Where is my Christmas Spirit?

Christmas is my favorite holiday, it always has been. I look forward to the holiday season all year long. It’s always the highlight of my year. But now, I can’t seem to get into the Christmas mood. I’m doing all of the things I normally do to enjoy the holiday season except they aren’t making me as happy as they used to.

I don’t know if it’s age, where I’m at in my life or because it’s 2020 but I have been trying hard to get into the Christmas mood but can’t. I thought maybe snow would help. It snowed 2 feet (which isn’t common where I live) and it didn’t make me feel much better. I thought maybe giving gifts and baking cookies would help. It only made a little bit of a difference.

It makes me depressed that my favorite time of the year is so lack luster. I want this time of the year to be the best part of the entire thing! I am longing to feel the happiness that Christmas has brought me in the past.

Sadly this year I will be spending most of Christmas alone. My boyfriend is working and my brother is quarantining after a business trip so we have to hold off on our family get togethers. I will be spending a few hours with my mom so I guess I won’t totally be alone but it won’t be like past Christmases. I will wake up alone, eat alone and give my pets their presents alone.

This potentially shit Christmas is effecting my mood. I’ve been extra tired and cranky as well as binge eating like nobody’s business. I want to be happy during my favorite time of the year. Why can’t I be? My God I sound like Charlie Brown.

I guess there is no guaranteed happiness at any point in time even during Christmas. You can’t just turn depression on and off even though I’m sure so many of us would love to.

I want to be happy, cheery and all of the great emotions that come with Christmas. I’m just not there this year. Sure, it’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way, it’s just that I don’t want to. I can’t force happiness upon myself but I can try to do things that make me not feel like shit. So somewhere in the middle. Maybe?

I don’t know, I just want to be happy. You know?

How are you feeling about this time of year? Is it normally a sad time or a happy time for you? Leave a comment and tell me!

Anxiety’s Lies

Why is it so easy to believe the negativity anxiety pours into my mind?

At the moment, my anxiety has taken the form of a dark storm cloud in my mind that is off in the distance. Each day getting closer and closer, like waiting for an impending doom. I stare out into this imaginary sky with a racing heart and the feeling that all of my organs have contorted into a knot.

What does this storm cloud mean? What horrible thing is on its way? What did I do wrong to create this storm cloud in the first place?

I worry and worry that my life is going to be turned upside down by this imaginary cloud in my mind. That the rain will start pouring with no end in sight, I will drown in my own imaginary realm.

My anxiety has taken the reigns of my brain and it is not giving them back.

Very rude!

In this magical holiday season I am trying to find positivity but I’m having trouble holding on to it. It’s like water, I grab it but it slips through my fingers.

It is mainly because anxiety telling me all sorts of shit like: “Something awful is coming your way, Megan. Better watch out!” and “Your boyfriend says he loves you but are you sure he does? You two have been getting along really well for months, that can’t last for too much longer.”

Anxiety is a shitty fortune cookie that I wish I could throw in the trash.

I hold on to those thoughts, no matter how negative or impossible the worry is. I keep them close to my heart even though it only weighs me down. I have no actual reason to believe my brain but I do.

The strain on my body from the anxiety makes it all the more real. My worries feel real even though I have no actual proof that there’s something bad headed my way.

My anxiety knows what to say to make me freak out, it comes straight for my throat. Anxiety never shows mercy.

I’m seeing my therapist tomorrow morning so I am hoping that her and I can sort this all out.

Happy Holidays everyone! I appreciate everyone who has read, skimmed, liked or commented on my posts since I joined this massive family here! I’m so happy to be here and be able to share my experiences and encourage my fellow writers.

Falling Back Into Depression

A month ago I wrote about how I wasn’t feeling depressed, that I was able to feel happy and be productive (check it out here). It was really great while it lasted but I have started falling back down into the hole of depression.

