Friday, July 24, 2015

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

This last week has been one of the more difficult ones of recent memory. I’m not on the other side of it yet but I’m getting there.

The term rapid cycling was used by Missy. Where I was weepy and depressed all week, today when I got some good news the relief from the anxiety left me irritable, argumentative and downright bitchy.

While I can hear the crude jokes now, is it time for your monthly visitor, are you going through the change? It’s important to note while these things can a do have an effect on my mood and act as certain triggers I think it’s appalling that my emotions can be dismissed so easily.

I’ll admit after the news came through physically I just felt better. As if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders I knew where I stood which, ironically involves more waiting. But apparently I’ve moved up the food chain considerably.

So still I cycle.

I wanted to write but there was a part of me that after writing non-stop since the winter of last year had me screaming uncle. Someone told me to take a vacation. And honestly my idea of a good vacation is getting a nice hotel room and ordering room service all weekend and vegging out.

With little money I have to funnel all of it into career events. I climb, I crawl, I grasp for the gold ring. To me I have hit a certain level of success and am ready to reach a little higher, climb a longer, grasp a little tighter.
This while good, creates a good amount of stress. The waiting these last six months has been somewhat okay to deal with because I didn’t really have an end goal to obsess on. But things are bearing down on someone without mental illness it’s hard enough. For someone with it? Safety nets need to be put into place.

This week has been a rollercoaster. Tuesday I called my therapist. I was already on the ride that has seemingly come to a finish. Climaxing the moment I got the call with the good news, but you gotta wait a little longer message.

Everyone from Missy to Pam to Andrew to my agent kept telling me to breathe. Which is good advice but hard to take in when you’re so wound up and waiting for something that could make your dreams come true.
Good things can be just as much of a trigger as a negative thing. And I’ve had a lot of good things happen this year. The fact I feel fragile and as if this is all being held together by loosest of threads doesn’t really come as a shock. A surprise, maybe. But getting my ass back into therapy pronto is the first step to keeping on track and getting better.

Just because I hear my illness’ siren call of giving up and burnout doesn’t mean I ignore the symptoms and bully my way through it. It means I seek help and do things that will make me feel better.

I think I might watch Cowboys & Aliens and some James Bond films tomorrow. Going back into a movie theater seems too scary a prospect to me right now. First Aurora now Lafeyette. People focus on the mental health of the shooter. AGAIN. What about those of us struggling to get better. To do better. To get better. It angers me that the media in ALL corners paint with such vivid words and criminalize everyone with a mental illness. Not realizing those with a mental illness are now fearful of doing something everyone else takes for granted. Going to the fucking movies.

So the news I got? I can’t really talk about it. But know I thismuchcloser to something I’ve wanted for a long time now for Letters to Daniel. Waiting again shouldn’t be as hard with Con season kicking into high gear. There’s a lot going on at all three of them. Enough to keep my brain from obsessing. Although my gut tells me everything is going to work okay.

In this case I trust it. It’s very rare that I’ll say I know something for sure. I feel like Letters to Daniel will do as I always intended it to do. Help me process things. And by doing that let people know they are not alone. I hope to inspire people to be their best selves with my work the way your work did for me.


Amy McCorkle

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I don’t know how to put it any other way than relapse sucks. The only way I know how to deal with any of it is well to come to you and write about it. I haven’t touched on relapse much in the way of previous letters because well, my natural cycle of moods tended to ebb in the fall struggle through holidays then hit my stride again in January. I never looked at as relapse per se. Just as maybe this was my cycle and I had found a way to work with it and around it.

Then last year a funny thing happened. Mom got sick. Really sick and I hyper focused on her her getting well and writing whenever I made time to make it happen. Which was a lot. Then Mom got better and I started winning all of the contests I entered. Then the first volume of Letters hit the Amazon Bestsellers list. And then I was nominated for an EPIC in Non-Fiction. And then I got an agent. And well, you know the rest. There wasn’t time to be depressed.

