The Time I Tried to Kill Myself and Failed (Obviously): A Realistic Discussion of Suicide

The Time I Tried to Kill Myself and Failed (Obviously): A Realistic Discussion of Suicide

Content warning: suicide, suicidal ideation, and even discussion of an attempt 

The way we experience the world is nothing more than the sum of our brain chemicals–and at any given moment, these chemicals could go awry, affecting how we perceive the world. Through zero fault of our own, a jarring shift in our perspective of the world upends our current sense of safety and security. According to NAMI, 1 in 5 adults are afflicted with a mental illness of some kind. 3.9% of the adult population in the year of 2015 reported experiencing suicidal thoughts. While it’s not mentioned what percentage of those are the result of mental illness and what percentage are the result of situational, I’m going to concentrate on those who experience thoughts due to mental illness because I still do not think it is as understood as it should be. Any time I see neurotypicals speak of suicide as a result of losing a loved one to it, it’s generally in the context of a vague situation–and frankly, I don’t want proselytizing about the beauty of life from someone who has never been paralyzed by plans bulleting through your mind. Or even from someone who wanted to kill themselves because of a divorce or some other situational event. They’re not the same. I would know, as I almost went through a divorce last year. I was able to talk my way out of those feelings, but I can’t do it when I’m suicidal because of my bipolar.


My first real attempt occurred during a bipolar mixed episode, where I was both manic and depressed at the same time. I was feeling intense despair at the loss of my hypomania the day before and also intense despair in general, especially because I could not understand what was happening to me. At the time, I didn’t see an end to it. Despite all the self-awareness in the world (I have been told numerous times in various hospitalizations I am unusually self-aware), that was not enough to act as a shield against my brain pummeling me with suicidal thoughts. It was not enough to keep my glands from secreting suicidal hormones. The feeling was quite terrifying, and in that moment I was planning what to do.

What would be the most painless way for me to go?

No painless ways exist. I researched it years prior. I think there is one painless way, but it would have required ordering some strange things off Amazon.

So I decided to drink myself to death. I was already familiar with vomiting from drinking too much, so it couldn’t have been much worse than that. That was from three drinks with 40% alcohol. Keep in mind, I don’t drink that often, so I don’t have any resistance built up in me.

Now if I recall, my choice of poison was a vodka that was 50% alcohol. I ended up drinking like five mixed drinks with more than a shot’s worth in each one. I also had a lesser percentage after the five, just to finish up an older bottle. I really thought that would do me in considering my low tolerance. At the very least, I thought I’d throw up. A few months prior, I took like three shots of fireball back to back and was laid out by the toilet, so surely 50% alcohol was going to do something to me.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And all I got was drunk; I also had to go to the bathroom quite often.

Other than that, I didn’t vomit or even feel nauseated.

Turns out mania makes you more tolerant to alcohol, meaning you have to drink more to get drunk. It’s likely due to the increased metabolism, which made me drop twenty pounds without trying over the 6 month time period I was rapid cycling (let’s be honest, I really only wanted to drop 5 lbs.).

Anyway, did I mention I was alone during this whole trying-to-die affair? Well I was, at least until my husband came home and I admitted what I tried to do–either that or I half-lied. I don’t remember. What I do remember is staying in bed and him checking up on me. I also remember thinking about how ambivalent I was that I didn’t succeed. I might have been somewhat disappointed. It’s not like I was any less suicidal and had become filled with a renewed sense of thankfulness for the overabundance of dopamine that kept the alcohol from doing me in.

That’s not how bipolar disorder works. That’s not how any mental illness works.

I hate empty platitudes directed toward the mentally ill who are either suicidal or have attempted suicide before. 

In all my time of being suicidal, it has never helped to know people love me. I know that, but I am not some thing that exists for the enjoyment of others, to have my joyless existence (when I’m ill) feasted upon until I’m a husk who cannot enjoy life because she has no energy from being so exhausted living for other people. To all of the neurotypicals out there, you might think you’re being helpful by insinuating that if we cannot live for ourselves, we should live for others, but you’re not. Living for others is exhausting. Your brain will just not let you see the good in life, which is why medication exists in the first place. When you’re mentally ill, suicidal feelings are also not a choice, a flotation device you choose to grab on to when life simply becomes too much. I didn’t just think, ‘Gee, suicide sounds great right about now to put an end to this bipolar nonsense.’ The feelings hit my head like a wrecking ball the morning I woke up feeling overwhelmingly confused about where my head was.

So am I in favor of suicidal people being able to euthanize themselves then? Absolutely not! When you are suicidal, you are not in your correct frame of mind. None of your thoughts are rational. That’s why it’s important for suicidal people to never be left alone because that’s all you can do is keep a suicidal person safe. Like depressive peaks, suicidal thoughts aren’t forever, even if they feel like they are.

You can be depressed every single day of your life and never experience a single suicidal feeling. It takes a particular toxic chemical mixture to elicit suicidal thoughts, and once that mixture has either settled down or the right chemical has been added or removed, the thoughts do just go away in a snap. Thoughts of self-harm are much the same way. Why do I want to hurt myself? I don’t know. Mental illness in itself is not rational.

It has also never helped to know that I have a future. Yeah, okay, I know that, but I don’t care in the moment because I feel freaking miserable. There is nothing in the world that can outweigh the misery of mental illness. And please spare me the sentiment that I just need to keep getting up every day and keep trying. What do you think I have been doing? While a lot of people don’t like the label, I am high functioning, but it doesn’t make my illness any less severe. In fact, it arguably makes it more severe because I’ll be pushing myself to do things I shouldn’t be doing. I won’t take mental health days, even when I know I should.

Inevitably, all that pushing lands me in the hospital sooner or later.

