Up, Up and Away

I am shook.

So I have been getting off my medication as expressed in another post. I was in in a low prior to moving off the medication and it lasted for quite an extended period of time (I would say that it was a more high-functioning episode of depression), however, I have been putting some serious distance between me and that low in the past week or so.

Me stating I’ve been “on the up” was no lie. I forgot how fun a hypo-manic episode can be when you are essentially not medicated. I am not saying everyone taking medication should stop, but I am enjoying the moment while I can. Especially because I know I will resume medication at some point in the not so distant future.

My husband has never really seen me without medication for an extended period of time, literally I think the most I’ve ever missed was 1 or 2 days when I wasn’t able to get my meds from the pharmacy on time. So he has essentially been getting the full experience (with the difference of two other medications that I still take). It has been hilarious to hear him in awe at the amount and speed of my speech. He thought I talked a lot and fast when I was hypo-manic and medicated. HELLO HUBBY! This is a whole other level. I think we are equally amusing each other right now.

I had the pleasure of ending up in ER again due to the same cause of my last visit in April regarding my abdomen. Fortunately enough, we figured out what was the cause so there should be no more repeat offences. Should there be a repeat I will know how to manage them without going to the hospital. I am bringing this up because prior to going to the hospital I had taken my sleeping pills at 11:30 pm, thinking I was going bed. Yah. No. I ended up in ER and was wide awake until 4 am (talking non-stop) and my husband could not believe it.

Generally speaking, I pass out with my sleeping pills within 30 mins – 1.5 hours (it varies). So the fact I was wide awake until 4 am was mind-blowing to my husband. Then to top it off I was “woken up” every hour until 7 am so that they could monitor me. At 7 am I had a CT scan and blood work and more discussions with the doctor so I was essentially awake from 7 am onward until I went to bed around midnight. Keep in mind for the past years I have been sleeping between 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm (latest). I was always annoyed with how much sleep I needed with my medication.

On Tuesday, I went to bed around 3 am … I know, I know, not ideal for my sleep hygiene. Wednesday I was asleep by 12:30 -ish. All the while, I have been waking up for work quite easily and still taking the 2 remaining medications. I have been cleaning a lot! wiping all my baseboards, sweeping and mopping excessively, washing walls, pulling everything out of drawers so I can rearrange them. My husband again, getting a big kick out of me all the while trying to encourage me to sleep at a normal hour. He is definitely my voice of reason.

I am not gonna lie, I feel very vibrant – yes, I’m going a mile a minute BUT I’m so alert. It is sad to admit, because I don’t like to think that my medication hinders me, rather it allows me to live more completely than what I would otherwise be able to do. Yet, present day I feel like my creative juices are not just a flowing river but an outpouring similar to that of Niagara Falls.

I am going to enjoy it while it lasts, I am not ignorant to the fact that things can also get quite ugly in terms of what can happen with un-medicated (and even medicated) hypo-mania and depression. So, I want to try to be very self-aware and heed to the concerns of my husband (and family). I want to be as healthy as possible, that has always been the goal and now more-so than ever.

I don’t think it has to do with my mood but I am pleased to announce that I registered for a continuing education Spanish Certificate program at a university in the city I generally work in. Conveniently enough they are offering classes online through the platform zoom. So there will be peer interaction and actual lectures with an instructor. If there is something I’ve realized about myself, it is that I thrive when I am in a structured classroom and course as opposed to independent study. Sure, I may start out strong with independent study but truth be told, as soon as I dip with my mood I lose all motivation and stop. Thus I have deducted based on these experiences that being in a classroom with others allows me to have the accountability I need to succeed. An added bonus is that it fuels my competitive nature to excel with my studies and examinations, thus I am able to take a lot more away from the area of study.

This certificate program should take a 1.5 years to complete if I take 1 course every term, in actuality the only option is taking 1 course at a time. Each course builds on the one prior as you move forward. I believe each course is 12 weeks, at least the one I just enrolled in for the first term is 12 weeks; September – December. This fact, literally gives me so much joy because it means the program will be in-depth and mimic that of an actual post secondary course. I am excited for the interaction component….. and quizzes and such (major nerd over here).

