Hello My Love – A Poem

For my Happy Now post I am going to talk about something that brings me joy, which is poetry. I generally write it or am inspired to write it about or for people I love.

Back in the day, during my “dark ages”, I tended to write about the pain I was in whether it be regarding my mental health or the particular relationship I was in. It’s like looking back on a different person when I read that poetry today.

I’ve always enjoyed poetry, it was in grade 5 that I discovered I wasn’t too shabby at it and went on to compile many poems (some make me cringe but I appreciate the creative side I was exploring at that early age)

Typically I don’t share my poetry aside from my immediate family, and husband. However, this year I have been really trying to do new things and take advantage of my stability – living a life now that a few years ago I felt would never come to pass. Stepping out with more confidence shall we say.

So, what does that all have to do with poetry?

Well, my dear readers I entered a contest a few weeks ago. This particular contest caters to entrants who live with a mental health challenge. That’s not to say that’s what you had to write about BUT that was the first thing that came to my mind. So that is exactly what I wrote about.

It was nerve wracking putting myself out for rejection, but you grow when you put yourself in situations that are out of your norm. So I entered.

I received the results back and I did not win or place. However, I do feel like I won. I did something I would have never dreamed of doing before and I grew because of it.

Rejection is a part of life. My family is kind and told me that I should have won. That’s one definite way to know they love me.

So today my dear friends I decided that I will be sharing the poem I entered in the contest.

I hope you enjoy it, and I’ll try to breathe a little more knowing it’s available for everyone in the world to see. But perhaps it will allow me to start sharing beyond my family.

I may not be the world’s greatest poet, but writing poetry enriches my soul and opens another door of self expression for which I am grateful.

I hope you enjoy!

The poem is called –

Hello My Love

Hello my love, she says to herself as she stares into the mirror.

Take courage as you face your day,

Remember there is nothing to fear.

The demons may come,

The demons may go,

But you must stay the course –

You just need to remind yourself that you are strong and use your inner voice.

The lows will come accordingly,

But so will the momentous highs,

You’ll find yourself in bottomless pits then upward into boundless skies.

You are all to familiar knowing that your bitter pain has a relentless companion-

It’s name is hypomania or mania depending on what happens.

These companions are always walking hand in hand,

A contradicting relationship that is at times hard to understand,

And as they walk together all you can do is follow cautiously behind,

Trying to avoid a scene that you will not be able to hide.

You need to face each one with conscientious restraint.

Never letting either consume you –

Constantly resisting to take the bait.

The bait of passion and chaos,

Giving in to emotions unbridled.

While everyone around you is unbeknownst to this battle, because of your charming smile.

That smile that exclaims composure and concealment as you try to find your pace.

A pace where you can breathe as you dip low then high in this mental race.

What does it mean to be free?

As you face each day with the pursuit to be stable.

You are strong,

You are enough and you are able –

Able to battle the battle, that others cannot comprehend.

Each day there is a new beginning yet each day there is no end.

– Steph

A Cure

Alright. Where to begin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am free.

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

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

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

-Steph

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

Happily Now – A New Chapter

Welcome to a new chapter of my blog and life called “Happily Now”. I am hoping that this section of my blog can yield some inspiration and insight as to my life and lifestyle with my diagnosis of bipolar 2.

This blog is about my journey to my “Happily Ever After“, and that being said I want to share with you the Happily Now moments in my life. Yes, I know that my blog has already illustrated my life with bipolar BUT at the same time it hasn’t. I share my perspectives of life under the category of “Bipolar Bliss”, which is where I express my highs and lows and concepts that I find fascinating (mostly regarding self improvement), yet what does my life look like beyond that? How does my diagnosis impact my confidence, my life pursuits, hobbies and interests?? What does the application of my blog posts look like with the stability I’ve essentially achieved over the course of my diagnosis and lifespan of this blog thus far.

