Sleepless highs – Part 1

This story documents about eight days in November 2014, where I experienced my first true episode of mania. Due to the level of detail I go into, I felt it necessary to break it up into two blogs. This is the first one.

Things went pretty well after that. I attended my cousin’s wedding, I reconnected with Uni friends, and went on a road trip to Berlin to watch the world cup final. I started back at University in September, moving into a new house and ended up finding a girlfriend. Things were certainly looking up for me. I was also playing a lot of rugby this term, getting picked regularly for the first team and consistently playing well. The course was fun, and I found time to balance work with going to the gym, as well as seeing my friends and girlfriend. Again, like with what happened in 2012, I put this brief encounter with darkness at the start of Summer right to the back of my mind. I didn’t really discuss the events with anyone, and if I did, it was with very little detail.

It was what happened in a particular week in November of my second year, in 2014, that affects the way I live to this very day. It was at this point in my life where I first made contact with a mental health crisis team.

Throughout the course, we get to choose, or are assigned extra projects to take on for a week, to up to eight weeks, depending on what year you’re in. My project in second year involved a week of research as well as a 1000 word write up. This seemed like a fair task at first, as I had a full free week to start my reading, to plan the essay and to write it up, fully referenced.

Things did not go to plan.

For some reason I felt more happy than usual. My thoughts seemed clearer and I became more chatty with people. I got easily distracted and lost focus on the task at hand. My thoughts, slowly but surely, starting getting quicker, and it became difficult to process one simple task without thinking about fifty other ones at the same time. My sleep was steadily deteriorating, but I felt rejuvenated when I woke up.

On the Wednesday of that week I got very little work done, to the point where all I had come up with was a title for the essay. Afternoons, of course are dedicated to sports, and I had been picked for the first team. Brilliant. What’s more was that my mum had planned to visit me for the day, and had come to watch the match. This was a rarity as she very much hated, and still does, hate seeing her ‘boys getting hurt’. I remember being very aggressive and very vocal during the match . I was excited, not only because we were winning the match, but also because I hadn’t seen my mum in two months. I was also excited to break the news to my mum that I had a girlfriend.

In the evening, we went for a meal in town. I remember on the way in feeling a great deal of empathy with my mum. I was listening to her issues with having to put up with my dad and younger brother’s boisterous behaviour at home, and comparing it with my own attitude to some of my housemates’ behaviours. I felt like I was the mum in a house of guys. I had hadn’t been able to do this so easily in the past. To be able to relate to someone on such a level, almost to the point where thought I knew what they were thinking and feeling. The meal was lovely, and our mother-son catch up felt nice and accomplished. Later that evening I attended the annual rugby bonfire social. I drank a lot of alcohol. However, I felt incredible, and I felt confident, strong and unstoppable. I was what people would describe in the social context, as ‘on form’.

Getting out of bed the next day was not an issue for me. I was a little tired, a little parched, but I didn’t have a headache. Slowly but surely my thoughts returned to the pace they had been previously in the week, if not slightly quicker. I assumed that this was a straightforward reaction to the stress of working under pressure with an essay due in Friday. I waltzed to the library with a big grin on my face. “I beat the hangover!”, I thought. I spent the whole day focusing on my essay; writing, reading and analysing each specific research point and putting it in the context of my essay’s agenda. I only went home to eat dinner and rest for an hour or so, and then back to the library I went.

That evening my brain was firing on all cylinders. The only diversion from my stress was the pure relaxing tones of my iPod’s ‘chilled playlist’, consisting of artists such as Simon and Garfunkel, Tracey Chapman and Fleet Foxes.

“Oh my God. I’ve got it!”, I thought. “I’ve actually got it!”. I’d had an epiphany.

Having just recently finished a couple of weeks of lectures on Virology and Immunology, I was completing a a respective feedback form, and I had thought of a way that could potentially better improve the teaching. It was to do with incorporating physical 3D models of viruses, antibodies and their respective receptors to help tactile learners better understand the ways in which our immunity works. I immediately emailed the two Doctors who delivered the lectures, with my ‘bright idea’. I didn’t stop there. I emailed my parents, my project tutor for that week, and the director of years 1 and 2, insisting that they heard about my idea that would ‘change the way immunity would be taught forever in medicine’. Retrospectively, I was completely manic. Looking back at the emails I sent in early November 2014, they were quite eloquently written, however very excitable and aggressive. I genuinely believed that if I somehow failed at medicine, I could pursue this idea as a business model and make millions from it. I was deluded. I also believed that my intellect at this point in time was similar to that of Einstein, Shakespeare and Mozart. These were delusions of grandeur. I was not well.

