I’ve been following an up and coming blogger and was intrigued with the productivity and results of his work in the few months he’s been online. I was inspired and had to interview this guy – he’s a bipolar and calls himself “The Bipolar Writer.” Who is he? Let’s find out!
J.E., what has your journey been like with bipolar thus far?
It has been one of many downs, some ups, and of course good. I have dealt with a lot since I was diagnosed with Bipolar One. I have tried to take my life three different times in 2007, 2008, and in 2010. The last time changed me. I realized all the hurt I had caused in just the first three years of my diagnosis was very destructive to my family and who I was as a person. I never really believed that I was Bipolar during the first three years of my diagnosis and it took me trying to end my life to finally believe that the help I was getting was going to make me better. It was only after the doctors told me, that it was a miracle that I survived my last suicide that I decided to make real changes.
It has never been easy. I still deal with extremely low depression, my last depression cycle lasted almost a year. I honestly don’t remember much of the early years of my diagnosis. I hardly left my house from 2007-2011 because of a long depression cycle. I also deal with severe social anxiety which has only gotten worse over the last few years. It is a topic that I often talk about on my blog.
Even with the ups and downs, I am close to finishing my bachelor’s degree in creative writing with a specialization in fiction. I wanted to be more of a professional writer so I also minored in journalism, screenwriting, and political science.
I have taken my journey the last few years just one day at a time. I have had to learn to manage my depression when it gets bad and to learn to manage my mania when it becomes a companion in my life. I have always dealt with the extreme highs and lows the best I can. It is never easy but I am still alive. Not every day is a good day but when the good days outweigh the bad, life is okay. Since that day in the hospital in 2010 that has been a constant in my life. I honestly don’t know for sure why I am still here, but I believe it was to share my story and my writing skills with the world.
Were you always a writer?
I believe that I have always had the ability to express myself through my writing. I remember being just five and writing off-the-wall stories about UFO’s and visitors beyond our world. I was really into UFO novels as a kid. I also fell in love with books and novels at such a young age and I always wanted to create worlds like my favorite authors. I didn’t really start to define my writing as fiction until high school and for many years I gave up writing because of my depression and my diagnosis. I used it for a long time as the reason not to write. About six years ago I made the commitment to start writing again even if it was only for “my eyes only”. A couple of years after that I was well enough to start my degree in creative writing and focus on my writing career. I never imagined being a blogger. I always thought I would only write fiction but I have found I love to write screenplays and nonfiction as well.
Would you say your diagnosis is a burden or a blessing?
It has been a blessing, though at times throughout my life I have considered it a burden. I became who I am, passionate about helping others with a mental illness like myself because I have lived through some of the worst hell I could put myself through, and came out on the other side. I haven’t thought about taking my life in almost seven years. It is never easy and I still have a long way to go. I still suffer from social anxiety, depression still takes over my life for weeks or months at a time, and my manic side always shows itself when I least expect it to, but it is a blessing because it has made me a better person. I am a better writer because of my diagnosis and a better human being.
How has your memoir inspired your blog?
It is a two-way street with my blog inspiring my memoir. I am have tried to write my memoir on three different occasions in my life, and it just never really came out right. I had the general idea of where I wanted my memoir to go but I made the decision to use my blog as a stepping stone. I write pieces on subjects that will make it into my memoir on my blog to gauge feedback. To answer your question, yes. My memoir inspired my blog but I have gotten so much more done as chapters go because of my blog.
What part of your illness is giving you inspiration for your blog and memoir?
Every part has really inspired me to write. I think what people don’t know about mental illness, especially those who have never walked in the shoes of people like myself, is that there are so many parts of being Bipolar One for example. My experiences over the last ten years inspired me to write it all down, every part in an honest way.
What do you attribute to your blog following growing so quickly?
