An Extra Happy Pill


Did you take your daily dose?

I am uploading this post early because I will not have a wifi connection on Thursday. That being said I will potentially also not have a wifi connection for the next 2 weeks, so if I don’t post it’s not because I’ve fell off the wagon its just because I am in the sunny country of Nicaragua!

It’s honestly been my dream to visit Nicaragua for as long as I can remember. My dad is from Nicaragua so it is important to me that I see where he is from and see my heritage. I will be going with my parents and I could not be more excited to share this experience with them. This trip was a graduation present and I can’t accurately express how grateful I am for this opportunity.

I love travelling but this trip is especially special to me.

Now, onto my post’s topic.

Gratitude.

Life can be so unbelievably hard sometimes, however if we can manage to have a grateful heart it can make a world of a difference.

I am not saying having a grateful heart is an easy task when things seem to be going wrong or when you are in the depths of despair, but I have personally tried really hard to look for the silver lining in every situation.

And boy – it’s not easy.

However, gratitude, is the key to a happy heart. When you see what you have, rather than what you don’t. When you can look at any situation and ask yourself what can you take away from it? 

There is always, always something positive that you can be grateful for.

I was once told that I say thank-you too much. Nonsense. You can never say thank-you too much. And I believe it’s important to share your gratitude with those around you. Not only will it make you feel better, but it will most likely lift the spirits of others. When you express your gratitude it’s harder to take things (or people) for granted and it sheds some light into your dark abyss. When have you ever felt worse off for hearing someone say thank-you to you? I’m going to guess never. So, fill your heart and someone else’s and say thank you.

If you have no one to physically express your gratitude to, write it down. Gratitude journals are a great idea, I have one (I haven’t recorded in this particular journal in a while since I record my thoughts in my personal journal), but looking back on what I wrote in the past is always uplifting. My sister recently bought a gratitude journal, and it’s rekindled the flame and I think I will intentionally write in my gratitude journal moving forward. I literally only listed 5 things a day, and that is probably where I will start again. It can literally be as simple as catching the bus on time – or waking up without having to hit snooze because you felt so rested.

The more we start to recognize the small things the more grateful our hearts will be and we won’t always have to look for the obvious things to be grateful for. The more grateful our hearts are the less anxious, resentful, envious or depressed we will be for the things we don’t have.

Here is a prime example, when I am in my lowest of lows and I am in bed for the majority of my day (or all day) my beloved little dog Nutmeg stays with me – she just cuddles up next to me and waits till I get up. I am so grateful for her unconditional love and her companionship. It warms my numb heart on those days and makes me feel when I would otherwise feel nothing.
To be grateful is to be intentional. And I believe acting and thinking with intention is the best way to better yourself. The best way to get to know yourself better, to be confident and comfortable in your skin.

Start in reverse, start thinking of all the obvious big reasons you are grateful and then work your way towards the smaller inconspicuous reasons. Fill your heart to the brim, and I guarantee you won’t regret it. Conscientiously make the decision to be grateful.  

Existing happens one way or the other BUT living is a choice. Choose to add meaning to your life. Choose to add depth. Choose to be a round character in your life’s story rather than a flat character.

Once upon a time with bipolar, I chose to be grateful and it gave me a life I never could have imagined.

– Steph

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Think About It

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about thinking.

I don’t think I’m doing enough of it. That’s not to say I’m an airhead, I have thoughts BUT they just aren’t as profound as I would like them to be.

My conclusion is I haven’t been feeding myself enough mentally.

So, what am I going to do – or what do I need to do? I need to start reading, watching documentaries and making things.

I haven’t made the time to read, it’s on my list of things I want to start doing. I want to read at least 1 book a month (this is a realistic goal, because I can generally finish a book in a day or two) any genre, fiction or non-fiction. I just need to start. I used to read quite often, and then school happened and my reading consisted of text books and lecture notes. School has been over since May and I have yet to pick up a book. It’s a tragedy. I feel like my vocabulary is digressing.

Reading opens the mind to so much perspective (and broadens your vocabulary), regardless to whether its fiction or non-fiction. I went thru a phase where I would only read non-fiction (I take notes while I read) it was great, BUT one day I decided to change things up and I read a novel called “These Is My Words”, it was life changing. It moved me in a way that none of my non-fiction books could have ever done and it inspired me to start journaling again. It was incredible. I highly recommend reading it.