Why I Think Life Coaching is for Everyone

If you are looking for your own journey into life coaching that invokes 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@protonmail.com. Her company Grounds for Clarity LLC is all you need, and she asks for you to have one conversation.

A Game Changer

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

My four months of life coaching have been very personal, and I am still working through things that will help me continue the growth I had over my time. I don’t want to share the details just yet, as it is still a fresh one for me, and I have things that need to be talked with people before moving forward with my life. With that said, I thought I would use my time this week to explain why Life Coaching is what you need right now if you are struggling with your mental illness. If you have no outlet. If you need someone who will be a game-changer by allowing you to work on yourself the right way.

I have learned so much in the short time that Kim Johnson has been my life coach, just six weeks, but here is something that I never expected. When I decided to invest in myself, allow life coaching into my life, it became the reason that I am now living a different lifestyle. I won’t lie. It is not perfection that I am shooting for; it is awareness and living in the now. What Kim does is allow me, the client, to work through what needs to be done, not by giving me the answers, but rather the tools needed to succeed. She has been amazing every week that we meet to create modules that will help focus on what is bothering me. She uses the teachings of different spiritual teachers Eckhart Tolle and others, to guide you to what is already inside you. I have leaned into the feelings, and I have trusted the process from day one, and it is a game-changer.

Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

Believe me when I say I could (and actually might) write a novel about my journey. In the four months life coaching has been a game-changer more than therapy, and I was in that for five years. With that said, I am not saying that therapy can’t be right because it helped me; instead, this is another deeper source of getting to the core of your mental illness issues and making real changes. Letting go of the negativity and allowing yourself some peace and happiness. I don’t have to tell you how mental Illness can leave you with such a painful existence. Hell, I have lived it for years. You can change your life if you are willing!

I have never endorsed anything on my blog I have not directly been a part of or have some experience with what I am endorsing. When I say that if your suicidal or going through tough times in this mental illness life, then reach out to Kim Johnson; she will change your life. If you need to contact her, here are some ways.

Website:  www.groundsforclarity.com

Email: groundsforclarity@gmail.com

Please know that help is okay, and it will be a game-changer working with Kim. I know it has been that way for me. Thank you as always for taking time out of your day to read this post. If you have any comments, leave them below.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

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

Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

Pot.

**This post discusses the use of marijuana. Please do not read if you are triggered by discussions about drug use. I am not a medical professional and the below information should not replace treatment by a licensed health care provider. I also live in a state (Arizona) that has legalized medicinal marijuana. I am a rule follower by nature**

 

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I have been wanting to discuss marijuana and its uses in mental health. Personally, I use it pretty consistently. I do not drive, work, or care for anybody under the influence. Again, big proponent of rules over here. I believe in bodily autonomy and I don’t get to decide if you want to be around someone under the influence. I would never attempt to convince you of my beliefs as I respect everyone’s opinions.

I primarily use this for stress and anxiety symptoms, although it is officially prescribed to me for PTSD. I feel like my mind is in so many places at once sometimes. I imagine that it has the same effects on me that ADHD medication has on those with ADHD. It calms me, I can concentrate better, and my tension is no longer affecting me physically. I can’t convey in words how much better I feel. I sleep better with it as well. I have never let it interfere with my professional life. In no way do I feel like drugs are the answer to problems. If anything, I avoid smoking or alcohol when I am depressed or manic. As strong as the desire to numb the feelings is, I don’t feel that is healthy. I don’t want to associate bad times with great enjoyable substances. I don’t go out for a drink on a bad day. I wouldn’t smoke either. I will smoke when I feel anxious, but not when I am manic. when I am stressed, but not when I am making major decisions. I guess it kinda sounds silly that someone would follow so many rules that they set for themselves over something so trivial. I sincerely believe that there is a such thing as too much of a good thing.

So, yeah. I smoke pot. I feel more productive and relaxed just enough into easing myself back to the outgoing person I was. I have to let my guard down and try to regain the self confidence I once had. Anyway, I am rambling.

Let me know what you think?

-B

p.s. Full disclosure, this post was originally posted on my personal blog here.

We Said Goodbye Six Years Ago Today

My Grandfather with his sister circa 2004

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!

Always Keep Fighting

James

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

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

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

New Kid on the Blog

Not long ago, I went looking for relevant content by like-minded writers. The Bipolar Writer appeared in most of my searches and I decided to follow his collaborative blog. He extended an invitation to join the team, I accepted, and would like to introduce myself.

