Laugh Until We Cry

Here I am always talking about self-awareness and let’s just say I missed the mark.

Last week I had a conversation with my husband and it consisted of a question followed by how he felt. My initial reaction was to be defensive and justify that I was by no means doing any wrong by him, which he politely listened to. In fact he even went as far as to suggest I was correct; however, it struck a chord and I chose to do some serious self-reflection. Lo and behold my statement had a little validity BUT even more so, so did his.

I think I made a post where I mentioned my curiousty for how my depressive and hypomanic episodes would play out in my future after I had considered myself to have found a healthy balance with my relationship and medication etc… The blatantly obvious episodes that I could detect rather quickly in my prior years of life had become not as evident (not gone but not as evident to me).

But for the sake of showing how I slept on myself with obvious textbook signs I will continue … I haven’t slept properly or with any regularity severely for the past 2 months. I’ve been having a hard time focusing on anything, because I have a million and one ideas swirling in my mind, I’ve been speaking loudly, quickly and excessively with an added measure of repetition (literally repeating myself over and over with the exact same measure of excitement to anyone who I can pin down) I have been a little more on edge, shall we say more irritable and reactive and I’ve definitely exercised my obsessive nature with certain interests… like serious tunnel vision with only specific topics. Don’t be confused that my focus is at an all time low, while I’m obsessing over various topics. Its hard to have a clear grasp on anything while trying to do and talk about everything. And let’s not forget my grand idea to change careers over night which resulted in serious research and commitment until my sister intervened.

But holy cow! Why 2 months?! My regulated self typically experiences a hypomanic episode for 4-7 days. The fact my husband brought up how he was feeling disconnected was a reality check, and thus the realization of this state I’ve been in was addressed.

When I started to ask myself about my behaviour and my relationship dynamics with my husband, there has in fact been a shift the past 2 months and I had to ask myself, why?

*Tip: Try to look at your timeline and if there have been major events or road bumps. For me, as I said before special occasions and changes definitely impact my mood.

However, back to the question – it might be unimpressively shocking to note that major events and changes have in fact taken place non-stop since the beginning of October. Not in a bad way, just in a way that has thrown off my balance and routine. And caused me to go up, up, up, and away!

I had my husband’s birthday in early October, then my birthday, then our anniversary and then we decided to move, then I gave notice at work, all the while being on cloud nine; excluding the work situation that I lost myself over (but who knows maybe it impacted me more because of the state I was already in) But even that, the fact I thought I needed to change careers so quickly and confidently should have tipped me off that I was not quite my “grounded” self.

It took me seeing my husband’s feelings being hurt and admitting my behaviour was an attributing factor to stop me in my tracks and say “hold up Stephanie, how and what are you doing and when did you start doing it?”

And that is how I realized I was feeling so incredible but at the expense of shutting out my husband and being quite selfish. I realized I never had to share my time when I was (severely) hypomanic before. My family would let me be and I’d do as I pleased for the days that I was consumed with myself and my insesent interests.

They would know I was not quite myself and just let me have space. But let’s be frank I wasn’t married to my family. I am married to my husband, and 2 months is a long time for me to be on this solo-wagon of just Stephanie’s world. He had been reaching out to me and I essentially ignored the advances and stuck to myself. Mind you it wasn’t intentional, I wasn’t aware of how disconnected I was to his feelings BUT now I am.

I honestly don’t know what to do in this situation. I’m hoping that if I can speak to someone when I move, maybe we can make a plan to navigate episodes that last longer than a week and perhaps I’ll be called out a lot sooner. But I do know it is something I have never experienced before with someone I’m in a relationship with and living with on an intimate level.

That all being said, I fell apart this past friday and weekend. I held myself together during work and when I got home I had a shower and ugly cried. Not over anything in particular, I just felt this overwhelming sense of sadness – which was a drastic change from all the happiness I’ve been feeling. I stayed in the shower for over an hour, just crying on and off. Then I got out, my husband came home and I went back into the shower and cried some more.

