A Cure

Alright. Where to begin.

Over the past while I have been plagued by some memories of my past – in particular a relationship. This relationship extended over years, a brief history to understand the extent of this connection is the fact that I first met this individual in Jr. High School and in later years after keeping in contact we began a relationship (enough said).

The fact that this individual and the memories surrounding him crossed my mind was a constant discomfort to me. I felt guilty. I felt terrible. I felt like I was betraying my relationship, my husband – my marriage. It was something I talked to my doctors about and it was the same old solution – let the memories come – let them go – and do not judge yourself. Yah. No. Not working.

That advice was easier said than done. However, in one session with a random therapist in the new city I am in, something was said and it triggered a series of thoughts that I will get to in a little bit. What this psychologist said was “perhaps the memories are not the problem BUT it is the credit we give them, the power we give them as we try to rationalize them and make sense of why they are happening”. Okay – now I can definitely appreciate that new insight. It was something I had never thought about in LITERALLY countless hours of thinking.

I was adding fuel to the fire as I tried to determine what each and every individual memory meant and quite frankly as was to be determined THEY MEANT NOTHING.

BUT this is where it gets good… the comment the psychologist made was good food for thought BUT what really made me shake my head with a new found outlook on my life was a conversation with my older sister.

I called my sister in a frenzy during a lunch break, I was feeling sick from the amount of memories crossing my mind. I felt like it was getting worse NOT better and that I had no control over my mind anymore. I felt like I was looking backwards despite the fact that I was trying oh so very hard to appreciate and look forward into my bright future with the man of my dreams.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME?!

Did I still have unresolved feelings? I couldn’t. I knew I didn’t.

The relationship I was reflecting on ended on bad terms and was over almost 5 years ago, sure we kept in touch but, I AM IN LOVE WITH MY HUSBAND, no doubt in my mind or heart that he is my living heart beat.

So why the chaos? Why was my mind creating a problem where there was none?

Simply for that reason. There is no chaos in my life. MIND BLOWN! That was the insight my sister shared that changed my life. Like the therapist said my constant trying to “figure out” the memories was adding fuel to a fire. The fire set being myself.

For the last 9 years as my sister helped describe to me – my life which has been a roller coaster (excluding the most recent year), I was in one terrible relationship after the other. For may of those years I was undiagnosed and living in a hell on earth. I was functioning in chaos. That was my normal. My normal was to be in defence mode, to be fighting with myself and the men that I loved in any relationship I entered, because they were almost always toxic relationships (don’t ask me why). Associating with people in my past relationships was like a drug addiction. My normal was wayyy up high on the chaos wagon, not down low in a mellow peaceful state.

My husband is the polar opposite of chaos (which was one of the reasons I fell in love with him). He is a calm in the storm. He is peaceful, literally the opposite of anything I had ever experienced since the age of 17.

That’s not to say that I have not enjoyed my life and journey over the past 10 years. There have been amazing moments and serious leaps and bounds of self realization. For instance the memories I was thinking back on were good for the most part BUT deep down I wasn’t reminiscing on the memory; what I now know is that my mind was trying to recreate the chaos and panic I was living in during that time of my life, so for convenience it was bringing up that particular time in my life AND because it was about an ex of course that would create drama in my present life, where there would otherwise be none!

CRUEL BUT BRILLIANT. Just thinking about how my mind when thru all that effort to simulate chaos so that my body could feel like it was in a state of normalcy is incredible. The mind is a force to be reckoned with.

But in actuality, what has this epiphany done. It has calmed the storm my friends. I am no longer plagued by memories, a fleeting one may come and go BUT it is no where near as chaotic as it was. I know what is going on and why it is happening. I have the power again. There is no power in the memory.

I can’t emphasize how happy and at peace I feel. I have been sleeping better, I feel happier over all.

I know. I know. I know. I know that I am adjusting to this new “normal”, this new peaceful relationship – life in a new city, with a new job, away from my family and doctors.

I know that my mind was playing with me trying to recreate a sad excuse of a “comfort zone”, because my new zone was too good to be true. It blows my mind to say that I grew comfortable in my chaos, that is what I knew and expected. Is it what I wanted – NOT AT ALL. However, I was conditioned to normalize the experiences in my life because they were my normal – which doesn’t make them healthy.

