Only on social media can I create the illusion that these precious boys are such well-behaved Angels 100% of the time. These pictures capture the beauty of childhood. The truth is that only filters or the right angle of a picture will cover up my messy sheet on the bed, the pile of laundry in the corner and some dishes in the sink or hide the fact I just dealt with an hour long meltdown with my 6-year-old right before we snapped this shot
The truth is that motherhood is friggin hard; It’s not always smiling and snuggles & in those hard moments, I felt alone for a long time. I compared myself to everyone, especially the “InstaMoms” that capture only the glitz and glamour of motherhood. I wanted to be the “old me” who felt good about herself. But then I realized I LOVED who I was evolving into through motherhood
If your house doesn’t look like Pinterest, you’re still a good mom. And you are not failing because you didn’t get to make homemade lunches every day or because you didn’t send the kids to school in Cashmere sweaters. You are still a good mom. To our little ones, we’re the world; we are more than enough. And part of being a good mom is making sure you’re HAPPY because a happy mom makes a happy baby.
So as we honor the mothers in our lives this weekend, take a minute to realize what a badass mom YOU are.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s this belief that Mothers are the heart and soul in a family; If the heart isn’t taking care of herself than everything else will suffer. So take the time to care for yourself. Take the idea of motherhood perfection and throw it out the window. Being in love with our children and feeling so grateful to be their parent can coexist with the reality that it’s also really, really hard. Allow yourself to be frustrated and “over the moon” in love with your child. Don’t shame yourself for having these feelings. It’s a reality. It’s a common theme that we all feel, but we don’t talk enough about. Take care of your mental health and don’t hold on to the guilt that comes naturally in the hard moments of parenting. In reality, we feel guilty because we love THAT much. Lean into that feeling.
Different roads can lead to the same destination. We can parent 100 different ways & still raise happy, respectful, successful children. Don’t compare yourself to the InstaMoms. You keep rocking that messy hair bun, yoga pants and that heart of gold. You keep trying your best & keep doing what makes you happy so that you can keep shining and making this world a better place.
Wishing all of you wonderful and powerful women an (early) Happy Mothers Day!
Gosh, how time flies. I don’t know how I’ve let months past by since I posted last (especially since I love writing and find it so therapeutic). But I guess that’s what a hard pregnancy and giving birth to this beautiful boy that’s pictured below will do. Meet Luke; who has been keeping me rather busy and has me wrapped around his little finger already. *heartthrob*
I thought I’d post an update on what life has been like since I’ve stopped taking my Bipolar and Depression medications. Please know that I don’t ever want to preach that you should be doing the same thing as me. It’s quite the opposite- I respect, value and understand that each and every one of us has our own unique journey as we adventure through life with Mental Illness(es). It’s actually kind of a beautiful thing. But, I’m just here, open and honest about experiences with my own Mental Health in hopes one less person feels alone and it’s a bonus if you end up relating or discovering even one tidbit of information that can be helpful to you.
If you’ve been diagnosed before with any type of Mental Health Illness, you’ve probably done what most of us do and run to our trustworthy-know it all- friend: Google… to find more information to your questions. When I was first diagnosed, I spent hours on end reading other peoples journey with Bipolar and watching countless YouTube videos. That’s when I eventually learned some people advocated for taking medication and some decided to manage their illnesses without. I truly believe it’s up to each person to decide what’s best for them because there is no right way or wrong way. I do think that it’s equally important to do your research though and become your #1 health advocate too. What I mean by that is to let the fear go and ask questions when you’re with your doctor, pay close attention to the side effects of your medications and build only the best regime and routine for YOU. We all know that healthcare for all types of illness, but in this case, Mental Illness isn’t a “one size fits all” gig. It takes hard work from all different areas in your life that are collectively working together to successfully manage Mental Illness. For example, it’s necessary to look for the doctor that truly cares about their patients and fulfills your expectations. Not all doctors become highly educated about you or your symptoms and it’s hard not to feel like your relationship with your doctors boils down to being just a name in a file that they reading right before they come into your room for your appointment. It takes time and commitment to the long journey of finding that doctor who will adventure guide you to find that right cocktail of medications and/or a routine that works for you.
