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

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

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