Reading is so enjoyable and I’ve learned that you should not set limits on what you read, sure I want to learn more so non-fiction seems like the logical choice, but fiction can be just as enlightening – and it’s fun to escape – to laugh and cry and become invested in characters. I’ve learned it’s important to let your brain take a break from structure.

I don’t have a library card BUT once I move, it is the first thing on my list to get and then the world will be my oyster.

That’s actually some exciting news I can share – I AM MOVING OUT! I am taking my final step of independence. I am finally at a place where I feel stable enough in my life (especially mentally) to make the move. I am nervous to be on my own BUT I will have my trusty sidekick Nutmeg to keep me company. I have a plan of action – I plan to keep myself busy and engaged. I will be maintaining my doctor appointments and checking in with my family, so I am not being tossed out to sea with no lifeline.

I am very excited, and I can’t wait to share my new adventure with you. I anticipate my life is going to get a lot more interesting since I won’t be spending 3 hrs a day in my car and on a train commuting. There will be so much more to do, especially since I will be in the big city.

I’ve lived on my own before, but it was always a struggle as I was not mentally in a good place. This time I will be standing on a firm foundation and I feel like I have a strong grip on my life

One thing in particular that I am incredibly excited about is decorating. I love decorating and my apartment is a blank canvas – my reality check is it will take me a while to furnish my apartment ($$$) BUT when I do I know it will be just the way I want it.

I anticipate that I will be fueling my brain with new thoughts, and finding new inspiration. I am not saying that you should wait till tomorrow to make things happen for you BUT by moving out my circumstances will enhance my ability to fuel my brain a lot more.

Getting back on subject and touching on what I said earlier, I would like to start watching documentaries, or at least Ted Talks. Something to inspire my thoughts and to help me learn more. Movies are fine, sure, but there is something so rewarding about watching a documentary.

I also want to start making things. I want to get my creative juices flowing. Creativity inspires new thoughts and ideas and like I mentioned I am lacking in that department. I’ve found that I am not as creative as I used to be. And I partially think that is my own doing (part of me thinks my medication may have contributed to numbing down my creative flair BUT this is just speculation), I haven’t put myself out there. I haven’t intentionally acted to create lately, I have had a hard time feeling inspired BUT again I just need to start. If my creations are terrible, they are a starting point and they will get better.

I just need to step outside of my box – I have no doubt there is a way out if I apply myself. I’ve made myself aware of the situation, I’ve recorded my feelings and thoughts on it. Now the next step is to apply my plan of action and make a change.

Thinking is something I do a lot of, I don’t want to be on a re-run thinking the same thoughts and ideas over and over again. I don’t want to be a hamster on a wheel getting no where. I want more – there is so much more out there beyond my present scope.

Challenge yourself to think more profoundly. Don’t just “think” but think.

I’ll write an update down the road, hopefully I will have more thoughts to share on the matter.

– Steph

It’s A Balancing Act


One thing that has been made crystal clear over the past few years since being formally diagnosed with bipolar is that bipolar is a balancing act. It’s ironic I know, since we are generally classified as “unbalanced people”.
Little does the world know that to live with bipolar and function on the daily, we out balance anyone. Can I get an AMEN!?

I recently over stimulated myself. I went out too many days in a row, I had too many late nights, and met up with too many people. This might sound like a normal social life, but with bipolar there needs to be “a balance”. Too much of anything is asking for trouble. 

When I’m over-stimulated I get super anxious, I feel like I’m a ticking bomb waiting to go off. I feel exhausted to the point that I’m shaking and I’m super reactive. So at the height of my over-stimulation I did the only thing I could think of – I napped. I crashed hard and long. I slept and when I woke up I felt manageable. 

Balance – you can’t just do what everyone else is doing. You can’t have late night after late night without repercussion, you can skip out on your medication. I take sleeping pills and if I don’t plan accordingly, taking them and waking up the next day can be lethal. There has to be a plan of action. 

As much as people go with the flow, it’s not like that with bipolar. You have to plan and check off the boxes for living your balanced functional life. You don’t just “wing it”. Sure in some aspects of life you can but others not so much. Sometimes I feel frustrated and I feel  like my life is being restricted BUT in reality by me sacrificing having “late nights” I’m gaining so much more. 

Are you eating right, excercising, sleeping enough hours, taking your medication, going to doctors appointments? These are some of the boxes on our checklist that to some may seem optional BUT are not. Everything I listed allows me to live a balanced life. I make a conscientious effort and when I falter in any of those departments my quality of life is hindered. 

