My Journal – A Look Inside the Chaos

A picture I took of my actual Journal.

Every so often (usually once a year) I buy a new journal when I feel a shift in attitude towards life coming on, to mark the beginning of a new phase in my life or simply because I find the journal too cute to not buy. All three reasons mentioned above motivated me when buying my “I Gotta Have Hope” journal by a company called “Knock Knock.” You can check out their site knockknockstuff.com to see a plethora of witty products they create. They state their mission is to “to bring humor, creativity, and smarts to everyday life.” They have definitely succeeded in their mission by bringing such a unique and clever journal to life. This journal prompts me to reflect and grapple with the topic of hope. There have been points in my life where I have lost all of that – hope – which is why I picked up this journal because I am ready to dream again.

This journal by Knock Knock is referred to as an “Inner-Truth Journal” which is explained on the back of the book: “Journals provide us with a trusted place to be entirely honest, but Inner-Truth Journals are themselves honest. With validating prompts and hopeful (but not hokey) quotes, you’ll journal until you believe in the beautiful dream again, more or less.”

The journal follows the same template for each pair of pages. On the left is a inspirational quote on hope meant to prompt your journal entry or at the very least provide a wise reflection. On the right is a ruled page for the journal writer to fill in his or her thoughts of the day. There’s a really cute element added at the end of each entry which is pictures of glasses ranging from spilled, to half full, to full and, even full with an umbrella. Above these four different choices of glass, are the words “Today’s Hopeful Outlook.” It serves as a check in for yourself to see where you are at that day, whether you see that day’s glass as half empty or half full. The design of the journal is very simple and the quote appears in a white font against a different coloured solid background. This lack of “visual noise” like too many graphic elements, or images, etc., strips the quote being referenced down to its bones. It stands alone and comes across as even more meaningful for its ability to do so. That is one thing I need to mention about this journal, these quotes are phenomenal and not just randomly picked but rather curated. They were chosen for their unique ability to make you ponder your life on another, higher level.

Now everyone can use this journal differently but the way I do it is I open to a new page and read the quote or rather prompt then write how I’m feeling from the context of that quote. Today’s quote really resonated with me on a personal level because I had one of the deepest depressions of my life where I had to be hospitalized and put on suicide watch as a result of not understanding this: that I am ultimately the editor of this story – of my life. The quote, “It is never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise” by Nancy Thayer comforts me and also incites me into action. On one level, I can reconcile my past and let it go because ultimately I can change my future yet on another it pushes me to do something, to revise something.

A picture of the prompts featured.

I had a dream of becoming a professor of Art History and getting my Masters and PhD before the age of 30. I had it all planned out and was on track to achieve it (honor roll, super involved in extracurricular activities) when it all blew up in my face with the onset of bipolar disorder, more specifically a manic psychosis. I had a complete break from reality and the anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers that were meant to bring me back to sanity made it impossible to focus and study the way I had been used to, prior to this episode. I eventually had to withdraw from my fourth year at Carleton University and accept that I could not achieve my dream. This led to a further spiral into depression and another hospitalization all because I still had yet to learn that “It is never too late in life to revise.” I genuinely believed because my dream was over that my life was over. It did not occur to me until much later after several years and several self-help books and oh hey! – journaling, that I had a revelation: I can have more than one dream and I have the last say on what I ultimately do with my life.

I lost a lot of ground stuck in this mind loop of self-loathing and pity. When all I needed to do was reframe the way I viewed life. I realize now we have the right and power to flip the script, to revise our life. And all you need to start this revision/change is to open your mind to the possibility of it. This is what this journal in general does for me. It opens my mind to the possibility of hope and of a new dream. It allows me to imagine better for myself and try to actively work out what that may look like. My dream of being a professor died but maybe it made room for a better, more fulfilling dream – like my new found dream to be published and share my journey from sanity to insanity, and back again.

An image of my journal entry from Nov. 16, 2020.

I write on Nov. 16, 2020, about my struggles to write my book I am working on. I write, “I dream of finishing my book to give myself hope of a more meaningful and impactful life. I want to share my story in hopes that just one person will find comfort in hearing it.” This was prompted again by the quote provided on the left hand side of the page. I love this journal because it causes you to reflect not only on what you hope and dream for but also the reason why. I strongly believe that if you have a powerful enough understanding of why you want something, you are more likely to work harder for it. I understand now that at the root of everything, in the grand scheme of life, I am hoping to just find some meaning.

