When Mania Gets in the Way

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Last week (June 10th-16th) was a tough one. I was picking up my nieces at an early time about an hour away at the airport, and I had to drive my best friend up to pick them up.

I tried my best to get all my school work done before the week started, and then proceeded to stay up for about 32 hours straight so I could sleep Tuesday afternoon, and wake Wednesday at around 2 am morning refreshed and ready to travel.

Part of the issue is that I generally get to bed between 12 am and 2 am, so it was impossible to try and sleep without being exhausted. If I sleep at 2am and had to wake at 2 am therein lies a significant problem. I thought the plan made sense. Sleep 12 hours and wake up better rested and then Thursday was a later pick up around 10 am so I can sleep at my reasonable time. The problem? I never anticipate that staying up for that many hours is inviting mania into my life. Mania is precisely what happened, and it was not pretty.

First off, it was a crazy week. Full-time graduate student, working on my next fantasy fiction novel writing 5,000 words a day and finishing the second edits of my book that is in the publishing phase so that I can reach the final edits. All these things got done at the expense of my mental health and my work for the week. I bombed both assignments, something I have never done as an undergraduate (I graduated with 3.92-grade average) or in the three-plus courses of my graduate studies.

I did what I always do, overextended. It is possible that I was already manic. It tends to happen more during the summer months that the winter months. But, no matter how I slice it, mania and depression took me over, and I let it get to me without knowing. It took this week, and learning of the failure of the last week, to hit rock bottom. I considered quiting this semester. I looked into alternatives, and I think I found some solutions which will allow me to stay in school. It would be all bad to quit this semester.

I got back to work the last two day finishing my paper, and I am hoping that things will get better from here with my editing, which was the major issue last week. Mania tends to sneak up on me, and when it gets too much, I crash. I am a fighter, and I will continue to do what I do best–all that I can to be the best mental health me.

Stay strong in the fight,

Always Keep Fighting

James

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How Do I Get My Friend Help?

I’m in a rather crisis situation with a friend I have known since we were little girls. I’m not even sure where to begin. We are both in our early forties, she lives over three hours from me, I believe she is going through a severe manic episode and I’m worried about her.

When we were young I hated going to her house because her mom was such a strange person. She would comment on the oddest things in a sweet voice topped off with a smile, but the words coming out of her mouth were cruel. I distanced myself from this friend during high school because our social groups became more different and her mom disgusted me, though I kept in touch with her off and on even when she moved away. Twenty years later we have shared a lot of ups and downs with each other. I share with her that I have social anxiety, I see a therapist, I have deep fears that I can’t seem to overcome. She admits to similar feelings. Though for her it goes deeper.

I have only witnessed her in a manic situation once prior to this, but the last week has been like nothing I’ve seen before. I’m not trying to diagnose my friend when I say she is manic, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind. She calls me crying hysterically and accuses people of spying on her and taking her things. She won’t use credit cards, refuses to drive, fears all doctors, refuses therapists and psychiatric help, won’t call numbers we provide her for crisis lines, won’t go to homes or other resources we provide her. Out of nowhere, she accuses me of leaving her at a carnival, and I have no idea what she’s talking about. She’ll talk to me on the phone and tell me her pet rabbit is ill, then suddenly she is crying and telling me she used the N word a year ago and hates herself for it. She’ll send me texts begging me to come to pick her up and drive her to the ocean. Then she gets mad at me when I don’t and tells I’m not a true friend.

I couldn’t handle this alone so I brought in our other friend from grade school whom I am still very close but my ill friend is not as close anymore. We both agree she needs a serious intervention, we have contacted her family but they have done nothing.

I’m at the end. I don’t know how to help her. She mentioned that bi-polar has been diagnosed in her family and she believed her dad had it (he has passed). However, when I bring up the words mental illness she gets angry and defensive. I tell her I have a mental illness, that’s what anxiety is. I have panic attacks. But I’m in a good place and getting help. I have encouraged her to do the same for years and she refuses.

She is sucking me down and it scares me. Her rantings are sparking old habits in me, I’m having a hard time lately. Part of me wants to cut her off since she won’t listen to anything I say to help her, but turning my back on a friend or anyone who so desperately needs help goes against everything I believe in.

Advice welcome. I’m lost. I can’t keep running in these circles with her.

Please Forgive Me.

Please forgive me for the things I said

And for the things I didn’t

Forgive me for the outbursts

For the door slams

For the silent treatment

Forgive me for ruining something special

The dinners

The holidays

The vacations

Forgive me for the stealing

For the spending

For the hurt feelings

For the time lost

Forgive me for not knowing

For not telling

And for not seeking help sooner

Please forgive me for the other me

I don’t like her either

I forgive you

For not always understanding

For your own bouts of anger at something you cannot control

For despising the other me

For calling me crazy

I forgive you for giving up

Lord knows I have at times

I forgive you for not knowing the right things to say

And for the right time to say them

Most of all I forgive myself.

