I Read/Write/Watch Horror to Cope with My Mental Illness

I always enjoyed horror though I never considered myself a fan of horror. I remember watching Tim Curry portray Pennywise the Clown in “IT” (1990) when I was three or four. I pretended to sleep while my parents (and I) watched the film “Dr. Giggles” (1992) about an escaped mental patient who kills with a surgical theme when I was six. I saw the film “Return to Cabin by the Lake” (2001) about a murderous screenwriter as a teenager. These films standout because they reminded me of suppressed trauma. Repressed memories that only recently returned.

I recall watching many films and having no emotional response. Scenes that made most tear up left me feeling numb or indifferent. I felt out of place and segregated from everyone else who had ‘feelings.’ Even horror films didn’t scare me or make me jump. I felt I knew the scares were coming. In high school and the first few years of college, I was described as ‘creepy’ by many of my peers. I could easily sneak up and scare others. I’d walk behind them for several minutes before they noticed me. One friend remarked after going through a haunted house it didn’t scare them because they had known me for so long.

I didn’t become an avid reader until my late 20s, but I’ve always had interest in writing. In the first grade, I wrote a detective story. It had all the tropes of film noir though I didn’t know what those were at the time. Film noir has similar elements to horror with suspense building and dealing with killers without the fantasy elements. I always enjoyed reading the works of Edgar Allan Poe and he is considered the creator of the detective story.

Many of the stories I have written or plan to write deal with death in one way or another. Some may not be called horror stories but still have death somewhere. I have written a few detective stories as well and they’re much better than that first one in the first grade. Serial killers, murderers, monsters, and people who’ve lost their minds take center stage in many of my stories. These are the topics in which I am most interested. Why do I have this fascination with killers, monsters, and madmen? Why would anyone want to think about these horrors?

I believe this is my way of coping with my own trauma. Upon writing this, I am 32. My trauma began when I was four. It had such an impact on me, I had to begin anger management counseling when I was six. We were cleaning up one day in class to go to recess. I was putting away a puzzle or something and this other boy tried to help. I told him I got it. He helped anyway. I got angry and hit him with a chair. I reacted with violence because I was exposed to violence at home. I thought that was the best response.

As I’ve aged, repressed memories resurfaced, and I’ve started to feel. I tear up during emotional scenes in romantic comedies or dramas. I can feel my heart racing during chase scenes in horror or action films. Horror films and horror fiction remind me of the violence and terror I experienced as a child without causing a panic attack. Writing horror fiction, I believe, is my way of dealing with the trauma and getting all the pain out. My mind has tried to pull my repressed memories forward through horror fiction. I think this is why horror is becoming even more popular as so many traumas continue in our chaotic world.

I am not the only person to experience this and this is not exclusive to PTSD. People with different anxiety disorders have a similar affinity toward horror fiction. Here are a few other articles I’ve found on the subject.

How do you feel about horror when it comes to your mental health? Is it helpful as it is for me or do you struggle with watching or reading horror?

Photo Credit: James & Carol Lee

My Love for Old Movies – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

As a kid, a teenager, and even as an adult I have always felt like a no-name slob, an outsider in social situations. I can still connect to Holly as a character, and it makes me understand a part of myself. In my eyes, Holly is fighting her own struggle with mental illness as she tries to find herself in the chaos of the battle.

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The Bipolar Writer’s Top 10 Favorites Lists Pt. 1

I have been so serious lately with writing my blog. I have shared my struggles and my love for writing. My fellow mental illness community bloggers have seen the best and worst part of me, and I wanted to share some of the things I love in this world. The things that get me through my worst depression and social anxiety on a daily basis. This will be a new series.

So here is my new lists, The Bipolar Writer’s Top 10 lists.

My Top Ten Book Series (Some are since I was a kid)

  1. Game of Thrones Series
  2. Harry Potter Series
  3. Alex Cross Series
  4. Twilight Series
  5. House of Night Series
  6. Rizzoli and Isles Series
  7. Firelight Series
  8. The Dark Tower Series
  9. Goosebumps Series
  10. Lord of the Rings (and the Hobbit)

My Top Ten Movies

  1. Breakfast At Tiffany’s
  2. Les Miserables
  3. Funny Face
  4. Roman Holiday
  5. Ten Commandments
  6. The Dark Knight
  7. A Knights Tale
  8. King Arthur
  9. The Departed
  10. V for Vendetta

My Ten Television Series

  1. Game of Thrones
  2. How I Met Your Mother
  3. Supernatural
  4. Sons of Anarchy
  5. Breaking Bad
  6. The Office
  7. Parks and Recreations
  8. Entourage
  9. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  10. The Original Dragonball Z Series

So there you go. You know a bit more about James Edgar Skye. I like to know your thoughts and if any on my list makes your top ten. I will continue the series at a later time.

