Not Just A Pretty Face

I am more than what you see. This is something that I know for a fact, yet at times I need to be reminded of.

This post is about to get real, and I hope you can bare with me as I try to express myself.

I am human, I am not perfect. I lead an imperfect life filled with my own goliaths, as I know you do too. Some are bigger than others and sometimes the most I can do is acknowledge them and say to myself, “hey, I see you… not sure what I’m going to do about you BUT I see you.”

Sometimes we are battling things on our own privately and the idea of sharing our battles with anyone else seems out of the question. However, I encourage you to find a safe haven, whether that be a family member, a friend or a counsellor.

I am so grateful to be back in the swing of things with a counsellor. I was matched up with a great lady named Gail in the town I am now residing. So far we seem to jive pretty well and she’s been able to shed some insight with what I’ve been struggling with. Yes, I still talk to my husband and family about it BUT I find my counsellor gives me a different perspective that allows me to express myself more eloquently.

Lately (that’s used loosely), I’ve been struggling with my self confidence. It’s ironic, the more I feel like I’m looking better outwardly the more reassurance that I need. Feeling beautiful on my own isn’t enough for some reason. It’s as though I don’t believe it’s possible so I need others to reassure me (believe me, I know how messed up that sounds).

Yesterday in my appointment I realized so much of my self worth is dependent on how I look and believe me when I say that standard applies only to myself. I DO NOT MEASURE PEOPLE’S WORTH BY THEIR APPEARANCE. I firmly believe its deeper than skin – I just wish I could extend the same kindness to myself.

I’ve struggled with my weight and skin for years and my confidence has been shattered. For years I was fixated on how disappointing I must have been to my family to look the way I did. I did not love myself truly even though I was doing the best I could. And don’t get me wrong, I was still happy, but at the same time I was sad because of the way I looked.

I was saying to my husband I don’t think I’ve ever been happy with my life coinciding with my looks in a very long time – if ever. Either I was happy with my appearance and sad with my life or sad in life and sad with my appearance or happy with life and sad with my appearance. And I know it may sound weird, but I’m happy in my life right now (SO HAPPY) and I’m growing more and more happier with my appearance AND I don’t know how to handle it. I just don’t know how to truly believe or accept I’m beautiful on my own without needing validation or reassuring from my family and at time friends.

How unbelievably shallow. I know. Pity party for feeling pretty. Wah. Wah. Wah. But I’m serious, so much of how I view myself revolves around looks. I haven’t looked like the person I’ve wanted to look like for yearsssss and now that I am starting to I’m happy BUT I don’t know how to accept it for myself. It’s messed up and I’m being honest even though I’m not even sure it makes sense.

Everyone’s struggles are different. Right now I’m learning how to love and accept myself at any shape or size even if it’s the one I want to be! And just because I’m reaching that size it doesn’t mean everything is just magically going to be better. There is a lot of extra psychological weight with the weight I’m shedding and I’m trying to work through it so I can sincerely accept myself (and be happy).

On a different note, my counsellor gave me some worksheets to do regarding my values BECAUSE shocking news to you and myself – I’m not shallow. My fixation on my appearance may elude to it but I do have strong values, beliefs and a heart and mind. She gave me excercises to stimulate my vocabulary and give me more words to describe my values.

Sometimes we just need a push in the right direction to take away the bull seeing only red. And lately, I think with all this spare time on my hands from not working everyday 9-5 I have a little too much time to think and dwell on myself. The gym is great and is helping me reach my goals BUT that is one part of a ginormous puzzle of who I am as Stephanie.

I think I’ll share some of the values I have and rediscover in next weeks post, perhaps the values will hit a chord and you will have them in common with me or they will make you think of new ones entirely.

I’m not just a pretty face and I sure as heck don’t want to die with that being what people think of me. I want to be so much more. I really want to have it all – and dang nabbit I will. If I work on myself physically, mentally and spiritually. If I can learn to love myself – as myself at every stage, that is what will be truly beautiful.

You are beautiful, I don’t have to see you to know it. You are priceless with infinite worth, I believe that without a shadow of a doubt. Be kind to others BUT please, please, please be kind to yourself, that’s something I’m trying to apply into my own life.

– Steph

Make it Happen

In reference to the quote, can I get an AMEN to the fact that Canada has brutally cold winters!

I have to say this week was a success. And for all intents and purposes that is exactly how I’m going to approach my physical wellness goals.

Week-by-week. Step-by- step.

In terms of how I felt, I’d say I felt motivated and committed. And not surprisingly, I felt better about myself with each workout accomplished. I know that the motivation will wane at times BUT I’m hoping to stay consistent despite this.

