Saturday, 3 December 2016

If I Could Schedule Happy, I Would

If I could schedule happiness I would.

If getting happy was as easy as scheduling my hair appointment or getting my teeth cleaned, I’d be the happiest person on earth.

Actually, it’s not that I’m NOT happy. I am. I’m perhaps the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. It’s this damn bipolar that’s throwing a damper on my happy-fest.

This week has been difficult for me. I’ve been disappointed each morning that I open my eyes. That is to say, I am disappointed that I wake up anxious and depressed. I read in a blog somewhere that waking up to a panic attack is like waking up to a punch in the stomach. I can’t describe it better, so I won’t.

I am disappointed and frustrated that this episode of illness in my life is cutting into my happiness. It is draining me of fun and joy and that hurts. There is a difference in the me that you may see out and about and the me going on inside my head and heart. There is nothing sadder to me than acting out joyful moments instead of feeling them.

That makes me angry. I am not comfortable with anger and bitterness. Neither one is a default emotion for me. I truly am happy-go-lucky. I preach compassion and forgiveness. In fact, I may even let go of anger a little too soon sometimes because I don’t like how it feels. I’m not afraid to feel it, I just don’t like it hanging around for too long.

So, this week has been tough. My disappointment, anger, and frustration at myself, at the world and at medical science has made me very “grinchy” right now and that, my friends, is unacceptable in the long term for me.

Trust me, if I could simply “schedule a day of happiness”, I’m fairly sure I would have had this depression thing cleared up years ago.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Sick Enough

It has been a long time since I have posted on my blog. I need to change that.

Sometime sharing is difficult. And sometimes, I may share for the wrong reasons.

What do I mean by that?

The wrong reason is when I want desperately – too desperately – to be believed. But, I realize it’s NOT my job to convince anyone that I am sick. It’s not my job to justify or prove that my bipolar, especially at this very moment in time, is unbearable. It’s not my job to prove that the only reason I can get up in the morning is thanks to a cocktail of medication that allows me these seemingly false, but necessary nonetheless moments of strength.

When able, I MUST participate in life. Participating in life is part of my treatment. I celebrate that. I need that. I get tired sometimes of having to – or feeling like I must – look or sound a certain way to earn the “green light” of being believed or being sick enough. I am tired of thinking I must give off visual cues so that people feel comfortable with believing I am sick enough.

By who’s standards, I wonder?

The moments I can laugh with my family or joke with my friends I hold on to because the next moment may find me plunging into darkness. Such is the unpredictability of a bipolar depressive episode. If you see me smiling or hear me chattering away, recognize that I am simply managing my symptoms in a less grueling way in that moment. Be happy for me if you can.

I am sick now. Right now, I am not able to “power through” or “fight off” this episode. A healthy diet and a good dose of exercise will not make me well. They may help, but they won’t fix it. Lighting scented candles and meditating are also helpful, but not the answer. Sadly, the chemicals inside my brain that govern my illness are in charge and I can manage in whatever way I need to.

No one chooses mental illness. It is not the “new black” or “on trend”. But neither is it something to apologize for. There is no shame in this illness. My bipolar disorder won’t look like anyone else’s. It presents differently in everyone. For me, sadness is only a tiny sliver. It is so much more and sometimes it stops me in my tracks. Times like right now.

It is in these times that I must draw on my own words when I am advocating for mental illness. It is not just for me. It is also for anyone else who feels that they don’t have a voice.

There is no shame. Stigma has no power here.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Week Two - New Meds

Week Two – new meds.

What a ride. And not in a fun “Yay let’s go for a ride!” ride. More like, “wow, this ride is nowhere NEAR as fun as I thought it was gonna be” ride Or “Maybe you better bring me a bucket” kind of ride.

I mentioned in my last post that I have received my new, proper diagnosis of bipolar type 2 and I sincerely thought that I would be at the point of acceptance by now. Right? I mean, it’s been two weeks for crying out loud. I should just acknowledge, accept and manage. Trouble is, my body has been less than cooperative with this new normal and has been quite clear it’s not on board yet.

It’s hard to describe how I’m feeling, so let’s just say I feel one part hungover, one part weighted under a hot, wet blanket, one part confused, another part fatigued beyond belief and finally yet another part thrilled to pieces that I am potentially going to get this right.

It’s difficult work getting well, but I am on it. I just feel like my brain is a little further ahead than the rest of my bod and it’s getting annoying.

The goal of course, is to align both so that I can live with my diagnosis in some form of perfect harmony. Bipolar for me is like that 80s sitcom neighbour who always barges in through the kitchen door and raids the fridge then offers up unsolicited advice. They drive you nuts, but you love them anyway and can’t imagine life without their presence in it.

Yeah. That’s what it’s like.

Next time they barge in, they better bring a bucket.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

I wasn't ready to talk. Today I am.

I didn’t feel much like talking earlier this week. There were a few things I had to sit with first.

I’ve spent a large chunk of my life living with a diagnosis that didn’t quite fit the bill. I’ve suspected for quite some time, as have others close to me, but I was satisfied living with what I thought I knew and managing the best way that I knew how.

Still, something wasn’t quite right.

If you have any kind of mental illness diagnosis, you know what I mean when you get tired of going to doctors and tired of trying new medications and sketchy side effects. All true.

I’ve been of the thinking that if it works well enough that will do. It hasn’t been working well enough for a long time now and after careful reflection and consideration, I went back for a full on psychiatric assessment on Tuesday and the verdict came in.

You know when you hear something you are expecting, but you’re surprised to hear it anyway? Yeah. That’s pretty much how I felt.

I am bipolar.

There, I said it. It’s ok. It’s good to know. I am still ruminating on what it means and how things may change for me or for my family. I brought up this concern with a kind friend who gave me some good advice.

