I think the universe is talking to me.
One night last week I had insomnia. At 2 am I was wide awake thinking I should be asleep. My alarm was going to go off in five hours whether I closed my eyes or not. I nitpicked my whole night apart thinking, I shouldn’t have gone to the gym so late, I shouldn’t have had tea, I shouldn’t have read my book for so long. And no matter how many times I threw my blankets off and pulled them back on, my mind was alert. I spent hours thinking of what I should have done, working myself up more and more making sleep harder and harder.
I have a strong relationship with the word ‘should’ because of my illness. Even though I know my Bipolar Disorder is not something I can change, I lump it in with all sorts of little annoyances. I make everything that isn’t perfect in my life into a question of will. And the positive things I dismissed far too quickly as luck or chance. I say to myself, “I should have cleaner coffee mugs, I should go to the gym, I should eat more vegetables, I should vacuum, I should stop panicking, I should be stronger, I should be a morning person, I should suck it up, I should stop worrying, I should think slower, I should be patient and I should be happy.”
A few days later I was at a Saturday morning yoga class. During the meditation portion, the yogi read out a passage about congratulating yourself on successes. She said that we always focus on the negatives and the things yet still to do instead of taking the time to celebrate the victories and the hard work we put in every day. For the next week I was instructed to banish the negative shoulds and give myself virtual high fives for the simple things. I promptly went home and vacuumed my house, cleaned my kitchen and did my laundry. High five, Sarah! For a brief moment I forgot about the balcony to be swept, money to be saved, and old friends to call.
Sunday was a rough illness day for me. I was dealing with some medication side effects and I was generally being hard on myself about everything. As I stood in my kitchen listing off all the shoulds for Monday morning, a good friend took me by the shoulders and said, “Do you know what are the worst words around? Should and could.” He had not been privy to the yogi or the insomnia. Another sign from the Universe to give the negative self talk a rest.
I think it is time to figure out what’s important, take a deep breath, and go for it. A wise gal said to me today, “there will always be another pound to lose or coffee cup to bleach.” Yet another philosopher sent to me by the cosmos. The important things deserve time, energy and worry, like friends, family and health. The rest is just noise; worth a high five, but nothing to lose sleep over.
About Sarah Lindsay
Sarah Lindsay is in her mid-twenties and lives in Toronto with her boyfriend and their dog (who also has some anxiety issues). Sarah was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2005 at the age of 16 and is still trying to figure it out. Follow Sarah’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog, or additionally you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook or check out her new website: SarahsMoods.com