Shine Bright

Gratefully I have not had to encounter this that much in my life in recent years (I learned to cut people out who demonstrate this type of negative energy). Ultimately this quotes communicates a compliment that I think everyone should understand.

People who attack you as this quote expresses should only reassure you of your infinite potential. What a compliment. The fact they are trying to bring you down already testifies that you are above them. Not in a superior way (because everyone has value) but in way that you you are going places that they can’t follow, because of their self-loathing that manifests itself outwardly as attacking other genuine people.

Rest assured that you have infinite value and potential contrary to what people might say. When people speak ill of you, they want you to feed into their lies. That way you to become dependant on their opinion of you rather than being independent with how you personally view and value yourself. When they do this it gives them the power to bring you up or bring you down – it gives them the power to determine your value and ultimately your happiness or perception of happiness.

If you need someone else to reassure you of your value, you will never truly be happy or in control of your life. Separate yourself from the opinions of others. Stand on your own with a surety that come what may you are priceless with infinite potential.

Potential scares weak people, that’s why abusers try to take it away from you. Potential leaves people behind who don’t meet a certain standard, people who are complacent in life. It’s terrifying to know you are being left behind BUT rather than stepping up to change their own lives they seek to corrupt yours – it’s the easier thing to do. Something that requires less effort and creates a pretence of power in their life.

Never doubt your potential. Never let anyone dictate your value to you.

Take comfort in knowing that abusers attempts to speak ill of you should only reassure you that you are shining bright and they can’t handle the shine.

Shine bright. Stay grounded. Know your worth. And never let anyone bring you down – you are priceless.

– Steph

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Step By Step

Life is so unpredictable, but I’m taking it step by step.

I still feel like I’ve won the lottery because I’m confident with who I am and I have so much to be grateful for. But oh boy, I broke a mirror on moving day … and 7 years seems like a long time!

I was in a fender bender on the day I moved – whilst driving my mother’s vehicle to my apartment (packed with my some of my things) a young girl cut me off as I was letting another car in front of me while in rush hour (she almost hit the car merging into my lane) and alas the immediate break while in bumper to bumper traffic wasn’t enough. So I clipped her car.

What else-

The fellow I’ve been seeing the past 2 months went to my work Christmas party last Saturday with me. Something felt off and I was left uneasy. So what did I do? I talked to him on Sunday.

It wasn’t just Saturday that felt off, ever since I got back from my trip he’s been hot and cold. I don’t play games – and I don’t appreciate being treated like one.

This conversation should have happened sooner, but it took place Sunday. I bit the bullet and faced the elephant in the room – why? Because I was unhappy, and why should I suffer silently when I’ve been gifted a voice and mind of my own.

Ultimately we weren’t on the same page, so we are parting ways. He wasn’t a toad – just a frog.

I get to hold my head up high because I was mature enough to communicate my feelings. I expressed what I needed to express, I didn’t just go with the flow. Who knows how long it would have dragged out.

Don’t be silent and passive in your relationships. If you have the opportunity to be happy take it. Even if it means you have an uncomfortable conversation.

2 months with him is better than 6 months or a year when ultimately we aren’t heading in the same direction.

Back to square one! Oh how I hate dating but as before my focus will be on myself and improving myself – when I meet the right guy he won’t catch me twiddling my thumbs in a castle tower. I’ll be living my own adventure and he’ll have to catch up to me.

A new beginning.

Nothing is wrong with that.

I feel stronger than I did before, I know my worth and it wasn’t dependant on the young man I was seeing. I’m priceless and one day I’ll meet someone who sees that. Until then I know it – and that’s all that matters.

What else –

Living on my own has been great, I miss my family and my close proximity to them all but Nutmeg and I are getting along pretty good.

I am still settling in, so I haven’t made a direct routine yet. I’ve been fitting in snowboarding … or perhaps snow falling is more accurate (I’ve been improving, but my body and ego are bruised) I have yet to go to the gym though. Next week. That’s when I’ll make my triumphant return. This week I’ll make my workout schedule. I’ll plan my meals. And I’ll be ready to go starting Monday.

I am planning to take classical guitar lessons starting January. And I’m planning on making a trip to the library to get my card (and books). So much to do!

I’m also thinking of taking Nutmeg to doggy daycare once a week (on Wednesdays) starting in January, just to get her out of the house in the winter since we can’t go for walks. I feel like she needs the socialization and something out of our ordinary to look forward to. I’m home Saturday and Sunday so it’s a nice way to break up the week for her.

Ultimately things are still going great. The frog wasn’t a setback, he was just a clean slate.

