Up, Up and Away

I am shook.

So I have been getting off my medication as expressed in another post. I was in in a low prior to moving off the medication and it lasted for quite an extended period of time (I would say that it was a more high-functioning episode of depression), however, I have been putting some serious distance between me and that low in the past week or so.

Me stating I’ve been “on the up” was no lie. I forgot how fun a hypo-manic episode can be when you are essentially not medicated. I am not saying everyone taking medication should stop, but I am enjoying the moment while I can. Especially because I know I will resume medication at some point in the not so distant future.

My husband has never really seen me without medication for an extended period of time, literally I think the most I’ve ever missed was 1 or 2 days when I wasn’t able to get my meds from the pharmacy on time. So he has essentially been getting the full experience (with the difference of two other medications that I still take). It has been hilarious to hear him in awe at the amount and speed of my speech. He thought I talked a lot and fast when I was hypo-manic and medicated. HELLO HUBBY! This is a whole other level. I think we are equally amusing each other right now.

I had the pleasure of ending up in ER again due to the same cause of my last visit in April regarding my abdomen. Fortunately enough, we figured out what was the cause so there should be no more repeat offences. Should there be a repeat I will know how to manage them without going to the hospital. I am bringing this up because prior to going to the hospital I had taken my sleeping pills at 11:30 pm, thinking I was going bed. Yah. No. I ended up in ER and was wide awake until 4 am (talking non-stop) and my husband could not believe it.

Generally speaking, I pass out with my sleeping pills within 30 mins – 1.5 hours (it varies). So the fact I was wide awake until 4 am was mind-blowing to my husband. Then to top it off I was “woken up” every hour until 7 am so that they could monitor me. At 7 am I had a CT scan and blood work and more discussions with the doctor so I was essentially awake from 7 am onward until I went to bed around midnight. Keep in mind for the past years I have been sleeping between 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm (latest). I was always annoyed with how much sleep I needed with my medication.

On Tuesday, I went to bed around 3 am … I know, I know, not ideal for my sleep hygiene. Wednesday I was asleep by 12:30 -ish. All the while, I have been waking up for work quite easily and still taking the 2 remaining medications. I have been cleaning a lot! wiping all my baseboards, sweeping and mopping excessively, washing walls, pulling everything out of drawers so I can rearrange them. My husband again, getting a big kick out of me all the while trying to encourage me to sleep at a normal hour. He is definitely my voice of reason.

I am not gonna lie, I feel very vibrant – yes, I’m going a mile a minute BUT I’m so alert. It is sad to admit, because I don’t like to think that my medication hinders me, rather it allows me to live more completely than what I would otherwise be able to do. Yet, present day I feel like my creative juices are not just a flowing river but an outpouring similar to that of Niagara Falls.

I am going to enjoy it while it lasts, I am not ignorant to the fact that things can also get quite ugly in terms of what can happen with un-medicated (and even medicated) hypo-mania and depression. So, I want to try to be very self-aware and heed to the concerns of my husband (and family). I want to be as healthy as possible, that has always been the goal and now more-so than ever.

I don’t think it has to do with my mood but I am pleased to announce that I registered for a continuing education Spanish Certificate program at a university in the city I generally work in. Conveniently enough they are offering classes online through the platform zoom. So there will be peer interaction and actual lectures with an instructor. If there is something I’ve realized about myself, it is that I thrive when I am in a structured classroom and course as opposed to independent study. Sure, I may start out strong with independent study but truth be told, as soon as I dip with my mood I lose all motivation and stop. Thus I have deducted based on these experiences that being in a classroom with others allows me to have the accountability I need to succeed. An added bonus is that it fuels my competitive nature to excel with my studies and examinations, thus I am able to take a lot more away from the area of study.

