The Upside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Steph

Be The Change

I’ve been on the rise (not in a hypomanic way), I’m feeling a lot better than I have in weeks passed. I think it’s fair to say that I was in a low – everything seemed doom and gloom and my positive outlook on life was overshadowed by negative thoughts that I couldn’t seem to shake. It’s been a while since my mental state has been crippled by my mood so severely. I was getting out of bed in the morning but just barely.

It’s times like these that really make me reflect on my mood management skills.

I won some battles and lost some battles over the course of my low. I didn’t quit my job which was something I would have done in a heartbeat if I didn’t do a self-check. The thought was there and the fuel feeding the fire was real! But I did some self-talk and conclude the cons outweighed the pros. So the job stayed BUT I did give my notice yesterday, because I am moving – there was no need to do it prematurely as I have bills to pay. This is the longest I’ve ever stayed with a job, no need to burn the bridge and end on bad terms. I’m not sure if anyone else with bipolar can relate BUT I never stayed with an employer longer than 6 months prior to this job. I would lose interest, feel like people were picking up on my moods (which cycled a lot more frequently) orrrrrr I was always starting school which would all cause me to quit. I hated being anywhere too long. I’ve never been fired, but I definitely never stuck around.

Another win was I maintained communication with my fiancé, I let him know how I was feeling and we talked thru things rather than me shutting him out. I also talked with my family and doctor, all of which helped me manage my mood.

I didn’t exercise or eat in accordance to my goals for the majority of my low. That was a battle I lost. It happens.

I (and my fiancé) created some plans to overcome my negative thoughts that were on repeat throughout this low, and I think that improved my mental state. I find that if you can pinpoint what your repeating negative narrative is, you can find a way to counter it, which will help your mood improve quicker. There is always a repeating narrative. Something that you repeat to yourself, whether it’s that you are worthless, an inconvenience to those around you, incompetent, a 2 out of 10, not creative, never finishing anything you start, swallowed by debt, etc… It’s safe to say that this low manifested a new narrative regarding my self appearance, lack of creativity and work which all trickled into my self-worth.

I was curious as to what my new narrative would be, because I’ve been so happy and everything seemed to be going well and I have been conquering the narratives that plagued my past. Let’s just say my mind was surprisingly creative when it came up with my negative narratives this time around.

So what did we come up with –

Once I move to Victoria I am going to enrol in a sewing class. Nothing fancy, but something to get my wheels turning again and reintroduce that passion into my life. Next I will be taking classical guitar lessons, I’ve already found a teacher. I am beyond excited to add these dimensions into my life. Lastly, in terms of my style – if you can’t find what you like, do it yourself. We determined that it might become a fun hobby and good motivation to do fashion posts either on my blog or Instagram that adhere to the standards of modesty I have in my life. It may help me find more people with similar styles that I can connect with or inspire other young women to dress modestly while maintaining their own independent style that isn’t cookie cutter.  I am trying to think outside the box. I’m not about to say that my style is going to be off the chain, but it will be a step in the right direction to express myself creatively and will definitely beat wearing gym clothes all the time.

I feel hopeful. I feel determined. And I feel like I’ve got a grip on my self worth. I know I’m not a 2 out 10. I know my worth is far beyond that. I have imperfections as everyone does BUT at the end of the day it’s not about everyone else. It’s about me and the self love and respect I offer myself. I am going to get nowhere fast if I talk with such disdain towards myself. You can only sustain true happiness and change thru self love. I don’t need surgery, I don’t need the perfect body, I just need to love myself as I am and work on being the best version of myself. If you give everything you’ve got there will never be any regrets. My creativity has been hindered – I know this. So, rather than dwelling on it unhappily I will make a change in my life to do something about it.

Anyways, I hope everyone is doing well. The journey to my happily ever after continues, but I have no doubt I’m on the right path.

