It’s a New Chapter

I love New Years, it’s such an exciting time of year as we prepare to begin another journey filled with new chapters of life and opportunities.

2019 has been an incredible year, I am so grateful for all that I’ve experienced as it has allowed me to grow and be that much more of the person I want to be.

Life is a journey as I’m sure you’ve heard countless times before. Life is lesson upon lesson – everything we do or don’t do is for our betterment if we allow it to be. It can be exciting and a giant relief if you look at life this way; you don’t have to have it all figured out all the time. You can take it day by day, hour by hour; learning and living as you go.

I don’t have my life figured out, but throughout the life I have lived thus far I’ve been refined and I do know who I don’t want to be and if you know that much, it leaves you with a more direct path to walk and develop into the person you do want to be.

I will probably be developing into the person I want to be my entire life, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure, it means I’m constantly growing and changing which I believe this life is all about. If we arent changing, we are stagnant and that gets us nowhere – literally.

I have some serious goals for 2020, mostly pertaining to my health – mentally of course BUT some serious goals about my physical health which you will be introduced to on an upcoming post next Monday, so be prepared to look out for it. I don’t want to seem like a cliche with this particular new years resolution, it just works out that it’s new years and I’ve moved and settled and am ready to start tackling this goal.

There is never a wrong time to start working on your health, if you want to make it this new years resolution don’t feel silly for it. Health is always a noble resolution, and new years is a time of reflection to develop or refocus on those goals.

Apart from my mental health, physical health, and my goal to be more intentional from my birthday I want to develop some new characteristics this year and ditch some old ones. A few for example are as follows:

Ditch:
1. Talking negatively about people, even when I’m beyond irritated (I need to learn to curb my tongue when it literally does not benefit anyone)
2. My controlling nature, if things arent done a certain way I can get pretty distraught and short with people (everyone has a right to do things their way, just because it’s not my way doesn’t make it wrong)
3. Lack of comittment to goals that I set (I can easily get distracted and start a new goal mid completing a former goal and then not complete or take a million times longer to complete a goal)

Develop:
1. Hunger for knowledge (I feel like I’ve been coasting with respects to my development, I’m not in school anymore and there has been a lack of formal reading and learning)
2. Flexibility. I need to develop more flexibility with how things are done (going back to if they are done differently than I would have done them)
3. Cooking more. I want to be a pro in the kitchen so my husband and I can eat a more diverse menu that is healthy and budget friendly (let’s just say I’m not interested in only eating chicken and veggies this year)

Those are just some of my resolutions that I was able to think about as I thought about what changes I want to see in 2020. I am excited for the positive changes ahead. A goal not written down is only a dream. I encourage you to write your resolutions and goals down for 2020, and write them in a place you will be able to see them throughout the year.

Here we are. A brand new year awaits us, let’s make the most of it and grow a little more into the person we want to be over the course of the next 366 days (it’s a leap year I’m told)

Happy New Years.

– Steph

Just an Update

My husband and I started unpacking our apartment on Sunday and I was feeling slightly overwhelmed, he was a good sport and super supportive as always. However, we moved from a 2 bedroom with a shed to a one bedroom with a den. Shall we say a wee bit tight BUT it’s still massive in it’s own way (don’t ask me how).

Anyways I went over Monday with my mom and she helped me put up our pictures, so simple yet so helpful. I felt like so much was accomplished when in reality it was only a few boxes.

For now I am trying to enjoy my time off work, am I a bit stressed about not having a real job as we speak? Yes (although I did obtain a causal position at a seniors lodge) The whole situation is actually ideal to be honest, it gives me time to unpack and for my husband and I to settle, which is exactly what I did with my previous move, so why in the world am I tripping now???! Don’t ask me, because I know it’s not even rational stress.

If I was working I would be a basket case knowing I have boxes to unpack and furniture to set up in our apartment – so I’m trying to appreciate the time off. It’s been a while since I had a long holiday – so again why am I crying over this break that so many people would love to take! When the right opportunity comes along it will come along, just like it did before. So for now I need to chill!

