Fearless

Hello lovelies!

I have a mental illness called bipolar. I am not ashamed to admit that to anyone. It makes me imperfectly perfect, a beautiful disaster. I try to speak out fearlessly so the next lovely creature can feel empowered to do the same.

Have you ever noticed when people start talking about mental illness they instinctively lower their voices? This is because our society has enforced such a negative stigma around mental illness. Next time you start a conversation about this subject, speak up.

We need to start conversations, share our experiences and open minds. Be fearlessly fierce! #startaconversation

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Guest Blog: The Polar Bear Express

So, people who know me know that I’m not an online poster or commenter. I guess its part of my “social anxiety” is that I worry about sharing personal information online. Saying that however, I am an avid online information consumer. I am in awe of people who have the ability to clearly articulate and share their experiences online. It opens up whole communities to learn about and empathize with family and friends who are daily challenged by mental illness. Sarah’s blog, has given me clear insight into the daily struggles of people who have mental illness.

Having a mental illness is to a degree like having cancer. There are all different kinds, different symptoms, different treatments. So too with mental illness… there is a whole spectrum of disorders and levels from anxiety, depression to severe schizophrenia. Society embraces cancer patients with empathy and strength. However, that as Sarah aptly points out, being diagnosed with a mental illness is where the similarities end – with the stigma of “the diagnosis”! The difficulties just finding doctors to get a proper diagnosis, the availability of treatments and the access to systemic supports that maybe available are extraordinarily challenging for unaffected people to access let alone those enduring a mental illness. They often suffer from the inability and the lack of a “toolkit” to find these supports or reach out depending upon their illness.

The effects of mental illness are not only challenging for the person but also for the family and friends of the afflicted. Having a close family member or friend who struggles daily, can be emotionally challenging and draining to know how to best support them. Sarah talks about how lucky she is to have such a strong support system. She is!

I know the Polar Express has many ups and downs for the Polar Bear to ride on. But, Sarah, please, keep sharing. Sharing is cathartic but it may also help others and their friends and families too.

Sarah, I’m in awe it is a lot for a bear to bear!

 

Thank you for following the blog, sharing with us and being part of the conversation. This is one of the exact reasons I started writing this blog. I encourage others to submit posts that they would like to have featured on this blog as well. Until next time & with love,

The Polar Bear

Polar Bear vs Depression

Hello Lovelies.

I wanted to share a post with you about a manic episode I experienced but I just couldn’t bring myself to write. This is not because I don’t want to, it is because I am battling depression at this point in time. It is counter intuitive to write about Mania while depressed. I decided instead to share how I am feeling now in hopes to help myself and all those lovely creatures out there who are suffering through a similar situation.

My alarm went off at 9am as it does every other day however, I struggled to wake up. My limbs were heavy,  mind foggy and heart racing.  Struggling to wake up because the world just feels so overwhelming right now. Telling myself to take this day second by second and try not to be judgemental of myself. I worked up the strength to roll out of bed and start my day.

I spent my entire time getting ready worrying about what I was going to screw up next. So many What Ifs…….What if I cant make it to work? What if I get fired? What if I have to cancel plans again? What if I people don’t understand how I am feeling? What if I get let down by someone? WHAT IF THE NEXT BAD THING THAT HAPPENS IS THE THING THAT BREAKS ME? These are the things I will continue to worry about throughout the day. They will rattle around in mind and I just need……QUIET! 

The list of things I am fighting against feels endless. Worry of not being able to handle anything else is not an over exaggeration but a concrete fear. Do you know that feeling? The feeling where your heart is so full sorrow if you take on anything else it may implode. I most definitely do.

I am feeling alone, hopeless, overwhelmed and scared. These feelings persist even though I have a loving family, friends who cares, a job and for the most part my health. I feel like I should be happy but unfortunately that is not how depression works. Once it takes over it feels like you have a rain cloud over your head and you just cant shake it.

Now here is the most confusing about being depressed for me. I know what I need to do to help myself, I could make a list. This doesn’t mean that I will be able to find the energy or mental strength to execute any of these things. Can you relate? Here is a list of all the things I try to do when I am depressed (If you can do just one of the things off this list today you and I both will try to be proud of ourselves, ok?):

  • take a shower
  • go to work
  • meet a friend for coffee
  • do not consume alcohol
  • go for a walk (doesn’t matter how long)
  • share your feelings with someone…..anyone
  • book a doctors appointment
  • get out of bed
  • be kind to yourself
  • self-care

We need to find the strength in ourselves to be kind to us. Try to be gentle with your mind and be sympathetic with yourself. I know this is easier said than done, believe me. I am living it right now in this very moment which is why I am writing this post to open  to you lovely creatures and also help myself.

