I will start off this post with letting you know that I did partially (mostly?) tell this story on my blog, but more-so discussing my PMDD journey. I’m going to go a bit more in depth here as to my trials of medication and why, for the most part, I am medication free. I also want to add a disclaimer that I feel is necessary: I am in no way a doctor or anything of the sort. This is such a personal decision, knowing what works and what doesn’t is a journey that most of us in the mental health world end up in, and just because something worked for me does not mean it’ll work for everyone. I did things in a very unhealthy way, and I learned my lesson, so please do not follow my examples.
Since December of 2017, I have been conducting interviews with people of all ages and sex that deal with having a mental illness in their life. It is my way to give back and also show that mental illness has so many different unique faces that are all amazing in their own right.
I interview each person with the intent of writing a feature article about their journey. For me, it has been nothing short of one of the best ideas I have had for The Bipolar Writer blog. This page is dedicated to those interview features that have made their way to this blog.
This page will be updated as the features become live on The Bipolar Writer blog.
As of January 9th, 2019, I will be bringing interview features back to The Bipolar Writer blog. If you’re interested, please email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Always Keep Fighting
Author: James Edgar Skye
I always have a good working list of topics I want to discuss on The Bipolar Writer blog. Often some of my blog posts are random thoughts that pop into my head about my journey with mental journey. I thought why not try something new in the middle of August?
Are there any topics you want to see me discuss on The Bipolar Writer?
If so let me know. I am happy to write about anything related to mental illness. I have two really good things— experience and opinions about mental health topics. Drop me comment or two about what you want to see here on The Bipolar Writer blog. It can be anything I can connect with my experiences with a mental illness or even off the wall topics you want my opinion on.
Photo Credit: unsplash-logoGlenn Carstens-Peters
Since this is the first post of 2018, I wanted to talk about a familiar subject, but in a different context. I have written before about how role-playing video games are one way that I use to ease my depression symptoms. It is at its most important in my own life between the months of November to March when the seasonal component of my depression is at its strongest.
What we know about depression is that it is one of the most common mental health problems that we see today. For me, it has been a major part of my life since I was a teenager. The most common way that doctors treat depression is through medication.
In my experience with anti-depressants, they can be effective at easing my own depression symptoms. The problem is over time they before less effective. Over the past ten years, I have changed to a new anti-depressant once a year.
It gets worse for me when I am in a long depression cycle. In one tough year my psychiatrist changed my anti-depressant medication three different times.
Medications are an important part of the process of easing depression. But you can do things that you can do that are outside the realm of medication that help ease depression. It can be is as effective as medication.
Sleep is a major part of if your depression worsens or gets better. One thing I have learned is not to oversleep or take naps. I never take naps so it is never an issue for me. The expert in my life tells me all the time that naps are counterproductive. It can worsen your depression because staying in bed while depression is consuming you is a bad thing.
That leads to another important “rule of thumb.” I have written recently how staying in bed for three straight days was helpful, but it made me fall deeper into the depths of my depression. This is a gray area. Staying in bed feels good in the moment but in the long term, it could mean more days of feeling worse. That is why out of all the advice I can give, this is the hardest to do.
I had to make the decision to finally get out of bed at the start of this week. Since then I have been able to ease my depression by getting back to what I love. Writing.
One of the worst parts of my depression life is that when I am depressed I tend to go away from a healthy and balanced diet. Eating right, according to every one of my doctors, is paramount to easing depression symptoms. When I skip meals or even go a day without an appetite I know my depression is getting worse. For me, this is a sign, and eating is so important to living. Eating right as a part of my mental health plan isn’t always synch, when I am depressed I tend to skip meals. When I finally start eating regular meals again, I can tell the difference.
It pays to be kind to yourself.
I struggle with this the most when I am depressed. When I am lost deep in my depression I tend to feel like the only way out is to push the limits. I try to write all day in hopes that I will feel better in the end. It never works because I am not being kind to myself.
After my latest bout with depression, I decided to read. I opened up my favorite collection of Edgar Allan Poe written works and I read my favorites. The Raven. The Purloined Letter. I got lost for a few hours in my favorite Poe poems. It felt good to do something that I love. The next day when I went back to writing I eased into it. Only wrote on my blog. The next I worked on a chapter. By mid-week, I was back to writing in a normal schedule, but when I reached my limit, I walked away for the day.
Find ways to be kind to yourself by finding things that you love and do them. If a bubble bath makes you feel great, do it. Listening to some great music over the last couple days was helpful in easing my depression to a manageable level. You can read a book. Allowing yourself moments in your day of downtime can mean all the difference. It pays to be kind to yourself.
