Saturday, 16 March 2019

Rabbit Holes.


I fell down the hole. 


I was on top of the world and I thought it couldn’t happen, then BAM. 

I should have seen it coming.

I should have seen the warning signs. The losing interest in normal activities, poor cleanliness around the home and personal hygiene, not eating, not sleeping, overthinking, crying. . Ok, yeah I definitely should have seen it coming. It was a slow play.  Around 4 weeks to get to breaking point I’d say. Last time this happened I took myself to the hospital to avoid the spiral. This time I wasn’t as panicked.

Sure, I closed up for a while and didn’t want to talk about it, mostly because I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t doing well. I’ve come so far in 2 years, I didn’t want to go backward.

The panic attacks and nightmares started up a few weeks ago. 

I should have seen it coming. 

I thought back on the last 6 weeks and watched my self-care fade away.

I should have seen it coming.

I’ve been so tired in this new full-time position. I genuinely thought I could handle it, but in hindsight maybe I can’t. I can do the job no question but I can't work 45+ hours. I often found I never had the time to do anything for me. No reading, photography, writing, walking. Over the weeks' everything else seemed to break down. I was coming home stressed, and this is my bad, but I wasn’t communicating it enough. I know my team would have worked hard to help me but I was still coming to grips with the early warning signs. I didn’t want to believe that hole was lingering.

It all became too much and the self-doubts start creeping in. You’re a loser, you can’t handle a full-time job, pathetic, absolutely useless, you don’t deserve the opportunity, you don’t deserve the balance. Cue more panic attacks.

That’s when the tears started. I cried at conversations, songs, tv shows, movies, memories. I cried in front of people and I cried when I was alone. I fell asleep crying and I woke up crying. My emotions were so fired up.

When I was alone my thoughts moved with speed but I didn’t want to talk to anyone. 2 zopiclone and 2 Ativan and still nothing. Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts.

My thoughts were racing around my head, not giving me peace, freedom or even sleep. It was a prison of worthlessness. 

Ahhhhhh

Can’t handle it.

Why can’t I handle it? Other people can handle it just fine? What’s wrong with you? Smarten up.



I took a few days off of work to try and get back on track. I spoke with my doctor and my psychotherapist. I increased my meds and slowed down my lifestyle

Steve stepped in and brought out my crisis management plan. 

Step 1: Use the chart and be transparent about what stage you are in.

Mmmm depression you say?

Sadly, according to the charts, the solution was the hospital. I wasn’t going to let that happen. 

IT DOES GET BETTER.

Baby steps. Thursday I brushed my teeth. Friday I had a shower. Saturday I washed my hair. 

It took so much out of me just accomplishing those small tasks. I felt so slow moving and exhausted but I felt accomplished and that’s important.

I read through some old blog posts and journals. I can do this. I’ve been here before, choose how you want to deal with it.

I started taking my emergency medication Serequol. I’m not pleased to be turning to this medication but I know it impacts. Last time I was on it my emotions quite swiftly turned off. Yeah, it was no way to live back then but for a couple of days that was the respite I needed.

I’ve tried to challenge my thoughts and overcome them with positive self-talk. 
I HAVE to take control.

Maybe the reality is I can’t do the things I have done pre-diagnosis, pre psychosis. Over the years and without medication, mania drove me to set high standards but that’s no way of life. Mania might be fun but the short ferry ride to psychosis and the come down is not worth it. For me, medication is key to keeping that side of bipolar locked away.

It’s very clear to me though that I don’t yet have enough clarity and or balls to recognize and handle my depressive episodes as well as I could.

Yeah, I have caught the last few before they ran away with me but fuck! I can be getting there earlier right? 

I really need to work on this. I will manage this. 

Future goals.

For now, I’m going to read some Eckhart Tolle and book a massage. 

I’m hoping I can rest and clear my head enough to actually be functional at work by Monday but I think I need to reduce my hours moving forward. 

I need to look out for me.

Take good care of yourself, friends, YOU are important <3

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

The war is over.



I just got home from my psychiatrists' office and you won't believe what transpired today...


DISCHARGE


That was the topic of conversation. I'm saying it again just to be sure, DISCHARGE.