I was thinking about the course of my past year and if I accomplished the things I set out to do. Yes, to a degree, I started lessons for classical guitar and stuck with it. I enrolled in the fashions course I talked about on my blog BUT it was cancelled due to not enough numbers in the class (not my fault), I was fairly active with the gym and swimming (definite room for improvement), I added a few more creative activities into my life such as therapeutic Mandela colouring and reading (and blogging again!), I started spanish lessons BUT I had to take a breather as I was doing a bit to much all at one time (you can refer to my older post to see what I’m talking about) and I did boxing up until my foot and shoulder exploded from pain and I had to taper down. Not too shabby overall, there were some bumps along the way BUT I did experience nearly everything I set out to do.

Now that I’m back, I want to resume guitar lessons FOR SURE. I think I’m going to ask my mom to re-teach me how to sew and work on projects at her house rather than find a course in the city, she is an amazing seamstress and I might as well take advantage of her wealth of knowledge and skill. No more boxing at a club for me, I’ll just use focus mitts at home with my husband so that I can go at my own pace with my shoulder and foot. I do what I can and I’ve learned not to push myself through pain just for the sake of it – not worth the prolonged injury! Believe me!

Aside from my birthday goal to be more intentional with my time, relationships, activities and aesthetics, I am cooking up some goals for the new year that I am excited to share shortly. As I mentioned there will be a new series on my blog and it has to do with some serious goal digging.

I know my posts have been more updates with my life rather than a post that hopefully gets you thinking about the way you are thinking and giving you some new perspective, I’ve just been a wee bit busy the past few weeks and wanted to make sure I posted as I’ve been on a roleeeeee and might as well let you know what’s going on in the mean time.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful 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

Bipolar Blunder as the Cookie Crumbles

And just like that the cookie crumbles. Let’s rewind, did I not just do a post saying I love my job?!

Okay people, let’s be real – no lie,I do love my job. I love being a legal assistant BUT what I do not love is the stress that it evokes. For instance when I make a typo that my lawyer points out – it is literally the end of the world? Is it really?? NO – have I been told to brush it off and keep going? YES – However, will I lose sleep over it? You better believe it.

Something happened last week, and it caused me to talk to my husband, my parents and my sisters. I was grasping at anyone I could to calm me down. There was an oversight at work and at the end of the day it wasn’t even my fault (and that’s not an opinion, it is a fact). Regardless, I took it wayyyyyy to personal. I didn’t sleep all night (or the rest of the week just thinking about this particular situation), and don’t get me wrong – lots of people lose sleep over work; bipolar or not.

However, the very next day I was looking up different institutions for school because I was thinking perhaps a career change was the best solution to alleviate the stress I feel from working in the legal industry. A little over the top perhaps…. just a wee bit.

I know. I know! What the heck Stephanie!? A career change??! Like I said, I literally just wrote a post about loving my job, and feeling more confident as a legal assistant. And believe me, I do feel more confident. It’s just a reality that I fear going to work almost everyday because of the possibility of making a mistake big or small – and rationally I know it is inevitable; everyone makes mistakes that’s what makes us human.

So what of my career change? I ended up calling my oldest sister on my lunch hour with my grand plan, and let’s just say she talked me off the ledge with a loud but kind voice or reason. She is pretty good at that.

To be clear, I will not be changing careers. That is not the reason why my husband and I are moving. As my sister said, ” look at the big picture”. And what exactly is the picture you might ask? It so happens that we are moving so we can have the proper support system to start a family. Will I even be able to work when we start getting serious about it? Who knows, but me dramatically going back to school or doing a program to change careers amidst all this change and our move – let’s just say it’s not the answer let a lone a good idea.

