Darker Days

At times I feel like I am enveloped in darkness. I feel trapped. I feel as though I am less-than because I am not able to escape the depression that plagues my life time and time again.

Yet out of the darkness always comes something beautiful, out of the darkness comes a greater appreciation for life, out of the darkness comes empathy, out of the darkness comes a strength that is unfathomable, out of the darkness comes a resiliency that is far too often undermined by our society.

The butterfly endures the dark, endures being trapped and comes out stronger and more beautiful. The butterfly finds its freedom.

The darkness does not last forever.

– Steph

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Reality Check

This post required two quotes, so you know it’s about to get real.

Goodness, the past few weeks I have not been in the right head space. (If you couldn’t already tell)

I have been trying to practice mindfulness, trying to stay positive, trying to remind myself of the direction I am taking my life. Trying to stay in control. Trying, trying, trying. It’s been exhausting. I feel like I’ve been in a constant battle with myself. Fighting for the life I want to live that isn’t defined by my bipolar.

My perception of reality has been distorted to say the least. It’s like I’m there, but I’m not there. I am present yet I am absent.  I feel so deeply but then I don’t feel anything at all. If that even makes sense.

I can be lethal when I lose my grip (literally lethal – like a completely different person), I think I have come a long way so I like to think it doesn’t happen all that often, but sometimes the bipolar gets the best of me. Sometimes, the rational emotions and ideas escape my grasp and I’m left with impulse and tunnel vision.

It’s terrible, but it is a reality I face. I like to post positive posts as much as I can, because that is the direction I am taking my life a reflection of how I choose to live. But I still suffer at the hand of my bipolar, I am not immune and I don’t feel positive all the time. BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t have a happy productive life, which is what I hope to illustrate with my blog, I do consider my self a happy person when it’s all said and done.

However, that being said, I am human and I do have bipolar and there are symptoms that come with this mental illness. I hate using the word illness because I feel like it diminishes how far I have come BUT it is an illness, it is a trial, it isn’t a walk in the park.  I have bipolar. It’s just a fact. I am not the disease but it does play a role in who I am how I act and the decisions I make and that is the honest truth. I have made decisions that I would never had made without the effects of bipolar being a factor. It is not an excuse for my actions but a factor in them.  At the end of the day taking responsibility for them allows me to move forward. BUT gosh, sometimes I wish there was an undo button.

There are some things that I find harder than others with having bipolar. Some symptoms that are more prominent and I really have to check myself and have safe guards BUT even then, sometimes I bulldoze right thru them. Sometimes I am relentless and nothing and no one can change my mind and course of direction regardless to whether it is to my benefit or demise.

I have an appointment booked with my therapist, I am going in to talk to him in person rather than thru our phone call appointments – I feel like it is a state of emergency. As you may know we’ve been having phone call sessions to accommodate my work schedule, but that’s just not going to cut it this time. I don’t like feeling like I’m losing control and that’s exactly where I’m at. I feel up and down, numb and yet volatile, high and low, I like to be in control – I like to be the captain of my decisions which can be a challenge when you have bipolar to say the least.

I recently lost my grip. I essentially plowed thru logic or reason and hurt myself and those I love in the process. I had something made up in my mind, it didn’t make sense but I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I saw it thru – why? I have no idea. Consequences were not something on my mind, I felt as though I was immune to repercussions and the idea of them didn’t seem plausible. Some how I would act and come out unscathed. Sometimes feeling so deeply can be a curse. Yes, it can be a blessing, and I like to look at it that way BUT it can be a two-edged sword. It can cause you to defy all reason.

I am facing my reality. Facing the consequences of my actions, re-evaluating my life and piecing myself back together. Perhaps piecing together is a bit strong, it’s not as though I have completely come undone, it’s not as though all the work I’ve put into myself hasn’t been decimated by this one action. The years I have been working on myself have given me a strong foundation to fall back on BUT there were a few blows to it and I need to strengthen and reinforce it so that I can confidently move forward.

Am I a bad person? No, I am not a bad person. Did I do something I would have normally done had I been thinking rationally and without so much emotion pulsing thru my veins? No, no I did not. But that comes with the territory of having bipolar. You sometimes aren’t yourself even though you are still you.  Sometimes the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde happens. You just have to live the best you can and brace yourself for when those times come, and come what may accept it, acknowledge it, own it, learn from it and then move on. You can’t dwell on all your poor decisions or actions. If I did that I would be miserable. I would be consumed and lose sight of who I want to be and who I really am. I am not my bad decision. I am not my out of character actions. I am Stephanie and I am human.