It hit me yesterday evening, just tripping me up. I began to lose control over my emotions  during a stupid little thing with my boyfriend. I began to cry, something I often do when I feel out of control and when I feel like I have done something wrong. I cried even though he tried to tell me everything was fine but that voice in my head told me otherwise.

I woke up this morning figuring yesterday was just a fluke, that everything would be better today. I was very much wrong. My brain kept conjuring up feelings of guilt and telling me that my boyfriend doesn’t love me anymore because I am the way I am. I began sobbing, shouting into my bed that everything is all my fault. That it is my fault he is unhappy and that I am ruining my relationship even though this isn’t true. We have been together for nearly 2 years and are planning to live together in 2019.

In that fit of sobbing I knew my brain felt weird. That something wasn’t quite right, something was off. I felt depression grabbing me, dragging me back down into the imaginary hole where it lives. I’m back to where I was a few months ago. Feeling empty, sad, lazy and that I am not good enough for anyone or anything.

It is such a stark contrast from where I was yesterday afternoon. Depression gives zero f***s about when it wants to punch you in my stomach and drag you back to where you were trying to escape.

I feel disappointed in myself to be back in this depressive state. It feels unfair that I have to return to this state of being after being truly happy for over a month.

Let’s Talk (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder is familiar with those that suffer from some form of a depressive episode. My official diagnosis is Bipolar One with a seasonal element. Today I want to discuss what SAD is to me, and what it is for others.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

thomas-henke-190697-unsplash

Okay, I have to get this out of the way– winter is coming.

All seriousness I wanted to talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder. It comes in different shapes and sizes (which I mean that the length and time of the year differ for every person.) In this journey since starting this blog, I have met so many amazing people, and some share the effects of that winter has on their depression. Interestingly enough, I never knew that some people suffer more during the summer months, spring, or fall, but this I have found is also rare. It is something about the cold that really changes things.

The staple of the seasonal affective disorder is that it usually begins and ends around the same time every year. I can personally attest to this as I often suffer from the seasonal element to my Bipolar diagnosis around November to about April or early May, but I can feel it starting to turn for me with depression around late September into October, this is very typical.

alexandru-stavrica-762540-unsplash.jpg

Last year I talked quite a bit about SAD because it was something that affects me so much and I have never quite had a good winter in years. Over the course of my diagnosis, I have talked at length about SAD, and the consensus is that it comes from the lack of light during the winter months.

One thing that helped me reduce the symptoms of SAD is a light therapy box. I have to tell you this invention is really amazing and it made all the difference last year while dealing with SAD, I found this great article that gives very detailed information in what to look for in a lightbox. It is highly recommended that you talk to your doctor about light therapy.

I wanted to end this post with this positive message that SAD can be controlled to a point where it is manageable. I used to think it was inevitable that during the winter months there is nothing I can really do, but I am always learning new things. Yes, I still do worry about the winter time because depression is an inevitable part of my mental illness. That is not to say that I am handcuffed by the increase in depression. Light therapy along with improvements in recognition of the symptoms, regular visits with my therapist, and my psychiatrist helped me have a better SAD season.

If you want to know my tips on dealing with symptoms you can find the information in the following blog post: When You Know, Depression is on the Horizon

With that said, I am opening up the comments for those who want to talk all things SAD and what things help you during the worst months.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)

James

Photo Credit:

thomas henke

Alexandru STAVRICĂ

In a Blink of an Eye…

I am in awe, and a few days late.

I have been busy, and all of sudden I look up and my blog has grown both in contributor bloggers and followers. I smile every day by those who take a moment in their busy lives to come to this blog and leave comments, likes, and views.

Never in a thousand years could I ever think when I started this blog in September 2017 that The Bipolar Writer blog would get to 6,000 plus followers. Yet, here we are, and if you are reading this blog post, there is a good chance that you a part of my growing community of like-minded mental health advocates and bloggers.

I am genuinely honored daily by the people making connections to my blog through my own writings and my growing number of contributor bloggers who now call The Bipolar Writer blog a part of their life.

