National Cheer Up the Lonely Day

Tomorrow (July 11) is National Cheer Up the Lonely Day. With social distancing, isolation, and quarantine, this holiday is important now more than ever. I’m certain many people have never heard of this day. The holiday was founded by Francis Pesek. His daughter, L.J. Pesek said he “was a quiet, kind, wonderful man who had a heart of gold. The idea came to him as a way of promoting kindness toward others who were lonely or forgotten as shut-ins or in nursing homes.” July 11 is also Francis Pesek’s birthday. I have yet to find any other information such as when Francis was born or what year the holiday was founded.

Autophobia is the fear of being alone. While many may not have the full-blown phobia, everyone at one time or another is afraid of being alone. For me, I’ve feared people would leave me which added to my insecurities and caused me to drive them away. I created my worst fear. When one feels this way, the smallest gesture can have the biggest impact. Sending a short message, an email, or letter can brighten their day. On social media, tagging a friend or sharing a link or post in a direct message (DM) can bring a smile to their face.

Remember, if you spend most days having conversations with several people, that doesn’t mean everyone else does. You may be the only person one of those people talks to for the entire day. There was one time a couple years ago when I went an entire week with no contact or conversations with anyone outside of work. I felt ignored and unwanted. I know others have felt this way. It takes little effort to remind people that you care about them. It’s also important to not assume someone is lonely because they spend a lot of time alone. Don’t jump to conclusions. Just tell them you care about them.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

A Decade That Changed Everything Part One

Hope. That is what I am always saying in these blog posts. I was ready to die in 2010, and yet I was one of the lucky ones.

This will end up a series that I will write in December 2019, as the decade comes to a close. I hope to share some wisdom now that my memoir The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir is published and out in the world. Each will have some theme that I think is relevant to the idea of the last ten years. I imagine walking side by side that person I was at the start of the decade, he was a different James than the one now. He now has so much to share.

A Few Things I’ve Learned

Image by Harut Movsisyan from Pixabay

A decade is a long time, and so many things can change in this life. It matters not if the change is good or bad, because change means that something is happening, and you can decide to take it or leave it. You can make the decision to change because its time, or you can get lost in what the change means.

Take me. In the first decade of the new millennium, I was younger than I was now, just a teen trying to find his place. While I was active for the start of it, there was a lingering feeling that something was wrong. I was suicidal at times, and in 2007 I tried to take my life. I spent the next two years denying that there was something wrong with me, that I was not Bipolar, and that my life was worthless. I barely lived, and then on that fateful day I tried to last take my life in 2010, in the middle of the first year of the new decade, I had a choice. Continue down this path, or finally face the truth–there was something wrong with me.

In the hospital, first for the suicide and then for the seizures I had after, it allowed me to think about this mental illness life and finally decide to start the healing process.

It was never easy, and it did not happen overnight. It actually took an additional three years before my life started on this path that I am now: author, graduate student, freelance writer extraordinaire, and mental health advocate. Having the same therapist for the last five years really helped, and the revolving door of psychiatrists made things hard at times. I lost my grandfather, whom I was close to cancer, and there were so many varying depression cycles in length and intensity over the past ten years. But I am still here and fighting.

I founded this blog in 2017, and I can say with certainty that we, the collaborative writers and mental health bloggers that call this place home, have made an impact. I started with an idea, and it became a blog and then a memoir. I have written this year a 213,000-word fantasy fiction novel, one novel in a series of six, I am currently editing this piece. I have written poetry and short novella this year, and things are always looking up.

Image by Jim Semonik from Pixabay

Hope. That is what I am always saying in these blog posts. I was ready to die in 2010, and yet I was one of the lucky ones.

If you’re suicidal or close to that darkness, please know that it is not forever. Suicide is never the answer because we will always leave behind someone that will have to live with that decision. If I learned anything this decade, that is it, that it may feel right at this moment, but there are always consequences to our actions. So live because there is always hope. Learn from my mistakes, and if you need to, please reach out. I am always there for my people in the mental illness community.