I simply won’t mentally care for myself because my perfectionist streak makes it somehow seem a sin that I stay in bed all day, only getting up to use the restroom.

Also, keep trying? As we speak, even though I’m currently at baseline, I have been rapid cycling some time  since near the end of last year, probably the middle of fall or something. I thought it was my period, but to my displeasure, my pdoc revealed it wasn’t. Now I’ll be back on the med merry go round again.

Neurotypicals with their empty platitudes will never understand what that’s like, to think you have found your golden ratio, only to be battered with the realization it’s not enough AND it’s also causing health issues. I mean, I started out on a med that made me crazy manic, and then got put on another med that made me hypomanic, but went unnoticed until I crashed into depression three months later, and then got put on a med that gave me awful panic attacks, and finally switched to a new doc who put me on Lamictal, which worked for three years before stopping for good.

That’s the thing. I depend solely on medication to keep me balanced. Bipolar disorder is not one that can go without. There are those who try to manage without using meds, but they still have plenty of episodes. And those who claim they’ve stopped meds and haven’t had problems since? They were either misdiagnosed, are lying, or eventually slip into a depressive or manic episode.

My rapid cycling likely isn’t as severe this go around because I do have Lithium and Depakote racing through me. But here’s the thing: They can’t be increased. Lithium has most likely given me hypothyroidism while I apparently have Depakote toxicity or something. My skin is dry, I have dandruff, my hair looks like Hagrid when unstyled, I’m pretty sure my cycle has either been disturbed or has stopped altogether, I have gained weight that kind of makes me hate my body (for my comfort, I always have to make a point of saying I’m not overweight), and I might have some digestive problems. Who knows?

I am not bitter about the hand I was dealt, despite sounding it. I am a realist who despises inspirational quotes, financial advisors, and life coaches–especially all of the aforementioned who have published trite books. They never consider that life is sometimes so horrifically abysmal and impossible that no amount of “advice” is going to fix the nightmare that is your life because sometimes no matter how hard you try, how hard you fight, life is unkind at the best of times and an absolute Karen at the worst. But keep in mind I said sometimes. So telling me my life is in my hands, solely to do what I please with, is unhelpful.

Mental illness robs you of any control you have over your life. Medication gives it back, but certain mental illnesses will need a rotating cast of it.

Today I still look at my attempt and feel absolutely disconnected from it. I don’t mourn my decision. I don’t revel in the outcome, grateful I didn’t die. I don’t chastise myself for doing something so foolish, promising that I’ll never do it again. Truth be told, I am terrified that any future attempts will be future successes. Or future attempts will land me in the hospital. Not all psychiatric units treat you kindly once you’ve attempted. One patient was put in handcuffs, and not the soft kind, when she was walked from the ER to the unit. She was by no means a criminal.

Bipolar disorder has a high suicide attempt rate, more than 50%. Its successes are also high when compared to other mental illnesses, like clinical depression. If any of you knew Steve Cash of his Talking Kitty Cat channel, he had bipolar disorder and unfortunately succumbed to it. I won’t say he died of suicide because if he didn’t have bipolar disorder from the start, he wouldn’t have had suicidal thoughts. So bipolar disorder killed him. Bipolar disorder might kill me. Apparently my life expectancy is shorter thanks to it, for whatever reasons.

By the way, I do believe life is mostly beautiful in spite of how tumultuous my 20s have been. Here’s to my 30s!


Where I’m At With My Writing

Where I’m At With My Writing

Five years ago I finished a novel currently titled The Glorious In-Between, which originally concentrated on what it meant to be asexual as a teen. Then it evolved from there because you can’t have only that defining a book. Sexuality itself isn’t a story. It’s a defining characteristic that can complicate a story, so I’ve built it in layers over the years. 2018 was the last time I touched the book, and then this pandemic hit, I got furloughed from work, and I found myself with plenty of time to sit down and get back to it. I said I was going to prioritize the third book in The Stars Trilogy, but the future of my current publisher is unknown thanks to COVID, so my books can only be purchased through Lulu or in print on Amazon.

Well, now I’m going to have plenty of time for the foreseeable future since my position as a personal trainer was eliminated entirely; I am without work. It’s honestly been gutting because I loved that job. It also doesn’t help to see “essentials” teasing “non-essentials” when, in reality, essentials aren’t any safer. After all, people in my husband’s industry (trucking) have been losing their jobs and having pay cuts. Physical therapists are also essential, but many have been furloughed, depending on where they work.

Since receiving that news, it’s been hard keeping a regular writing schedule. I am at a chicken-or-the-egg scenario right now. It’s hard to know if depression is stemming entirely from the loss of a job I was passionate about, or if my bipolar disorder is tipping downward (again), or if it’s a mixture of both and the job loss sped up the process. I’m also undergoing a dosage change with my Depakote and am currently waiting on confirmation about whether or not I have hypothyroidism, most likely caused by my Lithium.

There’s really no point in guessing. All I can do is accept that this is how I feel.

I am the type of person who experiences her emotions all at once when disappointment strikes, and so my heartbreak doesn’t last long because I’m not trying to push away the pain. Yet, anyone else would look in on and me and be convinced I’m taking the loss of my job extra hard. After all, I am in a much better place than others who have lost a job since I live at home with my parents. They’re not putting any pressure on me. All of my debt has also been paid off, so I owe nothing for the foreseeable future. I have PT school to look forward to, which could, for all I know, make holding any job impossible anyway, even though it is a flex program.

I was born anxious. It doesn’t take much to flare it, and it’s been my fuel lately.

