Resolutions: Why I’m on the Fence

We’re going to be hearing quite a lot about New Year’s resolutions in the coming weeks, and I’m personally preparing for it to stress me out and potentially impact my mental health.

I have no problem with resolutions in general. There’s nothing wrong with, and there’s even value in, looking ahead to the future and thinking about goals and making plans to improve. It’s just the way New Year’s resolutions are considered a standard, something we absolutely must take part in.

It’s almost as if we’re lazy if we don’t reach what we set out to reach from the resolutions we feel obligated to make. Not achieving something doesn’t make us lazy.

People also attach a high value to the “fresh start” that January 1st provides but don’t consider the fact that when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, time continues like it always has. While it’s great to be optimistic and aim high, and it isn’t inherently unhealthy to hope that the brand new year will be different, we too often find we’ve done nothing concrete to set out achieving our resolutions. This personally leads inevitably to me feeling like I’ve “failed” somehow.

I understand that an arbitrary fresh start can be super motivating. I just think we need to explore deeper within ourselves. If we’re imagining getting motivated once the near year has finally officially begun, I think we’d benefit from asking ourselves why we’re waiting and what we think will be different after the 1st. Or rather, we should figure out how we’re going to make it different.

It’s also the fact that “resolution” by definition means to make a firm choice to do something or to not do something. When I think about making firm decisions, I think of the rigid and unhealthy rules my eating disorder laid out for me. It just feels too similar.

Perhaps those without eating disordered tendencies feel differently about rigidity, and I respect that. However, I also question the logic and encourage self-awareness.

On that note, I find New Year’s resolutions are rarely about mental health improvement and instead focus on cliche ideas of productivity or the unattainable concept of perfection. In this way, resolutions seem to set me up for failure. 

One major con is that the reasoning behind a resolution gets lost when you’re too zoomed in. The big picture is hard enough to keep in mind when we’re going through daily life and trying to do our best each day. To be laser-focused on one thing might distract from the fact that you’re doing your best. The truth is, we don’t need to measure success based on singular, particular things.

Another is that resolutions can lead to unhealthy competition. I’ve noticed that conversations about New Year’s goals in the beginning of January stress me out because I wind up comparing what I’m aiming for with what other people are aiming for. And I could swear I’ve been part of conversations where it feels like everyone’s actually trying to one-up each other. It’s never healthy for me to compare my goals with someone else’s; I go at my own pace and I’ve learned to be happy with that.

Even as I type this, though, a piece of my brain is contemplating what I might want to resolve to do or not do in 2021. I’m someone who’s dedicated to personal growth and improvement. It’s important to me to be better tomorrow than I was today.

So do I make resolutions? Do I continue trying to be better tomorrow but without the pressure of specific resolutions? Do I make them but modify them?

A pro to resolutions is that they help us focus on what we want. If I were to go without setting a resolution, it might leave me feeling uncertain about what I want to accomplish this year. By contrast, focusing on something specific, writing it down, and revisiting it, will most likely motivate me to achieve it. It’s a less passive process than simply having a feeling of what you want to do.

Another is they help you manifest what you want. I’m not hugely spiritual, and as much as I think the Law Of Attraction is fascinating to think about, I don’t live by it. But I truly think there’s something to “manifesting something into existence.” It goes back to being focused on a specific thing. If “get a promotion” is on your mind, you’ll be doing more things to put yourself in a place to be promoted.

Also, it feels really good to see your resolutions actualized. I’d hate to be negative or make a blanket statement that New Year’s resolutions all go unfulfilled (that’s just not true). And on that note, I’d hate to ignore the fact that not everyone is intimidated by their concept. For those who find them helpful, having set resolutions is great because it makes it feel that much better to do what you set out to do. If you’re one of those people, go make things happen and enjoy the spoils of your hard work! (If you’re not, that’s fine too)

One last thought I have is that whatever you choose to do, it’s perfectly fine to want to coast through 2021. It doesn’t make you less than if you can’t bring yourself to resole anything. We’re coming out of a year of pure chaos, we’re allowed to just exist. You’re also allowed to set the bar high. Just take care of your mental health regardless.

Emotional Alchemy…?

Today wasn’t a bad day. It just wasn’t good. I barely slept last night and I was anxious and there was nothing to do. The elements of a good day just weren’t there.

