Face Lift

As you may have noticed my blog has had an overhaul, and I have to say I’m loving the new look. It was a process, I lost sleep over it to say the least (it would be fair to say that I was over stimulated and slightly obsessing over it) BUT holy cow has it been worth it! I can’t however, take all the credit for the work that’s been done on my blog. Like I mentioned in my previous post I paid someone to transfer my blog to the new host because I had no clue what I was doing and there was no way I would have been able to figure it all out without crying myself to sleep.
So, who was my saving grace in this whole process? Her name was Megan, cleverly titled by WordPress as a “Happiness Engineer”. She has been instrumental in remodeling my blog, I’ve had numerous questions and this Wonder-Woman-of-technology has answered them all and gone above and beyond to help me bring my vision to life. She was so friendly and patient and I am forever grateful.

I am so relieved it is done. It has been a learning process and I am sure there is a shwack load of more learning to do, but it is only going to get better from here on out.

This post is intended to get the ball rolling, to let you all know I survived. Hallelujah!

Happy Monday everyone, I hope you all have a wonderful start to your week.

– Steph

Step By Step

Life is so unpredictable, but I’m taking it step by step.

I still feel like I’ve won the lottery because I’m confident with who I am and I have so much to be grateful for. But oh boy, I broke a mirror on moving day … and 7 years seems like a long time!

I was in a fender bender on the day I moved – whilst driving my mother’s vehicle to my apartment (packed with my some of my things) a young girl cut me off as I was letting another car in front of me while in rush hour (she almost hit the car merging into my lane) and alas the immediate break while in bumper to bumper traffic wasn’t enough. So I clipped her car.

What else-

The fellow I’ve been seeing the past 2 months went to my work Christmas party last Saturday with me. Something felt off and I was left uneasy. So what did I do? I talked to him on Sunday.

It wasn’t just Saturday that felt off, ever since I got back from my trip he’s been hot and cold. I don’t play games – and I don’t appreciate being treated like one.

This conversation should have happened sooner, but it took place Sunday. I bit the bullet and faced the elephant in the room – why? Because I was unhappy, and why should I suffer silently when I’ve been gifted a voice and mind of my own.

Ultimately we weren’t on the same page, so we are parting ways. He wasn’t a toad – just a frog.

I get to hold my head up high because I was mature enough to communicate my feelings. I expressed what I needed to express, I didn’t just go with the flow. Who knows how long it would have dragged out.

Don’t be silent and passive in your relationships. If you have the opportunity to be happy take it. Even if it means you have an uncomfortable conversation.

2 months with him is better than 6 months or a year when ultimately we aren’t heading in the same direction.

Back to square one! Oh how I hate dating but as before my focus will be on myself and improving myself – when I meet the right guy he won’t catch me twiddling my thumbs in a castle tower. I’ll be living my own adventure and he’ll have to catch up to me.

A new beginning.

Nothing is wrong with that.

I feel stronger than I did before, I know my worth and it wasn’t dependant on the young man I was seeing. I’m priceless and one day I’ll meet someone who sees that. Until then I know it – and that’s all that matters.

What else –

Living on my own has been great, I miss my family and my close proximity to them all but Nutmeg and I are getting along pretty good.

I am still settling in, so I haven’t made a direct routine yet. I’ve been fitting in snowboarding … or perhaps snow falling is more accurate (I’ve been improving, but my body and ego are bruised) I have yet to go to the gym though. Next week. That’s when I’ll make my triumphant return. This week I’ll make my workout schedule. I’ll plan my meals. And I’ll be ready to go starting Monday.

I am planning to take classical guitar lessons starting January. And I’m planning on making a trip to the library to get my card (and books). So much to do!

I’m also thinking of taking Nutmeg to doggy daycare once a week (on Wednesdays) starting in January, just to get her out of the house in the winter since we can’t go for walks. I feel like she needs the socialization and something out of our ordinary to look forward to. I’m home Saturday and Sunday so it’s a nice way to break up the week for her.

Ultimately things are still going great. The frog wasn’t a setback, he was just a clean slate.

Never pass on a conversation because you think it will be uncomfortable. You will feel worse dwelling on the thoughts and emotions you feel than you will by just talking. Even if the outcome isn’t what you want – at least you get an answer.

Chin up.

Onward in our adventure of life!

– Steph

Farewell My Little Love


On Tuesday I said goodbye to one of my hearts most cherished treasures. I said goodbye to our family dog, Canela. She lived a life filled with love, both in giving and receiving. 

She would have turned 17 in December and I have no doubt that she would have lived past that, but it was her time. She was no longer having good days, and her body just wasn’t coping with her aged body. My family and I are certain without doubt that she held on to life as long as she did because of our love for her. 

I remember the day we brought her home, I was in grade 4 and I had convinced my mom I was sick. I was so excited to be getting a puppy and she was adorable – absolutely adorable. Over the course of Canela’s life I trained her to do numerous tricks such as, play dead, army crawl, roll over, shake a paw, dance and a few others. She was one smart cookie. 

Canela was a family dog, but it was clear who her mom was – my mom. If my mom got up Canela was up, if my mom moved Canela moved. It was like this to the end. This isn’t to say the rest of us were chopped liver, but Canela adored my mom. It saddens me to know how sad my mom is over the loss of her. It has hit my entire family hard but for my mom it especially breaks my heart.

My youngest sister was in grade 1 when we got Canela and now she is married with a 1 year old and plans for another. Canela has been thru so much, she will be missed. It’s crazy to think of how much time she’s experienced with our family. 

“Pets” are more than just pets, they are extensions of your beating heart. Filling your life with so much more meaning than you would otherwise have. Canela was practically 17 and my little Nutmeg will be 7 in November. Time is precious and so are their lives.

I have no doubt my life has been enriched because of Canela’s place in it, she will be missed more than words can express. 

My hope is that you all can experience such fulfilling love in your lifetime.

– 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

Run to the Rainbow! And EAT IT!

Skittles

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.

image

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