I am going to leave you with two very tiny tasks. First, please comment on the post with a smiley face if you completed your one task for the day. Second, Please say this sentence out loud three times “I am strong, I am beautiful and I am courageous!” This is what I repeat to myself throughout the day to help keep my fight alive.

Thank you for reading. It has helped me to share and I hope it helps you to know that there are other people fighting the good fight. #depressionisreal

Don’t Fall into Fall, Rise Up!

Good Afternoon Lovelies!

Fall time can be a tough time for all of us creatures and we need to remember to SELF-CARE. We are getting less daylight, less sunlight and colder temperatures. This will affect our sleep, energy levels and moods. These are all things that help us maintain mental stability.

The reason we find it harder to stay motivated and get a restful sleep is because the level of vitamins we have been receiving from the sun decrease. One of these vitamins is called Vitamin D which our body gets from the sun rays through our skin. This vitamin is important to our brain function. Therefore, when we don’t get enough we become unmotivated, fatigued and/or depressed. Self-Care Tips:

  1. Get outside for 20 minutes a day rain, snow or shine
  2. Try my go to method which is a tanning bed (Please consult with your doctor first)

Do you feel more fatigued or sleepy during the Fall/Winter? I do too! This is due to an increase in Melatonin in our brains. Since there is a decrease in light exposure during these seasons our brains automatically create more Melatonin. Self-Care Tips:

  1. Keep the same sleep schedule as before even though you are more tired
  2. Get outside for at least 20 minutes a day because outdoor light is much more effective on the mind then indoor lighting. This will help to promote wakefulness
  3. Dim the lights and avoid screen time for 30 minutes before bed.

Remember that these things are not always easy but so important for your self care.

It is starting to get cold outside and we may feel more fatigued then usual, that doesn’t mean we can give up our physical exercise. Even though some our outdoor exercise routine will be no more, doesn’t mean you have to give up. Self-Care Tips:

  1. Brain storm fun ways to exercise during the Fall/Winter season.
  2. You could also try to find an exercise buddy that will help keep you motivated.
  3. My biggest piece of advice is to find something you really enjoy. I really enjoy hot yoga but that isn’t for everyone so please find your favourite way to exercise during the cold months.

Since we know that it is coming to the time of year when the battle against depression becomes tougher, the fatigue starts to take over and we just feel just blah. It is important to take care of ourselves and maintain our mental stability.  SELF-CARE is one of my favourite coping skills I have picked up throughout my journey. Self-Care is defined as choosing behaviours that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors. It is important to learn what YOU NEED physically or mentally to find balance. This means doing something for yourself and only yourself. You want to do something that makes you feel content in life. It can be as big or as little a task as you see fit. I wish all you lovely creature a HAPPY FALL SEASON! I am sending you all positive vibes that I hope will help you stay motivated and strong for the coming months <3 Here is a list of Self-Care activities you could try this Fall/Winter season:

  1. Drink a cup of hot chocolate mindfully
  2. Do a face mask
  3. Cuddle up on the couch and enjoy your favourite show
  4. Take time to indulge in your favourite food
  5. Book a spa day           https://www.angeliccomplexion.com/
  6. Don’t go to the party if you don’t want to
  7. Meditate                       http://www.delasolyoga.com/pages/HamiltonWorkshops
  8. Try a float tank           https://www.zeefloat.com/
  9. Have dinner with a friend
  10. Go for a fall walk
  11. A bath and a glass of wine
  12. OR ANYTHING YOU FEEL YOUR MIND/BODY NEEDS RIGHT NOW!

Thank you so much to all you lovely creatures for taking the time to read and follow my blog. I am hoping to create a better understanding about life with a mental illness. If you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to comment. Start a conversation. #positivevibes

– Sarah Bethune the Polar Bear

Be Kind to Yourself

Hello Lovelies!

      Being kind to yourself is an important part of sustaining mental stability. This does not only apply to the good times in life, it applies to the hard times and/or the times you feel you messed up.

     It can be quite easy to be kind to yourself when you win an award or make it to the gym every day one week. The challenge starts when you feel depressed, low, insecure or feel that you messed up your life progress. This is a time when it is important to focus on the little things in life that you accomplish. Here are a couple examples :

  1. When I am feeling depressed, I cant get out of bed,  maybe miss a couple days of work and even a family function –  I try to focus on the smalls things. If I manage to get my butt out of bed and shower, I pat myself on the back and feel proud that I was able to face that one task. Which often gives me the power to move on and do a couple smaller tasks. By the end of the day I am exhausted and I still feel like hell however I have shown myself some kindness which goes a long way in the end.
  2. Sometimes it is learning to not do things and be kind to yourself when you make that decision. If I know I am starting to feel depressed and a friends asks me to go out drinking  –  I will decline. Even though I do really want to go and I feel bad denying my friend. Telling yourself that it is ok to look after YOU and to do something else that will make YOU feel better is an important skill to cultivate.

