To Blog? Or Not to Blog? Let’s Shed a Little Light

I was talking to my sister about my blog, and the question I posed was “to blog? Or not to blog?

I have been at this blog for nearly 5 years, highs and lows and in the middle – it has all been recorded.

I’ve felt less inclined to post … as you may have noticed. I’m not sure why exactly. I’ve always enjoyed the creative outlet that my blog provided. The insight I’d unveil as I created my posts.

Marriage and moving has been an incredible journey, I’ve learned so much that you’d think I’d be a bountiful fountain of content. Alas, I’m a dry well.

I feel guilt, is that reasonable? Guilt of not blogging ‘ it’s as though I’ve put so much effort into my blog, babied it nurtured it and now I’ve left it high and dry.

What gives?!

Aside from that blurb I do have some insight to share on this post it’s not completely a tangent on my lack of commitment to my blog.

I have gone camping with my husband twice this summer. Both times in beautiful locations. We packed our gear and one particular piece illuminated my mind… pun intended (just give me a moment). A flashlight. Perhaps a lantern is better suited for a title, but it’s still like a flashlight. (Now do you get the illumination pun)

Anyways. What are flashlights for? Simple question, with a simple answer – they allow us to see in the dark.

A flashlight we could dare say is like a tool, it helps us do something. It helps us see.

So what am I getting at? Let me tell you.

Have you ever been in pitch black darkness? To the point where you can’t even see your hands in front of you? As I was walking from the showers to our campsite one night it was just that, pitch black. I had my lantern, but this is where it gets good. My lantern was on, it was giving off light BUT depending on where I held it I could either see in front of me a few steps OR I could literally still see nothing at all in the darkness, it was just a light with no illumination of my next few steps.

So what does this mean to me. We can have the tools. We can have medication, therapists, supportive family and friends BUT if we do not use them properly it means nothing. We will be in darkness despite the light they offer. We can have the tools to a happy, healthy life but if we do not use them properly it’s as if they are not there at all.

This all came from a flashlight.

My life. Where I am in my life, the sense of peace I feel in my life, the sincere love and joy I feel in my life I know it’s because I used the flashlight that I asked for. I asked for the flashlight when I was in darkness, I didnt just expect it to appear. I asked for help, I accepted help and when given that light I adjusted it so I could see in front of me rather than nothing at all. I used the tool, I didn’t just hold it aimlessly.

What do you want? What do you want in life? What do you want to achieve despite your diagnosis?

Now, what are you willing to do for it? Are you willing to take medication routinely, struggle through finding the right medication when it seems as though they are all dumb with side affects. Are you willing to go to therapy for a short or long long long time. Are you willing to be open and honest with your therapist and make sure that you have a right fit with your therapist and don’t just settle. Are you willing to cut toxic people from your life, server toxic relationships? Are you willing to sleep a healthy amount of hours even if it means cutting fun nights short because you want to regulate your sleep hygiene. Are you willing to excercise your mind and body?

What are you willing to do? What effort are you willing to put in consistently to obtain a life of stability?

None of my stability happened overnight, read my blog – it’s been years! Years of grinding not giving up. Changing the batteries in my flashlight over and over and over again, why? Because I was in thr dark for years and I wanted to see in front of me, my future. I wanted my future illuminated and the only way it was going to happen was by using the tools given to me and to ask for more tools along the way.

To blog? Or not to blog?

I vote to blog, it just may not be every week. I don’t want guilt surrounding a hobby of mine. If I post a few weeks in a row great! But if I post once a month, so be it. I enjoy sharing my insights and I hope that they can touch at least one soul and give them some new perspective. This blog was about sharing my journey, walking my path to happily ever after. And I am still walking, this journey is not over its just in a different chapter.

I hope you have enjoyed my story thus far and continue with me as I march ahead.

Light your world up by properly holding that lantern. Use the tools that can help you see a bright and happy future.

– Steph

We Have A Winner

I think I can say SUCCESS!