But it seems the cycle has caught up and with little more than two weeks to go until Con season hits whether I have time to be depressed or not I am. Bipolar disorder doesn’t just go away because you take a pill. It’s there waiting, watching, ready to strike at your most vulnerable moment.

Here I stand on the verge of all my dreams coming true and I have the deepest, strongest, most overwhelming urge to curl up in a ball and cry. I know intellectually that I’m not alone. That I have friends and family who support me.

I’m emotional, tired, and find myself avoiding the keyboard, which is unusual for me. To whit I have been writing since the beginning of January with no breaks writing book after book, teleplay, treatments, and a screenplay along with a novella, a short novel and two full length novels.

But if I don’t write eventually I feel wonky, wrong, unlike myself. And it’s just as brutal as this.  Missy asked me if was going through menopause. Only Missy can ask me questions like that. She’s that person in my life who can suggest gently that I call my therapist. The crap thing is there’s not actually anything that will get me in faster with my therapist. As for my psychiatrist, my most recent one moved to another state and where I go to get seen for my illness has yet to find a replacement so they automatically refill my meds.

So what if it’s something with my medication. I’m going to have to wait. Which really, really sucks.
Although the average episode lasts two weeks. So if today is day one. Then by the time I see my therapist I’ll come out on the other side of this.

The thing is I am no overnight success. And I have been given the tools to cope with this. I’m glad I relaunched this blog. As coming here and  knowing there are others like me who go through this sort of thing is comforting.

And knowing I don’t have to stay there is a blessing. It’s not stay in bed for days bad. It’s more like I can’t write and I can’t handle lots of people. Trying to do something fun tomorrow. Lunch with friends and tarot card readings.

I’m hoping it helps. I’ve stepped away from the creative writing but it’s hard. I mean I have like zero desire to write creatively.

Relapse is relative. Some suffer from it more acutely than others. Right now I just want everyone to know, and myself to some degree that you can come out on the other side of it. Look for that pinpoint of light and feel your way towards it. Tomorrow I’m going to watch a few of your films. And hopefully feel better.


Amy McCorkle

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

Relapse. It’s a word and state of mind those with bipolar disorder dread. Sometimes you’re in the throes of it before you even realize what’s going on. Sometimes you just feel off and can’t quite put your finger on it.
I know at times on this blog it seems like it’s easy to do what I do. And really it’s pretty fucking hard. Things as a few posts back show me professionally at a tipping point with this project. Which is nice. But here it is. Me being completely honest. No that my insurance is worked out, I called my therapist and  called an audible. I have not seen a therapist for any extended amount of time for over two years.

But things are changing fast in my life and I have been irritable, sleep schedule all whacked out, and not writing much or regularly. And part of my routine was writing on this blog. I found myself sliding towards, yes relapse.

Relapse doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you a failure. It simply means you’re human and that your disease is rattling the cage and demanding you pay attention to it.

So today after weeks of feeling happy and celebratory in some respects but irritable and all out of sorts in others I called my therapist and made an appointment. We’ll be making a treatment plan. While I know I shouldn’t feel like a failure I guess in some ways I do.

I suppose I should be telling you I’m not afraid and relapse is always far from my mind. But that’s just not the case. All it really does though is tell you that I’m human and that all of these great things that I’m experiencing come with their own brand of stress.

It’s okay to check in with your doctors and therapists about where you are along the healing process. 

Because there isn’t one huge mountain to climb. Sure in the beginning there are peaks and valleys but as time goes by there are rolling hills less like the wild T3 rollercoaster at an amusement park and more like the kiddie coaster in Hanna Barbera Land.

Relapse. Something not to be obsessed over. But to be planned for. In therapy you learn to watch for your triggers. Watch for the road signs that mean you might be slipping and sliding on that slippery slope.
Perhaps if I’m open about needing a tune-up of sorts then someone out there might be made aware of their own need for a tune-up. A diagnostic of sorts. Or maybe you’re at the bottom of the barrel. You’re rock bottom and you’re in desperate need of a helping hand.

