Morgan’s Interview Feature

Since the inception of my blog The Bipolar Writer it has been my goal to write the stories of others like myself. I have written my own story in my memoir (also entitled The Bipolar Writer) and sharing my experiences on my blog. Every human experience in having to live with a mental illness is unique to that human being and the suffering from it is also unique. It is why I believe it is imperative that I share other’s stories, so here is the story of one brave mental illness sufferer—Morgan who lives in Australia.

The daily struggle of waking up every day to a mental illness can be a struggle and for Morgan, it is no different. Morgan has always felt that her daily mental illness struggle is a hard one, and had this to say, “My mental illness has always been very affected by what’s going on around me, some days it much worse than others.”

We all have that story of when we went from the unknown to the known with our diagnosis. Surrounded by the people Morgan loved on her twenty-first birthday, it became clear to her that in that moment she could barely acknowledge the event and a feeling of numbness. Only broken by the speech of her godparents and seeing the face of a filmmaking mentor, seemed to register to Morgan that day. “I was very lucky that afterward a very close friend, who suffered from anxiety herself, stayed behind and I decided to tell her how I felt,” she recalls.

Sometimes it takes just one person to listen before you realize you need help.

It was here that Morgan, after talking with her friend who recommended that she seek help, that she made the decision we all face. Two weeks later she was diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety and moderate to severe depression.

We all have a history, a time before our diagnosis where we had little to no understanding of what was going on in our lives, and Morgan remembers many times since she was a child that anxiety was a constant and silent companion. Morgan describes her early experiences as just a part of her personality growing up, a common thought during the early stages of anxiety. Like most things with a mental illness, her anxiety grew over time.

AnxietyasPartofPersonality

Morgan remembers that her anxiety was always there with her since she was a child, and at times she felt more anxious than other times, but the feeling never left her. Morgan recalls her memories with anxiety in an interesting way, but not uncommon, “I have no memory of not having anxiety, which is not surprising seeing as many people on my mother’s side of the family suffer from it.”

Anxiety is often the silent partner for the sufferer, and you hardly know it’s there until it makes it presence known. Identifying other family members when looking back your history of the causes of anxiety in their own life is common, and it no surprise that Morgan can link anxiety through her experiences with her family.

Death is an important part of our lives, and the inevitable part of life is that you will lose someone close to you, for someone with a mental illness this can be devastating. It was this way in Morgan’s life, and it was important enough that she brought it up in her interview with me, “My anxiety definitely became much worse after the death of my father and the suicide of someone I had grown up with within two months of each other when I was nineteen.”

The feelings associated with death in the mind of someone who is devastated with anxiety, depression, and grief can make a person with mental illness turn to the only thing they truly know when it comes to emotions—deeper feelings into the depths of depression—of feeling lost and alone.

“I experienced my first panic attack after their deaths, and I would go on to experience both moderate and severe ones in the years that followed,” Morgan explains.

For Morgan, depression was a much different beast, but still important. Looking back, Morgan can trace her first feelings of prolonged depressive moods to age ten or eleven, when her family issues started to affect her life. Her father was in early stages of vascular dementia which caused Morgan’s father to get easily frustrated with his family. At the age Morgan was at, having to go through puberty while dealing with depression, made it hard for Morgan’s childhood to be a normal one.

Depression would become a factor along with physical pain that affected her in school work over the course of her young and teenage life.

There are so many triggers in one’s life that can start a depressive episode, and Morgan recalls several in her life. One constant problem in Morgan’s life is that her physical problems have always triggered depression episodes. “During puberty, I began to experience severe stomach pain and nausea on and off, within a year lightheadedness and fatigue became frequent symptoms,” Morgan remembers growing up.

It was the beginning of what would become a trend in Morgan’s life with her physical problems causing depression that, in turn, affected her schooling. With her depression came plummeting school work and effectiveness in school over the years as a teen. It culminated for Morgan in her final year where once again her unknown mental illness issues made things impossible, “Even though I had amazing teachers, my prestigious school could only compromise so much, and halfway through my final year, I was told I wasn’t able to graduate.”

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How can anyone, let alone someone who is dealing with the dark places depression can take you to, deal with this kind of heartbreak? Morgan remembers what it felt like, “I can remember thinking about ways to die most days.”

