It seems that we are always searching for balance. I often find myself telling people they need more of it; take a lunch break, put down the cell phone, sleep eight hours, call your Mom, go for a walk. People believe that the work/life balance should somehow equal 50-50, and if it doesn’t, their life is out of wack and that’s why they’re miserable. I don’t think that’s the case. Balance should be about respecting what you need in any given day, not ticking all the right boxes in your week.
For an example, I am currently adjusting my Bipolar Disorder medication. The new meds make me feel a little wonky (read: high), and so this past weekend my focus was on my physical health. I was tired and nauseous and my head was fuzzy. That meant I needed to sit on my couch watching Netflix. Over two and a half days I took two brief pauses in my marathon-ing: one for a yoga class and one for a Big Mac. One cancels out the other: balance.
Even though a weekend of rest and cheeseburgers is what I needed, I felt conflicted about not seeing friends, avoiding writing this blog, and shutting off my brain to watch an entire season of Orange is the New Black. But come Monday morning, it became clear that the weekend of nothing was exactly what I needed. I jumped out of bed and felt better than I have on any Monday in recent memory. Because of my weekend of nothing, I now feel ready to take on what I’m sure will be a very busy few weeks at work, including an upcoming conference that will mean long hours.
Sometimes balance means letting loose and going to a party with friends, sometimes it means watching obscure documentaries alone in the dark in your sweatpants. Two days, weeks or months in a row will not mean the exact same combination of work/life will equal balance. It is also important to remember that balance looks different for everyone. The key is to listen to what your brain and body are telling you. Let go of pressures, both self-inflicted and from others, and just do what feels right. Admitting that some weeks you don’t want to leave the house, others you don’t want to leave the office, and still others you don’t want to leave the party, is okay.
My Bipolar Disorder can be a blessing; managing my illness means I make balance a conscious thought in my day to day life. My work-life-emotional-family-physical-relationship-yoga-sleep-food balance is never perfectly equal. Don’t judge yourself or others for how balance differs between people. Some weeks you have to work long hours, some weekends you just have to snuggle your pets. Respecting when each has to happen is the trick to finding real balance.
To hear more about the adventures of my new medication, visit my website and hear about my trip Down the Rabbit Hole. (http://onefleweastoneflewwest.wordpress.com/)
Sarah Lindsay is in her mid-twenties and lives with bipolar disorder. In additional to writing here, Sarah also blogs about her experiences on her own website. Follow Sarah’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog by clicking here, or additionally you can follow her on Twitter.
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