It’s amazing what difference a workout/accountability partner makes! I have been going with one of my sisters to the gym and I feel more inclined to go AND to push harder when I’m there. If you are feeling stuck and unmotivated, I highly recommend having a gym buddy. You will be doing each other a favor while becoming better for it. That sounds like a definite win to me.

That being said, think outside the box, I will list my weekly activity down below BUT one of my activities the past week was a pilates class that I did via an app AND I did it with a different sister who lives in another city! We decided what class we wanted to do and called each other on skype and did the workout together, laughing as we struggled together.

It was so fun! And I feel incredibly grateful to be able to share this fitness journey with another sister who is also wanting to better herself physically.

** Small note in regards to the app, this is not a paid or sponsored post BUT I want to let you know what app I used and will be using moving forward with my oldest sister. The app is called Fiton, it is pretty much like a having a virtual fitness instructor. They have live classes that you can join and leave in real time and you are able to schedule a reminder to participate in these classes or you can watch pre-recorded classes and repeat them at your leisure.

All in all, I was incredibly impressed. My sister and I did a pilates class and it was so fun! Challenging, but engaging and it was free!!!! It was literally the same quality as going to a paid pilates class but rather than being in a studio we were in our living rooms AND rather than doing it alone we planned on doing the live class together (like going to a studio) and skyped – so we were literally together. Like I said, be creative!

So my week, what did I do??

Monday: 2 hrs at the gym; I worked out shoulders, biceps and chest. (I always love starting my week off with shoulder day because its my absolute favourite… that’s a tip: start the week off with what you love to do at the gym, it helps to get you there in a good mood and starts the week off right)

Within the two hours I did a cardio warm-up followed with some calisthenics to get the joints warmed up and ready to work and then weight training followed by some HITT cardio and lastly core.

Tuesday: Nada, unfortunately I had a wayyyy late dinner and felt like if I worked out it would not have ended well.

Wednesday: 1 hr and 45 mins at the gym; I worked out triceps and back. Again, I did a cardio warm-up, followed by some calisthenics and then weight training, and core (we had a shorter workout so passed on the HITT cardio)

Thursday: 45 mins of Aquafit (the instructor was a little prickly and singled me out, which I didn’t like BUT the class was overall good)

Friday: 20 mins of pilates using the Fiton app (I think this was around 1 pm) then I went to the gym in the evening for 2 hrs and worked out glutes and legs. Again, warming up with some light cardio and calisthenics and then moving into weights and core. No HITT cardio again, as my sister was not feeling the best and I didn’t want us to push our luck.

Saturday: 30 mins of cardio and 15 mins of calisthenics.

Sunday: Rest day.

So my week was a little all over the place, but at the same time it was scheduled. To put it in a nice little package moving forward the plan is: Monday, Wednesday & Friday are weights & core with some HITT cardio and Thursday is aquafit. Saturday is a free for all if I do decide to go. (This Saturday my husband and I were sitting at home doing nothing so I was like, “want to go so some cardio?”, it wasn’t planned but it just happened.)

I do want to try a yoga class on Tuesday, but I’ll be attending that alone if I go. Additionally, my older sister asked if I’d like to do the fiton classes with her (accountability partner for the win) and we are going to try next week Monday-Friday for 20-30 mins. We will solely be doing pilates, yoga and core. I’m trying to stretch more this year.

What I am not trying to do is kill myself and burn out. I know it may sound like a lot BUT I feel like a morning yoga or pilates session will be a nice waker-upper for me. And then weights and cardio 3x a week is reasonable as well… yes, yes, yes we go for 2 hrs BUT a fair amount of time is going over the excercises and proper form for my sister as she is new to weight training. I anticipate that we will get down to 1 hr 30 mins or 1 hr and 45 mins when she is more comfortable and familiar with the moves.

Also, I’m trying to ensure we warm-up because it is really beneficial for the overall workout. And cardio, is a necessary evil. So all in all because we are only going to the gym 3x a week it all gets lumped together.

You may ask why not spread it out? The answer is we are working around my sister’s schedule and to make it work we have 3 gym days allotted and then a bonus Thursday with aquafit. We go in the evenings after her husband gets home from work. So this week we generally went to the gym at 7:30pm and left at 9:30-9:45pm. When you want to make something happen, you make it happen.

Again, I had so much fun this past week with my sisters. They are real troopers who try hard and motivate me to give my best and go!

So, now the fun part – stats.

I decided pictures will be once a month, I will do my current weight each week and if it fluctuates… so be it. My weight is temperamental as is. I will do my measurements weekly (bonus measurements will only be done once a month as well) and we will go from there. So without further ado:

Highest Weight: 198lbs
Goal Weight: 155lbs

Monday, January 13th
Current Weight: 173.2

Bust: 40″
Waist: 32″
Hips: 42.5″

It’s not about the numbers as I said before, they are just a way to stay accountable. I am trying to break my number complex and I think by posting it, I’m facing it. What I do want to focus on is how I feel.

