Confronting Your Shadow Self

“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection.” – Carl Jung

This last month I stumbled upon something new called shadow work. It was something I’ve never heard of before and it intrigued me. Shadow work is when you take a closer look within yourself at the parts of yourself that you hide. The “dark side” of your personality; the negative parts you might be ashamed of, fearful around, or feel guilt around. It’s something we all have inside of ourselves, but it can be hard to acknowledge and address it.

The psychologist Carl Jung was the one who coined the term “personal shadow.” This is the part of the psyche a lot of people tend to neglect and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Even when you pretend it doesn’t exist your personal shadow can operate on it’s own without us being fully aware. It’s when the unconscious mind assumes control while our conscious self goes on autopilot. The longer you repress your shadow the more you start to see those qualities in the others around you.

At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to work on my self-awareness and to heal myself from within. I spent the last three years focusing on my physical health; I didn’t spend as much time on my mental health and inner work as I should have. Something I’ve learned through my journey is that the mental transformation is just as powerful if not more powerful than a physical transformation.

Shadow work is for everyone, as humans we all have parts of ourselves we like to hide or feel embarrassed to share with others about. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I’ve had to overcome numerous obstacles like the abuse my mom put me through for almost 18 years. All of those painful memories & experiences I had growing up, I pushed so far back in my head wanting to never think about them again.

When I stumbled upon shadow work it made me realize that I need to stop pretending that the memories don’t exist. Yes they are painful and I’m embarrassed about some of them, but they are going to resurface at some point in time so I can fully move on and continue my growth. Diving into the shadow work and committing to the process was a little scary for me. What scared me the most was fully addressing all those memories & allowing myself come to terms with them.

One of the first steps of shadow work is addressing the memories or emotions you’ve hid from for so long. You also must figure out and identify possible triggers that cause certain emotions with those memories. When you’ve identified the memories & triggers you can start to work on moving on from those to create new beliefs that will bring positive light into your life.

For me this is just the beginning of my own shadow work and bringing awareness to those dark parts so I can bring in new light. If this is something that does intrigue you I encourage you to look more into it as well. It’s something that everyone can benefit from and will only bring in more positivity in the long run.

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Depression Days

It is Not the End of the World

If you’re like me, you will be glad about January coming to a close.

I have been lucky if I think about it logically (though with depression nothing is ever logical.) I got through October, November, and December without depression, a rare thing. My old friend depression is usually right on my shoulder at this time of year. It is no surprise, at least not entirely. I had hope that things would continue on a good trend.

So with week three, and my depression still peaking, I figure the best thing to do is continue to write. I took yesterday off entirely in hopes it would help. It did a bit, but depression is no easy fix. It is gonna take all that I have right now to clear the fog. It is not the end of the world.

I could go negative. I have gotten, over the past week five rejection letters for my screenplay. But, there is real positivity because I have garnered interest. Even the rejection letters give me a positive outlook for the future of my screenplay Memory of Shane.

In even more positive news, despite my depression when I wake, I am well on my way in the beginning stages of my next novel, the longest that I will have ever written to this point. It will end up a series, and I have never been so excited in the pre-work of a novel before, and it is shaping up to be an exciting story (I will be making my first foray into fantasy fiction writing the area of focus for all my future writing.

What I have learned throughout my life is that depression is just a symptom of being Bipolar. Life can go on, and it does with or without you. I made a decision long ago that I will not let life pass me by. This depression cycle, like every one before it, always ends. Depression is never the end.

If you are struggling know that I am with you in spirit. We can continue to fight together. We are stronger together.

Life continues. Stay strong in the Fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo by modern affliction on Unsplash

Photo by Sara Rolin on Unsplash

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

My GoFundMe Page

https://www.gofundme.com/rasing-to-upgrade-the-bipolar-writer-blog

The Bipolar Writer blog is raising the money to upgrade this site to a business blog. This will take this blog to the next level and I will be able to allow people to sell their written work here on my blog. There are also so many big things that come along with the business plan so that we can continue to share mental illness stories. 

I know it is a lot to ask. So many of us in the mental illness community struggle to meet their basic needs. Here is James asking for money. I know the struggle (it is why I can’t spend the $300 plus of my own money to take the blog to the next level.) With everything going on with my memoir and self-publishing this blog can use your help. If you can give anything, not matter how small, can be a game changer.

We have raised $140! That is amazing.

We are still short of our goal of $325, the cost of the upgrade for a year. If we raise enough, I’d like to upgrade for the next two years (which totals $435.) If you can donate it would mean the world to me, if not I understand. 100% of what is raised will stay with the blog and only used to upgrade.

Introduction

If you have ever ridden a roller coaster, you understand the excitement and fear that courses through your mind and body as you burst through the track. You experience such an intense jolt of so many emotions as your breath is stolen from falling and you only have enough time to take another breath as you ascend. In a lot of ways, bipolar disorder seems to share many similarities. It seems to change a person drastically in mere moments and can even span episodes for days at a time. You never know how you will feel when you wake up in the morning. You never know what will happen to send you spiraling into a depressive episode. I often like to call it a “Jekyll and Hyde” effect in my personal blog.

