Happily Now – A New Chapter

Welcome to a new chapter of my blog and life called “Happily Now”. I am hoping that this section of my blog can yield some inspiration and insight as to my life and lifestyle with my diagnosis of bipolar 2.

This blog is about my journey to my “Happily Ever After“, and that being said I want to share with you the Happily Now moments in my life. Yes, I know that my blog has already illustrated my life with bipolar BUT at the same time it hasn’t. I share my perspectives of life under the category of “Bipolar Bliss”, which is where I express my highs and lows and concepts that I find fascinating (mostly regarding self improvement), yet what does my life look like beyond that? How does my diagnosis impact my confidence, my life pursuits, hobbies and interests?? What does the application of my blog posts look like with the stability I’ve essentially achieved over the course of my diagnosis and lifespan of this blog thus far.

I want to be a little more open with what my life looks like with bipolar 2. I want to show anyone living with this diagnosis or without, that you can have a happy life now. That we can have a dynamic life despite our health diagnosis. I am not just surviving anymore which was the case for so many years, I am thriving and I want to share this part of my journey with you so that you can feel confident in pursuing your own Happily Ever After, enjoying the Happily Now moments as they come along. “Recovery” in respects to a mental illness is a constant choice and I made the decision when I was diagnosed that I would do everything in my power to achieve it. It has not been an easy path BUT ohhh has it been worth it.

Live a Life of Learning

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I absolutely adore this quote! Knowledge is POWER muahahaha… just kidding no evil laugh. But on a real note, attaining knowledge is a wonderful gift each of us is entitled to (that’s right, every single one of us) Learning new things or relearning and bettering ourselves based on things we already know …. doesn’t that just excite the living day lights out of you???!!

I’ve always had a passion for learning. Call me a nerd, but I can’t pass up researching something I don’t know when it’s brought to my attention … for instance a friend of mine injured his hand/wrist. Beyond saying “that’s too bad” I asked what exactly his injury consisted of… hairline fracture, ligaments and two of his 2 carpals… I didn’t know where the carpals where located – so I Googled it and I can now tell you where they are…. although I don’t recall their exact names…. (I think I’d like to refresh and restudy the human anatomy…I once knew the medical terms but without application I forgot them)

In all honestly I l used to read the dictionary when I was in elementary/Jr. High … true story. I have a love of words and the proper application of them (although I am by no means perfect – but I try) I have a dictionary app on my phone and when I’m waiting … I’ll randomly read definitions (I don’t play games on my phone like my sisters do unless they are word/factual games … or brain power apps like “elevate” I highly recommend it… anywho that’s just my nerdy preference)

Trying to apply your knowledge is what makes you wise. Merely knowing is not enough. Sharing … that’s a form of application. Literally “doing it” is a form of application. And how great is the feeling when you do both learn and apply. Even if you fail! Failing is the perfect opportunity to learn even more!… like one of my previous posts “I never lose, I either win or I learn.

We are never too old to learn, self doubt and procrastination are our only enemy. I was inspired to write this post because I finally bit the bullet and committed to some formal learning I’ve been wanting to pursue…. drum roll please….. I registered to take a certification course for interior design! I’ve always had a passion and I’ve done my own readings on this topic, but I’m taking it to the next level. Ecstatic is an understatement for how I feel right now.

Additionally, I purchased a HUMUNGO package for learning Spanish. I’ve been meaning to do so for awhile… but I  was seemingly bit by the procrastination bug... no worries I squashed it (just like you can do) And now I am getting ready to refresh and apply what I know and embrace the imformation that I don’t. I always told myself I’d be fluent spekaing by the age of 25…. I’ve got 1 year and around 4 months left SO I better get crackin’.

What we can learn in this lifetime is infinite if we put the effort in. Learning to write in beautiful artistic fonts is achievable for people with chicken scratch writing (like myself) with patience and practice. A new talent can be developed by learning and practice and a willingness to fail BUT try again.

Don’t miss out on the beauty of learning, one step that’s all it takes to begin on an incredible adventure. Fuel your brain, fuel your passions, and you’ll fuel your soul.

– Steph

Learn to Win

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Being a “loser” is a state of mind. Winning is a state of mind and learning is a state of mind.

That’s a whole lotta mind going on… so let me clarify.

Coming in last, technically means you “lost”… you are the “loserBUT you don’t have to be a loser if you take the time to think “what did I overcome that finishline” Did you fall flat on your face only to keep picking yourself up? Did you face a fear? Did you try something new for the very first time? Did you face it alone?

What did you do? And now what could you do differently? Life is full of experiences, and everything happens for a reason. BUT not in that magestic, whimsical way people like to portray it. Sometimes the reason things happen is purely because we make the wrong choices that yield consequences. For every action there is a reaction …..so deep …

Anywho, we are accountable for our consequences – good or bad. And, every single one of us have the exact same choice –  learn and grow from our consequences (losses); adding perspective and experience to our lives or take the loss as nothing more than failure, and regret that lowers our self-worth.