That was week 1 of my 2020 fitness journey accounted for. Let’s go for week 2!


– Steph

A Gift For You

I feel like I’m in the training process right now all over again.

So many wonderful things have happened since my husband and I have moved. I even have a job secured which is a blessing all in it’s own.

However, the work I’m doing is in fact different than working as a legal assistant. I know, I know in a few posts back I mentioned that perhaps I would be working outside of my profession and I think I went as far as to say it might be a nice change. But ohhhh how I was wrong.

I’m working as a casual receptionist. Slightly administrative, but to be frank I miss the hustle and bustle of my career EVEN if it gave me stress. I enjoyed the challenge and I realize that now. You never realize what you have until it’s gone, right?

It’s not to say that the receptionist position isn’t enjoyable, it is just a tad bit slow and not very challenging. However, as this post says “see the good in every situation”… so my friends the good that I can see is that this position is at a seniors manor. I love working with seniors, I’m not sure if I wrote on my blog previously about this, but during the summers between school years I worked at a seniors home as a dietary aide. Prior to that I did housekeeping at another manor.

Seniors are so lovely, sure they can be a bit prickly BUT they have such personality and are genuinely happy to see you each day you work. That is the good in my position as far as I can tell.

Training your mind to see the good is a philosophy I’ve tried to apply throughout my life. Life is so much more enjoyable when you try to look for the good. Lessons can be learned, memories can be made and cherished and it can all stem from the most unlikeliest of situations.

Perhaps as you move forward in this new year and decade you can work your mind out and train it to see the good when the good seems to be a bit out of reach.

But let’s be clear, seeing the good doesn’t mean we ignore the bad. Sometimes we need to see the bad so we can make a change which is the good at the end of the day. Maybe a bad breakup from a toxic relationship is the good in your life because you are now free to begin a new life (but you’d have to see the bad, before you make the change to be able to see the good… if that makes sense).

Sometimes I slip into a Negative Nancy mood and everything is wrong and nothing is right and when that happens, if it happens to you, all I can say is – breathe.

Take 15 minutes, close your eyes, leave the situation and just breathe. Talk yourself through what is happening and why you are feeling the way you are feeling and if you are lucky, you might just be able to find a sliver of reasoning advocating for some positive energy.

I am not the best at breathing thru stressful situations, but there have been many times where I close my eyes and listen to my breathing. I try to focus on the breathing in order to ground my mind when it is going up, up and away. Sometimes just focusing on your breathing can calm you and help you see clearly. And when you see clearly I’ll be darned if there isnt something positive to take away from the situation. Whether it’s self-development or having a mask pulled off someone in your life so that you see their true colours and you can move on in your own life. There is always a positive spin if we look hard enough.

I hope everyone is having a good week, and if you are having a tough one all I can say is take a minute to breathe. Listen to that sound and remind yourself that life is a gift that has been granted to you. There will be ups, there will be downs, but it is a gift and I hope and pray we each find a way to love the life we make for ourselves each and every day.

– Steph

Bipolar Gains – Let’s Get It

Alright, so here we are January 2020 and I am ready to go!

My weight has been one of the most ginormous Goliaths in my life. I have always struggled accepting the number on the scale and when I started a certain medication with my diagnosis of bipolar, that weight skyrocketed.

Understandably, when the weight went way up, my confidence went way down. I struggled to find self-love while weighing my heaviest and ultimately told my doctors that the medication needed to change or I’d stop taking it. Drastic, I know, but I was turning into someone I didn’t recognize emotionally and physically.

At my highest I weighed 198 lbs, which was more than I had ever imagined I would weigh in my lifetime. To allow you to more accurately gauge that weight I will tell you my height is 5 ft 4 and 3/4 inches. So it is fair to say that weight was more than just a little on my short frame.

I will be clear when I say I am curvy (I believe this trait stems from my Latin heritage) I am not petite and I have an athletic build. I have never been a size 0. This fact originally gave me a lot of grief growing up, as I classified myself as chubby and overweight because I wasn’t 115 lbs when in actuality I was at a perfectly healthy weight and looked healthy and lean at 150-160.

You read that right, 150-160 lbs is a golden weight for me at my height. So let’s get to the fun part of this post.

Bipolar Gains is a new chapter on my blog bringing accountability and honesty with regards to my journey to physical wellness. So far there have been a lot of highs and lows coupled with inconsistency. However, I want to emphasize the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle with Biplor. (I think the inconsistency that comes as a results of highs and lows is my biggest struggle)

Mental health is drastically impacted by physical health. Having some form of physical activity in your life is a foundational block to build a healthy mind. Every time I saw my psychiatrist (the one who cared) she would ask me about my physical activity and always emphasized the importance and the significant impact being active had on my health.

