The Upside

What a moving quote. I think that it is safe to say that those living with bipolar quite frequently face various storms.  What a beautiful concept that those storms may have a greater purpose.

Sometimes the storms of life come as a result of choices we make, they are the consequence of our actions. However, sometimes the storms of life come at no consequence of our own –you don’t have to do anything in particular and BAM, you are in a squall – tossing to and fro – hanging on for dear life.

Over the course of my life I have been in countless storms, as I am sure you can all relate. And just as this quote expresses, there have been times that those storms have cleared a path for me, they didn’t just “disrupt my life”.

Sometimes the storm – the chaos – the destruction is exactly what we need in order to find our foundation again – to be grounded – to rebuild. Sometimes the storm gives us insights that we would otherwise be oblivious to. Sometimes the storm thrusts us on the path we so desperately need to be on to continue on our journey.

Storms ruffle our feathers, they make us uncomfortable, they require us to be resilient. But growth stems from discomfort, think back to the timeless expression of “growing pains”. At times the storms seem to take more than we can give, but they never leave us baron. They always leave us with the opportunity to grow. And that is priceless.

Our path isn’t always visible and sometimes through the storms of life we may lose sight of it all together BUT there are times without doubt that the storm makes our path crystal clear. Take a moment to evaluate the storms you’ve gone thru. Have they all helped you grow into the individual that you are today? Have they shuffled you on the path that got you here today.

Sometimes storms are terrible, you are unprepared for them and they take you off-guard, however other times the storms give you an appreciation for life and allow you to dance in the rain.

Storms will come and storms will go. Don’t be mistaken to classify the storms of life as all negative. I am not going to say that all storms are positive experiences that we should all be overjoyed to be swept away in, but I am saying that there can be positive things that we take away from being in each storm. We may not see it in the moment, but once the storm has settled, we may realize that we are exactly where we need to be in order to get exactly where we need to go and without that particular storm we wouldn’t have gotten there.

– Steph

What Now?

At the end of the day if you don’t like something – change it. It may not be the easiest change BUT you are more than capable of doing it. Like the quote says, you are not a tree SO MOVE!

It’s so easy to complain about our situation BUT if we are not going to do anything to improve it, I suggest putting a muzzle on and keeping it to yourself.

Why complain? What good does it do? It’s one thing to let your frustrations out when you are going to do something to rectify them or if you want to get feedback from those around you BUT if all you do is complain with no intention of trying to change the situation – all you are doing is creating a toxic train of thought (guilty). You are adding fuel to a nasty fire that consumes everything in its path with self-loathing, resentment and bitterness.

I have struggled with my weight. This is no secret. I gained 40lbs while taking high doses of quetiapine, and when enough was enough I told the doctor I was either going off of my medication or changing to a weight neutral one. Needless to say, he switched me to a new one, I presently take Latuda (and other medications, but that’s besides the point). After the change in medication I dropped 12 lbs alas I haven’t been able to lose anything more. Am I happy at my new weight? Nope. Happier than I was when I was 12 lbs heavier but still not happy to weigh as much as I do. I have been working out and eating moderately well – but moderately doesn’t cut it when it comes to my weight. I am not counted among the chosen few who can eat whatever their heart desires with no repercussion.

I’ve bee surviving at my current weight but my breaking point with my weight was a few weeks ago. I took engagement photos and I was mortified by what I saw. Everyone was telling me how nice I looked, how beautiful I looked – and all I saw was a whale at its finest. I cried at work, I cried at home, I cried to my sisters, I cried to my fiancé – I cried a lot. BUT reality set in when my fiancé asked what I was going to do about, my initial answer was “not eat” a terrible answer fueled by emotion and pattern that I’ve grown accustomed too. When I don’t see the progress, I want I don’t eat – it doesn’t last forever and obviously doesn’t give me long term healthy results, but I go ahead and do it anyways in conjunction with going to the gym.

I went to bed after this conversation with my fiancé and woke up with a dose of reality and new resolve to lose weight, why in the world would I not eat?! I’ve been working so hard to be the healthiest version of me in all aspects and losing weight was not going to be an exception. I would lose weight and dang-nab-it I would lose it in a healthy manner. So, I put my thinking hat on because I needed a plan and direction. I previously had a meal plan from a personal trainer but it was so restrictive I literally felt like there was no enjoyment in what I ate and as far as I was concerned it wasn’t working (I actually gained weight). I need wiggle room. And I know for a fact my nutrition is the biggest contributor to lose or not lose weight, I can spend hours at the gym BUT if my eating is not up to par I am not going to see results.

