My Dark Days of Infertility: Part 2

For over a year and a half, we went through more fertility treatments, each time ramping them up and exposing my body to more drugs/stronger drugs. Finally, my husband and I put up our hands and said STOP. We need a break. When we set up a meeting with our doctor to tell him we wanted to take six months off, he told me that my body was just getting older and he wouldn’t recommend taking a break. He also handed us pamphlets on finding an egg donor. My heart was racing, I could feel the static rushing through my head, threatening a panic attack. Inside I heard the words, run like hell! Though for some reason I couldn’t.

I asked my sisters if they would consider it, not entirely sold on the idea myself. My family did not take this well. It was hard to hear all of their concerns being thrown at me at once. To me, it felt like all I could hear was, “No we will not help you get pregnant. You aren’t going to have kids. Just get over it.” I know this wasn’t their meaning, but when people who aren’t involved tend to get involved, it starts to become overwhelming and draining.

My husband and I went back to the idea that we needed a break from everything and everyone. AND a new doctor, which we did find after interviewing several practices. This is one advice I would lay on anyone trying to find a doctor. PLEASE PLEASE talk to more than one person. I wish I had from the beginning.

We traveled to Alaska and then Costa Rica, tasting life as we went I started to feel a little more whole again and opened the door to a few friends so they would understand why I had been so absent. Most everyone was sympathetic, but then the commentary started. Here are the top three stories that made me want to punch someone:

  1. I know this couple who stopped trying and then it just happened for them. Maybe you should just stop trying so hard? – Let’s pretend you have an arrow sticking out of your heart. Now walk around and pretend it’s not there, go ahead, it’s so easy just to stop thinking about an arrow sticking out of your chest.
  2. I know this couple that adopted a baby and then got pregnant right after they adopted. – Good for them, I am not sure why this is relevant to my story. You basically just told me that someone got pregnant when I cannot get pregnant. How is that comforting to me?
  3. I’m sorry, I know it will happen for you guys. – No, you don’t know that. Do you have some ability where you can read into the future or something?

So, I withdrew from society again to avoid feeling pitiful around friends and hating their stories that were intended for comfort. Quietly we decided to give the new doctor a chance, his practice was not as intense, and we felt more at ease. He did further tests on my husband and me, he actually was able to tell me what was wrong. My progesterone levels were not high enough to allow for implantation. He looked at me with his soft eyes, he said, “We are going to get you pregnant on the first try.”

My soul was rattled. How could he make such a promise like that to me? I had been through IVF three times already. I believed him though because I wanted to.

After three years of trying, we got pregnant with our son on the first try with the new doctor. Griffin is now a healthy, silly, loud (really loud) 6-year-old. I wish I could tell you that the darkness lifted. It didn’t, in fact, it morphed into something else. My children have always brought me joy, even when they are driving me crazy. I am fighting this fight for them, for me, for my husband, for everyone anywhere that is scared to fight. I’m fighting for all of us.

Social anxiety took a severe grip on me. I couldn’t leave the house alone, especially with my son. I feared something would happen to him or to us, but I wasn’t sure what or why I felt this way. Avoidance behavior started to run its ugly course. I discovered grocery delivery services, Amazon could bring me anything, and I only went to parties if a close friend or my husband accompanied me. It felt okay. I actually felt like this was okay. I still found joy in my life. A new baby was hard, but I loved him so deeply, I remember just watching him fall asleep in my arms and wonder how I was so lucky.

The anxiety became a way of life and avoiding things that triggered panic to take over. I got really good at it, so I didn’t face the real issue.

Part 1 of this story can be found on my blog here. I thought part 2 related more to posts The Bipolar Writer’s audience would appreciate and relate to, so I wanted to share here.

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.

How Panic Attacks Have Ruled 2018

An Update on my Panic Attacks

I have been working as hard as I can to prevent the panic attacks that I have been dealing with on a weekly basis. My triggers are vast or so it seems and my worst times change over time or month to month, but one thing is clear. Panic attacks have ruled my 2018, and it sometimes feels that there is no end in sight.