Let’s talk about the small things we can do to give us a sense of accomplishment and self validation. Please remember these things do not have to be big tasks. Here are a list of common tasks creatures suffering from mental health issues including myself often ignore or avoid:

  • journaling
  • brushing teeth
  • eating a healthy meal
  • making your bed
  • showering
  • putting your dirty clothes in a basket (not even necessarily doing the laundry)
  • checking the mail box

All the things listed above may seem like very simple tasks which yes they are, for a person who is STABLE. When you can barely find your will to live these things seem unimportant and impossible. BE KIND TO YOURSELF, take time to motivate and remember you are doing these things for YOURSELF. You are being kind to you!

Now let’s talk about what you can choose not to do to improve your mental health and/or stop your from spiralling out of control. These will be things that you are ok to do when you are stable however when you become destabilized may make things worse. Here is a list of a few things that myself and other destabilized creatures may want to avoid:

  • consuming alcohol (this can be a fun activity when you are stable however when you aren’t – this will most likely make things worse)
  • being around large groups of people (although this may be something you normally enjoy when you are struggling it can just simply be too much pressure)
  • dates with friends or loved ones (if you feel too overwhelmed or underwhelmed, you do not have to go. Simply explain you aren’t feeling well and would love to reschedule for another time.)

I am not saying that you should avoid things all together, I am saying do what feels right for you. Obligations like work, therapy and child care ARE A MUST. However, if you feel that seeing friends, social outings or drinking are not right for you then just don’t do it. You do not need to feel guilty in fact you should feel proud that you are taking care of yourself in YOUR TIME OF NEED. Learn to know yourself because you are the only one that can make things better for you. We cant rely on other people for our happiness.

What I would like everyone to take away from this post is that the small things count and it is ok to change your mind and/or say “no” to plans/arrangements. Please take care of yourself and fight for yourself. You can only start your recovery when you admit you need help, whether it be help from yourself, family, friends or a therapist. #loveyourself

 

My Inner Battle

Good Evening Lovelies!

I have been having a rough time lately. I am going to talk about these rough times and how difficult it is to not slip to the dark side with all the stress. Trying to make the stable creatures understand the inner battle of being mentally ill.

3 months ago I left an abusive relationship which ended because the so called love of my life punched me in the face in front of people I care about. I am suffering from PTSD including fear of being alone, terrible night terror, panic attacks and more. Also having a hard time connecting with other creatures and all trust is out the window.  On top of the most recent abuse – the relationship before that one was also abusive. To top it all off a year ago I had to shut down my dance studio because I was in a car accident……oh wait I forgot 2 years ago I nearly died from a blood infection. I feel like it is too much and yet for some whacked out reason here I am still fighting for my best life. Crazy right?

I’m not complaining. I have the most supportive parents, I travel the world, I have passions and I AM A FIGHTER. However, unfortunately I am always thrown a new curve ball just when things are starting to get better. I have been fighting to keep my mental stability. I can feel myself slipping down the dark bottomless pit of depression and I am so scared that if I slip a little too far, this time I may not climb back out. It is very hard to not curl up in a ball and surrender to the darkness.

I KEEP FIGHTING! I have been diagnosed with bipolar for 10 years. I still go to therapy and I am always looking for new ways to grow. My battle is that whenever I feel like I am getting to a stable place the universe throws a wrench in my wheels. Developing my self care and coping skills has been so important. Even though it is so hard to get positive and hustle my ass. I do it because the grass IS greener on the other side. So here I am once again doubling up on all my self care. Here are some of the things I do to keep my fight alive:

  • yoga as much as possible
  • meditation daily
  • no alcohol consumption
  • good sleep hygiene
  • drink loads of water
  • making my friends and family aware that I am suffering
  • telling friends and family that I can’t be the shoulder to lean on right now
  • laugh as much as possible
  • be gentle with myself (positive self talk, diffuse lovely oils etc.)

I want everyone out there struggling to know that they can do it. Please talk to the people you care about and even ask them to join you on your self care adventure. Try to be gentle with your own soul – it is ok to be down in the dumps. Remember you will see the light again and it will be brighter each time! You are wonderful, smart, artistic, fun, weird, beautiful, handsome, different! I hope that me sharing my stories will encourage you to share yours and #startaconversation.

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Shout out to my mother for always having my back and all the shopping therapy over the years. xo

National Suicide Prevention Day ;

Today and everyday that we can prevent suicide from happening is so important.

