I wanted to preface this poem with a “trigger warning,” this is a poem I wrote about suicide and depression recently, at this time I am NOT depressed or suicidal. But, this poem could trigger those feelings, so please read only if you are in a safe place. This free-verse poem was written during a poetry class in my last semester of my bachelor’s degree. It was my raw feelings when I was suicidal turned into a poem, please enjoy. I will link the other poem I posted recently.
It has been a long while. I am lost in my darkest contemplations. Sinking, unable to breathe. “I’m Depressed,” there I admit it. Teetering, on the edges of the blackest of thoughts— suicide. The darkness serves as my safe and unsafe place. “I am always here for you,” says the darkness— it is far away in the distance, but I hear its cry. Fearful of this darkness I let the thoughts of the end consume, afraid of what could happen. What might happen? What will happen? This winding road is leading me to the point of no return. The darkness laughs, and it moves closer in the distance.
My thoughts seek the out the painful memories, and the thoughts missile into my consciousness. Afraid. So Afraid of losing myself. My life is a mess, a black hole of endless despair. At night I lay my head down— wanting to cry, and so I cry myself to sleep. “Yes, my friend, give in. You belong here with those who lose themselves.
Wishing. Waiting. Wanting. This will be my last day, nevermore. Awake. Alone. Again. Another day lost in the darkness, it consumes my inner soul.
God hates me for what I have become, I hate myself so much that God— he has given up on me. Let’s face it, my hope evaporated long ago, it is a wonder that no one in my life wants anything to do with this lost soul. “I am here for you—always,” the darkness tells me. Can I fight this— is there something I can do? Probably not. My life is this mess. The Chaos. I created a monster inside me.
The darkness begins to consume, first my mind— and then my body. The darkness is just outside my door, it tells me this is the right thing. “Death is just mean to an end— the end of the infinite agony,” he tells me. “Give in, your life is not worth living. Give in, it will be painless.” Thoughts devour any shred of hope. The darkness wants to win. It just might.
I find myself on edge again— a familiar place, but this time it is different. I lay out the pills tidily in front of me. Counting. Thinking. “Yes,” exclaims the darkness, “this is who you are now.” How many sleeping pills does it take to sleep forever? This becomes routine— a nightly ritual that never changes. I tell myself every night, this is the night. “You must do this now,” the darkness hovers just beside me, “this is your destiny.” A flood of my past consumes my present. There is no future.
What does life mean anymore? I continue to perish in sinking into darkness. Forever. Darkness, my best friend— and worst enemy. Depression my frequent companion, never leaving me. My darkest depression. Will I give in?
I am doing something unorthodox today here on The Bipolar Writer. I hope that I have created a place where my fellow mental health sufferers can have a “safe place” to discuss their own issues. I often get emails from many who are seeking help or guidance or just want to talk about things. I want everyone who comes to this blog to know that if you are suicidal there is always someone here, I am always here to talk.
The unorthodox part is that today I am going to give my number to my followers if you are suicidal and you don’t want to reach out to help-lines (I have learned recently that they are not always great.) So, if you need to chat you can text me anytime. I will get back to you as soon as humanly possible. As a mental health advocate and someone who has been through the worst parts of mental illness alone, I want you to know I am a lifeline.
You are not alone. Suicide is not the answer. Again, I am always here to talk anytime.
I wanted to open this blog post with a disclaimer, I am not an expert in life coaching or any realm of psychology and therapy. I will always come from someone who shares his experience with mental illness and what comes along with what I am learning through life coaching and reading. So, what is detachment? Well, let us turn to Eckhart Tolle for a great quote.
When you are detached, you gain a higher vantage point from which to view the events in your life instead of being trapped inside them. – Eckhart Tolle
Over the past almost two weeks now, I have experienced complete attachment from events causing massive negative and depressive issues in my life. When I decided to detach from the event, seeing my life as Eckhart said, my life was surreal from a different vantage point. I was trapped inside these events so bad that self-doubts, self-loathing, negative thoughts, and dare I say some thoughts of giving up on life.
