The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir

It is already nearing the end of July. Even with everything that 2020 has thrown as us this year, the year is moving at a fast pace. I will be writing this week a few blogs that outline my future plans and projects, info on my Patreon account, exclusive content in video blogs for The Bipolar Writer blog from me, and the future. 

Today, let’s discuss my memoir because I haven’t really been talking about it much. My goal is always to get my work out there to the masses through this blog. Alongside my author’s website is the best place to market to you why you should purchase my book.

My memoir is about the first ten to eleven years of my diagnosis as Bipolar One. It revolves around the experiences that I had from 2007 to 2017. I wrote it as if I was sitting as a coffee shop with you, the reader, having a conversation. The memoir is very personal, and you get to see who James Edgar Skye and The Bipolar Writer became what he is today. My auhtor website goes into more detail.

There are plenty of ways to purchase my book.

  • You can purchase my book two ways on my author website through this link: Purchase my Book
    • The first link is to the paperback copy I sell on Amazon.
    • The second link is to the eBook, which you can purchase, and also it is available for free on Amazon KindleUlimited for free!

I am Looking for A Few Good Book Reviewers

I am also excited to offer my book for freely sending you a copy through the mail at no cost to you. All I ask is that you read the book and give your honest opinion. I will be offering it to the first ten people that reach out to me. Use the contact button at the top of the page if you are willing to write a review after reading the book, and I will get my book out to you ASAP.

Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

Learn to Love Yourself in the Alone Time

I have spent the last several months going to work and going home. Not much socializing. Sometimes once a month I would go out if invited to something. I was trying to save money. And I was trying to work on myself. I went to counseling and did other activities to pull myself out of depression. I don’t have insurance so that was the best I could do. I remember feeling alone often. I looked for ways to stay busy and distract myself from how I felt. I wished I could afford to go out and spend time with even one person.

As I was getting to a better place with my finances, the pandemic happened. Everything shut down. I lost a lot of work. Other than concerns for my income, my daily routine didn’t change much. I couldn’t read a book at a coffee shop, but I could live without that. I had grown more comfortable with myself and didn’t mind the alone time. I still feel alone but it doesn’t bother me as much. I’ve grown to a place where I enjoy cooking again. I read more. I write fiction more. My creative ideas are never ending.

During the pandemic, there were videos of celebrities feeling upset during social distancing. This reminded me of how I felt. I realized there wasn’t anything wrong with me or how I felt. We were all reacting in a normal way to isolation. I hope people are discovering new things about themselves. If you’re bored during isolation, you need new hobbies. If you’re alone and uncomfortable, you need to love yourself and enjoy your own company. We all should set time aside to be alone. It’s important to our wellbeing. Find your happiness in the alone time.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

Houseplants and Mental Health

I have a black thumb. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means I kill plants. You’d think, by now, that I’d see the ferns and cacti leaning away from me at the store -but, no. I see a cute pot or arrangement and think, I can grow a plant! Into my cart the poor once-green thing goes, soon to meet its demise like so many before it.

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Isn’t it cute?

My house is full of plants. This is odd, considering my admitting to how often I kill them. People come to my house, look around, and say, “Wow; you must have a green thumb!”

Hiding my black thumbs behind my back I answer, “Why, thank you;” because, as I said, I am not good at raising plants.

At this point, you may be wondering two things:

  1. Why do you have plants if you are bad at caring for them?
  2. Why the heck are we talking about plants? Isn’t this a mental health blog?

The answer is that living with mental illness is an awful lot like maintaining houseplants. Houseplants need a good start so their roots can drain while their soil retains water without drowning them. They need sunlight and regular watering. They even need calming sounds. When I skip or skimp on these things, they suffer.

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Likewise, counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or great genes) helps us deal with challenges and triggers in life. Sunlight gives us Vitamin D and cheers us up. We need water so we don’t die. Calmer songs and sounds help with agitation, depression, panic attacks, and stress. When I skip or skimp on these things, I suffer.

