New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

Last year I resolved to remember that my episodic mood disorder NOS is part of me – not all I am, but not somehow different from the “real me” either. I think I did a pretty good job of that throughout the year.

This year I want to renew that resolution and make a few more:

  1. to be physically active – let’s try 10 minutes per day
  2. to join and regularly attend in-person meetings of a group
  3. to express my spirituality
  4. to do something musical every day
  5. to keep in touch with people I care about

Why these resolutions?

1. I’ve been saying for a while now that including physical activity in my daily routine would be good for my physical and mental health. I feel so much better when I do something that gets the blood pumping – usually walking for longer than it takes to get from one room of the house to another, or dancing. I’ve seen what an extremely sedentary lifestyle has done to my godmother (who is still in the hospital, doing better but Mom wouldn’t say she’s “okay” yet) and it scares me. The extent to which I was winded after carrying a chair up one flight of stairs yesterday scares me. I don’t need to be in tip-top shape, but it’s important that I improve my stamina. I want to be able to do things. I want to feel alive.

2. I’ve gotten a lot better at being with myself or interacting with one other person, setting boundaries and asserting myself and the like. I’ve always been more comfortable with one-on-one interactions. However, especially since I realized I’m an extrovert, I have increasingly felt the need to be a part of some group. I had my friends over yesterday to celebrate the holidays and, as crazy and overwhelming as it got at times, I felt great. I was tired last night but today I want to do it again; I hate the idea of being alone. I know I can’t be interacting with people in groups all the time, but I need it to be a more regular part of my life. Hopefully the classes I’ll be taking in the Spring semester will help, but I need non-academic social groups, too.

One group I’m considering is Clutterers Anonymous because I don’t even know where to start trying to clean my apartment. Fox is just as much of a clutterer as me – if not even moreso – and I learned the behavior from Mom. Ideally the three of us would all go … but he has work and I don’t want to be dependent on her to interact with this group. I need to be able to attend it myself regardless of whether they come with me. I would have specified this group in my resolution, but if it doesn’t work out for some reason, I want to be able to find another group and have it count. The most important thing is to get out of the house and be social.

Another possible group is that Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance support group I attended once and haven’t been back to since. There are also a ridiculous number of Meetup groups in my area; all I have to do is join and actually show up. I’d even be willing to count going to different groups’ meetings toward this resolution, as long as I stay remotely consistent with it (say, at least twice a month?).

3. Spirituality is an important part of who I am that I had been neglecting until very, very recently. I used to feel at one with nature, dance under the stars, direct the energies of the various elements as they flowed through my chakras, practice zen Buddhist meditation, and pray. Even though I didn’t always agree with the lyrics, I found the act of singing or playing sacred music to be a profound spiritual experience. All of that fell apart as situations changed and I withdrew instead of adapting.

Now Fox is going to work most days and I worry about his safety. About a million things could happen to him; I could lose him. You just never know these days, and the world just seems to be becoming more and more dangerous. If I get caught up in thinking about this stuff, it could destroy me. So instead I pray: “Keep him safe.” I close my eyes and visualize him coming home to me. I send out my love and wishes for his protection and clothe him in armor made of positive energy. It helps me feel better. And so far he’s been safe.

I want to expand on this to more fully live my spirituality, especially acknowledging the seasons as they change.

4. Music is another important part of who I am, that I’ve also been neglecting. Among other things, I got too caught up in trying to do it perfectly; I was so worried about making mistakes that it interfered with practicing! That bright, cheerful, simple song would become painful and strained, until I’d drop my instrument and start crying. I was trying to force something that wasn’t there, and suppressing what I needed to let out. I need to find a way back to making music that is for me. It starts with picking up an instrument – any instrument – and trusting myself. Wakana helps in our music therapy sessions, but I only see her once a week. I need to build on what she’s given me.

