The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir

It is already nearing the end of July. Even with everything that 2020 has thrown as us this year, the year is moving at a fast pace. I will be writing this week a few blogs that outline my future plans and projects, info on my Patreon account, exclusive content in video blogs for The Bipolar Writer blog from me, and the future. 

Today, let’s discuss my memoir because I haven’t really been talking about it much. My goal is always to get my work out there to the masses through this blog. Alongside my author’s website is the best place to market to you why you should purchase my book.

My memoir is about the first ten to eleven years of my diagnosis as Bipolar One. It revolves around the experiences that I had from 2007 to 2017. I wrote it as if I was sitting as a coffee shop with you, the reader, having a conversation. The memoir is very personal, and you get to see who James Edgar Skye and The Bipolar Writer became what he is today. My auhtor website goes into more detail.

There are plenty of ways to purchase my book.

  • You can purchase my book two ways on my author website through this link: Purchase my Book
    • The first link is to the paperback copy I sell on Amazon.
    • The second link is to the eBook, which you can purchase, and also it is available for free on Amazon KindleUlimited for free!

I am Looking for A Few Good Book Reviewers

I am also excited to offer my book for freely sending you a copy through the mail at no cost to you. All I ask is that you read the book and give your honest opinion. I will be offering it to the first ten people that reach out to me. Use the contact button at the top of the page if you are willing to write a review after reading the book, and I will get my book out to you ASAP.

Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

Find Your Purpose and Joy

There have been many things I have learned throughout two decades of stumbling, and crashing and eventually living and thriving with mental illness. As we know, acceptance is the first step in recovery. Acceptance comes in many forms. There is the acceptance of your diagnosis and the realizations of losses– some of them temporary and some of them permanent and only time will tell that.

As your world constantly changes, you must accept that your identity and the way people see you and view you may change. That was a hard one for me. Some of my views of how people saw me was caused by my own self stigmatizing and assuming people thought less of me when I had no idea if they really did. I think we all need to be increasingly aware of self stigmatization because it can be damaging and worsen symptoms and recovery. It took me years to figure out that I was self stigmatizing.

One thing to remember is that joy is always possible. Don’t think it is only possible after you get better. Look and search far and wide for the small joys that are available to you. There are some and in fact there are many. They are there.

One key to living well with mental illness is learning how to BE EFFECTIVE IN YOUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES – no matter what they are.

You must figure out what your purpose is for that moment in time. There is always a purpose. You always matter and you are always here for a reason.  Maybe it is just to survive this moment because future moments will be better. Maybe it is to give a person a smile and make them feel better.  Maybe your spot in line will change and improve another’s person day and situation for the better. There are so many little things we never think of, but each one is important.

For instance, when you stand up dominoes to align so they will will all strategically fall one after the other after the first one is nudged, each one of those dominoes must line up perfectly for the ripple effect to work successfully. Each one of us is necessary and important for our environments to be successful. We all have a purpose and are necessary dominoes in this life and world. If just one of us is missing or out of alignment, it disrupts our family, group of friends or any setting we are in.

Find your purpose and search for joy. I know living with mental illness makes this seem like it is impossible, but I guarantee that if you choose not to look at all you will definitely never find it. We must stay on the positive side of life. I know this now because I wasted many days, months and years seeing the negative side of life. I realize now that it made much of my life worse. I know today looking back that there were so many beautiful moments and bubbles of joy I missed out on.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~Maya Angelou

With recovery there will be occasional setbacks, but the comeback is the important step. After each setback the comebacks become easier. Soon you won’t have so far to travel to come back after the setback. Eventually you will have a beautiful, new and improved destination.  Each day joy and peace will become easier to attain and closer to your everyday existence. It will become part of your of life.

Keep your heart and mind open to the goodness around you. Soon you will find all the goodness and joy that surrounds you. When you find it and hold onto joy you can share it with others. Call someone, visit or send an old fashioned letter, an email or text to brighten someone’s day. When you brighten someone’s day it will help brighten your own day. The ripple effect of sharing joy and love is contagious.