Never pass on a conversation because you think it will be uncomfortable. You will feel worse dwelling on the thoughts and emotions you feel than you will by just talking. Even if the outcome isn’t what you want – at least you get an answer.

Chin up.

Onward in our adventure of life!

– Steph

Better Than Ever 

This blog post is being collectively being written from various airports and plane rides. My original flight was cancelled and I’ve been rerouted, rather than landing at my destination this evening, I will be arriving the following day. No worries – it’s an adventure.

I have to be honest lately I’ve had this feeling like I’ve won the lottery even though I don’t gamble.

Nicaragua was an amazing life experience – different, but amazing. I am going home to move into my new apartment (which I am incredibly excited about – it represents my independence), I will be reunited with my sisters whom I’ve missed (and my little nutmeg) … and a certain young man that’s made quite the impression.

I am also looking forward to getting back to work (in a career that I love and in an amazing firm) and hitting the gym to smash my goals.

Life is so great.

It’s hard to believe there was a time I didn’t want to live. A time when I would plan the way I was going to die. What a difference.

I know I have bipolar, I know I take 3 different medications, I know I have psychologist appointment every 2-3 weeks, and a psychiatrist appointment every 3 months (it used to be every 3 weeks). I know all these things BUT I know there are moments, where I don’t feel like I have bipolar, where I just am. My sister has even told me sometimes she forgets I have bipolar. It’s unreal how far I’ve come, how I see myself and life differently.

I don’t just function, I don’t just cope – I live.

Being told I had bipolar was the best thing that could have happened to me. It gave me the chance to finally have a life. It finally gave me the answer I was looking for. It opened the door to opportunity, the door to understanding.

Knowledge is power, self-awareness is power. And I was given that power the day I was escorted to the hospital and later diagnosed. It’s ironic I was locked up in a psych ward (terrified) but it was in that moment that I found my freedom.

I love life. I honestly do.

There are times where my mind try’s to tell me otherwise BUT like I said, knowledge is power and I know that I love life. I know my lows will end and I will see the sun shining as bright as ever.

There is so much to do in life, and because of the work I’ve put into my health I get to do it. Sure, I have safety buffers that others without bipolar might not have to worry about BUT if it means I get to step outside of the cage and shackles I was living in before, then so be it. Bring on the buffers.

Invest in yourself- go to doctor appointments and be actively engaged, apply the techniques discussed. Create a support system – people who you can trust and talk to (you are only alone if you choose to be) and educate yourself. When I was diagnosed I read books about bipolar, books about living with it, books about your loved ones perspective with living with someone with bipolar, and cognitive behavioural books and articles given to me by doctors. I made notes, I wrote questions – I refused to sit back and be passive in my own life. I took control of my life once given that chance, I’ve had help along the way but it was a choice I made and I’ve done everything in my power to fulfill it. It’s a never ending process, bipolar doesn’t just go away BUT it can become manageable.

Never doubt what you are capable of. Your happily ever after is a journey and I promise you it’s real.

-Steph

A Little Piece of Paradise 

I’m writing this post as I listen to the heavenly sound of a waterfall. I am in an oasis, a heaven on earth. 

Nicaragua is many things. More than I could have ever imagined. And I’ve imagined it a lot since I was a little girl.

It both brings joy and sorrow to my heart. It is a beautiful country- but it is painted in poverty. I am not niave to think everyone lives as comfortably as I do, but to think of  all the loss these people have endured and continue to endure breaks my heart. Yet, their resiliency is comforting. They are strong.

Let’s see – 

Since landing in Nicaragua I’ve learned my palate is more selective than I thought; my parents told me I am on a “nica diet”. It’s not that I don’t like the food … It’s just that some flavours require an acquired taste. And I’ve yet to have aquired that taste. 

Coming to Nicaragua and not being able to speak the language has hurt more than I realized it would. It’s one thing to not be able speak spanish in Canada but to be surrounded by people of my heritage and to not understand them – it all seems too much. In my own way I’ve deemed it a tragedy. I cried to be honest. My parents had no idea why I was crying in the middle of the day but I couldn’t help the anguish my heart felt for missing that part of my culture.

That being said my resolve to learn the language has never been stronger. Dedication is the key.

I am very grateful to be on this trip, I’ve learned and experienced so much. I’ve a new found appreciation for the opportunities I was born into because of the family I have and the country I live.

It truly is beautiful and I truly feel blessed.

– Steph

An Extra Happy Pill


Did you take your daily dose?

