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To The Girl On The Ledge

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To the girl sitting on the ledge,

I know what you’re thinking. I know what you’re planning. It breaks my heart that you’re going through all this right now. It’s not fair and I wish I could take all the hurt away. But I can’t. Here’s some things I wish you would know.

  1. It’s okay to go back home.

I know right now you feel like there’s no place for you to go. Like no one wants you and you’re all on your own. No one said you had to stay in the city, hours away from your family. No one banished you from that side of the province. You’re allowed to go back home.

  1. It’s okay to ask for help.

I know you want to go home, but you won’t because everyone told you that you wouldn’t make it on your own. Everyone said you weren’t ready. And now they’re right. Except, they’re not. You’re so strong. You’re a fighter. Don’t give up now. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’ve lost the fight. It means you’re strong enough to know what it takes to win.

  1. It’s okay to ask for forgiveness.

I know right now all you want to do is call your dad and ask him to come get you. I also know that you don’t think he’d come. But let me tell you that keeping your pride is not worth throwing it all away. It’s okay to call and say sorry. He loves you. He’ll be there.

  1. It’s okay to forgive yourself.

There’s so much hurt in your life right now and I know you feel like it is all your fault. But what if I told you that in just 48 hours, a doctor is going to get down on her knees to get to eye level, stare you in the eyes and tell you “It is NOT your fault.” You don’t have to beat yourself up anymore.

  1. Quitting doesn’t make you a failure.

You’re feeling like you need a break. The thought of school is too overwhelming right now. I get it. Putting your life on pause for a few months to find the help you oh-so-desperately need is allowed. Quitting school doesn’t make you a failure. You don’t have to be done forever, just postpone it until the next semester.

  1. Boundaries are a good thing.

There’s a ton of people in your life right now that are taking advantage of you. You feel like you can never please them all. Let me tell you a secret. You can’t. So let them go. Some won’t be a part of your life anymore and that’s okay, you don’t need them. Some will only have small access to your life and that’s okay too. You don’t owe them anything. Protecting yourself is the number one most important job you have in your journey of self-care. Boundaries are a huge part of that.

  1. Don’t give up.

Giving up seems like the only option right now. I know it’s hard. I know you don’t feel like fighting anymore. But please, put the bottle down. Call someone and ask for help. Whatever you do… Don’t give up.

Love,

Yourself… Two years later.

This Post Was Originally Posted on Defying Shadows.

Two Years

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The past few weeks have been spent in reflection amidst the busyness of life and work. The days leading up to that two year anniversary were the hardest. Someone likened it to an alcoholic leading up to the days of their next sobriety chip. Except there are no chips for people who attempted suicide; there’s just the memories.

I don’t think there will ever be a time where the memories of those two nights won’t shake me to the core. There are still parts I have no memories of…

How I got into the ambulance…

How I got into the hospital room…

What was said to me when the crisis counsellor talked at me.

But then there are the moments I do remember.

Being pulled off the ledge.

Someone yelling.

The lights.

The dizzy feeling of the stretcher being moved.

The paramedic shouting that something was going wrong.

And blackness.

It’s the blackness that scares me the most. I remember it still today. For months after, shutting my eyes met me with that horrible darkness and it would make my heart pound out of my chest. Fears and worries evolve, just like anything else and I think what scares me the most about that blackness is the realization that I was way too close to losing everything in that moment. I lost control of everything and almost lost the one thing that I value the most today.

Life.

I was met with a choice that day… I could give up or I could fight my way out, kicking and screaming. I chose the latter. Believe me when I say, it wasn’t easy. It took everything I had within me, and then some. I couldn’t have done it without my family. I wouldn’t have made it if they didn’t express their Unconditional Love. I will be forever thankful for all that they have done.

Through all the memories, the good and the bad, I have learned so much. I can truly look back at those times and find it in myself to be thankful for all that I went through. Had I not went through everything that I did, I wouldn’t have Defying Shadows. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to help others who are going through similar things. And I wouldn’t have the diagnosis, help and support I needed to live my life to the fullest.

So here’s to another great year. I cannot wait to see what this year has in store.

This Post Was Originally Posted on Defying Shadows.