In short, if you’re looking for journals that will prompt you to change your life then look no further past Knock Knock’s “Inner-Truth” Journals.

All my love,

Forever Journaling,

BipolarMania,

xoxoxoxoxoxo.

Life Update

One of those bomb photos I’ve been taking and oh hey! A Self-Portrait – yeah that’s me.

I’ve decided to write one of my “Life Update” posts since I have not done that in awhile now and in case anyone was curious on how’s it going, ahaha. I find myself recently in a funk of procrastination but have decided to finally get moving on some projects (fingers crossed I actually start). One of these projects is to write more frequently for my blog and give it a facelift so to speak. I intend to change the layout and buy an official domain soon and hopefully start to learn how to monetize my blog (if you have any tips leave a comment or send me an email). So far all I have done is fall down the rabbit hole of debating whether or not to switch to WIX for my blog, but after some research have decided WordPress exceeds my needs. I am hoping to learn how to do some coding soon and really tweak with this blog in a way that will help bring my vision to life. But first, let’s start with some content!

Last year around this time I was really insecure and fixated on my weight since it had been getting out of control as a result of my medications. I am happy to say I lost twenty five pounds since then and have managed to keep them off. I had a super active summer which I was proud of from playing tennis, to longboarding, to swimming, to running almost every day. However, life update alert – I have not exercised in three months now. I went from being super active to sitting at a computer all the time or lounging. I have been procrastinating getting back into a workout routine but have decided that THIS WEEK I shall start again! I have come up with a feasible plan of doing one short workout video a day, every day! (Well, we’ll see about that, haha) I found a great fitness youtuber last year when I started my fitness journey called MADFit and her videos range from minimal equipment to no equipment at all. She has a whole range of videos depending on what you’re looking for whether it be a full body or simply an ab workout – 10/10 I recommend her!

I have also been putting off what I think it my life’s project/purpose which is to write a memoir on my experiences with bipolar disorder from mania to psychosis, to depression, to mania and psychosis again and eventual recovery. I admit I get a little discouraged by the enormity of writing a book firstly and secondly one that exposes me in such a raw, inhibited way. I am a little worried that certain people will read this and think differently of me and judge me from where I’ve come from but honestly I believe it’s a story that needs to be told, and shared. I want that one person coming down from a full blown manic break from reality, to have a piece of literature like the one I intend to write so they know, “hey, someone else experienced this and came out better for it, maybe I can do the same.” Basically I want to offer hope to not just those with bipolar but to those who struggle with being “different.” Being different is a super power that needs to be harnessed and not stuffed down or hidden from the world. Our uniqueness should be celebrated and poor mental health should be acknowledge not just as a weakness but rather a strength – a place from which you can grow.

I digress… another thing I have been working on is chipping away part time at a degree in Graphic Design at the local college. I took what I imagined and convinced myself was going to be the hardest course by far called Applied Digital Technology which is basically digital art. We used three main programs: Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. I have never used these programs before and have very limited computer knowledge (for example, I had to google how to properly “zip” a folder to submit my assignments). This is why I had been avoiding taking this course for I thought it would be the nail in the coffin that would indicate to me that maybe Graphic Design wasn’t actually the right choice. I decided to take it on though and online so virtual nonetheless! And drum roll….I aced it! I finished the course with a 92 which to me was beyond my expectations. I was so sure I was going to fail, like tank it!

Another new thing in my life is my renewed interest in photography brought on by school. I have been practicing taking portraits of my friends and can honestly say some of the stuff I’ve shot looks pretty legit, like profesh! I really enjoy the process of finding that perfect shot, from behind the scenes (staging make up and coming up with outfits), to the more technical and artistic aspects of it (finding the right light and camera setting). I recently sold my Canon Rebel T5i and upgraded to a Canon Rebel T7i and even got an additional telephoto lens (I have yet to play with, omg!). Below is the first picture I have so far taken with it of my dog Riley. I saw him on the deck shoving his nose in a pile of snow and immediately ran for my camera and chased him around the yard taking shots until I got this one!

My dog Riley, shot with my new Canon Rebel T7i

So the general consensus is life is good but it could be better, however isn’t that always how it goes? We’re never truly content with what we have or enjoy the present moment for what it is. The point is I need to get off my ASS and start working on these projects, both my fitness, personal, and academic ones. The only way is to take it one day at a time and hopefully build up some momentum in setting and achieving goals. But one very key Life Update: I am in a very different space mentally and physically from last year, and the year before that, etc. I think I am slowly recovering to who I was before all this bipolar shit got in the way. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate my past of mental illness for it makes me a more open minded and accepting individual (some might say too accepting sometimes, but oh well) but I’d be remiss to say it didn’t completely fucking derail and blow up my whole life.