Lastly, if you want to know more about my experiences, please take a moment to read my book, The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir. In it, I share some of the things that have helped me over the years. I want this book to help others like me in this life, especially those at the beginning of this journey. I also want to help those at any stage of this mental illness life because I lived it, and I have so much to share. You can find my book on Amazon by looking up James Edgar Skye. I will link it below, as well. Yes, I am plugging my book, but I truly believe in the power of shared experience.

https://www.amazon.com/author/jamesedgarskye

Always Keep Fighting

James

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In life, the best thing to do is?

I am a mental patient and had a tough teenage. When I was first diagnosed with a mental disorder, I was only 13 and had no clue of mental disorders. I didn’t know if the treatments were available. All I could think of was that my family would abandon me or send me to a lunatic asylum, I would never get cured and would be left to rot in the asylum for life, all my dreams would be shattered, my life would be reduced to mere ashes sooner than I ever imagined, and all other negative thoughts. I contemplated suicide several times and attempted twice or so, for I found no point leading a life like this with a mental disorder which crippled me to an extent that it pulled me back from actualizing my dreams and aspirations. Being a teenager, you dream a lot. I had a lot of dreams too and eagerly wished to fulfill them. Watching them break like glass in front of my very eyes was extremely painful and heart-breaking.

I used to be the topper of my class but soon enough, my academic performance degraded. People in my neighbourhood began to spread dirty rumours about me (don’t ask me what), enough to give me a bad name. They began supposing that I have become insane and can never recover. My life is finished — I thought so.

I felt guilty, lonely and worthless. I began blaming myself for my condition and felt much worse. Recovery was another dream that I wished to fulfill. Hope was all I could hold on to.

I sought professional help and managed to come to a better position, mentally at least. It took me years, though. At that very low phase of my life, I decided that I won’t ever let anyone suffer or feel lonely and worthless like I did. I decided to make someone smile every day, extend a helping hand to the distressed, and make them feel less lonely. I wanted to spread mental health awareness to educate people and provide them help. I thought of several ways to do so and ultimately chose to blog as the option. Thus I began my blog in January, 2019. And I aspire to join an NGO and work for the cause of mental health awareness in the near future. Fighting stigma is my goal.

Bottom line: The best thing to do with your life is to use it purposefully. Help the distressed because they need it. Make someone smile and you be the reason for it. Fight for a cause. Don’t entertain injustice, discrimination, prejudice, and stigma. Raise your voice against it. Life is just once, make the most of it.

How an Emotional Support Animal Helped With my Healing

I got my cat Calypso five years ago when I had moved back home from University. That period of my life was when I was struggling badly with my mental health. I had withdrawn from University because I had been sexually assaulted and my mental health was on the decline.

 

Moving back home, I felt alone and was battling negative thoughts on a daily basis. I had a friend suggest to me that I look into getting an emotional support animal to keep me company and help with my healing. I did research on emotional support animals and found that some of the benefits were that it lowered stress & anxiety levels, reduced feelings of loneliness, and offered companionship. I was living with my grandparents at the time so it took some convincing for them to let me bring a cat into the home since they had a dog. When I shared with them the benefits of having an emotional support animal they quickly got on board with the idea.

 

I’ll always remember the day when I brought Calypso home. My best friend and I were out shopping for the day and figured we would stop by the pet store to look at the animals. I saw Calypso there and it was love at first sight. She was the cat I wanted to bring into my life.

 

The pet store was partnered with the local humane society so we gave the lady a call to meet us at the store so I could interact with Calypso. Like any cat meeting a new person she was a little skittish and apprehensive, but quickly took to me. The lady told me that another family had looked into adopting her, but she didn’t think they were a good fit. She saw the connection between Calypso and me and could tell it was going to be a good fit.