Miss Independent

Miss Independance

It took me a long time to get to the place where I felt strong and independent.  Once I felt like I had finally found my independence and I had matured, learning that what other people say, think or feel about me didn’t matter. I felt strong and successful.

I accomplished so much during those times… Epic (and I mean EPIC) book drives, volunteering, public speaking… The list went on and I feel so successful. I took my next leap of independence and then suddenly, everything came crashing down.

If you don’t know my story, you can read it here. Read about my recovery here.

When my Bipolar Disorder (undiagnosed at the time) got out of hand and my life came crashing down around me, so did my independence. Suddenly I was back at home living with my parents, sleeping in my childhood bedroom. It took months before I could do anything on my own. My mom described it as having an adult toddler in her home.

I couldn’t put my socks on by myself because it took too much decision making as to which foot goes first. I needed to be told exactly what to do or I would lay there and do nothing. For the first few weeks I even needed my mom to sit on the bed beside me so I could fall asleep. It was an all-time low for me.

Once I started getting better, I began struggling with my lack of independence. I was ashamed of what had happened to me. I was ashamed of how sick I had become and how much help I needed to recover. Even more so, all my successful moments in my life that helped define who I was and what I had done were clouded with the concept that I was simply having a manic episode.

I felt like a failure.

There’s a country song that I hear on the radio all the time. The one line says, “Feelin pretty good and that’s the truth, It’s neither drink nor drug induced.” Of course I understand what the song writer meant by this, but every time I hear it my heart sinks. It would just be so great if I could feel great without having to take medication every day. But I can’t. That’s my life.

The past few years I have struggled to figure out where my independence is with my Bipolar Disorder. But I’ve learned something pretty amazing during this journey.

  • Independence doesn’t mean doing it on your own. It means knowing when to ask for help.
  • Independence doesn’t mean not being sick. It means finding your strength and not wallowing in self pity.
  • Independence doesn’t mean not caring what people are saying about you. It’s calling them to the mat and telling them to stop.
  • Independence doesn’t mean taking on tons of work. It means learning to say no.
  • Independence doesn’t mean having lots of friends. It means figuring out what type of people you should be surrounded by and then doing just that.
  • Independence doesn’t mean not being on medication. It means understanding the importance behind them and taking them responsibly.
  • Independence doesn’t mean doing whatever you want. It means prioritizing and making important decisions that will affect the rest of your life.
  • And lastly, Independence means to be proud of yourself and what you’ve been through instead of ashamed of your past mistakes and the struggles of life.

What does independence mean to you? Tell us in the comments below.

 This Post Was Originally Posted on Defying Shadows. Check it out here!

When My Mental Illness Wrecks Me

When My Mental Illness Wrecks Me

A twenty year old woman makes plans to go on a road trip with a friend over the weekend. She plans everything… The route, what stops to take, what music they’ll listen to and what to bring. She plans for worst case scenarios and has not one back up plan, but two… Just in case.

She has the car checked out before she leaves to ensure the car doesn’t break down, even though it was safety-ed just over a month ago. She checks the tire pressure, the oil and fills the car up with gas. The car was cleaned, garbage and random left-behinds removed. She thought of everything.

The girl and her friend get in the car, buckle their seat-belts and chat about their weeks leading up to the weekend. Everything is falling into place and its perfect. They come to a red light and wait for the green. The light changes and the woman – a cautious driver – checks both ways before pulling out. She did everything she was supposed to.

She pulls out into the intersection and out of no where flies a semi truck, smashing into the side of her car, sending the car flying.

She’s going to be okay. So is her friend. But the carefully planned out road trip is over and the road of recovery is not going to be a short one.

That’s what it feels like to have my mental illness.

I sit down. I make plans… detailed ones. I have back-up plans. I have routine doctor visits and go see a counselor every couple of weeks – even though everything is going good. I make sure I take care of myself, get enough sleep, avoid large amounts of stress. I set boundaries and remove hazardous things and people out of my life. I have people in my corner who love and support me. I enjoy my life.

I know the triggers and the warning signs… I know what to watch for. I’m prepared for whatever happens: manic episodes followed by severe depression. Even random panic attacks.

Life is going great and then WHAM.