And say you have relapsed after a period of success. Say you have to go to a hospital. There is no shame in that either.


I understand some have had nightmarish experiences with it. Honestly none of my doctors created that sense of fear surrounding it. I have had mostly good experiences with my psychiatrists and nurses. And my experiences with my therapists have been all very good.

So now, as perhaps the best thing in the world is about to happen to me, I am making sure that this ‘out of sorts not feeling like me feeling’ doesn’t drag me into the dark claws of depression or the unhinged madness  that can be mania.

Relapse. Not the end of the world. Part of the cycle and something to be faced and dealt with head on. Not ignored and covered with shame.


Amy McCorkle

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

When scrounging around for a topic to write about today I thought I might never figure it out. I was all soul on fire and full of piss and vinegar last night. How do I follow up on such a post? Well a simple tweet posted by @BipolarUs set my brain to clicking. The question they put to the twitterverse was this, What advice would you give to a man/woman/child newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The short answer was this: You are not your diagnosis. Now that you know what’s going on there is help. You will get better.

I think all people diagnosed with bipolar disorder get lost and consumed by their diagnosis for a while. Some longer than others. God knows I wondered the desert for a very long time before learning the hard won lesson that I was not bipolar, but that I was simply diagnosed with it.

Now what the hell does that really mean?

Getting lost was, well just that. I became my diagnosis. I mean I would always say I was bipolar. As high I’m Bipolar. Not Amy. Not marathon runner, aspiring author, wannabe screenwriter, wish I could be a filmmaker. All of my hopes and dreams and relationships became boiled down to one word and one word only. And because I believed I was only my diagnosis all of my other qualities. Say, my sense of humor, my subtle charm, my wear your heart on your sleeve approach to life? All of my accomplishments, my hopes, my desires, my dreams were lost somewhere in the big ocean of my label.

I hate it now when people minimize me or how I’m feeling or a project I might be working on. It was done to me growing up by well intentioned loved ones but I think more than anything I did it to myself in the wake of the bipolar diagnosis. I was BIPOLAR.

I had no idea what bipolar disorder was. I had been reduced to a checklist of symptoms. And confessing it in the workplace was definitely a social no no. Because god forbid there be something different about me. My version of myself as my diagnosis was sick. Very sick. I could barely take care of myself. Physically, emotionally, or spiritually. And the mental health system in Texas sucked balls in a major way. No therapy. Strictly  meds and a psychiatrist. I remember both of them well Dr. Domrez and Dr. Stoller. They were wonderful human beings working in an overworked underpaid environment.

But they aren’t and weren’t therapists. The help they gave me I will be forever grateful for. They saved my life. For that first year I was struggling to find my identity as I was more unstable than stable. When I left it was not on my own accord. It precipitated by a daycare director firing me because of her discomfort with my openness about my diagnosis. I want say her name. But it gives me a great deal of pleasure knowing that the daycare went out of business and left her and her little sidekick without a job.

However every decision you make, every step you take brings you to where you are now. It took close to fifteen years for me to learn the lesson I was not my diagnosis. That I was more than just my disease. That I was a whole, valuable human being. Worthy of my place in society. I deserved help because it was the right thing to do. And that people judging me were wrong for doing so.

CRAZY is a word I’ve learned to despise with a passion. I feel like you can only use that word if you’re in the group. If you’re in the club. Still if you take away nothing else from this blog post if you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or someone you love has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness or mental health  issue, they deserve nothing less than your best.

Your compassion. Your understanding. Your help. Not your worst.

Your judgment. Your disbelief. Your damnation. Or your resistance.

Family and friends, your loved one needs you to be their advocate. Maybe not sitting in on sessions. But getting them there. Making sure they have their medicine. Making sure they are given tools to get better.
Your child/brother/sister/cousin/neice/nephew/brother/aunt/uncle/grandparent/grandchild is a person who needs tons of love, they need your tenderness as they walk through the time of being lost so that they might come out on the other side of their time in desert to realize they are more than just words that have overwhelmed them.


