For the love of god stop googling your symptoms: A Life Update.

For anyone following along here’s the update.  sept. 7th 2019.

I’m working nights for the last week next week, which is both exciting and relieving because it will allow me to sleep properly for the first time in about 6 months. It should also help to calm some of the symptoms I have been experiencing.

After a quick stop off at the local coffee shop that I’m now addicted to (both joking but mostly, not joking at all… please send help) I ran to the walk-in clinic to get a note for work.

I felt embarrassed because just the week prior I had been at that same walk-in, seeing the exact same doctor, complaining of stomach pain. The day after that visit I checked myself into the emergency room because I was convinced I had appendicitis, ovarian cancer or gall stones. NONE of which were accurate. It turns out I was just constipated and should not have been googling “stomach pain” in the first place.

STOP GOOGLING YOUR SYMPTOMS — is now the screensaver to my phone.

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“Symptoms” should be taken lightly though because I may have a slight touch of hypochondria… or is that EXACTLY what a hypochondriac would think?!

As the doctor wrote the note he said he wouldn’t tell my work I was “fucked up”, instead he would only write “due to illness”.

We both laughed.

But, I also knew that I was going to share everything on this blog anyway so it didn’t really matter what my work knew at this point… if anyone were to read this, they would find out anything/everything they ever wanted to know.

Because I have a problem with sharing too much information, pretty much all of the time.

He then handed me a prescription for the medication I probably should have been taking for the last four years. Perhaps it would have saved a lot of the troubles I have found myself in… but then I wouldn’t have any of the stories I’ll soon be writing about.

It’s a gamble either way.

The next morning I gave the note to my work and the manager that I gave the note too didn’t seem that happy about it. I can only imagine it is because she herself is stressed out and my going down to part-time might seem like more of a burden on everyone else.

My counsellor said “it’s not your problem” and those four words sound so GANGSTER to me.

I’ve been saying it in my head over just about everything for the past few days.

There you have it.

I can’t wait to start healing, writing, and learning how to best manage bipolar and autism.

This will be a grand adventure… hopefully you’ll join me.

 

Much love,

Carlee.

 

p.s you are loved. you are worthy. you are blessed.

 

THIS is Bipolar Disorder.

It’s probably best to start at the beginning, or the middle maybe, better to keep your interest.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 16 and it wasn’t until the age of 23 while staying in the mental hospital that I was diagnosed with autism as well. Even with the diagnosis’ I just kept working. I figured as long as I could just work and hold down a job than every other part of my life would seem normal.

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Only, it didn’t work out that way. I have had in my lifetime over 50 jobs (many of them entry-level) and still, with my mania lost control of my life on numerous occasions.

As I write this now I have a job, entry level at a coffee shop, that I am trying my hardest to hold onto for dear life, despite the overwhelming low of depression I’m currently in.

Just a few months ago, five to be exact, I had this awesome idea come to me… again as most ideas do, they sometimes come back around until you act on them in a manic state. I wanted to start a business, a big beautiful wonderful business. It was going to help SO many people here in the community. Numerous reasons as to why it didn’t work. There were large agencies that wanted to use services but not pay for them, competitors that turned nasty, but above all the number 1 reason it didn’t work….

I was MANIC.

I was running on borrowed energy. I thought I could work 40 hours a week AND run a business during the day, with only 2-3 hours sleep in between. It felt like sleeping was a waste of time because I had so much to do, my mind was always racing.

And,

I did help some people. I had people coming to me that thanked me for what I was doing and the impact I was having, which I’m grateful for because maybe that makes it kind of worth it.

But mostly I started a business RAPIDLY and then had a bunch of people welcomed into my own little bipolar world… and for that I’m sorry.

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It is a wild freakin’ ride over here, you’ve really got to know what you’re getting yourself into, and make sure you wear your seatbelt if you’re going to hang out with me.

There will always be ideas… so many ideas. Maybe, that’s the business I should start. Come sit down with me every 3 months or so and I’ll shower you with unique ideas that can be put to good use by someone more stable and mentally rounded.

Of course, there is the other side of the illness, all engulfing lows that seem to swallow you up and leave you lying for days on the couch wondering why you have to live here… what’s the purpose of life? Is there any meaning to anything we do or are we all just wandering around in a pointless existence? It does seem mellow dramatic now that I’m typing about it, but when you’re in it… you are in it.

I’m the girl that waits weeks to do her laundry, has a to-do list that just seems to get longer and longer, only buys condiments at the grocery store,… has journal full of ideas that are meant for someone else.

