Sunday, 24 May 2020

Just cruising by.

Mum came to visit in the summer of 2014, only a month or two after I had quit my job.

I was still extremely stressed out and felt like I had been pushed to the edge.

We planned a cruise to Alaska which was just wonderful but I was hiding something quite big.

I had started hearing voices, louder than they had ever been before. Sometimes I would see things in the corner of my eye and when I looked again, they were gone. My moods at this point had become that much of a rollercoaster that I couldn't really tell the difference between up or down. Something I now know to be rapid cycling.

During the cruise to Alaska, I made a decision to fall back on my old coping mechanisms. To pack up and hit the road once more. Part of it was the only thing I knew, but a big part of it was the voices.

The voices were telling me that I had to make a pilgrimage. That in order to sustain the new life I had found (pre recent work stress that is!), I had to travel to Nova Scotia - New Scotland, to find 'New Natalie'.

I declared my road trip plans to mum, who, knowing my love for adventure, helped me pack up my apartment and move into my car.

I never once considered taking a road map. I never once tried to plan ahead. Somewhere, somehow, I knew that the universe had my back. That I would end up where I was supposed to be.

And off I went. Me, my car and my dog. Making our way across Canada, where the road ahead was filled with meaningful signs.

As per usual, at this point, there were days filled with hysterical laughter and days filled with hysterical tears. I actually have videos from the car somewhere but I am too nervous to watch them, as I know they depict the highest of highs and lowest of lows I had ever encountered.

Love xo

Friday, 22 May 2020

Team work makes the dream work!

Waiting for me on my return from fun and adventure on the west coast of the states, was nothing short of turbulence.

When I got home to Victoria I was met with tears from my staff. One of the managers was being extremely cruel and bullying our front office team.

It was horrible.

Not only that, but she was not capable of doing the job that was asked of her.

We had a few head management meetings about it, but the owner was too scared to reprimand or fire her because of her abysmal attitude.

The only solution he could come up with at the time was to schedule my shifts around hers, to fix her mistakes and pick up the work she failed to complete, as well as keeping her from working with certain staff members. The end goal, for him, was to push her out.

Her attitude was shocking and in turn, it brought out a horrible side of me. I was curt and snappy to her, as it seemed to be the only thing she responded to.

It was a sad state of affairs, especially considering I had joined the team 2 years earlier and absolutely loved my job.

The entire office became hostile and toward the end, I downright refused to work with her.

Very, very sadly, one of the owners passed away. I hung on for a few months more but I just couldn't bear it any longer.

The environment that had been built had left me jaded, bitchy and sick with anxiety. I was so stressed out, I knew I had to make a change.

I quit my job and started working on side projects, but by then my moods and mental health had taken a big hit.

It was hard to ignore the voices in my head, it was even harder to ignore the signs from the universe.

One day I went to the doctor for a prescription refill and she seemed extremely worried for my well being. I assured her that I was completely fine, besides some recent work stress, but I was fine.

My friend also took me aside on another occasion and discussed the idea that I may have a mental illness. Again,  in my eyes, I was fine. I even went to the extreme of not reaching out to that friend for a while.

I didn't need people telling me something was wrong with me, not now.

The next few months pushed me into completely unknown territory.

Love xo

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Island Life

 It was an adjustment moving to Canada as a whole. Everything was a lot more laid back and slower-paced. Living in Glasgow, Perth & London, this was certainly not the case.

I quickly settled and fell in love with my new home but sadly within my first year on the island, I experienced some severe trauma. I won't go into it now as I'm not quite ready for that, but let's just say it was a time!

I made what I thought was a conscious decision to stop living in pain and anguish and move forward, but unbeknownst to me, the elevated mood I soon found myself in was a bit of a danger zone.

I was back to who I was in Australia. Most days I was fearless and running at everything with a loose tongue.

I had so much fun and got so many things off the bucket list but there was always this lingering feeling that something was not 100% right. Especially on those days where I would kick-off, flip out or the opposite when I would wrap myself in my blankets, turn off the lights and cry for hours.

It was a strange time for sure, but I had been there before.

I often chalked it up to being 'just the way I was'. At this point, I had little to no education on bipolar. I had no idea what hypomania was.

The next couple of years were fab besides the ups and downs I had now grown used to. I got to show my mum around my beautiful new home and we did so many cool things together, like camping, a trip to Seattle, afternoon tea, whale watching and even kayaking. Mum was such a great sport and with my new elevated mood, I had planned every day to the minute and packed in so much adventure for us. That was one of the best summers of my life. Mum and I's relationship grew so much stronger.

The fun continued with a trip to vegas and then a road trip through the west coast of the states. We cycled the Golden Gate Bridge, rollerbladed down Venice Beach, drove the Big Sur, got ice cream at Santa Monica Pier,  watched Dave Chapelle and Flight of the Conchords live, I even got to see my favourite band play in San Fransico!

WOW. The things I could accomplish when I was, in hindsight, 'hypomanic'.