I am a mental health survivor with a diagnosis of rapid cycling bipolar I. I raised four children to adulthood and have been married to the same supportive husband for almost forty years. Just stating those facts make me sound up and over the hill, yet I feel I’ve only recently begun my true calling.

Last summer was a milestone for me as I “celebrated” thirty years since my diagnosis. I don’t use the term lightly as the odyssey has been fraught with hospitalizations, medications, stigma, and trying desperately to fit into the unaffected part of society. I kept my illness hidden, or so I thought, from most people and I believe it had a detrimental effect on my emotional equilibrium. Keeping the secret was very difficult, especially when symptoms would arise.

Speaking openly about mental health in general is still in its infancy. In some ways, bipolar affective disorder has become the mental health maladie du jour. More people are aware there is such a thing as bipolar and candid conversation is necessary. I hope to bring my experience to this space, post about the topics that mean something to you, and provide the relevant content you’re seeking.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time.

~CBD  (my initials)

2020 Big Ideas

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

I am a writer who needs multiple projects that are ideas, in first drafts, editing, and ready to publish. I am also seeking an agent for those out there looking for a writer. For right now, I understand the self-publishing process, so that is good in my book. I will continue to go down this route. I have a fantastic cover artist (if you are looking, please email me!) and people I trust besides myself to edit my work. I prefer to keep busy.

Here is an idea of where I am at right now just in works in progress.

  • The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir – (Non-Fiction) Republishing in March 2020
  • Angel on the Ward – (Fiction Novella) In formatting and working on the cover art. Getting ready to publish in April 2020.
  • The Rise of the Nephilim – (Fantasy Fiction Novel) In editing looking for an agent
  • Hyeon and the Precious Notebook (Short Story) Looking for literary magazine publication.
  • The Dark Passenger (Short Story) Currently in the final editing phases.
  • Vacation From Heaven (Non-fiction) this is my major ghostwriting project of 2020.

What can I say, I like to keep busy, even as a graduate student.

My Next Big Ideas

A Book Sharing the stories of the Mental Health Community

That brings me to other projects that I want to launch in 2020. The first being A collective book on the stories of the mental illness community. I have been throwing around this idea for a while, and I think it is something that will be long-term. I hope to travel and meet people to write their stories. The money will go to helping others with medication, seeking mental health services, and perhaps other projects. Not a dime will go to me. A lot of this project will hinge if I can convince my followers to become Patreons. I will use my books as incentives for those who want to be a part of my writing process.

A Mental Health Podcast

I have two people that will become contributors once I get all my ducks in a row for this project. Both have experience in mental health. One of these two mental health advocates has experienced differently from mine. One is a bit younger with varying mental illnesses, including PTSD, that she deals with daily. The other, he is the man whom I am ghostwriting his book, is much older but also has some fantastic experiences that significantly differ from my own, including getting off benzodiazepines, which is a tremendous story. It will have guests, and I have big plans for this project in 2020.

Growing The Bipolar Writer Brand

Building my brand is going to be a fun project, and again, it comes down to if I can launch my Patreon account with enthusiasm. I am thinking t-shirts, coffee mugs, and maybe even one-day hoodies that show inspirational things alongside my brand The Bipolar Writer.

I wanted to share all of this because this is the year where I take everything to the next level. My followers are so important not just to me, but to the contributor writers that call this place home. I want to show the world what a community such as ours is capable of doing amazing things. That the support and understanding that I have experienced is the best. We need to change the stigma of mental health together!

Stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Please if you can, Become a Patron!

If You Ever Need help

The idea of sharing my number is not the first time I have done this, but I wanted to double down on my recent renewal of being more of a committed mental health advocate.

If you ever need someone who will help you through a tough time in your life, I hope to be that person, because it is important to me to be accessible to the readers of this blog.

My inspiration of late comes from the outpour of support from the followers of this blog. I am going through one of the worst experiences of my life. I can say with certainty that I am not suicidal even though my thoughts have been depressive at times. It is a significant thing to lose a mother. My mom would want me to dive deeper into my mental health advocacy, as she always told me, and so that is why I am doing this post. So here again, I am posting my number, you can find it on my blog as well on the main page.

James’ Number – 831-287-4369

If you need someone to give you some advice on how to get through how you feel, I will be there and answer as quickly as possible. The other route of course is my email.

