Hope in Bipolar

My life with bipolar thus far has been an incredible learning experience. Over the course of my formal diagnosis, I have become the most self-aware I’ve ever been in my entire life.

That self-awareness did not happen by chance. The happiness and peace that fill my life today – did not happen by chance. My dad always said to me, “anything worth having is worth working for”, and believe me those words never rang more true than when I wanted to find peace and happiness. I wanted to escape chaos and pain; the demons in my head, the self-hatred, the daily suicidal thoughts. I wanted to escape it all.

I wanted happiness. I wanted a life I loved living.

I am so happy that I can tell you all, I am living that life. I worked for it, I invested time in myself; my mental health, my physical health, my spiritual health, building healthy relationships and removing toxic ones. I often cried from exhaustion because it felt like a lost cause, a losing battle BUT I had a vision of the life I wanted to live. I had a vision of the woman I wanted to become and that woman would not be defined by her diagnosis.

I joined a FB page for women with bipolar, and I’ve since then removed myself from that page. I could not bare the toxicity of the majority of the posts (not all BUT the majority). The negative energy that was being spread and applauded. The women in this group found comfort in comparing their terrible experiences or attitudes. There were no silver linings or learning experiences to be found on this page. They hated their diagnosis and as such it was projected on how they viewed themselves and consequently their loved ones.

My life is NOT perfect. How I handle my diagnosis is NOT perfect. But I’ll be darned to ever let anyone think happiness amd stability is out of their grasp because of a diagnosis. Happiness and stability are available to everyone. Sometimes we just have to work a little harder than others to achieve it or keep it.

I want to be clear and transparent when I say I’ve hated myself. I’ve hated my life. I’ve been in toxic relationships. I’ve felt like I was a burden to my loved ones. I felt like finishing my education was out of my grasp. I’ve been suicidal. I’ve hurt myself intentionally. I’ve spent money to the point I had to declare bankruptcy. I’ve ruined relationships and broken trust. I’ve cried oceans of tears for days and nights without rest.

But I did not settle for that life.

I felt and experienced those things as so many people do with bipolar – there is no shame. I am not ashamed of the life I’ve lived and the battle scars I’ve acquired. I want you to understand, I am not trying to sit here saying I am holy than thou and my life is magical. I want you to understand that there is hope. That if I can find happiness with my life – with bipolar – you can too.

If you are new to your diagnosis. If you are a veteran with your diagnosis, if you hate your diagnosis, if you feel helpless with the cards you’ve been dealt in this life. I’m here to tell you it can get better.

I’m going to be blunt when I say, it doesn’t have to get better. It really doesn’t, your life can be miserable till the end of time – it all comes down to you. You and what you want to work for. I promise you that if you put in the work, even when you don’t feel like it OR feel nothing at all (because let’s not kid ourselves – it happens) you will see yourself and this diagnosis in a way you never thought possible.

Will all your problems go away? Heck no! Will the highs and the lows vanish? Not a chance! But will you feel like you can handle them a bit better than you could before? Yes.

I knew deep down my life was not meant to be lived with all the pain I was living in. I knew that people loved lifè and why should I be exempt from feeling that love of life also? When I was diagnosed my life was in shambles, this diagnosis terrified me BUT it also gave me hope.

When you have hope, your possibilities are endless. The hope I gained from my diagnosis was a tiny seed. However, by reading about this disorder, educating myself, participating in all the therapy available to me – that hope grew day by day. Sometimes it faltered but I nourished it the best I could AND it grew stronger.

Hope and hard work – that is what my reality of living a life I love is made of.

I encourage you to look at your diagnosis not as a burden but as a symbol of hope. Cling to this hope and know that happiness is not reserved for a select few. Cling to this hope and recognize how valuable you are, how divine your potential is. Please recognize that from the depths of despair we can rise into unthinkable joy.

My life, my diagnosis – NOT perfect. But I can say I love my life and I consider myself happy. Yes, I’m sad and I feel empty sometimes but it makes me recognize and value my happiness so much more when I get to experience it again. Silver linings.

Bipolar is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Thinking that bipolar is the worst thing to happen to you – that is the worst thing that can happen to you.

– Steph

Psych!

WoW!

Everytime I hit a rhythm with my blog – bipolar happens at full force and that rhythm goes out the window.

Going back to my post about maybe having some posts stashed away for rainy days… I’m really thinking that I may have to commit to this idea because I feel terrible about being MIA when I’m not posting any content.