I often tell people I struggle with depression. I tell them I have social anxieties, or generalized ones. I admit to deep, dark thoughts and difficult days.

People -even online people- are surprised. All they see are green, growing plants. They don’t see the dead branches I’ve pulled off, the dead leaves I’ve pruned, or even the millipedes I vacuumed out of the roots*. They can’t feel my sadness, isolation, and occasional thoughts of uselessness and despair.

But, knowing I have mental issues hasn’t stopped me from fighting any more than knowing I have a black thumb has stopped me from buying plants.

Why?

Because there is no perfect plant -besides the plastic ones at IKEA. Every plant has parts that die off. Every one of them has needed soil conditioners or peat moss, or re-potting.

One of my favorite houseplants is this tree, pictured below. I bought it as a tiny, grocery store discount. I’ve watered it, kept it in the sun, and graduated it to larger pots as it outgrew them. At some points, I thought it wouldn’t make it. I even thought to leave it behind when we moved houses.

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Then, I learned better potting techniques. I watered regularly, but not too much. It’s currently taller than I am, and still growing.

Furthermore, do you notice anything about its coloring? The part away from the sun is darker. There are some dead leaves nearer the middle.

Hmmmm.

Some days I want to give up. I see the discolorations in my character and assume others do as well. I think there is something wrong that needs removal or replacement.

Instead, notice how cool the contrast looks. Notice how darkness gives depth to light.

Maybe the ‘problem’ is that I need more sunshine, a better watering routine, or a calmer environment. Maybe the ‘problem’ is needing more space or nutrients. Or, maybe the ‘problem’ is there isn’t one, because everyone has problems.