Always Keep Fighting

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoMercedes Alvarez

I need my Sleep

My husband and I enjoy old movies.  My favorite movies of all time are Casablanca and It’s a Wonderful Life.  In fact, we have a jumbo canvas print of an original movie poster from It’s a Wonderful Life hanging in our kitchen–it’s my husband’s favorite movie as well.  Over the past week or so, my husband and I have been watching snatches of a classic movie we hadn’t seen before, Citizen Kane.  Desperate to understand the meaning of Charles Foster Kane’s dying words, “rosebud,” we stayed up much later than usual to watch the conclusion of this film.

It was almost 11:30 when we turned off the blu-ray player and tv and started heading upstairs to bed.  I could feel right away that staying up so late had not been a wise choice, on my part.  I didn’t feel great emotionally.  I could feel some mental pain creeping in at that point.

I have learned, over the years, that no matter how good I feel during the day, sleep is not something I can compromise on.

Sleep disruptions, such as having trouble falling and staying asleep, were the hallmark of my child and teen years.  And even then, I can remember my mom remarking on my excessive “grumpiness” after a poor sleep.  In the home video made at my wedding reception, my mom and sister both made sure to record for all of my posterity (and my new husband, Ryan), that I should never be allowed to get tired or hungry, (or stressed) because each of these states would cause me to be “very grumpy.”  I was, of course, annoyed at this reference to my moodiness, but they were right.  This has been true for me throughout my entire life.

The effects of fatigue have been most pronounced when my thyroid was also out of wack.  I can remember after the birth of my first son, before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I was in a constant state of emotional distress from being so tired and never being able to recover.  I asked my mother in law at that time, with exasperated and exhausted tears, “Will I ever feel better?”  Some months later, after breaking down emotionally in the doctor’s office, a doctor finally thought to check my thyroid and after getting proper treatment, I was able to feel relief from the constant, plaguing fatigue.

Throughout my most recent episode of depression, falling asleep was extremely difficult due to the persistent, agonizing mental pain I was experiencing.  Thankfully, over time, things got better and now, as long as I get to bed at a decent hour, I can sleep without problem.

Last night, however, I pushed myself too hard.  When I lay down on my pillow to sleep, my mind was exploding with pain.  I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to remember how I had gotten through it before.  I attempted to relax and clear my mind, but it was to no avail.  I finally prayed for help, and before I knew it, I was waking in the morning.  I was tired from a late night but extremely grateful that I had fallen asleep so quickly.  It was a good reminder for me that I can’t be careless about my approach to getting enough sleep.

Submitting to the fact that I need my sleep, and not compromising in this area, is one thing I have had to come to terms with when managing the symptoms of my bipolar depression.

There are other things I have come to terms with, and I will cover these topics in future posts.  Because Bipolar Disorder is a chronic health condition, I have learned I have to make lifestyle choices that support me in feeling my best–just like any other chronic health problem.

What are your experiences with sleep and mental illness?  What struggles have you had?  How have you dealt with them?

As always, I love to hear from you!  Comment to share your experiences.

My Quotes Notebook

I was starting my Spring cleaning today because I noticed that things were getting messy in my workspace and where I sleep. The books were piling up and so where the notebooks. I wrote about in A sign of Depression – A Messy Room. I came across something I hadn’t seen a long while, my notebook with my favorite quotes handwritten.

A few of them were of my own design. I had forgot that I once thought that one day someone would use a quote I wrote in their novel. It was a grandiose thought, but I have had many over the years. When reading through them I had a thought, “Why not share some of them?”

They come from my favorite video games, movies, books, my favorite people, and things I have read at some point in my life. Quotes for me often have to resonate with me for them to have some importance.

