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. .


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 small business & boost promotions
  • Explore business accounting or business admin course
  • Listen to two new podcasts per week
  • Read one new book per month
  • 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 trying out a different career path. Unfortunately, this meant giving up my studies. Primarily I lost attendance marks in my classes and even though I was getting good marks, it meant that the average grade was lowered and it didn't fill me with motivation to continue. I feel like I got a lot out of these courses, I wanted to learn about Mental Illness to help understand and move forward from my own situation and I do believe I have achieved that!

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 won't lose out in attendance marks.

In other news. . 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