When I weighed 198lbs I had given up on the gym and felt terrible about myself. I lost myself to be honest. I had been an avid gym goer, however when the medication I was taking was making me gain weight despite my efforts I stopped. DON’T do what I did – DON’T stop going to the gym if you aren’t seeing results. YES, maybe talk to your doctors about changing medications BUT don’t stop being active and don’t stop your medication because of the weight. Easier said then done.

My medication change was exactly what I needed to get back under control. The change was what worked for me and just so you know, I switched my mood stabilizer from Quetiapine to Latuda (just for the know how).

Anyways, I’m trying to stay on topic. This chapter of my blog – Bipolar Gains, I’m sure you’ve heard weightlifters refer to their “gains”. I want to tie that in with bipolar. This journey has been and will continue to go up and down and all the while I hope to gain better control over my health – body and mind. My moods impact my desire to workout and sometimes being consistent is challenging, however that is why I created this chapter of my blog. Accountability my friends!

I plan on documenting my weightloss journey, giving you updates on how many times I worked out in the week, what I did and what my stats are. Believe me it’s not about the number on the scale, but for me it’s a good indication that I am on track. To kick off this series I will give you my stats as follows:

Heaviest Weight: 198lbs

Goal Weight: 155lbs

Monday, January 6th

Current Weight: 172.2

Measurements

Bust: 40″

Waist: 32″

Hips: 42.5″

Bonus Measurements:

Neck: 14″ (my husband says he notices my neck when I lose weight, so I’m curious if this measurement will change throughout my journey)

Biceps: 12″

Thighs: 24.5″

I want this to be real and raw so brace yourself for some photos, I find that a way to motivate myself is photos. Sometimes the number you see on the scale says something totally different than the photo you may see. These photos were taken on January 1, 2020 (a kick off to the new year)

I want to put this out there because I don’t want to back out. I want to share this journey with you so I can be accountable to myself and you while working towards my goals.

There are a few reasons why losing this weight is important to me. Ultimately, it’s for my health, I want to enjoy this life to it’s fullest. I want to be confident. I don’t want to look back with regret. I want to make a change and 2020 is the year. No more excuses, I may go up and I may go down BUT I will be as sure as heck be going forward.

If you want to join me on this journey I would be honored. If you would like to share your fitness and wellness journey with me, I would love that as well.

2020, a new year, a new decade, a new opportunity to grow into the person you want to be. Let’s flex these muscles and get some bipolar gains, bro.

I hope that this new chapter will be insightful and encouraging for you to begin or continue towards your own bipolar gains. Let’s get it!

– Steph

Just an Update

My husband and I started unpacking our apartment on Sunday and I was feeling slightly overwhelmed, he was a good sport and super supportive as always. However, we moved from a 2 bedroom with a shed to a one bedroom with a den. Shall we say a wee bit tight BUT it’s still massive in it’s own way (don’t ask me how).

Anyways I went over Monday with my mom and she helped me put up our pictures, so simple yet so helpful. I felt like so much was accomplished when in reality it was only a few boxes.

For now I am trying to enjoy my time off work, am I a bit stressed about not having a real job as we speak? Yes (although I did obtain a causal position at a seniors lodge) The whole situation is actually ideal to be honest, it gives me time to unpack and for my husband and I to settle, which is exactly what I did with my previous move, so why in the world am I tripping now???! Don’t ask me, because I know it’s not even rational stress.

If I was working I would be a basket case knowing I have boxes to unpack and furniture to set up in our apartment – so I’m trying to appreciate the time off. It’s been a while since I had a long holiday – so again why am I crying over this break that so many people would love to take! When the right opportunity comes along it will come along, just like it did before. So for now I need to chill!

I was thinking about the course of my past year and if I accomplished the things I set out to do. Yes, to a degree, I started lessons for classical guitar and stuck with it. I enrolled in the fashions course I talked about on my blog BUT it was cancelled due to not enough numbers in the class (not my fault), I was fairly active with the gym and swimming (definite room for improvement), I added a few more creative activities into my life such as therapeutic Mandela colouring and reading (and blogging again!), I started spanish lessons BUT I had to take a breather as I was doing a bit to much all at one time (you can refer to my older post to see what I’m talking about) and I did boxing up until my foot and shoulder exploded from pain and I had to taper down. Not too shabby overall, there were some bumps along the way BUT I did experience nearly everything I set out to do.

Now that I’m back, I want to resume guitar lessons FOR SURE. I think I’m going to ask my mom to re-teach me how to sew and work on projects at her house rather than find a course in the city, she is an amazing seamstress and I might as well take advantage of her wealth of knowledge and skill. No more boxing at a club for me, I’ll just use focus mitts at home with my husband so that I can go at my own pace with my shoulder and foot. I do what I can and I’ve learned not to push myself through pain just for the sake of it – not worth the prolonged injury! Believe me!