While I am done with the first round of revisions of TGIB, I have been struggling with that hollowness common with depression, which has made doing further work on it difficult. But I added a new plot thread to up the stakes for my MC since my query letter on AbsoluteWrite was torn to shreds and revealed a rather glaring flaw in the storyline itself–at least in my opinion. Now my second pass will be checking to make sure the plot thread has been developed appropriately, along with adding a few other things to add some color to the story (McMansions, anyone?). Then another pass through to cut down on words and probably, hopefully, one more for proofreading. It has been beta read in the past, so I might seek out one more, unless having the synopsis looked over is a sufficient enough guide for any further edits the book itself might need.

A secret I don’t think I ever told anyone is When Stars Die only ever had one beta reader.

Hopefully all of that will take about a month or less.

Right now I am gaining distance from TGIB, but it’s been hard to do anything at all productive otherwise. I should be making notes of things to keep an eye out for in TGIB. I should also be coming up with another title because TGIB no longer accurately describes the book. I should also be preparing my query letter and synopsis for When Stars Die, just in case things do fall through with my current publisher. I’ll see what small presses are out there. Otherwise, self-publishing it is.

I also finished outlining a brand new novel, although now I’m going to have to edit the outline itself because I decided to change who my protagonist is going to be. So that’s another thing I should be working on but is hard to do.

I get it. It’s an uncertain time for everyone and rough for some. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. It’s just maddening, as usual, that you have things that can keep you productive, but you’re being held back by the voice of mental illness living in your mind.

At least I have made progress since this all started.


Turns Out My Bipolar Disorder Has Not Shut Up

Turns Out My Bipolar Disorder Has Not Shut Up

So prior to 2018, I believe I enjoyed three years of pure stability. Then 2018 came, and the one medication I was on just for bipolar, Lamictal, stopped working entirely. I wound up in the hospital, had my Seroquel upped (which then became for my bipolar AND still for my sleep) because I was manic. Of course I learned during that hospitalization that mania is much harder to treat, and even more so because I was rapid cycling and would wind up in mixed states (mania and depression at the SAME TIME!). So I got out, had my Lamictal upped, and it still wasn’t doing anything.

I stayed out of work for a little bit to deal with everything, with nothing improving, then went back to work. Lo and behold, I started experiencing symptoms of paranoia: impending feelings of doom, that something-bad-is-going-to-happen-but-I-don’t-know-what feeling; intrinsically knowing that no one is following me but still being freaked out by people; and just in general being terrified for reasons I could not explain.

That landed me in the hospital again when I told my therapist. 6 hospitalizations thus far in my life. Let’s hope no more. Then I got started on Lithium, got diagnosed with a non-specific personality disorder (which actually never became official because I really don’t have one), and threw a fit in my therapist’s office one day upon release because I was still rapid cycling and angry the Lithium wasn’t started out at a larger dose so I could get off the merry-go-round sooner.

Rapid cycling is honestly THE worst type of bipolar to have because you cannot predict your moods from day-to-day. One day you’re planning on getting a lot done, and the next hour or even day, you don’t care to do any of it and are planning your next suicide attempt–and when you’re mixed, you are so angry.

Rapid cycling is the Cthulhu of bipolar.

Eventually my Lithium was upped…and it seemed like something was trying to happen.

My highs weren’t as high, but my lows were crushing, plummeting into this black, disgusting sludge, a low I had never experienced in my time of having this disorder. I was so apathetic I couldn’t even be in my usual active suicidal state. I was passively suicidal, as my therapist said, which she said could be worse because it meant you had no survival instinct. I was also angry. Livid. Furious that I felt like I was being strung along, be made worse.

She was right about my passivity. A car could hit me, and I wouldn’t have moved. I got into a nasty mountain biking accident that could have been worse without a helmet and if my hip weren’t already jammed–it was un-jammed after striking the ground with an unquantifiable force–it likely would have been dislocated. My recklessness made me continue on with the ride. My deliberate recklessness made me get into the wreck! I was just reckless, okay? I remember once being so manic in 2018 that I was hauling 80 on a 45 mph road and started swerving. If someone had been in the other lane, I would have crashed. I am a goody-two-shoes lady, and I drank in public–and while driving. Thinking about this behavior in a more sane mind horrifies me; it’s bone chilling.

That’s what bipolar disorder is. Bipolar disorder is no joke, which is why I don’t take kindly to “cutesie” jokes about women being bipolar.  It’s sexist for one, entirely dismissing a woman’s voice. In any case…

So Depakote was added and that brought me back to a little bit above baseline. It seemed like I was finally on an even keel. That happened December of 2018.

Then some time in the middle of last year I started having some problems again. The first time it happened, I thought it was my bipolar disorder, but once I hit my cycle, the depression went away. And it kept going this way. Roughly two weeks before my cycle, some minor depression, then normalcy.

I thought it was pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder and didn’t bother doing anything about it. The depression was mild enough that I could still function–and I wasn’t suicidal so that was a plus. I was also going to be seeing my primary in a couple of months, and I knew the only thing that could treat PMDD was birth control. So I was prescribed birth control December of last year and waited until I had my natural cycle before starting in January.

What I haven’t yet mentioned until now is that I was on a generic of Loryna at the beginning of last year, but it put me in a state of chronic depression and agitation, so I quit it, and those problems went away. But I was put back on Loryna last December since my primary told me sometimes you can have a different reaction to a generic.

It seemed the Loryna was working. I didn’t have any depression or aggression or anxiety or any of that. But then five weeks, I believe, into taking Loryna, the aggression started to occur, so I quit that thinking it was the Loryna, which I don’t even know now. It did not take long for me to feel like I was going on an even keel again.