So, what did I do you may ask? I humbled myself and I joined a program that I associated with old women … don’t ask me why I had that association but I did. I joined Weight Watchers to be exact. I never thought I would be that person because I thought it was silly, but I literally asked myself – what do I have to lose aside from weight? Absolutely nothing. I read into it and it seemed like it would be a sustainable plan AND if thousands of individuals could lose weight on it without even exercising, why should I be the exception. There was a promo going so I bought a plan for 3 months. If I find it works and I am losing weight I will extend the plan until I hit my goal weight and maintain it for a few months.

Who would have known that Weight Watchers was my holy grail? It has been almost 2 weeks and I am down 6 pounds. I have 24 to go until I hit my goal weight. I can totally do this. I have a plan. It is actually not even that hard – their phone app gives me life and makes tracking so easy. I legitimately feel like I’m playing a game and so far, I’ve been winning. BONUS news is that my dear friend joined as well after I told her the results of my first weigh in. So now I have a partner in crime. I am still going to the gym, not as often BUT that’s going to change; this month I am hoping to get my booty into high gear and go with a new level of intensity – again my dearly beloved friend wants to work out with me so this should be a fun adventure we embark on together.

I felt so defeated and was throwing a massive pity party, but now I feel like a woman on a mission with an arsenal full of lethal weapons to get the job accomplished. Cheesy but true.

What a profound question we can ask ourselves – what are you going to do about it? It’s not as though I’ve never asked myself that before, but in connection to my weight it really hit home this time.

– Steph

Bring On The Next Chapter

Goodness gracious!
I meant to post yesterday, however time escaped me. It’s surreal to think of where I am today in contrast to where I was 3 years ago. How much stability I have now, how many goals I’ve met. I have been on a journey to my happily ever after and what a journey it has been!
There have been so many frogs and toads along my journey as I’m sure you know. But there has been a wealth of knowledge from each encounter and they have all prepared me to be ready to meet the right guy. No encounter is ever a waste, each encounter helps you learn a little bit more about yourself. It allows you to refine and define your own character – figure out what you will and won’t stand for. Apparently, my Mr. Right likes the character I’ve developed – so much that he has put a ring on it!

True story! He proposed last Saturday and I said YES!

This may seem like a whirlwind romance, our story together began in February, was defined in March and here we are in May engaged. I promise I am not hypomanic right now, I am simply in love and I have never been so sure of anything in my life. When you know, you know.

Dating with bipolar was something I originally feared, I thought it would jeopardize any relationship I entered BUT, in all honesty, it has been my saving grace. When I was in unhealthy relationships my moods were in over-time trying to save me from myself – trying to warn me that I was not in balance with myself – my moods were drastically impacted to the point that I had a hard time focusing or functioning on the daily. Alternatively, now that I am in a healthy relationship my mood reflects that. No more chaos stimulated by the person I’m in a relationship with. Sure I have ups and downs but they are so much more manageable and I truly believe that has to do with my now fiancé. He is an anchor and keeps me grounded – he accepts me. He is not super familiar with bipolar aside from the stereotypes that people are crazy, I’m glad to say I’ve changed that perception. I’m not crazy, I’m human. I am just engineered differently than the average person BUT it is to my advantage and not my detriment.

I never realized how easy love should be, my relationships have always brought struggle with them – this one is different. He makes it easy to love and he makes me feel like I am easy to love WHICH IS SO IMPORTANT. Never let anyone make you feel like you are hard to love. Like you are the root of any problem that arises in a relationship. Love is healthy and evokes a healthy relationship. That is love. Anything other is fictitious.

Wedding planning had begun. I feel like we are ahead of the game and I will be doing my best to maintain low stress so I don’t do myself in before the big day. (Which by the way will be in October) I have a supportive fiancé and family. All is well and the journey continues to my happily ever after.

– Steph

Face Lift

As you may have noticed my blog has had an overhaul, and I have to say I’m loving the new look. It was a process, I lost sleep over it to say the least (it would be fair to say that I was over stimulated and slightly obsessing over it) BUT holy cow has it been worth it! I can’t however, take all the credit for the work that’s been done on my blog. Like I mentioned in my previous post I paid someone to transfer my blog to the new host because I had no clue what I was doing and there was no way I would have been able to figure it all out without crying myself to sleep.
So, who was my saving grace in this whole process? Her name was Megan, cleverly titled by WordPress as a “Happiness Engineer”. She has been instrumental in remodeling my blog, I’ve had numerous questions and this Wonder-Woman-of-technology has answered them all and gone above and beyond to help me bring my vision to life. She was so friendly and patient and I am forever grateful.

I am so relieved it is done. It has been a learning process and I am sure there is a shwack load of more learning to do, but it is only going to get better from here on out.

This post is intended to get the ball rolling, to let you all know I survived. Hallelujah!