I am uploading this post early because I will not have a wifi connection on Thursday. That being said I will potentially also not have a wifi connection for the next 2 weeks, so if I don’t post it’s not because I’ve fell off the wagon its just because I am in the sunny country of Nicaragua!

It’s honestly been my dream to visit Nicaragua for as long as I can remember. My dad is from Nicaragua so it is important to me that I see where he is from and see my heritage. I will be going with my parents and I could not be more excited to share this experience with them. This trip was a graduation present and I can’t accurately express how grateful I am for this opportunity.

I love travelling but this trip is especially special to me.

Now, onto my post’s topic.

Gratitude.

Life can be so unbelievably hard sometimes, however if we can manage to have a grateful heart it can make a world of a difference.

I am not saying having a grateful heart is an easy task when things seem to be going wrong or when you are in the depths of despair, but I have personally tried really hard to look for the silver lining in every situation.

And boy – it’s not easy.

However, gratitude, is the key to a happy heart. When you see what you have, rather than what you don’t. When you can look at any situation and ask yourself what can you take away from it? 

There is always, always something positive that you can be grateful for.

I was once told that I say thank-you too much. Nonsense. You can never say thank-you too much. And I believe it’s important to share your gratitude with those around you. Not only will it make you feel better, but it will most likely lift the spirits of others. When you express your gratitude it’s harder to take things (or people) for granted and it sheds some light into your dark abyss. When have you ever felt worse off for hearing someone say thank-you to you? I’m going to guess never. So, fill your heart and someone else’s and say thank you.

If you have no one to physically express your gratitude to, write it down. Gratitude journals are a great idea, I have one (I haven’t recorded in this particular journal in a while since I record my thoughts in my personal journal), but looking back on what I wrote in the past is always uplifting. My sister recently bought a gratitude journal, and it’s rekindled the flame and I think I will intentionally write in my gratitude journal moving forward. I literally only listed 5 things a day, and that is probably where I will start again. It can literally be as simple as catching the bus on time – or waking up without having to hit snooze because you felt so rested.

The more we start to recognize the small things the more grateful our hearts will be and we won’t always have to look for the obvious things to be grateful for. The more grateful our hearts are the less anxious, resentful, envious or depressed we will be for the things we don’t have.

Here is a prime example, when I am in my lowest of lows and I am in bed for the majority of my day (or all day) my beloved little dog Nutmeg stays with me – she just cuddles up next to me and waits till I get up. I am so grateful for her unconditional love and her companionship. It warms my numb heart on those days and makes me feel when I would otherwise feel nothing.
To be grateful is to be intentional. And I believe acting and thinking with intention is the best way to better yourself. The best way to get to know yourself better, to be confident and comfortable in your skin.

Start in reverse, start thinking of all the obvious big reasons you are grateful and then work your way towards the smaller inconspicuous reasons. Fill your heart to the brim, and I guarantee you won’t regret it. Conscientiously make the decision to be grateful.  

Existing happens one way or the other BUT living is a choice. Choose to add meaning to your life. Choose to add depth. Choose to be a round character in your life’s story rather than a flat character.

Once upon a time with bipolar, I chose to be grateful and it gave me a life I never could have imagined.

– Steph

Think About It

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about thinking.

I don’t think I’m doing enough of it. That’s not to say I’m an airhead, I have thoughts BUT they just aren’t as profound as I would like them to be.

My conclusion is I haven’t been feeding myself enough mentally.

So, what am I going to do – or what do I need to do? I need to start reading, watching documentaries and making things.

I haven’t made the time to read, it’s on my list of things I want to start doing. I want to read at least 1 book a month (this is a realistic goal, because I can generally finish a book in a day or two) any genre, fiction or non-fiction. I just need to start. I used to read quite often, and then school happened and my reading consisted of text books and lecture notes. School has been over since May and I have yet to pick up a book. It’s a tragedy. I feel like my vocabulary is digressing.

Reading opens the mind to so much perspective (and broadens your vocabulary), regardless to whether its fiction or non-fiction. I went thru a phase where I would only read non-fiction (I take notes while I read) it was great, BUT one day I decided to change things up and I read a novel called “These Is My Words”, it was life changing. It moved me in a way that none of my non-fiction books could have ever done and it inspired me to start journaling again. It was incredible. I highly recommend reading it.

Reading is so enjoyable and I’ve learned that you should not set limits on what you read, sure I want to learn more so non-fiction seems like the logical choice, but fiction can be just as enlightening – and it’s fun to escape – to laugh and cry and become invested in characters. I’ve learned it’s important to let your brain take a break from structure.

I don’t have a library card BUT once I move, it is the first thing on my list to get and then the world will be my oyster.