This post perhaps wasn’t the most uplifting, but it is where I am at and a testament that I am moving forward. It is my reality and my reality isn’t always pretty. I struggle, I fall down, but I get back up. Time and time again I get back up and if I can do it – so can you.

– Steph

Grow Up

Communication is apparently rocket science.

This quote summarizes all the frustration I’m feeling. I’m literally fuming.

I’ve had one too many encounters lately with men that are incapable of using basic human speech or text to communicate on a respectable level.

Throwing my hands up in the air, like I just don’t care.

Oh so tempting.

I’m taking a break from the dating game. If I end up old and alone at least I’ll have my sanity – something I’m losing with all the frogs and toads I’ve been encountering. I’m pretty sure I’ve hit a record.

-Steph

Give It A Rest 

This topic came up briefly in a conversation this week, and I thought it would make a good blog post especially as we are entering the new year with our plethora of resolutions. 
On our grand journey of life, amidst all of our goals and in between the ups and downs we have, I believe it is vital to learn the difference between resting and quitting. It’s okay if life exhausts us mentally and physically! That is bound to happen at some point and time  but what isn’t okay is rolling over and playing dead as life pasts you by.

Take a breather.

Rest, regroup, and refocus then get back on the horse.

Giving up can lead to poor self-esteem, it can cripple you and create a mentality that you are incapable of following thru with anything, that you will never succeed; that you are a failure. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Each of us is capable of accomplishing our goals, we may stumble a little more than the average person at times BUT that’s doesn’t mean that we are incapable.

If we have a heartbeat we are capable. If we have a desire we are already on our way, we just need to implement action. And when we implement action we need to recognize that if we to rest, regroup, or refocus it doesn’t mean that we’ve quit.

Sometimes our rest may need to be a little longer BUT that’s okay! So long as you pull up your socks and keep moving forward. Remember, progress not perfection.

Don’t get caught up in negative self talk- labeling yourself as a failure if there is a standstill on your journey. You are not a failure. You are human. Taking a rest is not failing. And that is a distinction you need to be aware of. Once you can distinguish that you are still on track to meet your goal even though you’ve rested, the goal will not seem as overwhelming  because you will realize you don’t have to “start over” every time there is a slight hiccup.

Allow me to make an analogy.

If you hike a mountain it is not uncommon to rest. Now, may I point out that just because you rest it does not mean that you’ve quit. If we looked at every time you rested while hiking a mountain as quitting (meaning you had no choice but to turn around and hike back down the mountain). You would be backtracking non-stop! At that rate you would never reach your goal of getting to the top. You would most likely be exhausted physically and mentally and reach a point where you didn’t even want to step foot on the mountain. No body hikes like that! And for good reason.

Look at your goals with that mentality, permit yourself to rest without backtracking all the way to the beginning. Pick up where you left off and move forward. Remind yourself that you are trying and that is what counts.

Trying is HUGE! Do not dismiss your efforts with so little value. No one ever accomplished anything without trying first. So, try, try and try again.
This is an exciting time of year where goals are ablaze, be excited, don’t be discouraged. Recognize that 2018 is going to be your year, and it is going to have ups and downs and standstills and that is perfectly okay – it will not take away from it being any less your year, and an amazing one at that. 
– Steph

Choose Happy

It’s that time of year again – when it’s a new year.

I love New Years, it’s a time of reflection and anticipation. What a sublime mix!

So much has happened in the year 2017, I’d say mostly good but undoubtably there were some challenges along the way. I feel excited to see what 2018 brings. There have been so many new beginnings for me recently so New Years seems fitting and right on schedule.

I love the simple illustration above, 1 year = 365 opportunities. How great is that?!

We are about to embark on a new 365 day adventure.

And what would New Years be without goals?? I’m all about goals, I believe they should be set beyond the New Years hype but if New Years gets people into a goal oriented mindset so be it. My “2018″ goal is to work on my balance. I want to be a modern renaissance woman. I want improve my intellect, spirituality and physicality. I want my knowledge, enlightenment and action to all increase.