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I have chronicled before on this blog that the time between 4 pm and 7 pm is one such section of my day where my anxiety levels are high. As per my therapist, I have been working in five minutes of mindfulness breathing to tackle this section of my day. It has been months since I have experienced a panic attack during this time period. The problem is that as long as I continue to stay in my safe place at home, I still deal with elevated anxiety when I leave my house.

What is interesting is that I am most things are right during the morning hours. It was one reason why I decided to wake everyday at 5 am. As soon as that gets back on track, I will get my essential things done in the morning and give my self some rest and leisure time to say read a book.

My other issue comes at night just before I am getting ready to go to bed. It has been especially hard to deal with my anxiety at night and while it’s not a panic attack every night (it happens almost twice a week) but I get really close. I do my best to tackle the issue head-on with mindfulness breathing but if my anxiety is already spiraling it can be a problem.

I have so many triggers for anxiety, and I haven’t even talked about my social anxiety when I leave my house. For the most part, I am learning about my avoidance behaviors that I use, but it hasn’t helped me leave my home more than a few days a week. I still have to always have my Ativan on me and water. My trips have been short, and for the last two weeks, I haven’t gone to my favorite coffee shop.

I hope to change that this week.

Anxiety indeed rules my life. I can honestly deal with depression so much better. When I am in a full-blown panic attack, I lose myself. My heart begins to race. The numbness reaches first my fingertips and then my hands. I start to hyperventilate. I pace so fast and yet I want nothing but to sit. I can’t breathe, and it freaks me out— I am losing control, and it’s the worst feeling in the world.

My latest trigger for my panic attack was several things all at once. I was apprehensive about the start of a new semester. I had an early morning appointment I could not miss. Then there’s the added stress of finishing my memoir and the prospect of moving to a new place this month.

Life is coming at me fast, and I always think I have more time than I actually do. I wanted so bad to ultimately be back on track by this week, but it’s starting to be a struggle.

My major goal of 2018 was to get my social anxiety back under control. Five months has changed some of my general stress and social anxiety but it’s not where I wanted to be, but I will reassess this week and try to figure this stuff out. I wanted to be in a different place come May. I have so much to look forward this summer.

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Always keep fighting.

James

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoJohannes Plenio

unsplash-logoClay Banks

unsplash-logoEzra Comeau-Jeffrey

The First and Last of the Dark Days

I learned from another blogger that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I think many of us with mental health concerns find the stigma around it to be truly terrifying. It can push us inward and leave many of us feeling unwanted or hushed. Suffering in silence and alone is not healthy for anyone, including those around us. Today, I wanted to share with you a quick glimpse of my first darkest of days and my last. There have been many times in between, but consistently I pull myself through, and each time I do, the darkest days come less frequently, and are not as dark as the previous.

September 1996. The pressure to choose a major, before I returned for my third year of school, was being hammered upon me. The weight of this decision was unbearable. I saw many friends easily sticking with a major, planning out projects, collaborations, and internships. The feeling of not belonging created a snowball effect and caused me to fall into classic avoidance behavior.

On the first day I was late to class, probably not by accident. I can’t remember what class it was, but I do remember the feeling of standing outside the door, hearing the professor already speaking, that hallowed silence from the rest of the students, and I knew I couldn’t go inside. My first panic attack occurred outside of that room. I felt like a heavy blanket was thrown over me, I couldn’t breathe or concentrate. My legs felt weak, thoughts in my head were disjointed, and flight or fight kicked in. Flight won.

I dropped out of school that week. This was the beginning of the anxiety and panic attacks that I kept hidden from friends and family. I choose at that time to suffer in silence because I was confused, scared, and embarrassed. The darkest days turned into months and years, eventually it seemed I grew out of it, and was hopeful it was behind me for good. I think what occurred was I learned to avoid triggers and found confidence in areas I didn’t have before through life lessons and eventually returning to school.