Some of my Favorite Quotes

Kairi to Sora from Kingdom Hearts 2

“Thinking of you, where you are. We pray for our sorrows to end, and hope that our hearts will blend. Now I will step forward to realize this wish. And who knows: starting a journey might not be so hard, or maybe it has already begun. There are many worlds, and they share the same sky— one sky, one destiny.”

Unknown

“Never tell her goodbye, instead tell her “till I see you again, my love.” Goodbye means you might not see her again.”

Sammy Farha – Poker Player

“You have to gamble to win.”

Lady Jocelyn – A Knights Tale

“Your name makes no matter to me, so long as I can call you my own.”

Chaucer – A Knights Tale

“I will evicerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for day. You will be naked for eternity.”

”I’m a writer, I give truth scope.”

Holly Golightly/ Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (My favorite movie)

“You know those days where you get the mean reds.”

“No. The blues are because your getting fat and maybe it’s raining too long, your sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what your afraid of.”

Huck Cheever/ Eric Bana in Lucky You

“The money’s just a way of keeping score. Poker is competition in the purest sense. Doesn’t matter who you are or what you are; everybody’s equal at the table.”

Mike McDermott/ Matt Damon in Rounders

“Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.”

“I want him to think I’m pondering a call, but all I’m thinking about is Vegas and the fuckin’ Mirage.”

Unknown

“To say I can live without you, would be the biggest mistake I will. ever make.”

”Letting you go is all I have left. I can’t as you to stay, even though my heart wants you to.”

Bella Swan – Twilight (Book: Stephanie Meyer)

“Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved. Nobel even. That ought to count for something.”

Mark Twain

“There are few things in life that are so unpardonably neglected in our country as poker. The upper class knows little about it. Now and then you find ambassadors who have some general knowledge of the game, but the ignorance of the people is fearful. Why, I have known clergymen, good men, kindhearted, liberal, sincere and all that, who don’t know the meaning of a flush. It’s enough to make one ashamed of the species.”

I realize there a lot of poker quotes. I love the game of poker. It really is pure. I was once very good a poker but at the best of times you can lose. I often write about poker, and I have a short story that I am considering turning into a screenplay.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed these. I may do one or two of these. I do love a good series.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoThomas Welch

What J.E. is Thankful For This Year

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow bloggers.

I thought long and hard about writing my thoughts on the things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. It has been a crazy week for me, it always is during Thanksgiving week, but with the passing of my ten-year diagnosis and suicide anniversary, it was extra special kind of crazy. Still, I am thankful for many things and here is just a few.

1. I am alive, and that means the world to me.

2. Thankful for all the positivity that my fellow bloggers have brought to my blog.

3. I am thankful for finding my place in this crazy world and how I am working towards carving my own little niche in life.

4. I am thankful for those people who are in my life today and have always been there as family and friends that I would trust with my life.

5. I am thankful for the strength to write my story down and be honest within the space I am allowed on my blog.

6. I am thankful role-playing video games and music because, without both, my depression would consume me most days.

7. I am thankful for every blogger who has shared a piece of their lives with me on my blog, you mean the world to me.

8. I am thankful that I have the ability to write and change the stigma of mental illness as much as one writer can.

9. I am thankful for starting a new journey, a new ten years where I will conquer everything I can in life.

10. I am thankful that in 2010 someone, God most likely, intervened in my suicide and kept me on this earth. I truly believe I can connect with people through my writing.

11. And lastly, I am thankful for every blogger who spends a moment of their day on my blog. I couldn’t write without you.

What are some of the things that you are thankful for? Please share in the comments below.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours. Share smiles with the ones you love. Be happy that we are alive.

And always keep fighting.

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit: Pro Church Media

Excerpt From “Memory of Shane” Act 2

In an effort to share my writing and get feedback I wanted to share some scenes from my screenplay entitled Memory of Shane.” The following is from two scenes at the start of Act 2 because it shows two specific things in the screenplay. First, the back and forth between the present when Adriana arrives in California to find Shane in a coma, and the past when Shane is first diagnosed. I wrote my screenplay on Final Draft so I kept the format. If you want to know more about the history of this piece you can find it on my blog

EXT. HOSPITAL – CALIFORNIA – AFTERNOON

Adriana stands outside the entrance of a small hospital as PEOPLE walk past her. She has a large coffee in her hand. For a moment, she hesitates just outside the door and then proceeds inside.