Then things stopped making sense. My cycle is naturally irregular to begin with, so I don’t know if this was January or February. But I thought things were going to be okay, until the depression hit me in the MIDDLE of my cycle and lasted a total of three weeks–so it stretched two weeks beyond my cycle. PMDD has a very specific criteria that states the depression MUST occur prior to the cycle and end right before. So I figured it was my bipolar…until I got better again.

Then near the end of March, the depression was latching on to me again. But I decided to pay more attention to my mental states because it was starting to get very confusing. This depression, after all, hit me some time after my cycle and ended just this past weekend. These last two depressive cycles have also been markedly worse, but, again, with much confusion, not a typical depressive episode because being around people made me feel better, made me feel safe. Energized, even. I usually want to be alone.

So now I’m grasping on to all of the symptoms besides depression to make sense of the semi-head scratching revelation my psychiatrist told me yesterday over the phone: mixed episodes characterizing hypomania and depression with rapid cycling back to my baseline.

Take some Depakote in the morning now.

I suppose that makes sense. It has to make more sense than PMDD at this point because you can’t have PRE-menstrual dysphoric disorder without having depression BEFORE. Otherwise, it’d probably just be call Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and I don’t think I’m some brand-new special case. It was likely just happenstance that it happened before initially, or fluctuating hormones could have been influencing the rapid cycling. What clued her to my possible state was when she asked me what my other symptoms were, and the first thing I told her was aggression.

Aggression can be part of depression, but it also turns out hypomania isn’t always fun, especially when you’re browsing Facebook, inhibitions lowered, and setting your vicious claws into people whose comments you perceived to be, well, dumb. It’s not always endless amounts of energy you want to use productively. Sometimes it’s being aggressive and blowing up when your tea kettle reaches past the boiling point, a thing only possible in those with mental illness. Sometimes it’s yelling at your boss at the fitness desk where there are members and suddenly realizing you’re not yourself without a Snickers bar. Sometimes it’s blowing up again with even nastier curses with members around. And, sometimes, it’s just ranting and ranting and blowing up and having anxiety.

But part of being in a mixed state also means the depression part takes away your desire to do anything productive with that energy–so that’s probably why you’re aggressive. You also want to self-harm. Why? Who knows? That’s the brain. That’s bipolar disorder in a nutshell! And of course you don’t look forward to much. Yet, you can be distracted, something that’s very hard for me with straight-up depression. I suppose that’s good; however, it has to be constant distraction.

This thing is confusing, so I wonder if if the generic birth control was ever a problem to begin with or if bipolar disorder just started practicing the art of masking once I got some decent meds in me. After all, without those meds, this problem would be so much worse.

I am in a stable spot, but that can change. Even so, I hope it’s under control by then.


What I Have Been Doing Lately

What I Have Been Doing Lately

My last post was in 2018, and I really thought I was just going to let this blog go. I started another blog, a pseudo-lifestyle blog, and I was hoping to incorporate bits of my author life in it; however, that’s just not possible. It’s still a pseudo-lifestyle blog, but I recently became inspired to make it largely about physical therapy. You should check it out just because. I think it’s pretty.

But why a physical therapy blog? Where on Earth did that come from? Well, I know I did mention I was pursuing PT school, and, well, I got in! I received my acceptance for the University of St. Augustine back in December and will be pursuing my doctorate in physical therapy this fall. You cannot imagine how excited I am to start PT school and to elevate my knowledge of the human body to help people move better, to help people live better lives without pain burdening them.

So the blog will help with my career because it will grow with me. Right now it’s a pre-PT blog, then it will be a student PT blog, then a physical therapy blog.

I am currently suffering through physics 2, a final prerequisite I need to finish up. As we speak, I’m working on a test that is doubly horrible because the class was moved online, so I’m teaching the material to myself as I do the test, which is incredibly time consuming. Writing a novel will never compare to the laborious task that is physics, so I will never complain about revisions again.

Never. Ever.

In any case, I only have the time that I do to start diving back into blogging because unfortunately I was furloughed thanks to COVID-19 (really, thank you, you bastard). The creative writing bug is also majorly biting at me, but my physics test prevents me from sating it. For now, I’m thinking I’ll have to wait until physics is done to get back into writing. I will revise the third book in The Stars Trilogy. I also want to start querying that LGBTQ+ novel I wrote a few years ago. At least I hope I can start querying it over the summer. I had the letter looked at a few times but am thinking I’ll set it out again for another look-see.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to start any new material. There was a book I wrote when I was manic in 2018, but I’m not satisfied with it and will likely heavily change the story itself, keeping only a few elements from it. I don’t think I’ll be able to get that done over the summer, and believe me, I don’t want mania to assist me with that since it is the reason the book’s draft is so awful to begin with. It’s also the reason the third draft in the trilogy is going to need the heaviest revisions of the three. I get drafts are supposed to be shoddy to begin with, but I had a gift with the first two books in that I didn’t really need to re-write them.

In summary, my radio silence has been the result of school and work. General science courses, I have come to learn, are much heavier and more challenging than even my upper level English courses were. I also picked up mountain biking among it all and trained for three races in 2019. 2020 isn’t looking so good for races though thanks to COVID, and my husband becoming a trucker and my having to move back in with my parents–putting me farther from work and the trails–knocked me out of shape that I’m slowly getting back in since I finally set my bike up on my trainer.

But I hope that I can get myself on a blogging schedule, especially with this new blog. If I can keep up with the new blog, then I can get back on track with this one. My social media presence is pretty much non-existent now thanks to a nasty hack to my Tumblr blog, which was connected to my Twitter. I couldn’t delete the Tumblr, but I had to delete the Twitter because there were too many *ahem* “inappropriate” tweets, too many for me to keep deleting. I suppose that is what I will work on is building my presence back up.