I am incredibly excited about this avenue that I am going down in order to achieve my LONG TIME goal of being fluent in Spanish. To be able to speak Spanish has been one of my greatest hearts desires, and I feel confident that this will be the method of study that allows me to achieve my goal.

I have to gain some routine and structure in my life, because quite frankly I have not had any sort of consistency for the past while and I believe both my mood and Covid-19 have played critical roles in that reality. However, as I always say – when you see and acknowledge a problem, it gives you the ability to overcome it. I will be doing my best to take advantage of my good mood and work in some consistency.

I hope everyone has an amazing Monday and if for some reason you do not, rest assured that this is only one day and there will be a new day tomorrow.

– Steph

Friends? Who Needs Them.

Okay, I am going to go all in it for this post. “Tell me how you really feel,” kinda deal.

Also BTW my family always suggest and say that people are intimidated by me and that is what causes the frustrations you are about to read below. It would be nice to know if it were true. I will admit though, I have always been my own person never one to sway with the crowd or pressure… if there is any peace of mind it is surely that I’ve never stopped shining my light.

I have moved around quite a bit in my 28 years of life. As a child and youth my family and I moved to 4 different cities, essentially from one side of Canada to the other side. These moves were calculated and enabled my father to take different amazing career building opportunities. Did all the moving bother me? Not in the slightest, sure I would initially be sad but then the sadness was easily swallowed up by my excitement at the prospect of a new house, academic challenge and adventure. As a preface please note that I generally stuck to myself as a child and youth between elementary and middle school. I always had birthday parties with friends in elementary school, but stopped after grade 6 with no further interest in hosting such big events. My focus was on my academics, athletics and whatever hobby intrigued me at the time.

The only family move that I wasn’t a fan of was the last one, which was when we moved from a city that I was getting more established in during my first year of high school and I had what we would call a “some-what social life” gaining connections through my sports teams (that I was taking a lot more serious in grade 9 and 10). However, the friendship I valued most was with a girl I met in my gym class – we hit it off like to peas in a pod and have remained friends over the years. She was even at my wedding!

From that glorious big city we moved about 3.5 hours away to a small city on the outskirts of another major city – it was horrible. At least it was to me from the ages of 15 – 20 years old (which was the age I moved to another province YAY FOR MANIA!). Unfortunately, I went from enjoying my high school experience (school in general) and the social circle to absolutely hating the remainder of my high school experience. It was no bueno.

The only sincere joy I felt while living in the “small city” was when I was captain of the jr. girls basketball team, which was a pretty cool feeling considering it was my first year at the school (sidenote: our team dominated), basketball was literally my only source of happiness while attending school (I guess we could say basketball along with the other sports I participated in, but even those didn’t complete me like they used to in previous years).

In grade 12 due to an injury I was unable to play any sports – talk about losing your lifeline. Prior to completely succumbing to the injury, I had actually joined the snr. girls basketball team BUT the team was straight up more like a drama club than a team – so I quit. Quitting allowed me to escape the toxic catty environment and it was also in the best interest of my injury. Did the teammates that called themselves my “friends” take this well? NOPE, it was social suicide apparently (and that was with them not knowing I thought they were a drama club). I was talked about and ignored, they would walk past me either in groups or individually and glare at me or pretend like they didn’t see me when it was obvious that they did. (sidnote: they lost every game of the season – not gonna lie this little fact brought me some satisfaction in my 12th grade)

Do I regret quitting the team? Not in the slightest it ultimately showed the true colours of those that I was surrounded by and propelled my motivation to graduate and get out of the city as soon as posssible.

After graduation I moved around quite a bit, I often had “great ideas” that required me to move. After high school I moved into the major city that was closest to the city I loathed. Shockingly (but not actually), this move was short lived and I returned home to my parents. I then decided that I would move to Ontario (to a very large city). While in Ontario I met some girls while attending school. I am still quite close to 1 out of the 3 girls that formed our friends group. Additionally, in Ontario I met a guy at church who I became very good friends with (nothing ever happened we literally just clicked and enjoyed each others company).