~Written by Susan Walz

“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”  ~Maya Angelou

 

Please check out my new memoir SHAME ATE MY SOUL.
I realized how shame was instilled in me at a young age and increased after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Shame was one of my biggest problems. I needed to get rid of it. So, I did and gave it back to the people who gave it to me. Shame was not mine to bear. That was a huge part of my recovery and healing.
My book is available on Amazon as an Ebook and paperback.

book cover: Shame Ate My Soul by Sue Walz

I really hope you will check out my book.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Photo Credit: Featured Image Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Don’t Forget MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

I have been encouraged by the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement and pray it will make a positive change in America and around the world. It is time and it is necessary. Please keep in mind as you read the following words I do NOT want to EVER take anything away from the Black Lives Matter movement. I am listening and I am learning and my heart is bleeding with everyone else during these difficult times all over the world.

Seeing so many people protesting is encouraging to me because after far too many years of oppression for people of color, people of all races are finally listening to the fact that racism exists and must stop now. I see the images of protesting on the news and see them as a symbol of unity and love. The rainbow of races in the crowds is beautiful to me and is how the world should look.

Hearing the many struggles black people face daily from being discriminated against due to the color of their skin makes me angry and at the same time reminds me of each time I was treated poorly because of the labels of mental illness I was branded with. Again, please know I am not comparing the two because I know they are different but at the same time have many similarities.

The stigma of mental illness exists and is the biggest interference in the recovery of mental illness. The stigma of mental illness is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a mental health condition, illness, disorder or any other word you want to add to mental health. The words are all the same and by no means ever take away from the negativity and bias mental illness carries with its name.

The stigma of mental illness exists and is the biggest interference in the recovery of mental illness.

In my new memoir, SHAME ATE MY SOUL, I share examples throughout my book of the many times I was discriminated against and treated unfairly due to the stigma of mental illness. So, even though I am not black I can relate to the pain and shame people of color experience. I have been discriminated against not because of the color of my skin but because I was diagnosed with mental illness. I know it is different but in many ways the pain and shame it causes are one and the same.

I can also say I was treated unfairly by the police because of mental illness stigma. I share some examples in my book but the one I am going to share with you today is not in my book.

A few years after my diagnosis I got divorced and had joint custody of my two children with my ex-husband. My son was about five years old at the time and was a mama’s boy (and still is). When he was at his Dad’s house, he would call me on the phone repeatedly crying hysterically. It broke my heart every time. One day I felt so sad for my baby boy and was worried about him that I drove over to my ex-husband’s house just to check on him and give him some love.

I was sitting in my car holding my Keagan on my lap when my ex-husband came out to the car and pulled him from me causing him to hit his head on the car as he pulled him out. I was so heartbroken and worried seeing my Keagan so sad, I called the police to check on him to make sure he was okay.

The police officer was very cordial when he spoke to me outside. Then he went inside my ex-husband’s house to speak to him. When the police officer came back outside it was a different story. His demeanor with me had changed and he handcuffed me, arrested me and put me in the back of the police car.

He told me I was arrested because I should not have come over to to the house when it was not my night and charged me with a disorderly conduct. I called the police on myself. What? I was not disturbing anyone or loud or anything.

I was pregnant with my third baby at the time and cried the entire way to the police station. I told the police officer I had never been arrested before.

“What?” Really?” the police officer was shocked.

“Well, no. Never.” I said through my tears.

“Oh. I thought you had.”

“Why?”

I could tell he genuinely felt bad now like he wished he hadn’t arrested me. I wondered why he thought I had been arrested before, like I was a regular. I don’t look like your stereotypical criminal (not really sure what that is, but I don’t think I look that.)

