Stop Doing That Sh*t – A second look at Gary John Bishop’s Self-help Book

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“You got yourself to this point in your life, and I’m going to show you how you subconsciously did it. How you fucked yourself. And how to dig yourself out” (Bishop 53).

Gary John Bishop boldly states that he can show you how to unfuck yourself in his self-help book titled “Stop Doing That Sh*t.” He does so by making you more conscious of the “three saboteurs” he claims are the conclusions you’ve made in life about three things: Yourself, Others and Life. Bishop states, “They skew everything. Contort everything. And ultimately burden you with the life you currently have. The one you’re trying to change” (Bishop 114).

We’ll start by discussing the first saboteur – conclusions you have made about yourself. Your conclusion about yourself always begins with an “I” and is stuff like the following:

“I’m not smart enough”
“I’m a loser”
“I’m different”
“I don’t matter”
“I’m incapable”
“I’m not loved” or even all the way down the hole to “I’m worthless.”

Bishop asks the important question, “So what have you concluded about yourself?” and I’ll be honest when I was forced to answer this question I felt extremely uncomfortable and shocked at the answers that so readily flew out of my brain. Things I did not even realize I was holding on to about myself. The conclusions I had made about myself were all negative and I started to realize why my life seems as unhappy as it does. If I was holding on to these things in my subconscious, it was no wonder I was sabotaging myself because clearly I did not think very highly of myself or thought I deserved better. Below is my conclusions about myself:

I have concluded that I am worthless. My personal conclusion is that I am not smart enough to cut it in life and I am not capable of having a job let alone a career. Also I struggle socially with the conclusion that I am different from others because I have bipolar disorder and have experienced a few psychosis. I feel I am not smart enough to hold down a job because I have been fired a few times in my life. I feel I am not capable or smart enough to continue my schooling because in my final year of University I struggled with my mental capacities and things that seemed so easy before like memorization came extremely difficult to me, I know this is backwards logic because I was experiencing my first episode of psychosis ever and previous to this episode had more than excelled at University. I can’t seem to help these conclusions about
myself though, despite trying to look at them objectively and prove them wrong with examples where I did in fact the opposite of what I am concluding.

How could I ever really change my life if I’m rooted in the belief that I am worthless and incapable? Bishop claims in his book that you can have the life you want to live if you willingly choose it: “The good news is if you accept that you made the mess, you are also accepting that you can unmake it. I often have to remind people of their power. It takes as much effort to live a crappy life as it does a great one. And you’re the only one who can choose which you want to live” (Bishop 138). This brings us to one of Bishop’s main arguments for change which is acceptance. He states that we did not ask to be born but rather were thrown into humanity whether we liked it or not and says it is up to us to deal with that fact:

“You had no say in any of this, yet it doesn’t matter if you think its fair. Youre here and you’ll have to deal with it like everyone else before you and everyone after you. This is where the road to peace of mind begins. Acceptance. Acceptance is the gateway to real change” (Bishop 73). Bishop then goes on to say releasing blame is fundamental for real change: “the single most important thing you can do for your life is to release anyone (including yourself!) from blame for how your life has turned out. Even if you were thrown into the worst circumstances, it’s your choice now to turn your life around, make it better, learn and grow and break free of where you came from.”(Bishop 87).

I realized a lot of the pain I was feeling in life was due to not accepting things for what they were. I laid on a couch for six months in the deepest depression I had ever experienced because I could not let go of the notion that I had not completed my Bachelor’s degree. I would not accept it and instead wallowed into a self-inflicted state of despair over never finishing my degree. I wasted six months of my life pitying myself when I could have said “Yes, that happened but now what?” I could have started to make moves to get back to my education or even to find something new to strive for and change my life for the better instead of getting stuck in it, in my mind of “I’m worthless.”

But I digress, to the second saboteur which is the conclusions you make about others. This second saboteur, your conclusion about others could be anything: People are stupid, untrustworthy, a threat, unreliable, uncaring, selfish, cruel, manipulative, untrustworthy, etc.