I think the shower is like a comfort blanket, the water on your skin and the noise that mutes your cry. I haven’t cried for absolutely no reason in front of my husband and I didn’t feel like making a spectacle of myself since I had no real reason to be sad. I simply had felt sad. The weekend followed suit. Sadness and tightness in chest, I avoided public as the idea of having people look at me made me feel anxiety. Perhaps it’s all the stress and excitement and it’s a mass amount of emotion and a matter of trying to still work and hold it together and move with some degree of grace.

I’m going to make it. I’m going to be happy and I’m going to bounce back from the high (it’s been a slice) and conquer the low. Because what is the alternative?

Only a few more days and I’ll have two feet out the door. I’ll keep you posted.

– Steph

Bipolar Blunder as the Cookie Crumbles

And just like that the cookie crumbles. Let’s rewind, did I not just do a post saying I love my job?!

Okay people, let’s be real – no lie,I do love my job. I love being a legal assistant BUT what I do not love is the stress that it evokes. For instance when I make a typo that my lawyer points out – it is literally the end of the world? Is it really?? NO – have I been told to brush it off and keep going? YES – However, will I lose sleep over it? You better believe it.

Something happened last week, and it caused me to talk to my husband, my parents and my sisters. I was grasping at anyone I could to calm me down. There was an oversight at work and at the end of the day it wasn’t even my fault (and that’s not an opinion, it is a fact). Regardless, I took it wayyyyyy to personal. I didn’t sleep all night (or the rest of the week just thinking about this particular situation), and don’t get me wrong – lots of people lose sleep over work; bipolar or not.

However, the very next day I was looking up different institutions for school because I was thinking perhaps a career change was the best solution to alleviate the stress I feel from working in the legal industry. A little over the top perhaps…. just a wee bit.

I know. I know! What the heck Stephanie!? A career change??! Like I said, I literally just wrote a post about loving my job, and feeling more confident as a legal assistant. And believe me, I do feel more confident. It’s just a reality that I fear going to work almost everyday because of the possibility of making a mistake big or small – and rationally I know it is inevitable; everyone makes mistakes that’s what makes us human.

So what of my career change? I ended up calling my oldest sister on my lunch hour with my grand plan, and let’s just say she talked me off the ledge with a loud but kind voice or reason. She is pretty good at that.

To be clear, I will not be changing careers. That is not the reason why my husband and I are moving. As my sister said, ” look at the big picture”. And what exactly is the picture you might ask? It so happens that we are moving so we can have the proper support system to start a family. Will I even be able to work when we start getting serious about it? Who knows, but me dramatically going back to school or doing a program to change careers amidst all this change and our move – let’s just say it’s not the answer let a lone a good idea.

What I do need to do is strike a work-life-stree balance. If I manage to get doctors that actually care, hopefully this work enduced anxiety will be something we can work through. I’m pretty sure it never manifested itself as much before because I’ve never worked anywhere long enough or with as demanding standards. I know it was there to a degree, however in the past if I started to not enjoy my work or feel stressed I’d quit. I think if I didn’t love where I work so much presently, this year would have turned out a lot differently with respects to my health – and the stability I’ve been afforded.

I enjoy a challenge with work, yet at the same time it overwhelms me. I like routine, I like consistency, I like methodical work. When things go array it really throws me for a loop, and where it may take the average person a few hours or a day or two to lick the wound, I generally take weeks if I am even that lucky to actually get over it. Otherwise, I carry the error with me and boy does it get heavy.

I’ve never worked ANYWHERE consistently longer than a year. My last place of employment I hit a year… but we know how that went; that being said this past year was a success overall in my opinion. Good reviews, positive environment, yet I am/was still bogged down with anxiety (not as much as last year by any means). But this stress is something I have been vividly aware of.

Sure, experience plays a factor – I’ve only been in my career 2 years and I’ve practiced different areas both years. However, after having a conversation with my husband he expressed how he was nervous about making mistakes the first month or two and not literally everyday like I am worried about.

Confidence? Surprisingly, more than before. Yet, if we compared that confidence to a peer it’d probably become quite evident I still have a long way to go.