As you know I have bipolar disorder. What you don’t know is that in high school I was bullied terribly, suffered from severe panic attacks and depression. At that point in time I wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar. It all became too much and I attempted suicide. If I hadn’t survived my suicide attempt 11 years ago I wouldn’t be here today. It was because of my supportive family and doctors that I made it out alive.

The feeling of despair, not wanting to live because you have no fight left- I know it is all real. Those feelings are so painful or maybe you have feelings left at all. PLEASE reach out to your loved ones, a doctor or call a crisis hotline 204-784-4073 . Your life is valuable, every single life is valuable.

Happy Monday!

Good Morning Lovelies!

Just wanted to wish all my lovely creatures a happy Monday. I know Mondays can be tough so try to remember to laugh often, enjoy the small things in life and #be-fierce ! Mental health awareness

#laughoften

I’m Not Moody, OK?

Good Morning Lovelies!

I received suggestions that you beautiful creatures would like to hear more about the three subjects you discovered in my post “Clear the Air”. So I would like to start by diving a little deeper into the subject of being a moody creature versus a BiPolar Bear. In the following two posts we will discuss how bipolar is not a choice and we are not monsters.

     We are all moody.….you experience sadness, your father experiences joy and I experience content. Moods are described as “A temporary state of mind or feeling” – we all experience moods in one way or another. The key word in this definition is “Temporary“. While a Polar Bear can also be moody – we also experience episodes where the moods last longer and are more elevated. We experience these long lasting, elevated moods while we are going through the depressive or manic phase of our illness.

Often when people refer to a person as moody, they are referring to a person being “Hangry”(anger due to hunger), stress due to work, having a rough day etc. These are all moods that a person can control by executing their own self care protocols. Fortunately for the stable creatures of the world – you are in better control of your moods. I am not saying that life is a cake walk, I am I simply saying our struggles are different.

When a polar bear is going through a depression – eating healthy, sleeping correctly or going for a run sometimes helps but most times it takes a lot more work to come back to the light. We first spend hours, days or weeks thinking about how weak we are for not getting out of bed. Going through every motion with a sense of impending doom looming over us.  Then we have to fight the social pressure when everyone starts asking “What’s wrong? What can I do to help?” It all becomes too much so we withdraw, miss work, curl up in a ball – THE CRASH   Finally, we realise we need to get help. We make the doctors appointment, go and make sure our medications are in order. Now we are off to therapy where we have talk over all our most painful feelings and memories. We know we have to keep fighting and pushing ourselves because no one else can do it for us. This is THE FIGHT and it won’t be our last.

I want you to understand that I don’t believe any of us creatures have it harder than the other. Your struggle is your struggle and no one else’s. It is never ok to say someone’s struggle is less then ours. Only you know how badly you feel in your situation. If you are struggling please reach out and talk about it.  Admitting you need help is the first step to recovery. I have created this blog to start conversations and help fellow creatures on their recovery journey, please share. #ItIsYourStory

 

This time around I didn’t speak about Hypo Mania or Mania. The next post about how bipolar is not a choice, will discuss mainly a Manic episode I experienced.

Clear the Air

Good Morning Lovelies!

Today my goal is to clear up some common misconceptions about Bipolar – the way people believe us polar bears act and react. Also, I am going to talk about the idea that polar bears are just moody creatures.

First, I would like to say that from my experience BiPolar is not like PMSing. You aren’t just bitchy and irrational one minute then content the next. It also doesn’t mean that my moods shift from happy to mad or sad rapidly. A diagnosed polar bear will experience long periods in depression , hypomania or mania. These periods last anywhere from a week to years. So please stop referring to moody people as bipolar it is just plain offensive.

This next one, I think is common sense. However, you wouldn’t believe the number of people that think being BiPolar is choice. Would you choose to have your leg amputated? No…? Then why would I choose to have an illness that induces feelings of despair, anxiety and worthlessness? The point is that we don’t have the ability just snap out of it or move on – sometimes it is hard enough just to think straight. Please be patient, use validation and don’t give up on the ones you love.

This last point just absolutely mystifies me – people are actually scared of others suffering from a mental illness. Instead of attempting to sympathize with the polar bears, people run in fear. We may have issues, we may have a lot of baggage and be overly complicated. However, we too can also be extremely empathetic, wonderfully artistic and/or remarkably intelligent. Please do us all a favour and educate yourselves! Having people try to understand what I am going through, is one of the most powerful parts of my journey. Thanks for ready :): #wearenotmonsters

For more information about Bipolar: https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/bipolar-disorder

Mental health struggle

“Be yourself, not who others think you should be”