I will be vague about the event in the sense that I will share an event that was troubling me a lot because of the negative feelings I was associating with this person. It was my feelings that were driving a wedge between myself and this person. What did detaching myself from the situation do for me? It gave me a chance to shift my perspective. See the event from a different vantage point. I went into the event with an open mind. I noticed what was triggering me and bothering me was my ego trying to take hold of the situation. I chose positive intentions over negative ones. I detached entirely from the event and went in with just the facts. I came out with a better understanding that there is a different way of approaching an event with negative connotations or anytime that I feel the ego awakening (again, please read Eckhart Tolle to fully understand.)
Something my life coach told me–take consistent action. It makes so much sense now when I apply it to my life. Since my mom’s loss in December, I have felt like the punching bag of everyone that comes into my life, but in truth, I was playing the victim identity card. I allowed depression to be an excuse for my lack of energy or feeling like general crap. Depression is an emotion, but it can be a part of what is going on without controlling you. For the first time in forever, it seems my depression hit a ONE. I am not sure of the time or if this ever actually happened before.
What shifted? Everything. My approach. My attitude. Checking my ego at the door. Allowing detachment to give me a higher vantage point that I needed to look at the event. It is something that can and will be replicated in my life. I am tired of being the person that hides from the problems and events because I am here to tell you, they will continue to keep coming up in this life. So I leave you with hope. Change the narrative. Detach from the event. You will feel better for it. As always, stay strong in the fight.
Since day one of the inception of The Bipolar Writer blog I had a plan of how things were going to go on my blog. When I hit 2,000 followers the plan was to start a series of interviews of other members of the mental illness community. It was amazing to finally start my interview series where I feature the stories of others. It’s been successful so far.
I am close to another milestone for my blog and I am looking towards the future of my blog as I near 15,000 followers, I am looking to add more contributors to blog because the stories of others is important to me. These contributors roles are as follows according to WordPress:
Contributor – has no publishing or uploading capability, but can write and edit their own posts until they are published.
I am only looking for contributor writers at this moment. What I do is add you to my blog as a contributor. All I need is to add your email. You can write about any subject about mental illness. You pick the categories and the post must have a featured picture. I will have the final say on if it gets published. If you become a regular contributor, I will change your status to the rank of author:
Author – can write, upload photos to, edit, and publish their own posts.
If you are interested please email me at JamesEdgarSkye22@gmail.com
I am really excited to expand to allow more contributor writers on my blog. I think it will help to get different stories and blog posts on different topics within the mental health community. It’s an opportunity to continue the growth of The Bipolar Writer brand, and really talk about the issues as we fight to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye’s work and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!
If you are looking for your own journey into lifestyle coaching that envokes change in your life, if you are stuck under a mental illness diagnosis and want relief from someone who has experience in the core of what causes suicide, please reach out to Kim Johnson, @ Groundsforclarity@gmail.com. You can find her at www.groundsforclarity.com
Week Four, How Letting go of Identities is Golden
I have been working hard at letting go of identities, or at least that is the plan. Identities throughout my life have been controlled by individual identities, especially those that have to do with my mental illness. The Bipolar Writer came from an identity as a writer who happens to be Bipolar, but that does not define who this person is writing this blog post. It is just me writing. Stringing together words, so they work, and so you can read them. My brand is still The Bipolar Writer, but letting go of that as an identity was tough, but it was just the beginning. When I began to let go of the identities, the metaphorical pencil was not easy.
I was struggling with the identifiable labels in my life. The ego wants us, me, and you to not let go of the identities that define us (letting go of the pencil may seem easy, but the ego wants you to think of a million ways to let go.) Seeking problems when there is no problem is what the ego seeks out, and we feed it. I am learning to let these things go. It feels useful to predict that you are going to feel bad, right? You want to feel bad because at least you know what your feeling. Its a sense of control that not having an identity means you are starving the ego, and it does not like it at all. Let all those identities define you, and I can tell you from experience the freeing of dropping those identities are amazing. Living in The Now, that is the goal because you are already there.
Intellectualize. What an unusual and useless word. I do that so much in this life, intellectualize. I am learning to make adjustments to stay away from the past and future and stay in the now. It is a fantastic place to be. Something my life coach said to me stuck with my week: Appreciating that what us going on in my life for me, but it doesn’t matter because there is an equal opposite reaction. You can’t have the good without the bad. We were talking about the grieving process that I have been going through really only since July. The feelings will be up and down. It comes with the territory. Being in the now allows for a more steady baseline.