Is a career change on the table? I don’t think so. However, perhaps I will take a bit of a break and do a job that is not as demanding. That’s not saying it is of lesser value, but it will just require a different skill and mindset from me that will perhaps ease the stress that is involved with doing thousands to million dollar deals within the legal industry like I’m presently doing.

Who knows. It’s not that I don’t think I’m cut out for working in a demanding profession, it’s just sometimes I think I’m not cut out to work in a demanding profession – if you pick up what I’m putting down.

Anxiety can be lethal and when I come to think of it, this past year I’ve added more sleeping and anxiety medication to my bundle BECAUSE for some reason…. “some reason”…. I have been more anxious and not sleeping well.

So many factors my friends, medical, move, marriage. So many factors, but I’m confident it will all get sorted out.

For now I can say that my husband and I plan to have kids and we talked about me staying home to raise them. This is something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember; that being said my work career will not be long lived and I am certainly okay with that (again, why I thought going back to school was a good idea?!?). Being a mom is a career in itself, so if there is a career change on the horizon it will be a designation called MOM. I know that will bring challenges all on it’s own, but again I think it’s a challenge I’ve been anxiously wanting and waiting for.

This move needs to happen, and happen ASAP, the limbo land I’m living in at the moment is really messing with me. Excitement is on overdrive but it is being met with a ruthless anxiety.

I was reading am article with respects to how bipolar affects those who work. The article was enlightening and entertaining as I sat and read going “that’s me!”. Don’t get me wrong it was a serious article, very insightful but it still made me chuckle, because here I’ve been feeling so stable, yet when it comes down to it I struggle going to work 9-5, Monday-Friday. It’s not something that is being unreasonably requested of me, its standard working hours for a standard career – yet, here I am struggling to hold it together.

I obviously know I’m doing better with my health regardless to this struggle because I have in fact worked this past year relatively mess free, it’s just been a struggle and thats a reality I’m acknowledging so that when I do start working again, perhaps I will find a way to be more at ease.

If I figure it out, I’ll certainly let you know.

– Steph

Get a Grip

The remainder of this month is most likely going to pose a struggle. I am elated over my move and my sleep has been out of sorts understandably.

Additionally, as noted before I have been on edge with eager anticipation of the unknown that lay ahead. The constant buzz in my mind is certainly making it hard to focus on or enjoy the time remaining with work. Although, I’m sure it doesnt help that I’ve been requested to assist a lawyer for the remainder of my time with the firm. I generally don’t work with this lawyer or the area of law he practices, so this task it just adds a stress I would have otherwise been free of (argh to timing).

I love my job, but I’m ready to hit the highway. I’m ready to get this show on the road. I know I’ll relax a lot more once we are packed and on the road because it will mean the next chapter can start and I can start meeting new doctors and looking for new work. I am just out of sorts to be frank, not that I’m unorganized, but rather I think its because one foot is out the door and I still have 2 weeks and a bit to go before the other one can join it.

Additionally, I’ve been working on a bit of a project with respects to my blog. This blog is quite the trigger my dear friends – if I take it too seriously I go up, up, up and away and get uber excited and the ability to sleep or focus on anything else is a wee bit difficult. But who doesn’t love to be excited, it’s great right? Of course it is! But fun fact, when I start to get elated over my blog I tend to freeze like a deer stuck in the headlights. I am frozen and paralyzed with the pressure I put on myself and as a result my blogging suffers. I am trying to navigate the excitement, navigate my plans for my blog. Rather than weeks or even months to complete this project, I’m giving myself an easy year. I am trying to educate myself and prepare myself for exciting strides forward with this blog and my platform, yet be reasonable with what I expect from myself. I know this sounds like a familiar tune BUT this time I’m really trying to approach this blog in a sensible manner.

You get out only as much as you put in. And if you go in recklessly it generally doesnt go as well as you hoped for, speaking from experience.

