How Tuff Are You?

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In society I think there is a misconception about what it truly means to be “tuff minded”. Tuff is not relentlessly going through life, guarding yourself against other people who cross your path, getting them before they get you. That is not the makings of a tuff mind. Rather I believe a tuff mind evaluates situations, developing the best approach that builds people up along the way.

Caring for others, in a world that screams competition; now that’s a tuff mind.

I watched a documentary and it made an interesting point that we are conditioned to compete from the get-go (there are some cultures that do not follow this approach). Firstly when we are placed in school where there is ample competition with peers, then entering into university MAJOR competitioand and lastly entering into the work force. All our peers are considered competition; standing in the way of us recieving potential awards, raises or promotions… competition, competition, competition. In order to succeed we have to pull away from the rest, leave them in the dust, step on a few small people to get to where we need to be. Casualties are inevitable right? Wrong.

This misguided belief, suggests there is no winning as a collective group. Instead we must strive to stand alone making our mark above the rest. But truth be told people get lonely standing apart from everyone, because we are not meant to be alone. It’s not in our nature. What one person can do alone is weak compared to the potential strength a group of people offers.

People are not tuff based on their “individual successes”. What truly makes someone tuff? Reaching the top while bringing others up with you, especially as people tell you it’s a waste of time and energy. That takes true strength and requires a tender heart. When you succeed and share your knowledge, you create a fulfilling life ultimatly yielding greater success. And when I refer to success I’m not solely referring to monitory value. I’m referring to life as a whole, living and feeling alive with purpose, now that is success.

*** Side note: I’m not condemning all competition because I myself am a very competitive person BUT the difference is as I compete with myself to be a better version of me I DO NOT put others down in the process (at least that is NEVER my intention). Putting others down is never necessary in order to achieve our personal goals. Winning and losing is a part of life and doesn’t singularly determine and define our value OR the value of someone else.

Put your tuff mind and a tender heart to good use, grow and inspire and lift others up along the way.

– Steph

Stand Up Straight.

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Alrighty! So my post yesterday kind of hinted at the fact I was running around with my emotions like a chicken with it’s  head cut off. Not very fun or attractive, nor was it a necessary.

I’ve honestly always danced to my own tune. We’re talking wearing sweater vests when my peers were wearing brand names or wearing matching neon pants to a button up shirt that was covered in daisies. Or perhaps me buying loafers in the senior’s shoes section years before that trend hit mainstream  (seniors loafers are way more comfy just for the record) or perhaps as I read the dictionary on my way home from elementary school.

I didn’t worry about if people liked me because I liked myself. I was never much for “hanging out”, instead I liked flying solo working on different skill sets, striving to be well rounded (this was a goal since I was little… don’t ask me why)

I practiced and I studied so that I could become the best version of me, being confident in my pursuits and crafts. I like the notion of being dynamic. With that being said I never really dwelt or consumed myself with the worrisome thought “will they like me”

Perhaps moving around so much contributed to the desensitized approach of wanting to be liked so bad… who knows. NOW getting into the juicer segment of this topic. Why in the world was I in such a panic and disarray about this Mr.Mr liking me?!?

There was/is really no need for me to make myself sick over someone of interest. If I want to be in a relationship I WANT them to like me for me NOT someone I’m pretending to be. What in the world would be the point of that? Why should we feel insecure about ourselves and what we offer when it’s literally ourselves and what we offer. I wouldn’t want someone to like me if they wanted to change everything about me. That would be a whole lotta-lotta lame.

Additionally, we need to give ourselves some credit. We bring plenty to the table and if it’s not the right fit between the person of interest THEN we move on because there will be another person that does fit and wants us to be a part of their life in all of our glory!

I had to do a lot of talking with my family trying to sort thru and calm down my racing thoughts and emotions. But when it came down to it, I had a wake up call that it doesn’t matter at the end of the day if he seriously is not interested. What matters is that I’m okay with myself if he doesn’t. What matters is that I don’t let a single human being determine my value. My worth. Or dictate whether I’m happy with myself or not. (been there, done that!)

I am so happy with myself, I’ve been a work in progress especially since the last few years of my life have been incredibly rocky and volatile. Where I am now, compared to where I was & where I’m going in life. I am so proud of myself and happy with myself. And no one has the right to take that away. Nor do I have the right to give someone the power to take it away.

Sometimes we need a little reminder SO on that note; I implore you to recognize what you uniquely offer. You are a one of a kind, and it doesn’t matter if “they like you” it matters if you like yourself. Stand up straight, stay strong & stay confident.