 

The first day I brought her home she immediately took to me. I’ve had cats before and sometimes they’ll spend a couple days in hiding getting used to their new surroundings, but that wasn’t the case with Calypso. She spent about maybe an hour in hiding and was already comfortable in her new surroundings.

 

Adopting Calypso to be my emotional support animal was the best decision I made. Even though she’s a cat she’s become my best friend and part of the family. During my healing with mental health she was there for me every step of the way. I had days where it was a struggle for me to get out of bed and find any motivation to do anything and she was always there to give me that extra push. She helped me keep a routine since I would have to feed her twice a day and it forced me to get out of bed every day.

 

They say animals can always pick up on people’s emotions and I believe that is true. I had days when I would spend hours crying and she would sit with me until I was feeling better. Whenever I was having a bad day, she would be glued to my side. She would follow me around the house like a little puppy dog and would let me pet her as much as I wanted. She would give me that extra motivation and push I needed to get through the day to get daily tasks done. She helped me feel not so alone and gave me that love I deeply craved and needed at that time.

 

I am forever grateful for having Calypso in my life. Even though she is a cat, she played a big part in my healing journey. She was there for me every step of the way and gave me that extra love and support I needed.

 

If you have considered adopting a pet for an emotional support animal, I highly encourage it. Having my cat a part of my life helped with my healing process and kept me motivated each and everyday.

Friendship, Reignited

To those of us who’ve spent the majority of our lives struggling with anxiety and depression, one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is isolation. For me personally, this wasn’t actually an issue until I became a parent, because as someone with very little family, I always felt as though I needed a barrier of friends around me for protection. Fortunate as I was to have found those people when I was younger, I came to find, after entering adulthood, that friendship wasn’t quite what it seemed before.

What was once a crutch for my fear of loneliness, has now become an a burden of sorts, for I cannot seem to get back to being the kind of person who can actually maintain friendships. I was the type of friend that was always there when you needed them, but was also the one who failed to get invitations to parties and such. I’m the person who will tell you what you need to hear, no matter how badly it’s not wanted, and while I’m conscious of it as a flaw, I still tend to categorize it as a strength.

Recently I reconnected with an old friend, someone who’s been through some of the worst moments of my life with me, someone I’ve known for 16 years. There was a time when we were inseparable, never going days let alone years without talking, but we haven’t seen each other in about a year and a half. We’re both nearing our thirties yet we live completely opposite lives – mine revolving around my husband and daughter, and her still being single and living at home with her family. While it’s difficult to relate to her now in some ways, it’s also refreshing to talk to someone with a little bit of outside perspective, because sometimes that’s exactly what we need.

The moment that I basically gave up on everyone in my life was shortly after my daughter was born, nearly no one I’ve ever called a friend has even met her, and I got tired of always hearing the same old line, “Let’s make plans soon!” or “We’ll have to get together soon!”. Eventually you just stop believing it, seeing it for what it really is, a formality to lessen their guilt over not even remotely being there for me in any way at all. I began pushing everyone away, and I can’t honestly say that I regret it very much. It seemed like the mature thing to do, just accept it was all talk, let everyone off the hook, and focus on my daughter, since no one else was interested in being part of her life.

Back to now though, I’m relieved to have someone I can talk to outside of my husband, because while he’s my best friend, sometimes a woman just needs the ear of another woman to feel heard and understood. And let’s be honest, there’s just some things that men don’t want to talk or hear about, and I try not to overburden him with all of my anxieties and stresses, as he’s carrying enough on his shoulder trying to keep food on our plates and a roof over our heads.

This time around, I’m going to try to force myself to stay in touch with her, because at least she knows the true me and has been there through some of the defining moments of my life, good and bad, and doesn’t need explanation for my feelings and thoughts. We have plans for tomorrow and I have to admit, I’m more excited than I’ve been in years. She’s genuinely thrilled to spend time with my daughter, and what could warm a mother’s heart more than an old friend bonding with your child? Right now, it feels priceless.