This feeling of wanting to die when faced with such emotional pain is common among those within the mental health community. It is easy to empathize with Morgan because at one point many of us have had to deal with this feeling. Some, like myself, have given into suicidal idealizations. For Morgan, even with her growing mental illness problems, she had to choose and she chose to work on her physical health.

People can also be major triggers of depression in the life of someone with a mental illness, and often they leave the deepest of emotional scars on our lives. When Morgan’s parents first sent her to group therapy as a young impressionable teen, it was far from the normal. Morgan describes the group therapy that parents put her into as an alternative and “hippy” where other kids that had been through the program would come back to help. The problem? Most of the kids were still dealing with their own problems and still in need of help. It is here that Morgan first met an older boy who changed her—and not for the better.

Morgan recalls this relationship as unstable and one she couldn’t live without at the time.

“I developed a very strong crush on one of the older boys who were there to help, and he quickly realized how he could use my emotional feelings to manipulate me.”

Over the next four years of her teenage life, she stayed in touch with this boy, and she recalls that during this period of her life, her depression mood swings went from occasional to a constant menace. Morgan remembers the negative thoughts that this boy brought to her life, “One of my strongest memories of him now is the text messages telling me how much pain I was causing others by being in their lives, and how I was worthless.” For Morgan, this was a daily occurrence and a recognizable one for many dealing with a mental illness.

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This boy confirmed every fear and anxious thought that Morgan ever had about herself, but the connection had always been there for Morgan, and cutting off this person from her life was filled with difficulties. As humans with a mental illness, we often attach ourselves to situations where it only serves to further our negative thoughts. We feel as if we are not good enough for the world, so these relationships, no matter how destructive, can lead to deeper attachments.

Eventually, on her sixteenth birthday, Morgan finally cut off all contact and ended a relationship filled with emotional cuts that stayed with her for many years.

Not all people that come into the lives of someone with a mental illness are negative influences. In her journey, Morgan has found two people at school that became saviors in her life and they are still a positive influence. In her late teen years, Morgan found the strength to fight her ups and downs with depression with filmmaking and found solace in her friend Alice who became her rock after her father’s death. When Morgan finally sought help it became clear that her past was affecting her future, and since has grown with her experiences.

“I’d known since I was twelve that I had some form of depression, after all, most of my symptoms matched the ones I’d heard of in group therapy, but getting my official diagnosis of anxiety was life-changing.”

These days Morgan gets through her daily struggles with the help of important medications like anti-depressants and breathing exercises that she learned in cognitive behavioral therapy to help cope with anxiety. Morgan also credits a strong support system of family and quality friends who not only know what is wrong with her but offer help in her those times of great need, supporting her along her journey.

When Morgan has a panic attack, she has learned to tell herself, “Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.”

In Morgan’s life, she has found solace in the things that make her life worth living. Close personal friends that are always there for her. Morgan’s boyfriend of eighteen months has seen the worst of her diagnosis and is still is a constant patient and supportive influence every day. Throughout her life, she has been lucky to have her parents that always encouraged her creativity and dreams. It was Morgan’s mother who fostered her creativity, “My mother passed on her love of art and cafes, and we still share wonderful deep emotional conversations together, which are the main ways I process life.”

Of course, Morgan has her cat, Alistair (a Dragon Age reference perhaps) who is always a wonderful distraction from the rest of the world.

In every journey of a human being going through a mental illness you can find real wisdom in the struggle, and Morgan wants her story to be one of many that will help with the goals she sets out to tell her story here on The Bipolar Writer blog, “One of my biggest goals is to reduce the stigma around taking medication. I chose not to take medication for a long time, and it’s one of my biggest regrets I have in life.”

Morgan also believes that the stigma that comes with having a mental illness keeps teens and young adults from seeking help. Morgan recalls when she first started to realize that she was dealing with depression, she saw daily shirts that said, “Cheer Up Emo Kid” which were quite popular in Australia. These types of stereotypes in Morgan’s mind further the stigma that just smiling should be enough to cure you. No one human being chooses to have a mental illness and it can be scary to even think about getting help, but Morgan believes she can change this by telling her story.

