas for my next blog post. I once started writing a chapter in a piece I was writing in at the start of my “sleep schedule,” only to find out it was 4am when I stopped.

#4 – Figure out if you’re a night person or a day person.

For this one, they recommend figuring it out and making a sleep schedule. I have learned that I am a night person who can’t sleep during the day. I must do my best at night to get as much sleep as possible.

#3 – Get a relaxation routine before bed.

The list says that this varies from person to person. Meditation? Taking a bath? Listen to easy listening music or a podcast? This is really what works for you, which I still struggle because writing relaxes me and they recommend not to have a bright screen in bed.

#2 – If you can’t sleep after 15 to 30 minutes get out of bed and do something relaxing.

#1 – Don’t drink alcohol in the evening.

The last one is easy for me. I have been working on these tips to better my sleep hygiene but it’s a work in progress. Let me know if any of these tips help, or if you have others to add!

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoHernan Sanchez

A Start of a Ten Year​ Journey Reflection

A journey must start somewhere. This blog post is what I hope will be the opening chapter of my memoir. This is a very raw piece right now, so it will most likely change and expand as work towards completing the first draft of my memoir The Bipolar Writer by the end of the year. This is an introduction of sorts but it is limited in its scope.

In this blog post you will get a glimpse of my journey. This is a pre-release to a series that will be released over the Thanksgiving holiday next week. over the next week, we will explore the last ten years and the roots of my issues of Bipolar One, social anxiety, and insomnia.

This journey starts on a cold November night during Thanksgiving week in 2007.

I never thought it was possible to make it to this all-important ten-year diagnosis and first suicide anniversary. My goal writing my blog and memoir is to look back on my life over the last ten years and share pieces of my life through experience as a member of the mental illness community.

I am Bipolar, but it will not define me ever again.

I chose the moniker of “The Bipolar Writer” because, as I have grown as a person with a mental illness, I have come to a better understand that being Bipolar will always be a part of me, and that is not so bad. To me, The Bipolar Writer is not just me, but parts of me and other writers. Eventually, The Bipolar Writer can be used to write my story down and then the stories of others.

I am proud to be Bipolar and I feel so close the mental illness community. I have shared the worst of me and the mental illness community still embraces me as a brother. At my lowest I wanted to end my life, coming very close the last time, and yet, here I stand. I am alive today because God wanted me here, I have unfinished business. My experience has become my strength and if my experience can save a life, well it means the words I write in this memoir will be worthy.

Within the confines of my memoir, you will find every part of me. My deepest darkest depression thoughts and longest depression cycles. How I found my way in complete darkness to the person who now writes openly about is issues. How being a writer, no— being The Bipolar Writer—is the product of years of ups and downs.

I will share my poetry and my darkest secrets. I will talk about the many medications prescribed to me over the years, and how changes in my medication lead to good and bad things along my journey. I will discuss how the revolving door of psychiatrists in my life has caused havoc at times, and how I have fought for every inch of my recovery.

I will talk diagnosis’ and how sometimes doctors don’t get it diagnosis right the first time, I was first diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. I will talk about how doctors often fail to tell you all the information about the medication that they give their patients (I was never told about the realities of Ativan or Lithium.)

I will discuss my two experiences psychiatric wards and how since my diagnosis of Bipolar one, it has brought other issues into my life like social anxiety. I will explore my insomniac life and why I prefer to be an introvert.

There were so many points over the last ten years that I thought about beginning to writing my story, but every time that I began, the pain of drudging up my past was too difficult.

The reality that in November 2017, it marks my ten year anniversary of ups and downs with depression and mania, and how through it all, I am here alive today.

It took writing my blog for me to the understand the power that is found when writing my story,  I will share my experience, my hopes, and dreams which for so long I was unable to do.

I am not a fan of the chronological order of things when it comes to sharing my experiences related to my journey so the events of the memoir will seem to be out of order because what I write about in any given chapters affects different parts of my life and it will often be written about in different chapters.

When I talk about suicide the subject will be in different chapters because when I felt that I had to end my life, which spanned almost three years, it is important to talk about these events together and separately. The countless times I came close to going to that dark place, is not the same as the three times I went to that place.

Jumping around my mind isn’t always so easy, and some events are easier to get through than others.

If you want to have a telling of the chronological order of my life, you may want to put this book down. If you want to see the world through the eyes of someone who is Bipolar, this is the book for you. I hope by its end of our journey through my first ten years of diagnosis we come out better people. If you would have told me ten years ago I would be writing about my journey, and that I would be alive, I would have laughed at you.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Bryan Minear

Insomnia and Seroquel

I can trace a good deal of the issues in my life to my struggles with insomnia. I think most experts in the field of medicine can agree that sleep is one of the most important parts of mental health. It is no wonder why when I fail to sleep well one night in can snowball into many nights in a row of no sleep. When this happens in my life, it means all bad.

My psychiatrists over the years and my therapist believe that my own current struggles with depression and social anxiety have its roots in my issues with insomnia. Looking back at my life, the problems that I have with sleep go back to when I was seven. I can’t remember a time when sleep was not an issue in my life.

As a kid, I would spend my nights honing my skills and Role Playing gamer usually until two or three in the morning. Gaming became my way to fill time when sleep failed to find me. As a teen, I would spend even more time at night not sleeping and it was common for me to go day or two with no sleep. I got better at being an RPG gamer simply because it made the time pass with no sleep interesting.

I was a teenager when I first found sleeping medication a helpful way to finally get sleep. I wouldn’t use it every day, but when my sleep got to levels that would become a familiar part of my life, days without sleep, it was common to reach for a sleeping aid. Most of my teenage and young adult years I used over the counter sleep medication to curb my insomnia.