This certificate program should take a 1.5 years to complete if I take 1 course every term, in actuality the only option is taking 1 course at a time. Each course builds on the one prior as you move forward. I believe each course is 12 weeks, at least the one I just enrolled in for the first term is 12 weeks; September – December. This fact, literally gives me so much joy because it means the program will be in-depth and mimic that of an actual post secondary course. I am excited for the interaction component….. and quizzes and such (major nerd over here).

I am incredibly excited about this avenue that I am going down in order to achieve my LONG TIME goal of being fluent in Spanish. To be able to speak Spanish has been one of my greatest hearts desires, and I feel confident that this will be the method of study that allows me to achieve my goal.

I have to gain some routine and structure in my life, because quite frankly I have not had any sort of consistency for the past while and I believe both my mood and Covid-19 have played critical roles in that reality. However, as I always say – when you see and acknowledge a problem, it gives you the ability to overcome it. I will be doing my best to take advantage of my good mood and work in some consistency.

I hope everyone has an amazing Monday and if for some reason you do not, rest assured that this is only one day and there will be a new day tomorrow.

– Steph

This Is My Life

I don’t know if I was just blind or if I have been away too long, there seem to be SO MANY NEW FEATURES ON WORDPRESS!!! Perhaps it’s because I generally type my thoughts in my phone’s notes apps BUT I need to know have bloggers always been able to justify their paragraphs on wordpress?! When I started my blog in 2015 I was so annoyed at the font alignment. Literally, anything that is not justified hurts me heart. The fact I can now justify and so much more makes me want to go through all my older posts and work some justified magic!

That being said, I have about 6 different drafts started and saved for my blog, and alas not a single one has been finished or posted… obviously, as you may have noticed the radio silence on my end. Oopsie.

This image gives me all the feels as it is literally my life. Bipolar has always required a diligent effort to keep myself and emotions relatively in check. However, as I continue my journey of decreasing my medication the effort is ginormous. I forgot how extreme, extreme can be without medication.

The last time I was off medication was…… when I wasn’t diagnosed. Literally, since my diagnosis I have been medicated (fairly heavily) and as an FYI, I was diagnosed in 2013. The nerves are real as I have not and still don’t completely know what to anticipate when I am medication free. I currently have 2 more to go, but I will be real with you because that is what this blog is about -sharing my experiences good or bad living with bipolar.

Initially, as I came off my main mood stabilizer (Latuda) I thought things were going great. My husband and I were optimistically happy as there didn’t seem to be too drastic of changes….. this is where the switch from the meme comes in. I have been living a pretty low-key, low-stress life, working from home because of covid. I was unfortunately a tad more low BUT not terrible, just not as passionate (okay… maybe a little terrible, as literally all interests and pursuits have ceased) BUT my friends, this low is not what I am going to focus on and I was still functioning and working everyday with the ability to smile and laugh sincerely (I learned the term of high-functioning depression and it’s safe to say that was my type of depression).

I want to direct your attention to recently when I had exposure to what I will call “stress”. Would a typical person react the way I reacted…. you be the judge. To begin with this initial exposure I was keeping it together as it evolved over the course of the week I was putting on a brave face, however, a time came and it’s fair to say I broke. I was hysterical essentially, crying mixed in with hyperventilating and whenever I talked my stutter would manifest and I would cry more (this carried on over an extended period of time). The day after this happened reaction came to fruition, I was mentally and emotionally drained and physically weak. I again stuttered with most conversation and avoided talking on the phone or to anyone. When I attempted to move I would vibrate to the point where I felt like I would convulse…. the next day I couldn’t really even walk. Literally, I would basically collapse every time I tried to walk (I would hold on to walls and counters and furniture… my husband kindly carried me at one point) and of course I was still crying. I had to remove myself from contacting the individual that I was really worked up over, just so I could get a grip without working myself up again.

It was a lot.

My husband was concerned for good reason and kept suggesting we go to the hospital, which was not an option I wanted to explore.