Wish me luck!


I Want to Talk About Dysphoric Mania (or Mixed States)

I Want to Talk About Dysphoric Mania (or Mixed States)

Before I begin, I’m going to try to reel this blog back in and let it be a lifestyle blog, talking about whatever is going on in my life, whether that’s the writer side of things the student side of things or what have you. Put simply, I’m going to try and let this blog flow naturally from whatever I feel is relevant to talk about at the time so as not to alienate those who have been reading this blog for a little bit. I’d also like to try and blog a bit more regularly, but there are no promises.

The last time I blogged was at the beginning of April, probably a week or two before I started slipping into a little bit of depression; however, it was relatively mild compared to what I was used to. I still had some motivation to do things, even though it was less than it usually was (so I had zero motivation for work, just for school), my appetite was unchanged, and I didn’t have the usual fervent desire to sleep in really late and go to bed as soon as I could. (But I was binge drinking on the weekends, so there’s that.) It was just feeling down and grouchy and irritable and a little bit burnt out. A busy work day made me more irritable than it usually would–I railed against it, in fact, screaming in my mind, “I don’t want to do this! I can’t stand this,” but being able to do it anyway, so could it have really been depression?

In fact, I thought it was all just mere burnout. Once the semester ends, I told myself, and I get some breathing room, I’ll be back to normal.

Of course, that didn’t exactly happen. Even when I started precalculus I still had some of the depression, but it was starting to dip more into anxiety at that point, so I thought of speaking with my psychiatrist about getting put on an anti-anxiety medication. And, no, I didn’t call her right away. I didn’t feel it urgent enough and told myself I could wait until August to have it taken care of. I simply thought I just needed a chill pill so the pressures of getting into a DPT program didn’t seem so much.

Then, out of nowhere, I started feeling good. Really good. Things were falling into place. I was doing great in precalculus and doing much better than I expected. Things at work were going great–my clients were building back up again, my Pilates class was building up since it was moved from Friday to Wednesday. Observation hours were going great. I started at a skilled nursing facility, so three settings in the bag. I was able to fit in more physical activity.

I thought I was just gaining a new lease on life and finally accepting that I was not a fraud and that I really am an awesome person capable of doing awesome things so there is absolutely no reason for me to feel insecure or worry about how intelligent I am to handle the hard sciences and so on and so forth.

After four good days though, four days that felt perfect, I began journaling my thoughts, and I realized what it was: hypomania. It makes rational sense since such an episode can precede or even proceed depression. And so it was then I had to admit my depression was bipolar depression. It also explained my ability to suddenly be on the AMT for a lot longer than 30 minutes and then following it up with a session of resistance training and still having energy left over to do more and more things.

Prior to this, I’d been stable for a little over three years. I thought I had put bipolar disorder behind me. I thought I had finally developed the strength to be able to overcome any ensuing episodes. Turns out I was really just in remission and was tipped over the edge from all the stress in my life. I’d argue it’s positive stress, but even good stress is still stress.

So I’m on week six of this roller coaster of hypomania/mania/dysphoric mania, and I’m not going to lie and say it’s all awful–some parts are just really freaking awesome. I’m almost done with a rough draft of a contemporary YA novel, and I’ve been on a hiatus for over two years! Granted, I’m on medical leave, but even if I weren’t, I still likely would have started writing a novel. Even when I was at work I wrote enough poetry to make an anthology. You’ve gotta do something with the manic energy, after all. You can’t just let it get pent up.

So the jarring reality that I’m a bipolarite for life is daunting when the future, that is me being in PT school, will allow for no slip-ups.

But I don’t want to talk about depression or hypomania or even mania. I want to talk about dysphoric mania because I don’t think it gets spoken about enough. I’m going through a little bit of dysphoric mania right now, luckily without any suicidality–but I feel down and want to cry but with the energy to do things (I didn’t want to come home from biking and would have biked all day if it weren’t for the fact that I’m married and have a husband who needs me. And if it weren’t biking, I would have wandered off somewhere else, likely blowing more money from my savings or going to bars or something. I really did not want to come home).

Depression gets enough attention. I believe most people have experienced some sort of depression throughout their lives, whether it’s situational or clinical. The percentage of people with bipolar disorder, however, is small (2.6%) and may be bigger since a lot of people don’t seek diagnosis for it or are often misdiagnosed because they are unable to grasp when they’re manic. In contrast, 6.7% of people experience a major depressive episode at least once in their lifetimes. But 15% of people will experience some form of depression. So while there are those out there who believe you need to suck it up, pull yourself by your bootstraps and move on, no one really talks about dysphoric mania because it is so unlike depression.

It is the type of mixture of mania and depression that can get you typecast as crazy.

It is the type of state that made me attempt suicide by trying to drink myself to death (I didn’t even get to the point of throwing up since you can drink so much more and be fine when you’re manic, but not like I knew that!) and being absolutely ambivalent that I failed. I did wind up, for the fifth time, in a psychiatric ward convinced I’d be healed of the mania by the time I got out. I’m so used to being more depressive than manic, but when I think about it, there was a time when I was hypomanic for three months when I was on Abilify, but it never ping-ponged because I was blissfully unaware. I simply thought I had developed a hyperthymic temperament. If I had been aware, my mood likely would have started undulating the way it has been.

In my normal depressive episodes, I wouldn’t have even had the energy to do something like that. Or it’s more like I wouldn’t have had the motivation. I could think about it, even make plans, but I never would have followed through with any of them because dying itself takes a certain amount of energy. But with dysphoric mania? All those dangerous impulses you’ve had cycling in your head are suddenly a manic hamster on a wheel, and you just choose the most appealing way of hurting yourself to stop the insanity.