I have determined that the conclusions I have made about others are that they are selfish, a threat, and untrustworthy, and that people will always leave. Because of my experiences as a child with selfish parents who cared more about the bottle or their gambling addiction than making sure I was properly brushing my teeth or looked after. I also concluded people were untrustworthy at a young age when I told a friend a secret in confidence that she then disclosed to a teacher and the police got involved. Losing my father during adolescence and the trail of exes I have has led me to conclude people always leave as well.

This brings us to the third and final saboteur, arguably one of the most important which is the conclusions you make about life. Bishop asks “How do you feel about life?” (Bishop 157). He claims that “deep down in your subconscious, there resides a life conclusion:

“life is hard”
“life is complicated”
“life is a struggle”
“Life is too much” (Bishop 158).

I conclude that life is unfair and a constant struggle. I concluded this after working my ass off all through elementary and high school to prepare for University. I got to University and struggled to make ends meet while supporting myself at school. I excelled at school for three years of my undergraduate then had a mental breakdown leading to the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I concluded life was unfair when I had this breakdown
because I realized then I would always struggle with a mental disorder for the rest of my life because of what, roll of the genetic dice.

I looked around me and everyone seemed to be thriving mentally whereas I was a disaster. I had to drop out of school, the only thing I was ever good at when I found the things like studying and memorizing facts became too difficult shortly after my first psychotic break with reality. I concluded life was unfair because some stupid mental illness took everything away from me, my sanity and then the only thing I could depend on in life or felt like I could- my education.

Bishop states: “Its what you have concluded about life that has you stuck in a certain place” (Bishop 160) then continues to elaborate: “You don’t have problems! You have your problems! The perfect issues , specific to you, that allow you to continue with this daily absurdity. And that’s what it is. Absurd. Your whole fucking life is absurd now. All because you’ve told yourself that life can’t be any different from what you have come to believe” (Bishop 162).

So what can we do to get unstuck?

Bishop claims acceptance is the key: “Stop the striving and struggling, for starters, and just accept where you are. Be “here” for the moment. This moment” (Bishop 186). He also argues for a future-oriented lifestyle in which the actions you take each day lead to the future you want. He talks about the “limitless potential” one has when they let go of their past and look to the future. He says to accept that your conclusions are a part of who you are but in essence not to become them: “Remember this is not about stopping self-sabotaging behaviors on their own but instead designing a future that compels you to fill your life with new actions, new outcomes – in short, a new life” (Bishop 217).

Bishop asks his readers to ponder the following questions and imagine a future worth living, “Imagine the kind of work you’ll do a year from now, the relationships you’ll have, the lifestyle you’ll live?  What actions are you taking today to reveal that future? Now look at this present moment of time. What actions are you taking right now to reveal that future?” (Bishop 223)

I realized through my conclusions that I have been holding on to the past and that it’s time to focus more on the future through the present moment. I can start today to make small steps towards building the future that I dream of. In the future I am back at school but this time instead of studying Art History and English, I am specializing in Curating. I have already done the research and found a University close to home which offers such a program. Now I need to work towards financially getting myself there which means I really aught to start looking for a job. The steps I can take today to slowly get myself to where I need to be is to apply to jobs. I also imagine myself as a driver in the future and so need to seriously buckle down and save for and attend driver’s Ed. In the future I also imagine myself back at my ideal weight and today I can take the small step of a bike ride and incorporate exercise into my daily life from here on out. I will no longer be a slave to my doubts rooted in the past and focus on the here, this moment, and what I can achieve to gradually get to where I want to be.

In “Stop Doing That Sh*t,”  Bishop hits you right between the eyes with the truth: “Do you know what life really is? It’s an opportunity for you to play with the skinbag you were given. To try it out, to take it for a ride, to work that thing to its very limit, to live this life before you fucking die. The certainty you’ve been craving? That’s it right there. You’ll die” (Bishop 226).

The fact of the matter is we are all going to die one day and if you waste your moments worrying or get caught up in something that was or never will be, you re bound to get stuck in your life. You might as well work towards something and if it takes you longer than anticipated to get there, so be it. You’re working on it, and that’s what’s key.