Sure people with bipolar have their checklists of things they do and I’m not taking away from that, I’m merely stating that to function or rather to thrive someone with bipolar has to put in a heck of a lot of effort compared to the average person. And by living their daily life they are slapping the stigma that people with bipolar are unbalanced. We are not unbalanced and if you step into our shoes you’ll see that to go day to day we are more resilient and balanced than most. 

– Steph

On Your Darkest Days


I am going to share with you one word that I’ve applied to my life and it’s made a huge difference. 

Compartmentalize

It’s a big word with a potentially big impact. 

Let me tell you why. I have lows, and they can be bad, they can be ugly, they can be long. BUT just because I have them doesn’t mean everything is bad, it may seem like it BUT it’s just not the case. 

So what does that mean? It means that there is more to life than my low. More to life than your low, and if you can compartmentalize while you are in your low you will see that more clearly. 

Someone recently asked me how I was doing. I’ve been in a low lately, and this was my response: “Personally I’m not really feeling well, but if I step outside of just me – work is great, my family is doing good, the gym is going really well, and I have exciting plans coming up. Aside from “me” feeling poorly everything else in life is going great.”

Did you catch that? I expressed that me alone I am not doing well, but when I looked at different areas of my life, when I looked at all the pieces that equate to making up my life – the verdict is that my life is actually going really well regardless.

I may be feeling poorly but that doesn’t mean my life is a reflection of that. 

And for so long that was my thought process. If I feel terrible my life is terrible. This was my mindset and it was a black hole that I would feed in my darkest hours. 

Am I perfect at compartmentalizing? No, but I have realized that when I try to go thru my dark days with this mind set, it makes everything that much easier. And I am sure if your lows are anything like mine, they are anything but easy.

There are so many layers to your life. I guarantee that they all can’t be going downhill just because we feel like we are in the depths of despair. If needs be write it down! Write down what is going right in your life, separate to your feelings. I am always an advocate for writing down your thoughts, there is something so powerful about seeing something tangible. So instead of writing down your feelings – scratch that. Write down what is going right, whatever that might be. Make a distinction between how you feel and what is going on in your life. You’ll be surprised that things aren’t as bad as they seem. It may be annoying to hear BUT when you are the one convincing yourself of that rather than someone else, its so much more bearable.

Hopefully this can help you battle your darkest days. You are stronger than you realize. 

– Steph

Another Year Bites the Dust


It’s that time of year again. Time for me to turn 1 year older. 

I turned 26 on October 11th. 26! It’s hard to believe, I am closer to 30 than I am 20.

In all seriousness, I’m fine with getting older I just don’t want to get old alone. That’s when age freaks me out, that’s when I lose my cool-calm-and-collected composure. 

I had a bit of a premature party the other day prior to my birthday – it was a pity party to be exact. I was already extra emotional from being in a low, but the fact that I’m as single as it gets turning 26 really stung. Needless to say, I have some amazing people in my life and as I talked throughout the day with them I gradually started to feel better. By the end of the night I was ready to face 26, better yet I was ready to own it.

I realized that I am so much more than a number and relationship status (shocking I know), I have done so much and I am going to do so much. I should celebrate my 26th year because I’ve worked so hard to have it.

The opportunities ahead of me are limitless, my adventure is continuing and I am grateful for that. 

I celebrated my birthday with my family and my sisters all worked together to orchestrate a wonder woman theme. They said they look at me in my life and think that I am wonder woman, which really means a lot to me. It’s silly because she is just a fictional character, BUT she denotes a strength and confidence that I do hope to emulate. The fact my sisters all think of me in that light means I am doing something right.

In my last post I expressed that I was excited about life AND that still rings true at the ripe old age of 26. I am excited about life – about my life.  

My life just keeps getting better and I know that my 26th year is no exception. There are no limits.

– Steph 

Just Live A Little


Life.

My oh my. 

I’m currently working on making the most of my life. Recently I had someone walk into my life, mind you I showed them the exit… BUT for the brief time they were in my life they caused me to re-evaluate how I was living it. I am the most stable I’ve ever been – this is a fact. But there is more than just being stable. More than just holding the status quo.

I’ve done things in my life, but I haven’t all at the same time. Living was such a struggle for so many years I feel like my life was a bit of a write-off. Perhaps I haven’t completely escaped the mentality of just surviving. 