James’ Email: jamesedgarskye22@gmail.com

I will also list my social media platforms so that if you are not comfortable with these ways of connecting to The Bipolar Writer, you can always contact me.

Twiter: https://twitter.com/JamesEdgarSkye

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

What I want is total transparency with being there for the people following this blog and the mental illness community. So I hope that those who feel like reaching out because they are suicidal or anything mental health-related do.

Lastly there is always the National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Always Keep Fighting

James

Bipolar Bankruptcy.

I do my best to take responsibility for the wrong doings and choices I have made. With a lot of help from my mental health provider, I have come to accept that mental illness gave some of those bad choices a very large push. A simple purchase turned into a mountain of debt. A rash decision turned into a car loan I can’t get out from under. I am drowning in the ruins of my financial mishaps, from my spending sprees. I still fall off the wagon so to speak. Bipolar is forever ❤️.

In all seriousness, bipolar has ruined my life. It has taken away my teenage years and filled them full of hatefulness and blatant disregard for those I care for’s feelings. It filled my twenties with larger than life shenanigans that I am now spending the beginning of my 30s trying to navigate. I am days away from calling the finance company to come pick up the car that I voluntarily accepted with a 28% interest rate on. Honestly, I feel a weight on my chest that I cannot breathe under. I try to stay positive. I will say that I am angry. I am angry that I can be so impulsive. I am angry that I made these choices. I want someone to blame. I want someone to tell me to suck it up. I want to lay in bed and call out of work. I want to cry.

I really just want to fix what I broke. I should be grateful for what I have salvaged. My life, my relationships (some), my career, my education. Tonight I am ungrateful and consumed by my disappointment.

 

 

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

The Bipolar Writer Has Been Gone, and I am Sorry

It has been a while friends, and I am sorry.

I was mad at the world. No one in particular, or at some level, I was angry at God. My faith, my foundation, and my life shaken to the core the day my mom passed away on December 15, 2019. The anger I had inside of me made it impossible to write a single blog post.

I wanted to say thank you to all that reached out while I am grieving for my mom. It means the world to me. I am still in the process of working out what my life looks like without my mom. It is a certain thing in this life to lose your parents, but my mom still had more life to live. To see me continue to grow as a writer, and I felt this last over a month now that there is a piece of me missing, it will always be that way. I feel lost some days, but I have to stay strong because it is what my mom would have wanted.

I wanted to write here on my blog about everything I was feeling, but everything came out angry and sad. I am still sad, but I am no longer mad at the world. I didn’t want my followers to see me like this, alone, angry, afraid, and above all, depressed. I have always been open about how life affects my mental illness daily, but I needed some time. I wanted to reach out because I was lost. I am far from out of the woods as the grieving process is a long one.

One good thing about this process is that I was still able to write. I stayed busy. I am helping my dad clean out his shop. I am increasing the number of jobs I am working on in my freelance. I even began ghostwriting this amazing book.

I am querying my major novel, and I finished this excellent short story. I will be publishing a short novella, and writing has become my coping mechanism. I am in the beginning stages of a book about others in the mental health community, an idea that my mom came up with, and one I will be running within the coming months. I am looking to start a podcast. Staying busy right now helps because I have less time to dwell on the negative. That is not to say my nights and some days that I feel I can’t leave the warmth of my bed, but I am not getting down on myself–my mom would not have wanted that for me.

Life is fleeting, and I intend not to waste away in depression and anxiety. I will honor my mother’s memory by living life as the best as I can each day. I will write more here and begin to heal.

Always tell your family you love them, I didn’t get a chance to tell my mom before her stroke took over her brain. I got a goodbye, and I always told my mom how much she meant to me. I wanted to end this post with a story. On December 6th, 2019, I was reading a chapter in my memoir that I wrote about my mom. I texted her right after and told her that she was the one reason that I am alive today and doing what I love. I had no idea that hours later, my mom would have a stroke and never regain consciousness. But something told me that day I had to read that chapter and tell my mom how much I loved her and was lucky she always believed in me. I tell this story to everyone who asks me about that day because the last thing I told her was to “please just breathe mom.” I couldn’t tell her I loved her at that moment because she was being taken away by paramedics.

Always Keep Fighting

James

2019

2019 has been a year of growth and challenges.

But I can never blame myself for wanting to live.

Everything is teaching me something.
As long as I’m open and willing to learn.

Everyone comes into this world being enough. I am enough. 💫

Here is to 2020.

Thank you for being with me.
Angel Love and Blessings.

Love, Francesca.