THIS is bipolar disorder.

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I woke up to drink coffee… clearly

It’s not like they portray on the movies, it’s not any type of “beautiful mind” bullshit. It is random businesses and school drop outs, it’s figuring out which way to walk to work because you want to avoid certain intersections because the people waiting for you to cross in their cars make you anxious.

This was the middle of the story. Maybe one day I’ll write more about the addiction, the mental hospital, the self-care routine, the relationships won and lost… but for now because the business thing is really fresh and I’m trying my hardest to find a way to apologize to everyone who became involved in the whole ordeal… I thought I’d tell you honestly what bipolar looked like in my world.

Here’s to everyone else out there trying to make it. Dealing with the mania, the depression and still holding onto what little dignity they can scrape up off the floor – along with their hearts, of course.

Remember: you are loved, you are worthy, you are blessed.

Carlee. xx

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Rise of The Bad Bitch

I love it. Female empowerment, feeling strong and sexy, overcoming character defects (or trying to at least) AND singing about it! Lizzo, you got me girl.

The only thing is, I’m the most socially awkward book nerd of a woman you’ll have ever met.

I might have had it all wrong. When I thought of “bad bitch” I thought of push-up bras, salon nails, freshly done hair and a confidence in the way she walked.

Yes, this could all be true.

But,

upon further investigation a bad bitch is someone who has massive amounts of self-respect, a moral compass of loyalty – honesty – accountability.

A bad bitch is courageous, talented, intellectual, artistic.

Most importantly, a bad bitch knows she can be or do whatever she wants.

So the only definition is the one that means something to YOU.

This means EVERYTHING.

How you define yourself is what matters. It doesn’t matter what your parents think, your dog thinks, your teachers think.

It doesn’t matter what your neighbours, your mail carrier, your taxi driver thinks of you.

First and foremost is ALL in how you think of yourself, how you carry that image in your daily life, and how that image reflects back to you in the relationships you’ve built with others.

I forget where I heard “sometimes you have to shake hands with who you are”.

Sometimes despite our wanting to be tall we will undeniably be short.

Once we shake hands with that and embrace it, we become MORE empowered to build up the areas of our life that we can have an impact on. Our vision becomes clear and we begin to put our energy where it is most useful.

Once this happens most always, we begin to propel forward.

There’s nothing wrong with pushup bras or salon nails. Nothing wrong with them at all.

Just checking in though. How’s your inner spirit, how’s your drive, your passion, your attitude towards life?

How do you feel about yourself? Your community? Your relationships?

Bad bitches have a hold on their finances, their studies, their mental health…

but sometimes, they don’t and they’re just working through some shit and that’s okay too. Sometimes real life happens and your still a badass despite ALL the shit being thrown your way.

Sometimes it takes a badass to stop cycles, break down stigmas, to reinvent themselves into who they know they are.

Here’s to you girls wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. The single girls, the committed girls, the socially awkward book nerds in the back.

Here’s to singing Lizzo’s lyrics and feeling like a badass each. and. every. time.

 

Love to you all,

Carlee.

 

 

Because When I Grocery Shop I Only Buy Condiments.

At 27 years old I find myself in the grocery store trying to buy food for the week ahead. It seems easy enough, everyone around me is doing it with ease.

The thing is, every time I get home I find myself stocking my fridge full of condiments. Ketchup, pickles, olives, ranch dressing…

Ask me why, someone as intellectual as I, is not able to grasp the concept of simple adult tasks. Basic common sense seems to elude me.

Along with the lack of such skills, I also have a hard time with change, building friendships and managing my moods.

I’ve been diagnosed with both high-functioning autism and bipolar disorder. It has been a wild ride.

A hilariously wild ride.

When I do get home and begin putting things away in the fridge, I realize exactly what I’ve done and every time I vow to do better.

On the good days I end up buying bread and can usually fix together some kind of sandwich.

So.

Now, finally after much debate back and forth between my ego, my pride and my fragile sense of self… I have decided to ask for help from the professionals that deal with this sort of thing.

This sort of living.

Impulsive on the seat of your pants, feeling everything so completely, loving, and hating, and dancing in the kitchen in your underwear at 3am, sort of living.

Was it difficult?

Yes, it took me at least 10 years to ask for the help I needed. To admit to myself that I couldn’t do certain things on my own. To admit to myself that I just didn’t seem to measure up to what a normal adult was supposed to be. That maybe, I didn’t fit into the box society wanted a productive member to fit so slenderly into.

It took me 10 years to remove the pressure I put on myself. The pressure to make my parents, my partner, my community proud.