I learned this after being put on medications and anti-psychotics that made my illness worse. Throughout my life, I’ve tried over 8 depression medications, one mood stabilizer, and one antipsychotic medication. After about one week on a mood stabilizer, I was experiencing hallucinations and that scared me to death so I took those out of the picture asap. I managed 8 months of being on Abilify (my Bipolar 2 medication) before I noticed that my moods and depression had not been any better than before I started medications. In fact, for me personally, I was experiencing psychosis and impulsive traits that I hadn’t ever experienced before. The psychosis features alone scared me. I explained to my psychiatrist that I strongly felt the medication wasn’t working and after monitoring some of my symptoms over the last 8 months, I wasn’t even certain I had Bipolar 2. After talking some more, she wanted to test me for ADHD because both the disorders have very similar features and are commonly misdiagnosed. But, before I could try something else or continue being tested for ADHD– I was reaching a point in pregnancy where they didn’t have enough research on the long-term effects of taking antipsychotic medications while pregnant and so I was given the option to stay on them or wean off them until after pregnancy. I decided to come off of them.
It was after about two months that I began realizing my moods were becoming much more stable. I still have bad days where my moods fluctuate for no reason. But, I had zero psychosis episodes and bouncing between depression and hypomania seemed to have completely disappeared. My family and friends even began to notice a change in my demeanor and commented that I reminded them of the “old Carrie” or I “seemed happier”. After a few months of being off my Bipolar medication, I began to wonder if my depression medication was necessary. I felt confident about weaning myself off only because I had been focusing on managing my triggers and becoming more aware of what stressors triggered my Depressive episodes. So I slowly weaned myself off that medication as well (Cymbalta). It’s been about 4 months since I’ve been off the medications.
While 4 months isn’t the longest time, I have felt more myself these past 4 months than I have in a long, long time. I was terrified to be off medication because so many people have different experiences and there is always the risk you’ll become worst than you were before. In the back of my mind, I wondered if I was setting myself up for a disaster. But nothing changes if nothing changes, right? I was both scared of what’s to come, but I also found the motivation to learn and focus more on finding my triggers and what I can do to ease a depression episode when I feel it coming on.
Our healthcare for Mental Health is far better than it was in the past, but we still have a long way to go. If I didn’t spend time buying books and researching data on my own– I’m positive I’d still be on a medication that was worsening my Bipolar disorder instead of helping it. The few steps below are what I’ve learned most recently through my Mental Health adventure:
Building a support team that will be honest with you is key.
Advocating for yourself – despite the stigma or feeling less than because you’re not the doctor.
Getting second opinions from doctors, family, people who can relate
Doing the research and educating yourself on your triggers and stressors are so important. In my experience, I am easily moved into a depression if I have too much on my plate. Sometimes they’re simple things like If I don’t sleep enough or If I say yes to every invite that comes my way. I realized these things and began to make it my job to work hard at managing them. It’s a daily practice, but it’s my version of self-love and self-care. Getting my nails done and hair done is always a great treat, but keeping my mental health stable is so much more rewarding.
Don’t feel selfish for taking the time to dive into YOU. After all, nobody will love and care for you better than you can.
It’s no secret that my Bipolar has changed my life in so many ways that I can’t explain it to even my dearest loved ones. But, when the OD MOVEMENT reached out and asked if we could collaborate on a post about Addiction, Bipolar, Stigma and so much more; I didn’t hesitate twice because I know sharing my experience with people who can relate or need to hear it can save a life.
I was fascinated to find someone I connected with so well. The OD “Open Discussion” Movement is more than just another podcast. They aim to provide a platform where people can share their vulnerabilities and stories with the goal to reduce overdose fatalities. I’m honored to take part in the brilliant, life-changing campaign by sharing my story.
Last year around this time, I reflected hard on my year of decisions and memories in 2017 to create a promising vision for 2018 and even hosted a mini party with my sister to create this vision board. I saw that board every morning on the way out the front door. Sometimes it kept me in alignment with the best version of myself, it inspired me. Sometimes I’d blow it off or completely fly by it when we were running out the door. Either way, it was the first time in a long time that I shifted my habits and did something outside my comfort zone, like holding myself accountable to take action. And to think that this tiny step in holding myself accountable in a fun, creative way (like making vision boards, crafting…) was just practice for what 2018 had in store for me.