I have since managed to get a grip and put myself together. I’ve calmed down and I am no longer seeing black. I have regained full capacity to walk and move and I am not stuttering. (for anyone that has not read my earlier posts, my stutter manifested when I was 19. I had never stuttered a day in my life prior to that age…I had what we could call a “mental breakdown” following what I didn’t realize was a severe hypo-manic bipolar episode and BOOM I stuttered for 2 weeks straight non-stop and after it went away it now manifests when I am emotionally distraught)

So at the end of that episode, it’s fair to say I terrified my husband. Oopsie again. He had never seen me in that state and had only heard stories from my family and me about my life prior to my diagnosis and early years of getting medical help. Let’s just say not all the stories are sunshine and roses.

I made sure that I sat down with my husband to talk heart to heart once I was emotionally stable. It was and will always be so important to me that I listen to my husbands thoughts and feelings about how my diagnosis impacts him. I never want him to bottle it all up or not feel confident or comfortable enough to talk to me about his feeling – like I said it was a lot and the poor guy had never experienced anything on that level before. It was a lot to take in for anyone, with experience or no experience of earlier episodes. My husband and parents had suggested the hospital on different occasions… however, I’m not gonna lie the psych ward is not my ideal choice. So, with the prospect of being taken to the hospital I worked really hard to have low stimulus and just collect myself and get my footing again.

I think its fair to say that I am a little more “more” sensitive to my feelings right now (do you smell a fire burning or is it just me??). I am more emotional and find myself crying more, yet not always for a bad reason. Sometimes, I cry merely because I am so happy or grateful. This type of crying isn’t unheard of for me BUT it is becoming a wee bit more frequent and is triggered easier. Again, my husband is scratching his head a bit more as I wasn’t as candid with my emotions before – I was but not at this level (I don’t think this level was even accessible when I was medicated on such a fluid level).

It’s funny, as I came off medication I was initially trying to resist any change to my emotional and mental state telling myself, if I willed myself to be okay – I’d be okay. HELLLOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!??!! If I was going to be “stable” off medication, I wouldn’t need to take it in the first place (DUH). Thereby we could draw the conclusion that I would not have bipolar. Sometimes my logic cracks me up. Needless to say, I’ve since shown myself a bit more compassion for being a bit more up and down as I get off my medication.

Do I still feel like me? Yes, definitely. In a way there are certain attributes and characteristics that are re-manifesting and I ain’t mad about it. Some of me is peeking through a bit more vibrantly and I feel like I am on the up literally. My mind is keeping me awake at night even with the sleeping medication that I still take. So much to think about, I literally have posts topics pop in my head every day multiple times a day it is just a matter of writing them out and not putting myself down with my writing ability.

I have some plans in motion.

Also, I will be doing an update on my Bipolar Gains segment. I am excited with where I’m headed in terms of my physical health. Eating overhaul is an understatement!

I will end my post here, I am alive and doing well considering my last escapade. I am hopeful. I will talk about what “a” psychiatrist and I talked about in terms of my potential pregnancy and medication in another post (will I be completely med free throughout my hopeful pregnancy?? Read more to find out). I honestly have found very little in terms blogs with women sharing their journeys of becoming pregnant or being pregnant with bipolar. I will share away and if you do have experience or tips, please share I always enjoy hearing people’s journeys and insights.

This is an exciting and challenging stage in my life BUT with that all being said – it remains undisputed, this is the happiest and most alive I’ve ever felt (putting my inevitable drawn out low aside). Even with the lows I still find myself able to smile with my husband. He told me that one of the ways he knows when I am low because I am not as talkative and then on the flip when I am hypo-manic I don’t stop talking and I talk a mile a minute (he has literally fallen asleep as I’ve blabbed on and on in the middle of the night… and he is the lightest sleeper I know!).

I am also debating about posting a certain post I wrote a while ago. If it comes to fruition, you will know without a doubt why I debated posting it. To post or not to post – that is the question.