I’m looking forward to what is on the horizon. Two more Mondays! That’s all I have to get through.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

– Steph

Beauty In My Bipolar

This post stems from a conversation I had with one of my sisters. We were discussing my health over the past 5 years and she was commenting on how I’ve grown.

And what of this growth? Can you have growth if there is no beauty or joy in the journey? Alas, there is most certainly joy and as the conversation played out it became clear that in my life I’ve experienced more joy so to speak because of my diagnosis, literally because of the very fact that I live with bipolar II.

Wait a minute!

Nope, you read it right, I have experienced more joy than afforded to others because I have bipolar. Let’s be clear, I have also probably experienced more-ish intense feelings of pain, confusion, and mental struggle than the average joe as well. But let’s focus on the joy for now.

My diagnosis is fairly controlled at this stage in my life, I have my roller coaster moments, but I am not plagued with the savage extremes that once controlled my life. Everything is more mild and manageable. Thank you for modern medicine!

One thing that however remains intense so-to-speak is my sense of feelings. I feel very intensely; for instance when I feel joy – I really feel it. Not just a little but a lottle.

I experience things much more intensely than the average non-bipolar person. If you have bipolar, you can relate that there is a fire in your soul that can have gasoline figuratively poured on it to grow exponentially in an instant. This fire and gasoline are what I relate to the intense feelings I have in a moments time. That’s not to say it only occurs in a positive way BUT I will remind you that is the focus of this post.

Without darkness there can be no light, as Kelly Clarkson’s song states “everyone has a dark side…” , its just the nature of life. But the difference is do we let it consume us OR do we try to draw closer and focus on the light that is in us.

I have experienced so much joy in my life, and I have experienced it on a level that my family cannot comprehend and at times they shake there heads and laugh because I am so elated over such simple things. But that is the beauty of bipolar, because there is beauty with this diagnosis (please don’t forget that fact). If we try hard enough we can find beauty in all things even hard things such as living with bipolar (because let’s be honest, it’s not easy).

I accredit my creativity and pursuits for education and learning to my diagnosis. My passion drives me and leaves other people baffled because of my conviction. The joy these pursuits bring me. The love I have for others, it is intense my friends and duely it yields joy beyond measure.

To experience joy, you must address and navigate the ugly. Unfortunately, there can be some pretty ugly parts to bipolar, but we must not dwell on that alone. Find the good, appreciate the good and you will feel better about the diagnosis and what it offers in your life. The diagnosis is a part of you but it does not define you. It is NOT YOU, and you are NOT bipolar, you merely have bipolar. It does not dictate your life, you do.

And in my life, I’m acknowledging that bipolar in it’s own unique way brings me joy and can in fact be beautiful.

– Steph

Brace Yourself

The time is at hand for another major change in my life. And all I can say is, “bring it on!

We are moving closer to family and doctors! Primary reason is we want to start thinking of building our own little family and it’s just not realistic to even think such thoughts while living in our current city.

1. It’s crazy expensive. Which to put it simply means – good luck living off one income for any amount of time; and
2. The doctors ….. are no bueno.

Am I sad to be moving? Not really… yet at the same time a little bit of a yes.

I LOVE (which could even be considered an understatement) where I work. I hit the jackpot with this law firm and literally everyone who works in it. I have great benefits (my medication is 100% covered) and as an added benefit they even pay for my multi-facility gym pass. Literally, living the dream. Did I mention that I have my own office?! I will be sad to leave it/them all behind BUT I am trying to be optimistic that I will find a similar fit in my new city. **fingers crossed**

Something I am grateful that I get to take away from this particular office is that I feel 1,000,000 times more confident in my career as a legal assistant. The value placed on my work has been so rewarding and positive; literally 2 bonuses in 1 year (this is not to brag, but emphasis how valued they have made me feel and might I add that it goes beyond the fiscal gesture).

This work experience was exactly what I needed after my last gig. Gee wiz, I still get sick thinking about it. But that’s another thing, in 1 year of work at this firm I’ve litetally called in sick 4 days!!!!! (And that was 98% due to my insomnia) That’s insane! I didn’t even use all my sick days! Which lets just say was not the case previously. It blows my mind how having positive peers and a great work atmosphere can impact your mental health at work so drastically. Let’s just say I missed more than 4 days at my former place of employment and dreaded going to work more often than naught.