“If I could choose this life, I thought, why the hell would you think I would choose this? It is very important to realize your mental illness is not your fault, but you can do something about it.”

In this mental illness life, there is always someone to talk to, a professional or a friend that you can trust. If Morgan could change one other thing about the stigma that comes with a mental illness it would be this, “It’s important to know that there is help out there, even if you aren’t well enough to seek it out in this moment.”

Many of human beings that will be featured on The Bipolar Writer blog cite their creating content on their blogs as one of the biggest thing that makes life worth living. Morgan calls her blog a place of solace that helps keep her steady,

“My blog keeps me from going insane by giving me a little goal to achieve every day, whether it’s replying to comments, writing a new blog post, or promoting on social media.”

Creativity

Morgan is a filmmaker and writer who was diagnosed with endometriosis at seventeen and depression and generalized anxiety at twenty-one. She uses her creativity as an essential part of her healing process.

You can find Morgan’s blog at:

www.fistfulofglittersite.wordpress.com

Written by J.E. Skye

Interviewee: Morgan

A Look at my Social Anxiety Week

Social Anxiety  – A Week in a Life

It has been a tough one for me. I had some setbacks. Missed appointments which caused more issues. I had more problems while increasing leaving my house this week, and to be honest I have struggled with my new wake/sleep schedule.

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I wanted to look back at a week I’d like to remember because the struggles I faced are ones that help me figure out what is wrong. What is it like on a typical week in this social anxiety life?

Planning is everything…

My day always starts with planning. I always have to plan my day because without a real plan my anxiety likes to spiral. So I plan my days. I wish that were the end and my day turns out great, but as my life does as I spiral, the to the worst possible things tend to happen.

I have increased my time out of my comfort zone over the past few weeks. I’ve done things this week I hate. One thing I hate is going shopping. These types of task always make me anxious, so I always know what I am going to get when I go to a place like a mall (which I haven’t done in two years.)

My goal this week was to buy a new Dodgers hat for the opening day. It’s a tradition. So I went to a place outside the mall in hopes to score my opening day hat. I found out that the store was closed. Go figure.

Why tell this story? Well by this point my anxiety was already high. Again I hate going to the mall because there are always a lot of people, but I wanted my hat. So I went to Lids in the mall. From my car, to the store, to deciding on the cap, and leaving was about a five-minute ordeal. I knew what I wanted, and if they didn’t have it, I would have gone from the store with minimal words with the salesman.

These types of encounters are typical in my life. I try to spend the least amount of time talking to people, being in places with other people, or to interact with people. This is an unfortunate byproduct of my social anxiety and avoidance behavior.

I Tend to Avoid Situations Involving People

Another example of avoidance behaviors I exhibited this week is when I went to study or write at Starbucks this week. I know every barista at my favorite spot and they know me. well. I practically live there, but I always order my coffee and breakfast item on the app before I leave my house. On average it takes me about eight minutes to get to the coffee shop. I say good morning the baristas and at times we have a short conversation. That’s the limit of my interactions. I am usually in my seat within two-three minutes of walking through the door. My headphones go on, and I drown out the world.

Even sitting in a stuation that I am familiar with my anxiety was still high this week and it limited how many hours I could spend in this safe place.

I had to renew my license this week, and that was also a planned event. I made sure to make an appointment. I had made it about three weeks ahead of time. In this situation, I couldn’t help but feel anxious. It had been a long time since I had to go into DMV, and when I first got my license I failed the vision test (they make you go do a test with your eye doctor, and they have to fill out paperwork to actually get your license.)

It sucked because I knew I was going to fail the eye test. I don’t have a good left eye. When I was young, I never wanted to wear glasses, and that meant my left eye never fully developed. I can see just fine with both eyes, but I fail every time in my left eye.

My anxiety went through the roof while I was at DMV. Even with the appointment, it took time, and I could feel every second ticking in my mind. Then, knowing I had to do more just to get the license renewed (BTW I have a perfect driving record) it just got to me. I couldn’t get out of their fast enough.

