2020 – A Year in Review, A Different Year

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What a year, 2020. I think we can all agree that we have learned something new about ourselves and about the world. We saw polarizing political issues amid the worst pandemic in about 100 years. We made decisions about where we stood, and it matters not about right or wrong as much as we decided with our voices and by voting. Life will probably never be the same after a year like this one, but it has been a year of change for me.

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What can I take away from 2020? Do you have time for a novel? This blog post might become a series that I write as we near the end of the year, as with all things in my life it is up in the air. I let the universe lead me along with my inner I, and it allows me to be in the now. That was one of the things that I learned, thank you to my life coach alongside Eckhart Tolle, and while it works, I am still learning to adjust to here, without being in the useless past or looking toward the future. The past is done, and the future is unknown. Even with everything that I do now, it is important to me to always know where I am with my mental health, anxiety, depression, and how I feel.

If you listened to the podcast about my last year, it reveals a lot about what I went through since my mother’s untimely death on December 15, 2019. I was in pain beyond measure. I went to my default mode that I had used before and after my diagnosis in 2007. I allowed the pain to go into a box and not deal. That made the pain so much worse, and it grew into my infamous dark passenger. Eventually, it would take me over, and it became such a significant part of my daily life. Though I could still function and do my daily work, including school, work, and writing. It was all to keep the pain at bay and not feel the feels. Keep working, and it can’t touch you, except at night when I would have uncontrollable anxiety. 

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In April of 2020, I met a kindred spirit, and she became my life coach after I worked in a seminar with her in May. By August, after deciding to begin life coaching and taking a chance on myself. I began a four-month journey that ended on December 1, and it was a lifetime game-changer. I learned all the things that I had inside to be what I set out in my initial session, to live in the now, be myself, and above all, she made her coaching in a way that fit my reading and writing learning lifestyle. Those four months, I felt more like myself than at any time in my life, and since then, I have repaired relationships, myself, and worked on the flow of living in the gray area. The real James, the genuine inner I, has come out. It was life-changing. 

I would recommend to those dealing with mental illness and suicide to reach out to Grounds for Clarity LLC.

As a society and the global world, we learned that we are more alike than different, but there are still things to fix. We live in a pandemic world where we have to wear masks, a simple task, to help stop the spread of a deadly virus. We learned to social distance and stay at home, only going out for the essentials for months on end. The racial divide in America is becoming a forefront issue, long overdue, and we learned that Black Lives Matter, and it is not just about injustice; it is the system not working for specific cultural sections of our society. The divide only worsened as we learned that we can come together and vote for change, give a voice to those who need it, not be where we are, and be where we should act as Americans.

I love politics so much I minored in Political Science as an undergraduate. More Americans voted in 2020 than any other election in history, and while we all may land on different sides, it is time we become more together and less segregated. Unfortunately, the world got to see just how divided Americans are with how we voted, but democracy prevailing even with the outdated electoral college makes me proud to be an American. We are Americans first, and the America I know is a melting pot of every human being regardless of where we come from because let us face the facts, unless you are a native of this land, we all came from somewhere else, and many had no choice in the matter of how our ancestors were brought here. We have to be better to one another, and while pandemic showed us so much to fix, there is a long way to go from this point. Let us continue to be together and show the future, the kids, that we can be better.

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In 2020, I read more books in one year from every genre imaginable than at any time in my life. I am a voracious reader. Some of the best literature I have been able to absorb came from the era of American Realism and Naturalism. I got to read Jack London, Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Charolette Perkins Gilman, and Mary Freeman, just to name a few. I reread my favorite and classic books, and with a lot of resistance, I gave away books to small bookstores to find new homes. I found a home in second-hand book stores and what they bring, and I binged on the likes of books that I love. I read about grief and living in the now. Reading is love.

I did amazing things in my writing, including re-publishing my memoir The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir, which was a fight to get back, and in December, on the anniversary of my mom’s passing, I was able to publish my fictional novella Angel on the Ward. Two books in one year are more than I could imagine. I was able to edit my major novel, the first in a six-book series, The Rise on the Nephilim, and continued to grow my business, The Bipolar Writer Ghostwriting Services. New projects through my business will be significant in 2021. I have exciting writing projects like The Many Faces and Voices on Mental Illness, the two-year project. I found my place again in writing here on my blog again. 

To be continued in part two, to be released on Christmas Day.

Always Keep Fighting.

What is the worst that can happen?

James Edgar Skye

Visit my author website at http://www.jamesedgarskye.me

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Stepping Out.