5. This resolution is kind of difficult and I’ll be honest, I’m tempted to take it off the list for this year. The people I care about are kind of scattered, living in different states and/or busy with their own lives (and/or lacking funds for transportation). I intend to call or text or email or contact via Facebook or something, but then the time just keeps going by and … nothing. People aren’t exactly the best at contacting me, either; many of my family members go through Mom.

I want to maintain and strengthen the connections I have, so I want to try and reach out to them more often. Maybe send a text when I’m thinking about them or something. Emails. I still need to send out thank-you cards. I need to address why I don’t like calling people on the phone. This could probably be its own post, but at the moment I’m struggling not to fall asleep…

Yuletide Blessings and Happy New Year!

Grace

I was really hurting last night. I didn’t even recognize it until I was selecting tags for my last post. I looked at my most used tags, even though I already knew which ones I wanted to use, and found myself clicking on “guilt.” Maybe there was something my subconscious knew that I did not, so I went with it. I even kept it, over other possible tags that seemed more logical.

That post was about guilt. Even my “little bit of positivity” was about guilt. So much of my life – probably, most of my academic achievement – has revolved around guilt! Namely, trying to appease the universe and my inner judge. “Look at all the good things I’ve done! Can’t I please have some forgiveness, comfort, peace?” … And if what I’ve done isn’t enough, I can do more. I can go without sleep. I can torture myself emotionally.

Last night I tried to do something to help myself fall asleep – namely, listening to relaxing music on Songza. Focusing on the music helped me stay linked to this reality – held my anxiety at bay – and occupied my mind enough that I couldn’t torture myself. But, eventually, I had to turn it off to actually sleep. And then I was alone with my pain.

I lay there desperately wanting the comfort of a mother, the comfort my biological mother will probably never be able to give me. She might have done at some point when I was little, but now she has too much of her own baggage. I needed so much more than I can ever ask of her; I needed it straight from the Source.

And it came.

The Mother said, “I’m here, and I love you.” She wrapped herself around me and filled me with her love, her peace. Every part of me relaxed; I felt as I imagine a baby must feel while being held and loved and fed by a mother: completely at ease, trusting, nurtured, loved, whole. Fully one with the Divine. It only lasted a few moments, but that was all I needed.

Even now, the memory of that moment fills me with peace.

I’m no expert in theology, but I think this is the kind of thing Christians are referring to when they talk about grace, particularly in the context of grace vs. works. It’s having the courage and confidence and humility to ask for what you need, knowing that you are already worthy of it – and that whomever you are asking (whether human, divine, natural, etc.) is willing and able to give it. I exercised grace when I opened up to my loved ones last Saturday, cried on their shoulders and allowed them to meet my needs.

You don’t have to do anything to have your needs met – you don’t have to get straight A’s or maintain a successful career or be the perfect parent/spouse/child/sibling/friend/entertainer/etc. or write beautifully or invent something spectacular or save the world.

You just need to believe – not in any particular religion or deity, but in yourself, your own inherent worth. Maybe religion can help soothe the logical part of the brain that requires justification for why you are worthy or how you can possibly be worthy; Christians believe Jesus already died for their sins, a choice freely made out of love and desire to have a meaningful relationship between the Divine and humanity. My worldview has tended toward perceiving the Universe itself as the Divine, so as part of the universe humans (individually and collectively) are inherently divine – as are all things, living and nonliving, including the very planet on which we live. But these are just explanations; they’re not important in and of themselves. Any explanation that doesn’t justify mistreating others will do. What’s important is the belief.

Depression attacks this belief. The U.S. healthcare system tears this belief to shreds. Mainstream media are equally if not even more guilty. Please don’t get me started on politics.

So much in the world humans have constructed for ourselves demands works – demands that we measure our worth by what we have done (e.g. how much money we’ve made; how physically beautiful we’ve made ourselves; how many followers we have; etc.). Worse, it turns us against each other, into harsh judges of each other’s worth. We tear our own ability to know and value our inherent worth to shreds.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be this way.