It feels right to write. Projects for my business will come. When I let go of trying to grow my business, I am learning it just continues to grow–naturally now. When I overthink my business, when I lose a client, the default is to doubt things. I have to label it good or bad, and I can tell you its exhausting. The clients that want to work with me will be there. They are already coming into my life without the hard sell. Sure I will grow my client list but organically. People reach out to me daily from this blog. Who knows. Someone may see that I am a ghostwriting memoirist with a focus on creative nonfiction and reach out. I have already gotten clients since I stopped putting a label of good or bad on future clients’ potential.
It may sound cliche, but it is excellent to put positive vibes out in the world. When I send out positive vibes, things really come to you. I know I have experienced it so much lately. When you pursue the “wants” in life, you will always “need” more, and your cup will never be filled. It is not worth it, I am telling you, my friends.
One of the most significant doubts in my life is me. I always feel great when I am working on my craft. The “me” is me being my biggest doubter and critic. Every project, I doubt about my writing, and it is silly because it is wrong. The identity “The Bipolar Writer” is the one that is doubting. At some point in my life, I became The Bipolar Writer. It became something I identified that made me think I was special. I’m not extraordinary at writing; it is just what I do, feeding the ego. I let The Bipolar Writer identity go along with some I never expected. Why do we hold on to labels and identities? Why does it have to be “I am a writer” instead of writing how I write and say screw the label. The true presence is creativity. I let go of the identity of the writer. I just write.
These are some of the other “identities” that I have let go of is Mental health advocate. Again that is not saying that blogging and my book will not help people. I got into this to share my experiences with the world. Again, why does a label have to attach to what I am doing for the community? It is excellent to say “let it go,” but you have to be the present now and put action behind letting go. If I am writing about my experiences as someone dealing with Bipolar living, then that is what I am in the now. I can move from moment to moment. Pivoting to what will make me happy now. So much expectation comes from being Bipolar, but why does it have to be so? They are an unnecessary part of my life. There is no conflict, and there is no problem.
My Week Leading to Week Five of Life Coaching
I went into the week, shedding some of the identities that needed to be gone, but I had work to do. One of the amazing ones that I let go of is gamer. It has been a significant identity that I had to be because it “helped me with my anxiety and depression.” I let go, and at the same time, sold my last remaining gaming system. Yes, it was for personal gain, but at the same time, it was letting go. Things happen. I had a TV in my room that I never use, and my cable company charges me for a cable box I never use. So I gave away my TV and returned to the box. It matters how you do things in my life. I took into my week from Kim that we are all the same, and nothing should be taken too seriously. Peace is what I wanted this week, and perhaps I got that, but more I stayed in the now. Anything can happen.
The last thing Kim asked me to do something that atypical. I did that, I said hello to random people while I was out, social distancing, and wearing a mask.
The Bipolar Writer is going legit, at least that is the plan for the future. I am looking for those who are ready to write their story but have no idea where to start. The Bipolar Writer Ghostwriting Services is the place for you, and my focus is on writing your memoir. I do offer other writing services.
I offer a comprehensive memoir ghostwriting package, but I will work with you. I have been writing the memoirs of others for five years and wrote my own, and now I know the next step is starting my business. I have been through it all, and I have the knowhow to take you from concept to completion. If you are interested, please reach out through my business email @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk about the future of your memoir.
The 4th of July has never been the same, I get that it is this fantastic holiday that we, as Americans, celebrate our Independence Day, and I will always honor the day like all of us, just with a sad heart.
On July 3, 2014, we lost my grandfather forever.
Every year I have honored one of the greatest presence in my life, my grandfather. I once wrote a poem about him called The Bravest Man I Knew. I wanted to spend some time this year talking about the man that was always there for me when I needed him since I was a little boy.
