Looking for a Book Cover Artist

A blog post such a this is not my usual thing here on The Bipolar Writer blog, but I am at a crossroads of sorts. I have struck out locally to find an artist willing to create a cover for my memoir The Bipolar Writer, so I thought, why not ask my fellow bloggers.

I need your help! I really want to publish my book sooner rather than later.

I can’t pay a whole lot up front and to be honest when it comes to what I want I have no idea. What I offer is some compensation up front and compensation when I publish my memoir. If you are interested or know an artist willing to help please email me @ jamesedgarskye22@gmail.com.

Also, I am still learning about publishing so any pointers from my fellow bloggers would be helpful as well.

Thank you so much!

Always Keep Fighting

James

Photo Credit: Joseph Morris

A One Year Blog Annivesary

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. – Edgar Allan Poe

A Letter to The Bipolar Writer – A Year Later

You made it James. The One year anniversary of The Bipolar Writer blog.

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One year ago today you started this blog with an idea. You wanted to share the good, the bad, and the amazing part of living a life within having a mental illness.

You had your doubts, this was the third time in four years that you wanted to blog about your experiences. You yearned to finally share The Bipolar Writer and James Edgar Skye with the world, but with the past failure at blogging, it was easy to say “if this fails, I am done writing.”

It was different for you this time, you had taken a class on creating an cultivating a productive blog. You made the decision to do things right. The first thing was to buy a domain name. It meant having access to better themes that could really make your blog a professional one. It was as if the stars had aligned and you finally had your shot a making something great.

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It was a risky venture starting this blog in September. In the distance, you knew that there was a chance that being Bipolar could stop this blog in its tracks. With October and November looming you made the decision to move forward. It was the right choice.

There were struggles. In this mental illness life, it is never easy. You had no idea that things would take off the way that it did. It was so easy to just be yourself and begin to share the experiences as both James and The Bipolar Writer.

Amazingly in November, the blog was blooming, and out of it came an idea– The Bipolar Writer Memoir. It was your ten year anniversary that month, and the stars really aligned. Like the idea of blogging, you had tried so many times in the past to write your memoir. Yet with every comment, every like, and every conversation, it became clearer that this is where the rest of my year would go. I wrote like a madman, but it the feedback that made it all possible.

In December you took another significant step, you decided it was time to start writing the stories of others. What has become a series, Interview Features – The Series, you showed the world that mental illness has so many faces. It helped you that people were willing to share their own journey with you, hoping that you would shed some light on their stories. It became the best series. It gave me another idea– contributor writers for The Bipolar Writer blog. December was a fantastic month, and even with a week of depression to end the year, you were ready to take The Bipolar Writer blog into 2018.

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2018 was gonna be the year that things finally started to gather yourself and there were so many goals to start the year My 2018 Goals. It was tough at times because your depression and anxiety spiraled out of control for days at a time. Unlike the winter months in the past, you found solace in your writing, and this blog became the connection to sharing your experience with the mental illness community. It was all going well. The blog was shining, and the memoir was coming along– then you hit the worst stretch of this blog which coincided with a severe depression cycle that started early March.

It had to happen. Nothing in this mental illness life is easy. I needed to struggle in 2018. It was a rare occurrence to have long depression cycles. This one started in March and finally let up in May. I could see that my energy was just not into writing new and original content. I was lucky though, I had some of the most fantastic contributor writers that helped this blog continue to move forward. I would have been lost without their willingness to pick up the slack.

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It was summer. You graduated. You worked your ass off to reach 100,000 views, and you did it. You amazed yourself. The ups and downs. Through it all, you always found a way to continue to make The Bipolar Writer blog the best ever.

You shared so much with your followers, and you were amazed by the outpour through victories, reaching goals, and the even more fantastic how your fellow mental illness bloggers picked you up when you were down.

This journey has been the best thing to happen to The Bipolar Writer, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. You made it to one year. Here is to many more years of sharing my experience with Bipolar One.

I promise to make it the best ever.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:

Markus Spiske

Samuel Zeller

Carl Raw

Ksenia Makagonova

The Bipolar Writer Blog Needs Your Help!

You Can Also Donate Here

I didn’t want to get to this point where I have to ask my fellow bloggers for help. I want to start with some background. I started The Bipolar Writer blog back in September of 2017. I had no idea that it would grow into this amazing thing that it is now– a place where members of the mental illness community could have a place to voice their stories.