Amy McCorkle

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I’ve been gone from the blog since well, January. So much has happened and the nature of this blog has changed. One where I things are going so insanely well that perhaps an update and the re-launching of this space is in order.

First of all, thank you for reading my letters. Your kind words have served to sustain me and center me in this hurricane force of change coming my way.

Second three different publishers have the revised version of Letters to Daniel the memoir on their desk. I could be hearing from one of them as soon as next week. Fingers crossed. It could be big in what’s already been a big month for me.

In this year I have signed a continuing series, ala James Bond meets the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with MuseItUp Publishing. The Cooke & Cooke series, the first book in Forget Me Not signed for publication.

Dead Reckoning is a self-published novella.

Another set of books set on two different publishers desks. And is on the review pile to be considered for a television series on Lifetime.

MuseItUp has asked me to write a non-fiction inspirational how to market book from a bipolar writer’s perspective.

And me and my writing partner scored 10 wins at The International Indie Gathering Film Festival.

Finally Healing Hands Ent (me and Missy) and RJ Productions are co-producing Letters to Daniel the dramatic screenplay Missy and I wrote. With plans to take it to Film-Com next summer.

So as you can see, things are rapidly changing for me. That being said I want to make this blog about helping others with bipolar disorder facing the same challenges I did and still do.

Discrimination is a beast anyone with something different about them can face. As someone with bipolar disorder I faced it with a daycare center. In a world where there is acceptance of some differences having a mental illness is something that people can’t taste, touch, or smell. Many people can’t quantify it. Therefore they don’t understand it.

As someone who has traveled a long road in her recovery I see bipolar disorder being defined for us by a sensationalistic media (both liberal and conservative) that paints millions of people struggling to get better, struggling to get by, attempting to be well with the same broad  that means all persons with bipolar disorder will do it. That’s the insinuation. That’s picture of damnation they paint every person with. And I for one have had enough of it.

Sixteen years is a long time. I’m not the person in many ways that I was at the beginning of my road to recovery. There were hardships overcome. I had to learn my limitations. I had to learn to know when to say when. I behaved terribly to those around me. I said and did things that were horrible. And I had to take responsibility for them. I had to make amends. I had to accept in some respects I had burned bridges. That a book like Letters to Daniel has the potential to piss people off.

But I’m at a point where I don’t care. I want the world to know people with a bipolar disorder don’t belong in a catch all crazy basket with others who broke the law. That a great majority of those with a bipolar diagnosis are not their disease. It is simply that. A part of them.

There are many like me who are simply at a different stage of their journey than I am. That doesn’t make them any less worthy, any less valuable, any less of a human being than me. Because in the end bipolar disorder includes relapse as part of the disease. Some relapses are more severe than others.

But that being said, RELAPSE does not equal CRIMINAL. Treatment is out there. Help is available and a lot of times many well meaning friends and loved ones urge their sick mother/father/brother/sister/cousin/aunt/uncle/friend not to seek treatment thinking that said person is being ‘dramatic’ or that ‘it will look bad on the family’. And while those fears are understandable, all they do is keep their loved one from getting the treatment they so desperately need.

I have a dual diagnosis. I suffer PTSD to from the sexual abuse I suffered as a kid. That’s another blog altogether, but the above paragraph applies to the person needing treatment.

Please understand, when one person in the house has the illness it affects everyone in the house. The sick individual needs treatment, not judgment and damnation. Because one of the most effective parts of treatment is the support and love of parents, sisters and brothers and the rest of the family.

The media is in my crosshairs these days a lot for their portrayal of mental illness equaling criminality. I don’t care for it. And I will no longer stand idly by while I, and many people I know and love are painted by that ugly, stigmatizing brush.


Amy McCorkle