I am healthy today. I am happy today. I have been chaos free for over a year and my mind has plagued me the entire time, trying to find a problem where there was none. (the memories were the only thing causing mayhem in my personal life)

All of my memories. All the feelings being brought up had absolutely nothing to do with the individual they were about, rather they about the state I was in at that point in my life. He has no power over me. He has no place in my life. He is in the past.

I am free.

I am not sure if this post captured the essence of this discovery, but if you are being plagued by memories give yourself a moment to ask yourself if the plague is actually about the person or rather the state you were in at that time. Your mind might be playing with you like mine did to me. The memories were a façade for a deeper problem.

But like I said a million times over and I will say it to my grave, once you acknowledge the problem and give it a name, once you know what is troubling you, YOU are that much more capable of resolving it.

Hallelujah and amen! I hope that if anyone is experiencing a similar situation this gave you some insight, and if not I hope you enjoyed the read.

-Steph

Shine Bright

Gratefully I have not had to encounter this that much in my life in recent years (I learned to cut people out who demonstrate this type of negative energy). Ultimately this quotes communicates a compliment that I think everyone should understand.

People who attack you as this quote expresses should only reassure you of your infinite potential. What a compliment. The fact they are trying to bring you down already testifies that you are above them. Not in a superior way (because everyone has value) but in way that you you are going places that they can’t follow, because of their self-loathing that manifests itself outwardly as attacking other genuine people.

Rest assured that you have infinite value and potential contrary to what people might say. When people speak ill of you, they want you to feed into their lies. That way you to become dependant on their opinion of you rather than being independent with how you personally view and value yourself. When they do this it gives them the power to bring you up or bring you down – it gives them the power to determine your value and ultimately your happiness or perception of happiness.

If you need someone else to reassure you of your value, you will never truly be happy or in control of your life. Separate yourself from the opinions of others. Stand on your own with a surety that come what may you are priceless with infinite potential.

Potential scares weak people, that’s why abusers try to take it away from you. Potential leaves people behind who don’t meet a certain standard, people who are complacent in life. It’s terrifying to know you are being left behind BUT rather than stepping up to change their own lives they seek to corrupt yours – it’s the easier thing to do. Something that requires less effort and creates a pretence of power in their life.

Never doubt your potential. Never let anyone dictate your value to you.

Take comfort in knowing that abusers attempts to speak ill of you should only reassure you that you are shining bright and they can’t handle the shine.

Shine bright. Stay grounded. Know your worth. And never let anyone bring you down – you are priceless.

– Steph

Decisions, Decisions 

Decisions, decisions. Sometimes I’m a bit impulsive and I don’t make the best ones. Gratefully one decision doesn’t have to spiral into another and another and another. It can by all means BUT it doesn’t have to.

You choose who you want to be. Some choices are easier than others but at the end of the day you have to live with yourself so choose to be someone that you can like *correction love.

And what happens if you make a decision that is contrary to your very nature? Do you roll over and die wallowing in the error of your ways? No. You acknowledge the poor choice and remind yourself that it isn’t who you are nor who you want to become.

Decisions are what make or break us. But there is no reason that you can’t take a different path once you’ve already started on one. Perhaps you are going to have to literally back track or go off terrain forging a new path, struggling along the way. But struggling is better than willfully accepting defeat in life – becoming someone who you can’t face in the mirror.

Impulse comes with the territory of being bipolar, but it’s not an excuse to throw all reason out of the window! Although I’ve definitely been guilty of that… We need to set up safety precautions when we are fully aware; road blocks that will slow us down when we start to slip out of a reality that faces any consequences. Becuase in that particular moment it’s hard to think of the repercussions.

 If you have a weakness that you are more inclined to when you are either really high or really low, acknowledge it and look for ways to hinder it’s immediate progress. If you have to stop along the way it may give you enough time consider the consequences of your actions.

I’m not saying it’s a full proof plan, but it’s definitely something that may help you prevent some oopsies otherwise

If you fall off the horse you get back on. But always acknowledge and own what you did, don’t stuff it in a closet that’s going to burst open on you. You’ll feel much better about yourself if you take back control. And if you acknowledge it, your giving yourself the opportunity to prevent it from happening again.

I made an impulsive decision recently and it wasn’t the best one. But it’s not going to define me or erase all the hard work I’ve been putting in to be the best version of me – unless I let it, and I’m not. I know what led up to me being in a position to make that decision and I’m consciously making a plan that will not put me at risk of repeating history.

Live life and love life. Love yourself and don’t let a few poor choices define who you are. You are so much more. 