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May 2017. The last time I felt this way was after my third child was born. By now I had learned some coping methods and found professional help on and off, though the feeling of shame still prevented me from being open with loved ones. I had this beautiful healthy baby, and I’d done this two times before. This should be easy. So, why was it so hard? Lack of sleep, constant breast feeding, and lack of overall care for myself, all played into my downward spiral. I was becoming very short tempered with everyone around me, I insisted on keeping my house spotless, and controlling every detail of the family. I believe I was on the borderline of OCD, accompanied with postpartum anxiety.

One day my parents and my sisters were being indecisive about something, what it was I can’t recall. I screamed at one of my sisters over the phone, something I never do. My blood pressure must have been through the roof, something rose up inside of me and clicked, I have a problem! This is not normal. I need help.

Being that it had been 20 years since my first panic attack, anxiety was not new to me. I recognized that I needed help ASAP and if I didn’t get it all of those around me would be feeling the brunt of my actions. It wasn’t fair to them. I found a new therapist through postpartum online hotline, one within my insurance network. I did research online to my symptoms, read articles about diet and supplements that would be helpful; I researched other medications as well, continued with acupuncture, started to be more physically active. Most importantly, I caught myself when my temper was rising. I knew it was due to anxiety, just knowing this helped me curb it.

The first of the darkest days was the hardest for me, it was so new and confusing. Over the years I have learned to overcome so much. The journey is ongoing. Anxiety is a part of me, but I fight it. It doesn’t control me like it used to, and I will take that as a WIN.

My Longest Depression Cycle of 2018

Wow. How did I get here?

I haven’t written much lately on my blog. I have had little energy in April to focus on the things that I need to get done, and the rest of the stuff in my life like writing on my blog has gone by the wayside. I have been on my worst depression cycle of 2018, and it has shown the worst parts of me.

It’s the inevitable part of my diagnosis. Depression often comes and goes in my life. I have been lucky so far this year to have lived through a small amount of depression lasting only a couple of days. It has been different this time, I have been depressed for about two weeks now. This week has been the hardest, and it has honestly felt like walking through fire.

I could barely get out of bed this week, and on Monday and Tuesday, I didn’t leave my bed. I lost my appetite, and I felt my depression crushing me. I was lethargic, and writing was the last thing on my mind. Panic attacks seemed to take over my nights. I just laid in bed watching television. I knew it was coming, and that everything has its consequences.  I had just spent the last four months of none stop school work and working on my freelance projects.

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I hardly had time to take breath before I was on to the next task. I felt like a drone and the only solace I found was writing in this blog. I decided that this would be the week. I needed rest and time. I needed to get my thoughts back in line. To figure out once again how to work alongside my social anxiety and depression.

This life, my mental illness life, is about making the right adjustments to get me through my current depression cycle. I have to keep figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. I have to realize that you can only stretch yourself so thin before you start to break. I broke this week, but it didn’t defeat me.

Where do I go from here?

I reset. I start to write blogs everyday. I focus on my mental health and get my life moving in the right direction. It has been a hard week, but I am still here. Still fighting for my recovery. I am always looking toward the future. Never let mental illness win.

Always keep fighting.

James

 

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoBrunel Johnson

unsplash-logoBrianna Santellan

Am I Meant to be Alone?

My Thoughts in Recent Weeks

Am I meant to be alone in this world? I have pondered this question lately.

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I am mostly talking about myself as a member of the mental illness community but also as a human in general. I am starting to realize that people were never supposed to be alone. Yet, I find that many in this mental illness life find many of us are alone in the struggle. Sure, there is family. I was lucky my family never gave up on me, but they might only understand what is going on with me at a single level. I hope that they never have to live through a depression cycle or social anxiety.