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– Steph

Become Stronger, It’s as Easy as 123

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The other day I was having a conversation about compliments. I am a huge fan of offering sincere compliments, I think that they bring out the best in both the person who receives and the person who offers.

Magnifying people strengths, and building them up as opposed to tearing them down…. now that takes true strength and confidence. It’s so easy to get caught up on imperfections… society has made it a mission to point out the most minuet flaws a person could possibly have. It’s condemned aging, and tries to continually sell the concept that “we can’t possibly be happy in the skin we are in… you need to do this or that, buy this or that AND then you can maybe be happy living with yourself.”

Compliment. Defy society’s cruel unyielding attempt to make us weak, feeling less than beautiful because we are flawed. Compliment, and break the concept of us being in a competition with the unknowing person beside us. It’s not a competition, and when you compliment and see the beauty in another person, you yourself become that much more beautiful.

Beauty starts from the inside and manifest itself outwardly. When we see beauty instead of everything that’s “wrong” we start to approach people and life so differently. Be confident enough that you can magnify others, AND be confident enough that you can receive compliments. Before we even hit 3 seconds we generally brush deny a compliment. It’s a fact. So next time someone offers a compliment don’t reply right away… breathe count to 3 and then say thank you. Don’t put  yourself down when someone just lifted you up. There is nothing wrong with saying thank you. It’s not being full of your self. It’s taking pride in your self.

Everyone has weaknesses, and we can all work to improve them without being put down.

Sometimes it’s a challange finding the good in people but the more often you do it, the easier it will become. I guarantee you will find more love in your heart then you ever thought possible.

Take the challange to look for the good, and literally express the good to people.

Happy Monday!
– Steph

Something Small & Something Simple

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How many times have you heard the phrase “it’s the small and simple things that matter most”?

I’ve heard it numerous times, and when it comes down to it- it’s true.

Yesterday, when I arrived at work one of the girls had sweets for everyone with individualized compliments attached. When I received her kind and simple gesture – it was incredibly heart warming.

Something literally so small, had a huge impact on how I felt. And that my dear friends is the power of “small and simple.”

Whenever I receive something tangible or intangible, it’s the genuine thought behind the gift that matters most NOT the fiscal value. Part of my mother’s birthday gift this year was a poem I wrote. As I was writing this particular poem I cried like a baby, I was swept away with emotions of love that words do not adequately express. When my mother read her poem, I witnessed tears fill up her eyes as her heart was filled with love – and that moment was priceless. (And of course I cried some more)

When it comes to relationships regarding friends/family or your significant other, I completely believe it’s the small things that matter most. The simple gestures that indicate you care, that you pay attention, or that their happiness means something to you. These simple gestures are the glue to keeping that love and relationship alive.

Now, moving quickly onto the topic of health. Small and simple things = success. The building blocks to sustain a healthy (and ideally happy) life are achieved by simple things. My doctor is always kind enough to reiterate them to me –  adequate sleep, eating consistently (and ideally healthy foods),  exercise, taking appropriate medication as prescribed, positive affirmations of self love and worth and getting outside to get some fresh air and sunshine. These are simple things (and perhaps obvious) that have a SIGNIFICANT impact on your day to day life.

Take a moment and just think of what you could do for someone else. It could be as simple as giving someone a smile, a hug, a delicious McFlurry  (I adore McFlurrys) or maybe 5 mins of your undivided attention so you can hear how they are doing. Maybe it’s watching a football game even though you don’t like football, or buying a single rose…. there are infinite small and simple gestures that we can do for those around us… heck even if they are strangers. I guarantee that you will not only touch their hearts, but yours as well. It’s a win-win on the journey to happily ever after.

Here’s a quick analogy because I like using anaologies….when your building a brick house it doesnt automatically appear like BOOM – I snapper my fingers it’s all done. You build the house brick by brick … one small & simple brick added onto another until you have sturdy, safe and beautiful house.

Placing one brick on the ground can’t build a house. Just like giving only one thoughtful gesture per decade can’t build or sustain beautiful meaningful relationship. Allow love to fill your heart and start strengthening your relationships one small and simple gesture at a time.

– Steph

Run to the Rainbow! And EAT IT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Steph

One Day. That’s All It Takes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Steph

Medication – Who Needs Them?? PT3

Fall Apart

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s hope, I am living proof.

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

 

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

With love,

– Steph