Bumps in the Night.

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You know when you are home alone, and every little noise will freak you out? This was not that. I have had this happen. When I was younger, I couldn’t sleep in a room with a tv because I would tell my mom that there were people dancing on it when it was off. Of course, as a child, I was told monsters aren’t real. We all were. Now that I am an adult, I realize that they are in fact very real. It is a topic I have yet to build up the courage to talk about because I am certain it sounds insane. Those bumps in the night can be very real during a manic episode. (Why do they even call it an episode? Feels more like a full series to me.)

My first apartment I was convinced someone was knocking on my door and then running away. I started dosing on pain medication that I would get from friends just to make myself too exhausted to stay awake. I actually hadn’t thought about how long I had gone without being convinced someone was in my house at least once a month. I hadn’t thought about it until it happened again.

I never considered that this could be a part of my bipolar. I never considered that this wasn’t something everyone did. When I told my friend that I didn’t get much sleep because of bumps in the night, she acted like this happens to her. I realize now that everyone gets scared, but I don’t think it is quite as intense.

I am talking up until 4 AM, hysterical crying to the point that I am sick, calling my mother at 28 years old to pick me up, and sleeping for 13 hours because I am exhausted from myself. I was convinced that someone was in my house. I laid in bed for hours knowing my sister was in the next room of the apartment we shared. I was so convinced that I was upset she was going to die because I could not leave my room to help her. I couldn’t leave my room because every time I would walk to my door and try to tell myself this wasn’t real I would break down and run back into bed.

I have scoured the internet in search of confirmation that this is indeed a part of my diagnosis and not something else I will need to medicate for.

Auditory Hallucinations.

Can’t wait to tell my new doctor this one.

Photo Credit: Eric Ward

The Surging Ebb and Flow of my Mood Swings

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. – Edgar Allan Poe

The Extreme Ups and Downs of the Bipolar Writer

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I have been thinking a lot about the ups and downs of my mood swings lately. It has been an obsession of sorts. I have been writing about it because it has been an up and down to the extreme cycling over the past month. One day I feel overly depressed and fail to get out of bed. The next day I am manic, and I can write the next great American novel. It has felt so much lately like balance is the furthest thing possible. I believe I will get there eventually. What is the cause of such things in this Bipolar life?

Is it in the Air?

One of the best things about living in central California is that it does not get too hot or too cold. The downside for someone living with mood swings is that it means the up and down weather, one day it is overcast and the next it is sunny. It can wreak havoc on my moods because the consistency of the weather is so essential to finding balance (among other things). As September moves along, it is getting to that point where the weather will really start to affect my mood. I am not looking forward to depression taking over again.

My Lack of Sleep…

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I can trace so much of my cycling mood swings to the lack of consistency in my sleep lately. It is the endless struggle in my life. When I am manic (as I felt last night), and for the life of me sleep eluded me. I tried. I spent hours tossing and turning in bed. I spend so much time walking around my house in the dark restless in my thoughts.

The opposite happens when my depression takes over. I oversleep, and I lay in bed wasting away. That happened just two days ago. I know I promised myself that I would be kinder to myself, but as I sit here writing, I can feel the ebb and flow of my mood swings just waiting for the next cycle.

I am not at my best today, but I wanted to continue to explore my thoughts on my mood cycles as it relates to my Bipolar disorder. I want to really understand what is behind this recent issues and writing is the best way to figure it out for me. I am all over the map at the moment, and I hope that you will bear with me over the coming weeks.

It would be great to hear your thoughts and expereinces on cycling as it relates to Bipolar disorder. That is what this blog is all about in the end.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Randy Jacob

Alan Tang

My Recent Mania – This Bipolar Life

It is worse at night when I am restless, alone, and trying to find sleep.

My Bipolar Life – Mania and Mixed Episode Edition

In this “Bipolar life,” mania is something that does and will happen. I don’t often talk about my manic side because I understand it less than my depression. There is no cure for the Bipolar disorder, so that means that my mania will come up, and when I least expect it to make an appearance.

Recently this past week I talked to my therapist about some changes that I was feeling in my life over the past week or two. The biggest has been my decreasing need for sleep. It is always one of the earliest signs that I miss when it comes to my mania. My lack of sleep has been well documented by my doctors, but this goes beyond my insomnia– I feel as if I don’t need rest at all. That can be dangerous because of my mental health, getting sleep is the most critical part, and the hardest to stay on track.