I used to get caught up in all my flaws all my losses, everything I did wrong. And it wasn’t until I started to change my way of thinking, that I realized my “losses” held value. The errors I made had the potential to make me a better version of myself!… if I let them.

Wallowing in “loss” will not change the fact you lost. What happened – happened. The sooner we accept that fact, the sooner we can learn from it.

When you choose to learn you chose to win. Learning and winning go hand in hand…. perhaps you may not always achieve the technical win but there’s no reason you can’t grow and win in the bigger picture called Life.

– Steph

Run to the Rainbow! And EAT IT!

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Today was a day unlike any other. I tasted the rainbow AND just like the picture above it did not taste like skittles!

Okay, in all seriousness I did taste an array of colours today – unintentionally. I am proud of myself for finally checking off a box on my “to-do list”! For years I’ve wanted to participate in some sort of fun run (yes… my foot injury was a deterrent), I’d always see pictures of people at fun events and would think “ooooo that looks so fun I should go”… did I ever go? No. BUT this year was going to be different! This year I REFUSED to sit back and watch opportunities of building fun meaningful memories pass me by. I signed up for a 5 km run, with every intention to walk/jog so I could handle my foot injury –  I had compromise, there was absolutely no reason for me not to go just because I wasn’t going to run the whole race.

I had two darling companions come with me, my younger sister V and my cousin D. We were in the 9 o’clock heat, so we had a nice early morning. We arrived wearing white and left looking like a rainbow had thrown up on us… okay maybe that’s  a gross analogy… we looked like we had people throw buckets of paint and coloured powder on us as we ran by them …. wait a minute! That’s exactly what happened! And then we danced to some fun blood pumping music as we ate free food and drank free water… boy! do I love free!

Participating in this race was so fun, and I’m so glad I finally went for something out of the norm. I am really trying to grab life by the reigns and live it by being actively engaged. If I spend money to enter a fun filled day activity, so be it. It’s money well spent in my opinion, AND how often to we waste money on things we can’t even remember?? THESE ARE SOLID MEMORIES PEOPLE!

Try something out of your regular, enjoy the sun, enjoy paint being splattered across your face that you accidently eat because your mouth is open as your smiling haha….

I hope your day was as fun as mine, in all honesty I really needed today. This week has been pretty ruff going and todays event was a nice little shock of happiness. Give yourself a shock, taste the rainbow!

– Steph

One Day. That’s All It Takes.

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This quote has the “it” factor… it literally made me sit back and think “wow, that was deep” giving me the urge to snap my fingers in approval as if I were at a poetry reading…. that’s the level this quote is at. I know… right??!

Just take a minute to think about it; one day. One single day could be the beginning or the end. Of something new or something old.

The beginning to a new you! A new relationship, a new hobby, a new look, a new lifestyle, a new goal… literally anything! Or the end of a bad habit. A crummy relationship, end of self doubt, the end of eating sugar (story of my life right now)…. the possibilities are endless.

One day has so much potential for good or bad …it just depends on how we use it BUT every single day… we have a clean slate of endless possibilities. It just takes one day….. keeping in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Actions/endeavour you choose to pursue need maintenence on additional days … just offering a wee bit of a friendly realist remindernot that I’m trying to take away from the romance of this quote... I’m not, so lets continue to bask in its romantics! BUT remember someone’s gotta keep their feet on the ground … and holy without ever drinking a Red Bull I get caught up thinking I have wings.

Enjoy your day, explore it’s potential, or relax – embrace it as it unfolds one day at a time. And if today’s not your day (again being a realist) fear not you’ll have a fresh one tomorrow… or you could always tell yourself that in another country it’s already a new day …. and go with that!

– Steph

Medication – Who Needs Them?? PT3

Fall Apart

 

Okay this is the finale to my medication blurb….. essay…. same diff PT3

After I flew back home with my mom, I was feeling awesome… invincible, like I had it all figured out. With that being said, I came up with a brilliant plan.. again. I would move to another city. It was only 3 hrs away, I figured I’d go to one of the universities there AND this would be a perfect way to redeem myself. Show I could stand on my own two feet…. HOLY I’m a gluten for punishment.

I was at home for not even 2 weeks when this plan was unveiled to my family. There reaction as you probably suspected.. “are you sure that’s a good idea?” Of course I was sure! I came up with it AND heck I was on top of the world. I’d be close enough… it was going to be perfect. I asked my eldest sister H if I could stay with her till I found a place, and her answer was a flat out NO! I couldn’t believe her, she wasn’t going to support me – but not to worry I’d do it all on my own if I had to. I drove down and in one weekend secured an apartment and a FT job. Life was mine for the taking! Reluctantly my parents helped me move, wanting to show their support – and my adventure began.