I’ve had some major shifts in my life, I’m sure you’ve had years like this before too. They kind of sting and at the same time, provide you with this confidence and deep inner strength that you didn’t know existed before, right? Well, that feeling is what I grew into (or should I say grew from) over the last 350+ days. Nearly a full year and trip around the sun.
From the feeling of losing my mind and being petrified that I’d never come back to reality to the epiphany of seeing the larger picture in life and ultimately understanding my mind more, understanding me better. From so many “this is a first” experiences like car crashes, new friends, home invasions, loss of friendships, pregnancy… to the new endeavors, vacations, and adventures that came like planned. Life keeps shifting as soon as it was about to get comfortable and for the most part, I actually didn’t mind it.
It was one of the hardest years, I can’t even try to deny that. But it was also so rewarding all at once. It was constant noise, movement, and change and yet I still feel so content, calm and empowered by the end of each hardship or adventure. In summary, 2018 has led me to live my life incorporating one of the many new lessons that I learned. One important one, which is this simple truth:
Life will not always go as planned, fact number one.
Life will not always go your way, fact number two.
The way you deal with life’s uncertainty is your choice, fact number three.
You will realize when you become the leader of your life that:
1) you’re going to be okay, one way or another during life’s uncertainty
2) life is going to go even better than planned; either by chance or because you have an opportunity to make it better.
I share this because it’s taught me how to battle through the deepest depths of my mental illnesses. It’s helped me step outside my comfort zone and experience growth in such big ways. It’s helped me find like-minded people that help me grow, pushing me to become better. It’s helped me finally take action towards making some of my goals come to life and ultimately, it taught me to be the leader I needed to be in my own life. None of this would’ve been possible without realizing the power of being optimistic, empathetic and positive. Being positive is much more than presenting a happy face to the world: you need to develop a strong sense of balance and recognize that setbacks and problems happen – it’s how you deal with those problems that make the difference.
I hope this year has been easier for you in the sense of hardships or setbacks, but I also hope you had the chance to live the life you envision living and stepping into the blueprint you have for yourself, which requires uncomfortable moments and vulnerability. I believe everyone is capable of extraordinary things and each of us has unique skill sets that set us apart from each other. I hope that in some way, shape or form: you realized that you play a significant part in your life story. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond. It might not always feel like that, but when we become the leaders of our life instead of letting life lead us wherever it wants; we will learn to grow through the pain, not just go through it. On the other side, you’ll see a remarkable, courageous, strong and significant person standing in the mirror that realizes you are capable of anything you put your mind too.
Happy Holidays, friends! It’s the holiday season so I’m sure most of us are focused on all the Christmas shopping left to do or the plans we’re excited for on Christmas Day. ‘Tis the season, right?!
But soon after we enter what I call, “Reflection Mode”. We start to make those famous new year resolutions and it seems the majority of us believe that the next year will bring better things. I’ve written New Years Resolutions since I was 19 so I totally understand how great a new beginning sounds and the sense of pride that comes from the idea you are setting yourself up for bigger, better dreams that you didn’t get around to this year.
But, can I just share the biggest learning lesson I’ve had from so many difficult experiences this year? Having the motive to change just isn’t enough sometimes. A motivation to hit the gym more, to learn more about that business you want to start, a motivation to go back to school; they’re all the very beginning, very basic steps to actually getting to the end goal.
It takes action. We all know that; sounds simple enough I use to say. But, why haven’t we taken action towards our goals already? For me, it was a variety of factors that took time to discover. It was because my motivation wasn’t strong enough, my confidence in myself needed strengthening, my discipline needed some fine-tuning. Taking action meant way more than motivation, it took consistent hard-work and getting so comfortable with being uncomfortable before I saw changes in my life.
This year I discovered I had Bipolar 2. I struggle to find the right medications for it and I still have so much to understand, but life doesn’t pause. In the midst of entering my junior year in College and discovering my new life with a diagnosis of Bipolar, I got pregnant! It was such a blessing, but the timing of it was so overwhelming to grasp because of the drastic life changes I was forced to confront this year. Not considering experiencing my first car crash that totaled my car or the home invasion that happen where they stole our car and broke into our home while we were sleeping. Life just has this way of packaging its problems all at once, doesn’t it? But it’s what I needed to finally open that business I’ve been talking about, to reach a point where my mental health is stable and not a consistent roller coaster. Experiences pushed be past motivation, forced me to become disciplined and allowed me to understand I had to rely on myself to get through these trials which built that confidence I needed to finally take action.
