A World of Possibilities

So perhaps I spoke too soon.

I think my hypo-manic episodes generally have an average life span of a week or so. That being said I think things are winding down and I don’t know how I feel about it.

I honestly prefer mania to everything else that bipolar throws at me… I find myself having the most fun during those periods (when I am “under control” – hypo-mania and bankruptcy = no fun). Alas, the low of bipolar is inevitable. At this point I am not sure if I am dipping down significantly, or if it is partially medication withdrawals from my lamotragine. I am sure I will know soon enough – maybe it is a 2 for 1 deal. Depression and medication withdrawals at once; wouldn’t that be fun?

I found myself invincible only a day ago, and then Tuesday I woke up feeling like the world was crushing me and I couldn’t escape from underneath it. I felt like I couldn’t breathe at the prospect of facing the day. Wowzerz. Bipolar can be so merciless sometimes. To go from feeling like you can do anything – to then feel like your legs are going to collapse from underneath you or that you might cry just by trying to get out of bed. (I have to say the sensation that I have or rather don’t have in my legs with my anxiety is either more prominent or new… I don’t recall experiencing it in previous years)

Life goes on right? Whether we are ready for it or not. I am trying to focus on the little things that I want to accomplish (or figure out) to make myself that much happier with who I am as a human. Stagnancy is my greatest enemy. Whenever I feel myself or catch myself being stagnant I feel a surge of guilt.

“Good, better, best. May you never rest till your good is better and your better is best.”

– Just a random quote I grew up with

Literally, one of the quotes that I run my life by.

I feel like I have been doing so well in life and yet when I reflect on what I’ve actually accomplished in recent months it is subpar in my opinion. Perhaps, maintaining relative stability is all that I could manage. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking the immense effort that goes into staying stable for myself or anyone else living with bipolar as it is no small feat requiring significant effort. Yet, that being said I feel like I should be doing more or should have accomplished more…. perhaps I am being greedy.

Sometimes, more often than not waking up for me is a my major accomplishment. Going through the routine of having a shower, doing my hair, doing my make-up, getting dressed (quite frankly there are some days that I fail at one, two or all of those simple things). Being in a state of mind to go through my day at work while keeping my composure – those are accomplishments in my eyes. So why am I so disappointed in myself? I am thinking aloud as I type this, but I seem to be really ragging on myself lately with “not being enough”…. let’s see what this post evolves into….

What is being enough?

We have so much potential in our individual lives, and I have to remind myself and everyone reading this that there is no set time limit to accomplish things in life. Every step taken forward is a step worth celebrating as you move forward at your own pace.

I have been trying to live more intentionally (which stems back to my birthday goals in an earlier post). I feel like I am making progress with that goal, but at the same time I think by becoming especially candid with myself it has made me a wee bit cynical. Do you ever just grow tired of “the superficial” that are in abundant supply? I made my post earlier regarding “Friends. Who Needs Them?” and the theme of that post is still weighing heavily on my mind.

Time is our life’s most precious commodity. As I have tried to be more intentional I’ve realized how much time I throw away. I have deleted all my social media #noregrets… it has given me extra time that I thought I didn’t have in the day. When it comes to my time and who I want to spend it with, I am leaning towards channeling my no-nonsense and confidence approach as a child (and youth) where I did not care and it did not phase me to not have social relationships with peers. Thus, I believe if embrace that mentality I would not waste my time on people like I find myself doing as an adult.

I expressed and I will reiterate that as a younger Stephanie I thrived on my own; focusing on my education, athletics and interests/hobbies. I liked me and all my quirks and despite how I may have come across – I still like me (quirks in tow). I like that I am always 100% authentic and sincere with those I interact with and HOLY COW if being sincere and considerate of other people’s feelings is too overwhelming or a turn-off (especially if you would like it reciprocated) then all I can say is adios and buh-bye. I don’t need to aspire to waste my time with people who couldn’t care less about giving me theirs.

I think I would rather just stick to the simple interactions in social settings and not pursue those “movie” type of friendships, that have been essentially illusive all of my life and plastered all over social media (rest assured I am not bitter – I just don’t fit that mold). I think I am resolved with the fact that people have never (since I can remember from my childhood) to present day wanted to approach me to be friends on their own accord. That fact has absolutely nothing to do with something being wrong with me – as was the question I posed in my earlier post. Today I am okay with this reality. I am okay with the fact that I am me and I’m not the average person’s cup of enticing tea. I have always been my own person and that is nothing to be ashamed of. I wore sweater vests in Jr. High for goodness sake (and I was not in a private school). If that doesn’t tell you I’ve always been my own person – I’m not sure what will.

I am going to embrace the relationships I have with my family with more gratitude, ultimately at the end of the day those matter the most to me. Additionally, my husband – a literal gift from the gods. I want to ensure our relationship is first and foremost on my mind. If I ever needed a best friend (who wasn’t one of my sisters) he meets and exceeds that title. He is my best friend and I know when he is done with his crazy studying we will have more time for the “fun” things (trips included). However, to be able to talk to him about anything and everything is something I do not want to take for granted and dismiss with novel pursuits of having “other friends” . He is more than enough.

There is so much that this world has to offer us. I just have to be more aware of what matters most and not get distracted with the trivial things. It is so easy to let a tiny pebble get in our shoe that essentially has the power to cripple us from walking or running. Don’t let the tiny things that have no significance get you down about who you are and what you bring to the table. Value your time and when you have the mental fortitude to do things that you want to (crippling episodes aside) make sure you don’t waste that time on things or people that don’t bring you sincere joy and uplift you.

I told my husband the other day – why do I want to try so hard just to be someone’s afterthought? Ultimately, it does nothing for my confidence, and doesn’t reflect how I view my self-worth and what I offer. All the time I spend putting into relations that I am merely a “convenient friend” or “therapist” for the moment that it suits the other party is time that I could spend bettering myself and not being hurt by being so dispensable.

Friends… so many TedTalks suggest we need them to be fulfilled in life and to be truly happy. My viewpoint is after officially living “without” friends and then “with” them – I can do without. I think at the end of the day I prefer having social acquaintances; people I interact with on a sincere level BUT that I have 0 expectations of other than to be a decent human being that shows an equal level of respect during our interaction. I will definitely enjoy deep conversations with strangers when they arise, just as I always have in the past… but when it comes to engaging in new relationships I think I am going to do a hard pass. This decision has to do with my social history and ultimately when I was happiest – and truth be told – I was happiest when I didn’t care that I didn’t have “friends”.

There is so much that this world has to offer, and I am excited at the prospect of where I am headed with this new found freedom of breaking the social norm of having a social network. How much more time, and mental capacity will I have to focus elsewhere, because I am not caught up with trying to be an afterthought to other people? Sure, I will maintain the relationships I have with my longstanding friends BUT I will be reciprocating the amount of effort they put in and then I will call it a day and not think twice about it.

I am taking each day at a time, finding my footing and emptying my shoes of pebbles along the way so that ultimately I can go further with as little pain as possible and enjoy the journey that much more.

A bit of a rando post – I have a million thoughts swirling through this noggin’ of mine.

Know that you are enough. You are enough and just because people don’t see that OR want to acknowledge it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I am telling you – you are enough and you can do amazing things because this life is filled with a world of possibilities.

I hope you all have an enjoyable rest of your week.

– 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

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