I’ve found my sweet spot in terms of medication and life. I did what I said I was potentially going to do. I adjusted some medication around (sort of with the consent of my psychiatrist, but in all honesty she doesn’t take me serious. She said I could see her in 7 months…. okay then).

I’m taking lower doses of the sleeping aids, yet I am sleeping. Better yet, I am waking up alert and full of zest. I feel rested and I feel alive. No more haze. I am focusing energy on the gym and I think that is helping with my sleep.

I’ve got a few goals going in terms of my active mind. I am trying to take baby steps into a consistent routine of reading, studying and learning. I dont want an idle mind. An idle mind is a dangerous mind AND I feel like there is so much potential to tap into if I try.

I’m no genius, but I do love to learn and apply myself – at least that is what I was always like before and I am trying to get back on that level. Actual I want to get to that level and then surpass it.

My sister asked me if my husband has seen my “I can do everything and anything” mode. I laughed and replied “yes”. I talked with my husband and he told me so long as my “everything and anything” mode is seeking to improve myself he is all for it and will support my endeavours (within reason). I have to say the last few weeks I’ve had a million ideas swirling in my head of what I want to do and how I’m going to do it, what classes I need to take etc etc..

However, I think I am doing a good job at telling myself “you can’t do it all at once”, although I want to take on a lot for the sake of learning and personal betterment – I am trying to pace myself so that I don’t burn myself out.

Catch yourself before the fall, walk before you run. Set a pace and keep it and then if you get comfortable pick it up a bit more and then a bit more.

Presently I am studying classical guitar, I would also like to add classical/folk music voice lessons… I want to commit and focus on my Spanish and IF I commit to self study, my husband and I talked about the prospect of me talking a class at the university BUT I need to be committed. This was my plan after my initial impulse was to enroll in everything at once…. but then I was like hold up, lets take it down a notch.

There are other areas of study I want to dabble in but I will break that down in another post. Think modern renaissance woman…. if that gets your mind going then you are in the same boat as me.

I love opportunity for improvement. For growth. To reflect.

I’m grateful I self-checked, and saw a problem with my haze and complacency with the medication in my life.

Be self aware my friends. If something feels off, take initiative to find a solution to fix it – if you don’t, who will? You have this life, I have this life, let’s not waste it.

– Steph

An Almost Life Crisis

Holy cow!

So much has transpired since my last post.

First off, why I didn’t post…. for the record I had every intention of posting at least once per week since my post on the 17th, but the earth fell from underneath me (I am not really someone to have pretty written posts… I am however leaning towards this idea because I have lots of ideas swirling and it would be good to fall back on when “life happens”.

So how in the world did the world fall from beneath me? Let me tell you – it started with my baby. My furbaby. A little piece of my living and beating heart, Nutmeg. My husband and I went camping over the May long weekend. Nutmeg was super happy to be on our little adventure and was running around and barking as per usual. Everything was perfect. (my health has been on the rise so it literally was one of those perfect Kodak moments).

We arrived at our campsite Friday and left on Sunday. We had Monday off, and had just wanted the extra day to relax at home rather than be on the road driving back before work the next day.

Typically Nutmeg sleeps in the bed with us, but on Sunday she was out like a light in her kennel, so I let her be. Everyone went to sleep. Everything was normal. Everything was fine.

Monday rolls around, I go to Nutmeg’s kennel to pick her up. (Her kennel is like a large play pen with a dog bed, food and water and a pee pad at the end. Lots of space. As soon as I swooped her up she let out a cry. It startled me and at first I thought I pinched her with a nail… but then… I went to put her down on the ground and her back legs gave way underneath her and she couldn’t stand or walk. Long terrible story short, we went to emergency did an x-ray and they said it had to do with her vertebraes “intervertebral dog disc disease”. I spent the entire week following that visit crying. Nutmeg was so weak, unable to stand, unable to walk, unable to do her business without being held up. It broke my heart, however there was a light. My vet said that after 6 weeks of crate rest she should be back to normal, how this works? I have no idea BUT I’m not going to argue. She is still warbly when she walks but from the first day this transpired she has come leaps and bounds. She is definitely improving.

