Monday, March 6, 2017

Perspectives, Creativity, Life, and Other Useless Things

Hi,

I've lost all creativity.

I want to be a creative because it is all I know, but I have lost that drive. The sparks never fly. Impulses have vanished. I want what was, but may never be again.

It seems my entire life I was unable to envision myself as anything other than a superstar. Maybe I was born with an ego twice my size that continued to grow with me. I always felt destined to greatness. I've even had people predict that of my future. A couple people expressed that God told them I would do great things. Others simply saw it in who I was.

Starting with the typical young boy aspirations. I wanted to either be a fire fighter or policeman so I could save lives. I had an uncle that was a fire fighter, so that was winning for a while. I started watching large amounts of Adam 12, so I started leaning towards policeman. 9/11 happened right before I turned 10, which is around the time military service became an interest. A career with meaning.

In the earlier years of school, I was good at everything but I enjoyed science the most. Perhaps I could follow in the footsteps of the great scientists I read about and invent wonderful things.

Somewhere in my preteens, like many of us do, I started to become much more interested in music. Though I lack any tangible sense of musical ability, let alone talent, I determined that I was going to make a name for myself in the music industry. I saw myself as a rockstar. If I'm being completely honest, I still do.

My teenage self kept that musician dream alive. Then I started to delve into the world of filmmaking. Ended up making that my life's pursuit so far. I fell in love with directing. Really enjoyed writing. Though I've acted while the opportunity presented itself throughout my life, I discovered in college that was my truest passion. Now I focus my energy on acting.

Whatever it was that I would end up doing, I knew it was going to be big. I was going to do well and people would know my name. I would make my mark. I would even float around the idea of making a path to becoming president of the United States (though, due to recent events, I'm less interested in that office).

I used to write songs, and truthfully I'm a halfway decent lyricist. I had aspirations of writing books. I wrote screenplays. I brought people together to make things. I facilitated art. I would write and direct short films. Put together skits. Acted.

But not anymore.

I used to like people. Not anymore.

I think any good artist has to have some level of narcissism. By the very nature of being a creative, you have to believe that you have something to offer the world. You have an idea worth sharing. A perspective needing to be seen. A message to convey. There is something inside of you that needs to get out. You have emotions and thoughts that perhaps no one else has expressed, or at least add a new view on them.

I used to be full of hope. I was a dreamer. I whole heartedly believed in big ideas and sought them with every fiber of my being. I saw good in this world. Love needed to be shared. I thought I had something to offer. There were ideas, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs growing inside me that I thought people needed to hear.

That's not so much that case anymore. Instead of believing people are naturally good, I believe people are naturally evil. At best, people are born neutral and their environment decides where they end up. Every moment of my life is now consumed by anxiety. From where I sit, the world is full of fear and despair. Too much greed. No one has any sense of situational or social awareness. There is a trend of apathy. The political climate is hopeless. People have made the dangerous move to reject truth. There is a dumbing down of society. Feelings mean more facts. Hypocrisy everywhere. Selfishness is more prevalent than selflessness. Insurmountable amounts of people suffer every day. I'm frustrated and angry. I'm heartbroken. No one cares. The bad outweighs the good, and sometimes I wonder what is even the point.

I don't feel that those thoughts are worth sharing. I don't want to convey that message. Those feelings are a burden and I don't want to put that on anyone else. I no longer have a burning desire to make projects because my internal narrative is a frightening one. My perspective of life and the world around me has drastically shifted and I no longer have emotions that need to be expressed. So I bottle it up and pretend to be a normal member of society.

I haven't written anything in a long time. I've largely become disinterested in people. Instead of ideas swirling around my head at any given moment and an excitement to get them out, it is a struggle to produce anything at all. It is as if there is simply nothing inside. Art is the only thing I truly know, and I genuinely still want to pursue it. I'm just lost. I feel like I no longer have anything to offer.

There are probably several different factors for my current predicament, but this is the one on which I'm currently dwelling.

Thanks,
Josh Kelly

Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Name Is Josh Kelly And I Am Bipolar

Hi,

My name is Josh Kelly and I am bipolar.