The last thing that I wanted to talk about is self-acceptance. I have learned over the past four months of writing this blog that when you believe in yourself, it changes your perspective. It sounds cliche, but don’t let others define who you are in this life. In my own life, I have learned to accept who I am with my illness. No one is perfect and for so long I thought I had to be to have success.
It’s a false thought. I have lived through so much anxiety and depression since starting this blog. Yet, I still find a way to connect with my fellow bloggers. Every day that I accept that I am a decent person despite being Bipolar, means I am more comfortable in my own skin.
I believe that we all have something to offer in this world. If those of us in the mental illness community start respecting ourselves and those like us, it could mean that we can finally start to strip away the stigma that surrounds us. It starts with accepting who you are in this life.
Always Keep Fighting.
I sat in the waiting room clutching papers in my hand. For two weeks I had prepared to tell my doctor that I finally began seeing a therapist and that the diagnosis from her standpoint was leaning towards bipolar disorder. Awkwardly I gathered my things together once my name was called and followed the nurse for blood pressure and weight checks. Weighing in at 210 pounds threw me off guard at first, but I suppose that’s what happens when you stop drinking every day.
The nurse handed me the same GAD checklist that gets filled out each visit. I hadn’t seen my doctor in a little over a month so my numbers were up higher than in previous visits. As I would fill out “More than half the days”, I could feel that I was getting beside myself again. I should’ve been better than this. I should’ve been normal.
The doctor came in the room almost as quickly as the nurse left it. Before I could even allow the “hello” to escape her lips, the paperwork was extended in her direction and I told her I had gone to a therapist. “We think I may have bipolar disorder. I’m not throwing chairs or anything like that but after reading off the symptoms, a lot of things make a lot of sense. The high sex drive, the huge interest in hobbies only to drop them within a week or so, the days of not being able to make myself get off of the couch, my lack of focus and excess of indecision, it’s all here and then some.”, I said while pointing at the bipolar information sheet.
“Well I had my suspicions, but getting a second opinion from a therapist definitely solidifies a treatment option. Let’s try weaning off of one of your antidepressants and adding a mood stabilizer.”, she said.
I want to be clear by saying that I’m not glad that I am on another medication, but I am glad that I may be one step closer to finding a way to live life without my life getting in the way of… Well… My life. The problem I have with my mental health is that I wake up with either no motivation to get anything done, or so much motivation that I run errands and still not get anything done. I can have a great day until a derogatory comment is made to either me or a friend, and it sends my mood into a sullen, sarcastic, and depressing cloud for either hours or the rest of the day. I feel as though I have never had any control over my sensitivity or emotions, even as a child.
It has been four days since I have begun the process to stabilize. The new medicine I am trying is called Topiramate and if it’s anything like my Lexapro, it probably is something that will take time for my body to chemically register before a difference is noticed. Honestly, the biggest side effects I feel today are lethargy and extreme dizziness. It is as if I have hit the bottle hard enough to have woken up drunk and held onto it. This medicine is also used to treat seizures as well as migraines, so I feel that it plays with a different part of the mind than I am used to, so hopefully a change will come soon. According to other articles, it takes around five to six days for the side effects to dissipate.
This is only the beginning of this journey, and I write to keep you in the loop about this process in case any of you ever go through the same thing. If you feel as though you need help with mental health please reach out to someone. You are never alone. I am available for contact via social media if anyone ever needs an ear to listen. You can find my contact information as well as my other blog posts at www.outtodry.blog.
Take care everyone!
This past week was the toughest week for me in 2018. I struggled a lot to stay focused because of being very sick to start my week. I had very lofty goals, as always for my week, and I achieved some of them. Still, I have felt a bit overwhelmed for the first time this year. It happens to me, and I knew going into this year it isn’t always going perfect weeks non-stop energy and work. I won’t always meet my goals, much like this week. I can take comfort that despite muddling through this week, it wasn’t unproductive.
I wasn’t at my best this week. There were times where I felt that I should skip writing a blog entry for a couple of days this week. The posts I did write weren’t always my best work, but somehow I kept writing. I was riding a good streak of positivity over the past few weeks. But, some doubts crept in this week into my mind, but I persevered for the better.
I hate the feeling of being sick, but yesterday I started to feel better, and I am looking forward to this next week. I am coming closer to finishing my big freelance project. I have two major goals this week outside of my freelance project. My first is to continue to work towards completing my school work. The second is to start putting together the first draft of my manuscript for my memoir The Bipolar Writer. I have so many chapters it will take me awhile to organize it in order. I wish I could afford to have someone do it for me, but I don’t have that luxury.