I am so blessed to work where I work, they let me keep her in my office until she was at the point where she could be left alone. Incredible.

This was more of an update post, but I have posts in the works now that my mind isn’t completely consumed with Nutmeg’s health and life.

She was my only priority and the blog plans, life, it was put on hold.

I hope everyone is doing well.

At this point I am doing well.

One day at a time.

– Steph

Lose Your Mind Or Shape Your Mind

I have to say, this week has been a success so far.

I thought I would make things easier for myself and re-read one of my favourite novels “Blackmoore”, a timeless romance (highly reccommended). I feel like I’ve accomplished something just by the chapter a day I’ve done each night, which is a huge mental success. After I finish this novel, I will try a non-fiction book, to give myself some new insight hopefully.

Then on to the next one, on to the next one!

Let’s talk about the gym – I’ve gone everyday this week and twice on Tuesday and Thursday. I do weights for an hour and then on the Tuesday and Thursday evening I go to a boxing class for an hour. I am loving it, while at the same time feeling super frustrated that I’m not as good as I’d like to be. But hey! Everyone has to start somewhere, I’m eating some humble pie.

I have reduced my sleeping pills, only taking 75 mg of the quetiapine and 50 mg of Trazodone. I have to say, I am surprisingly sleeping. I haven’t tampered with any other medications, all the doses are as is. Perhaps its the serious workouts kicking my butt, but I am sleeping thru the night and feeling more alert when I wake up. Also, SHOCKINGLY, I have woken up 30-40 mins before my alarm goes off a few times this week. Sure, I stayed in bed but that is unheard of!

I am keenly optimistic that if I keep engaging my mind and body; exhausting it throughout my day, that I will be able to continue to sleep in the night taking less medication WHICH will hopefully allow me to be more alert when I get up in the morning and throughout my day.

Bipolar is mental. Literally, I feel as though it’s this mental game that you need to know how to play to keep up with it. Medication is a necessity, as is therapy, but the self-talk, the self-check, the self-motivation to do better and be better – it’s all mental. You either lose yourself in your mind or find a will power to shape your mind instead.

I was losing the battle to my mind as of late. It may be too soon to say I’ve won, but I feel like I am on the right track again. Just when you think you had it all figured out, there is a set back, but never forget that the set back has the power to launch us forward with momentum if we let it.

Here is to being launched forward and shaping my mind rather than losing it!

– Steph

I Want to be ME – Again

Here I was hoping to gain some consistency with my posts – FAIL.

However, that being said I do feel better knowing I am using a different host for my site. That isn’t to say I want to use it as a crutch and not post content, but it does ease my mind when I hit my lulls and I know that I am not paying thru the roof.

Last week was pretty spectacular, my husband and I took time off work and drove to visit my family 13 hrs one way and 13 hrs back – the drive was worth it. It was so nice to see everyone (sadly I didn’t get to see my oldest sister and her family due to distance and time constraints)

I could go on about how great it was seeing everyone BUT instead I have a different topic in mind.

Medication.

I recently(ish) posted about the medication I am currently taking. That’s all fine and dandy. I expressed that I am living a stable life, which I am.

BUT my dear friends, I had an awakening on this trip. It awakened fears that I refused to say aloud prior and now I am in a predicament.

Before our trip I took my medication early the night before the day we left, we left at 3pm on Wednesday and drove non-stop and arrived at 7am on Thursday (include a ferry ride in the travel time) which meant I took my medication on Tuesday. Throughout the travel I did not take my medication, because I was driving part of the way and my pills were packed and unavailable. That being said I did not sleep and throughout the night my husband kept asking if I was tired and if I was going to sleep – but I wasn’t and sleep wasn’t an option without my medication as per usual.