While I hope next year is the best one yet for all of us, I wanted to share my perspective on the importance of working on yourself, for yourself, every day of the year. Work harder on you than you work at your job. Keep looking in the mirror every morning to fall more in love with the person you see because it’s that person in the mirror is who is going to make those new year resolutions happen or find the strength to get through the struggles we experience.
“Life is 10% what happens to us, 90% how we respond”. That is a quote I stumbled on and can’t let go of because of all the truth it carries. Sometimes we can forget that we are the author of our own story.
Instead of waiting till New Years to define those goals and improve your life, try working on them tomorrow. The present moment is all we have and our life is essentially a story that keeps adding new chapters to it. So don’t wait to tap into that strength, courage and positive mindset that you have. Use it every day, built on it and use it to your advantage to write the best story of your life.
I have been so excited to be working on custom-designed apparel and now I’ve finally launched my store here, first. My dream was to create an apparel line that focused on Mental Health and Positivity; both things the world could use more of, right?
Because this community has been the driving force and support for me feeling capable of taking on this new adventure, I’d like to offer you 20% off any item you purchase. Use the code “CYBERMONDAY20” if you have a chance to shop this weekend. If you need more discounts or coupons than contact me by signing up and I’ll send them to you directly.
Quickly wanted to share a recent post and website that I found influential! As powerful as the stigma surrounding Mental Health is, the power from people speaking up about their Mental Illness and Mental Health is creating something way more beautiful; something stigma will soon have no power over.
One of the recent companies I came across, called “iandioutfitters” by Aurora is just one of many powerful influencers who shares a beautiful message and sells clothing to fight stigma in style. (Website information listed below). I advocated for Bipolar Health and Against Stigma on her most recent blog post.
I recently felt compelled to be involved in her movement because of her mission! I encourage you to check it out. It is always great to surround yourself with like-minded people. Her website is listed below: http://www.iandioutfitters.com
I encourage you to leave your comments below about how Stigma or Bipolar has affected you. Speaking out to others who understand you can bring you so much peace and I’m grateful to have you, a community of people, who show me nothing but empathy, support, and compassion. I’m grateful for each one of you and thank you for helping ME through my own journey. Much love to all of YOU!
Today I wanted to share my thoughts on why I find it so important that we reflect often on how we are showing Compassion and Empathy towards others. Especially because as a Mental Health Community, we fight for others to show understanding and compassion towards us because of our Mental Illness. I think it’ll help each of us grow better and stronger if we can learn that despite the stigma and the lack of empathy from the society we often get– compassion is what binds us together as human beings. Living in a world of violence, hatred, and negativity on a daily basis already makes life tough. Let’s be a beacon of hope. Let’s show others compassion and empathy as often as we can.
In this video below, I share the 4 ways I’ve been implementing showing others empathy and compassion in my life. Truth be told, they have slowly not only helped me show compassion and empathy towards others but these simple acts helped me grow as a person. At the end of the day, there are ways we can make this world a better place and this is a tremendously positive way to contribute your part.
I want to hear your thoughts! What ways do you show compassion or empathy to others? Till next time, Take care, have a great week, stay positive and have some fun too!
I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 in the early spring of this year. Although I had heard of Bipolar, I had no idea the symptoms, the details and struggles that go into this particular Mental Illness for those that had been battling it every day.
It wasn’t for a few months that I even wrapped my head around this new concept and accepted I had been diagnosed with Bipolar. I took the medications like prescribed (of course, complaining about them the entire time), but most of the time I isolated myself so I could research, and research (and research) all the articles, data, and stories that I could find online to help me prove that this diagnosis was wrong…. but to no avail. As I read story after story and dived deep into understanding the explanation of this illness on Mental Health and Medical sites, I could easily say “me too!” to all the struggles and symptoms that consistently described how I was feeling, but I couldn’t articulate into words myself.