Not sleeping is a bad sign and one my therapist asked me to track since the early part of this week.

The other signs started to fall into place, and it made me realize that as far as I have come in understanding my Bipolar disorder, my mania can still give me pause and wonder. I have been restless to the extreme every night, I can’t lay down for more than twenty minutes before having to get up and walk around my house. I go outside and walk when it is possible, but most of the time I pace my house in the dark.edward-polo-234190-unsplash.jpg

The last few days I caught myself moving about my house at all hours that I should be sleeping. What is worse is I am getting to sleep later and later (when things are right I am asleep around 11 pm and awake around 5 am.) Last night it was three in the morning before I crashed, and that was only with a max dosage of Seroquel.

My thoughts have been racing a million miles a minute that I have become numb to it again. I tend to forget that racing thoughts are not good, and a sign of what I like to call “Manic James.” This version of me is reckless and quick to anger. I get these ideas that I could write my next novel in one sitting. I think that there is nothing I can’t do, and I forget that there are limitations for someone that is Bipolar– it is just the truth.

That does not mean I what I want to accomplish can’t be done, it is the opposite. But I have to stay within what makes me productive and not change my mind every five minutes about what I am going to do that day.

Yesterday was the worst of it. My concentration was wavering since the moment I opened my eyes. I tried to write to get my mind straight, and it failed. I quicknicolas-leclercq-751903-unsplash.jpgly switched to editing to no avail. I thought, okay James, let’s play a video game. That lasted about two minutes. Maybe it was the game? Nope. The next game on the list failed to keep my attention. I worked on my blog for a bit answering questions and blog surfing. Even that became too much. I could feel myself falling. It wasn’t long before I could feel a shift in my mood– this time depression began to creep in.

So, I sat down and wrote this blog post. It was the most productive thing I could do, and even this most likely won’t go down as my best work. It was important to me to not only share this experience, as it can be impossible to focus when switching back and forth from mania and depression. This mixed episode should make the rest of my evening an and weekend an interesting one.

I know this is just a part of the Bipolar life. Mania comes and goes. What I found particularly interesting when discussing my current episode with mania with my therapist is a lot my mania happens during the summer months. I fail to understand it because I do so much better from May to October with my dperession. When I feel like I can do anything in my writing, it is a good thing, but I have to also understand that not taking my manic side seriously can have some adverse side effects.

I will keep fighting this fight. I will continue

I will continue the narrative here on The Bipolar Writer blog with the hope that one day I will better understand this life. I have come so far, and I have learned so much, but this will always be a fight.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)

If you want to know where AFK started you must check out this campaign from Jared Padalecki: https://represent.com/store/jared

He doesn’t pay me to advertise, but I have bought many AKF shirts and hoodies over the last few years. I love that somoone famous is trying to do good for the mental illness community that he is a part of.

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:

Johannes Roth

Edward Polo

nicolas leclercq

Mania

Manic she creates

Challenging its fate

Teasing it

She flexes

Check’n it

She mocks it

While multitasking

It’s only from up here she sees the depths she has visited

A rebel

Toying with nature

Testing its power

She’ll put up a fight

Giving her thoughts freedom to roam

They disperse magic

in her dome

Cultivating a strategy

One that depression

promises to steal

But this time is different

She’s learned its game

And prepared for this part

She will stand her ground

Herself she has found

The piece she lost

Or perhaps never had

Yet she has wanted it

so bad

Striving for balance

and healing her wounds

She moves on

to a more positive space

Trusting her instincts she shall achieve

Obtaining strength and reprieve

How Did I Get Here?

10 years. It still hasn’t sunk in.

To the start of another ten-year journey.

Today marks my official anniversary date of my first time attempting suicide. It feels so surreal. My journey over the past ten years was the lowest darkest lows and some of the strangest highs. I have tested the limits of who I am as an individual and a human being.

I have loved.
I have lost.

I have fought a great war, and while I have lost many battles along the way, I can say it feels great to just be alive. Sure, it isn’t always fun being in my own skin. Just today my so anxiety is at high levels, but I combat these feelings by leaving my comfort zone and writing in my favorite coffee spot.

I wish those of you who follow my blog could have been with me on the entire journey of the last ten years, but I making up the lost time with my blog and my memoir. I feel really sentimental in this moment. I say this all the time, but I really never thought that I would ever reach such a huge milestone in my life.

This is it. The beginning of a new chapter in my life. In this moment I have found the understanding that there was always something at work in my life, and it is why no matter how hard I tried, I was meant to be here. As I continue to reflect on the past ten years it will be to understand enough of the past to make my memoir something great.