I got bailed out and did not have to stay in jail overnight or anything. My charge was written down from disorderly conduct to a fine/forfeiture but still cost me $90.00. The worst part is that disorderly conduct was on my permanent record even though it was written down to a fine/forfeiture. I could not afford an attorney to get rid of it. It was and always has been humiliating to have to explain this charge and relive the experience every time I interviewed for a job.

Today, I realize I was arrested from the conversation the police officer had with my ex-husband who told the police officer I had bipolar disorder along with many more stigmatizing comments related to mental illness.

So, the sad truth is I was arrested because I had a mental illness. The police officer from my angry (at the time) ex-husband’s comments gained a new and different perspective of who he thought I was from his initial meeting of me, because of the stigma of mental illness and my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. His demeanor changed after he spoke to my ex-husband. Nothing I said mattered anymore and who I was didn’t matter. I became a mental illness — the stigmatized version of who he thought people who live with mental illness are.

On a side note — I have a heavy foot and tend to drive fast. Later, I was pulled over by this same police officer two other times for speeding and he NEVER gave me a ticket. My thought was because he knew he wrongly arrested me for NOTHING before. He felt bad and never gave me a ticket.

It’s a blessing to educate yourself about mental health versus experiencing it.

There is stigma and mistreatment that exists with people who have mental illness and police officers, just like there is for people who are black or brown. I know it is not the same or as bad.

I imagine how awful I would have been treated if I had a mental illness and I was black. Actually I can’t imagine.

I also self- stigmatized a lot and sometimes still do. Since I have been feeling well, am psychotropic medication free and one psychiatrist even told me I was misdiagnosed and never had bipolar disorder but had PTSD and was addicted to the Benzodiazepine Klonopin mostly instead, I do not self stigmatize as much and the burden of shame has been lifted. It is a great and freeing feeling.

We can never forget that MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS hugely

and we MUST END THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS today.

We all must continue to share our stories and continue to educate and fight kindly and bravely to end the stigma of mental illness.

Even though there are troubled times for everyone around the world,

WE MUST NEVER LET PEOPLE FORGET ABOUT US: THOSE WHO LIVE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.

Please check out my new memoir SHAME ATE MY SOUL. I realized how shame was instilled in me at a young age and increased after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Shame was one of my biggest problems. I needed to give it back… and get rid of it. So, I did. That was a huge part of my recovery and healing.
My book is available on Amazon
and Barnes and Noble
as an Ebook and paperback.
Book Cover final flower
Photo Credit: Photo of top featured image by Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash
Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Life is Fragile — Handle With Care

It has almost been two and half years since my overdose. I have also been psychotropic medication free for most of that time. After I had a couple bad moments I thought maybe I needed medication. I began taking it a couple of times but never took it more than a few days. I sometimes think I need medication because that is what everyone tells us.
After a mental illness diagnosis they say you will need to take medication for the rest of your life. I have happily found that to be inaccurate. Today, I do far better without medications. There was a time I needed them but not as long as I took them and not in the way I was given them. Medications always made my symptoms worse but for many years they kept trying to find the right combinations of medications but nothing ever worked very long and instead eventually worsened my symptoms. I know most of you know and have played the Eeny Meeney Miney Moe game of psychotropic medications and sometimes I refer to it unfortunately as the Russian Roulette game of psychotropics.
I do not close the door to psychotropic medications because if something were to happen I would try them again if I needed. However, I will work hard to stay off of them because I never did well on medications. Plus, I feel sometimes we jump to them too quickly before trying other coping and recovery strategies first. Hindsight is 20/20.
My life is so much better today to the point that my recovery does not make any sense at all to medical professionals– or to me either really. I guess I always have to go back to my mantra that if there is no explanation it must be God. What else could it be? Or maybe it could be be the fact that treating mental illness is very difficult and everyone is different and there is so much they don’t know yet. So, we need to be the ones to teach them–by educating them.
I want to always share my story because I want to inspire hope so people know that you can overcome anything and everything. I did and you can to.
Tomorrow will be better. I promise it will be. That does not mean every day will be perfect and it will be this beautiful one time climb to wellness because that is not the journey most people’s lives ever take–those living with or without mental illness.
Life is not a smooth shiny ride and living with mental illness makes the ride even bumpier and in fact creates many potholes and road blocks along the way. But the greatest beauty and glory is the fact that you can get better. You will get better. Just keep fighting. Suicide is never the answer. I promise you it is not. I regrettably attempted more than once and all I can say is that…
I am so beyond happy and blessed to be alive. God saved my life many times. I’m like a cat with nine lives and more. I appreciate my life and know it is the greatest blessing and gift. Handle it with care.