As I sat at my kitchen table at 4:45 this morning (after I gave up trying to sleep and went ahead and made myself a cup of coffee), I was still pretty excited about the coming hours. I like mornings. They’re full of hope and promise and excitement, like, inherently. Plus, I knew it was going to snow. AKA the perfect excuse to cozy up with a mug of hot cocoa and a fun YA novel and a fuzzy blanket.

By 7:00, I was struggling to hold onto that “inherent morning hope” because it felt like I’d been up forever and I was fucking bored and annoyed and distracted/unfocused and my body hurt (whyyyy, rheumatoid arthritissss!).

I wound up napping at 10:30 or so (which didn’t fix everything but certainly helped), but at some point before that, my wandering mind landed on this idea of emotional alchemy. It’s not an actual thing that I know of. It is, however, an analogy that weirdly motivated me today.

From what I understand, alchemy is a thing that was a sort of precursor to chemistry, concerned with “transformation of matter.” Alchemists wanted to turn regular metals into gold.

I also understand it as a way make something new and better from whatever shit you actually have. I mean…right? That’s an accurate understanding?

And we’re clear on the analogy I’m trying to make? I’m trying to compare alchemy with utilizing the garbage parts of the day ahead to conjure a good mood even when there’s nothing particularly good happening. I want to create something better out of something blah.

Anyway, my mind continued to wander, asking itself a few questions to hammer out these details:

What are the components of a good mood (and by that I mean happiness)? Off the top of my head? Something to do, a sense of purpose, a way to spend time that you can enjoy. An environment you can be comfortable in (I prefer calm and not stressful, but some people enjoy busy and chaotic bc it keep them entertained). Feeling good physically. There are more, but you get the drift.

All of this is just as legit as the actual alchemy, and it doesn’t even fully make sense to me, but I think in comparisons. That’s how I process information, most times.

And I told myself I’d try to put words to a page to process this idea haha so here we are, I guess 🙂

revisiting & reflecting

In March 2019, which feels like yesterday but also a billion years ago, I wrote about how I often found myself getting mad when unfair shit happened, or when people were just cruel (as people so often –too often—are). It was something that a therapy session made me delve deeper into, and I clearly remember writing it because I thought the phrase “emotional Robin Hood” was cool.

Welllll, I had therapy today, and that phrase popped into my mind again while we were talking about something. This time, it was more relating to how I need to stand up for myself. How it’s okay to know what I need and make sure I get it, how it’s okay to be confident and certain.

When we hung up (because therapy is vi a FaceTime, thanks to covid, even though I really want a hug, and I told her that haha), I dug up the thing I wrote that I was thinking about.

And I’m still thinking about it.

First of all, I’d like to think that I’ve made progress in my life, and that my issues now are pretty different than the ones I had a few years ago. And thankfully, that’s mostly true. But I do still circle back to things that were troubling me in year past. I revisit them from time to time as my life flows to bring them up again.

I definitely believe that we are taught the same lessons over and over again until we fully learn them (and that then life starts to teach us new ones), so I’m not stressing that I have to redo some soul searching.

It’s actually kind of interesting to see how I deal with a particular problematic behavior or emotion now as opposed to how I did then. It reminds me of pulling out old journals and reading through what I wrote and then re-processing what I was going through. That’s gotta be healthy, right? Growth, progress, learning…it can’t be a bad thing to focus on those things.

So. Basically we were talking about how three of the four psychiatrists I’ve seen were not good for me. The first one I’d been with for over ten years and he straight up just wasn’t treating my bipolar disorder. Like. Dude. Give me meds. Proper bipolar meds. But that’s a sidenote. I was going to say that three of the four have made me feel shitty about taking my adhd meds. Like I don’t deserve them, like if I’m taking them I’m wrong, like I’m lazy for needing them.

Like, this current one, until recently, only gave me 20 pills for a month. I…need to concentrate every day??? Like???? I don’t get it.

Anyway, my therapist and I were talking about college and how I feel like I didn’t try hard enough (not that anyone should blame me, my brain was trying to murder me up until 10 months ago). She said about my stimulants, like, “why do you value what those three psychiatrists think? You know what goes on inside you and your body best.”

(Have I mentioned I love my therapist?)

Then we got on the topic of not giving power to those people. She said another one of her bipolars told her a quote that stuck with her: don’t throw pearls at pigs. Meaning don’t waste my good shit for shitty people that aren’t supportive.