Also, on another note I am optimistic – I met a new counselor this past weekend. Her name is Anne and we jived very well in our first session (I really liked her energy and communication skills), she is suggesting we meet every 2 weeks and the idea of having therapy so frequently and regularly brings me a lot of excitement and peace (the clinic that she works out of has an objective of ensuring mental health is available and affordable for all, so I am happy to announce I will not be breaking the bank to be getting the assistance that helps me be the best version of me on a regular and consistent basis).

Thanks for sticking with me and joining me on my journey!

– Steph

I Can Relate

Just a fun little meme to laugh about, because sometimes laughing really is the best medicine.

I feel like I am this switch in real life. I feel good and then not so good and it’s on and off without ever really being off.

My poor husband has been a trooper managing my moods lately. But as a quote I once saw said “Your mood does not excuse bad behaviour.” So I have been doing my very best to maintain good behaviour throughout my ups and downs. I never like losing control as a result of my mood (but it is inevitable) I don’t always win the battle against my mood BUT I try.

I have been trying to work thru the not so good days with productivity, which is the polar opposite of what my mind is telling me to do when I’m not feeling good. I have to say I feel like I have a bit more grip on myself when I do try to push thru. It’s as if I’m standing up to my bipolar saying “I’m in control – not you”.

That is the thing with bipolar, it can feel like it takes away your control. It dictates how you feel without always having a rhyme or reason. However, what I’m learning is I still have control with what I do despite my mood. How I react or don’t react that’s my choice. I may not choose how I feel, but I can choose how I react. Sometimes it’s too much to bare and I don’t even win that battle, but every time I do it’s a victory I cherish.

We are the captains of our own ship, waves crash, winds blow but we navigate the sails and ultimately what direction we go. Perhaps some people are in more vicious storms than others, but no storm lasts forever and we need to hold off for that clear sky because it will come.

With my bipolar – with my moods, I choose to move forward. I literally take it day by day. I plan in advance, but I usher myself along day by day. Some days I win, some days I lose. Some days I recognize myself and others I feel like a stranger in my own body.

On and less on, I think thats the story of my life living with bipolar. I have learned to roll with it, embrace it and even laugh with it.

Choose your reaction because if you live with bipolar you can’t always choose your mood.

Never let your mood become an excuse for the ill treatment of others and if you do lash out be the first to apologize and own that reaction. Owning your reactions, being accountable that is where self-control begins. That is where you take back the power. Be accountable.

On and less on is the story of my life. It is key word MY life, so I will make the best of it and own it for all that it is.

– Steph

It’s a Comeback… Again

Following my last “Bipolar Bliss” post I figured I should lighten the mood with a meme, and might I just say this one is hilarious.

Sometimes the moods of bipolar get the best of us, but the beauty of it is that they won’t last forever. We are entitled to a comeback, with a happy mood. I had been going thru a rough patch and feeling pretty crummy about life in general with this diagnosis, however I have a life so I’ll start with that fact, which should be enough for me to show gratitude. Not only do I have a life, but I live in a country with access to modern medicine and therapy (which I do require)… more to be grateful for.

Taking medication stinks BUT so does being a tornado in my life and those that I love. Medication allows me to live a moderately stable life – so it looks like I’ll bite the bullet and pop the pills for the rest of my life. Besides, I have so much practice now I’m a pro.

So much has changed from my last Bipolar Bliss post. I recieved a job offer!!!!! From one of the largest firms in Canada, not only does it act nationally but it is also an international firm. The pay and benefits are mind blowing – so things are looking to have taken a turn for the best! I will be working as a legal assistant in a new area of law; intellectual property, which honestly is so exciting! I can’t wait to start learning about this area of law and the litigation process.

Things are picking up, and despite my pessimism last post, I have tried to be positive and lo and behold things have seemingly gotten better…. coincidence? I think not.

Attitude plays a huge role in managing this diagnosis, if you have the right one and try to push thru the ugly the possibilities of finding things to be grateful for are endless.

– 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