“The Bipolar Writer” was born out of the need to be “James the Writer” and the fact that “my diagnosis will always be a part of me.” I decided today to cherish every day for the next ten years because at the end of this new journey I will be a better person.

Thank you for every follower of my blog that brightens up my every day with comments, praises, and their stories. It means the world to me.

Always keep fighting.

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit: Aneta Ivanova

How I Feel in This Moment

Well, here I am. At the end of one journey, and another I am embarking on for the next ten years. Wow. Ten years. It’s amazing to have been on this long journey with the peaks and valleys, and with all my different issues fighting for attention on any given day, that I am still here. My social anxiety likes to control me one day, and my depression consumes me pushing me into darkness and abyss when it can.

I feel great about where I am right now. The tail end of the first ten years of “my diagnosis life” was never really great, and it had its darkness. But I am still here fighting the good fight. I have learned so many things over the journey, like how mindfulness breathing and CBT can help curb my severe social anxiety so that for a few hours a day, I can find solace outside my safe place at home.

Ten years seems like an eternity, and If you asked me ten years ago if I would be alive today, I would have laughed. The joke was on me.

This blog has become my place of solace. A place where for moments in time I can share my experiences with being Bipolar, and help people along the journey of dealing with a mental illness. The positive energy that I have received over the past few months has been the most amazing feeling a writer can get. When people tell me that I have inspired them to write because I am so open to writing down my story, well it makes me want to write even more here on my blog and in my memoir The Bipolar Writer.

I am excited to start a new journey. I always figured my life, if I were to write it all down, would be in sections of ten years. From here on out most of what I write for this blog will serve a future version of the Bipolar Writer, maybe ten years from now it will help me write part two of my journey. But right now my focus is on the hear and now.

What is in store this week? I plan on talking about what this week means to me, and how I felt about that week just ten years ago. I will share a short story, one that I wrote a long time ago called Angel on the Ward. It is a short story that meant a lot to me, and I hope it ends up in the memoir.

On the other side of this is the fact that I will be super busy. I need to keep my head down as I work towards my goals of just getting through this really tough week. It won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I have some idea how bad my depression will get at some point this week. But hey, I will keep fighting.

J.E. Skye

 

Photo Credit: Johannes Plenio

 

The Feeling of Loneliness​ ​

I am usually okay with being alone in my life. It suits my personality being an introverted writer, and for most of this year being alone was not an issue. Its been a good year for the most part with the exception of the last month or two. I have been super busy with my writing. I’m about to finish my degree in a few months. My blog has helped me explore every part of my diagnosis, the good and the bad. But, I have created a shell around myself where being alone in the world has been my constant companion. I am a lone wolf.

It doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely. For so long I have used so many excuses of why getting into a relationship with someone is such a bad idea. There is the fact that it seems impossible to let people in my life. I worry about what I will bring to a relationship, and given my past relationships, it’s never a good. My depression and anxiety control most of my day and how can I ask someone to take my issues on?

I often blame it on being an introvert, which has always been a part of me. I can hide from the real world behind my glasses, headphones, music and my writing when I am in the real world. I can’t remember the last conversation I had with someone outside of texting. I am alone in my own world for so many hours of the day. Sure I talk with my followers here on my blog and those are much-needed connections, but sometimes real human connections help.

I have my blog and it helps to make real connections with people, but I will be the first to admit it’s easier than being around people in life.

My past relationships were great up until the point where my depression and anxiety take over my life. My last girlfriend had to live with the change that her boyfriend didn’t want to live in the same world as her. I was about to go through some of the deepest darkest depression, and to bring that into someone else’s life, would be unfair. I ended my relationship with my last girlfriend to save her from what was to come.

Doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely.

So much of who I have been over the last ten years is me, going through my life, alone. My struggles are my own. When I have high anxiety late at night that leads to panic attacks, I fight through it alone.

My depression has been bad this week, and it makes sense given what the meaning of next week means in my life. I am afraid of what comes next. I have lived in the bubble for the last ten years, and the way my writing is going I am opening up more now than ever in my life. Doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely.

I thought this year, I had my best friend back in my life. For a time she was here for me, but she has disappeared again. The moment I made the decision to not help her commit suicide was the moment I lost her in my life.

This is my depression talking which has once again captured every aspect of my life once again. The holiday season has always been rough but being alone now, when over the last few months I have opened myself up to the world, it seems different this time. I know this feeling won’t last forever, and that it just something that will work itself out eventually.

So, if you have someone hold them close, especially if you are dealing with a mental illness. Some of us, are more alone than others.

I will get through this, it’s just something I do.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Raul Petri