That’s what made me think of my emotional Robin Hood thing. Whatever she said in regards to not going out of our way for cruel people.

None of this seems to be related, and maybe it isn’t. But I like that I have writing to help me reflect on things that are hard to wrap my mind around. So I’m not upset about uploading this sheer mess of words to this thing. It’ll be good to look back on 😊

What makes me MAD (and why I strive to be an “Emotional Robin Hood”)

This came up again in therapy today. Something reminded me of it. And I told my therapist “I remember writing about this a while back, and I’m gonna go read it and think about it all again,” so boom, here I am.

lose your mind with me

I’ve been planning this post since yesterday morning, since I was sitting in my therapist’s office talking about work and getting angry and then talking about whatever other stuff and getting angry. My therapist pointed out what types of things seemed to be making me feel that way, that fiercely passionate way. We talked about it, and she suggested that I write down other things that make me, for lack of a better phrase, fucking pissed off. Those weren’t her exact words haha (although she does curse sometimes which I find incredibly cool). I need to find patterns, figure myself out, all that stuff. I thought about it at work yesterday, and I kept thinking about it when I got home and cooked dinner, and I was trying to type this out yesterday night while Andrew and I watched this documentary about flat-earthers because holy SHIT that made me angry…

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*existential crisis intensifies*

I’ve been anxious lately. I’d say “panicky,” but I don’t think that’s the exact right word. I haven’t been having panic attacks (and I don’t particularly care for when people claim they’re having them when they aren’t); I’ve just been in an internal state of messiness. I feel stupid, pathetic, unproductive, like I don’t matter. Those are pretty intense criticisms of myself, I know. And I realize that being all mopey and self-deprecating won’t help anything. But blah, why am I here, what’s the point, what am I doing, what is anyone doing? *existential crisis intensifies*

I’m gonna do something I always feel like I have to do and connect all the dots. Go back and follow the trail that brought me here and see if I can pick up on clues and hints to help me make sense of this feeling I’m experiencing. Good thing I keep journals and basically write every single thought down somewhere or another.

[excerpts from the last two or so weeks below, for your reading pleasure and oh-so-exciting look into my mind]

I have big plans for the day and I’m not feeling bad about it (not feeling good about it, but my mood is a little low, so that’s probably why). I have a science documentary on in the background (I need background noise lately and I’m sick of bullshit on YouTube) and I’m about to get my work done. I can do this, I got this. I dunno why I’m feeling so self-conscious and, I guess the word would be anxious, but I’m pushing on.

i like the idea of having a step-by-step schedule (like breakfast at x time, study at x time, etc.) but who’s gonna regulate that shit? me?

“My bedroom is a mess and stuff very uninspiring so I’m going to clean it before sitting down to write. I’ll turn on some good music or maybe a podcast. Then after I write and get my creativity out, I’m gonna stretch my arthritic body and see if I can start finally feeling better.”

I’m okay, I got this, I have the situation under control/ I’m worthy and valuable regardless of my mental state/ People love and respect me/ I am smart and creative and I have good ideas/ I give off good vibes, I’m fun, and people like being around me/ I have cool hobbies and interests/ I am resilient (boyyyyy am I!)/ I know how to calm and ground myself/ I’m strong as fuck/ I have so much love inside me, and I give it freely, and that makes me happy/ Life is in constant flux but that fact is oddly comforting/ I am whole/ I am unique

i haven’t really been doing anything but i still need a break from everything

“Gotta figure out what to wear tomorrow that’s warm but looks cute. I feel better when I look cute. And when I’m not cold. And when I can focus but I’ve been struggling to remember to take my fucking adhd meds. I know I feel better when I do. But I’ve been guilted into feeling like I don’t deserve to take my meds. I’ve had too many psychiatrists fuck with my head in that regard. Super annoying. Idk I just wanna get shit done.”