If you have been following my blog, you know that I have been working since November of 2017 on my memoir. All the money donated since that time has been put into a fund to pay the artist that is creating a cover so I can self-publish. Every cent that I have is going for that purpose.

With that said, on WordPress, I pay for a premium service. It allows me to keep The Bipolar Writer blog steady by having the chance to have its domain name. It has helped this blog grow. I have less than a week left before I need to pay for the next year, but it makes sense for The Bipolar Writer to develop we must expand to a business plan. It will allow me to do so much more for the mental illness community.

You Can Also Donate Here

What I am asking is for donations so that I can take The Bipolar Writer to the next step. Below you will find a donation button; it will allow you to donate a minimum of 2 dollars and any more than you can add a number (2 would donate 4 dollars). Anything you can give towards expanding this blog would be much appreciated. The goal is a total of $292. Help me take this blog to the next level!

Also, if can hit the share button below so we can get more people involved.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)

You Can Also Donate Here

unsplash-logoPerry Grone

The Bipolar Writer Blog Needs Your Help!

 

You Can Also Donate Here

This is part two: The Bipolar Writer Blog is still working towards its goal, we are not quite there, please donate what you can as we work towards upgrading to a business plan.

I didn’t want to get to this point where I have to ask my fellow bloggers for help. I want to start with some background. I started The Bipolar Writer blog back in September of 2017. I had no idea that it would grow into this amazing thing that it is now– a place where members of the mental illness community could have a place to voice their stories.

If you have been following my blog, you know that I have been working since November of 2017 on my memoir. All the money donated since that time has been put into a fund to pay the artist that is creating a cover so I can self-publish. Every cent that I have is going for that purpose.

With that said, on WordPress, I pay for a premium service. It allows me to keep The Bipolar Writer blog steady by having the chance to have its domain name. It has helped this blog grow. I have less than a week left before I need to pay for the next year, but it makes sense for The Bipolar Writer to develop we must expand to a business plan. It will allow me to do so much more for the mental illness community.

You Can Also Donate Here

What I am asking is for donations so that I can take The Bipolar Writer to the next step. Below you will find a donation button; it will allow you to donate a minimum of 2 dollars and any more than you can add a number (2 would donate 4 dollars). Anything you can give towards expanding this blog would be much appreciated. The goal is a total of $277. Help me take this blog to the next level!

Also, if can hit the share button below so we can get more people involved.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)

You Can Also Donate Here

 

Looking for an Editor for The Bipolar Writer Blog

Hello my fellow bloggers. I am looking to expand two slots on my contributor writer blogger list. If you are interested please email me @jamesedgarskye22@gmail.com I am looking for those who want to write mental health pieces for this collaborative blog. Also if you want to guest blog you can also email me.

On the other side I am looking for an editor for the Bipolar Writer blog. I am having trouble keeping up with The a Bipolar Writer blog as I have been so busy lately. I would like for one of my contributor writers to take the next step. You would have access to edit and set the posts for each day.

As much as I like writing for my blog and allowing my contributor writers to add content, I would like to take a step back and just write– this is why I think an editor would be great for my blog.

If you’re a contributor let me know if you have time. I had an editor lined up but it didn’t work out.

Always keep fighting.

James Edgar Skye

 

Photo Credit:

Stefen Tan

My mental health coping skills (and a story!)

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I read a post that James, the creator of this blog, wrote a few days ago. He listed out his top coping skills and how they’ve helped him navigate through various challenges. Today, I will be listing my top coping skills; but first, a background story.

Prologue

Two weeks ago, I was excited for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. I was only supposed to work a half day that Friday before leaving for the three day weekend. Fifteen minutes before I was supposed to leave, the HR person called me into her office. She began by explaining that the agency was continuing to experience some financial issues and that a decision was made to eliminate my position as a result. I was laid off with two weeks severance pay.