But seriously, in short with my career and my marriage I have to say this move has been so rewarding. I think moving away in its entirety even with the medical support and financial struggles was the best decision we could have made as newlyweds. (We struggled, but we learned to budget and have come up with a pretty sizable downpayment towards a house #goal2021) We clung to each other and strengthened our relationship, because it was literally just the two of us with no one else around. We both didn’t have wild social lives, so we pretty much did everything together. Don’t get me wrong we had our own personal space, but I think it was the perfect amount of “us time” , before we considered bringing other family or baby(s) into our bubble. I definitely feel grounded in our relationship.

** Side note: I think I’ll make a post about what I’ve done to keep my part of our relationship healthy and comment on what my husband has done to keep his part of our relationship healthy. It’s been a learning process for both parties. And I feel like in the journey of being a newlywed I can admit I did not post a ton of content – let’s just say I was enjoying the moment and finding my stride amidst a ton of changes.

But holy cow! I am going to be reunited with my parents, sisters and all my loveable nieces and nephews andddd grandparents! Excitment is an understatement!

My husband and I are both excited and nervous for our move, it is happening at the end of the month. I’m trying to be as pro-active as possible with preparing the details such as renting a carpet cleaner, booking the moving van, finding boxes and packing paper for FREE, getting moving equipment to colour coordinate – that’s right my friends, I am colour coordinating our moving boxes and I’ve started packing already. Additionally, I’ve posted some furniture to sell. We ship out November 30th so I am hoping to relax as the day approaches by doing the bulk of the work in these earlier days.

I do have to say, and I can admit – my mood has been a wee bit touchy lately. I don’t know if it’s a combination of sheer excitement and nerves of anticipation, but I’m a bit on edge. I have been having a hard time sleeping and I think it’s all blossomed into me being quite agitated. I’ve caught myself tipping the scale of rationality with things that generally would not solicite such a dark reaction. Gratefully, my husband accepts my apologies when I take it a little too far.

I literally told him he was never allowed to build furniture again, I didn’t yell it, I just simply stated it (the drama! I know) all because there was a 3 pieces put on backwards for a bedside table he built. Did I notice the error earlier? Nope, it obviously wasnt that significant. However, the level of OCD OMEGA was real- I was almost in tears and the table was already sold and taken. Just knowing it was built wrong hurt my heart. Silly things, I know. It makes no rational sense to be so upset over it and today I can say I am free of those negative feelings BUT oh how in that moment the all-or-nothing distortion had me out of sorts.

It is times like these that I lean on my former counselling. Times like these where I try to narrate my life so I can hear it aloud for myself and realize it’s not as complicated or stressful as I’m making it out to be in my head; talking myself off the ledge so to speak.

It’s a move back to my former province, back to family, not to Mars! It’s silly how changes can impact me so much. It’s simple, yet, I’m so overwhelmed I could cry not even because I’m sad. I’m happy, just overwhelmed. I have a check list of things we need to do before and what needs to be done in the first 2 weeks of landing (figuratively speaking – because in actuality we are driving 16 hrs).

Again, trying to stay organized and planning with wiggle room for adjustments (something I didn’t allot in my former years of planning styles). I can plan, colour coordinate and have everything ready to go BUT I’ve learned that doesnt mean its going to go the way you intend it to and rather than fall to pieces like my former self would – I roll-ish with the punches and re-navigate to get back on course as smoothly as possible.

Big changes, but exciting changes. Hopefully, I’ll be able to maintain some consistency with my blog posts during and after this move. I have some hot topics on my mind. I’m just the worst at writing in advance. I generally work on my post throughout my week and BAM post it when its complete. I read how some bloggers have posts months in advance… I dont think that quite works with my style of blogging. Se la vie.

Thank you for your constant support. Here is to a new chapter being written in my book of life!

– Steph