But hey, I got a story now to tell! And if you couldn’t already tell – I am a pretty bomb writer 😉

Stay Healthy Folks! And stay tuned for some new stuff from me,

BipolarMania.

XOXOXOXOXOXO

Delusions of Grandeur and Just Plain Delusions

The third time I was hospitalized it was for a manic episode. I was experiencing delusions of grandeur which is a clear symptom of mania. I wholeheartedly believed that I was a celebrity with millions of dollars at my disposal and this belief was erroneously wrong. I was admitted to the hospital for something so simple yet very indicative of mental illness – I was walking around in a onesie in public handing out brand new perfumes like Chanel Chance and Ariana Grande’s Ari perfume as part of a marketing scheme to promote my Instagram account which I claimed and believed was dedicated to a business I had created. I thought I was in charge of a talent agency of sorts which brought together photographers, models, and the like. I believed I was the Madame of the entertainment business connecting talented individuals to one another and promoting their work. I even believed I was a drug dealer to the stars, providing all entertainers with a good time.

You can look back on my much older posts on Instagram and find ones that indicate this slip from reality. In one I post a picture (or rather steal) of a man dangling his legs from a high up building and below are the rooftops of nearby buildings. I wrote a post under this photograph saying FearANDSelf-Loathing was hiring photography interns and that best believe we pay! FearANDSelf-Loathing was actually my first ever WordPress blog that I wrote during my undergrad at Carleton. It was poetry, speculations and my journalistic portfolio. However, in my delusional mind it became a company that I ran and what I believed to be a million dollar revenue company.

When I was sick with these delusions in the hospital I continued to believe I had the means to purchase whatever the fuck I wanted. They give you access to a telephone and at the lobby you can find magazines filled with adverts for local businesses. I began calling all of them trying to order , well, stuff! I called the local Ford dealership and tried to order five brand new Mustangs. These people of course thought I was insane but some people on the other line of the phone believed me because I spoke so confidently. However, when it came to pay and I actually lacked the funds to bankroll these ideas people quickly came to realize I might be insane.

As I write this chapter of my book, I’m sitting across from my mother who is sorting her taxes. She asks what the topic is and I say without hesitation, “my delusions.” She laughs and responds, “I can list a few if you’d like.” I hesitate, because as much as I am writing about this topic now it is still a hard pill to swallow – that I lost my mind and my entire family witnessed it. It is hard to reflect on and harder so when I realize I was not the only one there during my delusions of grandeur. I smile and reply “sure” to my mother. She begins to list a few of my delusions , “that you were going to buy and live in a mansion. You called several real estate agents looking to hire them promising a large commission if they could find you a mansion in the Decew Falls area. You tried to arrange a big wine tour with twenty of your closest friends and called several wineries looking to book. The strangest was you asked me to order you an engagement ring.” We both laugh and I say “Aren’t you so glad I’m sane now?” She smiles and says “For now.”

I wonder where these delusions came from and if they are rooted in any truth. Perhaps they reflect my subconscious drive for fame. I never realized I had this within me but it could very well be a real thing. It could maybe even explain my Instagram addiction, haha kidding! Whether it was rooted in some deeper meaning or not, the fact is these delusions occurred. I was the sickest I have ever been in my life, mentally that is. I spent three months in the hospital being pumped with all sorts of mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics. I eventually came down from the high that is the delusion of grandeur and realized I was simply one of the masses, the many.

Another interesting thing to note was my steadfast belief in my delusion. Despite a lack of proof or evidence that I was a celebrity with boat loads of money, I still clung to the belief that I was. I would practice songs in the corridors of the hospital mentally preparing for my next concert I would put on as an entertainer. I truly believed with all my heart that my delusion was reality. I was so lost in the deepest recesses of my mind, I could not get out without the help of medical intervention. I am so thankful to my mother for recognizing the signs of my bipolar disorder and getting me to the hospital in time before I did any real damage to my self or others.

I am so thankful for my closest friends who visited me during this tumultuous time in my life at the hospital. They are my real friends because they never have thrown into my face that I’ve been seriously mentally ill. They stood by me while I was having delusions and even played along with them. My best friend of all time recalled that I would phone her from the hospital trying to get her to order limousines and other bizarre rich people things. She said she would always agree with me and play into my delusion because when she did not, she noticed I would become quite stressed and agitated.