I have shared the stories of others in the mental illness community, and as the blog has grown, I have been able to share so much of myself— something I never thought possible two years ago.

6,000 and growing!

I am so happy that I made the decision to start this blog and I look forward to the continuous growth of this blog. We are all on a rollercoaster that can only go up. So let’s continue the conversation.

Let us end the stigma surrounding mental illness together!

Always keep Fighting.

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoLoïc Fürhoff

My Weekly Wrap-up of the Bipolar Writer Blog

It has been a couple of weeks since writing a wrap up. With the added volume of contributor writers on my blog is it imperative to do these weekly wrap-ups. This is place to go for all the amazing posts that you can find on The Bipolar Writer Blog. These wrap-ups end my week and at the same time gives my readers a place to look back. So here we go.

What Helps Relieve Anxiety

I really enjoyed writing this blog post about the anxiety relief since I am still working on the major issues related to my social anxiety. In this post I explain what has worked for me. I am still a work in progress but these tips are quite useful.

An American’s Obsession with Korean Pop

This is a repost of one of my favorites since starting my blog. I have a real obsession with Korean Pop, so much so that I am learning to speak the language.

What is Bipolar Disorder to me?

I wrote this piece at the request of a blogger who didn’t understand what Bipolar Disorder is and what it actually means. I give my best description that I can in this blog post.

The Bipolar Writer Hasn’t been at his Best

Sometimes James Edgar Skye and The Bipolar Writer isn’t always at his best. Here I explain what that means for me. It’s a great personal post that might make its way as a chapter in my memoir.

Teaching While Bipolar

This is a great blog post from one my talented contributor writers— Perpetually Eliza. It talks about the ups and downs of teaching while Bipolar. It is an amazing piece and you should read it if you are going into the field to teaching with a mental illness.

Total Exhaustion

This blog post was written my another talented contributor writer— Tabbi. In the piece the author talks about the exhausting of living with a mental illness and having other issues. It’s a good read.

How Does Depression Affect Your Relationships

This blog post was written by another talented contributor writer— 🌸Jia Khan🌸. It explains the realities of how depression can affect your relationships. Posts such as these are really important because at some level we all want companionship to get through the tough times.

You Are Amazing

The subject matter speaks for itself in this amazing blog post by my contributor writer— Girlyshellebelle7. If you’re looking for an upbeat post when you are feeling down, look no further that the post from this talented writer.

What’s Wrong?

What’s wrong is was written by Chelsea Owens. In the post the author explores the list of favorite questions that are asked of her. It’s a great read and one that is relatable.

Are There Different Levels of Depression?

I wrote this blog post as a request from a fellow blogger for me to define if there are different levels of depression. It is a great read because I share my experiences and some of my fellow bloggers shared their own with the types of depression that I have not lived through. It is a great read if you’re looking for the levels of depression.

I don’t make promises

This post was another good one from one of my contributor writers— Blogpostsfromthedge. It talks about the realities of mental illness and not making promises. It is a great read because there is always a level of uncertainty for those of us dealing with a mental illness.

The Bipolar Writer Needs a Logo

The Mutations of Mental Health

In this blog post author CM North talks about his own journey and how there is not a cure of mental illness and how he will always identify with having a mental illness. In this post the author gives his personal thoughts about the subject.

What it’s Like to Have a Panic Attack While Driving – A Poem

I wrote this poem just this past week in the throes of one of the worst panic attacks of my life. It was bad, and I think I really captured what was going on at this time. It is a unique perspective that those who have lived through it can understand.

Tough Love

This was one of the most emotionally driven posts to ever make its way onto the Bipolar Writer under the author Catherinerunningriley. It is a really good read and I think everyone who is dealing with a mental illness should read this post.

Eve’s Interview Feature

This is another edition of my ongoing series about sharing the stories of the mental illness community. What I loved writing about Eve’s feature is that it was one of recovery and positivity despite her struggles with her illness and alcoholism. It is an amazing story.