Bishop ends his book with probably one of the best questions you could ask and I am going to end my blog on this note: “Fuck the past, reveal a bold future, step out there and get into action. Deal with yourself. The future has arrived. Now what the hell are you going to do about it?” (Bishop 227).

 

 

UNFU*K Yourself and Let Go of Expectations

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As You all know I am a self-help book junkie and my latest acquisition is Gary John Bishop’s “Unfu*k Yourself.” I must admit I expected a book with a curse word in the title to have a little more impact and was left wanting more – more substance that is. However, he does raise some good points in his book and one of them being on the topic of expectations.

Bishop states in his book, “I contend that the upsets strewn throughout your life are a product of thousands of unspoken or unrecognized expectations that cast a giant shadow across your life experience, causing great stress when you’re trying to make life fit with your expectations and great disappointment when life doesn’t match up to them” (Bishop 171).

A great example of when I tried to make life fit with my expectations and it resulting in the greatest disappointment of my life when it didn’t match up was my education. I expected that I would excel at four years of an undergraduate and graduate on time but life threw me a curve ball known as bipolar disorder. When entering my fourth and final year I experienced a psychotic break with reality and was diagnosed with Bipolar. I was left with an inability to focus or retain information due to copious amounts of lithium and olzanpine coursing through my system. This is a huge no-no for anyone trying to study a memory intensive subject like I was of Art History. I returned home defeated and slumped into the biggest depression of my life where I did not leave my bed for months on end and could not keep up with simple hygiene like showering and brushing my teeth.

This upset was definitely due to an incongruence between what I expected of my life and what reality was. I could not get my life to match with my expectations and as a result was left completely devastated. It would take me years to recover from this defeat and realize that maybe life had something else in store for me and to accept the unpredictability of life and be thankful for it.  For example, my experience with mental illness left me more aware of its commonality in the community and left me with more insight into the nature of bipolar disorder and how to manage it properly. I can now share my experiences through this blog to hopefully reach out to somebody and maybe help them understand their situation a little better. I have the ability to let people know they are not alone and that is truly a beautiful thing.

Bishop also asserts in his book that, “It’s much more powerful to come to terms with life’s unpredictability and to engage with your circumstances for what they actually are then get bogged down by your refusal to let go of unnecessary  or unproductive expectations” (Bishop 175).

It was a hard pill to swallow but I needed to learn through my experience with bipolar that life does not always go according to plan as I was under the illusion that if you prepared enough you could always end up where you inevitably wanted to go. I felt like I was slapped in the face hard with this reality check but it was a realization I needed to have in order to be able to cope with the changes that occur in life and the upsets. When I let go of this notion that I would have a bachelor’s degree by 22, I opened up many more doors that were more productive and cohesive with my life. I realized I could be a spokesperson for bipolar disorder not only through my blog but through the novel I am working on and hope to have published in the future.

It was also important that I let go of this expectation because it was causing a spiraling depression that I seemed to have no control of until I thought “Ok, maybe that did not play out the way I expected but you know what I may be able to now do something more powerful as a result of my experiences with bipolar like empower others to speak their truths.”

I am going to end this blog post with a quote from Bishop’s Unfu*k Yourself, “On some occasions you have to realize that the game has changed (sometimes dramatically so) and you need to pivot. Deal with your reality” (Bishop 176).

Girl, Wash Your Face!

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As I mentioned in a prior post, I recently went to the local bookstore looking for books to nourish my soul and if that’s what you’re into look no further than Rachel Hollis’ book titled Girl, wash your face.

In the book, Hollis addresses common lies told to us or that we tell ourselves such as “I’m Not Good Enough” or “I Should Be Further Along by Now.” She breaks down these lies and how they are not true through clever use of anecdotal stories from her past.

In her final chapter, Hollis writes: “Girl, get ahold of your life. Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid, stop giving away pieces of yourself, stop saying you can’t do it. Stop the negative self-talk, stop abusing your body, stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday or next year. Stop crying about what happened and take control of what happens next. Get up, right now. Rise up from where you’ve been, scrub away the tears and the pain of yesterday, and start again…Girl, wash your face!” (Hollis 213).