But as always, there was a downswing. I was so riddled with anxiety that my moods would sometimes whip around all over the place. I would suffer severe panic attacks but have no idea what they were and would be too terrified to talk about it. I would be so depressed that I once again considered hurting myself, but I knew I had to push through it. I knew I was here for a reason.

Love xo

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Saskatoon to The Rockies & Beyond. . .

Once those qualifications were bagged and I made the move to London, I realized that I needed to keep moving. I needed to chase the person I thought I was, or could be.

I applied for a Canadian visa and soon left the UK armed with a guidebook for Canada & New Zealand (both of which I still have in my bookcase I believe!)

When I first arrived in Canada in 2011, I was still quite lost.

Pretty much as soon as a landed I looked for a job and fell into yet another rut. I was working two jobs and blowing off steam on the weekend. I found I had no real pleasure or joy from the little things and I was just working to live another day.

I'm so happy for the people I met in Saskatoon and although I was very depressed, they were some great times.

After living in Sask for around 6 months, my manager told me I would be waiting on him dying or retiring to get his job and that it would make more sense for me to apply for other management positions outwith Delta hotels.

I took his advice and was soon offered a management role which turned out to be on Vancouver Island. I had never heard of this place before!! Sure I'd heard of Vancouver, but Island? OK let's go!!

I had a skype meeting on the Friday and they asked if I could be there by Wednesday, so in true Natalie style, I packed up my car and left for the West Coast on Monday morning.

It was such an exciting trip. The landscape was incredible and I picked up my first hitchhiker in Lake Louise. We saw mountain goats and even stopped for an avalanche canon. A true taste of the rocky mountains.

Reaching the city of Vancouver I was overwhelmed with a sense of excitement and as I drove onto the ferry I felt a tingle.

Little did I know this place would change my life.

I had some meetings with the team at Ocean Island and rounded my day off with a meal and some margaritas at Cafe Mexico.

Right then at that moment, I knew something big was happening, I just didn't know what.

Love xo

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Why can't I use the party hat emoji on blogger?

Because there bloody well should be a party hat on this post!

It happened.

As of Friday, May 1st 2020 at precisely 2.15pm I was discharged from outpatient psychiatric care.

My psychiatrist said with great delight that the next time he will see me is when I am on the psych ward working alongside his patients, whether that be as a volunteer or as an employee. . 



I can't believe this day has finally come and I'm so proud of all my hard work - cause you know, it does pay off.

6 years ago I was a mess. 5 1/2 years ago I reached out and admitted I needed help.

No it's not been plain sailing but every moment that led to here was worth it.

The trial and error with medications, the CBT classes, the therapy, going back to university to take abnormal psychology classes. . all of it has led to this.

To recovery.

I had the education and tools to manage with Bipolar 1 & PTSD and I KNOW I can keep this up.

Wooooo. What a feeling!!

Love xo

Friday, 1 May 2020

Ahhh yes, that ‘time in my life’.

After a couple of years travelling I returned to Glasgow with the plan of getting qualifications and hitting the road again.

I was pretty lost and managed to get myself into a bit of a rut.

I’m not proud of who I was at all.

I had never really had a large circle of friends. I was bullied in school and kinda bounced around friend circles depending on my mood, but somehow when I returned to Glasgow in 2008, I had the biggest circle of friends I ever had. More than a few of them were just ‘drinking buddies’, but some of them were wonderful people.

If I had the chance, I would tell them all how sorry I was for my behaviour back then. I spun back and fourth between manic and depressed. My anger was out of control and I was often known as the bitch of the group. I just couldn’t hold my tongue sometimes and when I thought someone was, or was going to be rude to me or my new friends, the defences came up and I struck first. This was in a bid to avoid being ridiculed or bullied but it was not healthy. The walls I had built left me with a very lonely existence, even with all these people around me. I pushed people away and rarely spoke of my emotions, even though I was in complete despair, self harming and suicidal. 

My lifestyle back then wasn’t helping my mental health in any way but it was a crutch for me. A way to make it through another day. Another drink, another party, another late night. I really don’t know how I managed to hold down multiple jobs and complete a college course, but I did! And I’m proud of that. I don’t know where I would be today if I hadn’t of gotten those qualifications and gotten out.

We dabbled in ecstasy back then and I know it is an effect of the drug, but I felt so much love and happiness when I took it. It was like I had no worries at all and I was flooded with positive emotions. Which was quite new to me and it became a bit of an indulgence every so often. I wouldn’t say I had a problem in any way, but I did do it quite a few times.

I actually think drugs like ecstasy and mushrooms should be (and currently are being) used in mental illness therapy. The fact that they produce such positive moods and allow you to detach from trauma is astounding. Obviously, in smaller and more controlled doses. We have a ways to go in research but I think we are on the right track. Last year my doctor recommended that when larger trials begin that I to put my name down. He thinks it will really help my recovery from PTSD.

After completing my college course, I accepted a job offer in London and moved away from the life I had built in Glasgow.

As much as I get a slight shiver when I look back on this time in my life, I still wouldn’t change it. Again, I would change my reactions to things 100%, but in the end, it all led me to here. 

To happy. 

Love xo