Aside from my birthday goal to be more intentional with my time, relationships, activities and aesthetics, I am cooking up some goals for the new year that I am excited to share shortly. As I mentioned there will be a new series on my blog and it has to do with some serious goal digging.

I know my posts have been more updates with my life rather than a post that hopefully gets you thinking about the way you are thinking and giving you some new perspective, I’ve just been a wee bit busy the past few weeks and wanted to make sure I posted as I’ve been on a roleeeeee and might as well let you know what’s going on in the mean time.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week.

– Steph

Going Places

HOLY COW!

The move took place, and it couldn’t have gone any better. We were able to get the moving truck a day early for free, pack up and then I then cleaned the apartment the next day and we got the entire damage and pet deposit back. We caught the 7 am ferry and had clear roads the entire way. We travelled a total or almost 17 hours (some areas are considered treacherous in winter). My husband had an interview last Monday in a town that my entire family almost lives in AND HE GOT THE JOB!

And not only did he get the job but it is even better than we could have hoped for! And then to top it off we looked at an apartment across the street from his office at an amazing price – all utilities included, washer and dryer, dishwasher and pet friendly. We only have one car so this location is perfect and WE GOT THE APARTMENT!

I called the province’s mental health line for my region and was approved to be accepted into an all expense paid for program with a psychiatrist and counsellors. My first appointment is the 31st of this month anddddd rather than travelling an hour into the major city, the mental health clinic is right in the town I’ll be living.

The reaction I’ve had from my family, my nieces and nephews have been priceless. I’m feeling so loved and beyond happy to be surrounded by family and also have my husband surrounded by them too. I cannot wait for his relationships to grow, I will note that I want to maintain a healthy boundary with my family because I’m literally in the same town as everyone and there is an importance on our relationship stay our relationship.

I’ve been looking up guitar classes at this point I haven’t found anything, I may resort to asking my dad to teach me – I want to keep up my guitar. So fingers crossed all goes well.

We found a gym that is new to the town and gorgeous, we are going to wait for the new year and see if a promo pops up. If not we will still join as we are gym goers. It is a total 2 minute drive from our new apartment.

Nutmeg was so precious to watch as she’s been reunited with my parents and sisters. She was literally a little jumping bean and could not contain her excitement. I know despite the cold she’s happy. The cold has not been kind to my face, my skin is drastically drier here than in the province and city I was previously living in, se la vie, a small price to pay.

Now it’s my turn to find work. I don’t think I’ll be working as a legal assistant as there are no openings in this town and I dont feel like commuting an hour to an hour and a half every day one way. Especially in winter, I’ve done the commute for years prior and it took a toll on me. The prospect of finding a simpler less stressful job doesn’t seem so bad in my books. I’m honestly just so happy to be back.

None of this has been luck or coincidence I know it has been a blessing from the Lord, and answers to countless prayers. I feel beyond grateful and I hope I never take this experience for granted. We leapt with faith to unknowns leaving behind amazing jobs with no prospects in sight. Yet here we are, my husband employed in his dream job with amazing living accommodations #blessed and close proximity to family and medical support.

There are mighty miracles in our lives if we look for them. And I feel like I’d have to be staring at my feet to miss them all lately because they’ve been so bountiful and evident. Good things have come our way and I hope I can move forward offering goodness to others.

I feel excited. I feel rejuvenated. I feel relief. I feel confident. I feel hope. I feel peace. I know this is where my husband and I are meant to be and for that I feel grateful.

There have been some rough patches inevitably, but I know this is where we are meant to be and I’ll enjoy the journey and continue to look for the good, because when you look for it – it’s hard to miss.

I will say there was one incident recently that took a lot out of me, I’m looking forward to starting consistent therapy to manage myself a wee bit better and to have an additional support system which at times is so essential apart from family and friends.

With respects to my blog I still have big plans, I’m going to introduce a new series in the new year and I’m excited to have you all journey with me in this new chapter of life.

I’m trying to stay grounded throughout the hustle and bustle, I am definitely looking forward to getting into a new routine. Routine is so critical to well-being!

Just a simple post while we still settle in, we got the apartment keys today and will be unpacking the remainder of the week.

Wishing you all a happy week.

– Steph

Laugh Until We Cry

Here I am always talking about self-awareness and let’s just say I missed the mark.

Last week I had a conversation with my husband and it consisted of a question followed by how he felt. My initial reaction was to be defensive and justify that I was by no means doing any wrong by him, which he politely listened to. In fact he even went as far as to suggest I was correct; however, it struck a chord and I chose to do some serious self-reflection. Lo and behold my statement had a little validity BUT even more so, so did his.