And so, I will keep trying. I will keep fighting. And the growth that emerges will be the most beautiful and healthy of all.

~~~~~

*True story with a lemon tree we bought

Photo Credits:
Paula Brustur
Lauren Ferstl
And, Chelsea Owens

Reclaiming My Love For Literature

I am guessing that most of you might have realized that I have been absent for quite some time. Despite me being an advocate for mental health, I too suffer from mental health issues and the health issues hinder my day-to-day experiences. Though I understand that I was diagnosed with Bipolar Mood Disorder, it doesn’t define who I am and who I aspire to be.

It takes a lot more effort though to manage and deal with what is expected of us, from our jobs, schools, work and family life. It can be quite taxing especially when one is currently having an episode. When I had my fourth episode this year, I was hospitalized for quite a while, longer than I have ever been before. I had suicidal ideation and had no recollection of anything that I was doing.

I lost a sense of who I was because, at the time, I had not found the right cocktail of medications that worked for me. It was all trial and error and I was frustrated since nothing was working and that I took longer to recover from episodes.

I lost so much interest in things that I used to love doing. I stopped journaling, writing code, blogging and of course, began despising literature. Mind you, I’m not a literature student, I am a computer science and engineering student. This may sound extremely weird for most people because most people in Stem fields have little or no interest in literature. Believe me you, there are so many of us, in stem that appreciate language beyond research purposes but for the beauty that the art of language portrays.

Before and during my hospitalization I lost my ability to read and retain what I read. I was infuriated by this because literature was my canvas, my form of expression besides science. I was lost and felt hopeless. While I was in hospital my boyfriend brought me novels and non-fiction books. I struggled to read more than 10 pages a day, but as time went by I picked up speed and began reading and writing. Before I knew it, I finished a 150-page novel in two days within the second week of my hospital stay. I progressed and read more books which were a bit longer than the first. My love for literature and reading was reignited.

I found me again. It’s through the little things in life that we know our life purpose. It’s not about the money or the physical things that fulfill us but rather the tiny little basic needs that we require to live our lives. The ability to have the freedom to express what we want and the freedom to be authentically ourselves. As I mentioned, I found me again and I couldn’t be happier!

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Angel love and rainbows.

Love, Francesca.

Self Love

Self love to me is loving yourself, wholly and unconditionally. Loving the good parts of yourself and the bad. It is also taking time to care for your self and to make your self the best you can be.

Self-love is something that a lot of us struggle with, myself included. Loving myself is something I’ve struggled with for most of my adolescent/young adult life. Part of this is probably due to my abusive past relationship, and the rest is probably because of my mental illnesses of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I not only struggle with loving myself as a person, but loving the body I live in as well.

Something that really helps me is reading quotes that are meaningful, and I’d like to share a few of those.

“My first love was some insignificant boy, when it should’ve been myself. “

This one is interesting to me. When I was younger, I sought out validation with my relationships. But, if someone didn’t like me, it made me feel bad about myself as well. I later realized that I didn’t need validation from others, I needed it from myself. How can anyone else love me if I don’t in turn, love myself?

“Get into the habit of asking yourself: ‘Does this support the life I’m trying to create?'”

This is an important one. 2019 for me has been focusing on my own growth. Self love falls into that category. In order to grow and learn to love myself, I want to make decisions that support the life I want. This way, I am actively making decisions to better myself and decisions that make me happy.

Self love can be different for every person. It is basically taking some time to spend with yourself and do something that makes you happy. Some examples of what I do is

  • take a bubble bath
  • go for a walk
  • listen to your favorite song
  • have a dance party
  • read
  • go for a walk
  • cuddle a pet
  • exercise
  • journal

But really, what you do is totally up to you. It is really important to occasionally take time to give yourself love. If you are like me and constantly giving others love and attention, it can be rather draining. So, always make sure you are giving yourself some time as well.

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How Depression Feels

After the successful results of our last how-to article, “Depression for Dummies,” I felt a continuation of similar advice might be helpful. I may have decided this after yet another conversation with my loving, wonderful, clueless husband.

Thing is, non-crazies do not understand how we think. They are not living inside us, feeling the things we feel or thinking what we think or assuming what we assume after someone says something. They are inside them, usually feeling pretty darn good.

Lucky.

So, drag that fortunate spouse, significant other, friend, boss, or coworker over here. I’m going to teach them what it feels like to be depressed.

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First, class, you need to get really uncomfortable. Don’t shower and don’t brush your teeth for five days. At least. On top of that, I’m going to need you to roll around in some mud and let it harden in uncomfortable places. Finally, put on some clothes that do not fit right and make you think you look like a muddy, fat elephant who hasn’t visited the watering hole in five days.