When Things go Bad, My Anxiety Spirals

My week spiraled after that day (Tuesday) and to be honest a few days I wanted to give up. I haven’t been able to corral my thoughts enough to get me through a single day this week without social anxiety and panic attacks. I have been productive, but it’s been a social anxiety-filled week.

Which takes me to the last two days. I found out on Thursday that my medication refills (which all said that I had one more refill on the bottles) were out of refills. I had enough Ativan to last me until today. This is bad because, those of you that are in the “state system of care” knows that things move slow, and there was an excellent chance that I could run out of the one thing that gets me through a day.

It went as bad as I could imagine happening to me because it is like this every time. I left about a half a dozen messages from Thursday morning to Friday around noon with the person who works on medication with no one returning my call. I had to bug my therapist to get things moving. Finally Friday afternoon I get my medications sent to my pharmacist with the hope that Saturday I could pick them up.

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I woke up Saturday with hope. I should have stayed in bed.

First I call my pharmacy, and they tell me everything is copacetic, and I can come down in an hour and pick up my medication. Yes!!!!

I could feel as if a weight has lifted. It was a premature feeling. I went to my pharmacy, and they somehow told me the wrong thing on the phone. (How does that happen?) I had to drive all the way there just to say, “Well you can wait, but it could be a while.” Yeah. That would be great if my anxiety would let me.

So I had two choices wait until Monday or wait. My anxiety had other plans and I told them to have it delivered Monday to my house. I spent my entire Saturday worrying that I will run out of Ativan. It took the life out of me. I spent the rest of the day, afternoon, and night defeated. I could barely focus. I stayed in bed. I felt giving up for the second time this week.

A week is 168 hours long. I sleep maybe 4-5 hours a night sleeping. If I round up, that’s about 35-40 hours of sleep a week. That leaves about 125 hours give or take to think about everything I did wrong in my week. It’s why this week has been hard.

My productivity went down, and it made me mix my social anxiety with depression. The worst thing I can do. That leaves me with today— Sunday.

I can do what I can to the right the ship. I have to give myself a break. Things that are out of my control have been ruling my life the past few weeks.

As I sit here sipping my coffee, I have hope. I wrote my feelings in this blog post, and it has helped me work through my worst week of 2018. I don’t know where I find my strength at times. I don’t know how I woke up this morning. Or how I got to bed.

I took a shower, and I am sitting here writing this post at six in the morning in bed. I am starting my week today. The best I can do is keep fighting— always.

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoMario Azzi

unsplash-logoIan Espinosa

unsplash-logoCharles Deluvio 🇵🇭🇨🇦

Meet Anxiety, The Blob in my Chest

This post is from a guest blogger Johan for The Bipolar Writer blog about anxiety. You can find the authors blog here. http://theprofoundshift.wordpress.com/

Meet Anxiety, The Blob in my Chest

Anxiety is the feeling we all grow to loathe. I lived with anxiety from a very young age, as young as I can remember. My first encounter as I recall it I must have been no older than 7-8 years old.

It vary´s from mild to severe, it depends on the season and on my mental state. I feel that after over 20 years of it weary presences I have somehow managed to keep it under control sometimes even managing it.

For many years I struggled in silence with it, I think I wasn’t willing to admit to myself that what I was feeling was a form of generalized anxiety.

Generalised anxiety made me feel in a sense both embarrassed and defeated, like life dealt me a bad hand. If someone where to tell me to get over it and think about the starving children of Africa I feel even worse. Having anxiety for both them and me and feeling guilty that even though I wasen´t starving I was till in a sense suffering.

When you get to that realization that you may be broken inside it really hurts. The day I started figuring out who I was and what I was feeling it got painfully obvious.

I felt weak and not in Control of myself nor my life. It was a feeling of being the effect not the cause. I Always wanted to be the cause not the effect, to be a strong man and a strong person. Everyone around me always seemed to manage life better, I Always felt envious as I could not understand the life of a normal person.

What is it like to think about what to have for lunch instead of having an existential crisis at age 9?

Man, I so wished I could be that kid thinking about lunch instead…

For years I hid the fact that my mental wellbeing was declining, rarely ever talking to someone about what was going on inside me. During the years I also had a couple of mental breakdowns.

I would best describe them as the ultimate mindfuck, leaving me in a state of vegetation on the couch or in the bed.