Suddenly I cannot get out of bed. Suddenly I’m sobbing in a public place. Suddenly my life seems to turn upside down even though NOTHING IS EVEN WRONG!

Suddenly my Depression or Anxiety or my Bipolar Disorder hits and it throws me completely off track, leaving me a crumpled mess like a car that was hit by a semi, with days, weeks or even months of recovery ahead.

That’s what it feels like to have my mental illness.

But here’s the not-so-secret secret… No matter what happens…. I will always pick myself up and keep moving forward. Because I will never give up.

My Weekly Devotional [ReBlogged]

This post was published a year ago today over at Defying Shadows. After rereading it, I just had to reshare it!

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Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 (NKJV)

 I have sat down to write this blog post many times over the past few weeks. The words have been so hard to write, and that’s not something I usually struggle with. But this is different. This verse is so powerful and as I read it there are so many things that jump into my mind.

“My Peace I give to you.”

God is giving us the peace that He experiences. What an Amazing Gift! But what is the peace that God has. Philippians 4:7 says “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” NKJV. Maybe that’s why this was so hard to write about. Trying to explain what peace of God is like is… well, impossible. It surpasses all our understandings of what peace may be. But God gives us that peace.

“Not as the world gives do I give to you.”

This got me thinking about what I know to be peace. Peace for me is being free of worry or anxiety. Free from stress and conflict. Peace is a hot cup of coffee and a good book. But the true moments of peace that I have felt where kneeling before the cross, praying and worshiping my Lord and Saviour. The world cannot give me that peace. Only God can give me that peace.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

This is so much easier said then done. My heart can become troubled daily if I am not careful. Worry and anxiety can fill my body and I become nothing more than a pile of fear. But with the peace that God gives me, all those things fade away. And all it takes is a deep breath, a bowed head and three humbling words, “Lord, help me.”

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 (NKJV)

I am so thankful for the gift of peace that God has given me. Life would not be the same without it. Today take a chance to sit in the silence and pray. Worship God and give yourself to Him. Ask God to give you His peace. And let me know how it goes in the comments below.

Love,

Nichole

My Weekly Devotional

The last two weeks have flown by… If you’ve been following the blog, you might have realized that I missed my devotional post last week. I could lay out a ton of excuses including being sick, but when it comes down to it, the truth is I was busy… So I didn’t make the time.

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As I pondered what this week’s devotional might be I thought about what God has taught me in the last few weeks. That’s when I realized… God hadn’t taught me anything lately… When I thought about why, it became abundantly clear. It was because I got caught up in my busy-ness. As soon as I took a few minutes to focus on Him and listen, I heard Him loud and clear.

Be Still and Know that I AM God.

Be Still?? Does God know how busy I am? I’ve got a To-Do list that grows by the minute! Of course God knows that… But here comes the challenge. What if I took time to Be Still? What if I skipped scrolling through Facebook and read my Bible Instead? What if I set aside a couple minutes to type up a blog post? What if… I just sat here and listened. What would God tell me?

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

1 Kings 19: 11-12, NKJV

Here is this week’s worship song… It’s a bit older, but this song has always been one of my favourite songs.

 

 

My Weekly Devotional

In two months, my life will be changing drastically…. I have been in school since Senior Kindergarten… In April I will have completed my college program and I will be transitioning from being a student to a full-time working adult.

As excited as I am, there is a lot of fear of the unknown; there are many unanswered factors. What am I going to do? Where will I work? Will I be making enough money to get a car… a place of my own? So many things to think about.

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With all these things on my mind, it is easy to get caught up in the fear of it all. But then I remember that God has all those answers, and as long as I live in accordance to what He has in store for me, my life will be pretty awesome.