Did you do all that? Good! Now onto Step Two:

During or after your five days dirtying the outside, I want you to work on the inside. Eat foods that are bad for you like candy, soda pop, Taco Bell, and Lima beans. I don’t want to go too far, so I’m not going to encourage anything harder. Simply eating poorly ought to do it.

Are you with me so far? Excellent.

Next, you need to contract some kind of virus. No one wants you actually dying, so aim for a bad cough or for that cold that’s going around.

Feeling bad yet? You only think you are.

Lastly, I want you to sit in front of a mirror and tell yourself that you are ugly. You eat like a pig. You are sick. On top of all that, you are worthless and no one likes you.

Are you feeling something now? Something sad? Congratulations! -because you have touched the surface of the ongoing mindset that is Depression. Whenever you want to say something ‘helpful’ in the future like, “This will pass,” “You have great potential; why don’t you use it?,” or “Why would you feel depressed?,” remember what all of this felt like. Maybe you’ll say a more encouraging, empathetic phrase, instead.

Maybe you’ll just listen, and give the depressed person some chocolate.

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Now, I’m not heartless enough to leave anyone down as far as we went, so you can’t leave until we reverse everything we did today. In fact, all of you people hiding in your closets and corners feeling depressed: come over here and do it, too.

First, I want you to get up, take off the uncomfortable clothes that make you feel fat and ugly, and go take the most awesome and refreshing shower you’ve ever experienced. Feel the warm water stimulate your happy nerves as you watch muddy elephant runoff slide down the drain.

Feeling somewhat better? Keep going.

Next, I want you to make the healthiest food that you enjoy and eat it. I’d go for an excellent, nutritious sandwich or shake. Whatever you choose ought to have whole foods, a few food groups, and definitely vegetables.
Brush your teeth afterwards and revel in the minty fresh taste of your smiling mouth.

You’re still with me, right? It gets better:

Go visit a doctor or take some over-the-counter medications to help with your cold symptoms. I really am sorry I recommended that you contract one; they’re the worst. Rest and breathing exercises help as well.

Did you do all of the steps so far? We’re nearly finished!

Get back over to your mirror and sit down. With a nice amount of natural light around, I want you to apologize for saying nasty things. I want you to say the following, instead: “I am good enough; I am smart enough; and doggone it, people like me for me.” Pull up some good Cognitive Behavioral Therapy programs on your phone and run through a few.

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I’d say you should feel right as rain about now, but I’m more honest than that. If you followed all of the recommended steps then I am certain you feel a lot better, but I am also certain that you remember how you felt when you were depressed.

That’s because, during Depression, we tell ourselves some pretty damaging things; things that don’t wash down a drain or disappear when we turn on the light.

But they do diminish. Some days, they almost disappear. With the support of our (now) less-clueless friends and significant others, you will get better. And that’s worth fighting for.

 

Photo Credits:
Miguel Henriques
Jordane Mathieu

A Swim Upstream And Lessons Learnt

As the year comes to an end, I would like to recap what 2018 has been for me. This year was filled with so many ups and downs. Tears have been cried and my faith has been tested on so many occasions. There were a lot of lessons learned, despite my heartache.

It has been a year since I was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and My Bowel Disease. This time last year, I was so malnourished because my gut was extremely damaged and I couldn’t absorb nutrients. It has been such a struggle to get to a point were my bowel disease was at bay. I was also diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and panic disorder about three years ago. I struggled to keep the ship sailing since my malnutrition and my bowel disease made my mental health conditions worse.

I lost so many friends due to us growing apart. I was no longer helpful in their journeys and them in mine. I grew into what I am today because I was shaped by my circumstances and experiences. I became who I was destined to be. I fell in love with myself again, despite having lost myself in the storm of circumstances I had no control over. I gained new hope and I started traveling the world again, with friends and on my own.

For the first time in a year, since my diagnosis of CPTSD. I started living for myself and not being defined by doctrines that people tried to instil in me. I overcame my self harming strategies, my suicidal thoughts and most importantly the guilt I have carried for so many years. I always struggled with guilt and self-hate. Because I was taught by my abusers that I was not worthy of love and that I wasn’t deserving of life. I still struggle with my negative inner critic from time to time but I learnt how to cope and tackle this negative inner critic.

I am grateful for all that Life had to offer me in 2018. Most importantly, I found the new me!

Thank you for being with me. I look forward to seeing you here again soon Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love,

Francesca

When Mental Illness Can Be Difficult to Accept