Following Ontario, I seemingly maintained the trend in my life for moving. Unwisely, I moved to another major city after briefly going home to my parents (as a result of me being a bit cray cray in Ontario). Lo and behold, it was short lived (curse mania giving me “great ideas”). I moved back in with my parents; I saved and then attended a University where I met one of my best friends who I am very close with still (I probably talk the most in-depth and frequent with him. He was one of 2 friends who would visit me in the lovely psych ward when I was admitted).

Following that particular 2 year university career I moved on to another post secondary institution where I met another “friend”. To be honest, I had considered us quite close up until a month or two ago (she did my makeup for my wedding) … at the end of the day it seems that we drifted, and it was not because I didn’t put in the effort. I have no clue what prompted the radio silence the last message she sent was the “I miss you and can’t wait to see you”, with a picture of her new nephew.

Another move took place and was a result of being blessed by marriage. I moved to a new province and city to relocate to where my husband was living and working (we had a long distance relationship). I worked at a law firm that I adored with a great crew of people, in particularly I jived really well with a young law student. We still keep in touch, he is planning a wedding for next year and I am holding him to his word that I’ll be receiving an invitation.

Needless to say I’ve moved. I’ve moved cities. I’ve moved schools. Apparently, it’s just always been my way of life and now that I am 28 I keep asking myself the following question: Does it bother me that I don’t have a “social group” of “friends” to chill with on a patio, to meet for brunch, shopping, hiking or trips? So cliche, right??

It kind of does.

I have “friends” or rather lets call them social contacts. I feel that friends is such a liberal term people use these days. These “contacts” are essentially small talk instigators permitting pleasantries when we are in each others company. However, there is no real friendship – sure we are facebook friends and perhaps following each other on IG but none of that has resulted in me being that girl who is invited out to their get-togethers or feeling part of something bigger than myself. I just see these individuals post about everything they do with all the other mutual “friends/connections” that we have. Odd man out – maybe just a bit.

Growing up and even as an adult I saw all of my 3 sisters have friendships that were quite interactive. Certainly, they instigated some of their friendships, however that was not the case with all of them. They were being invited to go out from childhood into adulthood and had people coming over – that is what I remember. Yet it has always been out of my grasp.

Even when it comes to my closest friends who live all over the country – I feel like unless I initiate the conversation there is no conversation. Sure, sometimes I’ll be surprised that someone sends a message or calls before I do, but even so when I message with my “closest friends”, sometimes it seems to lack depth. Generally if I attempt to delve into how I’m feeling or important things that are happening the conversations seem to die quickly if it is in a message format. So, I remind myself that when I do talk on the phone, skype or see my friends in person it is always as if we never were parted and we visit for hours, but meanwhile the interim … just stinks.

Is it enough to be “best friends” and literally only talk on the rare occasions through the year? And what is wrong with me in the sense that I literally don’t have any friends (apart from family) who live in my area??

Literally, with every single one of my “closest friends” that I have met in the various cities that I’ve lived; I have initiated every single one of those relationships. I reached out and started the conversations. Not a single one of them talked to me first. Yet, all of those friends have expressed how happy they are that we met and that I approached them. But the sad reality is at the end of the day is that they have all moved on and have friends and relationships blossoming and thriving where they live – thus I am side shuffled. Is that understandable? Of course! It is probably just a harder pill to swallow because I haven’t met people to essentially replace those connections with where I reside. We have history and that’s why our friendships have survived this long and I know I genuinely care about these individuals.

Do they currently have an advantage because they’ve lived in their cities for years? Perhaps. I have been moving from city to city generally every 6 months – 4 years since I was 8 years old. I’ve moved a total of 14-15 times (with my family 4 times… the rest were all on my own… yay mania?).

Maybe I am socially awkward because of all my moves? Yet, all the friends that took the time to get to know think that me “being awkward”, is farthest from the truth. As does my husband… he did marry me, so I feel like his opinion may be bias. All my sisters, who’ve had invitations to be friends with people throughout their lives have expressed that they all think I’m “cool”… just typing that makes me feel lame, but essentially what they were trying to convey is that they enjoy hanging out with me just as much or more as they did or do with their “friends”. I am not an annoying weird sister that they are forced to be around.