I think I made a post where I mentioned my curiousty for how my depressive and hypomanic episodes would play out in my future after I had considered myself to have found a healthy balance with my relationship and medication etc… The blatantly obvious episodes that I could detect rather quickly in my prior years of life had become not as evident (not gone but not as evident to me).

But for the sake of showing how I slept on myself with obvious textbook signs I will continue … I haven’t slept properly or with any regularity severely for the past 2 months. I’ve been having a hard time focusing on anything, because I have a million and one ideas swirling in my mind, I’ve been speaking loudly, quickly and excessively with an added measure of repetition (literally repeating myself over and over with the exact same measure of excitement to anyone who I can pin down) I have been a little more on edge, shall we say more irritable and reactive and I’ve definitely exercised my obsessive nature with certain interests… like serious tunnel vision with only specific topics. Don’t be confused that my focus is at an all time low, while I’m obsessing over various topics. Its hard to have a clear grasp on anything while trying to do and talk about everything. And let’s not forget my grand idea to change careers over night which resulted in serious research and commitment until my sister intervened.

But holy cow! Why 2 months?! My regulated self typically experiences a hypomanic episode for 4-7 days. The fact my husband brought up how he was feeling disconnected was a reality check, and thus the realization of this state I’ve been in was addressed.

When I started to ask myself about my behaviour and my relationship dynamics with my husband, there has in fact been a shift the past 2 months and I had to ask myself, why?

*Tip: Try to look at your timeline and if there have been major events or road bumps. For me, as I said before special occasions and changes definitely impact my mood.

However, back to the question – it might be unimpressively shocking to note that major events and changes have in fact taken place non-stop since the beginning of October. Not in a bad way, just in a way that has thrown off my balance and routine. And caused me to go up, up, up, and away!

I had my husband’s birthday in early October, then my birthday, then our anniversary and then we decided to move, then I gave notice at work, all the while being on cloud nine; excluding the work situation that I lost myself over (but who knows maybe it impacted me more because of the state I was already in) But even that, the fact I thought I needed to change careers so quickly and confidently should have tipped me off that I was not quite my “grounded” self.

It took me seeing my husband’s feelings being hurt and admitting my behaviour was an attributing factor to stop me in my tracks and say “hold up Stephanie, how and what are you doing and when did you start doing it?”

And that is how I realized I was feeling so incredible but at the expense of shutting out my husband and being quite selfish. I realized I never had to share my time when I was (severely) hypomanic before. My family would let me be and I’d do as I pleased for the days that I was consumed with myself and my insesent interests.

They would know I was not quite myself and just let me have space. But let’s be frank I wasn’t married to my family. I am married to my husband, and 2 months is a long time for me to be on this solo-wagon of just Stephanie’s world. He had been reaching out to me and I essentially ignored the advances and stuck to myself. Mind you it wasn’t intentional, I wasn’t aware of how disconnected I was to his feelings BUT now I am.

I honestly don’t know what to do in this situation. I’m hoping that if I can speak to someone when I move, maybe we can make a plan to navigate episodes that last longer than a week and perhaps I’ll be called out a lot sooner. But I do know it is something I have never experienced before with someone I’m in a relationship with and living with on an intimate level.

That all being said, I fell apart this past friday and weekend. I held myself together during work and when I got home I had a shower and ugly cried. Not over anything in particular, I just felt this overwhelming sense of sadness – which was a drastic change from all the happiness I’ve been feeling. I stayed in the shower for over an hour, just crying on and off. Then I got out, my husband came home and I went back into the shower and cried some more.

I think the shower is like a comfort blanket, the water on your skin and the noise that mutes your cry. I haven’t cried for absolutely no reason in front of my husband and I didn’t feel like making a spectacle of myself since I had no real reason to be sad. I simply had felt sad. The weekend followed suit. Sadness and tightness in chest, I avoided public as the idea of having people look at me made me feel anxiety. Perhaps it’s all the stress and excitement and it’s a mass amount of emotion and a matter of trying to still work and hold it together and move with some degree of grace.

I’m going to make it. I’m going to be happy and I’m going to bounce back from the high (it’s been a slice) and conquer the low. Because what is the alternative?

Only a few more days and I’ll have two feet out the door. I’ll keep you posted.

– Steph

Bipolar Blunder as the Cookie Crumbles

And just like that the cookie crumbles. Let’s rewind, did I not just do a post saying I love my job?!

Okay people, let’s be real – no lie,I do love my job. I love being a legal assistant BUT what I do not love is the stress that it evokes. For instance when I make a typo that my lawyer points out – it is literally the end of the world? Is it really?? NO – have I been told to brush it off and keep going? YES – However, will I lose sleep over it? You better believe it.