What I do need to do is strike a work-life-stree balance. If I manage to get doctors that actually care, hopefully this work enduced anxiety will be something we can work through. I’m pretty sure it never manifested itself as much before because I’ve never worked anywhere long enough or with as demanding standards. I know it was there to a degree, however in the past if I started to not enjoy my work or feel stressed I’d quit. I think if I didn’t love where I work so much presently, this year would have turned out a lot differently with respects to my health – and the stability I’ve been afforded.

I enjoy a challenge with work, yet at the same time it overwhelms me. I like routine, I like consistency, I like methodical work. When things go array it really throws me for a loop, and where it may take the average person a few hours or a day or two to lick the wound, I generally take weeks if I am even that lucky to actually get over it. Otherwise, I carry the error with me and boy does it get heavy.

I’ve never worked ANYWHERE consistently longer than a year. My last place of employment I hit a year… but we know how that went; that being said this past year was a success overall in my opinion. Good reviews, positive environment, yet I am/was still bogged down with anxiety (not as much as last year by any means). But this stress is something I have been vividly aware of.

Sure, experience plays a factor – I’ve only been in my career 2 years and I’ve practiced different areas both years. However, after having a conversation with my husband he expressed how he was nervous about making mistakes the first month or two and not literally everyday like I am worried about.

Confidence? Surprisingly, more than before. Yet, if we compared that confidence to a peer it’d probably become quite evident I still have a long way to go.

Is a career change on the table? I don’t think so. However, perhaps I will take a bit of a break and do a job that is not as demanding. That’s not saying it is of lesser value, but it will just require a different skill and mindset from me that will perhaps ease the stress that is involved with doing thousands to million dollar deals within the legal industry like I’m presently doing.

Who knows. It’s not that I don’t think I’m cut out for working in a demanding profession, it’s just sometimes I think I’m not cut out to work in a demanding profession – if you pick up what I’m putting down.

Anxiety can be lethal and when I come to think of it, this past year I’ve added more sleeping and anxiety medication to my bundle BECAUSE for some reason…. “some reason”…. I have been more anxious and not sleeping well.

So many factors my friends, medical, move, marriage. So many factors, but I’m confident it will all get sorted out.

For now I can say that my husband and I plan to have kids and we talked about me staying home to raise them. This is something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember; that being said my work career will not be long lived and I am certainly okay with that (again, why I thought going back to school was a good idea?!?). Being a mom is a career in itself, so if there is a career change on the horizon it will be a designation called MOM. I know that will bring challenges all on it’s own, but again I think it’s a challenge I’ve been anxiously wanting and waiting for.

This move needs to happen, and happen ASAP, the limbo land I’m living in at the moment is really messing with me. Excitement is on overdrive but it is being met with a ruthless anxiety.

I was reading am article with respects to how bipolar affects those who work. The article was enlightening and entertaining as I sat and read going “that’s me!”. Don’t get me wrong it was a serious article, very insightful but it still made me chuckle, because here I’ve been feeling so stable, yet when it comes down to it I struggle going to work 9-5, Monday-Friday. It’s not something that is being unreasonably requested of me, its standard working hours for a standard career – yet, here I am struggling to hold it together.

I obviously know I’m doing better with my health regardless to this struggle because I have in fact worked this past year relatively mess free, it’s just been a struggle and thats a reality I’m acknowledging so that when I do start working again, perhaps I will find a way to be more at ease.

If I figure it out, I’ll certainly let you know.

– Steph

Get a Grip

The remainder of this month is most likely going to pose a struggle. I am elated over my move and my sleep has been out of sorts understandably.

Additionally, as noted before I have been on edge with eager anticipation of the unknown that lay ahead. The constant buzz in my mind is certainly making it hard to focus on or enjoy the time remaining with work. Although, I’m sure it doesnt help that I’ve been requested to assist a lawyer for the remainder of my time with the firm. I generally don’t work with this lawyer or the area of law he practices, so this task it just adds a stress I would have otherwise been free of (argh to timing).