“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” ~Carl Jung

Please check out my new memoir SHAME ATE MY SOUL. I realized how shame was instilled in me at a young age and was one of my biggest problems. I needed to give it back… and get rid of it and so I did. That was a huge part of my recovery and healing.
My book is available on Amazon
and Barnes and Noble Press
as an Ebook and paperback.
Book Cover final flower
Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope
Photo Credit: Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash

Shame Ate My Soul – My Memoir is Published (finally)

My memoir is finally a book. It is done. It is completed. Finished.

My book is published and is available on Amazon in ebook or in print.

It is beautiful. I used Adobe Illustrator to make my book cover and edited it and formatted my entire book myself (and is also why it is not perfect).

My memoir has been in the making for about three years. I wrote my first (awful I might add) very rough draft during Nanowrimo 2017 and wrote over 66,000 words during the month of November. This was very therapeutic for me to write because I wrote my story raw and let out a lot of pent up anger and emotions as I wrote. Needless to say my first draft was not good for an audience to read, but was good and healing for me to write. I would recommend it to everyone as part of recovery.

The next November during Nanowrimo 2018 I rewrote my memoir with over 52,000 words using some parts of the first draft but removed a lot of the anger and parts I didn’t want to keep. After editing it a couple of times I was determined to try to find a traditional publisher and sent out many query letters. A couple publishers were interested and asked to send them my entire manuscript but then weren’t interested. One publisher gave me suggestions of how to improve it. That was very helpful and I rewrote it again and reduced my word count by about 5000 words and sent it back to them, but they ended up rejecting it again. It is okay because I know I gave it my best effort to find a traditional publisher. Now it was time to self publish.

Self publishing turned out to be wonderful and was free on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes and Noble Press. Woo hoo.

This is my book. My blood sweat and tears… and my HEART.

My book is available on Amazon

$3.69 for ebook

$15.00 for print

I have mixed emotions about my book being published now. I am excited it is finally completed and is a book now, but I am worried.

Worried that people won’t like it. Worried that people will think differently about me after they read it.

I have felt so good for over two and a half years that living a mental illness life like I did for so long seems like a lifetime ago. I started reading my memoir and it was hard for me to read because it brought me back to where I was and the feelings associated with it all. There are a lot of sad and difficult parts in my memoir to read, even for me. I worry that I had too many bad things happen to me and it will be difficult for people to read. But the beauty of my story comes from the triumph of recovery and healing. I persevered, conquered and survived and am now living a beautiful life.

After reading my memoir, I am reminded of all the many things I lived through and survived. It is hard for me to believe it, even though I lived it. What will other people think?

I am excitedly nervous to get the book out for people to read, but am terrified no one will want to purchase it or read it and if people read it they will not like it.

I can’t say I will overcome my fear and post my book on facebook and tell friends and family that it’s ready but I can say I will be strong and BRAVELY announce my book and see what happens.

So here it is. Here is my heart and soul exposed for the world to read. All of me (almost all) exposed. When we expose our true selves past and or present, it leaves us vulnerable. So, here I am vulnerable and bare, but feel it is necessary for me to share my story for many reasons.

I want to educate others about mental illness and to help people understand the pain, shame and stigma people who live with mental illness feel and experience. Most importantly, I want to inspire others and give people hope to know that they can conquer any obstacle and survive.

Recovery and healing are possible I am living proof.

Let’s all be the living proof.

