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today BUT I had one of the biggest break throughs that I’ve had in a long time and needed to scrap the post as it was no longer applicable.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

Guess Whose Back?! And Has a Ring On It!

So much has happened over the last 2 months! I turned 27 on October 11th and two days later married the love of my life – 27 couldn’t have started off on a better note. Typically I’m apprehensive about my birthday and turning a year older, this year I was ecstatic and couldn’t have been more than excited for the day to come.

To be honest, I wasn’t nervous when it came down to getting married, I felt and feel peace knowing I’ll be with my prince King for the rest of my life thru all eternity. The ceremony was beautiful, when my husband saw me in my dress it was the best reaction I could have asked for.

The reception was beautiful as well, my brother-in-law emceed and he did a phenomenal job. All of the speeches and dances – everything – I laughed. I cried; it was perfect. I also surprised my husband with a song. He’s been asking me to sing for him forever and I always say NO, but my brother-in-law (same one that emceed) wrote a love song that was inspired from my life and I knew I needed to sing it at the wedding. He was beyond surprised – I barely made it thru the song without crying my eyes off.

I can’t believe it finally happened. There was a point in my life where I thought I was unlovable, I was used and broken goods. I thought I was never going find the kind of love that would accept me as I am let alone meet a man who met my standards (it’s important to have standards – mine slipped at times and I dated toads but after those experiences I raised them up high and was unwavering in what I expected in love and respect from my partner, there is nothing wrong with being selective – not picky). It’s a known fact on this blog that I have bipolar and I am a lot to deal with – that is what I would tell myself. But when it’s all said and done I did find love – I found someone who saw me beyond my diagnosis, someone who thinks I am amazing and perfect just as I am. I didn’t need to change myself, I didn’t need to modify my ways or suppress who I am to fit a mold. I was true to myself and my standards, which is something I’ve been working on and my husband loved me all the more for it. He knows me for me because that is all I’ve offered, no sugar coating or hiding.

I’m excited to see and record my experience as a married woman with bipolar, it will be a marriage with ups and downs literally but I know it will be filled with love. My blog was started with the intention to share my thoughts and experiences with bipolar, to show others that it’s possible to be happy and fulfilled in life despite the drawbacks of this mental condition. So far I’ve managed to be in the healthiest and happiest relationship of my life and I attribute a lot of that to my good health before my relationship. I worked on my health – mentally, physically and spiritually before my husband came in the picture and avidly while he was in it, all the while keeping him in the loop. I answered any and all questions he had about my diagnosis and my personal patterns or prominent symptoms and he went the extra mile and read up on bipolar on his own. I believe we succeeded because he was educated and informed. My family spoke with him and gave him some insight on how I tick. So when it comes to having a successful relationship I believe knowledge and communication are the biggest factors.

So for anyone in a relationship (especially) with a diagnosis – talk! I personally waited until the words “I love you” were spoken before I told him I had bipolar, I wanted to make sure he loved me for me with no bias because of my diagnosis. And he did love me. Once he found out that’s when the floodgates opened for questions and little ticks started to make sense for him. But that’s not to say we didn’t have open communication from the beginning because we did. Our relationship was built on communication – it was long distance after all.

I am on my path to happily ever after, it’s been a learning experience for sure BUT every moment of struggle has been worth it.

There is so much to write and I apologize for being MIA the last two months. I’ve had the intention to write and then I’d chicken out. You will see in future posts some of the dealings with what have been going on. I’m beyond happy to be with my husband but that is not to say I don’t experience anxiety or downs amidst that happiness. There has been A LOT of change, A LOT.

I hope everyone is well.

I am hoping to get back into my routine of posts once a week.

– Steph

It’s Not How Fast That Matters

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Something that I came to realize a little later than I would have liked, is that life is not a race. There is not a perfect timeline that we should all be adhering to. There is not a pass or fail for the accomplishments we attain at different ages and stages of our life. It’s okay if we are not marching to the same drum that everyone else around us seems to be marching too.