Thankfully, after three months I was ready to join the real world again –delusion free. However, my third stint in the psychiatric unit of the hospital was not my first experience with delusions nor was it my scariest. The scariest delusion I have ever had was that I had been raped and it was during my very first manic episode that I was led to believe this.

This book is called The Secret Diaries of a Manic Depressive Girl because I will be including images of diary entries from my actual diary during times discussed in the book. Below are images of when I was first admitted to the hospital for a manic episode, one symptom being my delusion that I was raped two years ago by a club assistant at a prominent Ottawa nightclub. You can see in these entries that I actually believed I had been rape and am trying to cope with that belief which I thought was reality.

IMG_1874

Diary Entry #1: Sept 4 2014. (the year is dated wrong in the original)

In my first diary entry of my journal at the time of my delusions I allude to a terrible memory I am attempting to suppress. This would be the memory or rather delusion of my rape. I mention I was purposefully not taking my anxiety medication so I could keep that memory docile. How anxiety medications and a memory of rape correlate I’ll never know but remember I was really sick and held on to strange beliefs – one being that I was raped.

IMG_1873

Diary Entry #2: September 17, 2014.

When reflecting on my diary, pages like the one above stand out as interesting. I am and have always been struggling with bipolar disorder and how my identity fits into this disorder. The very first question I write at the top of the page is: “Why am I letting this disorder define me?” I also state “I am ME. I am a person with dreams, with hopes, with desires.” And then I go on to reference a famous Mary Lambert song “Secrets” in which she begins the song “I’ve got bipolar disorder, my shit’s not in order.” However in my journal entry I play on that and write “I have Bipolar Disorder but that doesn’t mean my shit’s not in order.” It’s interesting to see I am still asking the same questions I was struggling with back then.

IMG_1875

Diary Entry #3: September 21, 2014.

Here I hold onto my delusional memory of a rape and state “I know I was raped and I know exactly who did it and I know which nightclub is responsible.” Again, I believed I was raped by a nightclub assistant manager who worked at Ottawa’s Mansion nightclub. I realize in hindsight, my delusional brain took my only one night stand at the time and corrupted it into a dark image of violation. I am a person who does not believe in casual sex and this encounter left me feeling dead inside. I also blacked out parts of the event due to copious amounts of consumed alcohol. It’s easy for a sick brain and a delusional one to take a fractured memory like this and create a new one, one that reflected the emotions felt towards the event.

I remember rolling around on the hospital’s emergency room floor bellowing “Stop! I do not want to see!” referring to the memory of a rape. I was having “flashes” of the rape that occurred in my mind two years ago but they were just a type of hallucination. I believe my brain was trying to find a new memory to reconcile the old one of being used for sex. In my warped mind, it was easier to cope with a rape and someone forcing themselves on me then to admit I had had sex with a shitty guy who just didn’t give a fuck about me. This rolling around and bellowing got me promptly admitted to the psychiatric unit where I would start treatment for my first ever manic episode. I started taking lithium and gradually the hallucinations, paranoia and ultimately delusions began to waiver.

It was not until months later that I was able to let go of the notion that I had been raped. I believed it with all my heart so intensely that I could not imagine just letting it go. In a much later diary entry I reflect on this (pictured below).

IMG_1884

Diary Entry # Unknown.

In this entry I write: ” Reading my journal, is like looking at a stranger, I don’t recognize myself. That’s fucked up – that my brain could create it’s own alternate space without the use of substances. My physical came back in the clear.” This entry reflects my ultimate acceptance that I had not indeed been raped and that this was a trick my bipolar brain had played on me. In the moment, I thought it was the realest thing imaginable and even seeked counseling for it. Imagine that! Someone seeking therapy for an event that never actually occurred but that their delusional brain had created. Now that’s messed up!

I have learned through this experience to not take my sanity for granted. I literally lost my mind to delusions of grandeur and just plain delusions. I understand now that bipolar disorder is an illness, but a treatable one and that with the right drug cocktail I can in fact keep that sanity in check. I am thankful I never tried to harm myself or kill myself due to this fabricated memory/delusion. Rape is in my opinion one of the hardest things to come back from and heal from. My mind was tormented by it and in my reality it was not even real. I could not imagine the pain one experiences from such an event. I am thankful my brain snapped back to its sane state and I could reflect on what was real and what was not. I will never take for granted a clear mind again. Delusions of grandeur are fun for only so long until you realize you are the only one having them.

A special thanks to all the doctors and nurses who helped me on my journey to recovery.