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

Stay Tuned

Holy Guacamole!

I had a post ready to go for today BUT I had one of the biggest break throughs that I’ve had in a long time and needed to scrap the post as it was no longer applicable.

I will be delving into my writing this weekend and will have that particular post ready to go next week, so thank you for your patience. I am super excited to share the insight I discovered (with the help of my sister).

I honestly am beyond blessed with the family I was given in this mortal life. They have allotted me so much insight and have listened to my constant conversations that I battle with – they are beyond patient because I can be a broken record that doesn’t shut off sometimes.

I will go into more details in my next post, but I wanted to make sure something went up this week as I am trying to get back into a routine with my blog.

Also, on another note I will be sharing a crazy story that happened recently so stay tuned for that. You literally won’t believe it when you read it, but I can assure you that it will be every ounce the truth.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

– Steph

Self-Check

Over the past 4 months a lot has happened, all for the better BUT because of all the sudden change my mood has been affected greatly.

I was married (and started living with someone that I’ve never lived with before – heck I’ve never even had a room mate before, aside from my younger sister), I moved to a new city (in a completely different province), I got a new job (#dreamjob), I lost my medical support that I had built relationships with since my initial diagnosis (they were replaced with a new make shift support), and I moved away from all of my family (whom I am very close with and are another major support system).

Lots of change!

I like to think that I have managed well, but it has been a challenge and my husband has picked up on my mood flux.

Things have been happening that I am grateful for but there has been a lot of change to navigate thru. My husband is beyond supportive, patient and understanding, he has tried to take on the roll of the support team for nearly everyone that I left behind which is a big job to do – dare I say even unfair.

For probably 3 out of the 4 months after my move I was in a low, it was exhausting. I was trying so hard to not let my mental state impact my new job and especially my marriage. I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer- hellooooo my husband and I are still supposed to be in our honeymoon phase. Don’t get me wrong, I have been happy over the course of the 4 months BUT that has been simultaneously been happening while I’ve felt pretty darn low and felt like I was losing my footing. If that even makes sense.

Don’t get me wrong, I have sought medical support and I am trying to build a support system here (and not pin it all on my husband). I have a new psychiatrist – she is nice enough. However, I am still not overly confident in our connection. Our first encounter she told me I had everything together and was absolutely fine. She told me she wasn’t even concerned about ordering my file from my previous hospital…. okay then. You would think that being the case she would delve in and ask me about my history – nope, that did not happen. I have seen her a few times, the last two were better than the first. I contacted her regarding my sleep, because I wasn’t sleeping (we are talking the entire time after my move) – red flag that I am not okay shall we say. Anyways she prescribed me Zopiclone, I took the higher dose that she offered and it didn’t even make me blink. I tried it for 2 weeks and nada. So I went back to see her, at this point she seemed a little alarmed, because heaven forbid I actually wasn’t a perfect patient and actually needed medical support to navigate my diagnosis of bipolar II.

Anywho, she prescribed me two new medications, one of which is for anxiety and the other for sleep. This concoction in addition to my medication medley that I already take has seemingly given me back the sleep that I needed and consequentially my mood has regained a bit more stability – NEVER doubt the impact that good or poor sleep hygiene can have on your mood.

So where am I now in terms of the medication I take? I will give you a break down, please remember that everyone is unique in terms of what medication they require for their individual case.

120 mg – Latuda – Mood Stabilizer
250 mg – Lamotrigine – Anti-Depressant
100 mg – Trazodone – Sleep Aid (dosage affects the role of this medication) (new)
30 mg – Oxazepam – Anxiety (new)
100 mg – Quetiapine – Sleep Aid (dosage affects the role of this medication)

My medication has been a journey all of its own, being refined and tweaked and changed over YEARS. My medication medley has been consistent the past year aside from the new additions now for my anxiety and sleep, however if we look at all the change that has occurred in my life, it is no wonder my sleep and anxiety were impacted as of late. It is so important for us to be self aware. It is so important for us to hold self-checks, to see what variables have changed and how our mood/sleep has been impacted.

Without being aware of ourselves how can you monitor the impact the medication has or doesn’t have on you? How can you measure the impact your surroundings or peers have on you? Without having a constant which is YOU, how can you measure all of the changing variables in different scenarios. As ironic as it is, you are the constant, bipolar mood changes and all. As you become more adept to your moods, what they look like, what triggers a cycle, then you will realize you are indeed a constant in the equation of life and everything else is a variable. That is powerful information that can transform the way you look at who you are and the life you are living or want to be living.

Also, ***key note*** my medication has changed and has been tweaked and throughout it all I HAVE ALWAYS TAKEN MY MEDICATION. High or low I always took my medication, I can’t emphasize that detail enough! How are you going to find out what medication works for you if you don’t take it. Sure, at times it seems like life would be a heck of a lot more fun without it OR perhaps it’s annoying taking it day in and day out OR alternatively you feel like its not doing anything at all and you are fine without it OR it is making you feel even worse. Let me be clear and say that unless the doctor told me I could stop taking medication during the trial period, I took the medication, I documented side affects, I asked questions, I documented mood changes, outliers and when my doctor received my feedback we made changes accordingly, whether that was with the dose or scrapping the medication and moving onto a new one all together. IF you do not take the medication, how will you know the impact it has on you.

Recovery is a choice, choices require action. Be actively engaged in your medication process – don’t sit back and expect everything to work out without raising a finger or opening your mouth to offer an input about your own health. That my friends is just a cold reality of the recovery process.

I am still adjusting, I am still checking in with myself.

I’ve found a therapist where I live and I plan to meet with her once a month. My mental health is a priority and I hope you make yours a priority too. Sure she isn’t my previous psychologist…. nothing like him BUT I am hoping to gain some new insight about myself and my recovery journey. New perspectives are on the horizon.

I hope you found some insight in this post and are able to reflect on your own journey. Regularly self-check and you will surprise yourself with the difference it can make in your life. Remember the highs and lows will come BUT that doesn’t mean you aren’t stable, it’s all in how we react.

– Steph

Holy Cow!

Okay everyone. I have failed miserably at blogging lately and I apolozie for that. I’ve had ideas for posts and then I’d shake my head and tell myself they were terrible. So rather than posting – I haven’t. Nada. I’ve honestly felt unable to move my fingers with no idea what to say – resulting in nothing being said. Ughh.

Also! I had these great visions for my blog once I transferred it to a host. Yah – no. Failed there too. Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that you are frozen. I feel like that’s been me with my blog. I’ve been frozen because I don’t know what I’m doing (literally) or how to go about doing what it is I envision doing… if that makes sense. We all know I am NOT tech savy in the slightest. I have been researching and alas it all seems to be saying something without actually saying anything. It’s all fluff. So, I’m just going to bite the bullet and semi-blindly try to make my blog everything I want it to be. (Some posts had some insight… just not always relavent) I was thinking of taking a course, but honestly I don’t know if it would be relevant or helpful when it’s all said and done. I feel like there is a lot of fluff talk in it… but maybe I’m a cynic. Perhaps every post I’ve read is relevant and I’m just not comprehending how to apply it to my own blog because tech talk is a foreign language to me. I certainly wouldn’t write that idea off.

Anywho! I appreciate you bearing with me while I’ve been MIA. Moving forward from this post I am hoping to have some more consistency.

I hope everyone is having a splendid 2019. Mine has been pretty good so far and I will be telling you all about it in my blog. Shocking, I know.

– Steph