My 2018 Goals, Not Resolutions, as a Person With Bipolar Disorder
As 2017 reached its end, I found myself at an impasse. Though 2017 brought about wonderful things, such as my long-held dream to graduate college, the ever-present struggles were always waiting in the wings. As my loved ones describe their resolutions, I cannot help but think of all the resolutions I have made. They are inevitably broken by February and I am left with the emotions of disappointment within myself that only fuels the flames of my illnesses. Ideals that were meant to improve my life and my conditions only served to create a culture of discontent within myself.
For this very reason, I shall ring in 2018 with my goals rather than commitments and this will be my “year of no.” If it makes me feel exhausted, ashamed, sad, worth less than I am or does not add to my happiness or to the happiness of those I love, I am saying no. 2018 will be the year I am selfish and prioritize my self-care.
Below are other goals I have set that I share in hopes they’ll help you bring in this newest year with a fresh perspective and renewed hope.
1. Say No To Stigma
Mental illness and invisible illnesses still carry a stigma that is utterly exhausting to bear. It is a cross no one asks to carry. I aim to educate those who are emphatic and truly desire to learn about our challenges. Education is an integral tool in battling stigma. However, not everyone is open to education. Our spoonie community knows our finite sources of energy and we cannot allocate energy to toxic sources. If at all feasible, eliminate those people from your life who exacerbate your illness and embrace those who provide love and support.
2. Practice Self-Care
We all know how important it is to take care of ourselves, but knowledge and practical application are two different things. Self-care does not have to be yoga at sunrise. It does not have to be a weekly massage. It does not have to be an hour of meditation at sunset. Self-care is unique to every person. Personally, I love to take a hot bath and light candles. I definitely enjoy a solitary drive with good music. However, self-care is whatever lets you feel refreshed. Know you not only deserve it, but you need it. Self-care need not be solitary. There are times when I love simply watching cartoons with my son and eating popcorn. No matter what it is, take care of yourself.
3. Yell It From The Rooftops
We all have a story. We all have a perspective no one else will ever have. Tell everyone who will listen! I cannot express how often I am approached by acquaintances who ask about bipolar disorder. I have always been open about my struggles and journey. My heart is happy when I am able to talk to someone whose life has been affected by mental illness and they do not understand and do not know where to go to get information. I share my personal story and show them resources like The Mighty where they can not only read and stories from people like me, but read articles written by loved ones who have mental illnesses so they know they are not alone. I believe our biggest fear in life is feeling alone. Education and connections are vital to eliminating that emptiness. When I am going through a depressive episode and I can encourage others that there is help and they are by no means alone, it assists in my own healing.
4. Be Selfish
This is part of my “Say No In 2K18” Campaign. Our lives are filled to the brim with obligations. From making dinner, paying bills, getting the kids to school and practices to simply finding the energy to get out of bed every day, we are a society on the brink of collapse from fatigue. I have come to let go of the guilt associated with turning people down and saying no. The bake sale absolutely had store bought cookies. My child’s birthday cake was purchased last minute and he still ate every chocolate piece. I have been honest with loved ones when I am having an episode of my mental illness or a flare-up of my fibromyalgia. I felt nauseous and anxious the first time I said no, declining a social invitation. The result was a very kind email thanking me for my honesty and expressing their desire that I rest and relax. When having severe anxiety, but still desiring to connect, my loved ones and I order pizza and watch movies at home. We are overworked and over-scheduled. Unless it is absolutely necessary, try saying no one time. Then say it again. Then again.
Create goals, not resolutions. Commit to yourself, not the obligations of others. Tell your story and educate. Say no sometimes. Happy New Year, spoonies!
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