I love my job, but I’m ready to hit the highway. I’m ready to get this show on the road. I know I’ll relax a lot more once we are packed and on the road because it will mean the next chapter can start and I can start meeting new doctors and looking for new work. I am just out of sorts to be frank, not that I’m unorganized, but rather I think its because one foot is out the door and I still have 2 weeks and a bit to go before the other one can join it.

Additionally, I’ve been working on a bit of a project with respects to my blog. This blog is quite the trigger my dear friends – if I take it too seriously I go up, up, up and away and get uber excited and the ability to sleep or focus on anything else is a wee bit difficult. But who doesn’t love to be excited, it’s great right? Of course it is! But fun fact, when I start to get elated over my blog I tend to freeze like a deer stuck in the headlights. I am frozen and paralyzed with the pressure I put on myself and as a result my blogging suffers. I am trying to navigate the excitement, navigate my plans for my blog. Rather than weeks or even months to complete this project, I’m giving myself an easy year. I am trying to educate myself and prepare myself for exciting strides forward with this blog and my platform, yet be reasonable with what I expect from myself. I know this sounds like a familiar tune BUT this time I’m really trying to approach this blog in a sensible manner.

You get out only as much as you put in. And if you go in recklessly it generally doesnt go as well as you hoped for, speaking from experience.

I’m looking forward to what is on the horizon. Two more Mondays! That’s all I have to get through.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

– Steph

Beauty In My Bipolar

This post stems from a conversation I had with one of my sisters. We were discussing my health over the past 5 years and she was commenting on how I’ve grown.

And what of this growth? Can you have growth if there is no beauty or joy in the journey? Alas, there is most certainly joy and as the conversation played out it became clear that in my life I’ve experienced more joy so to speak because of my diagnosis, literally because of the very fact that I live with bipolar II.

Wait a minute!

Nope, you read it right, I have experienced more joy than afforded to others because I have bipolar. Let’s be clear, I have also probably experienced more-ish intense feelings of pain, confusion, and mental struggle than the average joe as well. But let’s focus on the joy for now.

My diagnosis is fairly controlled at this stage in my life, I have my roller coaster moments, but I am not plagued with the savage extremes that once controlled my life. Everything is more mild and manageable. Thank you for modern medicine!

One thing that however remains intense so-to-speak is my sense of feelings. I feel very intensely; for instance when I feel joy – I really feel it. Not just a little but a lottle.

I experience things much more intensely than the average non-bipolar person. If you have bipolar, you can relate that there is a fire in your soul that can have gasoline figuratively poured on it to grow exponentially in an instant. This fire and gasoline are what I relate to the intense feelings I have in a moments time. That’s not to say it only occurs in a positive way BUT I will remind you that is the focus of this post.

Without darkness there can be no light, as Kelly Clarkson’s song states “everyone has a dark side…” , its just the nature of life. But the difference is do we let it consume us OR do we try to draw closer and focus on the light that is in us.

I have experienced so much joy in my life, and I have experienced it on a level that my family cannot comprehend and at times they shake there heads and laugh because I am so elated over such simple things. But that is the beauty of bipolar, because there is beauty with this diagnosis (please don’t forget that fact). If we try hard enough we can find beauty in all things even hard things such as living with bipolar (because let’s be honest, it’s not easy).

I accredit my creativity and pursuits for education and learning to my diagnosis. My passion drives me and leaves other people baffled because of my conviction. The joy these pursuits bring me. The love I have for others, it is intense my friends and duely it yields joy beyond measure.

To experience joy, you must address and navigate the ugly. Unfortunately, there can be some pretty ugly parts to bipolar, but we must not dwell on that alone. Find the good, appreciate the good and you will feel better about the diagnosis and what it offers in your life. The diagnosis is a part of you but it does not define you. It is NOT YOU, and you are NOT bipolar, you merely have bipolar. It does not dictate your life, you do.

And in my life, I’m acknowledging that bipolar in it’s own unique way brings me joy and can in fact be beautiful.

– Steph