We arrived safely and I was a bubbly can of pop (some credit goes to the excitement of seeing my family), my husband went to sleep and I laid down, however I didn’t sleep and we eventually got up at 10 am and we proceeded to get ready for our big surprise.

I was so happy, I felt so light, so awake, so free I was alert and witty and cracking jokes like I was the last comic standing.

At one point my husband stared at me and said he didn’t recognize me and not in a bad way. Our day progressed and I was on cloud 9, everything was crystal clear and vivid there was no smog.

So what am I getting at? What was my fear? What was realized?

I already addressed that my creative flair has been dimmed by my medication, but I have been working on that area of my life – trying to use my creative mind and engage myself in activities that stimulate it wherewith it naturally came before. Failing – but trying.

But my dear friends, as is the fear of so many people who take medication- do we lose ourselves?

My thought is yes and no. Like my husband said, he didn’t recognize me BUT I was me. I was Stephanie, I just wasn’t the mellow toned down version that I have been for the past few years based on the medication I take. I’m not hating on my medication, I am so grateful to have the life I have, the stability that I have – I am able to hold a job, be in a relationship that led to marriage BUT because of this trip I realized just how high the cost for all of that stability really is.

There have been parts of “Stephanie” that have been caged so to speak. Parts of me that aren’t able to come out to be free like they used to.

I have been feeling like I go thru motions, I’m alive don’t get me wrong, I do things, but I’m exhausted all the while. I refer to myself as dopey. I laugh of course but I am not peppy and if you knew me prior to medication or the increased dosage that I progressed to, I was the definition of peppy in a good way.

That week I felt like a bird let out of a cage, but I do realize that for my own safety I have to return to the cage. And that hurts.

But where do I go from here. Birds aren’t meant to be caged their whole lives, they should be able to spread their wings every now and then. But the idea of not taking my medication isn’t on the table. I’m not about to play with fire. I’ve become so used to this medication, heck up until recently I thought I was living the life. And I am – but I’m not.

I want me back.

I am not sure if it’s all about my medication but I just feel so bland, no motivation, no drive, just going thru the motions because I know that’s what I should do. And this has been the case for a while.

I have the time to do things, yet I don’t because I’m too tired.

I’m tired all the time. I’ve cut back on my sleeping pills at time and I dont sleep so I am at a loss. I’m going to keep trying to tweak them.

I never had the time to do things when I was living on my own because of my work, commute, long distance relationship and dedication to the gym. I wasn’t living with anyone. I never had to compare my energy level to anyone around me, but now that I’m living with my husband its made me realize how much of a drag I am. Literally. I drag my feet because I am so tired. He reads and I sit there scrolling thru my phone because my mind craves nothingness. There is no spark inspiring me to do something with myself. If it wasn’t for my husband I’d probably work and sleep and that would be the sum of my life.

Yes, previously I would go home to visit my parents and sisters on weekends, and I was pretty dull now that I think of it. I would just sit on the couch and talk or sleep. I used to be the fun tia (aunt) throwing my nephews around, and progressively as my medication increased my playfulness decreased “tia was too tired”, that wasn’t the case when I was unmedicated and visiting my family the last week. My nephews had their fun tia back for a day, it felt so good tossing them around and listening to them squeal in delight.

It was a joke by someone but I was described as a food recently based on my lifestyle, the food if you can guess was a bland potato. No spice. No variety. So true.

In all honesty, I am terrified to start tweaking my medication, I dont really have a lot of trust in my psychiatrist here. She is nice, but I dont think she takes me seriously and is invested in my health like my other doctors. I dont want to give up my stability BUT I don’t want to be this bland potato. Making my husband suffer because I have nothing interesting to say, think or do.

I do guitar, I’m starting boxing this week, I’m going back to the gym, I’m going to pick a book and commit to reading it this week. Mind over matter right?

Maybe I can’t be peppy, but I can have spice in my life a.k.a variety. But this sounds like a tale I’ve heard before and at the end of the day the smog clouded my destination and I remained the potato rather than whatever food you could possibly think of that has an array of spice to it.