SUBTITLE FADES IN: PRESENT

INT. HOSPITAL – SAME DAY

Adriana walks up to a counter and sets her coffee cup down. A young RECEPTIONIST sits behind a desk, her eyes locked on her cell phone, a moment passes before she looks up.

RECEPTIONIST

Hi. How can I help you today?

ADRIANA

I’m here to see Shane Camp.

RECEPTIONIST

One moment, please.

The receptionist with her finger finds Shane’s name.

RECEPTIONIST (CONT’D)

Shane is in room 211. The intensive care unit. You will need this.

The receptionist hands Adriana a guess pass sticker. She puts the sticker on her shirt.

RECEPTIONIST (CONT’D)

Visiting hours are until seven today.

Adriana turns and walks down a long hallway to an elevator at the end and presses the button to go up.

INT. HOSPITAL ELEVATOR – SAME DAY

Adriana firmly presses the number two on the elevator panel and the elevator hums to life moving up.

INT. HOSPITAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT – SAME DAY

On the intensive care unit, Adriana casually glances at the numbers on the room doors until she finds room 211 and goes in.

INT. SHANE’S HOSPITAL ROOM – SAME DAY

Adriana stands motionless in the entrance of Shane’s hospital room with her hand on the door. Her eyes survey’s the room as Shane lays lifeless in a hospital bed with tubes and wires coming from his body. She stops after seeing this. Fighting back tears she starts to retreat backward running into a nurse who keeps the door from hitting Adriana.

NURSE

I’m sorry dear, are you okay?

ADRIANA

I’m… I’m fine. How is he?

NURSE

Are you family?

ADRIANA

Not exactly.

NURSE

I can’t give you that information but you can go in if you like.

Adriana grabs the door with a shaky hand and enters the room sitting in a chair next to Shane. She puts her a cup of coffee on a small table next to Shane’s bed. She then puts her hand in Shane’s.

ADRIANA

I never thought in a million years I’d be in a hospital with you again Shane.

INT. HOSPITAL PSYCHIATRIC WARD – SEATTLE – DAY

Shane sits at a round table with chairs encircled around him. His quick glances around the room keep him from making eye contact with the other PATIENTS and VISITORS around him in various stages of activity. His face is a pale white. His eyes lock on an OLDER MAN at the next table quietly in conversation with himself. He is in a T-shirt, hospital pants, and hospital socks. A nurse comes into view breaking his nervous glancing.

SUBTITLE FADES IN: SEVEN YEARS EARLIER

NURSE

Shane, you have a visitor this morning. Are you up for it?

SHANE

Sure. I guess. Who is it?

NURSE

It’s your girlfriend.

Shane rubs his right hand over his heavily bandaged left wrist.

SHANE

Send her in.

The nurse makes her way to a locked door that opens to a small lobby. The nurse faintly calls a name, after a moment Adriana comes into view carrying two coffee cups. Shane looks down at his feet as she makes her way to the table and sits down.

ADRIANA

Hi Shane. I wasn’t sure if they would let me but I brought you some coffee.

Adriana slides the cup across the table.

SHANE

Thanks. The coffee in here sucks, with everything else.

Shane takes the coffee cup taking a long a drink. Adriana’s eyes move from Shane’s face to his bandaged wrists and then quickly back.

SHANE (CONT’D)

Shouldn’t you be in New York?

ADRIANA

I came as soon as Mark could get me on the phone. What happened?

Shane again looks down at his feet.

SHANE

I let the darkness take over. My thoughts consumed me. I couldn’t stop them. It became too much.

ADRIANA

I didn’t know you were getting worse. I shouldn’t have left…

SHANE

This isn’t your fault Adri. I should’ve never gotten involved with you. I let my emotions get the better of me–

Adriana reaches out and grabs Shane by the hand.

ADRIANA

–Shane. I’m not going anywhere.

Shane slowly pulls his hand out of Adriana’s.

SHANE

If you were smart, you’d walk away. I’m damaged goods Adri. I can’t be helped.

After a moment of silence, Shane rises quickly to his feet pushing the chair back and walks away. Adriana has a look of exasperation, with defeat she begins to weep.

ADRIANA

Shane…

Photo Credit: Trent Erwin