I cried to my husband a short while ago asking what was wrong with me? I seriously don’t recall anyone ever approaching me wanting to be my friend (sure guys have approached me to be more than friends – BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT I WANTED OR WANT!). I’ve always had to break the ice, literally every single time. New city, new school, new team, new church – I was apparently not the new girl that inspired people to approach her – just stare. When “friendships” have been developed I generally do the heavy lifting to maintain them. So again, the question is posed – what is wrong with me? Why am I not worth the effort?

The cruel reality of when ever someone did talk to me in school, church, work or where-ever, is that they would generally compliment me (cry me a river I know). “I love your outfit”. “I love your shoes”. “You are so smart”. “You are so good at xyz”. “You’re so nice”. I am not trying to brag in the slightest, I am painting the picture of my life that has always left me confused and frustrated. The compliments would come and then the person would walk away to join their group of friends without further interest of getting to know me or inviting me into their girl squad. As much as it was a compliment it was a slap in the face that felt more like them saying I wasn’t worth their time. So again, what is wrong with me?? Why am I worth a compliment but not an actual friendship without even trying to get to know me?

I know it sounds like whining…. because quite frankly it is. I am just at a loss. I know people generally assume that if you don’t “have friends”, it’s because you aren’t a good friend – but I assure you the friendships I have across Canada would have become dust the moment I moved if I wasn’t somewhat of a good friend. They could have all chosen to be rid of me as soon as I was out of sight… yet the history still stands even with the distance between us and different lives tha we live.

But in all honesty, I am going to talk to my therapist about this. Why am I not desirable friend material until someone gives me that time of day when I approach them and they realize that I’m not a terrible awkward weird person?

Maybe I am intense? Well, I think we all know that answer without me typing it…

I swear I smile though. I literally smile at strangers because I know what it feels like to be invisible and if I can smile at someone and make them feel seen – why not?

I also enjoy talking to random people I encounter. I have a soft spot in my heart for talking to seniors and hearing their life stories. I had the privilege of working in 3 different seniors homes and I volunteered with seniors at a hospital for 6 months. I value every moment of those experiences, the opportunity I had to connect with the residents and patients warmed my soul. It truly amazes me the power and impact you can have in someone’s life just by making them feel seen and heard. Perhaps the sentiment resonates with me so much because I often feel so… invisible. No one ever really wants to take the time to sincerely talk to me, so I really do know the feeling of being over-looked and forgotten and that is often the sad reality of so many seniors.

Hear me out – I am not ignorant to the fact I actually do have the ultimate best friend I could have ever hoped for and he is in very close proximity. He is actually living with me – a.k.a my husband (also along with my little furbaby Nutmeg). It also goes without saying that I have 3 amazing sisters and incredible parents who I consider my best friends as well. I have an incredible family network and deep meaningful relationships. So perhaps I am greedy to want more.

I think the thing that bothers me is just wanting to know – why not me? Why doesn’t anyone (particularly women) want to take the initiative to approach me with the hopes of becoming friends? I contacted a woman that attends the same church as me last week. I reached out with the intention of becoming better acquainted so we can maybe be friends if we are a good fit. I’ll tell you now that her reaction was very sweet and genuine, however, I found myself slightly saddened by it. She expressed with great enthusiasm that she was so happy I reached out to her, because when I started attending church she was hoping we could somehow manage to connect and become friends. Prior to covid-19 I had been attending the church probably for a good 2-3 months. Why, why did I have to be the one to break the ice months later and initiate a friendship that she expressed she wanted to happen in the first place?

It’s great and amazing that we both have that genuine interest to become better acquainted and I am in no way going to be bitter about the fact I instigated the connection, but once again – what is wrong with me that people don’t want to approach me?

Also, despite what this post might convey I can assure you I do not come across as needy in my day to day life. I’ve lived many years quite content to be a solo artist and pursue my own en devours, I love good conversation with anyone but I certainly don’t pin people to the wall trying to make them talk to me or be my friend. I’ve always just rolled with the punches in essence not letting it get to me, but perhaps in my older age I can’t quite take a punch like I used to.