A lifetime at war with myself and 5 years stuck in the mental health system, and we are finally talking about discharge. I cannot believe this is happening.

I have come such a long way; through the cutting, the suicide attempts, the torment, the depression, the mania. It has all led to this. Stability.

I couldn't have done it without the all the support from my friends and family. So I will take this moment to say THANK YOU.

Thank you for holding me when I cried, for wiping up my mess and staying strong through crisis.


Without you, by my side, I was doing this with half a heart.



Without your words of encouragement and love, I was an echo down an empty hallway.




Without the strength you have shown me I could never have found that for myself.





The therapy, the psychiatrists, the medication, the care strategies, the rehabilitation classes .. ALL of it has led to now.

A couple of years ago I was on an intense prescription of medication, over 1400mg of drugs per day. Now I can say with a more holistic approach that I am on 102mg. Yeah it takes time, it takes trial and error, it takes hard work BUT it can be done.

Special thanks to Dr. Boston, Dorion Dellabough, my caseworker Andrew, Vancouver Island Health Authority. . the list goes on.

Biggest thanks to my mumma, my rock. Flying from Scotland to sit by my side at doctors appointments. Late night phone calls and messages. Nonjudgemental love and guidance the whole way through.

Andrew, that day you brought me to the mental health emergency services all I could think of was disappearing, escaping, getting out. The voices, the visions, the sleepless nights, the panic attacks and everything in between was a test, but in the end part of the journey.

You cannot appreciate the stars until it gets dark, and if darkness took me one step closer to the light then I regret NOTHING.


I can only hope and pray that this is my life now, and if there are blips? I know I will get through them because there is always tomorrow. There is always another chance, another path, another push to success.

IT GETS BETTER.

I promise you that.

5 years ago, in the midst of a major psychosis, I could barely tie my own shoelaces. My mind was scattered, my brain stopped working and my life was teetering on the edge of existence.

I stand before you today and I scream, 'YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS'.

It might seem like a hell hole right now but there is another side.

There IS happiness.

I love you all so much.

Thank you.

xo

Monday, 28 January 2019

Set expectations, break the stigma.

Stigma around mental illness is still so prominent. I found myself running into it lately and was unsure of how to handle it.

I had mentioned to you that I had not yet disclosed my illness to my new employer, mostly because I don't have much experience in disclosing my situation (except to you guys and some loved ones), but I was also scared.

Would they judge me? Would the review my job offer? Would they expect less?

I had no idea.

Sure you can't legit fire someone for having a mental illness, and hell would I even want to work with a team that viewed me differently for it in the first place, but it was all unknown.

A few years ago I made the mistake of 'fessing up' to some co-workers. The outcome profusely saddened me. I was met with what I believe to be naive and ignorant comments such as 'someone with your condition should be at home on disability', 'you shouldn't be working with people'  and my personal favourite, ' I hope you're on medication'.

A lot of people really don't understand bipolar, I tell ye!

It made me feel sad and to be perfectly honest, less than enthused to share a very important part of my life with friends, family and coworkers alike.

Fast forward a couple of years and I dare not mention anything at the interview because of the (admittedly my own) STIGMA still surrounding it.


And then there was today. . .


After thinking about it for a while and receiving some very welcomed advice over the weekend, I thought why not rip off the band aid. Honesty is the best policy, right? I sat down with the owner of the facility, and then later the manager and they were both so receptive of my news. Not only were they encouraging and thankful that I opened up to them, but they offered support and made it clear that this in no way altered my position with them.

Stigma sucks, it really does, but we don't NEED to meet that expectation - we NEED to set the expectation.

When I was first starting out on my road to recovery, the idea of telling anyone my secret brought me to tears. You should see the hysterics that would set off when I did in fact get round to telling someone. It wasn't cool, but I wasn't stable, I wasn't in a good place and I certainly wasn't in control.

Yet here we are almost 5 years later, with care strategies, medications and 2 years of stability under my belt.

For a change I am happy to talk about my situation because finally I know that it does get better.

I hope you know that too. It does, and it will get better.

Love xo






Wednesday, 16 January 2019

A Jobs Worth.