My top coping skills

  1. Giving myself time to process before reacting: As I listened to the HR person explain the lay off, I’m pretty sure my brain went into auto pilot. I was somehow able to communicate as if the sudden loss of income wasn’t an issue. I packed up my office and texted my wife the simple message, “I just got laid off.” I knew right away that I needed to allow myself to enjoy the long weekend as planned before beginning the job search. Living with an anxiety disorder, my tendency is to react rather than respond; however, this usually leads to me making impulsive decisions, becoming very anxious, and/or experiencing increased panic attacks. Allowing time for it to sink in was best.
  2. Positive self-talk/ reframing: I also sent an email to my licensure supervisor (a person who oversees my clinical work until I get my full counseling license) notifying her of the lay off. When she asked, “what happened?” I was able to state the facts while also becoming aware of the positives of the situation. First, I hated my job and dreaded going to work every day. Recently, I’ve been having more panic attacks than usual and there is no doubt that my job was a primary trigger. I reframed this lay off as an opportunity to find something better. I reminded myself of my strengths and talents. This gave me the confidence that I would need to go out and find a better job. Also, two weeks of severance pay? What I heard was, “two weeks paid vacation!”
  3. Music: Music has always been a coping skill for me even before I knew what a coping skill was. It’s a chance to listen to someone else’s story, to relate, and to turn your mind off for a while. My go-to album as I drove home from the office that day was The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
  4. Binge watching TV: Being that I was temporarily unemployed, I had a lot more time at my disposal. While I don’t recommend making binge watching a lifestyle, there are times when it’s therapeutic. Like music, diving into someone else’s story is a way to take your mind off of your situation, to laugh, and to pass some time. Ugly Betty is my go-to TV show for any occasion.
  5. Exercise: I’ve written in the past about how exercise is a great mental health coping skill. In fact, as I write this, I’m on a stationary bike at the gym. Exercise makes me feel energized and confident.
  6. Sleep: Sleep is something I have been trying to make a priority in recent months. I’ve noticed that my anxiety and mood are best managed when I’m operating on at least 8 hours of sleep.
  7. Blogging: One of the things that I disliked about my job is that I was underutilized. I’m trained in mental health but would often be left with a lot of idle time. That is actually why I started my blog, Perfectly Imperfect. It was a way for me to interact with the mental health community. In the idle time at work, I was able to write several posts that not only gave me something to do, they made my idle time more meaningful. Being able to talk about things that I’m passionate about has been very therapeutic for me. In the past two weeks, I’ve used some time to interact with the WordPress community, to share ideas, and to get new ideas. It’s been great.

Epilogue

Obviously coping skills alone didn’t make my problem of new-found unemployment go away. After allowing myself the three day weekend to chill and to process the situation, I hit the ground running on Tuesday. I applied to a ton of mental health positions on Indeed. Fortunately for me, being a black male in the mental health profession is helpful trait in securing employment (There are very few mail POC clinicians and therapists where I live). Within 24 hours of starting my job search, I was on my way to an interview. I got several interviews last week and this week. When it was all said and done, I accepted a clinical director position that conveniently starts right as my two weeks of severance pay runs out. Oh yeah, and the job pays $10k more annually than my last job! I knew from the beginning that the lay off was an opportunity for me to find something better. I am grateful that I was able to find a job so quickly without any financial disruption, as I know this isn’t the norm.

Conclusion

As always, thanks for reading! This is the first time that I’ve shared about the lay off situation in writing and it was helpful to both process the past two weeks while sharing the coping skills that have been most helpful to me. Feel free to comment below.

Photo credit: Zyon, my dog. He’s enjoyed having me home during the day, as he’s usually alone while my wife and I are at work.

To Be(er), Or Not To Be(er)

“Please Drink Responsibly” is the phrase slapped across every product you must be twenty-one years of age to purchase in the United States. Alcohol has been, is, and always will be one of the most controversial matters in history for many reasons. Our grandfathers’ fathers made it hidden in the south eastern mountains to provide for their families in the most lucrative way they could. A tradition has been made out of its’ recipes and stories of bootlegging and prohibition. It’s the one thing that even the United States government couldn’t stop.

As with anything however, where there are pros, there are cons. As with anything, if enjoyed in excess there are many debilitating effects it can cause on your health and the health of others. Poor judgements and decisions are made which can impact many people for the rest of their lives. If you live just below the Bible belt as I do, don’t be surprised if some mega church preacher attempts to release you from the grasp of the Devils’ nectar as he lovingly embraces you while reaching for your wallet and groping every square inch of your wife with his eyes.

The point I am trying to make is that we live in a society that welcomes the use of alcohol like an old family friend. It’s as American as apple pie, baseball, McDonald’s, and this messed up obsession we all have over reality television. So if no one else seems to have a problem, and it all just is a natural part of life, do I really have as big of a problem as I think I do?