I have never made told anyone my New Years resolutions. I just think putting that kind of pressure on something is setting yourself up for failure. I wish I could say that I haven’t made superficial false promises to myself to change my eating habits, lose a particular amount of weight, quit a bad habit, find a new love, or win a million dollars. I have, and I have failed. I think these goals are too specific and that was my issue. Over the past ten years, I have lost myself.

Lost myself in relationships, both platonic and otherwise.

Lost myself in other’s expectations.

Lost myself in my own expectations.

My biggest sadness for others is watching them be hard on themselves because they aren’t keeping up with someone else’s success. You don’t have to be at the same point in life as someone else.

I still have incredibly practical goals. I want to pay off some debt that I have been tip toeing around. I want to finish grad school. I want to advance in my career.

This year, I resolve to be me. Whoever that is… I want to be impulsive in ways that I have not allowed myself before. I want to move out of my comfort zone. I want to find my playful and adventurous side again.

I dyed my hair purple. I have always wanted to but didn’t for fear of what others would think. I was most concerned that my job wouldn’t allow it. But apparently this job doesn’t care, so I just did it.

I feel like I am stable emotionally on my medication and now I can breathe. I can know that these big exciting decisions and adventures are me finding myself and not mania.

Reflecting.

Mental illness can be exhausting. I feel that this past two years have been a whirlwind of emotion and change. Both fast and slow at the same time. Depressive episodes have made the days drag and falling into the pits of despair made them almost unbearable. Stable moods made days of adventure seem like flashes of happiness rather than long days of fun.

I hated this past year.

I feel like my mental health management consumed me. The constant ups and downs were exhausting and I felt as though it would be the end of me. I really didn’t think I would make it. I lost my humor and silliness. I did not dance in my kitchen, I did not play silly pranks on my sister who has come to adore them, I did not go out with friends more than a handful of times, and I did not love myself. I am an extrovert through and through, but this past year I was a shut in.

2019

4 doctors.

2 states.

4 jobs.

2 moves.

4 lapses in medications.

5 lapses in health insurance.

6 medication changes.

This is not my ideal year. I have let bipolar run my life. It has humbled me. Sometimes, when I am feeling under control, I let doubt creep in and think that maybe I am completely fine. Maybe I don’t need medication and I am just one of those people that needs and excuse to behave badly or skirt responsibilities.

I am in fact, not that person. I am completely, without a doubt 100%, mentally ill. And in 2020 I will, for the first time in my life, be making a resolution. I will consistently manage my illness.

2020

Choose a new doctor (mine quit)

continuously take my meds

blog twice per month (because I made a commitment that I never kept)

finish my graduate degree

be okay with being okay.

 

FOMO of 2018

In the past few days, I’ve been trying to avoid getting on social media. Why? Because of FOMO (aka. Fear of missing out). Posts after posts, everyone was posting how great their 2018 was and how they can’t wait to see what 2019 has for them.

But for me, most of 2018 sucked.

Don’t get me wrong – there were many joyful moments in 2018 (including starting a blog), making new lifelong friendships and finding victory over my mental health.

But, it was by far the most painful year I have experienced in my short 23 years of life.

2018 was a monumental year for my mental health. It took a big turn, which led me to ALMOST being hospitalized, got me to a psychiatrist’s office and started medication. I am grateful for having the resources that I have to be treated and have the support to keep on fighting. But I just can’t get over the fact how drastically things changed from where I was a year before.

While everyone seemed to be reminiscing over their wonderful 2018, I was reminiscing over my painful, heart breaking sad moments of 2018. Every time I looked at someone else’s post on how great their year was, I felt like I was missing out on life. I instantly wanted to blame my “defective brain” for missing out on life.

However, I know that is not true.

I know my FOMO is another layer my mental illness is casting over me, and I am not letting that happen. And that is why, I am confessing my FOMO here so I can move on from the past and look towards the future.

2018, you have been great but you also sucked. You gave me so much joy but you also gave me overflowing amount of pain.

2019, I hope you have more sympathy for me. Please.

Resolutions Undefined

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It’s that time again, time to list resolutions for the year ahead, defining a “new” start, a “new” year, a “new” you. Well, pardon me if I say, forget that noise. Don’t get me wrong, I believe setting goals and working toward them is healthy in all aspects of life, however I do not believe success or failures of your “list” should ever define you. Life has unexpected events, twists and turns, hardships and successes, and we are not given the play by play of what the next chapter will bring, so while we strive to be better every day, let us strive to accept who we are as enough.