The reality is I lose my luster for writing sometimes, believe me when I say I want to write BUT I’m just incapable of doing so. Part of the problem these past weeeeeeks has been I’ve become obsessively fixated on another purist (I could have written about that… very entertaining behaviour).

Literally, the past month(s) and a bit I have been laser focusing on speaking spanish (oh yah! I’m back on that wagon… for any of you who missed previous posts I was all-in for learning spanish last year… and then I wasn’t). All of my time and effort from when I woke up until when I went to sleep was reading, writing and speaking spanish. Am I happy with my progress? You bet! But do I feel like everything else in my life was put on hold? TOTALLY!

I think my husband was being a good sport because I was so invested, but holy cow! I literally didn’t see anything else as a priority. I was either practicing or talking about me practicing… I think it’s fair to say it was painful to all those who endured this incessant fixation.

I am not sure about any of you who also have bipolar, but when I get something in my head and it is end-all-be-all, it is hard to talk me out of the 100 miles a minute mentality. I think my husband tried gently to bring me back to a normal pace… but I am pretty sure I bulldozed right through as I usual do when I’m in this mood.

I’m surprised that the fixation lasted as long as it did. We are talking weeks and then some! Where I stand now is I’m still invested BUT there is moderation – which I have to ensure translates into maintaining motivation.

A key difference this time around is I’ve acquired a language learning buddy who lives in Spain. We talk in spanish and english daily and it’s all quite pleasant and keeps me accountable and it’s free! No paying a tutor and it’s way more fun and productive!

On to other news because I can assure you things have been happening in my life. Let’s begin with psychiatrists…

There are none.

That was short and sweet, eh? But seriously, I thought moving back to this province would mean back to routine with mental care. NOPE! Psych! … I had to obviously use that as a play on words. My family doctor, bless his soul has been working diligently to find me a psychiatrist to assist me with this present stage of my life… because I’m seeking a bit more specialization.

And what pray tell do I need specialization for?

My husband and I are at a point in our relationship where we feel ready to bring an extra bundle of love into our lives. Crazy exciting! However, also terrifying if you have taken a gander at medical posts and opinions about women with bipolar having kids.

I am not saying I’m perfect, I literally just came off a cloud that I’d been living on for a wee while BUT I feel I am capable and responsible and prepared to care for another life. I’ve always wanted to be a mother and if we have one baby and that child is all I know I can manage healthily then I will be blessed with one child rather than multiple.

I want to be healthy so that my child can be healthy and happy. If one is my lucky number I am okay with that. And I am confident with my loving supportive husband we will manage one just fine. He is my rock and he is so excited to be a father.

So where am I with getting the ball rolling? I’ve started reducing my medication. I personally do not want to be on medication when I try or become pregnant. If for some reason my pregnancy is going sideways with me unmedicated then I will oblige and take a very low dose of something BUT for now I am going forward with the notion I will be unmedicated.

My family doctor (whom I shall refer to as Dr. W) has started monitoring the reduction in my medication, he understands that it’s not fair that my life is being put on hold while different clinics specializing in bipolar pregnancies keep shuffling me around. I am really grateful he is taking me serious.

So far we have only reduced the Latuda. Presently, I’m taking 20mg and starting Thursday I will take it every other day for 2 weeks and then cut it off. CRAZY! I was on 120mg … which is just a bit of a difference.

Mood wise I feel fine I don’t feel particularly different, I’m just noticing my anxiety is more elevated and my mind is preventing me from sleeping soundly.

Also, fun fact that I didn’t even consider when we started the process is there are withdrawal symptoms! Yikes! Nausea (I literally vomited one day – gross), flu like symptoms, body aches, lack of sleep, crazy blinking and more. I just remind myself there is a purpose to this and it’s not all for nothing. Dr. W wants to be notified if my mood changes and if so I’m supposed to bounce back to a higher dose. So far I haven’t felt the need, mentally I feel pretty good all things considering.

I’ll leave my post off on that happy note… not about the withdrawal symptoms BUT the next stage of life I hope to be entering in the not so distant future.

There is plenty going on in my head, so I plan on making up for lost time and ideally I will be writing posts more consistently moving forward. I thrive in routine and believe it or not, but I consider my blog part of that mental health routine. When I disappear it’s usually because my mood is a bit more out of sorts either really high, or really low. Sometimes I navigate through those times and still post BUT sometimes they get the best of me.

I appreciate your patience and support as I continue on this journey of once upon a time with bipolar.

Have a great week!

– Steph