Mental illness has many layers.

I often wonder about the personal choices that I have made, to live in this world where it’s just me and my issues. It made sense ten years ago when I was in a great relationship with someone who was willing to go along with my problems. But I was too scared that what I was about to go through and that it was too much for another person.

To be honest, I never thought I’d make this far. I almost didn’t on at least one occasion. In the first years of my diagnosis, I was content with being alone my issues. It made sense if I wasn’t going to be a part of this world then going out alone was the best for everyone. My family would miss me, but they knew I was always on edge.

Then I got better, and life changed. I started to figure out this life.

I never thought I would be on the road to recovery. It was something that I decided one day and been on this journey ever since. It’s always been that way with me. I make a choice, and I go full throttle. It’s been the worst and best parts of my personality. I make a decision good or bad and stick with it.

It’s only in the last year, with the writing projects I’ve completed, that I have been thinking about the future. But where to start. Deep down there is always my biggest fear. If I started a family could I do it? Take the risk and possibly let what I believe is a part of my blood transfer to someone innocent? It is a real worry.

I have for most of this mental illness life fought this battle on my own. I never thought this could be possible, living outside my illness. I have thought so much about my social anxiety as it has become a significant part of my over the last two years.

I have thought so much about what being alone has done to me. I have so many triggers to sort through, but the one that sticks is being alone. The thought that I could die alone now scares me. Who would have thought that would be me?

We as humans are not to be alone. I have reveled in being alone for so long. I don’t know where to go from here. I keep writing and fighting. That’s what brings me happiness now. So I do what I do?

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I haven’t asked a question in a while in my blog posts. What do you think mental illness community bloggers, is it better to be alone or are we not meant to be? Do you believe there is someone out there for everyone?

James

 

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoMartin

unsplash-logoAnton Darius | @theSollers

10 Things the Bipolar Writer is Afraid Of

I thought this would be a great blog post to write. In my social anxiety life, there are things that I use (avoidance behaviors), and I wanted to write what are things that that scare me the most when I leave my house.

10 Things I am Afraid of in This Life

  1. Crowded Places scare me – I hate going to stores or malls because there are people. In my mind, I often think that people are judging me. That somehow they know I am Bipolar. How could they know?
  2. I am afraid of meeting new people –  I have never been good at making friends, although I have made some over the years. I have never been great at being the person that is openly open to meet new people. When I am at my favorite coffee shop, I tend to have my headphones on and drowning out the world.
  3. Dark places give me anxiety – I have not been to a movie theater since I had a terrible panic attack while watching a movie. It’s another place that gives me significant anxiety.
  4. I am afraid of being alone – It’s funny that I mention this because at the same time I revel in the introvert part of me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a fear of dying alone. I made a decision long ago to not bring a relationship into all of my issues. I have come so far, but my diagnosis ended my last relationship.
  5. I am afraid of failure – It has kept me from doing things over the years. I almost didn’t go back to college because I feared I would find a way to wreck things.
  6. I am afraid sometimes to drive – It wasn’t always so, but I have had my worst panic attacks behind the wheel of my car.
  7. I am afraid that one day I will go back – My biggest fear is that one day my depression will get me in a bad place I will turn to suicide again. Its highly unlikely but it is always in the back of my mind. When I get that way, I lose control. I never want to feel like this again, but its hard not to fear this truth.
  8. I fear someday my demons will come back – I fought my demons for so many years but they never honestly go away. I have worked out many through therapy, but it’s always a possibility.
  9. I fear being forgotten – This has happened to me before, and it was because I isolated myself from the world. I fear it could happen again and I will be forgotten.
  10. I fear not completing my goals – This is because I am my worst critic. What is worse what could happen if I fail at some point? I don’t deal well with failure in my past.

I hope you enjoyed!