I want to be a little more open with what my life looks like with bipolar 2. I want to show anyone living with this diagnosis or without, that you can have a happy life now. That we can have a dynamic life despite our health diagnosis. I am not just surviving anymore which was the case for so many years, I am thriving and I want to share this part of my journey with you so that you can feel confident in pursuing your own Happily Ever After, enjoying the Happily Now moments as they come along. “Recovery” in respects to a mental illness is a constant choice and I made the decision when I was diagnosed that I would do everything in my power to achieve it. It has not been an easy path BUT ohhh has it been worth it.

You Are Limitless

You are capable of anything. Anything at all. I believe that with every fibre of my body. 

You are capable of achieving any goal so long as you put in the work. There are no limits aside from the ones you set. Yes, you may have to go an unconventional route to obtain your goal if you have a mental illness that affects the “normal route”. But detours are what make life interesting. 

It’s all about what we want and how much we want it. There is no reason you can’t achieve it. 

Write it out. Write down want you want – physically commit to the thought. A goal that’s not recorded is just a dream. When you write it out, it makes it that much more tangible and you will be that much more likely to invest time towards achieving it.

Everything takes time so be kind and patient with yourself. Dream big and turn those dreams into goals.

Never underestimate what you are capable of, and never tell yourself you can’t do something because the reality is you can. 

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar I thought my life was over and that I’d be limited with what I could do – come on its bipolar…but in actuality my life finally began after my diagnosis, because, come on its just bipolar. I finally got the help I needed and in turn started getting a grip on my life which made achieving my goals realistic. Things I thought I’d never do, I’ve done and there is more yet to come. 

Marriage, babies… all things that I want but terrify me because I’m not sure how my bipolar will affect me. But I’ll face my fears when the time comes because I know its worth it. I believe in me. And respectively I believe in you. Don’t put yourself in a box on a shelf, give yourself some credit and do great things, heck – do simple things. My point is just do things, for yourself and for others.

Be happy and live life in all of its glory.

– Steph

 

A Little Self-love

It’s Friday! 

I made it through the week and I’m feeling good, now it’s time to relax and enjoy the weekend. 

I had a discussion with a friend recently, she was feeling insecure about herself and what she had to offer another person. I did my best to talk some sense into her and hopefully if you are feeling the same way I can talk some sense into you as well.

We all have so much to offer in spite of our flaws. They give us empathy and sympathy for others. They make us human. 

Everyone has flaws,  you aren’t alone in the world – being the only person to have them. And when you meet the right person they will love you in your entirety flaws and all. And likewise you will love them despite their flaws. It’s just how the cookie crumbles. It’s not a double standard. 

The important element of that equation is that you must also love yourself regardless to your flaws. It’s difficult to accept someone else’s love when you don’t even love yourself- you’ll always have that constant nagging feeling of “how could they love me because of xyz” 

But they can love you and that’s all the more reason to love yourself (it’s not the reason you should BUT it helps the cause). Flaws are not the sum of who we are. They aren’t the focal point of our life, they are just a part of it and generally we can work on our flaws to turn them into strengths. We can overcome anything. 

Embrace your flaws for the time that you have them. Ask yourself what you can learn from them and then learn from them and change your perspective. Perspective is such a powerful thing. 

Remember you are flawsome. Don’t let yourself be brought down by the sheer fact that you are human. Show yourself the compassion that you would show others who are “flawed”. Everyone is flawed but those flaws don’t take away from their value and worth – that’s including you too!

– Steph

Was it Really Worth it?

No pain. No glory. 

The things we do to look good, honestly now. My heel has been nicely butchered – the sacrifice I made to wear a cute pair of shoes. 

Mind you, I had no idea these shoes would leave my heel nice and bloody. It was a gamble I made, and I lost. New shoes are always a gamble. Rarely have I ever worn a new pair of shoes that haven’t left my heels in agonizing pain. My left heel more so than my right  (don’t ask me why) . And the other day that’s exactly what happened. 

I had that sexy “I’m in pain” walk going on – and it was only 7:30 a.m. BOY did it turn into a long day quickly. Before I left my house I had this feeling I should pack a bandaid, but did I listen to that inner voice? Nope. Should I have? Yup. What was the result? Pain. 

Always listen to that inner voice and always have bandaids packed in your purse, a lesson you’d think I’d learn. 

– Steph