It started out great, I went and saw some doctors and talked about steps to take…. but yeeaaaaa I didn’t go back (I didn’t like how they talked to me… and when they looked at me it was .. just uncomfortable). I eventually started to spiral into a low, life was overwhelming me in every direction. I couldn’t handle being alone with my thoughts, work was just covering the bills and barely making a dent on my debts. And in a matter of 3 months…. I called my parents to move back home. They willingly agreed to help with the move, reassuring they thought it was in my best interest.

So home again, home again, I was living with my younger sister V and  my parents. Love was all around and I was looking forward to finding solid ground. I kept tabs with my family doctor and he referred me to see a psychiatrist. I also started working FT again to go towards debts. (My debt was caused from school loans…. and I had a wee problem called impulsive shopping.. like major) My mom came with me to see the psychiatrist because she wanted to ensure I was forth coming with everything (I had a tendency to play things down to avoid the… your crazy look) So we talked, he asked me what I thought of bipolar and he went on to share that he thinks its all in the head… like its not really what people say it is. He told me I had to just clean up my sleeping habits and I’d be fine. (My anxiety and OCD (I do have slight OCD) weren’t really there… all in my head). He told me to go off my meds because I was fine and dandy. So heck yah! I’d go off my meds I was perfect….

That perfection came at a price, and I couldn’t pay it. I started to spiral out of control so yet again in a matter of 2 weeks – I went to my family doctor, I also asked if I could see another psychiatrist… he said not to worry AND put me back on antidepressants… the psychiatrist wasn’t all that important for me to see in his opinion.

I entered my relationship with my ex around this time, we were on and off for two years, I was up and dramatically down. His words would reassure me and cut me down till I felt like nothing (not the best environment for me to be in) My impulse’s were becoming more intense (just as the doctor yet again kept increasing my meds)… I’d leave and drive at 1 am, 2am, 3am just because I could to drive to the city my ex lived in 3 hrs away. I’d race my car like the fast and furious because I was invincible or because death was an appealing option. I once had two semi trucks; one in front and one coming up on my left side, I allowed a tiny window of opportunity to pass between the two semi’s so I sped up and fit right between… just because I was on top of the world and wanted to push my limits. Reckless driving, reckless spending. When I’d be in a low I’d be damaging to myself…. just so I could try and feel something… punching my punching bag till my hands bled… ripping through thorn bushes when gardening so my arms would be cut and bleeding. Quitting jobs all the time because I felt people were picking up on me – there was no stability. When it came to sleep I was over excessive or had none at all. I was so reactive & explosive. Conversations or any reasoning were nearly impossible. Suicide crossed my mind – ALOT. The voices in my head (my own voice) were always tearing me apart in confusion. And my doctors cure was up, up, up my meds.

Eventually I lost it, I did something that I would never have done, I acted in a way that I knew I could/would commit suicide – out of sheer disgust of myself. This one night in particular I got home and I just knew it was over. I was losing the battle of life, I wasn’t living I was existing and what for??! Just so I could hate my life, and be at constant war with myself? Just so that I could make my family worried sick, overwhelmed with my unreliability and self-destructive ways? I went to my room, and I looked at my bottle of pills. I looked at myself in the mirror and I was ready… I knew I was ready for this escape… but I just couldn’t… I had to, I had no choice – My mom knocked on my door in the middle of my dilemma, she came in and I burst out crying (I love my mom so much, my family so much). She asked me what’s wrong and I told her straight out I was ready to die, I wanted to die, I had no more fight left in me. I had two options of suicide ready. My mom called my dad; my crying escalated to hyperventilating and hitting myself in the leg or arm or my head against the wall (I know that sounds extreme, but I had so much pain I couldn’t get it all out with just crying… so when ever I worked myself up I’d hit myself to the point of bruising) They took me to the hospital. My full on stutter came out, I could barely breathe and then somehow this doctor in particular calmed me down… he didn’t look at me like it was all in my head. He wanted to make sure I was going to be okay.

I was able to go home with my parents that night, but he informed me two nurses would be coming in the morning to see me for an evaluation… this was more than anything before. The nurses came and we talked I let everything out, all the history, all my behaviours, all my reactions… and they simply said ” Stephanie you have two options, your mother can drive you to our hospital, or you can come and be escorted by us – either way you are coming going, because you are a danger to yourself and other people” WoW! they meant business. We confirmed my mother would take me, once we arrived I was put in a room. I had two nurses and 2 doctors come and talk to me (all separately) and at the end I was given another option “Stephanie you can come willingly be admitted to the Psych Ward, or you can come under restraint – But you not going is not an option… it will be to your advantage if you go willingly.” WoW! Yet again.