Being Doubly Shamed in Psychosis

This was written by another of my contributor writers— Orangewallsblog. I thought got this piece a quote from the blog post would serve it well.

“There’s something strange that occurs in highly stigmatized identities: the shame of being that identity and the shame of wanting to be identified as that identity. As someone with a degree of sustained insight, it was difficult to explain how my life was being run by a bunch of lies.”

My Bad Week

It is always my goal of The Bipolar Writer to share the different sides of my mental illness. In My Bad Week I talk about how things can change so quickly after I had one of my best months in January 2018. So I wrote this honest post about my bad week.

Positivity

This another great blog post about Positivity from contributor blogger Girlyshellebelle7. It really is a great that on The Bipolar Writer we can get varying levels of posts from amazing authors. “Positivity” is another great read.

When to Ask For Help: Ideation vs Action

A great post about asking for help when you are suicidal by author Alan Wolfgang. The author really goes into detail on what you can do when you are suicidal. It is great read from one of my contributor bloggers.

That is it for this week. It has been a busy one for The Bipolar Writer and I am looking forward to what my contributor writers and what I bring in the coming week.

Always Keep Fighting

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoClint McKoy

Going Through the Motions of Life

Life with a mental illness is a funny thing, and sometimes you just keep going through the motions of life.

When I am engaged in life, things are good. My writing flows, I get everything on my daily list done, and my focus is on point. I wish every day is good, but the reality of having a mental illness is that you will have days when you just go through the motions of life because of things like depression or anxiety. At times it just might be because it’s been a long week.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t be productive.

So that is where today’s blog topic is going. In your life with a mental illness, there are going to be times where you have to go through the motions of life on a given day. What does this mean? It means that you may have to do the things you need to, but you might not be here on earth mentally.

I find myself doing this often and I found myself doing it yesterday. I had an early start to my day. I woke up at 4:30 am (which I am far from a morning person) and I got going with my day. My morning was filled with tasks outside of my house and with the lack of sleep I got the night before, I decided to turn my mind on autopilot and go through the motions of life.

I just did the tasks that I could without worrying about things that are normally flooding my mind in my waking hours. It’s a strange feeling when I make the decision to go through the motions of life because there is a peace in my mind. It’s almost like being a robot, and I put one foot in front of the other. I don’t over think every second of my life, and the results of this type of day aren’t always bad.

I find that I can be very productive on an autopilot yesterday. I was able to write a blog post, a good one, in between tasks that morning. I usually need total focus to write a blog, but it worked out well enough that I could post a legit subject that seemed to be popular.I could post a legit subject that seemed to be popular.

I was able to write back comments on my blog from the night/early morning before I woke up. I was effective in completing my tasks up until got home almost five hours after walking where I finally crashed taking a much-needed nap for a few hours (this is a rare occurrence in my life but given that slept very little the previous four days it was expected.)

Even when I woke a few hours later, I did some tasks like working on a ​chapter and getting some reading for my business communications class done. I wrote a second small post about where my blog The Bipolar Writer is going. When I hit my limit, I was done for the day and spent the rest of my time binge-watching my favorite shows.

My point of this blog post is simple. Even when you have days where you have to go through the motions of life, it doesn’t mean that you should give up on your day. At any point yesterday morning I could have just given up on the day and make the decision to go back sleep before the tasks of my morning were done. In fact, in the middle, I did take much-needed rest, but I was still effective.

The other side of this is when you absolutely have to check out completely, don’t feel bad about it. Life with a mental illness is far from easy and you will experience days where getting out of bed seems impossible and checking out is possible. So, if you can, stay in bed and have a mental health day and maybe sleep in. Sure, in the long run, it is not an effective strategy to live life with a mental illness. 

