Wow life seems to be flying by! I felt especially busy this week because I was going to the gym in the evenings, so I was just constantly moving around and trying to make sure life ran smoothly. Life did run smoothly and I reached my goal for my Operation Big Butt journey (Week 2). I went to the gym every day, and did my active rest days. My goal this month is to be one of the top 10 most active members for the month of March! I am already seeing some changes in my body, I’m not as bloated and am seeing some definition in my arms but am going to wait until the end of the month to check my progress with measurements and photos. Anyway, I am happy to be sitting here and taking a few deep breaths while I reflect on this past week. I’ve learnt a few life lessons and have a new appreciation for friendship.
As you know, I have been struggling with where I’m at career-wise and wanting to go back to school and feeling lost in that part of my life. I made a post on my Facebook voicing my frustration and got a lot of positive feedback that made me feel so grateful to have such amazing people in my life. I also connected with 2 beautiful women (I’m so lucky to call these women my friends) who I had deep conversations with. We talked about what we were passionate about and they gave me advice on some books to read and knew some people to connect with to get the ball rolling in the right direction. I had an awful week at work and these 2 ladies, plus the people who reached out to me, really helped me see the light in a situation that was weighing so heavy on me. It made me realize how lucky I am to have such amazing friends.
On Monday, I had a bit of a meltdown at work… it was years of keeping my inner voice quiet because I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers so I just boiled over… Doing what I do best and letting things build up for too long. Later, it was followed by an anxiety attack. My first one in about a year. I don’t DO anxiety, I’m not an anxious person at all. I had my first noticeable anxiety attack about 5 years ago, it was right around the time I got diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. It was so bad I had to go on leave for 2 weeks from work because I couldn’t handle being in public or driving. It was hell. I went back to work and about a week later I had a more severe attack. I thought something was seriously wrong because I was shaking uncontrollably so I was sent to the Mental Health Crisis Response Centre where they took long to see me, so by the time they did they didn’t think anything was wrong because my anxiety attack was over. I went home and went on leave again in search of a new job.
My anxiety attacks only happen about once or twice a year. They include heart-racing, clammy hands and feet, dry mouth, stomach aches, back aches and feeling hazy/a bit out of it. Because I get them so little, I can’t really tell you what my triggers are, the only recipe for disaster I recognize is when I’ve recently let myself be vulnerable and in the process upset someone and created a high-stress environment/situation. I can feel it coming but I have yet to learn how to stop it before it gets full-blown. When I start to take steps to stop it, my first instinct is to tell my boyfriend and to be with him, I find comfort in him knowing incase anything happens to me. If I can not be with him, my next steps are to take deep breaths, get some fresh air and put jazz music on. Those 3 have always helped ease the symptoms in about 10 minutes. This past week I notice that seeing a friend, after doing the first 3 steps, and just talking about anything and everything is the cherry on top, all symptoms were gone by the end of dinner and the only thing left to remind me I even had an anxiety attack was a headache (I get those at the end of every attack as well). It was then I started thinking about the positive effects friendship has on people with mental illnesses.
I have a solid group of girlfriends. They are beautiful on the outside, but especially on the inside. They have the kindest hearts and every time I see or even talk to any of them, they bring a smile to my face and help me to forget about being in my own head for a bit. I used to have a group of friends from highschool and a bit after, but hanging out always included gossiping or going out partying, we eventually grew apart and for that, I am so thankful because it made room for the wonderful group of friends I have today. The difference between my friends now and then is black and white. My friends now, are forever. When I see any of them, we talk about life, our dreams, passions, our frustrations, our families, we seek advice or are there to give advice. We are there for each other for a good laugh and a good cry and to help us find ourselves and some stability in this crazy world. The best thing is that I can be myself, with all my flaws, all my moods and they will sit there and always be a listening ear no matter what. Every time I leave from visiting or talking to any of them, I feel so revived, ready to take on the world, my heart feels complete.
A couple examples of how amazing my friends and my in-laws are was this week when they reached out to me. My sister-in-law invited me over for food and wine to discuss school ideas with her, which I have yet to take her up on (can’t wait). My other girlfriend reached out to me because she wants to help get me in contact with someone to discuss career options and in the process gave me a talking to about being too hard on myself. I always feel I’m not good enough to reach big goals, but she made sure I heard her loud and clear to dream big, reach for the stars. Those are some beautiful people right here.
Having Bipolar can make it hard to connect with people, hard to let anyone in. Being able to have people to go to who don’t judge you and are there when you need to vent or just to get your thoughts straight is so therapeutic. Even if I’m not in any kind of state and am stable, talking with my friends brings so much light to my life. My friends have all shown me, in their own ways, that they accept me for the way I am and will always be there when I need to either vent or need a good laugh. I don’t think they will ever understand how much they help ease the noise in my head or how much I love and appreciate them… But I want to say Thank You, Thank You for making me excited to keep going and giving me a reason to smile… from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.
I want people with mental disorders to understand that it’s okay to let people in sometimes. There might be some hiccups along the way when finding a true friend but the benefits are endless. Having people to laugh with, talk to or even just do nothing with helps ease and/or prevents depression and anxiety… the best of all, they help give you a reason to live when you feel like you don’t have anyone else.
This last week has shown me that I have my friends part of my life figured out. It makes me happy to know I found my forever friends, and even my forever family. I am beyond thankful because I know lots of people can’t say the same and I am so thankful because I never dreamed life would turn out like it has and I never dreamed I would have such a solid group of supporters… It makes all the pain I went through worth while. That being said, this week also showed me to stop letting people take advantage of me, speak up when I need to, and that happiness is number 1. I heard a quote, on Lori Harders Podcast wtih Sheri Salata, that is going to be my new mantra “Happiness is my compass.” I’m going to surround myself with happy people, mind my own business, focus on me and the people I care about, not let others problems or decisions effect me… and just follow my gut feeling, follow my goals, reach for the stars.