My life took some unexpected turns, such as my diagnosis with bipolar, that diagnosis was not something I envisioned as a little girl planning out my family, education and career (I was a wee bit odd and started looking at universities when I was in grade 6). My diagnosis impacted my life drastically, not to mention bipolar in general before my formal diagnosis. At times I felt inferior to those around me, I felt like I was watching everyone pass me by with school, career, relationships, marriage, children and so forth while I struggled just to stay balanced and afloat. At least that was the case until I finally came to the realization that I was on my own path. I was growing, I was becoming better, I was gaining perspective and insight, I was meeting my goals – I was just doing it slower than I imagined I would. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.  So long as you are putting one foot in front of the other you will reach your destination and if you stop harassing yourself, you will probably enjoy the process a whole lot more – smelling the roses instead of rushing past and trampling them.

It’s okay to grow slowly. It’s okay to go at a pace that isn’t the norm. When you aren’t rushing thru life trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing, it will allow you to look at where you are going with more clarity and less time will be wasted tripping and taking wrong turns or ending up at dead ends. Be kind to yourself.

I am 26, turning 27 in a few weeks – I have a diploma, not the degree I envisioned I would have from a young age. I have no children and I am just getting married this October (yes, 27 to some people may seem young to get married however, when your mom and sisters were all married by the age of 20, 27 can start to feel old) Anyways, my point is – this is where I am at and I am proud of myself. I overcame so much to be where I am. I have a diploma – I have succeeded in my education, it took me YEARS, but I never gave up and I achieved something for myself. If you knew my educational struggle with my mental health you would understand why a diploma means so much to me and my family. I have met the most amazing man and I am the happiest I have ever been. I am getting married – and I know that I didn’t just settle with any young bloke, I waited because I knew my worth.  The right things are happening in my life because I didn’t give up. I didn’t let my slow growth defeat the progress I knew I was making.

Don’t wallow in discouragement that your growth may be going slower than you like. Don’t be discouraged about your dreams that have yet to be achieved, because they will be – so long as you are true to yourself and put in the effort. I have no doubt you will accomplish amazing things.

I am so much happier accepting my life at the unique pace that it marches to. Don’t compare your pace to that of your neighbours. Be yourself. Love yourself. Nourish yourself and grow slowly – but never give up and never stop growing.

– Steph

The Upside

What a moving quote. I think that it is safe to say that those living with bipolar quite frequently face various storms.  What a beautiful concept that those storms may have a greater purpose.

Sometimes the storms of life come as a result of choices we make, they are the consequence of our actions. However, sometimes the storms of life come at no consequence of our own –you don’t have to do anything in particular and BAM, you are in a squall – tossing to and fro – hanging on for dear life.

Over the course of my life I have been in countless storms, as I am sure you can all relate. And just as this quote expresses, there have been times that those storms have cleared a path for me, they didn’t just “disrupt my life”.

Sometimes the storm – the chaos – the destruction is exactly what we need in order to find our foundation again – to be grounded – to rebuild. Sometimes the storm gives us insights that we would otherwise be oblivious to. Sometimes the storm thrusts us on the path we so desperately need to be on to continue on our journey.

Storms ruffle our feathers, they make us uncomfortable, they require us to be resilient. But growth stems from discomfort, think back to the timeless expression of “growing pains”. At times the storms seem to take more than we can give, but they never leave us baron. They always leave us with the opportunity to grow. And that is priceless.

Our path isn’t always visible and sometimes through the storms of life we may lose sight of it all together BUT there are times without doubt that the storm makes our path crystal clear. Take a moment to evaluate the storms you’ve gone thru. Have they all helped you grow into the individual that you are today? Have they shuffled you on the path that got you here today.

Sometimes storms are terrible, you are unprepared for them and they take you off-guard, however other times the storms give you an appreciation for life and allow you to dance in the rain.

Storms will come and storms will go. Don’t be mistaken to classify the storms of life as all negative. I am not going to say that all storms are positive experiences that we should all be overjoyed to be swept away in, but I am saying that there can be positive things that we take away from being in each storm. We may not see it in the moment, but once the storm has settled, we may realize that we are exactly where we need to be in order to get exactly where we need to go and without that particular storm we wouldn’t have gotten there.

