Happy New Years to you and yours.
Many people make resolutions at this time of the year. The end of the old year, the beginning of a new is the time to make changes right? What better time? Gym memberships double, recipe books for sugar free, gluten free, and Paleo eating all go on sale. Better yourself, change, improve, resolve to do it all. “You can join for free for 30 days!”
On January 1st most people are too tired and hungover to start making changes. But that’s okay, big things are going to happen on January 2nd I tell you, big things.
They say things like, I am going to;
“Work out more”
At this time of year Pinterest and Facebook abound with messages of hope and gratitude. People are going to manipulate the universe with their vibrators. Wait, no that’s wrong. They are going to positively use their vibrator daily. No, no, that’s not it. They are going to put out a positive vibration into the universe and the universe will in turn give them a vibrator. There, that must be it.
Go get a mason jar they say and every day write down something you are grateful for and shove it into said jar. Next year at this time, read them all. Apparently I will have no memory of next year so I need a jar full of memories to refer to. And I ask you, why would I need to write anything down if I am already happy as a clam from using my vibrator daily? “Start a journal and write good thoughts every morning”, they (I don’t know who “they” are) recommend. Make a vision (aka Bristol) board of all the goodness you want to happen. I can’t stop my warped mind so now all I can think about is seeing myself writing, “used my vibrator last night”. Grateful. Check! Into jar it goes. I sure hope my kids never find my vision board covered in pictures of various vibrators? That would be awkward.
Seriously I am done with the vibrator talk.
“Remove negativity from your life”
Those are my favorites. We need to face reality that the real world can be hard and it can be dark. We cannot pretend that away. We cannot shove our heads in the sand and live there. I dare you to dig a hole in the sand, or dirt, your choice. Stick your head into said hole and have someone fill it up covering your entire head. Now breathe. How did that work out for ya? Bad stuff happens and the only way to get through it to the other side of bad is to accept it, feel it, and only then can you even begin to let it go. Denial only extends suffering. I once offered a friend a valium to get through the loss of her dog and she said, “no, I don’t want to avoid feeling this”. I thought back then how silly that was. Feel things? What is this “feel” you speak of? But she was absolutely right. Had she numbed her pain away she would have had to numb it away forever. You only have to talk to an honest addict to see how that story goes.
Pretending you are happy will simply exhaust you. If you are happy, be happy. If you are sad, be sad. Just feel your feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should do everything in their power to be happy. Find things that bring you joy and participate in them. Try to think of something happy when you are sad just to remember that there are things that do make you happy. Sadness can be very overwhelming. The goal is not to avoid being sad, but instead to avoid the sadness hijacking your entire existence. If a depressed person walked out into the sunlight and said to themselves how beautiful the sun felt on their skin that would be one moment in time that they are not sad. That moment could save a life.
There is truth and validity in everyone’s feelings and part of the problem today is the shame we seem to be attaching to any negative emotion. See “remove negativity from my life”.
I know, I know, my “vibrations” are freaking you out right now. You might even stop reading this just because I am not saying “sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns”. I am saying be real, be honest, be authentic, be truthful about your feelings. There is no other way to get past them.
Mental illness including, but certainly not limited to addiction, depression, PTSD and the resulting deaths due to them all are on the rise, not going down. Being positive is not working for the people we are losing every single day to mental illness. Maybe we need to keep our heads up, out of the clouds, out of our phones and just look at the people around us. Are they healthy, happy, even safe? Let’s not avoid the mentally ill because they can be negative or hard to be around but instead embrace them, validate them, and let them know they are loved. Perhaps if we actually do love more, we will lose less people to suicide and overdoses. I see people all the time say that love will conquer hate when it comes to racism, bigotry and inequality, shit even terrorists, but I don’t see a lot of, “love the shit out of the unhappy person next to you”.
Do you know what I did today for my new year resolutions?
I made a list of things that make life worth living. Please don’t worry, I am fine right now. My mood is somewhat stable, I am exhausted after holiday socializing and want some alone time but I feel okay. What I am certain of however, what I know is that the darkness will come back. It will be overwhelming and it will knock the wind out of me taking my breath away. So today, I made a list of things to stay alive for. It’s not a happy jar I will only open next year at this time but an actual list to refer to when my mind starts to fuck with me. And it can be as simple as the fact I love riding my new Christmas present, a fancy old fashioned bicycle whom I named Maud. I can’t ride her in the Spring if I am not here in the Spring. I just need a list, a reminder of why I should be here. I am not going to make a single resolution that I might not be able to live up to, or could lead to failure and thus unhappiness. There will be no goals beyond staying here, alive, and as well as someone with disease can be. I guess I did make a resolution then, to keep fighting. And it’s okay that this is all I am resolving to try to do.
I just want all of you out there that suffer with mental illness to know you are not alone. Do not make today or tomorrow about more than staying here because that’s enough. It can be hard enough all on its own.
And to all of you that are healthy, love the person next to you whether they are happy or not. Maybe your love will give them a second of happiness in a lifetime of sadness. Maybe that second of happiness will keep them alive. You never know right? Sure can’t hurt to try. If you think you can love a racist into tolerance, even acceptance, the you can most certainly love someone who might be just as hard to love.
There you go, if you are into resolutions make that one. “I will love a sick person”, no matter their illness for it makes no difference. Sick people need love too.
Here’s to sticking around to see all of 2017!