I even had total amnesia one day, forgot which day it was, what season and basically who I was. This lasted very shortly but it was probably one of the scariest things I ever had happen to me. I can only explain it as a severe stress/anxiety reaction.

Sometimes it felt like some higher Power guided me through my mental breakdowns, still to this day I can’t grasp the fact that I survived them.

But I survived, I lived through the darkness that is anxiety. I sometimes lived with the uncertainty to the point where living it day by day was my only option. The future was just too much to keep in mind.

Meet anxiety the blob in my chest, it is always there. Sometimes I can´t feel it because it is sleeping but it is Always there that much I’ve learned. But when I feel it it´s like a blob inhabiting my chest, a black blob running like motor oil down my chest and lungs.

When it awakens it burns in my chest and my heart starts pounding. This is usually accompanied with a doom and gloom mindset that seem´s to come out of nowhere.

It usually reveals itself at the worst time imaginable just to remind me not to get too comfortable. Always there lurking in the corner of my mind.

This morning I woke up at 6am having a cup of coffee while watching the sun rise over the apartment complex. Days like these I feel like I am going to be ok. Days like these I just know I found an inner strength, a resilience to go on no matter what.

I do Believe anxiety can be life´s greatest teacher. No matter how painful and life severing anxiety can be I still Believe it has a value. A value in teaching us contrast.

Coming to the conclusion that Life has it´s up´s and downs for a reason, Life teaches us to live by showing us all of what we can be. We can´t choose to be nothing because we are someone, a person with value and someone who others love.

I would not be who I am today if it where not for you anxiety, I may not have woken up at 6am to watch the sun rise . I may not have the courage, inner strength and will to live if it where not for you. Thank you.

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Written by: Guest Writer Johan from http://theprofoundshift.wordpress.com/

The True Dangers of Depression and Anxiety

When you think about depression and anxiety, and the dangers it’s victims face; you probably think of suicide. In fact, most people that have never been around, or dealt with depression and anxiety will probably think that suicide is the only danger of these mental illnesses. The fact that some people think suicide is so scary really pisses me off. When you live life with depression and anxiety, sometimes, the last thing you are scared of is dying.

 

You’re scared that you might say the wrong thing, so you just say nothing at all. You spend all this time in your head, running through conversations that haven’t even happened. Just so that you can say the right things. So that you won’t upset, or anger someone. So that they don’t think you’re weird or stupid. All of this running through your head, while you just sit there quietly, unable to make a sound.

 

You’re scared that your friends are just hanging out with you out of pity, or for a laugh (at you, not with you). So much so that you just lay in bed, make excuses as to why you can’t make it.

 

You’re scared that your hopes and dreams are too lofty. That you’re not good enough to want these things. That you’ll never be good enough to achieve what your heart truly desires.

 

You’re scared that you’re not good-looking enough, not smart enough, not rich enough. That you’ll never find someone who loves you for who you are. You desperately try to be someone you’re not, in the hopes that someone else will approve of you.

 

You’re scared that no one likes you, that they all just “deal” with you because they have to. That person is always talking badly about you behind your back. And why not? there is nothing good about you anyways.

 

You’re scared that if you give it your all, and still fail than you’re worthless. So you just find comfort in not trying at all.

 

You’re scared that if you had just done something different, that maybe, your past wouldn’t be like it is. You constantly think about would have, could have and should have. That there were so many ways that could have had a better outcome.

 

You’re scared that the love your family feels for you isn’t real. That it is only because they have to feel love, that they do. You’re scared that no one will ever love you, that there’s nothing to love about you

 

You’re scared that everyone and anyone you meet will judge you. Based on your looks, your clothes, how you talk, how you walk, anything they can, because there isn’t anything good about you.

 

You’re scared of doing something wrong, so you just don’t do anything. You lay in bed, just thinking about everything that needs to get done, and that none of it is.

 

You’re scared that if there is a God, why would God make you this way. Why would God make you defective in every way imaginable?

 

The truth is, is that it’s not you who is scared. It’s me that is scared. The truth is, is that depression and anxiety are so much more dangerous that you can imagine. The truth is, I am not afraid of dying. The truth is, I am afraid of living.