I am Shelton Fisher and recently I have been given the privilege to be a contributing writer for The Bipolar Writer. I am a 25 year old with a full time job, an amazing wife, and the two best dogs in the world. I used to be a decent musician and writing has become a passion of mine. Amid the wonderful things that life has provided for me, I have mental health issues that fight me tooth and nail on a regular basis. Anxiety has been a familiar part of my life since I was a child, but alcoholism and panic attacks made me realize that I needed to finally address these problem medically. In September of last year I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and began a regimen of serotonin inhibitors and recently I have began seeing a therapist. After several sessions addressing my childhood behaviors and my current behaviors, we have discussed that I may be bipolar and the symptoms honestly surprised me.

As I continue the journey into my mental health to confirm a diagnosis and discover how to live a better life, I want to include you through personal stories, free verse poetry, and the occasional informative post. I am not a professional by any means, but I am living proof that mental health is a war to be won. If you have ever been afraid to speak, afraid to make a move, lost motivation and hope, hurt yourself because you couldn’t find the right words or felt trapped inside your body, screamed at the top of your lungs with tears rolling down your boiling red cheeks, self medicated with alcohol or drugs, fallen into depression for no apparent reason, or just want to know how I am handling things, my posts are for you.

You Have to Pull Yourself Out of Your Darkness and Here’s How

Mental illness – whether it is depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, or any disorders thereof, officially diagnosed or not – create darkness. I used to picture and liken this darkness to the bottom of a barrel, where you can’t go deeper, and you know it, but you can’t climb back out, and you don’t want to. That last part – climbing back out – is where I believe mental illness really defines itself. All of us, at some point or another, have metaphorically landed at the bottom of our barrel. But what draws the line in the sand between darkness and just a bad night is the climb up; and through my own experience and recounted stories of others, I’ve discovered that climbing back out – even if you can see a speck of light above – takes more energy, effort, and willpower than the person has or is willing and able to give. And this reiterates the point – we have to want to climb out; and when we don’t, that darkness becomes a frightening moment for a very long time.

We’ve heard the cliche – you have to want to help yourself. Truer words have not been spoken, and I stand by this mantra with full support. But I don’t think that using this as motivation or advice is enough. Yes, you have to want to help yourself, because relying on others to help lift you up, if all you want to do is fall, is hopeless. No one wins in that situation. But that cliche is simply the intention. It’s what open the floodgates and lights that proverbial fire under your ass that says yes go! It’s time to climb the hell out of this thing! But that cliche is not how we treat our mental illness, and I think one of the biggest challenges in what we face is figuring out how to start the climb at all. And once we start, it’s pushing ourselves to keep going.

The climb up is not a race; it is not even a marathon

It’s work. It’s incredible, difficult, manual, mental labor in the Arizona summer heat. It’s your Mount Everest on steroids, and all you have is a walking stick, some days. And while that may carry zero inspiration as you read this, what I’m saying is meant to give you perspective. Most importantly, it’s meant to give you reality. Diving into our psyches and unleashing anything and everything that we’ve stuffed down there is a journey from which we don’t just stroll back into easy-going living. Dealing with mental illness on any given day is a struggle that no writer ought to put into words, nor try, because those words won’t be enough.

What I’ve learned from my own experience is that climbing back out of my darkness is a one-step process. Every single day, I take a step. Some days, it’s a step up, and I can joyfully laugh and toss any caution to the wind and truly live in the moment with family, friends, and my cat. There aren’t weights pulling me down into the same mental alley where I get mugged and punched by depression and loneliness. Other days, it’s a step down from where I was the day before, and I can feel my heart sink because I was so much closer to the top. But that’s the rhythm of this – the ebb and flow of life are the same for everyone, but with mental illness, that ebb and flow can either take you one wave closer to the shore or to the rocks.

The climb up is a challenge we take on every single day. There are no breaks, and there are no days off. And if you thought that this article up until now has been a wretched downer, please stay with me. You are worth the work. There’s not going to be a single person at the bottom of your barrel with you, and that’s by design. You have to do this. You have to put one foot in front of the other every single moment and believe that you are handling your life. With your action, whether it kicks you down or lifts you up, you are facing your darkness and handling it. Some days, you win. Other days, you learn. There is no loss. Your mental illness does not define the core of who you are, and it most certainly does not change what you’re meant to do – and we’re all here for something.

You have to pull yourself out of your darkness, and it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it will be the greatest and the single most profound thing you’ve ever done. How you do it is by taking the first step, and then always one more. Smile when you’ve done it, and celebrate these feats. If you get knocked down, pause and learn from it. Don’t ask why can’t I do this? Instead, ask what did this teach me? And then keep going. Always keep going.

We are strong enough, but first, we have to decide to be

At the bottom of my own barrel, I remember sitting and waiting for a sign. I wanted to receive something divine that would guarantee that everything would eventually work out and that I would be lifted up to my own light on the wings of simple and thoughtful prayer. And I sat at the bottom of that musty barrel for what seemed an eternity; because signs don’t work that way.

What my depression taught me, in the crudest of ways, was that I had the choice of trudging through mud and mire to climb out of my darkness, or continue sitting, praying, and wishing to be air-lifted out. And even when I fell down, worn out and pissed, the alternative to staying in that solace was reminder enough to make me try again. At the end of the day, that’s the proverbial fire – try again. There are no expectations that our climb needs to be done in one day; we falsely create that goal in our head, pinning our very selves up against the wall. Don’t. Lay down these presumptive ideals that our healing is on an expressway path to eradication. The path is anything but short, but it’s there. It exists. And it’s for our taking.

Try again. And always keep going.

Pulling ourselves out of our darkness does not make the darkness go away. It makes us strong enough to decide that we don’t need to live in it.