Copyright 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Signs of Hope

Signs of hope are everywhere. Hope is always present. Sometimes we have to search for it but it is always there.

It has been about two and a half months since the last time I wrote.

Since the last time I wrote, the world changed…

and asked me to stay home.

I isolated for years before it was cool. I practiced the “safer at home” way of life before it was a thing, before it was the respectful thing to do, before we were told to do it to protect ourselves from the Corona virus.  I was a pro.

I have been staying home for over two months now and am ready (most of the time) to be with people (most people). I need (most) people but at the same time I am also nervous to go out into the world. I fear meeting, to me ignorant and selfish people, who refuse to wear a facemask. I think wearing a face mask adds a layer of protection for all of us and I believe face masks represent a symbol of love, care and respect for other people in the world. I worked very hard to be alive and staying healthy. It is my time to shine and live a good life. I am ready for it and will do anything and everything to make that happen. I do not want to get sick with the Corona virus.

Last week I was finally allowed to see my beautiful nine month old granddaughter Leora again.  She is my greatest joy and love and has my heart.

Before the Corona virus happened I began doing my art again and preparing handmade items to sell at a local craft show, for the first time in my life. I was busy creating art and was enjoying it tremendously. Of course because of Covid 19, my craft show got cancelled, so I opened up an Etsy shop and began the long process of putting my art on Etsy.

One day, I got an email from Etsy asking people to make masks.  Well, I can sew so this was a no brainer. I began googling tutorials on how to best make masks and as they say, the rest is history.

I’ve been sewing masks for people in my family, for local people and for people on Etsy now since the end of March. I have sold 134 masks on Etsy and made approximately $2000. I have also sold over 70 masks for family, friends and other people locally. Some of those were sold for a lower fee than my Etsy orders and many I make for free.

This has been my part-time job since the end of March and I have been making the limit that SSDI allows. I can only keep my Etsy store open for a few days before I have to remove my mask listings because I get too many orders for the month. It has been a blessing for me financially that is for sure. It has also been a fantastic distraction as I stay inside following the safer at home guidelines.

My mental health has been okay. It has been fantastic many days, but other days I must work hard to stay mentally and physically healthy. It is difficult for me to know what is normal. Maybe this is how it is for most people during this difficult time. Overall, I am doing well.

I am always so very thankful that God has given me another chance at life–to live my life to the fullest. He has given me the opportunity to make my children proud of me which is my greatest goal.

After people do not need my masks anymore, I pray I can sell other items on Etsy. So, when my mask making slows down I plan to make and list many more items.

One of my goals is to have a large listing of items for mental health recovery with inspirational cards, magnets and buttons and much more. I have a few items like that and have more to add when I get time. Currently, I have most listings as downloadable prints and cards for $2.00 or $3.00 each. Please check it out if you would like.

The name of my Etsy shop is… Signs of Hope and More. If you are on the Etsy page (Etsy.com) just type SignsofHopeandMore with no spaces and it will bring you to my store or here is the direct link…

http://www.etsy.com/shop/SignsofHopeandMore

I used Adobe Illustrator to make my logo and banner. I took a class over ten years ago and taught myself how to do it again and am still learning–trying to get better.

If you visit my shop you will notice the masks are not currently there as I had to remove them temporarily until I catch up. I have bout 20 masks to make locally and then I will finally be caught up again and will list my masks again.

You can find a few mental health recovery downloadable prints. As I mentioned I will try to add more very soon and will let you know when I do. Here are a couple samples.

recovery pink cardrecovery circle purple

00000IMG_00000_BURST20200327125545608_COVER~2

Here are samples of some of my masks. If you need a mask let me know and I will try to work something out for you.

 

I am also finally ready to self publish my completed memoir. For those of you that have been following me, you might know that I attempted to publish my memoir the old fashioned way. After one traditional publishing company was interested in my manuscript and asked me to send my entire manuscript to them I was over the moon excited about it. They declined publishing my memoir but gave me ideas of how to improve it, so I diligently rewrote my memoir and resubmitted my memoir back to them and also to a few other publishers. I decided I would give it one more try the traditional route.

