When Making a New Year's Resolution Seems Impossible While Dealing With Mental Illness


Society tends to make a big deal about changing huge aspects of our lives at the start of every new year. People make jokes about how crowded the gym is going to be the first week of January and how it will go back to the way it was shortly after because most people are going to just give up. Setting goals is a good thing, but trivializing those who don’t stick with their resolutions is not fair.

When you are struggling with mental illness, keeping up with everything you set out to do may seem impossible most days. When getting out of bed and being present is a workout on its own, getting to the gym three times a week, let alone once a week, is a hard pass. Your brain is a constantly moving treadmill. Sometimes you can walk on the lowest speed, sometimes you can jog at 4 mph, and sometimes you are struggling to find the off-switch when the incline sets itself to 10 and the speed is about to throw you off the back. But that’s the thing — it never stops moving.

There is no denying that making resolutions helps a lot of people reach their goals. If a friend comes to you and says they are going to quit smoking in 2017, and come December they have not put a cigarette to their lips since July, it’s OK to be happy for them even though your gym membership is still sitting stale in your wallet. It’s OK to celebrate in others’ happiness and accomplishments without feeling like a failure. Mental illness does not have to win every time.

You can use that excitement as fuel for your own goals. On the days when you are running on empty, try to remember how good it felt to be happy about something someone else did and think how happy you could be about accomplishing something yourself. It will be hard, but it is possible.

The treadmill will always be moving, but there will come a day when you are able to keep up with whatever speed it’s on. Maybe 2017 is not that day, maybe not even 2018. There are times when deadlines are important, but your New Year’s resolution is not one of those times. You are allowed to be patient with yourself; you are allowed to give yourself time to rest. It will be in those quiet moments where you will find the strength to say, “maybe tomorrow,” And that’s OK.

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Thinkstock photo by phototechno


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