I think its perseverance. This is the third blog that I have started over the years. I actually took a required class for my degree on creating a writer’s platform through a blog. I took blogging seriously this time around. I chose the premium WordPress account so I could have access to the good themes and my own domain name. I heavily researched demographics that I wanted to target for both my fiction novel, screenplay, and my memoir. I read articles on blogging and the books for my writer’s platform class were invaluable to making the most out of every day that I blog.
The key to why this blog is that I am honest within my blog posts. Before, the blog articles that I wrote were as if they were straight from WebMD. It was all technical as if I was telling people how to live their mental illness life. I realized reading my old blog I wanted to punch myself for not being myself. So, I switched gears. It was also helpful that I am in a place with my diagnosis where I feel comfortable letting people into my life. I try to speak to the reader through my experience. When people share their own experience with the subject of a particular blog post, I know I am doing the right thing.
What’s your objective in writing a memoir and sharing your story?
This is the simplest part of my writing, the “objective.” I want to reach people with mental illness in a real way through experience. People experience Bipolar for example in different ways and maybe they can learn something through my own experiences. I want to end the stigma that is often put on the mental illness community that we are bad people who can’t control themselves. I seen people glorify and “joke” about killing themselves, but don’t understand how deep into darkness a person has to go to get to the suicide point. Even just thinking about suicide is a dark place I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I want people to understand that so many people on this planet keep their issues a secret because of negative stereotypes. I think as a community we can be more open to sharing our own experience in due time. Its different for everyone.
There are so many people suffering in silence, and while I would never ask someone to share their story until they are ready, it makes sharing my story worth it when people finally have the courage to share their own experiences in their blog.
What inspired you to write a memoir?
The need to share my story. I haven’t always been comfortable sharing my story. I think writing my screenplay last year where the main character was bipolar was an important step. In a way a told small pieces in of my own life in a fictional story within the screenplay. It was safe without me openly saying “I am Bipolar.” The idea of my brand “The Bipolar Writer” isn’t to say that I am the only one. I want to eventually make my blog a place where all Bipolar Writers can feel safe writing their own experiences. I started to write because for a long time I felt that I had the ability to share my story with the world, but I was too scared to be this open about my mental illness.
How has your bipolar affected your writing?
It has made me more attuned to the psychological aspect of writing characters. I am at my best when creating a new character for a story and how dialogue can affect people, just like in real life. I love to get into the mind of my characters that I write because for most of my life I have lived in my own head and seen the limits a person can live through in the span of a life.
What advice do you have for other mental health bloggers?
Be honest. Don’t leave anything off. If you’re writing about your experiences with depression, write how you lived through it, not the experience of others. The best stories we know are our own. Don’t worry about criticism because for every one person that says a bad thing about your mental illness, there are so much more who’s day changed after reading your story. I don’t measure my success on how many followers I get (it does help) but by the connections that I have made. The people that come back to my blog daily to see what I have written, makes it all worth it to open up my life.
Blogger and writer J.E. Skye
James Edgar Skye is a native of Salinas, California. He was diagnosed with Bipolar One disorder in 2007, and his journey with this disease heavily influences his writing. His love for writing and his experience with Bipolar one helped create the moniker and his brand “The Bipolar Writer.”
J.E. considers himself a young adult/adult fiction novelist but he also writes screenplays and non-fiction. He writes within the romance/drama genres in his novels and screenplays. J.E. has written a screenplay entitled Memory of Shane and is working on a novel of the same name.
J.E. will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing with a specialization in fiction (minoring in journalism and political science) in 2018 from Southern New Hampshire University. In his spare time, when he is not writing fiction, J.E. likes to write small feature articles that chronicle issues relating to his mental illness like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and suicide. He plans on combining these articles to write a memoir on his experiences entitled The Bipolar Writer.
J.E. is a coffee addict and spends most of his time in coffee shops writing, He also loves Japanese culture including anime and foods like sushi/sashimi. In his spare time, he plays role-playing video games to cope with his depression. He also to watch sports and actively roots for the Dodgers, Broncos, Lakers, and Alabama football.