I've been trying to weed out stressors in my life for quite some time now. It is crucial to my recovery and stability that I am not over stressed, especially by the little things.

I was beginning to realize that there was one major stress factor in my life, and I have been cowering to tackle it.

My job.

I was not happy, not challenged and certainly not engaged.

I didn't know where to turn. I have been in the same industry, and a similar role for the past 15 years. I didn't even know how to change it.

Where do I start? What's gonna be flexible and understanding of my illness? Do I have the time to change my career prospects? Do I even have the energy for all of this?

I thought about bookkeeping. It has always been a go to of mine and something I usually fell back into throughout my career, but I also didn't want to walk away from something I'd stuck at for so long.

After mulling over my situation for a couple of years, and with things not so peachy at school, I thought what better time than now to make a drastic change.

Looking through job ads was daunting. Nothing jumped out at me. I whittled it down to 3 positions; 2 of which were bookkeeping for hospitality and the 3rd was a total shot in the dark; front desk at a local gym.

I didn't think too much of it and submitted my applications.

Within 30 mins I had en email back from the gym requesting an interview, and within the following 24 hours I had heard back from the other 2 positions. One was sadly already filled and the other also arranged for an interview.

Bear in mind I hadn't been to an interview in quite some time. The last of which, I was just coming back from a major psychotic episode.



Bright and early the next morning (8 AM to be precise), I went to meet with the manager of Innovative Fitness. I could not believe what was outside my world of hospitality. Within the first 10 minutes it was crystal clear that this team were built and motivated by team work and collective inspiration.

I went on the other interview on the same day and was over the moon to be offered both positions, but I couldn't shake the feeling I got from the gym.

After a second meeting with the principal, it was decided that I would start training the following day.

Since then, I have been waking up at 7am, running the front office, drinking my tea AND now, training with a personal trainer. What a perk! My own PT. This change is going to do wonders for my mental health, I just know it. So far I'm eating 3 healthy meals a day, sleeping better and drinking less.

Our staff meetings are made up of goal setting - staff and clients alike work together to push boundaries and challenge each other.

What's more, is that within the next couple of months I will be further utilizing my skill set by taking over bookkeeping duties.

The bottom line here is that, for the longest time and because of this illness, I thought I wasn't capable of trying something new. I thought I wasn't capable of reaching out to the unknown. I thought I wasn't capable of the challenge. .  and that's my story. .

YOU CAN DREAM.
YOU CAN MAKE CHANGE.
YOU CAN CHALLENGE YOURSELF.
YOU CAN DO BETTER.

And in the end, what do you have to lose?

I didn't disclose my situation to the team, but I am willing to bet that not only will they be supportive when I do, but they will work with me to achieve a better level of stability and health.

GAWD, I'm buzzing.

Love xo

Thursday, 3 January 2019

2019 - I'm coming for ye!

Hello old friends,

Why, it has been too long. I do apologize. I have been so wrapped up in life lately that free time has been allocated to sleeping only haha

Med wise, things have been ultra stable. Taking the lithium out of my diet has been one of the best things we could have done. I tried the PTSD meds for a few weeks but I didn't see much of a difference if I'm being honest. My next step in combating the fear and nightmares is going back to weekly sessions with my psychotherapist. I have also been introduced to a course called CBT for insomnia, which I aim to dabble in by the end of January.

All in all, this bipolar thing is STILL pretty under control. 2 whole years and no trips to the psych ward, no severe episodes - I couldn't ask to be in a better position than right now!

And then the new year comes along, wagging its funny little tail hehe. . .

This years goals you ask?

Well. .  considering I haven't set myself any goals in almost TWO FREAKING YEARS. . its about time to start making some moves. If you click on that link you can see some of the goals and ideas I had in 2017. I had only been feeling better and balanced for a few months and I was ready to take on, well, life I guess. After setting said goals I spent most of my time enjoying myself and not necessarily working towards anything. I traveled, I laughed, I met new people, I made money, I spent money, but overall I managed to live my life. Something that I thought was long gone during the depths of my bipolar. The fun has to . . not stop. .  but be contained. I want to balance my lifestyle; having fun whilst achieving goals.