Something happened last week, and it caused me to talk to my husband, my parents and my sisters. I was grasping at anyone I could to calm me down. There was an oversight at work and at the end of the day it wasn’t even my fault (and that’s not an opinion, it is a fact). Regardless, I took it wayyyyyy to personal. I didn’t sleep all night (or the rest of the week just thinking about this particular situation), and don’t get me wrong – lots of people lose sleep over work; bipolar or not.

However, the very next day I was looking up different institutions for school because I was thinking perhaps a career change was the best solution to alleviate the stress I feel from working in the legal industry. A little over the top perhaps…. just a wee bit.

I know. I know! What the heck Stephanie!? A career change??! Like I said, I literally just wrote a post about loving my job, and feeling more confident as a legal assistant. And believe me, I do feel more confident. It’s just a reality that I fear going to work almost everyday because of the possibility of making a mistake big or small – and rationally I know it is inevitable; everyone makes mistakes that’s what makes us human.

So what of my career change? I ended up calling my oldest sister on my lunch hour with my grand plan, and let’s just say she talked me off the ledge with a loud but kind voice or reason. She is pretty good at that.

To be clear, I will not be changing careers. That is not the reason why my husband and I are moving. As my sister said, ” look at the big picture”. And what exactly is the picture you might ask? It so happens that we are moving so we can have the proper support system to start a family. Will I even be able to work when we start getting serious about it? Who knows, but me dramatically going back to school or doing a program to change careers amidst all this change and our move – let’s just say it’s not the answer let a lone a good idea.

What I do need to do is strike a work-life-stree balance. If I manage to get doctors that actually care, hopefully this work enduced anxiety will be something we can work through. I’m pretty sure it never manifested itself as much before because I’ve never worked anywhere long enough or with as demanding standards. I know it was there to a degree, however in the past if I started to not enjoy my work or feel stressed I’d quit. I think if I didn’t love where I work so much presently, this year would have turned out a lot differently with respects to my health – and the stability I’ve been afforded.

I enjoy a challenge with work, yet at the same time it overwhelms me. I like routine, I like consistency, I like methodical work. When things go array it really throws me for a loop, and where it may take the average person a few hours or a day or two to lick the wound, I generally take weeks if I am even that lucky to actually get over it. Otherwise, I carry the error with me and boy does it get heavy.

I’ve never worked ANYWHERE consistently longer than a year. My last place of employment I hit a year… but we know how that went; that being said this past year was a success overall in my opinion. Good reviews, positive environment, yet I am/was still bogged down with anxiety (not as much as last year by any means). But this stress is something I have been vividly aware of.

Sure, experience plays a factor – I’ve only been in my career 2 years and I’ve practiced different areas both years. However, after having a conversation with my husband he expressed how he was nervous about making mistakes the first month or two and not literally everyday like I am worried about.

Confidence? Surprisingly, more than before. Yet, if we compared that confidence to a peer it’d probably become quite evident I still have a long way to go.

Is a career change on the table? I don’t think so. However, perhaps I will take a bit of a break and do a job that is not as demanding. That’s not saying it is of lesser value, but it will just require a different skill and mindset from me that will perhaps ease the stress that is involved with doing thousands to million dollar deals within the legal industry like I’m presently doing.

Who knows. It’s not that I don’t think I’m cut out for working in a demanding profession, it’s just sometimes I think I’m not cut out to work in a demanding profession – if you pick up what I’m putting down.

Anxiety can be lethal and when I come to think of it, this past year I’ve added more sleeping and anxiety medication to my bundle BECAUSE for some reason…. “some reason”…. I have been more anxious and not sleeping well.

So many factors my friends, medical, move, marriage. So many factors, but I’m confident it will all get sorted out.

For now I can say that my husband and I plan to have kids and we talked about me staying home to raise them. This is something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember; that being said my work career will not be long lived and I am certainly okay with that (again, why I thought going back to school was a good idea?!?). Being a mom is a career in itself, so if there is a career change on the horizon it will be a designation called MOM. I know that will bring challenges all on it’s own, but again I think it’s a challenge I’ve been anxiously wanting and waiting for.

This move needs to happen, and happen ASAP, the limbo land I’m living in at the moment is really messing with me. Excitement is on overdrive but it is being met with a ruthless anxiety.

I was reading am article with respects to how bipolar affects those who work. The article was enlightening and entertaining as I sat and read going “that’s me!”. Don’t get me wrong it was a serious article, very insightful but it still made me chuckle, because here I’ve been feeling so stable, yet when it comes down to it I struggle going to work 9-5, Monday-Friday. It’s not something that is being unreasonably requested of me, its standard working hours for a standard career – yet, here I am struggling to hold it together.