If you have followed me or my blog for any amount of time, you may have stumbled across my introduction or several works about alcohol and my battle with the bottle. Today I want to give you a little background about it, as the subject weighs heavily on my mind lately. I have been drinking since I was fourteen years old. It started out as simply as it typically would. Tall bottles of Smirnoff Ice which eventually led my curious tongue to tall cans of malt liquor. I drank A LOT of gut rot, gas station specials as an early teenager such as Steel Reserve 211 and the likes, until I finally calmed down into normal domestic beers.

At around the age of eighteen I began to indulge in liquor. Trying a little bit of anything I could get my hands on, I quickly discovered that vodka and gin were two of my least favorite liquors. As stereotypical as it will sound, I was a bourbon guy through and through just like my father. The smoky taste, the warm burn of eighty proof tingling down your throat, and that decadent smell of oak as it swirled around in my glass could make my mouth water with every sip. I had made it my mission to become a connoisseur of bottom shelf bourbon. Even when I moved out on my own, the only things I had to my name were a few pots and pans, a record player, a futon mattress, and most importantly… a bottle of rye whisky.

It wasn’t until last year in September that a panic attack made me really look at myself and question my life. Once I began my journey for better mental health, I realized I was using the alcohol to self medicate my anxieties and possibly even some of my bipolar tendencies when I look back in retrospect. I made a lot of changes to my lifestyle with help from my wife. I decided to not keep beer in the apartment we share and she agrees because she feels it’s a waste of money. We agree to only drink when we go to restaurants or concerts and I stopped buying liquor all together because if it’s in my reach, I will drink it.

It’s not uncommon for me to become my own worst enemy. I am my worst critic, my worst judge of character, and the last person I ever want to have to confront. Lately if I’m out somewhere and decide to have a beer, I look at myself in shame and feel regret over my decision. I feel as though I’m letting myself down and even you down. Even though I don’t drink for the same reason anymore, enjoying one beer throws so many questions into my mind, it almost makes me wonder if it’s worth it. On the other hand, I’m not drinking for the same reason anymore. I enjoy beer as a craft and a beverage. Taking barley and hops and creating a flavorful masterpiece is a skill I am honestly envious of. There are so many good things about beer that go far beyond alcohol content.

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a situation that is different. I am not writing this to sway someone who is struggling with addiction to drink. If you are someone who is on the fence, I encourage you to please take the plunge and reach out to your local alcoholics anonymous program or outpatient rehabilitation center. What I am writing this for is to tell my story and to pose a question to my friends, the readers.

With the habits I continue to follow, I find myself wondering if I really have as big of a problem as I think I do. Am I more in control than I realize? Am I blowing this entirely out of proportion? If no one else seems to have an issue, then what is my problem? I am fine with not buying liquor, but am I wrong if I buy beer from time to time? What are your thoughts, and do you struggle this as well?

Easier said than done? Work-life balance

I want to begin by thanking those who participated in the poll that I posted last week. I got a lot of great insight on topics y’all would like to see in the coming weeks. 19.15% of y’all voted for “work-life balance,” which I will be discussing today.

What is work-life balance?

There’s no doubt that work-life balance has an influence on our mental health. For those who suffer from mental health disorders, having work-life balance is even more crucial. Work-life balance is defined as having the time to perform employment, family, social, and community tasks in a manner that results in some sort of equilibrium.

Whether your “work” is school, maintaining a household, or holding down a 9-5 job, you need time outside of your work to recharge, to engage with hobbies and passions, and to socialize with non-work people. Being able to have a personal life while fulfilling the work/school/etc. duties is the tricky part and will vary from person-to-person.

In this post, I won’t go into detail about what can happen when you aren’t mindful of work-life balance but you can read a post I wrote on the topic of burnout. 

How can I improve my work-life balance?

You can begin by asking yourself: “What different roles do I have outside of work?” Are you a parent, friend, spouse, sibling, church member, volunteer, etc.? How are you tending to your various roles? Do you know how to delegate your time?