It is difficult to accept when you first learn you have a mental illness. Sometimes it’s a shock when the doctor tells you, but you believe and trust the doctor and begin exploring options towards recovery. What if it’s not a doctor? What if your family is telling you to get help or telling you why certain behaviors make them think you have a mental illness? Will you accept it when your friends or family say you have a mental illness? I have seen some people reject the idea and run from it instead of considering getting a professional opinion.

I can understand why some people have this reaction. When I first looked into the symptoms of Complex PTSD, I was shocked to learn how much of what I thought was my personality derived from symptoms of this disorder. While I learned many of the things, I didn’t like about myself were symptoms, I also learned many of the behaviors and traits I identified with most were symptoms. This was a hard reality to accept. The inner image I had for myself was wrong and I felt lost. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

It took some time, but I eventually started to accept this new self-image. Certain things were reidentified in different ways, but I am still the person I have always been. This new information only made me understand myself more. I know myself better than I did. It takes time to get to know another person and this is true of knowing oneself. The hardest part is accepting and learning how to move forward. I’m still struggling with moving forward. Most of my life I didn’t have a support system. I have a small group of people now, but the path forward is still difficult.

Anyone who feels their family is attacking them with accusations of mental illness, my advice is to see a professional if for no other reason than to prove everyone wrong. Don’t argue. Offer to see a counselor and get an official diagnosis. Too many mental disorders have similar symptoms and behaviors and it can be hard to determine what is causing certain behaviors. Even from a psychiatric professional, the news is difficult to process and accept. Remember that, despite the stigma, mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and does not make you less of a person. It is one more battle you weren’t expecting, but it can be won. Don’t give up.

Photo Credit: <unsplash-logoPriscilla Du Preez

The Nature Of Wisdom

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The Nature Of Wisdom

By: Francesca Seopa

Sometimes if we just pause for a moment,

Things become a little clearer, we learn

something.

These moments are everything, and we find

wisdom.

Sometimes, it`s given to you,

passed from one hand to another.

Sometimes you have to learn it on

your own.

And, sometimes it speaks right into our soul,

without speaking at all.

It is the sum of all our knowledge

and experience….

a candle in the darkness…

And, undoubtedly, it is the most precious

thing we have.

Because when we hold wisdom in our hands…

We hold the key, to something great.

And, while each of us may gain wisdom

in different ways,

There is one thing that remains true for

us all….

It`s what you do with it that counts!

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Thank you for being with me. I look Forward to seeing you here again soon. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love,

Francesca

When I Finally Knew My Worth

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This has been the hardest road I ever travelled on. This Journey of finding myself and who I was destined to be after trauma has not been easy. I hope that this gives people hope that one can come out victorious even when they had gone through circumstances that were unbearable. I really travelled through this madness to find myself. I became comfortable with myself in this space (on this planet) because I no longer have nothing to prove to anyone. I just have to be authentically me. I had to changed how I saw (my perspective) of my circumstances and the world. I chose me first. I chose to follow my intuition, my inner-compass.

I will never be anything less than me and if that bothers you, step out of my light. – Anonymous

After so many years of soul searching and seeking external validation, I have outgrown so many things. I outgrew people who gladly offered criticism instead of support. I stopped trying to meet unrealistic expectations that were set by my family. I have outgrown my own unrealistic expectations of myself and my need to people please. accomplishment-achievement-adorable-1119981I no longer associate myself with human beings, who wear masks and secretly rejoice at my misfortunes and my mistakes. I ceased shrinking myself for people who were intimidated by my presence and by my intelligence. People who wouldn’t allow me to express myself because they were intimidated by my outspoken nature. Even when I was shrinking myself, I had the courage to break the silence and hear myself sing again.

I have outgrown friendships, love-ships and family-ships that did not celebrate accomplishments. I stopped supporting people who disappeared whenever life got a little tough. I learnt to respect myself. battle-black-blur-260024I no longer associated with people who took pleasure in gossiping and spreading negativity. Dull, shallow and meaningless conversations are a thing of the past. I value my time and energy more than ever before. I have outgrown society telling me that I am not beautiful and not worthy. I ceased filling my mind with negative thoughts, self doubt and insecurities. I stopped finding reasons not to love myself but more reasons to love others before myself because of my emptiness. I have outgrown people and things that don’t enrich my soul, inner-tuition and my life purpose. After so many years of soul searching and seeking external validation, I have outgrown so many things. My soul is finally free. I finally know my worth more than ever now.

I stopped waiting for the world to give me what I wanted; I started giving it to myself. – Anonymous

Thank you for being with me. I look forward to seeing you here again. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love

Francesca