It’s exciting to think I have an entire year to measure my progress. From where I was at the beginning of 2017 to where I am now. Life changing. I’ve had so many profound experiences that have shaped me. I think I’ve managed to become better from my experiences – not bitter. And now I get to bring my new package into 2018.

I recently bought some wall hangings for my new apartment one says “This is the good life” and the other says “choose happy”. I get a kick out of both. I live with bipolar, I live a life that no one would wish on anyone but at this point in my life I know I’m living the good life – bipolar and all. And secondly, choose happy, sometimes my mood is not my choice. This is why I chose this wall hanging. I used to resent when people would say “just choose to be happy” but now my perception has changed and I bought this wall hanging to remind myself that beyond the scope of my health their is a choice with how I choose to live. Regardless to my lows and highs. I still can choose me. And I choose happy.

If I feel nothing – I still choose happy.

If I’m crying for hours – I still choose happy.

If I have to fight with myself for days or weeks – I still choose happy.

It’s worth fighting for, it’s the life I want, the person I want to be – happy. We may not get to feel happy but the twist is that we can still choose happy. And at the end of the dark tunnel, that is the light that I see and hold on to.

Think of 2018 and all that it has to offer. Think of where you want to be in life and make it happen, you have 365 days to try and I guarantee you will become better day by day.

Look for positivity, radiate positivity and do not settle for anything less.

There is no need to justify negativity in your life whatever form it may be. 2018 is your year.

Choose happy, and remind yourself that it’s your life and you are living the good life. And if you aren’t then change things until you can say you are. Be in control of your life because it’s yours and yours alone.

Own 2018.

Happy New Years everyone!

– 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

Better Than Ever 

This blog post is being collectively being written from various airports and plane rides. My original flight was cancelled and I’ve been rerouted, rather than landing at my destination this evening, I will be arriving the following day. No worries – it’s an adventure.

I have to be honest lately I’ve had this feeling like I’ve won the lottery even though I don’t gamble.

Nicaragua was an amazing life experience – different, but amazing. I am going home to move into my new apartment (which I am incredibly excited about – it represents my independence), I will be reunited with my sisters whom I’ve missed (and my little nutmeg) … and a certain young man that’s made quite the impression.

I am also looking forward to getting back to work (in a career that I love and in an amazing firm) and hitting the gym to smash my goals.

Life is so great.

It’s hard to believe there was a time I didn’t want to live. A time when I would plan the way I was going to die. What a difference.

I know I have bipolar, I know I take 3 different medications, I know I have psychologist appointment every 2-3 weeks, and a psychiatrist appointment every 3 months (it used to be every 3 weeks). I know all these things BUT I know there are moments, where I don’t feel like I have bipolar, where I just am. My sister has even told me sometimes she forgets I have bipolar. It’s unreal how far I’ve come, how I see myself and life differently.

I don’t just function, I don’t just cope – I live.

Being told I had bipolar was the best thing that could have happened to me. It gave me the chance to finally have a life. It finally gave me the answer I was looking for. It opened the door to opportunity, the door to understanding.

Knowledge is power, self-awareness is power. And I was given that power the day I was escorted to the hospital and later diagnosed. It’s ironic I was locked up in a psych ward (terrified) but it was in that moment that I found my freedom.

I love life. I honestly do.

There are times where my mind try’s to tell me otherwise BUT like I said, knowledge is power and I know that I love life. I know my lows will end and I will see the sun shining as bright as ever.

There is so much to do in life, and because of the work I’ve put into my health I get to do it. Sure, I have safety buffers that others without bipolar might not have to worry about BUT if it means I get to step outside of the cage and shackles I was living in before, then so be it. Bring on the buffers.

Invest in yourself- go to doctor appointments and be actively engaged, apply the techniques discussed. Create a support system – people who you can trust and talk to (you are only alone if you choose to be) and educate yourself. When I was diagnosed I read books about bipolar, books about living with it, books about your loved ones perspective with living with someone with bipolar, and cognitive behavioural books and articles given to me by doctors. I made notes, I wrote questions – I refused to sit back and be passive in my own life. I took control of my life once given that chance, I’ve had help along the way but it was a choice I made and I’ve done everything in my power to fulfill it. It’s a never ending process, bipolar doesn’t just go away BUT it can become manageable.

Never doubt what you are capable of. Your happily ever after is a journey and I promise you it’s real.

-Steph