Your flights of thoughts are not fun anymore. My flights of thoughts include biking, writing, studying, reading, writing, writing, writing, more reading, wanting to go out biking but it’s too late, listening to music on full volume pretty much all day, occasionally coloring, cooking, cleaning–there’s always so much to do, do, do, and never enough hours in the day. I don’t want to slow down. What is slowing down anyway? It’s all about speed! Also, sometimes impulsive spending. My bike was an impulsive purchase, but one I made knowing I still had plenty of money in my savings.

Yet, during dysphoric mania, the thoughts darken to slitting your wrists, drowning yourself, jumping from a tall building, drinking yourself into a stupor, doing something absolutely reckless that makes you high but also has the potential to kill you, speeding really fast while raging against all that is slow and crying that you’re like this and why do you have to be like this and wishing you were just plain-old depressed because when you’re down it’s actually burdensome to be full of energy and you wanna claw off your skin and cry while exclaiming everything is so wonderful and jump of a cliff while realizing you have a book to finish and–

My dysphoria today makes me feel down and sad, but it doesn’t preclude me from wanting to do something about the energy. That can be a blessing and a curse, but I made it a blessing because I went out and biked for several hours instead of hopping on over to a bar and drinking myself into a blissful slumber. I cried a little bit (tears mostly leaking from my eyes) when I found myself at a creek and started wading through it because the sadness is just so profound, but I got back on my bike and continued on a journey that was still thrilling. There were times throughout this little trek that Iwished I could bike so fast I’d go flying, so I took a few calculated risks to get that rush, but there were times that I did temper it when I came upon an especially rocky area that could damage both me and my bike.

I have been very fearless as of late. I know I’m still at it when I wake up in the morning and ask myself if I’d still like to go skydiving, and if the answer is yes, then I know I haven’t found my way back to the rational world.

Sometimes dysphoric mania, however, can leave you not wanting to do anything, so the energy is a winding buzz of caffeine x100 that makes you want to scream–so you sometimes do–and tear your skin off because all you want to do is sleep but you can’t without downing a higher prescription of your sleep medication than what you normally would take. It was this type of dysphoria that made me try exceedingly hard to die by overconsumption of alcohol.

It’s not fun. It’s moments like these that make me want to reestablish some semblance of normalcy. I’m going to be honest: Hypomania is absolutely fun, even with the rage and irritability. Mania itself isn’t so much because the energy is too much, and when you’re in a situation where you have to temper it (it’s much easier to control when hypomanic) you might appear bizarre to the people who know you: you cannot stay still so you pace or rock on your heels or snap your fingers, you’re not controlling your rapid speech, you’re an excess of you (my morbid sense of humor was slightly out of control when I was observing at the VA), you scream in your car to release some energy, you sing really loud to release some more, and when you are in a situation where you can indulge the energy, you’re looking for thrills that will tear the most out of you, even if you are aware you will look absolutely absurd.

You can also survive on much, much less sleep. I nearly went the entire night without sleeping but decided I should probably try because the energy was starting to become unbearable; however, I survived on roughly four hours of sleep without any issues. Even hypomanic I still have some sense to try and get in at least six or seven hours. Normally, I need more than that because the Seroquel takes longer to drain from my system, but it drains from my system within 30 minutes to an hour upon waking versus the three hours it normally takes so that I stop feeling groggy.

I get mixed at least once a week, sometimes more depending. Last Wednesday threatened to do me in with a mixed state, but I biked like a maniac and was able to ward it off. I even brought myself down to hypomania the next day from having done so. So of course I went out and bought my own bike. What a great coping mechanism!

I become a completely different person when I’m mixed.

Right now I am sad and want to cry and am silent and when I do speak it’s in bursts of short chatter, but I am also thinking about how much I freaking love mountain biking and my mind is obsessively fixated on practicing on the mountain biking trail at the Augusta Canal so I can then go mountain biking at Bartram Trail of Clark’s Hill and I desperately want to do it tomorrow but I also want to mark out the path I’m going to take to work and need to bike that so that way there are no screw-ups that make me late for work or put me in any kind of danger and I bought myself a mountain biking outfit that I’m really thrilled to get and really want to start a mountain biking club and–

And that is the state of my mind right now.

Some days I simply feel crazy.



Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: What It Is

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: What It Is

Mothers Matter–Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

When we think of PTSD, we often think about war veterans who have gone through a traumatic experience while defending our country. However, it is not just war veterans who can develop PTSD, but survivors of any traumatic event. Bipolar disorder alone can trigger PTSD because of the severity of the episodes. In fact, if you Google PTSD and go to images, it’s primarily war veterans, but from what I have observed, we don’t seem to talk about it in other instances. In fact, we often treat the traumatic event rather than the PTSD. I couldn’t even find a picture on Creative Commons Flikr that didn’t relate to war veterans and PTSD; thus, the picture on the left is the best example I could find that expresses PTSD outside the PTSD war veterans experience. What war veterans experience during this disorder is often going to be different from what non-war veterans experience.

PTSD is a disorder for those who have experienced any form of trauma, whether it be the episodes of bipolar disorder (or other disorders), spousal abuse, sexual assault, labor and giving birth to a child, surviving a natural disaster, witnessing horrific violence, or any other event that has a severe impact on a person’s psyche. Some people can develop PTSD after the event, some months after it, or even years later.

So why do some people develop PTSD and others who have experienced similar trauma don’t? There doesn’t seem to be much research into this, but PTSD is not genetic like bipolar disorder or something thereof. PTSD may develop in individuals who are more sensitive than others. It may develop in individuals who already have a mental illness. For example, someone who already has an anxiety disorder can be pushed over the edge, as an anxiety disorder often manifests itself again when anti-anxiety meds wear off if it’s chronic anxiety. There may be a personality trait that makes individuals more likely to develop PTSD than others. These are simply my speculations.