– Steph

2 Out Of 10

So I had a completely different post ready for today, alas this post came to my mind last night and was written this morning and I’m using it instead.

I have been in a bit of a weird mood lately and I think that has magnified some body issues that I have. It’s no secret I’ve battled with my weight especially since being medicated BUT as I mentioned in a previous post I’ve joined weight watchers and I am down 16 lbs which is huge win because I haven’t been able to drop anything after the 10lbs I lost on my own. You would think I’d be happy with this. Believe me – I am, but I know there is still 10-15lbs to go, thus I am not thrilled with where I am at. It’s not only that. I realized this past month or so that I’ve been killing myself with self talk in the worst way.

Self talk is some thing I’ve blogged about on many occasions and I firmly believe it can make a huge impact on your life. After my engagement photos I ripped my appearance apart. I cried when I saw the photos and I’m not sure if I’ve completely recovered. I’ve never wanted to get cosmetic surgery BUT after that photo shoot the idea crossed my mind on numerous occasions, I even looked into clinics in my city. Furthermore, one of my best friends just a had a minor procedure done. I’m never going to encourage someone to alter their appearance (she is gorgeous without it) BUT it made me want to do it myself.

I look thru social media on the daily and I think that’s also been messing with me. What’s real? What’s fake? What’s photoshopped? Whats not? It’s mind blowing the types of apps they have that alter your appearance. And the types of procedures available to get the “perfect look”.

I feel naive to be buying into the glam that some of these people have but I look at them and I look at myself and I’m like wow maybe I’m a 2 out of a 10. Maybe I’m not, but I’ve been talking to myself like I am.

I used to consider myself someone who was dressed on point, makeup and hair was on point and now – I rarely do my hair in a style, my make up is sub-par and my clothes remind me of a librarian. I think the fact I hate my sense of style is affecting my mood. Heck. I don’t even think I can say I have a style at this point.

To a degree I feel like I’ve lost part of my identity and maybe that’s why I’m so upset. I used to feel so inspired when I put together a look and now I drag my feet because I’m not happy with any of the outcomes. So then I think I’ll look online to find inspiration and BAM it makes me feel like I’m a 2 out of 10 again.

The more medicated I’ve become the less creative flaire I’ve had in so many aspects if my life. I’m calling myself out on it BECAUSE I want it to change. I want to be the girl up till 2 am designing and sewing because fashion was my life. I haven’t sewn in the past 3 years or sketched. Nada. When I go to design I draw a blank. I have no sense of style to build on. I feel like I’ve lost it all.

To add to it…. it’s not to blame but within my religion it’s encouraged to adhere to certain modesty standards and because I want my actions to reflect my faith I adhere to these standards (I haven’t always when I was younger) this makes certain styles and things that I’m drawn towards unacceptable. This is super frustrating and something I’ve struggled with. Like I said I haven’t always adhered to the standards and that’s probably when I liked my style the most as sad as it is to say. Right now I feel so bland. I feel like my selection is limited and consists of the same silhouettes which are boring in my eyes right now – maybe they won’t always be. Maybe it’s my mentality that is preventing me from seeing the style within my limits but I just feel stuck.

I feel like I have a mental block and it’s been there for a while and I’ve been putting it off, telling myself it’s not a big deal or it will sort itself out on its own. It hasn’t. And I’m unhappy with where I am.

At this point I feel like I’ve been a let down for my fiance. He loves me and tells me how beautiful I am BUT he has rarely seen me look completely put together. I think now that I am getting married and in this relationship there is a part of me that is saying “step up your game you have so much more to offer!” I’ve been so numb to expressing myself out side of this blog and writing and even then sometimes I struggle to post because I feel like I have nothing to say.

I feel like I don’t even know where to begin to pull myself out of this bleak hole. I just want to feel creative and comfortable with how I look again. I love me. I love myself. But my agonizing criticism isn’t reflecting that.

It’s important to have an identity with your appearance, and I think that’s why I’m so upset. I feel like I have no identity. I feel so uninspired.