On June 9th I finally saw a psychiatrist for the first time and was diagnosed with what is called Bipolar II.

If you aren't familiar with Bipolar II, it isn't really all that different than Bipolar 1 - which you might associate most with the term "bipolar". There are some differences here and there, but the major factor distinguishing the two disorders is that I have hypomanic episodes instead of reaching full mania. Because of that, Bipolar II is sometimes referred to as a "milder" form of bipolar. But that isn't entirely accurate. The lows that come with the depression side of things, or some of the other symptoms, can be just as bad or worse than the lows someone with Bipolar I experiences.

I believe in transparency. Though some people may believe that a diagnosis such as this is a personal matter and prefer to keep it to themselves, I don't share that sentiment on a personal level. I would wager most people feel that way, and that's perfectly fine. Please do whatever helps you best manage your life. I just know that word will slowly spread eventually, and I don't want it to be a matter of secrecy. If it comes up in conversation, so be it. If it allows my wife to talk about it with others and better cope, I want the whole world to know. It is because of a friend being open about his disorder than I was able to come to him when diagnosed and in need. So, if I can be even a small measure of help to anyone, I will bare my soul.

I'm lousy at commitments, but because there is so much to this and this particular post will already be long, I intend to post at least a few blogs on the topic. I'm new to the diagnosis and I'm still diving in researching everything I can about it.

What really is bipolar disorder?

Now, that is a loaded question. Bipolar disorder is really a spectrum of disorders. So it isn't something I can concisely describe. Even within Bipolar II, it varies between each person. I can only tell you from my personal experience and what you can learn from a google search.

To be clear, I'm not a psychiatrist. I don't have a medical degree or a PHD. My only foray into the field was Psychology 100 in college, in which I did receive an A (though, to be fair, all the questions on the tests were multiple choice). I'm not a licensed therapist. So nothing I say should be taken as professional advice. I'm just sharing my life.

Until recently, I simply thought of bipolar disorder as something twofold. Someone would alternate between bouts of depression and an inflated sense of self. I noticed this in my own life for years and often suspected that I might possibly be bipolar, but I wasn't scared of that diagnosis.

Those things are kind of true. But there is much more to it. Oh so much more.

Yes, there is definitely depression involved. Someone with Bipolar II, and many other bipolar disorders, will often spend a majority of their time in a depressed state. There is a reason it is also referred to as manic depression. I've struggled with depression as far back as my conscious memory goes. Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the idea of clinical depression, so I'm not going to spend too much time with it right now.

On the flip side is mania or hypomania. To make things more complicated, there are two types:

Euphoric hypomania feels great. I'll be honest, I like this kind. I feel like I own the world. I can do anything and everything. I am the coolest kid on the block. I feel that the world is finally full of potential. I have energy for the first time in forever. Ideas and motivation are coming back.

Now, while some of us enjoy this while it lasts, it can lead to some bad situations. Spending sprees are common, and it's never good when you're spending money you don't have - especially on things you don't need. A reoccurring theme I see is an out of control sex drive. I you're married that could lead to affairs, or you might find yourself being more promiscuous or dangerous in your sex life (STDs, pregnancy, etc.). You could also find yourself saying or doing things to people in your life that you regret. Sometimes I overestimate my abilities to get something done in a certain amount of time. There are a million different negative possibilities resulting from a hypomanic episode.

Then there's dysphoric hypomania. I never heard of this until being diagnosed. It can be a very agitated state. Angry all the time and/or over small things. Often this is a mixed episode. It's like if you take your depression and put it on hyperdrive. It sucks for everyone all the time.

Okay, so that kind of briefly covers the general idea of the twofold understanding of bipolar disorder. Let's add a little bit too it.

Many of us on the bipolar spectrum suffer from severe anxiety. I have personally been diagnosed with panic disorder. I can only speak on a personal level, but what most people wouldn't guess is that this might very well be the symptom that is most difficult for me. I worry about things that no one else even thinks about, and I worry about them in ways sometimes that make no practical sense. There's a constant whirling of of thoughts in my head. I overthink everything.

People who are bipolar often struggle to finish college (I didn't finish).