I very slowly came to realize that the only person I was really hurting by pretending, was myself.

And, that any healthy person who loved me would understand. They would simply have to, and if they didn’t … well, that really didn’t matter anymore. What mattered is if I felt good.

What mattered, is if I felt safe in my own mind.

What mattered, is if I was living in a way that made me proud of myself.

Which brought me here, at the age of 27 asking for help to understand my own mental illness. With help buying groceries and making a list of priorities. Help with cementing a real routine, getting on the proper medications and finding the proper outlets.

Will I still buy a lot of condiments?

Probably.

But, now I’ll be that much closer to actually buying something to put them on as well.

—– seriously.

It’s not romanticizing mental illness. It’s trying to let you know all the small little things that happen.

All the good, the bad, the weird.

So that maybe if you are out there struggling you don’t feel so alone. That man, is a beautiful thing.

Keep living — keep growing — keep dancing in the kitchen at 3am.

You’re worth every minute of recovery and triumph and connecting.

 

Love to you all,

Carlee.

 

— you are loved. you are worthy. you are blessed. —

 

Why Customer Service Is Just A Sh*tty Sales Job.

I’m talking about low pay customer service jobs here. I currently moonlight as a coffee shop girl and let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it looks.

First off, last night we had to call the cops because some gentleman was jerking off in the parking lot.

Second, you are there to serve so you are pretty much acting the whole time unless someone you genuinely like comes into the store.

That’s not really a bad thing, but having had a brief “real” sales job at a newspaper previously (before it went out of business, hello social media) this job feels a LOT like sales, minus the great pay and incentives.

Here’s Why:

  1. You are to have a smile on your face at all times and greet everyone with an overzealous hello. *This one makes people’s day, especially in the morning… so it’s a positive*
  2. If you’re good at your job you will remember their order, name, kid’s names, work, hobbies, kid’s hobbies, dogs name.
  3. Up sell. Up sell. Up sell.
  4. Look nice. Arrive early. Do your best every, single, day.
  5. If you’re lucky — or cursed (depending which way you look at it) you’ll have opportunities to advance up the ranks. Head barista, shift supervisor, assistant manager, with about a .10 cent raise.
  6. You’ll laugh a lot, or cry a lot, but you’ll never fail to meet interesting people along the way.
  7. You will definitely get yelled at and talked down too should something go wrong and you piss the wrong customer off.
  8. If you are aware, you’ll gain valuable skills… mostly the ability to smile back at someone who is screaming their order at you asking for “less foam”.

 

Is it worth it in the end?

Of course.

Let’s not knock anyone for earning an honest wage, but let’s call it for what it is at the same time.

The reason for this post?

Dude, someone was jerking off in the parking lot…and we are earning minimum wage to make them a coffee.

Onward and upward my friends. This is just a shoutout to the men and women in customer service and the real sh*t they have to put up with. It’s okay to love the job and it’s okay to use it as a stepping stone as well.

From the bottom of my heart, I see you out there working away and I salute you.

Love always,

Carlee.

The Empathetic Heart: How The CHO of VaynerMedia Is Changing The Way We Work

A month after I had joined LinkedIn back in July of 2018 I sent Claude Silver a connection request and began following her content. One day she made a post saying “Ask and you shall receive, what can I do to help you today?”

I commented on that post asking for a 5 minute interview and to my surprise she agreed by asking me to send her a message (I was given a full hour). This was the first example of pure kindness I witnessed from Claude. For the past year I have been following her content and engaging with the individuals who have crossed her path.

Claude’s content drew me in  because of how emotionally real it was. If you’ve ever had to drag yourself out of bed, start your car mid-winter and drive to work holding onto an ice-cold steering wheel, just to be greeted by a boss that doesn’t value you… you’ll appreciate Claude’s work as much as I do.

The first message you see on Claude’s website is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something.

That message spoke to me on an emotional level and I believe it will speak to you too. I wanted to know how she created such an amazing culture, what being a “culture carrier” meant, and how the employees at VaynerMedia had been changed by her work there.

A culture carrier in Claude’s own words is “someone who is aligned with our values, I can’t teach someone to be kind they have to already be kind. The process of developing a culture carrier takes about 6 months. It’s about bringing people together and having strong core values of kindness and empathy.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of VaynerMedia, is often referred to as a combination of hustle and heart, with the hiring of Claude and the work she has accomplished within the company, it speaks to the level of empathy that can be felt throughout the entire operation. Although business can be a challenging, tough and often cut-throat terrain, by putting employees first and providing honest feedback the company has grown to include offices in New York, Chattanooga, Los Angeles and London, and continues to dominate the market.