But I’m here. I’m alive and I want my life to reflect that.

I was asked about my bucket list and I only had 2 things to list off. On top of that the two ideas weren’t even that creative! 

That just won’t do.

Over the course of two weeks I developed a bucket list. Or rather “lists”. One list outlines things I would like to do over the course of 2017/2018, and the other lists things I’d like to do in a lifetime. I’m trying to step outside of my box, escape the mundane routine I’ve created. Add a little bedazzle. Spice things up. You get the idea.

I’m really proud of my list, it took quite a bit of effort to create it. 

It’s so easy to get into a routine, routine is good don’t get me wrong BUT there should be more. More to life. Where did my exploratory nature go? Where is my sense of adventure?

I was going thru a bit of depression the past while, feeling trapped. But I realized I was the one putting myself in the cage or like I referred to it earlier – a box. I was the one restricting myself, no one else.

When you feel trapped you are the only one who can free yourself, whatever that situation may be.

Escaping our box is a choice, and most often it requires that we put in effort and feel a bit uncomfortable. And why must we feel uncomfortable? Because my dear friends, we are stepping outside of our norm and its the price we must pay.

And when I say I want to live life I don’t mean I need to climb Mount Everest or backpack thru Europe, not saying I’d turn down the opportunity.  What I’m talking about is reading books, going to museums and art galleries, taking guitar lessons, joining a choir, going to a paint night (which I just did … my painting was terrible! But I had fun making it, and that’s what it’s all about), simple yet impactful things that will add dimension to my life. 

Dimension that’s my objective. I want to have something to talk about, things to look forward to. I want to meet people, enrich my life with perspective. Expand my way of looking at life and take advantage of the life I’ve been blessed with.

I want to be an actively engaged in my life rather than passively letting it pass me by.

I feel so passionately about this new outlook on life, I feel alive and excited for what is to going to happen because of me making it happen. 

Ask yourself if you are trapped in routine, feeling like life is escaping you – then make a list. Make a list of things outside of your box and start doing them.

It’s been a big year for me. Lots of new chapters with school ending, me getting my dream job, a couple of toads crossing my path. I feel like in my life’s story is picking up its pace and it’s only going to get better! 

Stop thinking about all the things you’d like to do. Take action and do them. Liberate yourself from the box you live in and add dimension to your life. Stay stable but add a little bedazzle. 

– Steph

Good Things People

What better time to write a blog post then when you’re stranded on the side of the road. Looking for the silver lining

Presently that’s me. 

By the time I post this I’ll be rescued BUT since I’ve got the time I’ll write away. 

Life update.

I’ve been doing good. The breakup is going good… he contacted me and wanted to work things out – go figure BUT in the words of Taylor Swift I told him we are never ever getting back together. And I feel great about it!

I started my new job at a family law boutique firm and I absolutely love it! Everyone is so nice. I will be working for two lawyers… it should be interesting and I’m sure I’ll be writing more posts about this new part of my life.

My health is good. It’s amazing what leaving a toxic relationship can do for you! I’ve had doctor appointments and I’m managing well in their eyes. My medications hasn’t changed and I don’t feel like there is a need to. I have a good combo going on right now. 

On to the fun stuff… 

I am going to post my DIY project down below … I finished it early last week and I am so happy with the the final result! It makes me even more excited to move out so I can put them to good use. (January is when I plan to move out)

Just a reminder … the table I bought for $25, the chairs $3 and the stool $3, the fabric for $30 (but i didnt use all of it), the stain, stripper and sand paper probably around $55… I had some at home as well. So not too shabby!

The before: 

The in-between… the stripping and sanding took a long time! 

The finished result:

And there you have it! My new dining set!

It was a lot of work BUT worth it, and I always enjoy these types of projects when it’s all said and done. 

I have all few more coming up so I’ll post those as they come along. 

Life is going good presently and I have a lot to look forward to! (Minus my broken down car set back BUT it could be worse, so I’m still smiling)

On a side note… all that weight I gained (which we determined was from my seroquel) I’ve lost 17lbs … I still have 15lbs to go but I’m grateful for the progress. I think I’ll write a post talking more about it later. 

Good things people. Good things. 

I just feel so grateful and blessed one decision can change your life and I feel like I’ve been making some pretty good decisions lately.

So my dear friends, make a decision today that will give you a better tomorrow.

– Steph