See, often people with Bipolar or any mood altering illness won’t explain to you the symptoms they experience in detail; partly because they don’t want to scare you and partly because they don’t fully understand them all themselves. It’s hard to understand a diagnosis so complex and then be able to articulate that into words. It’s hard for many reasons, but one being because some people don’t believe Mental Illness is real. It’s easy if you break your foot, go to the doctor, followed by an x-ray and then you get your diagnosis. When you are mentally ill, your ability to articulate how you are feeling, usually to a complete stranger, is how we’re diagnosed which is why so many people are unproperly diagnosed for years before Bipolar and other Mental Health Disorders reveal their true characteristics which will finally lead to proper treatment. Treatment helps, I’m grateful for it because it makes it more manageable, but treatment doesn’t cure Mental Illness.
I still have to put in work every day to make the most out of the rapid cycling mood changes that drastically change as quick and easy as walking into a dark room and simply turning on the light switch to see; that darkness becomes light and vice-versa in less than seconds. Living with Bipolar, as simply put as I can explain it, is similar to that. Your mood will change in a matter of seconds for no reason at all and usually, it’s out of your control.
The illness has a variety of symptoms which makes it even more difficult for people to get properly diagnosed. For example, I consider myself a very grounded person. I know who I am, my values and core beliefs. I know my boundaries and likes and dislikes. But, I don’t feel like I live in a ‘middle ground‘ mentally. I am either living in a state of mind called “Hypomania” or “Bipolar Depression”. Hypomania is constantly high-paced behavior and energy, accompanied by impulsive thinking where your ideas and thoughts race 100mph, you’re judgment becomes clouded and you can’t concentrate on the task at hand to save your life. It’s also coupled with heightened anxiety and can’t forget about that good old friend, insomnia, which regardless of how much sleep you get, your energy level will stay up and so these symptoms linger for 24 hours a day, weeks at a time. Doesn’t sound that bad, right? Actually, it’s exhausting. Exhausting both mentally and physically.
The other half of a Bipolar mindset is dark and isolating. During a depressive episode, it begins to feel normal to fantasize about suicide which is why people with Bipolar are 3x more likely to commit suicide. These thoughts that become horrifyingly casual are called “suicidal ideation”. It’s common that people with Bipolar are unable to explain the symptoms of these episodes. Personally, I don’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone, do anything, go anywhere, try anything, eat anything; I’m simply, extremely unmotivated. I’m sad for no reason and struggling to fight the dark thoughts that present themselves consistently, although they’re 100% uninvited. I’m irritable, anxious, fatigued and feel completely empty. If I could draw or illustrate a visual picture for you during one of these episodes to capture how it feels, it’d simply be the darkest rain cloud I’ve ever seen suddenly blocking out any and all sunlight from every area of your life. That raincloud can’t be moved, it will simply stay for as long as it intends too and in reference to Bipolar, this is the battle that most would say is the hardest about Bipolar 2.
Understanding Mental Health is important because it’ll help you understand people more. Perhaps you’ll feel more compassion next time your friend bails last minute because they’re suddenly depressed or maybe you’ll reach out more to be that friend who can pull someone out of that isolation when they desperately need someone.
Bipolar is hard, but it’s manageable. It’s a part of me, but not my entire story. Yes, I still have to find a balance in life with this new diagnosis, I don’t know all my triggers yet and I only have a handful of tools that I have developed to make it through these depressive episodes. But, in time I know that I will become better and stronger at caring and battling for my Bipolar 2 Diagnosis. I only know that because of the incredible people who boldly shared their raw stories with Mental Illness and shed light into a time in my life when I was feeling incredibly alone.
My PSA for you is after knowing that 1 in 5 people suffer from a Mental Illness, chances are you know a lot more people who struggle with similar feelings to what I’ve described. I hope you know that you can be their beacon of hope and bring light even in the darkest of times by simply listening and reminding them they are not alone. For those of you that can relate to this illness, remember that an illness like this doesn’t make you broken. It makes you strong and brave for battling your own mind every day. You have one little sparkle of madness, you must never lose it!
I was asked to do a Mental Health video for a YouTube page and thought I’d share the content on here in hopes it brings comfort that you’re not alone in struggling with Mental Illness. These are just some of the tips I’ve learned along the way on my own Mental Health journey and I hope they can bring light into your journey.
If you have tips of your own, please share! I’m always looking to learn more.