A lot of this resonated with me such as to “stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday or next year.” I have been putting off writing my memoirs for a couple years now afraid I will fail. I am afraid I cannot sit down and be motivated enough to write it out in the first place and then there is the fear that nobody will be interested or read it.

When Hollis says “Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid…stop saying you can’t do it” it really struck a chord with me. If I am being honest with myself I have been self-medicating for awhile now with drugs and alcohol. I realized too that I have been in fact hiding out – hiding out at my parent’s house not moving forward and too scared to make moves to do so. I never fully recovered from losing my dream of finishing my Bachelor’s degree. Sure, I licked the wounds but I never really healed from them. I have carried that failure with me for what seems like a lifetime and have allowed it to affect every decision I make – whether it be not returning to school for fear “I am not smart enough” or not taking that job because I feel I will not be good enough and inevitably be fired.

Enough is enough. I need to as Hollis says “…scrub away the tears and the pain of yesterday, and start again…” and I need to do it sooner than later. Yes, I did not finish my degree due to the onset of bipolar disorder but this does not need to be the end of my story. I can not take “no” for an answer which Hollis addresses in her book. She states that “No is the Final Answer” is a lie and that we need to fight for what we want. She writes: “When it comes to your dreams, no is not an answer. The word no is not a reason to stop. Instead, think of it as a detour or a yield sign” (Hollis 58).

So I have decided the big nope that is/was my bipolar disorder should actually be viewed as a detour. A detour that led to a better understanding of life and that led to the experiences I have which make me a qualified mental health blogger and writer. Maybe I needed this detour to gain the experience needed to write that ever allusive book. Maybe my bipolar disorder was a detour in my education but will ultimately lead to me continuing it like perhaps studying psychology the second time around instead of focusing on Art History. I refuse to take no for an answer when it comes to my education or let my bipolar disorder get the final word. I have faith I will return to school one day and finish a diploma or degree program. In what? Well only time will tell.

This brings me to the final lie Hollis mentions in her book that really stuck out to me and that is that “I Should Be Further Along by Now.” I think we all fall trap to this lie in what shape or another. We constantly focus on what we want to become rather than enjoying who we are and the process of getting there.

Hollis writes “I can’t count the number of times in my life when I’ve beaten myself up because I thought my goals had expiration dates…” (Hollis 104). This more than anything stood out to me as a problem. I do the same thing. I always thought I’d have my degree by 22, a master’s by 26 and a PhD by 30. The truth is there is no expiration date on your goals and they will always be there if you continue to put in the work and effort. If you finish your degree in four years or six what does it really matter? The goal is still the same. I think I needed to be reminded of this cause I’ve been beating myself up for not finishing my degree for years. But I can now re-frame this goal and decide to accept it may not happen right now but maybe some day. If something is important to you, do not let time limits define it and decide for you when it is appropriate or not to chase it.

Overall, Girl, Wash Your Face was a treat to read and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for some insight. It changed my perspective and the way I relate to my goals. It reminded me that I am more than capable in achieving my goals and to not let anyone or anything get in the way.

Girl, Wash Your Face!

Smoke Free? An Update On My Quitting Smoking

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Me smoking a cigarette. I’ve smoked for about three years and in the height of my smoking I was going through a pack a day.

I decided two start this endeavor we call “quitting smoking” about two months ago in my family doctor’s office. I mentioned my smoking was bothering me and she immediately suggested a program through her office that helps people quit smoking. When she mentioned I would get free NRT products, I was immediately sold and enrolled myself that day and even met with a counselor for a one hour introductory session on the spot.

The great thing about this program is that it holds you accountable and you get out of it as much as you put into it. The counselor is there to monitor your progress, provide you with NRT products to help with  cravings, but most importantly they re there to counsel you and provide aids to quitting smoking. My counselor, for example, told me about a man who put a photograph of his grandchildren on his bathroom mirror so he would be reminded why he was quitting everyday – for them. This really resonated with me and I decided to put a photograph of my father on my mirror to remind myself where I was heading at the rate I was going (smoking a pack a day) which was to a hospital bed, dying from cancer.