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” ~ Isaiah 41:13

“You split the sea, so I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me, so I could stand and sing
I am a child of God”

 

Dear Future Partner…

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Dear Future Partner,

If you’re reading this, I am hoping you already know about my Bipolar Disorder. Although this disorder does not define who I am, it is a very big part of my life and will be something that I have to manage for years to come. Here’s what I would want you to know about being with someone with Bipolar Disorder …

  1. If you don’t understand something, or your curious about how my disorder will affect me, you or our relationship, please ask. Talking about it doesn’t make it happen again. Talking about depression won’t make me depressed. Talking about self-harm won’t make me cut myself. Talking about suicidal thoughts won’t make me feel suicidal. Don’t think avoiding the topic is for our own good.
  2. I’ve been living with my depression, my anxiety and my Bipolar Disorder for a long time now… I know it’s hard to hear about these things and want to magically fix them, but I need you to know that trying to fix it often times does more harm than good. Just try to be supportive and patient.
  3. Sometimes I cannot put my feelings and emotions into words. Sometimes I won’t know what is wrong, but I will know something is. I understand how confusing that will be for you. Please try to understand that it is just as confusing for me.
  4. When I look for a partner, I look for someone who isn’t afraid to speak their own mind. I need someone who will call me out on my behaviour if it’s not in check. I need someone who isn’t afraid to make sure that I am following my recovery plan. I need a partner who will hold me accountable.
  5. Know that my disorder does not make me weak. I am an independent individual who can do things on my own. Some days it’s harder than others, but know that no matter how many times I fall, I will always climb back up. I am determined to live a full and successful life. I won’t give up, so please don’t give up on me.

Lastly, but most importantly…. All these things that you can do to help me are also things I will do to help support you. Relationships are a two way street, and I am just as willing to be patient, supportive and committed as you are.

I look forward to meeting you one day…

Love,

Nichole

 

A Letter To Myself on The Day of Diagnosis

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Dear Nichole,

I know right now everything is kinda foggy… The combination of medications you’ve been on for the past few months has done a number on you, but it’s finally going to change. That lady there who’s talking, shes the one who’s going to help you finally make sense of what is going on. She’s going to help you and your family make some serious changes in your life. It’s not going to happen over night, and it won’t be easy, but it’ll all be worth it.

That lady – kneeling down in front of you, speaking very slowly… She’s saying something super important. “This is not your fault.” The circumstance that you are in at this moment is not your fault. This undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder you’ve been living with all these years… That’s not your fault either. These five letter words are going to help you through these next few years. You’ll have it written on a sticky note above your desk to help you through the tough days years later. Try to believe this truth so you can heal.

The next three months will be hard. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Detox sucks. You’re not going to remember much of what happened or what is happening. Some of it will come back to you as your brain heals… Some of it wont. Try not to dwell on that.. Believe me, it doesn’t get you anywhere.

Get your sleep. Don’t underestimate how important your sleep is to you. If you’re having trouble sleeping, consult your doctor immediately so you can ensure a speedy recovery. Take your medication every day… No matter what. If you think your medication is too high or two low, share those concerns but do not make the changes on your own.

One last thing… There’s a life lesson that you’re going to need to learn before you can become strong again. Forgiveness. You need to let go of the anger, the hurt or the frustration with others, with God and with yourself. Once you can let go of all that negative stuff, you will find that you can live a full and successful life.

Be strong. Be brave. And no matter what… Don’t give up. You’re going to do great.

Love,

Your Future Self.

 

My Weekly Devotion

For the past month, one thing has become clear; God wants more from me. It started with a Sunday morning church service where the Pastor shared Gods word on Stewardship. It’s a great series and you can check it out here.

Throughout this sermon series, the pastor has used a quote by DL Moody.

“Whatcha Gonna Do With What You Got?”

This really started the thinking process for me… What do I do currently for God? What do I have that I can give to God? What am I going to do for his glory?

With these thoughts swirling through my mind, I walked into a Career Adult meeting at the Church on Monday evening.

We were challenged to begin thinking about living in the Now. We were asked some of the following questions. I challenge you to ask yourself these same questions.

  1. What are some of the goals that you have right now?
  2. Do you have any regrets of 2015?
  3. What needs to change for you to do what God wants you to do with your life?
  4. If you knew you had a limited amount of time to live, what would you do?
  5. What is one change I can make in my life to ensure I am making my love for Jesus my #1 Priority?

The process hasn’t been easy so far, but I’ve been making some changes in my every day life. Less Netflix; more reading. Less Facebook, Pinterest and other online distractions; more Bible Study. Less pop and rap music; more worship.

These are only a few of the changes I have decided to make in my life, but let me tell you, the rewards are bountiful.

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So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something