They declined my memoir but am happy I gave it very best shot. I worked hard on it and now I am totally ready to self publish.

If anyone can help me self publish my book and has advice for the best route to take I would be very appreciative. I can’t spend a fortune as I do not have one. lol.

In your opinions, who is the best self publisher out there? I am open to any help I can get.

The title of my book is: SHAME ATE MY SOUL. It is titled that because you know what? Shame did eat my soul but I got it back and I am still fighting to live a happy, productive and love-filled life and stay mentally and physically healthy.

Recovery is possible. I am living proof. You too can be the living proof. Let’s all keep fighting and be THE LIVING PROOF.

Today I have my first appointment with my psychiatrist over the phone. I am a little nervous for it for some reason. It is in about an hour.

If you have read my many words, you are amazing and I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Stay safe, be well and be kind.

By the way I hope you visit my Etsy shop and like it and…

if you need some hope…

you will find it at…

Signs of Hope and More.

Seriously though I always hope your days are filled with hope, love and peace.

Much love always,

Sue

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope 

How My Experiences Changed the Life of Someone Else and Me in the Process

I have wanted to share this experience since November of 2019, but the timing has never been right. Things happen in this life, and the truly amazing things tend to go by the wayside.

This is a story about how my book actually helped someone. I will reference this person as them or they to preserve their identity. This human saw one of my posts about how excited I was about the release with the original publisher of my book, The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir. They had been a follower but at a distance for about a year. They never commented on my blog post, but they liked the blog posts not only from myself but also from my many contributors. 

From what they told me, for years, they were struggling in silence with their illness. They had decided long ago that they would not share their stories with anyone that were in their lives. Even writing anonymously on a blog like I do here as James Edgar Skye. They wanted to share, but they were scared to do so because of one thing, the stigma. What would other people think?

Now I corresponded with this person through email. Even then, they decided to email me through an anonymous email with a fictitious name, which is not uncommon in the mental illness community. They decided to share their story with me. The first time in years, they reached out to some, me, and it was an enormous responsibility. Still, being someone that a person can reach out to is something I now live for because I love being a mental health advocate.

Photo by Adrià Tormo on Unsplash

I could not believe their story, and what truly got to me was that they read my book, and it was life-changing. Here I was, James Edgar Skye, so open about my mental illness, my suicide attempts, and even my experiences with self-harm.

I wrote my memoir to show people that they can share their stories, and it helped someone. They decided afterward to seek help, something that I was ecstatic about because they were so afraid before. It was a trying experience for them, but in the end, it has been a fantastic experience. They reached out yesterday and gave me an update. After some therapy they reached out to their parents and told them about their mental illness diagnosis. They were understanding, and though they did not fully understand, she gave them my book. It helped them.

The best thing in my life is this blog and what it has done for people.

If I never sell another one of my books, it would suck there is so much that I want my writing to be, and helping people come to grips with their mental illness is the greatest gift I can give. But, if I never sold another book, well, then I helped one person. That is something I will always cherish. With that said, I would love to help more people. I will continue to work towards that goal by getting my book out there into the world. Now that I have self-published my book, I have more control.

I wanted to share this story because it really made my day. There is more to this story, but I am sure you get the idea. Anyway, as always, stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can always purchase my book here, on my author page.

Or visit me on my author website: https://www.jamesedgarskye.me

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Chapter Forty: I Dreamed A Burning Man

Today, as I move to transfer my memoir The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir. I wanted to share this with my blog. Its one of the most intense poems I have personally written and it made into my memoir. It is about anxiety.