What are the symptoms?

  • Intense fear, helplessness, and horror during the traumatic event.
  • Intrusive thoughts or images about the event.
  • Re-living the event or that it’s happening all over again.
  • Triggers that make you remember the event and invoke an intense reaction.
  • Recurrent nightmares or distressing dreams.
  • Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations that remind you of the event.
  • Avoiding activities, people, or places that remind you of the event.
  • Unable to remember something from the traumatic experience.
  • Distance from people or difficulties trusting them.
  • Difficulties experiencing or showing emotions.
  • Feeling your life will never be the same again.
  • Difficulties falling or staying asleep.
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger.
  • Difficulties concentrating.
  • Survivor’s guilt.
  • Being jumpy or easily startled–flinching.
  • Hypervigilance.
  • Symptoms lasting more than a month (this isn’t necessarily an absolute factor, especially if you meet a lot of the criteria above even after a few weeks of the event occurring.)
  • Experiences interfering with normal activities, like work, school, or even social activities.

The good news is that PTSD doesn’t have to last forever. It can be treated over time, then become nonexistent; however, you can relapse. Medication can be effective in treating it, such as anti-depressants. Yet, in people with bipolar disorder, the traumatic event can trigger an episode, and even with medications, PTSD makes it much harder to come out of these episodes. There is also cognitive behavioral therapy. The therapist will help the individual change their thinking about the trauma and and its aftermath. It can include homework assignments, such as listing out what you think trust is. There is also exposure therapy, which helps the patient have less fear about their memories. There is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. This helps with reaction to trauma. You can go to group therapy as well to be around other people with PTSD so you don’t feel like you’re alone. (Source)

PTSD can affect anyone. If you have PTSD, make certain you have a strong support system. If you know someone who has PTSD, be that person’s support system.



The Psychological Damage of Victim Blaming

The Psychological Damage of Victim Blaming

I used to get into arguments a lot on my Facebook page that ranged from a myriad of topics, until I finally got rid of these people. The first person I got rid of was one who believed victims of sexual assault should take some responsibility for what happened to them. He said they (primarily women) should take particular care in how they dress, act, where they go, how they interact with men, and so on and so forth. This kind of thinking is damaging because it says men are uncontrollable monsters. This kind of thinking is also damaging because it suggests women shouldn’t have interactions with men period–and that is how I took it. If I even say hello to a guy and decide to interact with him and I am wearing a cute outfit and he decides to take me out and decides to assault me after the date, I suppose I was asking for it because I dared give someone a chance at being a possible partner in my life. (I am engaged, by the way.) 

It isn’t just the court systems that victim blame. It can be people you love and trust who will blame you, even though they will admit that your assailant was wrong for what they did. However, they still blame you because they think you were leading your assailant on in some way, while trying to reconcile within themselves why it happened and also, funny enough, wanting you to not act that way anymore so that doesn’t happen again. They consider it a lesson learned, when it isn’t a lesson that never should have been learned from the start, no matter what you were doing. I don’t care if you were sending nude pictures to your assailant. Once your assailant lays their hands on you and you say no and they won’t stop, you are the victim, no matter what you did before.

Your assailant is often a person you trust, someone you think you feel safe around, someone who is your friend or someone who you are flirting with or someone who may even be your significant other. Heck, your assailant could be someone cheating on their partner, even though you are in no way encouraging the infidelity but are trying to discourage it in your own way; however, you are too afraid to be direct because of the assailant’s history. Someone may be telling you not to tell because of that history of this person while warning you to keep away from your assailant–who won’t stay away, even if you say no. And even if you never say no, silence does not mean ‘yes.’ You may be too scared to say ‘no.’

Victim blaming is arguably just as damaging as the assault itself. While you can tell yourself it wasn’t your fault, those who blame you will shoot darts at everything you did that led up to the assault so that way you are constantly thinking about what exactly happened during the assault and what you could have done. You can have flashbacks, panic attacks, crying spells, and even have suicidal thoughts and plans. If there was already insurmountable stress in your life, like a mental illness episode you’re going through, things are going to be quadrupled in how worse everything is for you. The assault is going to make you more depressed, anxious, and suicidal. The victim blaming is going to intensify your illness to the point where you’re screaming and crying and telling others you want to kill yourself–and they don’t seem to want to take it seriously because they don’t understand. Some will try to protect you, but you know those people can’t always be around to keep you safe from yourself. Sometimes you’re stuck in silence. Oftentimes you have to pretend nothing happened. Others will tell you they hate victim mentalities, but that is another way to blame the victim because there is no set time period in which you should be over what happened to you. The important thing is that you try to let yourself heal from the incident. Yet, if you’re dealing with a mental illness, that’s hard. Really hard. Your mental illness is already deluding you from the beginning, and some people develop mental illnesses after the incident.

Others tell you that you should have fought and should have been angry, but people react to assaults in so many different ways, especially if it’s a person they forgive time and time again and still continue to like. These are the kinds of assaults that don’t hit you until even after a day or two when it happened. Then you realize what happened, it hits you all at once, and you are so overwhelmed that you start having flashbacks as to what occurred. Bits and pieces of your memory are missing. Only the worst things are ingrained in your memory. You’re pretty sure a few other things happened while you were trying to avoid the person trying to force themselves on you, but you can’t remember those things.