This was my opportunity; this was what I needed to get the proper help, to see people who would actually help me have and live a life. So I agreed; they took me by ambulance to another hospital… and when I arrived I was terrified out of my mind, I changed my mind I didn’t want to be there!! Especially when I saw some residents (I know that sounds mean BUT its the truth) I had a tour of the facility and was informed of meal times (I honestly didn’t eat when I was there I was so stressed out… I had my siblings and friends eat my food to make it look like I did, such a rebel I know)My mom came a bit after I arrived with my clothes and I told her she needed to take me home immediately, that we could figure things out on our own AND I didn’t need to be here… yah no. That didn’t work. I was there until I saw the psychiatrist and he wasn’t going to be there for a couple days. I would stay in my room unless I had visitors.. writing notes/thoughts  (my room consisted of a bed with a curtain separating it from 4 other women) Honestly, one of the scariest experiences of my life… but I was blessed I had two really close friends who came to see me, and my sisters and parents came everyday so I wasn’t completely alone all day.

Finally when the doctor came, he asked if it would be alright for students to sit behind a two way mirror and observe our interview, and for the sake of education I said yes (I was in university again at this time). I wanted to make sure they understood you don’t have to look “crazy” to need help with mental illness… which is really why I felt so many other doctors didn’t take me serious… I look like I have it all together, which is something I work very hard on. Anywho, the interview began… questions were asked, questions were answered… He left and when he came back , I was presented with an action plan. I’d leave the hospital BUT I would have to come back for appointments with their psychiatrist in the bipolar out-patient unit. SOLD! I was totally okay with that.

Seeing my Psychiatrist was/is incredible, everything didn’t magically disappear but I knew I was on the right road to finally have a chance at life. The first medication a mood stabilizer for bipolar that we tried, failed – miserably. I felt like a zombie, drugged up, could hardly focus in  my classes (I withdrew from a couple after getting out of the hospital). When I relayed my concerns to my doctor he said “lets try a different one”, NOT JUST INCREASE THE DOSE; he actually listened to me. The next medication, had no bad side effects… it was a nice fit BUT in my case, we raised the dose gradually… it was catered to me. Additionally, my doctor recognized that my lows were pretty severe, so he recommended I take an antidepressant that is appropriate for bipolar as well, and gradually we increased the dose. Although my medication increased I didn’t feel like I was becoming less of “me”, I felt like I was finally coming out of hiding to be me!

My doctor asked if it would be alright for me to see a psychologist, he thought it would be in my best interest. I agreed.  I was willing to trust him, and try anything that would help me live a fulfilled life, anything that would help me learn how to live and manage my bipolar – I began meeting with my Psychologist once a week. And I was checking in with my psychiatrist once every 2 weeks for the first year….  let me give a time line:

I went into the psych ward Feb 2014 – I saw my Psychiatrist every 2 weeks till Feb 2015, I now see him every 5-6 weeks.

I started seeing my Psychologist once a week since October 2014… I still see him once a week present day.

I have put in time and work, I’ve hung on to life by my finger nails to get where I am now. I go to my appointments , I am honest with  my doctors, I read books on bipolar, on helping yourself if you have bipolar, about mastering the mind, reading exercises from my docs. I have been actively engaged with living and creating a life for myself. Because if I don’t, who will? I have been able to stop physically hurting myself, I’ve been successful in my university studies (pulling A’s). I’ve been able to leave an abusive relationship without falling into complete ruin (of course I cry and still ugly cry sometimes over it) – we got back together once I got out of the hospital IRONIC  since he was a contributing factor as to why I ended up going to the hospital (I’m a gluten for punishment we’d always get back together- But now its been over since Nov 2014 I realized my life would go on without him)

I have been ridding my life of toxicity because I want to survive and thrive. I have been embracing support rather than always trying to fix it on my own.

For so long I felt like my life was over, like I didn’t have a chance to reach the goals I had as a little girl… everything had been taken away and ruined with mental illness BUT sucking up my pride and going to the hospital; being admitted to the psych ward was the best decision of my life, and as scared as I was  –  I’d do it again.

Starting from the ground up sometimes is the best place to start.

There’s hope, I am living proof.

I am no longer swallowed up into the abyss of hopelessness, I get to experience joy and confidence in who I am; Bipolar and everything.

 

I apologize for the length of these posts. I just wanted to make it clear that I struggled and fought my way into the life I am living now, and I still fight battles but I do not shun away because I know my potential. It was a long painful journey and I have my scars to prove it BUT I am stronger now, and I can offer my strength to help and lift others up. Hold onto the sliver of hope inside of you, you can make it,  I know you can.

With love,

– Steph