My counselor also provides several tips to quit smoking like to delay a cigarette for as long as possible. When I was first decreasing the amount I was smoking I would try to delay a cigarette by a half hour to hour. This rewires your brain and programs it to respond less often to cravings. My counselor also suggested I avoid people who smoke often, A.K.A all my closest friends,  for the first week I am trying to become smoke free. I could not, however, do this and it delayed my quitting smoking for quite awhile. Eventually I was able to even say no to my friends who consistently offered me cigarettes by sheer willpower alone.

I asked my counselor if he had any literature on quitting smoking and his response was to hand me a booklet titled “Journey 2 Quit.” It is a workbook you fill out about quitting smoking and one section stood out for me the most which was the section on the costs of smoking. Smoking affects not only your health but your bank account. This booklet points out that the money you soend goes to the Tobacco industry and that if you smoke a pack a day, you can spend upwards of $4000 a year on cigarettes. That is ridiculous! I knew after reading that and the health costs that I had to quit sooner than later.

Two months into this program, and I can say I have not had a cigarette in three days. Prior to those three days I was smoking one cigarette a day for two weeks which is a significant change from me smoking a pack a day. One NRT product that I am going to mention helped me get to this point immensely – the nicorette QuickMist spray. This spray stops cravings within 60 seconds of spraying it on your tongue. I decided to make a conscious effort to use the spray in place of a cigarette throughout my day and it worked! The spray costs around $45 but in this program all NRT products such as patches and nicotine gum are free.

In a previous post I mention my quit date being January 4, 2019 and that on that date I would like to be smoke free for two weeks. At the rate I am going I should be smoke free for two weeks by the beginning of December (if I keep it up). I am extremely proud of myself for the progress I have made so far. I do not doubt that I will reach my goal of quitting smoking by January 4. I encourage those who want to quit to talk to their family doctor about options. Your family doctor may have a similar quit smoking program in place. And most importantly I want to impress upon my readers that you can do it and you can do whatever you set your mind to – because I have.

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I have included this image as an end note of how I am now mentally ripping cigarettes apart in my process to quit smoking.

 

thank u, next

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Ariana Grande and Mac Miller (one of Ari’s exes mentioned in “thank u, next”).

Ariana Grande released a new single called “thank u, next” recently in which she name drops exes and claims a new beau, Ari, a.k.a herself. Two things stand out for me the most when I listen to this song, firstly the sweet tribute to recently deceased Mac Miller, “Wish I could say “thank you” to Malcolm ’cause he was an Angel,” and secondly the power behind her lyrics.

“thank u, next” is a great break up song because of what Ariana Grande preaches and that is to love yourself. She hooks the listener in with the lyric “Plus, I met someone else. We havin’ better discussions.” The listener is left wondering who has Ari moved on to now? She answers this question in the following lines, “But this one ‘gon last. ‘Cause her name is Ari and I’m so good with that.” Grande chooses herself in the end and there is a certain power in that.

“I’ve learned from the pain. I turned out amazing” are the lyrics that resonate with me the most, however. Throughout my struggle with bipolar disorder, I can honestly say I learned from the pain. I grew as a person and came to have more gratitude for the things around me. I appreciate a good day so much more now that I have experienced so many bad ones.

I appreciate the little things like going shopping at the mall or going for a walk because there was once a time my mental health was so poor I could not do that. I had agoraphobia which meant I was terrified to leave the house and as a result ended up in a vegetative-like state on my couch for months on end. After experiencing a depression so deep, I now have a better understanding of what’s important.

Ariana Grande understands pain. She owns pain. Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester was attacked by a suicide bomber and rather than let it steal her voice she decided to put on a benefit concert for the victims. She truly has “learned from the pain and tuned out amazing” as the song goes.

I believe I too have learned from my pain and am better for it. I lost everything that ever meant anything to me when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had to quit the thing I love – school, to focus on my mental health and stabilization. This may have left me with a bitter taste in my mouth but in the end I gained something – a better understanding of life’s ups and downs.

 

 

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.