Today’s post was filled with questions, and perhaps not a lot of beneficial insight to apply into your own life. I apologize for that. Maybe, the only benefit to this post will be that you can relate and you don’t have to feel like you are the only one in the world like this (I feel like that sometimes).

This topic of “friends”, has been plaguing my mind lately and I just needed to get it out of my head. Do we really need them? Ted talks might suggest we do. However, I am tempted to try to unlock that strong independent inner-child I once was; never “needing” friends or their invitations to sit together or hang out in order to not feel like I was a reject. I honestly think I need to pursue my hobbies and interests more seriously in order to fill the void of the elusive local “social life and friendships that have the depth” I crave. Having social interactions with strangers that don’t lead anywhere other than “gee that was a tough boxing class, see ya next week”, are not the worst thing in the world. Perhaps, I am better off alone at the end of the day it certainly seems to be the theme in my life.

2 posts in 1 week #WINNING.

– Steph

This Is My Life

I don’t know if I was just blind or if I have been away too long, there seem to be SO MANY NEW FEATURES ON WORDPRESS!!! Perhaps it’s because I generally type my thoughts in my phone’s notes apps BUT I need to know have bloggers always been able to justify their paragraphs on wordpress?! When I started my blog in 2015 I was so annoyed at the font alignment. Literally, anything that is not justified hurts me heart. The fact I can now justify and so much more makes me want to go through all my older posts and work some justified magic!

That being said, I have about 6 different drafts started and saved for my blog, and alas not a single one has been finished or posted… obviously, as you may have noticed the radio silence on my end. Oopsie.

This image gives me all the feels as it is literally my life. Bipolar has always required a diligent effort to keep myself and emotions relatively in check. However, as I continue my journey of decreasing my medication the effort is ginormous. I forgot how extreme, extreme can be without medication.

The last time I was off medication was…… when I wasn’t diagnosed. Literally, since my diagnosis I have been medicated (fairly heavily) and as an FYI, I was diagnosed in 2013. The nerves are real as I have not and still don’t completely know what to anticipate when I am medication free. I currently have 2 more to go, but I will be real with you because that is what this blog is about -sharing my experiences good or bad living with bipolar.

Initially, as I came off my main mood stabilizer (Latuda) I thought things were going great. My husband and I were optimistically happy as there didn’t seem to be too drastic of changes….. this is where the switch from the meme comes in. I have been living a pretty low-key, low-stress life, working from home because of covid. I was unfortunately a tad more low BUT not terrible, just not as passionate (okay… maybe a little terrible, as literally all interests and pursuits have ceased) BUT my friends, this low is not what I am going to focus on and I was still functioning and working everyday with the ability to smile and laugh sincerely (I learned the term of high-functioning depression and it’s safe to say that was my type of depression).

I want to direct your attention to recently when I had exposure to what I will call “stress”. Would a typical person react the way I reacted…. you be the judge. To begin with this initial exposure I was keeping it together as it evolved over the course of the week I was putting on a brave face, however, a time came and it’s fair to say I broke. I was hysterical essentially, crying mixed in with hyperventilating and whenever I talked my stutter would manifest and I would cry more (this carried on over an extended period of time). The day after this happened reaction came to fruition, I was mentally and emotionally drained and physically weak. I again stuttered with most conversation and avoided talking on the phone or to anyone. When I attempted to move I would vibrate to the point where I felt like I would convulse…. the next day I couldn’t really even walk. Literally, I would basically collapse every time I tried to walk (I would hold on to walls and counters and furniture… my husband kindly carried me at one point) and of course I was still crying. I had to remove myself from contacting the individual that I was really worked up over, just so I could get a grip without working myself up again.

It was a lot.

My husband was concerned for good reason and kept suggesting we go to the hospital, which was not an option I wanted to explore.