In my early twenties, just before my diagnosis with Bipolar One, I was prescribed my first prescription strength sleeping medication. I will always remember my experiences with Ambien because it affected me in funny ways for the month that I took this sleeping medication. At least I can laugh at it now. I know these experiences only through word of mouth from my family, but with I took Ambien it was common for me to sleepwalk and once I was found outside my house in the cold.

Perhaps the weirdest, or funniest I can’t decide, is that sleepwalked falling through a glass table without injuring myself (I often slept in a zip-up hoodie.) I was found asleep laying in the glass from the table by my family.

Insomnia has always been an issue that leads to other problems including depression and anxiety. Over the years, my doctors prescribed me with several different sleeping medications to supplement my Seroquel. As of now, I am off sleeping medications because over the years they have become ineffective. Now I must rely on Seroquel alone at night.

Seroquel is a well known antipsychotic and I have taken this medication every day for the last ten years for my Bipolar one issues, but I also use this medication for sleep. It has been the most effective medication to combat my insomnia. There is good and bad when it comes to Seroquel and my life. It is effective in high doses. I have taken as high as the maximum allowed (according to my psychiatrists) at 600mg.

Over the years I have worked to lessen the need for Seroquel in my struggle with sleep. At points in my life I have taken as low as a 300mg dose, but in the last few years, my struggles with the effectiveness of taking Seroquel for so many years has made it a battle every night. My dosage now varies on a night to night based on how much sleep I got the night before. The unfortunate reality of my life is my dosage has been at 500mg most nights.

Insomnia is the one thing that seems to be unmanageable in my life. I have my struggles with depression and social anxiety daily, but I have found solace in my writing, meditation, and of course coffee. I am able to manage my other issues with the right combination of medication. But insomnia continues to bother me and it is a real unwanted companion. 

There have been nights lately where a maximum dose of Seroquel doesn’t equate to sleep. It is something that will worry me moving on.

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t need Seroquel to sleep, and I believe fully that it is an addiction, but the flip side of that is not being able to sleep. It’s a tough road to be on and I don’t know what will be in store for my future.

Will I find a way to be less dependent on Seroquel or find a way to be off it all together? It is something for the future J.E. Skye to deal with I guess.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: HS LEE

My Weekly Wrapup – 11/6 – 11/12

Nothing beats an early morning writing session, an extra hot/extra shot chestnut praline latte, and good music.

It has been a great week for me writing here on my blog and my memoir, but as I have learned this week sometimes you have to struggle with the bad things (depression) while achieving your goals. I did finish the final edits on my screenplay as well, so I really have no complaints.

I reached a major milestone with The Bipolar Writer blog reaching 1,000 followers, and it makes the journey a worthy road to go down. I couldn’t imagine my blog getting to this point with so many followers, and every one of my followers has my thanks and gratitude.

Let’s look at the past week before looking ahead.

In part five “My Social Anxiety Life,” I explored another part of my social anxiety, the thoughts that go through my mind late at night when I know there is something important happening the next day. These catastrophic thoughts can be crippling at times because it keeps me from sleeping, In this blog post, I explored the “what ifs” and the fear before anything has happened scenarios that haunt me at night.

In my blog post “My Manic Life – The Other Side of my Diagnosis” I explored the mania side of my diagnosis of Bipolar One for the first time on my blog. This blog post was one that I put off for as long as I could because, on so many levels, I don’t have the understanding of my mania. I explored my destructive behavior during manic episodes to include outrageous spending sprees. This is a great read as I shared another piece of the puzzle.

My mid-week blog post was one that I had been wanting to write for a while, “Journaling and Tracking Your Mood.” The aim of this post was to share how journaling my thoughts in a written journal and tracking my moods daily, weekly, and even monthly has been an effective way to see where I am at in a given day.

“How Therapy Changed my Life” was chosen this topic of discussion this week because I had been reflecting all week how far I have come since starting therapy. This piece is mostly about how therapy was effective in my own life and I emplored my reader to find a form of therapy that works for you, like group therapy.

I wanted to focus some of my energy exploring the topic of medicine, and more specifically my own struggles with Ativan. In “The Realities of Ativan” post explored my research for the first time on a medicine that has been a part of my diagnosis over the last ten years. This blog post was tough to write because at the end I still couldn’t answer if my need to increase my dosage back to a comfortable level is due to addiction or need. I will most likely expand this topic in the coming weeks.

I hardly get to explore a part of my writing on my blog and I think that has to change. In “Excerpt From Act Three – Memory of Shane” I shared a single scene from the third act of my feature screenplay. I like the feedback since I am moving this project to two different screenwriting competitions in the next month.

One of the goals of my blog is feedback. I wrote, “When My Creativity and Depression Collide” to see what kind of feedback I could get from my followers. It worked. This is a subject that plays out a lot with the seasonal element of my diagnosis takes over and my depression increases. My followers gave me encouragement and ideas to keep my creativity flowing regardless of my depression. It always feels great to make real connections.

That is the coming and goings with my blog over the last week. I will tackle some interesting topics again this week like giving up vices in my life that were hurting my recovery, more about my social anxiety, and a few other topics. This is the final week before my ten-year diagnosis/suicide anniversary, and in the week that follows I will be writing a three-piece blog post as I explore my thoughts on what ten years of being Bipolar has meant to me.

Always Keep Fighting.

J.E. Skye

The Bipolar Writer

Photo Credit: Alejandro Escamilla