I think if I do the things I mentioned above and actually do them and my energy level doesn’t increase then I’ll talk to my doctor. If I dont have the drive to do anything, which I haven’t, I know something is wrong. Something has been wrong for a long while, I was just to scared to admit it because I was gaining “stability”.

But as my philosophy goes – if you are aware of the problem, you can fix the problem.

I have goals, but then I have to ask myself – do I really? I have not committed to anything aside from my guitar, everything has been swaying with the wind. Unacceptable.

Also something that I found while working in 2017 – present date, is that my memory is shot. If it’s not written down I can’t tell you what it is about. That’s something that concerns me, I used to consider myself quite intelligent and my memory was something that contributed to that. I’m no Einstein but I navigated my way thru life with intelligent things to say and write and now I’m stumped. I lack luster. I lack ideas and creative thoughts.

Oh what a world.

I am so grateful to my patient husband, he says he loves me as I am and I know he does, but the way he looked at me with the smile on his face when I was free as a bird, uncaged. I can’t get it out of my mind. I want to be her. The fun Stephanie. Someone who can make everyone laugh, hold a conversation, toss my nephews and now nieces around, read books, have inspiring thoughts that can be translated into writing. I want her back.

I’ll give my self the next 30 days to find myself again, find my footing, and if I can’t do it – I’ll talk to my doctor about my medication, something I am not looking forward to.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

I’ll find her again, maybe not all but a part. That is my goal.

– Steph

Site Flip Again

I have an announcement, and prior to it physically taking place I will let you all know that I’ve decided that after a year of being on a self hosted server for my site, I have decided to revert back to the free wordpress host.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but I feel like at this time in my life it is the best decision and makes the most sense. I have dreams of where I want to take my blog and esthetically it is there, but that is about it. I haven’t done a fraction of what I wanted to do and a lot of that came from fear and literally not even knowing where to begin. I ran before I walked.

I will go back to the drawing boards but for now, I will go back to a free server where I can blog stress free without guilt of paying for something that I’m not fully utilizing – which has been the case over the past year. I’ve put so much pressure on myself that I suffocated my blogging to the point where I was going to stop all together.

I had to give my head a hard shake and remind myself that I blog for fun, I blog as a hobby, I blog to uplift others. That is my motivation. And for that reason my blog will live on to see another day and I hope to find my inspiration and consistency again in the upcoming weeks.

It’s funny how the mind works, and how much pressure we put on ourselves that ultimately can stifle us.

Not the most exciting announcement, but it does explain why there have not been more recent posts and will explain why there are no more posts until after the switch.

Thank you for your constant support.

I am looking forward to the chapter ahead.

– Steph

A Cure

Alright. Where to begin.

Over the past while I have been plagued by some memories of my past – in particular a relationship. This relationship extended over years, a brief history to understand the extent of this connection is the fact that I first met this individual in Jr. High School and in later years after keeping in contact we began a relationship (enough said).

The fact that this individual and the memories surrounding him crossed my mind was a constant discomfort to me. I felt guilty. I felt terrible. I felt like I was betraying my relationship, my husband – my marriage. It was something I talked to my doctors about and it was the same old solution – let the memories come – let them go – and do not judge yourself. Yah. No. Not working.

That advice was easier said than done. However, in one session with a random therapist in the new city I am in, something was said and it triggered a series of thoughts that I will get to in a little bit. What this psychologist said was “perhaps the memories are not the problem BUT it is the credit we give them, the power we give them as we try to rationalize them and make sense of why they are happening”. Okay – now I can definitely appreciate that new insight. It was something I had never thought about in LITERALLY countless hours of thinking.

I was adding fuel to the fire as I tried to determine what each and every individual memory meant and quite frankly as was to be determined THEY MEANT NOTHING.

BUT this is where it gets good… the comment the psychologist made was good food for thought BUT what really made me shake my head with a new found outlook on my life was a conversation with my older sister.