“I feel shitty because I ate garbage. It’s no big deal and I shouldn’t feel shitty about that. I think I know why I’m letting it get to me. But it’s still annoying. Whatever. Trying not to let it ruin everything though. I’m soooo much better at handling my emotions in a calmer way. Thank good for the proper meds that allowed me to do that. But I’d still prefer to not be annoyed lol”

“I wanna fucking gooooo…I wanna write and create and think and do. But nothing is coming to me. I refuse to get frustrated because that’s not gonna get me anywhere. Just saying, ugh. I feel overwhelmed because I’m not doing anything that matters. I guess following that logic I can just…do something that matters. Do I just not know what matters to me? That can’t be. I know what I value (creativity, honesty, love, connection, meaning, learning, fun, etc)

I’d post a summary of that chaos, but I need a little while to sit with it all. Stay tuned, if you so desire 😎

It’s important for me to take time to be thankful today…so I’m thinking about

◦ perfume that smells like comfort or home, avocado toast with egg and hot sauce (sprinkled with everything bagel seasoning), binge-watching exciting movies or tv series, selfies when I’m feeling myself, my eternal internal resilience, the smell of the ground after a storm, cookies and milk, oversized hoodies and leggings that make me feel safe, laughing loudly and uncontrollably so hard that it hurts your stomach (but as much as it hurts your stomach it feels happy that amount times ten in your chest), my parents’ unending support, enlightening podcasts, entertaining social media posts, punk rock music playing from mr car speakers so loud that I’m almost actually vibrating (or maybe that’s just excitement!), and the way road trips have so much potential to lead to adventure

Negative self-talk is not helping ‼️

Wallowing in feelings of defeat won’t accomplish anything!

Time to “change the script”

as my therapist would say

Affirmations:

  • I’m okay, I got this, I have the situation under control
  • I’m worthy and valuable regardless of my mental state
  • People love and respect me
  • I am smart and creative and I have good ideas
  • I give off good vibes, I’m fun, and people like being around me
  • I have cool hobbies and interests
  • I am resilient (boyyyyy am I!)
  • I know how to calm and ground myself
  • I’m strong as fuck
  • I have so much love inside me, and I give it freely, and that makes me happy
  • Life is in constant flux but that fact is oddly comforting
  • I am whole
  • I am unique

✨✨✨

I’ve been having a weird week. I’m mopey. My mood is low. I know it’s probably because of the lack of daylight (I love winter but ugh). Or maybe it’s just that I always get like this before Christmas. I can’t complain. I haven’t had an episode in almost ten months (since I was in the psych hospital), and that’s three times as long as I typically go. And even still, like I’m irritable as hell now but it’s manageable and that’s phenomenal. I feel guilty complaining. I definitely don’t have the “right” to (but see that’s an example of the negative thoughts I’m trying to kick away).

Who knows. I just have to keep chugging along.

“Another day” pic from last year, during a major eating disorder relapse and a major bipolar episode. “Merry and bright” pic from this week, which I took bc I felt pretty 🙂

Today I appreciate…

classical music, my boyfriend who’s always inherently known how to make me feel better (or what to do when feeling better isn’t in the cards for me), text message chains that last for a whole day without distracting me too much but still making me feel a lot less lonely, random acts of kindness, clouds that morph into different shapes depending on my imagination, fairytales that have magically happy endings, dainty jewelry, gaudy costume jewelry, fancy diamond jewelry worn on special occasions, the smell of a cake baking in the oven (and the accompanying feeling of deliciousness in the air), licking the leftover batter off the spoon and feeling no guilt, elephant videos, a pen that writes so perfectly that you have a hard time putting it down, fuzzy socks, and collapsing into bed after a long and productive day feeling accomplished

Today I’m grateful for…

✓ shade from trees that’s tinted orange and gold because autumn has turned the leaves burnt red and yellow, air that’s so crisp it gives you the feeling of biting into a juicy apple, boots and scarves and leather jacket outfits, old cartoons that still make me laugh, an organized bookshelf, beanie hats, that squeaky sound it makes when you wipe down a mirror (and the feeling of looking into a pristinely clean reflection), fuzzy blankets, things that make you feel like you’re flying (like swimming or roller skating or even running so fast it feels like your feet aren’t even attached to you anymore), running the water really cold after a steaming hot shower, getting out and then dousing yourself in lotion or oil and slipping into pajamas feeling clean as fuck, my nephew’s little giggle, and classic video games

Today I’m thankful for…

waking up early, morning routines, new beginnings, exciting continuations, therapy and the way it can always make all the yucky stuff go away and if there’s nothing bad going on how it can still really brighten my days, being known and understood, sunny days when you need them the most, having options, aesthetic mood boards and collages, doggy noses and ears and paws, old songs that shuffle onto my playlist and bring me back to old times, fancy art, science documentaries, ideas that literally feel like a light bulb shining bright above your head, fiction books, the various ways human beings have communicated over our history, and cups of coffee that taste like you’re coming to life again