The Bipolar Writer A Memoir

I Dreamed a Burning Man

IT IS HAPPENING AGAIN – ALWAYS the same. I am speeding, no we are speeding, down a winding road of the experiences of the past blurring into nothingness as it passes me by. Something in the air is just out of reach. I see a man with jet black hair, hunched over shoulders, and the shape of his face— so familiar. I can see his blood begin to boil, anxiety rising, reaching every inch of his existence. He starts to burn inside, the fire reaching his skin. The burning man grasping for breath, losing the battle with oxygen, and the numbness creeping in. First in his hands— consuming then moving and ever overwhelming every inch of his reality. I exist just outside the pain looking into a fast moving… something. Is that me? Even outside his existence, I feel his agony.

The burning man speeds down the snaking, winding road and grips the wheel in hopes to steady himself— to steady the past blurring past him. Exhaustion wipes over his face as he looks at me, and I begin to reach out to help this man. A car starts to take focus, first with my eyes, and then appearing the moment I thought it into being. Horror washes over me as something invisible keeps me trapped in place— just outside the speeding vehicle. I can reach, but not touch the man. We move like a cheetah down this unfamiliar twisting road that seems so familiar. The burning man writhes in pain unable to stop; the world blurs into darkness all around us.

It takes every part of me to make the words escape my mouth. “You must stop this,” I yell at the burning man. “Breathe, you must.”

He inhales air filling his lungs to capacity, releasing slowly. Everything all around slows. With his every breath the blurry images passing us by beginning to take shape. They are memories of a black-haired man with a beard like steel wires trying to steady a jet-black car as he tries to control his breathing.

My eyes and face begin to take shape all around me, and a storm begins to brew on the horizon as the burning man finds himself. Control. He looks at me, and I gasp in amazement. My face. My body. My life. The man reaches out to grip my hand into his, and we become one. I see clearly. We have been here before. The memories of the past and the storm— the uncertain future. I grip the wheel, and with my right hand, I push the car into gear. Ready for the storm ahead.

By J.E. Skye

Photo by Anna Popović on Unsplash

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Realistically, How Much is my Memoir Worth?

What Do I Charge for my Memoir?

I am at a crossroads. The self-publishing game is full of a plethora of information and no definitive answer–what does one charge for a work such as my memoir?

I have read that charging too much will turn readers away. At the same time, to really begin to fund some of the projects that I want to do with my fellow mental illness suffers I need to make some profit on this work.

I want to ask the community, what is a realistic price to charge for my memoir?

As with most writers, I want to make a decent living at this writing thing, and that means knowing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to pricing. I am ready for self-publishing and the excitement to finally share with the world what I have been working towards since 2017 is at an all-time high.

I always appreciate the thoughts of my fellow writers, bloggers, and mental health sufferers for the entire process of writing my memoir. What are your thoughts, please let me know in the comments.

Always Keep Fighting

James

All About James – Part One

I am so close to the final draft of my memoir “The Bipolar Writer.” I want to share in two parts of the first chapter of my memoir, of the course of today. In the past, I have shown chapters in different parts of the process. This first chapter is so important to my memoir that I wanted to share it so that feedback is possible. It is perhaps my most polished and most worked chapter, that is not to say it is perfect (I am still considering having a few people look at all the chapters together when you are close to project you can miss things.) With that said this will be a real and raw look at James, the early years leading up to my diagnosis.

Who is J.E. Skye? The Origins of The Bipolar Writer

Part One

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I chose to focus this memoir on the last ten years of my Bipolar life starting in 2007, when, on that wet November night, my life changed forever. My diagnosis became Bipolar One. It is where my adult life with mental illness began. I was twenty-two at the time. If I am honest, I had no idea the realities that would define the next ten years of my life. When I was twenty-two and starting this journey, I was young and naive, had little regard for my life, and the effects it would have on my relationships especially with my family.

I never thought I would see my thirtieth birthday, I was that suicidal during the first three years of this journey. I never believed that there was something wrong with me— my first mistake. It would take years to get to a point where writing this memoir was a real thing. I had to deal with the peaks and valleys of this Bipolar life to say, “hey I have something to share with the world.” It took those three very different suicide attempts over a three-year period that made me who I am today— The Bipolar Writer. A journey has a starting point, but there is always what happened before that helps define the start of this mental illness journey.

