For the Person With Mental Illness Peering Over the Horizon Into 2017
New Year’s Eve: A night of socially sanctioned binge-drinking, midnight selfies, countdowns and confetti. A time where people take stock of where they have been and where they’d like to go This can be tough for lots of people. If you are struggling with mental illness, then it may be particularly painful.
Mental illness can make you feel like your life is a train out of order, stuck at the station while others rush past to their exciting destinations. At other times, maybe it is more like a train that has been hijacked, running red lights and careening toward certain disaster.
Time marches on. Life is not a football game, where the clock stops because you need to take a time out to re-strategize. All the while, those around us hit milestones and achievements, which, for us, can feel out of reach.
I feel lucky that my worst days passed before the dawn of social media. I can only imagine how it would have impacted me during this time, the endless reel of smiling photos of friends at parties coupling off as I surveyed the wreckage of my social life.
For me, depression was like a meat cleaver to relationships, severing ties to people who were important to me and leaving me isolated. Let’s face it: It’s difficult to leave the house when you’re fighting against a voice that says, “Just stay home! None of those people like you!”
It’s hard to even order pizza, let alone to make friends, when the simplest phone call causes trepidation. You feel everything that comes out of your mouth is wrong. Making a good impression is tough when the new prescription you are trying to stabilize your mood causes you to behave so erratically, you would not want to be your own friend, let alone partner.
If you find yourself alone as this time of year begins to draw to a close, then know you have the power to reclaim your timeline. You can unplug and take a break from social media. You can quite literally put a pen to paper and draw where you have been and where you are going.
As you peer into the horizon, consider widening the lens so that your vision is less about specific milestones and goals. Maybe this next year will be about creative discovery or deepening a spiritual practice. Perhaps in five years, you would like to be focusing on service to others.
The world tells us many stories about ourselves, where we need to be at any given time and where we should be headed. Ultimately, you are the author and editor with the final say on what events and people define you. You have the compass and the map. You set the pace. This is your timeline. This is your year.
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