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J.E. Skye

 

 

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoAndrew Neel

unsplash-logoPete Pedroza

A Letter to Myself on my Birthday

Note: I have wanted write this blog post since day one of starting The Bipolar Writer blog. It seemed to fit that on a day like today— my birthday— that I would share this letter. It means the world to me to be in a place where this is possible, to talk about where I have been. This letter is written to James Edgar Skye, my pen name.

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A Letter to The Bipolar Writer

What a journey it has been to get here, James.

I can remember a time where you honestly believed that you would never make it. You always thought that the darkness that still sometimes engulfs your life would eventually take you— and there were a few close calls along the way. Somehow you find the will to fight, even on those days where you thought it would be your last.

Look at you now. Just a few months away from getting your Bachelor’s Degree in creative writing with a specialization in fiction. You found your writing side in the past few years in minoring in screenwriting, political science, and journalism. It has been a journey of peaks and valleys, the good and bad parts of being Bipolar seemed always find its way in your studies— and yet you are going to graduate summa cum laude. I remember the doubts you had over the last four years, and each time you proved yourself wrong by always excelling at everything school threw at you.

Even though you never got your Hogwarts letter, you still maintained your love for reading. Now you have turned that love into a writing career.

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I can barely remember your first birthday after your diagnosis became Bipolar One. You were a different person then, and you have come so far from the days where you barely noticed time passing you by in this life. The first three years of your diagnosis was filled with so much negative. Depression became your most familiar companion. Anxiety seemed to fill your days, and so you hid from the world— and you barely left your house those three years.

I always wondered why you gave into the darkness three different times in your life and turned to suicide as a way to escape. It was the worst parts of your life, and luckily you survived. Now, look at you, sharing your experiences with suicide and self-harm to advocate that there is a better way. Suicide is never the answer— that is what you tell people now. You had to live through a lot, but it was all worth it to help others. I believe that you are helping people.

Who knew you could find the strength to tell your story. You really have come a long way, and now you have a real chance at helping others. Writing and creating The Bipolar Writer blog was the best decision that you made outside of going back to school. Now you have finished the first draft of your memoir, and now you are looking toward the future instead of the past.

On this journey, you have found ways to cope. Listening to music and your favorite K-pop group have gotten you through so much. Writing finally became your way of life, and you have indeed found your place in this world. It has helped you grow as a better person in life. It defines the best qualities of who you are— never let that go. You found watching baseball— the Los Angeles Dodgers— as your way to cope during the summer months. You get through the worst parts of your depression and anxiety, and you are always open to finding new ways of dealing.

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Sure, you are still a work in progress. At times social anxiety gets the best of you. At times you lose yourself in panic attacks. Depression likes to sneak up and take over for a time. It’s not a forever thing. But this Bipolar life is always evolving, and you still find a way of adapting.

There is so much to look forward to James. Selling your screenplay. Publishing your memoir. Working on your Masters later this year. For the first time in this life, you are making plans for the future, and the goals that you have worked so hard on are within your grasp. There has been so much pain over the last ten years, but there was so much good. You found a way to live with being Bipolar— without it defining who you are inside and out. You just have to give yourself a break and work on not being your harshest critic.

There will be days where being Bipolar is all you can deal with, but you go to sleep each night knowing tomorrow is another day. Anxiety and depression are a part of who you are— but they don’t define you. The most significant thing I want to tell you is that you are a fighter. It was always there a part of you. It took you so long to get here, but the journey was worth it.

There was a time when you didn’t want to live. That time has passed. You know it is God’s plan that you are alive.

You used to wake up and hate that you were still alive. Now you wake up with the knowledge that the day before was a fight— and you fought well. Always keep fighting, it is the best part of you, James.

Here is to many more birthdays to come and finding happiness in this Bipolar and social anxiety life. I’m on a rollercoaster that only goes up.

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J.E. Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoAustin Mabe

unsplash-logoSteve Halama

unsplash-logoRae Tian

unsplash-logoCampbell Boulanger

unsplash-logoWang Xi