Those of us in mental illness community all have an origins story, and mine is no different. My journey began at twenty-two, but in truth, this journey starts at the beginning when my symptoms first started to take shape. It is easier to look back on it now because those early memories are hard to forget.

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I was born in the small town of Salinas, California— the central coast as it often referred to by the locals. The area is where John Steinbeck lived and wrote many of his literary works. My childhood was typical. My parents were hard-working (still are), and they always instilled in me their hard work ethic. I was a horrible as a kid in my early years, and often did more bad things than good. I had this extreme need as a kid to steal anything that wasn’t tied down in my house. More often than not I would get caught, which is a good thing, I would never make it as a thief as an adult. I got disciplined the right way, and it made me a better person as I became an adult.

I am a regular guy to the outside world. I have always had an affinity for books, writing, and music. I love Japanese food and the anime culture. Korean pop music is my guilty pleasure, and I am learning to speak the language. I would like to move to South Korea in the future or to Japan. It’s funny talking about the future because it wasn’t always a possibility in my life. That is the great thing about finding myself as a writer is that I have a future (more about that in the later chapters of this book.)

I am a coffee addict, and you will usually find me at a coffee house getting my coffee fix and writing. I am a fantastic role-playing game gamer. Ask anyone who has ever seen me play knows how good I am at strategy turn-based RPGs, but any role-playing game is what I have always used to combat my depression. If there is a boss that is unbeatable in the video game, I will beat it. My best boss battle ever for an “unbeatable boss” was beating Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts 2. It was amazing. My best series of games that I am proud of beating is the Dark Souls series (up to the latest.)

I am a guy who loves watching baseball, football, and basketball. I love rooting for my teams. I love hard. I am better at helping other people with their problems before fixing any of my own issues. If we become friends in this life, you become family to me. I am also Bipolar. I am all these things, and you find that in this memoir I will explore every aspect of my life.

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I can trace my depression back to when I was a teenager around fourteen. It was the first time in my life that I felt comfortable being an introvert, and I struggled to keep up with my friends. Before high school, I went to my friend’s sleepovers and lived like an average kid. So many things changed in my high school experience that led me to be who I am today. I hung out with friends at school in high school, but not outside of school/ I preferred to be alone. I realize now that school became a “safe place” because it was a place that I had to be. When I graduated, there was not one friendship I took into adulthood. The small group of friends I have now are part of my adult life.

A safe place is a theme that shows up often in my life. I started to realize I could be happy alone. My depression would take severe turns during my high school years. It was easier to be with myself when depression took me over. It was a familiar feeling. Loneliness was something I did well when everything else in my life fell apart it felt right.

My sophomore year is an excellent example of events that shaped how I dealt with depression. It was a sad year for me, and I had to combat my depression on a daily basis. I ditched school almost weekly with my cousin. It was the first time in my life that turned to marijuana to cope with my depression and my social anxiety. It helped in the short-term but never in the long-term. Turning to something to keep me steady is another theme I learned at an early age.

I would spend days at the time in bed when not hanging out with my cousin or sitting around for hours playing video games. I ditched school so much, but I always had a good excuse in hand and could write excuse notes like there was no tomorrow. My parents never knew about the time I missed that year. To this day, I am not sure why the school believed that someone could be sick as often as I called in sick. In my sophomore year was the first time in my life that I failed classes in school. I got back on track that summer and took classes to make up for my bad grades. As a teenager, I learned that no matter what I could always find my way out of the bad that came with my depression.

At the time I chalked my sophomore year to something kids do. It was so much deeper than that because it was a sign that I was getting good at hiding things. Another theme that often comes up in my life. It was the first time that I let my depression control me for an extended period in my life. Depression became my constant companion after my sophomore year in high school.

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:

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Riccardo Retez

Thought Catalog

Jonathan Rados