It is likely that we all found some areas for improvement as we pondered the above questions. With that being said, here are some ideas to help improve your work-life balance now:

  1. Make changes: If possible, adjust work hours to be more conducive to your other life roles. Eat better, exercise more, sleep more, and develop your coping skills for when work is more demanding (unbalance from time-to-time is inevitable). These changes and self-care tasks will help you to be better prepared for juggling multiple responsibilities and roles in your life.
  2. Unplug: The devices we surround ourselves with make it difficult to disconnect from work once we’ve punched out for the day. I suggest limiting or eliminating work-based email and work-related phone communications when you’re outside of work hours. Research supports that tending to things like work emails when you’re off the clock increases the chance of burnout. I personally choose not have work email on my phone. I also give coworkers and clients a google voice number that is different than my personal number. This allows me to unplug and follow up on calls and texts when I am in the office.
  3. Take breaks: I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t take a lunch break on a regular basis. I even read that many people fail to use their allotted vacation time. These activities are crucial to preventing burnout. Breaks help you to recharge during the day before returning to work. It will likely make you more productive when you return if you allow yourself to step out of work mode. When taking a break, it is important to get out of your work setting if possible and do something to relax; ie, watch youtube, read a book, listen to music. Avoid spending the whole time on social media, as it tends to drain more than rejuvenate. Schedule vacations once or twice a year (or more!) and don’t bring work on those vacations. The world will not end if you can’t be reached and you will be better off after stepping away for a bit.
  4. List your non-negotiables: What are the non-work things that you refuse to miss? List them out and make sure you schedule it around your work obligations. For me, my weekly non-negotiables are writing at least one mental health blog, going to the gym at least 5 days, getting at least 8 hours of sleep nightly, and having a designated date night with my wife.

Conclusion

Having a work-life balance is easier said than done. We live in a competitive world and often fear we won’t be able to keep up unless we sacrifice. It all comes down to where your priorities are and what you’re willing to do to make them happen. I hope that this has been helpful. Feel free to comment with your thoughts on work-life balance.

You can find me at perfectlyimperfect92.wordpress.com

As always, thanks for reading!

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/presence-mind/201509/hows-your-work-life-balance

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-love-and-war/201510/10-ways-increase-work-life-balance

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

Stabilize

I sat in the waiting room clutching papers in my hand. For two weeks I had prepared to tell my doctor that I finally began seeing a therapist and that the diagnosis from her standpoint was leaning towards bipolar disorder. Awkwardly I gathered my things together once my name was called and followed the nurse for blood pressure and weight checks. Weighing in at 210 pounds threw me off guard at first, but I suppose that’s what happens when you stop drinking every day.

The nurse handed me the same GAD checklist that gets filled out each visit. I hadn’t seen my doctor in a little over a month so my numbers were up higher than in previous visits. As I would fill out “More than half the days”, I could feel that I was getting beside myself again. I should’ve been better than this. I should’ve been normal.

The doctor came in the room almost as quickly as the nurse left it. Before I could even allow the “hello” to escape her lips, the paperwork was extended in her direction and I told her I had gone to a therapist. “We think I may have bipolar disorder. I’m not throwing chairs or anything like that but after reading off the symptoms, a lot of things make a lot of sense. The high sex drive, the huge interest in hobbies only to drop them within a week or so, the days of not being able to make myself get off of the couch, my lack of focus and excess of indecision, it’s all here and then some.”, I said while pointing at the bipolar information sheet.

“Well I had my suspicions, but getting a second opinion from a therapist definitely solidifies a treatment option. Let’s try weaning off of one of your antidepressants and adding a mood stabilizer.”, she said.

I want to be clear by saying that I’m not glad that I am on another medication, but I am glad that I may be one step closer to finding a way to live life without my life getting in the way of… Well… My life. The problem I have with my mental health is that I wake up with either no motivation to get anything done, or so much motivation that I run errands and still not get anything done. I can have a great day until a derogatory comment is made to either me or a friend, and it sends my mood into a sullen, sarcastic, and depressing cloud for either hours or the rest of the day. I feel as though I have never had any control over my sensitivity or emotions, even as a child.

It has been four days since I have begun the process to stabilize. The new medicine I am trying is called Topiramate and if it’s anything like my Lexapro, it probably is something that will take time for my body to chemically register before a difference is noticed. Honestly, the biggest side effects I feel today are lethargy and extreme dizziness. It is as if I have hit the bottle hard enough to have woken up drunk and held onto it. This medicine is also used to treat seizures as well as migraines, so I feel that it plays with a different part of the mind than I am used to, so hopefully a change will come soon. According to other articles, it takes around five to six days for the side effects to dissipate.

This is only the beginning of this journey, and I write to keep you in the loop about this process in case any of you ever go through the same thing. If you feel as though you need help with mental health please reach out to someone. You are never alone. I am available for contact via social media if anyone ever needs an ear to listen. You can find my contact information as well as my other blog posts at www.outtodry.blog.

Take care everyone!