So lets run at it again shall we:



Self Care:
  • Biweekly psychotherapy appointments
  • Three monthly psychiatrist appointment
  • CBT for insomnia
  • Regular sleep/ wake schedule
  • Healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Relaxation; walk, massage, night on the sofa, hot tub etc
Education & Work
  • Continue with front office administrator & bookkeeping Job
  • Continue with spray tanning business & boost promotions
  • Explore business accounting or business admin course
  • Listen to two new podcasts per week
  • Read one new book per month
Leisure 
  • Write one new post per month
  • Write one new creative piece per month
  • Submit regularly to competitions & publications (Four per year)
  • Listen to one new album per week
  • Volunteer
  • Travel to a new destination annually
  • Socialize, Socialize, Socialize
  • Create something



So, really, these goals are pretty similar to the last ones. Uuuuft. But I tell you, I'm closer this time.

The most recent change in my life has been going back to, and developing my career. Unfortunately this meant giving up my studies. Primarily I lost attendance marks in my writing classes, whilst gaining A's & B's on papers. It meant that the average grade was lowered and it didn't fill me with motivation to continue. Because of this, I have decided to pursue writing at my own leisure. After all, there are a plethora of publications and competitions just waiting on a wee demented Scottish lassie to say her piece haha

My new job has filled me with confidence and promotes an all around healthy lifestyle with regular sleep/wake routine, nutrition and fitness. YES, I do work with a bunch of personal trainers and I bloody love it! It keeps me in my all too familiar area of Front Desk but branches me out into a different industry and within the next 6 months will also allow me to utilize my bookkeeping skills. My hope is to intertwine my career with a business management course, perhaps something online would work best around my busy schedule and that way I wont lose out in attendance marks.

Launching my own small business a few months ago has been a thrill in itself, it's still a small poke of chips at this point but its slowly growing. I have had some delighted clients and wonderful reviews. I can only hope to keep people glowing all year round - but time it shall take.

In other news. . (**remembers a distant me saying I was going to put myself out there). Well I gone and did it, didn't I? I put myself out there. With less than high expectations to be fair, but nonetheless I have wound up meeting a wonderful man. We just celebrated our first Christmas and New Year together and I could not be happier. <3

You can't knock this smile 2019 - LET'S GO!

I hope your new year has started off well. If 2018 was a shite one for you, it really can only get better from here right?

Love xo

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Hello there beautiful!


Howdy.

Things have been going quite well since we last spoke. My Pdoc and I decided it was time to cut the lithium completely. It took an adjustment period, but I have now settled back into it and feel much better. No longer do I shake or vomit - hurrah!



On the flip side, I have been so busy with school, 2 jobs and launching a small business that I am running around playing catch up, especially with my sleep. Given the season change, a mood change was also bound to come. It seems that seasonal affective disorder is closely linked with bipolar patients, kinda makes sense. Some days I'm waking up at 4am, others I'm not falling asleep till 4am and finding myself sleeping till late in the afternoon.

Now that we have the bipolar under control and safely managed (almost 2 freaking awesome years without a major episode), its come to light that I might still be dealing with a past trauma. We have come to this conclusion mostly because of the nightmares, but also just that it plays on my head from time to time and gives me an uneasy feeling. To combat this, we have decided to try out a PTSD medication.  The medication is called Prazosin. I've done some research and from what I can see there as much less severe side effects than some of the other meds I have tried. We're going to give it a bash starting December time, so expect a report back. Now that I'm on a lesser cocktail and intensity of meds it feels safe enough to try something else out. The nightmares and terrors are just too much.

I hope you are keeping well. If you have any feedback on Prazosin, please let me know. I'd really appreciate it.

Love xo

Thursday, 13 September 2018

This one's for you. .


So I wrote this poem around 6 years ago and it just popped back into my mind after an inspirational day of classes. I've never shared my poetry with anyone in my whole life, so go easy on me haha. . .







I think she's an angel, the best of a dream
A life so selfless, she is pure, she is clean

There was never an obstacle, no step too tall
The ups and the downs, she handled them all

With love in her stride and pride in her heart
She put me together, with all the best parts

For that, I live indebted to her
My hero, my muse, my voice from above


Love you Mumma bear xo