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

Psych!

WoW!

Everytime I hit a rhythm with my blog – bipolar happens at full force and that rhythm goes out the window.

Going back to my post about maybe having some posts stashed away for rainy days… I’m really thinking that I may have to commit to this idea because I feel terrible about being MIA when I’m not posting any content.

The reality is I lose my luster for writing sometimes, believe me when I say I want to write BUT I’m just incapable of doing so. Part of the problem these past weeeeeeks has been I’ve become obsessively fixated on another purist (I could have written about that… very entertaining behaviour).

Literally, the past month(s) and a bit I have been laser focusing on speaking spanish (oh yah! I’m back on that wagon… for any of you who missed previous posts I was all-in for learning spanish last year… and then I wasn’t). All of my time and effort from when I woke up until when I went to sleep was reading, writing and speaking spanish. Am I happy with my progress? You bet! But do I feel like everything else in my life was put on hold? TOTALLY!

I think my husband was being a good sport because I was so invested, but holy cow! I literally didn’t see anything else as a priority. I was either practicing or talking about me practicing… I think it’s fair to say it was painful to all those who endured this incessant fixation.

I am not sure about any of you who also have bipolar, but when I get something in my head and it is end-all-be-all, it is hard to talk me out of the 100 miles a minute mentality. I think my husband tried gently to bring me back to a normal pace… but I am pretty sure I bulldozed right through as I usual do when I’m in this mood.

I’m surprised that the fixation lasted as long as it did. We are talking weeks and then some! Where I stand now is I’m still invested BUT there is moderation – which I have to ensure translates into maintaining motivation.

A key difference this time around is I’ve acquired a language learning buddy who lives in Spain. We talk in spanish and english daily and it’s all quite pleasant and keeps me accountable and it’s free! No paying a tutor and it’s way more fun and productive!

On to other news because I can assure you things have been happening in my life. Let’s begin with psychiatrists…

There are none.

That was short and sweet, eh? But seriously, I thought moving back to this province would mean back to routine with mental care. NOPE! Psych! … I had to obviously use that as a play on words. My family doctor, bless his soul has been working diligently to find me a psychiatrist to assist me with this present stage of my life… because I’m seeking a bit more specialization.

And what pray tell do I need specialization for?

My husband and I are at a point in our relationship where we feel ready to bring an extra bundle of love into our lives. Crazy exciting! However, also terrifying if you have taken a gander at medical posts and opinions about women with bipolar having kids.

I am not saying I’m perfect, I literally just came off a cloud that I’d been living on for a wee while BUT I feel I am capable and responsible and prepared to care for another life. I’ve always wanted to be a mother and if we have one baby and that child is all I know I can manage healthily then I will be blessed with one child rather than multiple.

I want to be healthy so that my child can be healthy and happy. If one is my lucky number I am okay with that. And I am confident with my loving supportive husband we will manage one just fine. He is my rock and he is so excited to be a father.

So where am I with getting the ball rolling? I’ve started reducing my medication. I personally do not want to be on medication when I try or become pregnant. If for some reason my pregnancy is going sideways with me unmedicated then I will oblige and take a very low dose of something BUT for now I am going forward with the notion I will be unmedicated.

My family doctor (whom I shall refer to as Dr. W) has started monitoring the reduction in my medication, he understands that it’s not fair that my life is being put on hold while different clinics specializing in bipolar pregnancies keep shuffling me around. I am really grateful he is taking me serious.

So far we have only reduced the Latuda. Presently, I’m taking 20mg and starting Thursday I will take it every other day for 2 weeks and then cut it off. CRAZY! I was on 120mg … which is just a bit of a difference.

Mood wise I feel fine I don’t feel particularly different, I’m just noticing my anxiety is more elevated and my mind is preventing me from sleeping soundly.

Also, fun fact that I didn’t even consider when we started the process is there are withdrawal symptoms! Yikes! Nausea (I literally vomited one day – gross), flu like symptoms, body aches, lack of sleep, crazy blinking and more. I just remind myself there is a purpose to this and it’s not all for nothing. Dr. W wants to be notified if my mood changes and if so I’m supposed to bounce back to a higher dose. So far I haven’t felt the need, mentally I feel pretty good all things considering.

I’ll leave my post off on that happy note… not about the withdrawal symptoms BUT the next stage of life I hope to be entering in the not so distant future.

There is plenty going on in my head, so I plan on making up for lost time and ideally I will be writing posts more consistently moving forward. I thrive in routine and believe it or not, but I consider my blog part of that mental health routine. When I disappear it’s usually because my mood is a bit more out of sorts either really high, or really low. Sometimes I navigate through those times and still post BUT sometimes they get the best of me.

I appreciate your patience and support as I continue on this journey of once upon a time with bipolar.

Have a great week!

– Steph

Going Places

HOLY COW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you all a happy week.

– Steph

Laugh Until We Cry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Steph