– Steph

Be The Change

I’ve been on the rise (not in a hypomanic way), I’m feeling a lot better than I have in weeks passed. I think it’s fair to say that I was in a low – everything seemed doom and gloom and my positive outlook on life was overshadowed by negative thoughts that I couldn’t seem to shake. It’s been a while since my mental state has been crippled by my mood so severely. I was getting out of bed in the morning but just barely.

It’s times like these that really make me reflect on my mood management skills.

I won some battles and lost some battles over the course of my low. I didn’t quit my job which was something I would have done in a heartbeat if I didn’t do a self-check. The thought was there and the fuel feeding the fire was real! But I did some self-talk and conclude the cons outweighed the pros. So the job stayed BUT I did give my notice yesterday, because I am moving – there was no need to do it prematurely as I have bills to pay. This is the longest I’ve ever stayed with a job, no need to burn the bridge and end on bad terms. I’m not sure if anyone else with bipolar can relate BUT I never stayed with an employer longer than 6 months prior to this job. I would lose interest, feel like people were picking up on my moods (which cycled a lot more frequently) orrrrrr I was always starting school which would all cause me to quit. I hated being anywhere too long. I’ve never been fired, but I definitely never stuck around.

Another win was I maintained communication with my fiancé, I let him know how I was feeling and we talked thru things rather than me shutting him out. I also talked with my family and doctor, all of which helped me manage my mood.

I didn’t exercise or eat in accordance to my goals for the majority of my low. That was a battle I lost. It happens.

I (and my fiancé) created some plans to overcome my negative thoughts that were on repeat throughout this low, and I think that improved my mental state. I find that if you can pinpoint what your repeating negative narrative is, you can find a way to counter it, which will help your mood improve quicker. There is always a repeating narrative. Something that you repeat to yourself, whether it’s that you are worthless, an inconvenience to those around you, incompetent, a 2 out of 10, not creative, never finishing anything you start, swallowed by debt, etc… It’s safe to say that this low manifested a new narrative regarding my self appearance, lack of creativity and work which all trickled into my self-worth.

I was curious as to what my new narrative would be, because I’ve been so happy and everything seemed to be going well and I have been conquering the narratives that plagued my past. Let’s just say my mind was surprisingly creative when it came up with my negative narratives this time around.

So what did we come up with –

Once I move to Victoria I am going to enrol in a sewing class. Nothing fancy, but something to get my wheels turning again and reintroduce that passion into my life. Next I will be taking classical guitar lessons, I’ve already found a teacher. I am beyond excited to add these dimensions into my life. Lastly, in terms of my style – if you can’t find what you like, do it yourself. We determined that it might become a fun hobby and good motivation to do fashion posts either on my blog or Instagram that adhere to the standards of modesty I have in my life. It may help me find more people with similar styles that I can connect with or inspire other young women to dress modestly while maintaining their own independent style that isn’t cookie cutter.  I am trying to think outside the box. I’m not about to say that my style is going to be off the chain, but it will be a step in the right direction to express myself creatively and will definitely beat wearing gym clothes all the time.

I feel hopeful. I feel determined. And I feel like I’ve got a grip on my self worth. I know I’m not a 2 out 10. I know my worth is far beyond that. I have imperfections as everyone does BUT at the end of the day it’s not about everyone else. It’s about me and the self love and respect I offer myself. I am going to get nowhere fast if I talk with such disdain towards myself. You can only sustain true happiness and change thru self love. I don’t need surgery, I don’t need the perfect body, I just need to love myself as I am and work on being the best version of myself. If you give everything you’ve got there will never be any regrets. My creativity has been hindered – I know this. So, rather than dwelling on it unhappily I will make a change in my life to do something about it.

Anyways, I hope everyone is doing well. The journey to my happily ever after continues, but I have no doubt I’m on the right path.

– Steph