I have since managed to get a grip and put myself together. I’ve calmed down and I am no longer seeing black. I have regained full capacity to walk and move and I am not stuttering. (for anyone that has not read my earlier posts, my stutter manifested when I was 19. I had never stuttered a day in my life prior to that age…I had what we could call a “mental breakdown” following what I didn’t realize was a severe hypo-manic bipolar episode and BOOM I stuttered for 2 weeks straight non-stop and after it went away it now manifests when I am emotionally distraught)

So at the end of that episode, it’s fair to say I terrified my husband. Oopsie again. He had never seen me in that state and had only heard stories from my family and me about my life prior to my diagnosis and early years of getting medical help. Let’s just say not all the stories are sunshine and roses.

I made sure that I sat down with my husband to talk heart to heart once I was emotionally stable. It was and will always be so important to me that I listen to my husbands thoughts and feelings about how my diagnosis impacts him. I never want him to bottle it all up or not feel confident or comfortable enough to talk to me about his feeling – like I said it was a lot and the poor guy had never experienced anything on that level before. It was a lot to take in for anyone, with experience or no experience of earlier episodes. My husband and parents had suggested the hospital on different occasions… however, I’m not gonna lie the psych ward is not my ideal choice. So, with the prospect of being taken to the hospital I worked really hard to have low stimulus and just collect myself and get my footing again.

I think its fair to say that I am a little more “more” sensitive to my feelings right now (do you smell a fire burning or is it just me??). I am more emotional and find myself crying more, yet not always for a bad reason. Sometimes, I cry merely because I am so happy or grateful. This type of crying isn’t unheard of for me BUT it is becoming a wee bit more frequent and is triggered easier. Again, my husband is scratching his head a bit more as I wasn’t as candid with my emotions before – I was but not at this level (I don’t think this level was even accessible when I was medicated on such a fluid level).

It’s funny, as I came off medication I was initially trying to resist any change to my emotional and mental state telling myself, if I willed myself to be okay – I’d be okay. HELLLOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!??!! If I was going to be “stable” off medication, I wouldn’t need to take it in the first place (DUH). Thereby we could draw the conclusion that I would not have bipolar. Sometimes my logic cracks me up. Needless to say, I’ve since shown myself a bit more compassion for being a bit more up and down as I get off my medication.

Do I still feel like me? Yes, definitely. In a way there are certain attributes and characteristics that are re-manifesting and I ain’t mad about it. Some of me is peeking through a bit more vibrantly and I feel like I am on the up literally. My mind is keeping me awake at night even with the sleeping medication that I still take. So much to think about, I literally have posts topics pop in my head every day multiple times a day it is just a matter of writing them out and not putting myself down with my writing ability.

I have some plans in motion.

Also, I will be doing an update on my Bipolar Gains segment. I am excited with where I’m headed in terms of my physical health. Eating overhaul is an understatement!

I will end my post here, I am alive and doing well considering my last escapade. I am hopeful. I will talk about what “a” psychiatrist and I talked about in terms of my potential pregnancy and medication in another post (will I be completely med free throughout my hopeful pregnancy?? Read more to find out). I honestly have found very little in terms blogs with women sharing their journeys of becoming pregnant or being pregnant with bipolar. I will share away and if you do have experience or tips, please share I always enjoy hearing people’s journeys and insights.

This is an exciting and challenging stage in my life BUT with that all being said – it remains undisputed, this is the happiest and most alive I’ve ever felt (putting my inevitable drawn out low aside). Even with the lows I still find myself able to smile with my husband. He told me that one of the ways he knows when I am low because I am not as talkative and then on the flip when I am hypo-manic I don’t stop talking and I talk a mile a minute (he has literally fallen asleep as I’ve blabbed on and on in the middle of the night… and he is the lightest sleeper I know!).

I am also debating about posting a certain post I wrote a while ago. If it comes to fruition, you will know without a doubt why I debated posting it. To post or not to post – that is the question.

Also, on another note I am optimistic – I met a new counselor this past weekend. Her name is Anne and we jived very well in our first session (I really liked her energy and communication skills), she is suggesting we meet every 2 weeks and the idea of having therapy so frequently and regularly brings me a lot of excitement and peace (the clinic that she works out of has an objective of ensuring mental health is available and affordable for all, so I am happy to announce I will not be breaking the bank to be getting the assistance that helps me be the best version of me on a regular and consistent basis).

Thanks for sticking with me and joining me on my journey!

– Steph