Also, sexual assault doesn’t have to be rape or leave marks. Sexual assault is simply someone forcing themselves upon you without your consent, thinking that you wanted it and in fact enjoyed it. Sometimes these victims pretend they don’t care–but they’re still scared. Other times they’ll fight. Yet, each victim will react differently depending on the circumstances and history of the assailant they’re dealing with. Regardless of whether it was rape or there was no violence, assault is assault and is still damaging. Your body was being invaded. You were being manipulated the entire time that led up to the assault. And you were scared.

There are so many stories about victim blaming that have been written already, but I thought I would finally contribute to the discussion since my blog is one that I have made a point to touch upon topics such as this.

Amber Skye Forbes,  Author of When Stars Die, a YA Paranormal 




Writing While Struggling With Depression

Writing While Struggling With Depression

magical girl
Or fight like a magical girl or boy to overcome your struggles. You don’t want to make a contract with that little guy. He’ll eventually bring you nothing but despair until you reach a point where you’ll want to die.

I might be blogging every day. Since this blog is about mental illness and the GSM community, I figure all of my posts will fit with mental illness.

I don’t have the heart to work on content edits for The Stars Are Infinite. I don’t know why. The only reason I was able to even finish TSAI during a depressive episode last year is because geography was the most boring class I’ve ever taken, and I would have rather been doing anything else than stewing in my depressive thoughts. But TSAI just doesn’t resonate with what I’m feeling right now. Yes it’s a dark book. Yes one of the characters does struggle with an undiagnosed mental illness. However, that character is not my POV character. My POV character doesn’t struggle with mental illness. She fights against dark thoughts. She’s a fighter in general with a strong sense of justice. I can’t relate to that right now.

I can’t feel bad about not doing content edits. After all, Libba Bray often misses deadlines because of her depression, yet she still has her literary agent and still gets published. She struggles with writing because of her depression. She can’t seem to get things right because of her depression. I just hope that those who have read When Stars Die know these things about me. I hope they’ll forgive me for the publication of the sequel having to be delayed. I feel like the best thing for me to do is to start revisions on The Glorious In-Between, as a lot of the content in the book resonates with me. I feel like I’ll be able to do well with the revisions due to my current feelings.

Even so, it sucks that I feel like I have this inability to work on TSAI. I wanted the book to come out at the end of this year, but I have no clue how possible that is. I can’t say it’s impossible to work on TSAI; it’s just hard. Maybe I can try tomorrow. Maybe all I need is encouragement from someone, from somewhere. Maybe all I need is someone to tell me that I can do it. I have all the edits I need to make before me, all the comments to guide me in making this book better. I just have to do them. That’s all.

It’s so, so, so difficult though, when all I want to do is stay in the comfort of my bed and do things that require nothing from my mind.

Robin Williams’ death allowed me to write the ending to The Glorious In-Between. I desperately needed those feelings in order to understand how my character is supposed to feel at the end–as it pertains to who she is, of course. Even though I’ve struggled with depression on and off for two years, it’s not always easy to grab on to those feelings during stable moments.

Writing in this blog is comforting for me. I have people on Tumblr encouraging me to get well. I’m still writing posts that will help them. I’m still writing promotional posts on Tumblr every so often. I’m building my Twitter platform by finding the right people. I’m still trying to build my e-mail list. Those things don’t take as much energy as writing does, even though for many authors it does.

I want to work on The Glorious In-Between. My depressive feelings are right for it. I hope Mariah Wilson reads this so that way I know what I should do. I don’t know what the right thing to do is as far as my writing concerns. TSAI is supposed to be my priority. I know this. I’m on page 167 out of 365, and all of that occurred within 3.5 days. Perhaps I should get back to it, but the last five chapters really took brain power to edit. I have a feeling content edits are going to get more difficult.

Is there anyone who can guide me in the right direction?

The Forsaken Snowflake

The Forsaken Snowflake

forsaken snowflake
Google. Transparent. Edited with Ipiccy.

She’s onstage, dancing with the corp de ballet in Waltz of the Snowflakes, a beautiful scene in The Nutcracker. She stands out so much. She should blend with the rest of the body, as dancers in a group are supposed to do. Yet, for everyone else, they cannot see otherwise. She is a snowflake, like any other. Unlike snowflakes, she is not unique. Only to me she is. For me, I can see her because I can see her in myself.

I don’t know her name. I have a booklet with the names of all the performers. She could be Sarah Vines, Maria Walkden, Beverly Walker, or even Eliza McKinney.

I’ll give her my name then: Amber.

Amber dances beautifully on stage. Her movements are fluid and in time with the rest of the dancers. When I look at her face, though, I see the same face I look at every morning in the mirror: face pale with mental mistreatment, eyes filled with scraps and pieces of herself she once loved but cannot salvage, and lips that smile but die away like ash in the wind.

She’s too much like me, and I can’t bear to look at her anymore.

I know how she feels, and I’m tired of feeling that way myself. I can dance, certainly not as well as her, but I dance nonetheless. I dance because I love it. It’s a momentary escape from what I feel, this inexplicable, nonsensical thing that starts in the core of my mind and radiates outward, until I withdraw from even myself.

I’m tired of people asking me what’s wrong. I’m tired of people asking me if I’m mad at them due to my apathetic sadness, which makes no sense. I’m so goddamned tired of it all. I feel like I’m too young to be feeling this way, but this disease, this damn mental cancer I wish would sometimes kill me, doesn’t discriminate against even toddlers.

I want to withdraw in my dancing, where nothing is wrong, where no one thinks there is anything wrong with me, where I don’t even have to fake how I’m feeling. For that moment, I feel nothing but fleeting joy.

Don’t ask me how I’m feeling. Don’t assume it has anything to do with you.

Just leave me alone. Please. I’d feel much better if you didn’t talk to me at all about my feelings; I don’t want to talk about them.

Why the hell would I?