Happy Monday everyone, I hope you all have a wonderful start to your week.

– Steph

Give It A Rest 

This topic came up briefly in a conversation this week, and I thought it would make a good blog post especially as we are entering the new year with our plethora of resolutions. 
On our grand journey of life, amidst all of our goals and in between the ups and downs we have, I believe it is vital to learn the difference between resting and quitting. It’s okay if life exhausts us mentally and physically! That is bound to happen at some point and time  but what isn’t okay is rolling over and playing dead as life pasts you by.

Take a breather.

Rest, regroup, and refocus then get back on the horse.

Giving up can lead to poor self-esteem, it can cripple you and create a mentality that you are incapable of following thru with anything, that you will never succeed; that you are a failure. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Each of us is capable of accomplishing our goals, we may stumble a little more than the average person at times BUT that’s doesn’t mean that we are incapable.

If we have a heartbeat we are capable. If we have a desire we are already on our way, we just need to implement action. And when we implement action we need to recognize that if we to rest, regroup, or refocus it doesn’t mean that we’ve quit.

Sometimes our rest may need to be a little longer BUT that’s okay! So long as you pull up your socks and keep moving forward. Remember, progress not perfection.

Don’t get caught up in negative self talk- labeling yourself as a failure if there is a standstill on your journey. You are not a failure. You are human. Taking a rest is not failing. And that is a distinction you need to be aware of. Once you can distinguish that you are still on track to meet your goal even though you’ve rested, the goal will not seem as overwhelming  because you will realize you don’t have to “start over” every time there is a slight hiccup.

Allow me to make an analogy.

If you hike a mountain it is not uncommon to rest. Now, may I point out that just because you rest it does not mean that you’ve quit. If we looked at every time you rested while hiking a mountain as quitting (meaning you had no choice but to turn around and hike back down the mountain). You would be backtracking non-stop! At that rate you would never reach your goal of getting to the top. You would most likely be exhausted physically and mentally and reach a point where you didn’t even want to step foot on the mountain. No body hikes like that! And for good reason.

Look at your goals with that mentality, permit yourself to rest without backtracking all the way to the beginning. Pick up where you left off and move forward. Remind yourself that you are trying and that is what counts.

Trying is HUGE! Do not dismiss your efforts with so little value. No one ever accomplished anything without trying first. So, try, try and try again.
This is an exciting time of year where goals are ablaze, be excited, don’t be discouraged. Recognize that 2018 is going to be your year, and it is going to have ups and downs and standstills and that is perfectly okay – it will not take away from it being any less your year, and an amazing one at that. 
– Steph

An Extra Happy Pill


Did you take your daily dose?

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

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

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

Now, onto my post’s topic.

Gratitude.

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

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

And boy – it’s not easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Steph

On Your Darkest Days


I am going to share with you one word that I’ve applied to my life and it’s made a huge difference. 

Compartmentalize

It’s a big word with a potentially big impact. 

Let me tell you why. I have lows, and they can be bad, they can be ugly, they can be long. BUT just because I have them doesn’t mean everything is bad, it may seem like it BUT it’s just not the case. 

So what does that mean? It means that there is more to life than my low. More to life than your low, and if you can compartmentalize while you are in your low you will see that more clearly. 

Someone recently asked me how I was doing. I’ve been in a low lately, and this was my response: “Personally I’m not really feeling well, but if I step outside of just me – work is great, my family is doing good, the gym is going really well, and I have exciting plans coming up. Aside from “me” feeling poorly everything else in life is going great.”

Did you catch that? I expressed that me alone I am not doing well, but when I looked at different areas of my life, when I looked at all the pieces that equate to making up my life – the verdict is that my life is actually going really well regardless.

I may be feeling poorly but that doesn’t mean my life is a reflection of that. 

And for so long that was my thought process. If I feel terrible my life is terrible. This was my mindset and it was a black hole that I would feed in my darkest hours. 

Am I perfect at compartmentalizing? No, but I have realized that when I try to go thru my dark days with this mind set, it makes everything that much easier. And I am sure if your lows are anything like mine, they are anything but easy.

There are so many layers to your life. I guarantee that they all can’t be going downhill just because we feel like we are in the depths of despair. If needs be write it down! Write down what is going right in your life, separate to your feelings. I am always an advocate for writing down your thoughts, there is something so powerful about seeing something tangible. So instead of writing down your feelings – scratch that. Write down what is going right, whatever that might be. Make a distinction between how you feel and what is going on in your life. You’ll be surprised that things aren’t as bad as they seem. It may be annoying to hear BUT when you are the one convincing yourself of that rather than someone else, its so much more bearable.

Hopefully this can help you battle your darkest days. You are stronger than you realize. 

– Steph