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

Self-Check

Over the past 4 months a lot has happened, all for the better BUT because of all the sudden change my mood has been affected greatly.

I was married (and started living with someone that I’ve never lived with before – heck I’ve never even had a room mate before, aside from my younger sister), I moved to a new city (in a completely different province), I got a new job (#dreamjob), I lost my medical support that I had built relationships with since my initial diagnosis (they were replaced with a new make shift support), and I moved away from all of my family (whom I am very close with and are another major support system).

Lots of change!

I like to think that I have managed well, but it has been a challenge and my husband has picked up on my mood flux.

Things have been happening that I am grateful for but there has been a lot of change to navigate thru. My husband is beyond supportive, patient and understanding, he has tried to take on the roll of the support team for nearly everyone that I left behind which is a big job to do – dare I say even unfair.

For probably 3 out of the 4 months after my move I was in a low, it was exhausting. I was trying so hard to not let my mental state impact my new job and especially my marriage. I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer- hellooooo my husband and I are still supposed to be in our honeymoon phase. Don’t get me wrong, I have been happy over the course of the 4 months BUT that has been simultaneously been happening while I’ve felt pretty darn low and felt like I was losing my footing. If that even makes sense.

Don’t get me wrong, I have sought medical support and I am trying to build a support system here (and not pin it all on my husband). I have a new psychiatrist – she is nice enough. However, I am still not overly confident in our connection. Our first encounter she told me I had everything together and was absolutely fine. She told me she wasn’t even concerned about ordering my file from my previous hospital…. okay then. You would think that being the case she would delve in and ask me about my history – nope, that did not happen. I have seen her a few times, the last two were better than the first. I contacted her regarding my sleep, because I wasn’t sleeping (we are talking the entire time after my move) – red flag that I am not okay shall we say. Anyways she prescribed me Zopiclone, I took the higher dose that she offered and it didn’t even make me blink. I tried it for 2 weeks and nada. So I went back to see her, at this point she seemed a little alarmed, because heaven forbid I actually wasn’t a perfect patient and actually needed medical support to navigate my diagnosis of bipolar II.

Anywho, she prescribed me two new medications, one of which is for anxiety and the other for sleep. This concoction in addition to my medication medley that I already take has seemingly given me back the sleep that I needed and consequentially my mood has regained a bit more stability – NEVER doubt the impact that good or poor sleep hygiene can have on your mood.

So where am I now in terms of the medication I take? I will give you a break down, please remember that everyone is unique in terms of what medication they require for their individual case.

120 mg – Latuda – Mood Stabilizer
250 mg – Lamotrigine – Anti-Depressant
100 mg – Trazodone – Sleep Aid (dosage affects the role of this medication) (new)
30 mg – Oxazepam – Anxiety (new)
100 mg – Quetiapine – Sleep Aid (dosage affects the role of this medication)

My medication has been a journey all of its own, being refined and tweaked and changed over YEARS. My medication medley has been consistent the past year aside from the new additions now for my anxiety and sleep, however if we look at all the change that has occurred in my life, it is no wonder my sleep and anxiety were impacted as of late. It is so important for us to be self aware. It is so important for us to hold self-checks, to see what variables have changed and how our mood/sleep has been impacted.

Without being aware of ourselves how can you monitor the impact the medication has or doesn’t have on you? How can you measure the impact your surroundings or peers have on you? Without having a constant which is YOU, how can you measure all of the changing variables in different scenarios. As ironic as it is, you are the constant, bipolar mood changes and all. As you become more adept to your moods, what they look like, what triggers a cycle, then you will realize you are indeed a constant in the equation of life and everything else is a variable. That is powerful information that can transform the way you look at who you are and the life you are living or want to be living.

