“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
I have to give up on the idea that everything has to be perfect. It’s fine if everything in my condo is not organized to my previous standards, laundry doesn’t have to be folded right away, things can be left for the next day (or the way I have been lately, for the next week or month).
I hate New Year’s Eve. It just reminds me of all of the things I didn’t do in the past year and how I am not where I “should be” (in my opinion). We all have personal goals for the year and I am sure most of us never reach all of our goals. I also seem to encounter a lot of anxiety around this time of year as well – maybe end of year fatigue, build up of emotions or in the case of tonight, worrying about what awaits me at work.
I am not making any resolutions this year because I know I will never keep them. I felt reassured after reading this article, “New Year’s Resolutions May Be Bad for Bipolar Disorder”. I am disappointed easily – I find it hard to become motivated, but when I am motivated to do something and start the task I go overboard and become hypomanic, I criticize myself for failing to do things. The article is worth reading if you hate making resolutions or if you make them but are hard on yourself for not keeping them. An excerpt from the article that stood out for me is:
People with bipolar disorder don’t just feel the same amount of happiness despite the higher drive than neurotypicals, they also don’t take as much time to enjoy their accomplishments. It’s natural to take a step back and admire your work when you’ve met a goal. You deserve a pat on the back, but with bipolar disorder that pause is a lot more brief. Being overly goal-oriented means moving on to the next goal almost immediately.
Despite being able to move on from a success, people with bipolar disorder don’t have the ability to walk away from obstacles as easily. In fact, being met with frustration leads to being overly-fixated, diminishing the ability to walk away.
Not only do people with bipolar disorder attach success to self-worth, holding oneself to a higher standard is also an issue. So, when failure does occur, people with bipolar disorder react more strongly than those without.
The reason why this passage resonates with me is because I don’t feel the same amount of happiness or feel as accomplished as most people do after finishing a big project. I do become easily fixated on negative things and hold myself to a high standard. I really wanted to do a lot of work for my business during the week I had off but I couldn’t focus, and I felt like the days just went by too fast. But, I finally was able to deal with the engagement party/bridal shower gifts that were in my parents’ basement, as much as I didn’t want to. My mother organized and categorized everything first, and then brought over a lot of the items and we were able to reorganize things in the kitchen and the oak cabinet. It felt good after to know it was done because I know it’s one less thing hanging over my head to do.
So why do I say 2016 will be the year of ‘”it is what it is”? Because I can’t keep stressing myself out and criticizing myself for what I didn’t do, didn’t finish or didn’t start. Every little thing I can accomplish will be a big deal and must be acknowledged as such. Whatever can be done later, will be done later. Presents in a basement aren’t hurting anyone. An unfolded blanket on the couch isn’t the worst sight to see. My bookshelves can be messy…
Okay, maybe I will have one resolution- to be kinder to myself!
About Melanie Luxenberg
My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!