My grandfather was born March 18, 1932, in Ewa Beach, Hawaii (pronounced Eva Beach because the “w” is a “v” in the Hawaiian language). My grandfather and grandmother were married in November (I forget the year). My grandfather served in the United States Army for twenty years. He was an amazing man who loved to buy cars, computers, and was very intelligent (where I get my own smarts).
A fact about my grandfather, he was in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
I wish he was here today as I near the end of publishing my first novel. I started going to school for my bachelor’s degree around the time that he got sick with cancer. The doctors gave him six months, and he fought for a year and a half. My grandfather had an amazing spirit, and he was always willing to help his only daughter, my mother, and his grandchildren, he even got to know five out of his six great grandchildren before he passed.
I still remember, he went fast. He was okay in June and then starting on July 2nd be started to lose consciousness and before we knew it he had passed on July 3rd.
It sucked. I was depressed for close to a year after taking care of my grandfather for that year and half. I have never gotten over the suddenness of how cancer can take a person. But he was this amazing man who lived his life, saw the world during his time in the military and drank coffee everyday (which is one of the reasons I am a coffee addict!) My grandfather was, is and always will be loved by those who knew him because he was an amazing man.
Just from these photos, you can see the people that loved him and that five years ago came together to honor this great man. I love my grandfather to this day because he taught me so many great things that I have today. If only he would have seen me continue my recovery with Bipolar 1 and panic disorder, but I believe he is still here in spirit and watching over us with my grandmother.
The last photo was taken weeks before my grandfather passed with his sister visiting. What you don’t see in this photo is all the sweets on his desk not just for him, but his great grandchildren. We all miss you grandpa!
I am a do-it-yourselfer. If you’ve by any chance read my blog post, My No-Medication Journey to Emotional Health and Well-Being, you are aware that this doing-it-myself thing extends to all things, even things as crucial as my entire existence. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s not. I’ve certainly been scolded for being too self-sufficient but that statement always struck me with confusion. Why wouldn’t I want to be self-sufficient? On the other hand, I guess I do get it: I don’t give other people a chance to help me, help can be good, we all need support, and so on. Hey, I’ve gotten help plenty of times. I mean PLENTY of times. Some of it was good, some of it was not so good. Regardless, I still developed this intense desire to figure it out by myself, whatever “it” is.
I’m also a researcher. I mean a personal researcher, not a professional one. I research EVERYTHING that crosses my mind (and yes, my mind is full and often tired but I can’t help it). I spend a lot of my life learning. I dare say I learn new things EVERY day. This, I have to admit, is something that I like about myself. Perhaps it started early in life. My mother told me many times, “Read well. No one is going to tell you your rights.” So, from a very small child, I have been reading, avidly. At times this has meant books. Sometimes it means news articles. Sometimes it means the small print on the back of a package of some product or other. Over time I adopted the (probably rather snooty) attitude that I once read on a poster: “Those who won’t read have no advantage over those who can’t.”
So what is the connection? It’s simple, really: if I spend so much time learning about something, why would I then turn to someone else to do it for me or to tell me all about what I’ve already researched for myself? This isn’t to suggest there is nothing to learn from others; to believe that would be just ignorance. I learned to READ from someone else, right? But for me, I take at least 90% responsibility for every, single aspect of how my life goes. The other 10% is reserved for those things I absolutely cannot accomplish by myself. There have been plenty of times when my mental health has fallen within that 10%. But, at this point in my life, that isn’t my issue. (Plumbing and electricity and washing my own car, on the other hand …)
As a person who has dealt with anxiety and depression since at least the age of 9, a great deal of my every day/every year life has been about finding ways to cope and feel better. I think it’s safe to say I’ve tried all the things (see the article referenced above). Here I am, half a century later, and I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel happy and successful (according to my definitions of those intangibles). But, as you all know, I will ALWAYS have to deal with managing my anxiety and depression. It’s part of the fiber of my being. Therefore, when I come across something that has a good chance of helping me to continue my lifelong emotional and mental management program, I’m inclined to give it a chance.