He told me that while the diagnosis is new, I’m not. I’m still the me I’ve been and can only get better. In fact, he told me that I’ve always been who I am and the doctors are just catching up with me now!


True or not, I liked the way it sounded and it took some of this confusing weight from my shoulders. Now I am managing new medication and enjoying (not) the pleasant (gross) side effects that come with changing up what you have been doing medicinally for years, but I’ve got this.

Let’s Talk is a wonderful initiative, how about keeping the conversation going?

Friday, 6 November 2015

It's November, people!

This warm weather in November is nice for some, but it plays havoc with those of us who tend to obsess over things we have absolutely no control over.

You think – Yahooo! Patio season is back!

I think – We’re all going to die

You think – I’m breaking out my flip flops again

I think – We’re all going to die

It’s NOVEMBER people! It’s Canada! We are not supposed to be this comfortable! We are supposed to be at the beginning stages of seasonal affective disorder and wishing for next spring. We are NOT supposed to still be wearing open toed shoes! The timing is all off.

Climate change. Global warming. End of days.

These are the thoughts that are racing through my mind while my kids are out enjoying t-shirt weather and skateboarding.

It is going to be 19 degrees today and I am wearing a voluminous cardigan. I am also sweating buckets, but I DON’T CARE! Not only is it appropriate that I stick with what the calendar says, it is necessary so I don’t fly into the abyss of uncertainty that the world is turning upside down.

I am going to stick to my schedule if it kills me (and it might) and will be shortly breaking out my toques, scarves and gloves.

Of course, this same rule will not apply if it is 20 below zero in July. Which it COULD be! I will bend my principles then, but I won’t be happy about it.


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Taking the Fear Out of Death and Dying for the Overly Anxious

I read something on Facebook this morning that really spoke to me.

“Write into your will that you want to be cremated. Before you die, swallow as many popcorn kernels as you can.”

Well, I laughed.

As someone with a severe anxiety order, I spend an unhealthy amount of time fixated on my fear of death and dying. I am always looking for ways to manage this fear since there is really nothing I can do about it, right?

I was inspired then, to make up a list to help myself (and maybe others who share this fixation) take the fear and add some fun into the prospect of death.

1.       Start sleeping in a coffin when you turn 65 (earlier if you’re a smoker)

2.       Begin listening to Leonard Cohen – as I’m pretty sure that’s what they play in hell

3.       Take comfort in the fact that people will continue to insist on wishing you a happy birthday long after you die, so in fact, you never really die at all (I have gone on the record before as vehemently opposed to this practice as it really makes no sense)

4.       Go into Sephora and ask for a practice casket makeover (you know, like a bridal trial)

5.       As a transitioning dead person, contact Revenue Canada and inform them that you no longer will be filing your tax return

6.       Finally, what to be buried in? It’s so hard to choose just the right outfit for special occasions.  Consider changing styles of the future – in fact, why not buck trends and design your own burial outfit and really make a statement?

The above list is by no means complete, so I encourage you to come up with your own ideas. Today and especially tonight, being Halloween, is the perfect mood setter don’t you think?

Happy Halloween, y’all!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Damaged Vans and Corn Mazes

I am always learning things from my kid. As much as I like to think that I am smarter, more evolved and far more in control of my emotions than he is, I realize that we are so much alike sometimes it’s downright terrifying.

Take this Thanksgiving weekend for example. The kid drives me nuts. He always has, but on this particular instance, I realized that what he was doing was EXACTLY the kind of thing I have done (still do) to my nearest in dearest. In particular, when someone suggests a solution to an identified problem, instead of just accepting that’s the answer and settle down again, I (we) tend to ask for clarification over and over and over and….you see?

Someone smacked into the back of our brand new van while my husband was inside Loblaw’s shopping on Saturday. He came home and showed me the damage (it’s a healthy ding, but nothing too major). I tried to stay blasé about the whole thing. He even told me that he was putting a call into our insurance broker on Tuesday (today – I better check on this!) to see what our best option is. Fine answer. Logical answer. Still, I don’t think I’ve asked about the plan any less than a dozen or two times since then.

Honestly, just knowing the van is sitting in the driveway, damaged and we aren’t doing anything about it RIGHT AWAY, left me in a general state of unease the rest of the weekend. I even know it’s happening, but it doesn’t change anything. Annoying right? Yeah, for me and everyone around me.

Now my kid, who has an obsession about well, everything comes into the picture. Not only does he notice the van, he chimes in with the questions as to what, how and when will the damage be fixed. He is relentless. I’m not sure how he is still alive.

I took him to a corn maze yesterday to distract him. Think about that for a second. I took an overly anxious, OCD and panic stricken 13 year old into a corn maze as a way to distract and relax him. This is the part where I question whether or not I should be a parent.

Still, he wanted to go and go we did. Thank God his stepbrother was there to keep a close reign on the two of us and prevented us from spiralling out of control (FYI he’s 12). My stepson was enjoying the adventure, while my son and I were fake laughing (ha ha this is really fun, right? Fun? Isn’t it?) half expecting a homicidal maniac to leap from behind the stalks and end our pitiful lives. Because that is 100% possible at a family fun farm in Courtice overflowing with people on a Thanksgiving Monday. Where’s your imagination people?

After I took the chicken exit (don’t judge me), the boys persevered. I know in his heart of hearts, my kid wanted to leap on my back and follow me out, but he didn’t. He took a hold of his anxiety and continued through the maze determined to finish with his brother. I know his little heart was likely jackhammering away in his chest, but he did it. He did it!

While I freed myself from the terror of the maze and sat on the grass, they were enjoying themselves the way kids should. I may have thought about my van a few hundred more times while they played, but I have not mentioned it to my husband since. That’s a good twelve hours and counting.

I might shoot him a text now though.