I honestly just don’t even know.

I wish I had some positive outlook to express in this post but I’ve got NIL.

I think I’ll challenge myself to say one positive thing about myself for the rest of the month. I need to get a grip on my self talk and show myself a little more love. Right now my self talk isn’t cutting it. I know it’s a problem that if I don’t face will do damage and potentially ruin all the work I’ve done to have a happy loving relationship with myself. That’s a break up I don’t want.

I always encourage self love and I think that’s why I wanted to make this post. I don’t want to be a hypocrite and this is my journey, I am human and sometimes I fall off the wagon – which I have, and I am presently working to get back on it.

I don’t know my friends.

I guess chin up. I know I’ll come out on the other side. I’ll find my groove I’ll work on my creativity as silly as that sounds. Hopefully sooner than later. I’ll find some inspiration and I’m sure before I know I’ll feel like I can strut down a runway…. or not BUT it’s a nice idea.

I’m sorry if this post seems all over. I’m having a hard time keeping up with everything I’m thinking and I don’t know if it’s translating into a post that makes sense.

I have some serious work to do.

– Steph

How About A Slap In The Face

This past week was probably one of the most upsetting weeks I’ve had in a long time.

I apologize for my absence. Last week my fiance was in town and the week prior I was camping with no cell service to upload a post. Life has been a bit busy, I would say it’s been going really well BUT this week has jeopardized that mentality.

As you know I have a job at a law firm. I was beyond excited to have this job, I love the lawyers I work with. Everything has been peachy. However, everything clearly can’t be perfect and I’ve been on the fence about my salary and whether or not I should apply elsewhere. I have friends who work in the same industry as me who are making a fair amount more – with the exact same amount of experience. I however figured that because I enjoyed who I worked with I would stay with the firm and wait for my 1 year review when I would undoubtedly get a raise.

Tuesday of this week was my review. It was with the 2 partners of the firm, who for the record I never talk to or see.

Prior to talking with them my one lawyer (whom i’m particularly close with) called me into her office. She wanted to give me a heads up with what she told the partners for my review. It was all positive with the constructive criticism that I could have a bit more attention to detail. Fair enough.

I go into the interview and BAM I got slaughtered by the partners. The only feedback they gave me about my lawyers was that they both said I had a pleasant demenour. What?!?!

There was nothing in my review about my actual work or work ethic or how happy my lawyers are with me.

They brought up things that were not true and not my fault, errors made by my one of my lawyers, for which he had already expressed to them that the errors were his fault. The told me I was dependent on the other assistant to do my work. NOT TRUE. It was all just super upsetting. And I was denied a raise. So basically I am being paid a year later as if I have no experience. *slap in the face*

I confronted both my lawyers. Asked them if they were unhappy with me and explained what the partners told me and my lawyers were shocked. Why?? Because they both explained to me that they gave me great reviews because they love me as their assistant, they went on to say what the partners said about me made no sense.

I have been sick over this. My mind has been replaying everything over and over. Everyone got a raise (for a fact) but me. It’s sickening.

It’s so funny how things can change so instantaneously. I have no intention of staying with this firm. Not a chance. I’m getting married and I’ll be leaving in that regard BUT if an opportunity comes to leave sooner I’ll take it.

I’m obviously not going to elaborate in detail what was said, but it was all super shady and has made no sense when explained to my lawyers, family and close friends.

I thought maybe it was me? But this is beyond me. I’m just the sucker in the ploy.

I have had some good visits with friends this week. It’s helped lighten my mood, but at the same time as soon as the visit is over I feel sick again.

This was completely unexpected.

And then to top it off a woman hit my car while it was parked and I was sitting in it. The damage wasn’t bad but she was unbelievable about the whole situation.

People! What is wrong with some people?!

I hope and pray everyone is having a better week than me. Thank goodness it’s Friday!

