Where Is My Life Heading?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about my life and where it is going lately. I had a long talk with myself (yes, I talk to myself) and realized it’s literally going nowhere. I currently do not have a job, am not in school anymore and spend the majority of my time napping. I began to cry as I realized I am contributing absolutely nothing to society and that made me feel like crap! The only thing that I can think of that has any purpose, is my weekly volunteer shift at the SPCA Cat Adoption Centre in the local mall here. I guess you could say I am in a bit of a slump.

I used to have it all, or at least in my opinion I did. I had three really good and productive years in my life when I was in Ottawa attending school at Carleton University. I completed three years of an undergrad in a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Art History and English with a minor in Psychology. Yes, I double majored and minored! While at school, I was your typical type-A student who aced every course and had multiple extracurriculars. I created and was president of the Visual Arts Carleton (VAC) club, volunteered regularly at a local artist run centre in the community, and wrote regularly in the Arts section of Carleton’s student run newspaper called the Charlatan. I was always on the go and nothing seemed to slow me down. I excelled at University and come to think of those three years there as the best years of my life.

I remember a conversation I had with a roommate during these three years in which she said, “I envy you, you’re so put together.” I laughed at her and responded, “I just look like I do.” But to be honest she had a point, I did have it somewhat put together. I laugh at the thought if she could only see me now – a University drop out (not by choice, due to medical issues) who lives at home with her parents stuck on disability. This conversation always sticks in my head because I currently have it with myself everyday. I envy my past self and her ability to conquer the world so to speak. I used to set goals and smash them but now I don’t even bother making these goals cause I know I’ll just be disappointed. I’ll be disappointed because at the moment current restrictions, both financially and mentally, prohibit me from accomplishing almost any of my goals.

I have bipolar disorder and it makes it difficult for me to be able to do what I want. I’ve had several manic and depressive episodes that have left me hospitalized for months on end in the past few years. I could not finish my degree because I had to be hospitalized for a manic episode. After being hospitalized, I was rendered almost useless from being over medicated and ultimately had to drop out of Carleton University during my fourth and final year. I returned home from Ottawa to Welland and moved back in with my parents where I tried multiple times to hold down a job as a server, barista and TA but nothing stuck. I find after having been hospitalized and on various medications my brain as melted in a sense. I find tasks involving memory and comprehension a lot more difficult than prior to these experiences. I do not grasp things as quickly as I used to which makes holding down a job harder. I am now as of recently on disability and although that is a positive thing because I now have some income, I find it makes me feel worthless. I feel almost like I am not mentally stable enough to have a job or an education and that is enough to make anyone go mental!

I also have financial restrictions that I am embarrassed to say have come to run my life. I maxed out all my credit cards when I was in school paying for things like rent and groceries. This is not the only debt I have since when I was hospitalized I was unable to make payments on my OSAP (student loan) as well. It snowballed to the point that it would be senseless to begin making payments for it would never be paid off in a timely fashion. Another thing to keep in mind is my inability to hold down employment which makes it nearly impossible to make any kind of payment on my debt. I am currently waiting to bankrupt my student loan since you have to have been out of school for a certain amount of years to do it. So as it stands I have no money to even consider going back to school again and it will be years before I can save enough on disability to be able to afford it again. This situation and the inability to do what I love which is study, has made me extremely depressed.

This is all my long winded way of saying, I have no clue where my life is heading. I have decided, however, to try (key word “try”) to do something about it. I will set new and smaller goals to add more enrichment to my life. One goal I have is to learn and experiment more with photography. I also have fitness goals and financial goals that I would like to make this year. I want to be a healthier person both physically and mentally. And sitting around ruminating on my past is not going to get me anywhere. It is important to keep in mind my past when moving forward but it is not the most important thing to be dwelling on. I want to seek out more opportunities to grow as a person and try to learn something new everyday. So I may be limited now in terms of what direction my life can head but that does not mean it cannot be meaningful. I have decided after my little chat with myself about how my life was heading nowhere, that I will fight to have a meaningful life. It may take baby steps but I do believe one day I will return to University and have a career. But for today, I will start with my first goal which is to blog more! And that will just have to be enough…for now.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Sometimes You Just Want To cry… The Story Of My Bipolar Disorder And My Education

I was robbed in life, by life and circumstance. I literally lost my mind in my early 20’s due to the onset of bipolar disorder. I was delusional and completely at a loss with reality. The onset occurred the year I was going to be attending my fourth and final year of University. This was a big deal to me for so many reasons, one of them being I had worked my ass off to come as far as I had come. I created and directed the Visual Arts Carleton club and had a voice in the art community as a regular volunteer/bartender at Gallery 101. I had even come to take a place on the board of directors at Gallery 101 but had to quickly retire the role due to my mental health, and that was devastating. The whole experience of losing one’s mind is made even the worse when said person has to pick up the pieces after the carnage is over. And the end result of my declining mental health was a hospitalization stay against my will in a psychiatric unit. The ultimate betrayal of my mental health was that I could not attend my fourth year of University and finish my degree which was my biggest dream. It was like what I had said before…devastating.

I was robbed in life, by life and circumstance. My life would come to be defined by these episodes of mania and depression that I would experience as a bipolar person. Both landed me in the hospital at some point or another. My depression is not like your depression, its crippling and mind consuming. My brain looped on this one thought “You are a failure, you couldn’t even finish your degree after completing three years of University.” I would lay in bed twenty four hours of the day and sleep sixteen of those. I was trying to put my brain in a coma if I’m being completely honest with myself. It needed to heal and recover from its loss. I had come so close, cheek to cheek, to my dream of finishing university. It was heart breaking to come that close to achieving my ultimate life’s goal and not being able to have it. There was a lot riding on my education, mainly my parent’s hopes and dreams but also a giant student loan. I had to come out of those four years of studying obsessively with something, even if it was just a piece of paper. That piece of paper, that degree, defines you. It says “hey I made it!” and “I am capable.”

It has taken me years to come to terms with not only my disorder but the reality that I may not ever finish my degree and now that I’ve accepted that, I can honestly say it will be okay. As of late I’ve been thinking it would be nice to finish my degree even if its closer at home at Brock University and in a slightly different program than the one I started at Carleton University. However, while consistently being hospitalized the past few years my finances have been depleted. It may not be feasible to attend University anytime soon with my current financial situation. That being said, who says I need to finish this now? Who said I even need to get my degree in my 20s? Why not my 30s? I think my mentality that I should have achieved the goal of getting my degree by the time I was 22 was limiting me. It was only setting me up to fail. If you open and expand your mind to the possibility that everyone’s timeline in life is different than you leave more room for success. It’s all relative in the end. I have to make allowances for my mental health and accept that my condition has deferred my educational timeline for now. I may not get my degree in my 20s but I am feeling optimistic I will have my finances and health sorted out by the time I am 30 and can then try again to get my degree. I am not going to give up but I must admit bipolar disorder has been and caused the greatest set backs in my life. This will not deter me from setting goals and trying to smash them though, not anymore. I will not lie in bed like I used to wondering “why me?” I was given this illness for a reason because God or the powers that be thought I had the strength to handle it and frankly, I NOW accept the challenge.Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 9.01.06 AM

An Image from my First Year at Carleton University, I am the eighth person from the left.