People who are bipolar often have a hard time holding down a job (I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to fashion my life so I don't have to, but it is difficult when I do pick up a job).

People who are bipolar often have trouble being able to go out and see people or do things. Even people we like or things we would really enjoy doing (I definitely fall into this group face first).

People who are bipolar often find themselves pushing people away and isolating themselves (yep).

People who are bipolar often feel very alone. Unless you've experienced it, it really is quite impossible for people in your life to fully empathize.

Bipolar disorder is hard on the spouse or significant other. For some of us, that just makes us feel even worse (check).

About 20% of people with bipolar disorder kill themselves. Roughly 50% attempt suicide. (I think about ending my life more days than not.)

When I was wrapping up my hour long session with my psychiatrist, he quickly gave me the diagnosis. I think he's a great doctor, so I don't hold this against him, but he didn't really elaborate or give me any indication that it was a serious diagnosis. I didn't think much about it until I started reading into it as much as I could later on that day. Suddenly so much of my life made sense. I had a cause for so many of my struggles, finally a name to give it.

But I also became scared. Terrified. The more I learned, the bleaker my life looked. Not to be overly dramatic, but it felt like I was giving a diagnosis of cancer or another terminal illness. My quality of life will get worse and I might end up dead.

I've had to focus my attention on the positive side of the diagnosis. Now I can properly treat it. I can take the correct medications and start therapy. I know what to look out for in my behavior and am better equipped to address it.

I was on an SSRI for a few years to treat my depression and anxiety. I've come to learn that antidepressants, especially by themselves, can actually exacerbate the bipolar symptoms. So if you're even a little bit concerned you might have a bipolar disorder, I encourage you to see a psychiatrist. As great as your regular physician may be, they probably haven't dedicated as many years of their life focusing on the brain.

If you are also bipolar, I hope this didn't make you feel any worse. Truly not my intention. At the very least, I genuinely wish this gives you some sense of solidarity. If you're a friend or family member, I'm not looking for pity or anything of the sort. I just ask for understanding. If you'd like a book recommendation or two to help understand me, I'm happy to offer them. For everyone, I simply want to make you aware of this disorder and its true nature.

Thanks,
Josh Kelly

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hello

Hi,

2015 has been and will continue to be quite a big year for me.

I'll admit, it's been hard. I've struggled many times to simply stay afloat. Running my own business and starting a second one, then picking up a part time job, as well as staying busy with other aspects of life - I've overworked myself. I do my best not to complain, so please don't look at this as me searching for pity. I'm just telling it as it is.

In about a month we will be packing up in our car with our two dogs, maybe our 6 foot plush giraffe, and some personal belongings and we will embark on our journey across the country for our move to California. Los Angeles has been calling our names for several years, this November we're finally answering. We're going to take it slow for our pups and for my own sanity, but also making it a more pleasurable extended trip visiting several cities on our way out there.

I've started a few different blogs over the years and occasionally I'll get nostalgic and go back to read them. It's a really interesting and unique way to get inside the head space I was in at the time. Instead of picking up where another blog left off, I've decided to start a new one. I've changed a lot over the past couple years. I dare say that I'm a different person. Time for something different.

This is a season of change. I want to keep some record of what's going on and what's going through my mind.

I'm not necessarily writing this for anyone else. This space is mostly for myself. I'm going to add a little bit to the noise on the internet. I haven't really ever been one for a person journal, but I do like the idea, so I figured if there's a chance that my words might reach someone else I might be able to motivate myself to write. I haven't actually written anything in years. I used to write blogs, movie scripts, songs, and poems. Not in a long time. Maybe if I can get in the practice of using the written word I might find myself finding themes impactful to me that could find there way into creative work.

I imagine that these words will largely be stream of consciousness and unfiltered expression of thought. It probably wont be tidy. I'll try to not make it habit, but there might be some language, so I wont be offended if you don't come back if that isn't your thing. If I get political or theological, I'm sure a plenty of people will disagree and that's fine. I promise to keep it civil and keep an open mind. Always on a journey and trying to figure everything out. I'll try to keep it more personal than anything else. No promises, but I hope to include many photos along the way. Let's see where this goes.

Thanks,
Josh Kelly