I just need to shake this off and hopefully I’ll have a more uplifting post next week. This post was to illustrate I am alive and express that I am a bull seeing red and I can’t get a grip of my mind and emotions.

It will all work out. It always does.

– Steph

A Weed Or A Wish

A wish

I’ve been fairly consumed with planning and preparing for my new future. The wedding is almost in a double-digit countdown which is a surreal feeling.

I’ve been reading more articles about bipolar disorder a well as a book that I was given when I was first diagnosed. Knowledge is power and it never hurts to go over a critical component of your life. I am not nervous about being married. I am very excited about it, I am however nervous about the change that marriage will entail. I am bracing myself for the change, because as anyone with bipolar knows, change can bring on an episode going either direction – up or down. It’s obviously not by choice, it’s just a natural phenomenon. When the change is drastic enough so becomes the mood.

I’ve been doing well so far, my anxiety has been a bit more pronounced but I have still maintained a happy demeanour. It’s so funny how you become so in-tune with your body after years of dissecting your moods, reactions, triggers, and ticks. One of the bonuses of active participation in improving my health is I am always aware of myself. That’s one of the things my doctors have commented on, on more than a few occasions. I am a very self-aware individual. My mentality is the only way to progress is to be self aware, if you are aware of your weaknesses they can become strengths, if you are aware of your strengths you can apply them to your goals. If you are accomplishing your goals you are becoming the best version of yourself. It all begins with self-awareness.

Self-awareness, is something I’ve had to work on. It required a perspective shift. It required me to take control of my life, take hold of my bipolar and to not be a victim of my mental health. Bipolar was initially a curse in my mind, but it has turned into one of my strengths over the course of the past few years. As one of my sister refers to it as a “super power”. Getting to this point of peace with my bipolar has been a journey, but I have grown immensely. I am not a perfect personification of someone with their bipolar under control, however I am someone with bipolar who has found happiness, when it once robbed me of it. Happiness is not something I experience at all times, there are times that I feel alone and like I am trapped in a dark abyss, however I know that the darkness will fade eventually and I remind myself of this and it helps keep my hope alive.

Taking charge of your bipolar is taking the good with the bad, the highs with the lows and everything in between. It’s not picking and choosing parts of it when it is easy or convenient.

This quote is perfect, some people see a weed. I see a wish. Some see bipolar as a curse. I see it as an opportunity. When you shift your perspective, you will find opportunity in more than you could possibly imagine.

– Steph

What Are You Loyal To?

I’ve had the opportunity to stroll down memory lane this past week. Both in terms of old relationships and my health.

It’s unbelievable how far I’ve come in both regards. How different I am.

I am different, and there is nothing and no one in this world that could convince me to revert back to my old ways or days. The past is the past for a reason. You learn and grow and move on from it. I haven’t put all this work into myself to stay the same, or be in the same situations as I was in before.

Don’t get caught up in your past. If you do my chance stroll thru memory lane, do just that – stroll. Don’t stay.

Your past and the things that have happened in your life don’t deserve your undying loyalty. What and who are presently in your life do. Your present day determines where you will be going in the future. Be loyal to that. Be loyal to a better future.

Don’t let your past distract you from where you are going.

Just a little reminder for you and me. Think about where you are going and remember it’s going to be more than your past could have ever offered you.

The only thing that remembering your past offers is thr knowledge not to repeat it. Progress requires change.

This isn’t to say everyone has an unpleasant past but the fact of the matter is you can’t grow if you are stuck on the “glory days” or “better days” or the “worst days” of your life. Whatever the past was for you, it no longer serves a purpose other than growing from it and moving on.

Reflect on your past- because how else can you grow BUT be loyal to your future, that is where you are going. Don’t jeapordize your progress by getting stuck on who you were before.

Enjoy your now and remind yourself that you will have a better tomorrow. Each day is an opportunity. Take it and run with it.

– Steph

What Now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Steph