I learned something about myself this week that I find very interesting. I learned that I can still be productive even when life is trying to take me down. When I am on the fringes of depression taking me over yet again, and when I am muddling through my week it doesn’t mean I have to depression take me back over. It helps to do what you can and let things fall as they may. This life is too short let stress or anxiety take you over.
Yesterday I did have a major increase in anxiety that led to a panic attack. It sucked. For a few hours, I was lost in it until I got it back under control. It’s been a few weeks since I had one of those, but I got through it the best I could. I spend so much time writing and then I rested for the remainder of the evening.
The Bipolar Writer will have some bad weeks in 2018. It’s a given when you live the life of being Bipolar. The extremes get to you. But, when this year is all said and done, I will be able to say that in spite of my Bipolar life, I still accomplished my goals. I will continue to share my experiences with my the followers of my blog.
Happy Monday, from The Bipolar Writer. Remember. Always Keep Fighting.
In the first three years of my diagnosis with Bipolar One, I was often rushed to the emergency room. Most of the time it was my family worried that I was suicidal or that I was a danger to myself. I went in for being extremely depressed to uncontrollable anxiety and panic attacks so many times over the course of these years. Each experience was different but similar in so many ways.
There were times where my psychiatrist didn’t like what I said in a session and I was brought by police car to the emergency room.
I have talked about how the hospital visits was a major part of the first three years of my diagnosis. I would go in for uncontrollable panic attacks, some of the worst of my life.
From 2007-2010 the emergency room became my home away from home.
I remember one stretch in 2008 where twice a week for months I would end up in the emergency room for suicidal thoughts or uncontrollable anxiety. The nurses and doctors all knew me by name. It was so bad that year that I left my house for two reasons. Doctors appointments and hospital visits.
My experiences there were not always good, and here is why. So many times I went to the hospital I was very suicidal, but more times than not the crisis counselor would just ignore how depressed I was and would have me write out my feelings. I would sign a paper saying I wouldn’t harm myself and they would release me, but it was all bullshit.
It’s really a problem with the system. If the psychiatric ward is overcrowded, as it usually was during these visits, it was easier for the staff to release me to my parents only to be there a week later. My only psychiatric ward visits were after I tried to commit suicide. This basically told me I had to actually act to get help.
Would I have liked being put away in the psych ward? Of course not. But there were times between my second suicide attempt and my last where it might have made a difference. Especially in months leading up to my last suicide attempt. I wonder sometimes if the crisis counselor would have truly listened to me, I might have been put on a 51/50 and it could have gotten more help.
It really came down to the simple fact that there are not enough resources to go around for those with a mental illness. At least in my experiences with the American healthcare system. My times in the emergency room did little help me, it only really served as reasons to hide what was really wrong with me.
Nothing really was ever fixed, though part of it was that I didn’t want help and preferred to hide things, the signs were there for them to commit me.
I remember one emergency room visit after my family learned that I was cutting on my arms. Some of the cuts were deep. I somehow convinced the hospital staff that I would stop, as long as I signed a paper and said I wouldn’t do it again, the hospital covered their ass. But how does that help?
I continued to cut deeper into my arms and when I couldn’t hide it with jackets without my family checking I moved to cutting my legs to hide it better. The deep cuts on my arms were a cry for help, and yet the system isn’t designed to help. It’s all about doing it on your own. Seek help on your own. As long as we as the hospital is covered, you’re on your own.
I even once told the crisis counselor that I was suicidal and I wanted to kill myself, but he talked me out of believing that was true, and again as long as I signed the paper that I wouldn’t do why I said, I released to my parents.
My point is that for so many years I needed help from the system and that didn’t really go anywhere. It was only a few years after my last suicide attempt that I got real help. For years it was basically me in denial and never getting real hope that things would ever get better.
My experience was simply something that made it harder for me down the line to fix my issues. When I would go to the ER with panic attacks they would pump me with Ativan and release me, telling me to go see my doctor. My psychiatrist as helpful as he was only upped my doses of medication.
It’s a system that does very little for people with a mental illness. That is something I want to change. Those of us with a mental illness need to have real resources available to us right away. I was told so many times that I should seek outside help, but having no money or health insurance meant those words were just empty.
Other illnesses get better support, and yet those of us in the mental illness community are often forgotten or told there is nothing they can really do.
I am curious if my emergency room experiences differ from others in the mental illness community? Does the system work better now than it did at the beginning of my journey?
Always Keep Fighting.
Photo Credit: unsplash-logoNevin Ruttanaboonta