That’s actually some exciting news I can share – I AM MOVING OUT! I am taking my final step of independence. I am finally at a place where I feel stable enough in my life (especially mentally) to make the move. I am nervous to be on my own BUT I will have my trusty sidekick Nutmeg to keep me company. I have a plan of action – I plan to keep myself busy and engaged. I will be maintaining my doctor appointments and checking in with my family, so I am not being tossed out to sea with no lifeline.

I am very excited, and I can’t wait to share my new adventure with you. I anticipate my life is going to get a lot more interesting since I won’t be spending 3 hrs a day in my car and on a train commuting. There will be so much more to do, especially since I will be in the big city.

I’ve lived on my own before, but it was always a struggle as I was not mentally in a good place. This time I will be standing on a firm foundation and I feel like I have a strong grip on my life

One thing in particular that I am incredibly excited about is decorating. I love decorating and my apartment is a blank canvas – my reality check is it will take me a while to furnish my apartment ($$$) BUT when I do I know it will be just the way I want it.

I anticipate that I will be fueling my brain with new thoughts, and finding new inspiration. I am not saying that you should wait till tomorrow to make things happen for you BUT by moving out my circumstances will enhance my ability to fuel my brain a lot more.

Getting back on subject and touching on what I said earlier, I would like to start watching documentaries, or at least Ted Talks. Something to inspire my thoughts and to help me learn more. Movies are fine, sure, but there is something so rewarding about watching a documentary.

I also want to start making things. I want to get my creative juices flowing. Creativity inspires new thoughts and ideas and like I mentioned I am lacking in that department. I’ve found that I am not as creative as I used to be. And I partially think that is my own doing (part of me thinks my medication may have contributed to numbing down my creative flair BUT this is just speculation), I haven’t put myself out there. I haven’t intentionally acted to create lately, I have had a hard time feeling inspired BUT again I just need to start. If my creations are terrible, they are a starting point and they will get better.

I just need to step outside of my box – I have no doubt there is a way out if I apply myself. I’ve made myself aware of the situation, I’ve recorded my feelings and thoughts on it. Now the next step is to apply my plan of action and make a change.

Thinking is something I do a lot of, I don’t want to be on a re-run thinking the same thoughts and ideas over and over again. I don’t want to be a hamster on a wheel getting no where. I want more – there is so much more out there beyond my present scope.

Challenge yourself to think more profoundly. Don’t just “think” but think.

I’ll write an update down the road, hopefully I will have more thoughts to share on the matter.

– Steph

It’s A Balancing Act


One thing that has been made crystal clear over the past few years since being formally diagnosed with bipolar is that bipolar is a balancing act. It’s ironic I know, since we are generally classified as “unbalanced people”.
Little does the world know that to live with bipolar and function on the daily, we out balance anyone. Can I get an AMEN!?

I recently over stimulated myself. I went out too many days in a row, I had too many late nights, and met up with too many people. This might sound like a normal social life, but with bipolar there needs to be “a balance”. Too much of anything is asking for trouble. 

When I’m over-stimulated I get super anxious, I feel like I’m a ticking bomb waiting to go off. I feel exhausted to the point that I’m shaking and I’m super reactive. So at the height of my over-stimulation I did the only thing I could think of – I napped. I crashed hard and long. I slept and when I woke up I felt manageable. 

Balance – you can’t just do what everyone else is doing. You can’t have late night after late night without repercussion, you can skip out on your medication. I take sleeping pills and if I don’t plan accordingly, taking them and waking up the next day can be lethal. There has to be a plan of action. 

As much as people go with the flow, it’s not like that with bipolar. You have to plan and check off the boxes for living your balanced functional life. You don’t just “wing it”. Sure in some aspects of life you can but others not so much. Sometimes I feel frustrated and I feel  like my life is being restricted BUT in reality by me sacrificing having “late nights” I’m gaining so much more. 

Are you eating right, excercising, sleeping enough hours, taking your medication, going to doctors appointments? These are some of the boxes on our checklist that to some may seem optional BUT are not. Everything I listed allows me to live a balanced life. I make a conscientious effort and when I falter in any of those departments my quality of life is hindered. 

Sure people with bipolar have their checklists of things they do and I’m not taking away from that, I’m merely stating that to function or rather to thrive someone with bipolar has to put in a heck of a lot of effort compared to the average person. And by living their daily life they are slapping the stigma that people with bipolar are unbalanced. We are not unbalanced and if you step into our shoes you’ll see that to go day to day we are more resilient and balanced than most. 

– Steph