If you can go through the motions of life, so it the best you can in that day until you reach the limit. The biggest thing is knowing your limit. If not take the day to work on your mental health by doing tasks like meditation or yoga. It could also mean just binge-watching Netflix all day, well then give yourself a break. Know your bodies limits when it comes to your mental health.

One thing I have learned on my Bipolar One journey is giving myself a break from life at least one day a week where my only goal is getting my mental health back on track. Even when I feel like I have no choice but to go through the motions in life, I “just do it” to steal the Nike phrase. You might surprise yourself that you can still be effective, I know I did yesterday.

I like to always end my blogs with a question and I am interested to hear from my fellow mental health bloggers.

What are some of the things you do when you “go through the motions of life” when you are mentally checked out of a day?

Have you ever found yourself effective despite checking out and going through the motions of life?

Always Keep Fighting.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Anubhav Saxena

How Social Anxiety Is Changing My Life

One of the biggest themes of 2017 in my life is my social anxiety and how it has changed my life. It is my “great unknown” in my life, and I have trouble figuring out my anxiety triggers because they are so vast. I feel like I am in a fog with my anxiety.

I have tried to face my anxiety throughout the year, and it hasn’t really gone great at times. Even now I am struggling with the reality that I may have to limit the number of times I leave my house on any given day.

I wanted to reflect on 2017 and to try and see how my social anxiety has changed my life, and if possible identify some of the thoughts and behaviors associated with my social anxiety. That is after all one of the points of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

I was thinking today when was the last time that I saw a movie in the theaters? It took me a while. It was Star Wars Episode Seven, which came out in December of 2015. Then I got kinda depressed. I love watching movies but one of my biggest fears is having a panic attack in the middle of a packed theater.

My social anxiety started reaching new levels that I stopped watching movies in the movie theater because it is too hard to be around people in the dark for the length of a movie. I remember the last movie I saw having to take a couple Ativan during the movie just to survive. I am not sure if I consciously made the decision to stop seeing movies, or if it just started to happen.

I just know I kept saying no to invites to go see a movie with​ my friends and family stopped asking me to go.

I have tried in the past to go out and do things outside my comfort zone, but its never something I was good at doing. Last month I went to a live comedy show that featured Jo Koy and while I had a good time, I spent half of the time in total panic. It took several Ativan to get through that show. That has been a theme of late taking Ativan to get through a panic attack. I remember losing control and feeling outside my body. I laughed when I could but I was in real pain most of the night.

It was a relief to finally find myself home that night.

So what happens that causes my anxiety in this type of situation? It starts out before I actually leave my house. I start to think about all the bad times that I have let my anxiety take control of me in social situations and how I lost control. It’s always a real thing in my mind. Those were some of the worst experiences in my life and anxiety mixing with a panic attack is the worst. I lose myself and getting back in control in public, well it’s almost impossible at times.

CBT has taught me to change my thoughts and behaviors by analyzing what is causing my thoughts and find ways in the moment to change the thoughts to positive ones. I come up with an alternate thought that center around if the thought that is causing me anxiety could actually happen.

It was working for me during the summer and into late fall. I was able to leave my house almost every day and go places. I still avoided going to the theater or places that felt wrong, but I could leave my hours for a few hours and my night time anxiety was almost non-existent . Then the winter time hit, my depression began to take over, and my anxiety was not far behind. It seems to be a theme this winter.

I used to think my seasonal element of my diagnosis of Bipolar One was limited to depression but I have noticed a pattern of anxiety as well.

Lately , I go to my favorite coffee shop to study and write but my time is limited to 3-4 hours before my anxiety kicks in. I usually end up leaving which makes me sad. I feel its the safest place for me besides in my own home, but that is far from healthy behavior. One of the things I want to work on before the end of the year is in those moments where I can’t take being in public any longer, I turn to CBT to try and change those thoughts.