Also, ***key note*** my medication has changed and has been tweaked and throughout it all I HAVE ALWAYS TAKEN MY MEDICATION. High or low I always took my medication, I can’t emphasize that detail enough! How are you going to find out what medication works for you if you don’t take it. Sure, at times it seems like life would be a heck of a lot more fun without it OR perhaps it’s annoying taking it day in and day out OR alternatively you feel like its not doing anything at all and you are fine without it OR it is making you feel even worse. Let me be clear and say that unless the doctor told me I could stop taking medication during the trial period, I took the medication, I documented side affects, I asked questions, I documented mood changes, outliers and when my doctor received my feedback we made changes accordingly, whether that was with the dose or scrapping the medication and moving onto a new one all together. IF you do not take the medication, how will you know the impact it has on you.

Recovery is a choice, choices require action. Be actively engaged in your medication process – don’t sit back and expect everything to work out without raising a finger or opening your mouth to offer an input about your own health. That my friends is just a cold reality of the recovery process.

I am still adjusting, I am still checking in with myself.

I’ve found a therapist where I live and I plan to meet with her once a month. My mental health is a priority and I hope you make yours a priority too. Sure she isn’t my previous psychologist…. nothing like him BUT I am hoping to gain some new insight about myself and my recovery journey. New perspectives are on the horizon.

I hope you found some insight in this post and are able to reflect on your own journey. Regularly self-check and you will surprise yourself with the difference it can make in your life. Remember the highs and lows will come BUT that doesn’t mean you aren’t stable, it’s all in how we react.

– Steph

It’s Not How Fast That Matters

img_0253-1

Something that I came to realize a little later than I would have liked, is that life is not a race. There is not a perfect timeline that we should all be adhering to. There is not a pass or fail for the accomplishments we attain at different ages and stages of our life. It’s okay if we are not marching to the same drum that everyone else around us seems to be marching too.

My life took some unexpected turns, such as my diagnosis with bipolar, that diagnosis was not something I envisioned as a little girl planning out my family, education and career (I was a wee bit odd and started looking at universities when I was in grade 6). My diagnosis impacted my life drastically, not to mention bipolar in general before my formal diagnosis. At times I felt inferior to those around me, I felt like I was watching everyone pass me by with school, career, relationships, marriage, children and so forth while I struggled just to stay balanced and afloat. At least that was the case until I finally came to the realization that I was on my own path. I was growing, I was becoming better, I was gaining perspective and insight, I was meeting my goals – I was just doing it slower than I imagined I would. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.  So long as you are putting one foot in front of the other you will reach your destination and if you stop harassing yourself, you will probably enjoy the process a whole lot more – smelling the roses instead of rushing past and trampling them.

It’s okay to grow slowly. It’s okay to go at a pace that isn’t the norm. When you aren’t rushing thru life trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing, it will allow you to look at where you are going with more clarity and less time will be wasted tripping and taking wrong turns or ending up at dead ends. Be kind to yourself.

I am 26, turning 27 in a few weeks – I have a diploma, not the degree I envisioned I would have from a young age. I have no children and I am just getting married this October (yes, 27 to some people may seem young to get married however, when your mom and sisters were all married by the age of 20, 27 can start to feel old) Anyways, my point is – this is where I am at and I am proud of myself. I overcame so much to be where I am. I have a diploma – I have succeeded in my education, it took me YEARS, but I never gave up and I achieved something for myself. If you knew my educational struggle with my mental health you would understand why a diploma means so much to me and my family. I have met the most amazing man and I am the happiest I have ever been. I am getting married – and I know that I didn’t just settle with any young bloke, I waited because I knew my worth.  The right things are happening in my life because I didn’t give up. I didn’t let my slow growth defeat the progress I knew I was making.

Don’t wallow in discouragement that your growth may be going slower than you like. Don’t be discouraged about your dreams that have yet to be achieved, because they will be – so long as you are true to yourself and put in the effort. I have no doubt you will accomplish amazing things.

I am so much happier accepting my life at the unique pace that it marches to. Don’t compare your pace to that of your neighbours. Be yourself. Love yourself. Nourish yourself and grow slowly – but never give up and never stop growing.

– Steph