I obviously know I’m doing better with my health regardless to this struggle because I have in fact worked this past year relatively mess free, it’s just been a struggle and thats a reality I’m acknowledging so that when I do start working again, perhaps I will find a way to be more at ease.

If I figure it out, I’ll certainly let you know.

– Steph

Get a Grip

The remainder of this month is most likely going to pose a struggle. I am elated over my move and my sleep has been out of sorts understandably.

Additionally, as noted before I have been on edge with eager anticipation of the unknown that lay ahead. The constant buzz in my mind is certainly making it hard to focus on or enjoy the time remaining with work. Although, I’m sure it doesnt help that I’ve been requested to assist a lawyer for the remainder of my time with the firm. I generally don’t work with this lawyer or the area of law he practices, so this task it just adds a stress I would have otherwise been free of (argh to timing).

I love my job, but I’m ready to hit the highway. I’m ready to get this show on the road. I know I’ll relax a lot more once we are packed and on the road because it will mean the next chapter can start and I can start meeting new doctors and looking for new work. I am just out of sorts to be frank, not that I’m unorganized, but rather I think its because one foot is out the door and I still have 2 weeks and a bit to go before the other one can join it.

Additionally, I’ve been working on a bit of a project with respects to my blog. This blog is quite the trigger my dear friends – if I take it too seriously I go up, up, up and away and get uber excited and the ability to sleep or focus on anything else is a wee bit difficult. But who doesn’t love to be excited, it’s great right? Of course it is! But fun fact, when I start to get elated over my blog I tend to freeze like a deer stuck in the headlights. I am frozen and paralyzed with the pressure I put on myself and as a result my blogging suffers. I am trying to navigate the excitement, navigate my plans for my blog. Rather than weeks or even months to complete this project, I’m giving myself an easy year. I am trying to educate myself and prepare myself for exciting strides forward with this blog and my platform, yet be reasonable with what I expect from myself. I know this sounds like a familiar tune BUT this time I’m really trying to approach this blog in a sensible manner.

You get out only as much as you put in. And if you go in recklessly it generally doesnt go as well as you hoped for, speaking from experience.

I’m looking forward to what is on the horizon. Two more Mondays! That’s all I have to get through.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

– Steph

Beauty In My Bipolar

This post stems from a conversation I had with one of my sisters. We were discussing my health over the past 5 years and she was commenting on how I’ve grown.

And what of this growth? Can you have growth if there is no beauty or joy in the journey? Alas, there is most certainly joy and as the conversation played out it became clear that in my life I’ve experienced more joy so to speak because of my diagnosis, literally because of the very fact that I live with bipolar II.

Wait a minute!

Nope, you read it right, I have experienced more joy than afforded to others because I have bipolar. Let’s be clear, I have also probably experienced more-ish intense feelings of pain, confusion, and mental struggle than the average joe as well. But let’s focus on the joy for now.

My diagnosis is fairly controlled at this stage in my life, I have my roller coaster moments, but I am not plagued with the savage extremes that once controlled my life. Everything is more mild and manageable. Thank you for modern medicine!

One thing that however remains intense so-to-speak is my sense of feelings. I feel very intensely; for instance when I feel joy – I really feel it. Not just a little but a lottle.

I experience things much more intensely than the average non-bipolar person. If you have bipolar, you can relate that there is a fire in your soul that can have gasoline figuratively poured on it to grow exponentially in an instant. This fire and gasoline are what I relate to the intense feelings I have in a moments time. That’s not to say it only occurs in a positive way BUT I will remind you that is the focus of this post.

Without darkness there can be no light, as Kelly Clarkson’s song states “everyone has a dark side…” , its just the nature of life. But the difference is do we let it consume us OR do we try to draw closer and focus on the light that is in us.

I have experienced so much joy in my life, and I have experienced it on a level that my family cannot comprehend and at times they shake there heads and laugh because I am so elated over such simple things. But that is the beauty of bipolar, because there is beauty with this diagnosis (please don’t forget that fact). If we try hard enough we can find beauty in all things even hard things such as living with bipolar (because let’s be honest, it’s not easy).

I accredit my creativity and pursuits for education and learning to my diagnosis. My passion drives me and leaves other people baffled because of my conviction. The joy these pursuits bring me. The love I have for others, it is intense my friends and duely it yields joy beyond measure.

To experience joy, you must address and navigate the ugly. Unfortunately, there can be some pretty ugly parts to bipolar, but we must not dwell on that alone. Find the good, appreciate the good and you will feel better about the diagnosis and what it offers in your life. The diagnosis is a part of you but it does not define you. It is NOT YOU, and you are NOT bipolar, you merely have bipolar. It does not dictate your life, you do.

And in my life, I’m acknowledging that bipolar in it’s own unique way brings me joy and can in fact be beautiful.

– Steph