Because I’ve always been a bit of a maker (all sorts of things; I can’t specify), I’m always coming across articles and ideas about art. Recently, I came across some articles about art therapy journals. I was very quickly intrigued by the idea: daily journaling using any sort of media to express my thoughts, emotions, ideas. What intrigues me is that the process, by definition, is very hands-on, much more so than just writing on a page. In just a few days, I’ve found myself taking pictures with more thoughtfulness and then printing them out with the idea of perhaps turning them into something greater or at least different; using my fabric scraps to make pages; cutting out meaningful words and phrases from screenshots or off packages; painting with those tiny little containers I got who-knows-when ago from Walmart; using paste with reckless abandon; and returning to my once-abandoned study of art fundamentals (I’m still a beginner).
To say this is therapeutic would be an understatement. A more accurate word would be “meditative.” I wish I could really explain it in a way that would make everyone understand but I think it might just be too personal. Oddly, while I’m busy figuring things out, making decisions and bringing something into being from nothing, my mind is never actually BUSY. On the contrary, my mind goes quiet. I hear the wind chimes tinkling outside. I feel the house creak. I’m aware that my heartbeat has slowed. It’s as though all this work is going on in the foreground but I, myself, am lounging with my feet up in the background. It’s weird, to be honest; weird and restful and soothing and satisfying.
Right now, in the midst of this pandemic, having no idea when it will end, I’m free to throw myself into this and I’m doing so with the express purpose of making it a daily ritual. Even if I only get to do 5 minutes, I will do it. It’s like the cup(s) of tea I have everyday; I wouldn’t be the same without it.
Another aspect of art journaling that instantly appealed to me, as I noted when I saw images of other people’s journals, is there are literally hundreds of ways to approach creating one. As you can see in the photo, I chose to go super-simple and use a binder notebook. I didn’t see any images of anyone else doing that, something so super-simple, but I already had ideas about what I wanted to start putting in it so I decorated this binder and got started on my initial contents. But if you search for images of art journals on Google, you will be amazed at the things people have come up with. (People are so creative!) The main point is that an art journal is intensely personal and will, by extension, be unique to you and your aesthetic, both on the inside and the outside. If you search YouTube, you will find lots and lots of videos on methods, ideas, and materials. Here are the results of a Google search for “how to create an art journal.”
If you have been craving something to do during this time of quarantine, if you have been looking for a way to reinvent yourself, if you have been struggling with emotions or problems you just can’t work through, if you have been simply seeking to add to your current skills and/or hobbies, if you need calming from all the anxiety of these days, if you’re looking for ways to use up some of the stuff you have lying around (pictures, cards, fabric scraps, jewelry findings), if you want to make a statement, then I urge you to give art journaling a try. You make your own rules; in other words, you cannot fail. You don’t have to be an artist!
Find a place to work that will give you a bit of solitude (even if it’s in the bathroom). My plan today is to get outside on the porch and enjoy the sun while I create. Most of us have been given the gift of at least a little more time. Try your hand and your heart at making an art therapy journal. You might be stunned at what you find in there even as you build it.
I was asked recently about my feelings about something that each of us has faced in this mental illness life…
Is it okay to not be okay?
The answer is easy. Yes. There is nothing wrong with not being okay. This question is especially important to me as we continue to isolate because of COVID-19. I had to admit to myself first that currently, I am not okay. My depression has been peaking for the past few weeks. I am dealing with it like always with writing and one other way.
Love Yourself First
I always have to tell myself that, even though I am not okay, it is okay. The second thing–love yourself first.
Loving yourself first is where the healing really begins for us. We have to love yourself before that we can start the healing. If you’re like me, you forget when you are lost in depression that things always get better. This life is all about the ebb and flow of symptoms. How you deal with symptoms in the present, can mean how long your depression or anxiety affects you.
I always like telling this story because it is so vital to a blog post like this one. At the beginning of my diagnosis, I didn’t believe that there was something wrong with me. For years I fought to distance myself feeling that if I gave into being Bipolar something was wrong with me.
I lost three years of my life to this belief. I barely left my house. I became a shut-in. I could count on one hand the times I did something outside my home. Life started to pass me by. It took me years to get my life back.
It is okay to not be okay. The stigma that surrounds mental illness makes us believe that if we have a mental illness, we are outside of the normal. I believe that all of us in the mental illness community are the strongest people on the planet. Even in these unpresidented times we have to stay strong in the fight.