I called my sister in a frenzy during a lunch break, I was feeling sick from the amount of memories crossing my mind. I felt like it was getting worse NOT better and that I had no control over my mind anymore. I felt like I was looking backwards despite the fact that I was trying oh so very hard to appreciate and look forward into my bright future with the man of my dreams.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME?!

Did I still have unresolved feelings? I couldn’t. I knew I didn’t.

The relationship I was reflecting on ended on bad terms and was over almost 5 years ago, sure we kept in touch but, I AM IN LOVE WITH MY HUSBAND, no doubt in my mind or heart that he is my living heart beat.

So why the chaos? Why was my mind creating a problem where there was none?

Simply for that reason. There is no chaos in my life. MIND BLOWN! That was the insight my sister shared that changed my life. Like the therapist said my constant trying to “figure out” the memories was adding fuel to a fire. The fire set being myself.

For the last 9 years as my sister helped describe to me – my life which has been a roller coaster (excluding the most recent year), I was in one terrible relationship after the other. For may of those years I was undiagnosed and living in a hell on earth. I was functioning in chaos. That was my normal. My normal was to be in defence mode, to be fighting with myself and the men that I loved in any relationship I entered, because they were almost always toxic relationships (don’t ask me why). Associating with people in my past relationships was like a drug addiction. My normal was wayyy up high on the chaos wagon, not down low in a mellow peaceful state.

My husband is the polar opposite of chaos (which was one of the reasons I fell in love with him). He is a calm in the storm. He is peaceful, literally the opposite of anything I had ever experienced since the age of 17.

That’s not to say that I have not enjoyed my life and journey over the past 10 years. There have been amazing moments and serious leaps and bounds of self realization. For instance the memories I was thinking back on were good for the most part BUT deep down I wasn’t reminiscing on the memory; what I now know is that my mind was trying to recreate the chaos and panic I was living in during that time of my life, so for convenience it was bringing up that particular time in my life AND because it was about an ex of course that would create drama in my present life, where there would otherwise be none!

CRUEL BUT BRILLIANT. Just thinking about how my mind when thru all that effort to simulate chaos so that my body could feel like it was in a state of normalcy is incredible. The mind is a force to be reckoned with.

But in actuality, what has this epiphany done. It has calmed the storm my friends. I am no longer plagued by memories, a fleeting one may come and go BUT it is no where near as chaotic as it was. I know what is going on and why it is happening. I have the power again. There is no power in the memory.

I can’t emphasize how happy and at peace I feel. I have been sleeping better, I feel happier over all.

I know. I know. I know. I know that I am adjusting to this new “normal”, this new peaceful relationship – life in a new city, with a new job, away from my family and doctors.

I know that my mind was playing with me trying to recreate a sad excuse of a “comfort zone”, because my new zone was too good to be true. It blows my mind to say that I grew comfortable in my chaos, that is what I knew and expected. Is it what I wanted – NOT AT ALL. However, I was conditioned to normalize the experiences in my life because they were my normal – which doesn’t make them healthy.

I am healthy today. I am happy today. I have been chaos free for over a year and my mind has plagued me the entire time, trying to find a problem where there was none. (the memories were the only thing causing mayhem in my personal life)

All of my memories. All the feelings being brought up had absolutely nothing to do with the individual they were about, rather they about the state I was in at that point in my life. He has no power over me. He has no place in my life. He is in the past.

I am free.

I am not sure if this post captured the essence of this discovery, but if you are being plagued by memories give yourself a moment to ask yourself if the plague is actually about the person or rather the state you were in at that time. Your mind might be playing with you like mine did to me. The memories were a fa├žade for a deeper problem.

But like I said a million times over and I will say it to my grave, once you acknowledge the problem and give it a name, once you know what is troubling you, YOU are that much more capable of resolving it.

Hallelujah and amen! I hope that if anyone is experiencing a similar situation this gave you some insight, and if not I hope you enjoyed the read.

-Steph