Its the worst feeling when my anxiety thoughts take over my body. I feel outside myself in those situations. My mind races and I feel an endless cycle of not being able to catch my breath. I can’t sit still and yet I want nothing but to be laying down. As my panic rises my thoughts consume my every second. It feels never ending and in that moment I feel as if I could die.

That never happens, I am still here writing this blog, but you can’t tell me that I am not going to die, I wouldn’t believe it. Not in that moment. I have freaked out my family a lot this week with my panic attacks.

Social anxiety has changed me a lot. I go to less places because of my fears, and I know there is room to work on it. But, I am also not the most social person. I have talked about being an introvert a few times on my blog, and I feel the most comfortable in my own skin in the places where I have spent the most time writing. It is no wonder that I have less of a chance of a panic attack at home or my favorite coffee shop.

But I need to question that thought, is it valid?

Have years of believing that feeling great alone is a good thing? It is something to ponder because if I think about it, I have created a life for myself where I feel the best alone, and yet most of my worst panic attacks happen when I am alone. I doubt I would have ever realized this without my blog.

That is where I am at. I will most likely take this blog into my memoir The Bipolar Writer and expand and analyze this topic more in hopes to better understand who I am as person.

Anxiety has really controlled me this year, but I can fight this once and for all.

Always keep fighting.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Matt Benson

 

Overload

Well, I figured something like this would happen.

Last night, I figured out a pattern of behavior in the middle of the worst panic attack of my life. I have been trying to rack my brain of the “why” of my anxiety over the last few months. It took two Ativan and almost two hours before I was calm enough to lay down. It was another hour before I got some real sleep. My Ativan has been on my mind a lot lately, and it seems as if it starting to not work, and that is a problem.

Let’s turn the clock back a year.

Around this time last year, I was about halfway through writing my first screenplay, Memory of Shane. I had just put the finishing touches on Act two, and I was really excited to keep working this writing project to completion to a first draft. I was full-time in school, so my workload was heavy most days.

I should have seen the pattern. Days without sleep, 10-12 hour writing/study sessions, and more anxiety than I could handle. I went into what I am now calling “overload.” It got so bad by the New Year’s 2017, I was having panic attacks almost daily and the worst of it was at night.

This story ends with finding myself the emergency room in early February with bleeding ulcers and a new understanding of my anxiety. Or so I thought. I knew I had to find ways to fix my anxiety without medication. I had no choice according to my psychiatrist, but doctors aren’t always right. Over the next six or seven months, I began working on controlling my thoughts with mindfulness and CBT. It worked for a while and my anxiety seemed to be under control.

But, I never learn.

Fast forward to now. October hit me slightly. Then in November my anxiety and depression began to spiral out of control. I got my depression back under control, but now my anxiety alludes me. Its like I can’t win. Somehow, I have let myself get to a worse place with my anxiety. I have hit that overload button again. I am working several writing projects, my blog, and still a full-time student. Not to mention the extra writing work I have been doing.

Overload.

I never learn.

The next step? Talking to my therapist this week, getting an emergency session to see my doctor, and maybe cutting back on some things. I could write less here on my blog which seems logical, but this blog is the thing that is keeping me from bouncing off the walls. Maybe take a vacation. I wonder if Vegas is nice this time of year.

It’s funny. I always talk about working on my mental health, but sometimes I am the worst actually practicing what I preach.

I need to get back to what worked this summer. A working schedule that is consistent day in and day out. I need to take breaks every day. I need to sleep more and not wake up until I am rested. I need to eat regularly and stop working myself to death. I need to refocus my CBT work every day and maybe do more mood induction therapy with music. I need to get it together because too many times in my life, I have repeated bad behaviors.

I’m overloaded right now, and the panic attack last night was scary to go through, and my biggest worry is that my anxiety could grow to new levels. 

I thought my anxiety was bad last year and at the beginning of this year, but its worse.

I know my anxiety and panic attacks have been such a big subject the last week, but it is the big thing in my life and almost every night seems impossible that I will get through this issue.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Erico Marcelino

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