That list, and whether or not we stop even looking at it in a week or in a few months does not define you, and is not the judge or jury on your track toward living your best life, but it can be a reminder. For me, I will be making a list of goals because I feel it’s important to visualize our dreams, but in the process I will also remind myself that this list is only a guide on the path of continuing to be the best version of me for the present moment of each day, and not a list that defines me, because while…

I will make healthier and realistic choices for me, my weight/body type, food choices and gym time do NOT define me;

I will make smarter financial decisions for me and my family, my wealth or material things do NOT define me;

I will strive to turn my “job” into my dream, my title does NOT define me; and

I will make attempts to forgive myself and those who have hurt me, my past does NOT define me.

These reminders not only allow me to see what does not define me but what does, and that is the love in my heart, the kindness I share and the peace in my soul. I am enough, and I wouldn’t trade this me for a “new” me any year, because this me is pretty darn awesome no matter where I am in the journey of this life.

You are enough, every little quirk, every scar, every smile, every choice and every piece that makes you, you. Set your goals for you, work to accomplish them for you, but always remember what truly defines you.

Reflecting on 2018, I am grateful for every lesson, fear overcome, goal reached, and connections made and look forward to each in the year to come.

Much love and happiness for the new year!

Lisa J.

Reflections on my Mental Health – 2018

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I can’t believe that we are already here at the end of another year. I grew a lot this year in my mental health, and I have seen the fruits of writing The Bipolar Writer blog.

This mental illness life is never easy, but I am glad where I am at with my illness. I still have a long way to go, but I can take what I learned into the new year. Perhaps the most significant win in my mental health in 2018 is with my depression. I had my share of depression. Going into 2018, I started with a small depression cycle that I got out of by early January. The worst of my depression started in March and ended in May, it was tough going, but this blog kept me whole.

The best thing was my decision in July to stop antidepressants all together (I have a long  history with antidepressants.) It was tough at first. I relied upon antidepressants for years, and the transition was a struggle. By October, I could see some real change. Being honest it was a fantastic experience because I have learned to deal with my depression without antidepressants. My depression has been at its lowest levels since I was a teen. I still have bad days. In this Bipolar life, depression will always be my most familiar companion.

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My greatest struggle 2018 has been my social anxiety. I knew this going into the year, and while I have been working on getting back to the time when anxiety was not an issue, there is a lot of work to be done.

The worst part comes from the isolation that tends to happen when my anxiety is spiraling. I get comfortable with being alone that it becomes an everyday thing. I tend to revert to my natural state which is being an introvert. I am comfortable staying in and working. Everything from being a writer, a student, and a freelance writer allows me to stay within my comfort zone. I end up losing weeks at a time to isolation, and to be honest, it is just easier. I know that has to change in the new year (I will write my goals for 2019 in another post.)

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Sleep.

It has been so elusive in my life. It is always a struggle to get sleep– getting to sleep–and having an uninterrupted sleep while sleeping. Wow, that was a more than a mouthful. I know this struggle is the hardest to understand what is going on because of the medication, I can’t sleep without my Seroquel.  Sleep was so hard for me going up and into my adult life. I would go days without sleep (this is possibly due to mania which is why I have always taken Seroquel) and it would be worse without having Seroquel in my system.

One thing that has been on my mind is my Seroquel. I am not sure if it right for me, but I am lost without it. I have a new psychiatrist (no idea how permanent this one is), and one of the areas I need to work on is sleep. I plan on going back to my sleep doctor who will help if I stick to what the doctor way says.

2018 has been a decent year, maybe my best. What I learned and everything that I have written over the past year has helped me grow. I have a better understanding of my mental health than I did in 2017. What I have learned most is that we can always keep fighting, and always keep getting better.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit:

Crazy nana

meagan paddock

Claudia Mañas

10 Things I am Grateful​ for in my Mental Health​ in the New Year

I wrote a very popular post in the fall called 10 Things I am Grateful for in my Mental Health – Fall Edition and I wanted to make a list for the new year. I am always grateful to be here and alive. I get to wake up and that in itself is really important to me. There was a time in my life where I never wanted to wake up. So, I look at the positive things that help me get through each day because each day we get on this earth is a good day.

New Years Top Ten Grateful List

  1. The opportunity to reorganize your life, A New Year is a chance to make the right changes in your life.
  2. The ability to make resolutions that can help your overall mental health goals.
  3. The change to continue to share my experiences with my mental illnesses.
  4. Time to reorganize my thoughts and make different choices in my social anxiety in the new year.
  5. The deep reflection that you can have at the start of the new year.
  6. That the last season of Game of Thrones starts in four months.
  7. The start of a new fictional writing project.
  8. Getting my memoir published!
  9. The chance to continue to grow The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog.
  10. Knowing I get to wake up with a chance to better mental health.

Photo Credit: David Ballew