– Steph  

It’s a New Dawn

It’s the start of a new school year, but this isn’t just any school year this is my last year! I entered into a 2 year program and I’m actually going to finish it completely! This may not seem like much to most people but I graduated high school in 2009 and I have been all over the maps with my post secondary since 2010 bouncing from one thing to the next because they seemed like a great idea… first it was a fashion designer, then it was a speech pathologist, then it was a teacher, a dental hygienist… HR business personnel and finally I’ve committed and I’m completing a diploma to be a legal assistant. My health was a huge contributing factor for my prolonged post secondary experience but you live and you learn and you meet people along the way. 

I finished last year with a 3.8 GPA. I’m not saying this to boast but to point out that having bipolar with all of it’s ups and downs … switching medication… upping my doses of medication didn’t prevent me from succeeding. If you put your mind to it anything is possible, we are our only limit.

I’m excited and nervous for this year, there is a lot to learn and a lot of work ahead of me. I’m excited for my practicum and to experience working in a law firm (I’m pretty confident I’d like to go for law and become a lawyer … but slow and steady wins the race, I want one stable career under my belt first) 

I’m not going to lie I’m worried about entering the real life adult work force, sure I’m an adult but working summer jobs and having the luxury of calling in sick if I was really feeling like I couldn’t function is very different than a stable 9-5 Monday thru Friday. In the legal field there are deadlines and as the legal assistant to the lawyers I’m expected to meet them otherwise what is my value to the firm. I’ll face that hurdle when I get there. This year is preparatory for that, I’m working with my doctors and I’m trying to better myself and that’s all I can do.

I’m so proud to say I will be graduating this year, it’s been a long time coming. But if it takes you longer than most people, so be it. Never let go of a dream and goal just because you have to work differently than most people to achieve it. 

 I hope everyone has an exciting year and challenges themselves to dream big and work hard to make it happen. 
– Steph 

What If?

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I don’t really like living with the question “what if?”

If I can avoid it – I will.
I’m pretty direct when I communicate it can be scary and liberating all at the same time. I wasn’t always as direct as I am now, but an accumulation of what ifs made it clear something had to change. Anddddd I can honestly say I’ve found more piece of mind when it comes to the dealings of my life. Being clear is always the most effective path. (I think)

I don’t always get the answer I want BUT I still get an answer.  And an answer illustrates that I tried. I did all I could do and because of that – I can live with the answer. (Even if a person omits an answer …. silence can be heard loud and clear)

Sure, when the answer is “no” it hurts, it stings and honestly sometimes it makes me cry. That makes me human and that would make you human as well. BUT what I’m slowly starting to realize is “rejection” is merely me avoiding the wrong path. A “no” from a person, a job, a school… means that I’l be finding the right yes that much sooner.

No happens, but eventually we’ll get the yes so keep trying. Don’t live with an overshadowing what if because of fear. Talk, ask & apply yourself; when you’ve done all you can do you’ll thank yourself. Their won’t be any looming uncertainty.

No is an answer, it may not seem like the right one to us in the moment BUT when all the pieces fit together we’ll look back and see our growth and be amazed that we had the strength to move forward and keep trying and for heavens sake that the one particular no could have been a saving grace in our life leading us to greater opportunities.

Live and Learn and avoid the what ifs?

– Steph

Seize the Day!

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This quote is blunt, but that’s why I like it. Sometimes bluntness is exactly what we need, whether it be for ourselves or dare I say… directed at others! (Oh yeaahh…I said it)

There are times when I admit the day runs me and when it does, I feel exhausted mentally & physically entrapped in a feeling of defeat. On these days I generally feel like I’m behind on everything and there is no way on earth I’ll ever manage to regain control of my life!! It’s over!! I’m doomed! There’s no hope!! Goodness gracious… how utterly depressing to think like that. BUT at times I do think like that, it’s a reality of my life. (It’s also called distorted thinking)

On days that mirror the above description my secret anitodte for survival is…. breathing. Who knew right??  I breathe and if I’m exceptionally lucky sometimes I manage to successfully remind myself that there is hope, and that day by day I’ll live my life to the best of my ability on that day. It is my life; Stephanie’s. It’s not my Bipolar’s life, or my anxiety’s life or my ocd’s life. It’s mine. So on the days that feel like they are running the show instead if vice versa… I try to remeber they are my days. (Sometimes that’s all the comfort I need)

Attitude plays a huge role in what we accomplish and how we accomplish it. Yes, we may finish a grandeur task but if we do it begrudgingly we will most likely take nothing away from it, aside from a check mark on our To Do List.