So how exactly is the CHO of VaynerMedia changing the way we work?

  1. By being unafraid to share her own story

Claude has been an influential part of breaking the stigma surrounding vulnerability in the business arena. Not only does she openly share her own story but she sits down with employees to better understand their vulnerabilities and how to use characteristics that previously would have been considered weaknesses as strengths. When asked what her biggest adventure to date was she replied “Having Shalom (her daughter). I have had an amazing life, I moved, worked hard, landed an amazing job and fell in love but it didn’t come without it’s challenges”.

Claude is openly gay and is living proof it doesn’t matter your sexual orientation, nothing matters but your character, your track record and if you leave people a little better off than before you met them. From Claude, business  leaders, employees and entrepreneurs can learn to be more open both on social media and in person, allowing them to build more meaningful relationships and connect on a deeper level. A deeper connection can mean more leverage but it also means a more lasting impact on the world.

2.  Committing to a strong value system

VaynerMedia has some serious values for such a large company and those values are expected to be upheld by each and every employee and visitor. Values like kindness, empathy, honesty, hustle and the art of not complaining. With Claude holding the title of Chief Heart Officer she is the guiding light for others. When recruiting she says she “takes the time to evaluate an individuals talents but most importantly their own heart”.

Gary Vaynerchuk is quoted as saying:

“To me, there’s no debate that kindness is a strength. And it breaks my heart to know that so many people believe it’s a weakness. So many people are afraid that other people will take advantage of their kindness or make them feel “used.” But the truth is, those who take advantage of your kindness are weak on the inside. Feel bad for them, don’t let them make you feel bad about yourself”.  

Both Claude and Gary teach aspiring entrepreneurs that it is okay to live with an open heart and that having the strength to commit too and live with a strong value system will be a powerful tool during the hustle journey. It also allows you to go to bed at night actually liking the person that you are, nothing will kill a business faster than going to bed at night and hating yourself.

3.  Listening with action

As mentioned above Claude’s slogan is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something.  As a woman who wears many hats she is also an Outward Bound Instructor, taking individuals on amazing adventures in the outdoors. Taking action on any given day can mean a number of different things but it speaks to her own character and driving force that she is able to not only guide people through the world of office politics but also through the serene, sometimes challenging wilderness.

Claude cultivates an environment of trust by first offering individuals her own trust. It is a huge and vulnerable action that leads to a relationship of love – heart – and productivity. Rich Cardona founder of Flybys Media and Host of Flashpoint shares the moment he connected with Claude, ” I will never forget when Claude said ‘I trust you’. It meant so much to me, for her to trust me and allow me to be a part of her journey”.  The two now share a deeply personal bond as Rich documents Claude’s process.

Listening as an action is something that has the power to change an entire organization from an unproductive, toxic environment to one that promotes creativity, passion, inclusion and positivity.

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To get the truest sense of how Claude was changing the way people work I asked her co-workers to tell me what working alongside Claude has done for them. These are the answers I received:

“During my time working alongside Claude, I’ve really come to appreciate her example of being a good listener. As a society, we tend to praise the power of speaking. But Claude demonstrates on a daily basis that the most important thing everybody wants is to be heard.” – Steve Babcock, Chief Creative Officer VaynerMedia

“If I could say one thing about Claude that I think is a little under the radar, it’s that I admire her relationship with our CEO. I have a great one with Gary as well, but she is intrinsically wired to him. I think every person at every company should want to have a relationship with their CEO, and I think their relationship is there for all to see and emulate. I suppose in a lot of ways, you couldn’t have a Chief Heart Officer, without that person being deeply connected to the CEO.” – Joe Quattrone, Senior Vice President VaynerMedia

“Work is life; your passion should eventually become your profession to achieve true fulfillment.” – James Orsini, President at The Sasha Group

 

I tried looking for images of Claude on her website…and I think it speaks to how focused she is on holding space for others, because I couldn’t find a single full sized image of her to use. I googled. Writing this piece has opened me up to evaluate my own values and the way I connect with people in my daily life. From this piece it is my own hope that entrepreneurs come to the understanding that although tenacity and true grit are really important, the whole of what Claude represents is something to strive towards and to truly impact an entire organization the “soft” skills are humongous strengths.

“Holding space for others is something I enjoy, it is where I feel I am most living in my purpose. Gary and I see people as hearts, we don’t see people as resources.” – Claude Silver.

 

Carlee Lloyd