By all means checkmarks are great BUT that little check mark doesn’t necessarily signify that we’ve taken charge of our life. Of our day.

We have bad days and for some of us those bad days literally last days or weeks… it’s part of the package deal we took ownership of in this life (regardless to the fact we didn’t ask for it). But eventually  (it may seem like forever) those days pass and we will have good days in their stead. On those days we need to take back our full ability to choose. Choose to run the day. Don’t let it run you. PLEASE, PLEASE do not let the day run you when you have the complete choice and ability at hand.

This isn’t suggesting that on our off days we roll over and die until the off days cease. No, we fight. We are fighters and we do our best to run the off day just as we would any other day. BUT we recognize that if by chance this day or days are getting the best of us we are not failures, we merely need to recuperate so that we can get up and fight again for our days to literally be our days to the best and fullest every other day.

Life is a challange, Life is also an opportunity to grow because of the very nature of its challange. Cease the day, to the best of your ability. Rise to recognize all that you have to offer and all that you have to gain.

– Steph

A Little Bit of Dr. Seuss

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I’m not sure if any one could possibly say it better than Dr. Seuss did.

Life is about learning to learn. That’s the fun adventure we get to experience each and every single day. Yes… I’ll admit that line was a bit of an eye roller BUT if we can use our eyes beyond just rolling and take the following advice seriously, I promise you’ll see a difference in your life. (Look at all those play on words. Dang sometimes I impress myself)

Anyways…. reading and learning; it’s all in our approach, that’s what my dad always told me. We can literally take the most boring topic of life and still find some valuable & applicable information.

I used to read a ridiculous amount of fiction, then one day I woke up and decided it wasn’t for me. I started reading only non-fiction. Self improvement. Self help. Financial, Positive thinking … blah blah blah. So I pose the question is non-fiction with all of it’s decorated authors more valuable than reading fiction? NO! Not by a long shot! Although in all honesty that was the mindset I adopted…. don’t ask me why?!

Recently, I’ve read a fictional book about a women’s trials crossing the plains, finding love and losing it. I cried like a baby at one point and time…. this women wasn’t real BUT the feelings evoked from the novel were. The way I could relate to her; it was incredibly real.

Fiction is just as valuable as non-fiction. When people make remarks about my vocabulary (for some reason people they often consider it a little more diverse than the average joes) I can honeslty acredit it to the plethora of fictional books I read growing up… we are talking hundreds of books…. yes hundreds…. I’m a proud self-proclaimed nerd.

Fiction contains a wealth of knowledge for our taking. You can learn about different countries, cultures, rituals, relationships, empathy, vocabulary… the skies the limit and for a while there I was ignorant enough to think it was a waste of time….

Honestly, sometimes escaping into a fictional novel is just what we need. To see something from someone else’s point of view totally eclipsed from our own lives. However, that being said I am still highly in favor of delving into non-fiction. The priceless applicable information found within those books… blows my mind. I love learning and challanging the way I think; gaining more perspective as I go.

Perspective is Priceless.

There’s honestly so much to be read and discovered within the pages of a book. You learn about others but you also learn about yourself.

If you go in with a closed mind you’re not going to get anything aside from a headache. Which nobody wants…
Life is meant to be lived. To be had. And reading provides extra tools that you apply to your personal adventure!

Life is a balance between learning and doing. Both are critical for our growth.

However, really quick I’d like to mention something I read, which was great advice. Never finish reading a book just because you started it! I read a book titled the “Perfectionist Handbook” (I figured that if I acknowledged my perfectionist characteristics I’d be able to manage them better, so they weren’t so crippling) This book pointed out a trait that I was guilty of and maybe you are too.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER finish a book JUST because you started it! Don’t begrudgingly turn pages and painfully read the content just because you need to finish what you started! I was that person and after being called out because of this book I had a nice wake up call.

Remember that time is the most precious commodity we have in life. Yes! There is something to be learned from anything and everything BUT maybe the lesson is that you are not interested in whatever you were trying to read about! Don’t force it just because! Take what you read dissect it and move on. (Just a little spin on the topic for those who have a bit of ocd and perfectionist ticks)

All in all, I implore you to crack open a book. Let the sky be your limitless limit. Learn to Learn, Live and Learn, Love to Live.

– Steph