New Year, Which Me? Resolutions for the Unstable
You hear it at the beginning of every year. “New year, new me.” It hardly ever seems to work out that way but it’s a nice thought. If you are one of the lucky ones, though, then good for you. I say that with no condescension. Honest. But for approximately 5.7 million Americans it may not be so black and white.
New year, new me. For me, part of that expression has always been just the opposite. The expression “New year, SAME me” is a little more on the spot. And “SAME me” is not someone I have always been proud of.
To break it down even further, “SAME me” is not always the “same” me. Sounds complicated, right?
Let me try and clarify.
Those who do not suffer from bipolar disorder may not understand exactly what I mean by that, but I’m sure anyone with the disease can relate.
The extreme highs and lows accompanied by the bouts of mania and the depression all play a role in what kind of “person” I, we, come across as.
So, dramatic? Maybe. Inaccurate? Not entirely.
I wish I had the complete ability of control and awareness when in the moment, but it’s usually not until later when I realize how my behavior caused me to look and come across as.
I was once told by a family member that they didn’t reach out to me more often because they never knew how I was going to “react”. I wasn’t angry after hearing this, surprisingly. Not at all. I was embarrassed. It put a spotlight on something I wish would’ve remained hidden in darkness.
I know enough to know (even if a little too late at times) that I am not always the way this particular family member was referring to when making that comment, one that was perfectly honest and harmless.
Despite it being innocent enough, the comment offered me more perspective than I ever had on the matter. Once again, I became aware of my behavior and attitude just a little too late.
Being aware. Being aware and staying in control of one’s faculties at the same time. I’ve always described bipolar disorder as knowing completely and fully the difference between right and wrong yet having no control over how you react no matter the situation.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, nine out of ten people with mental illnesses say that stigma and discrimination have a negative effect on their lives. With that being said, this fear and shame makes it harder for one to be in control of the “person” who is coming across.
Unfortunately, those with bipolar disorder will undoubtedly encounter someone who will judge or determine their character based off of their interaction with them. Or off just their diagnosis alone.
An APA report shows that a majority of Americans believe that mental health is just as important as any other health concern. According to the report, 87% of Americans said having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. 86% of Americans said people with mental health conditions can get better.
Which is great to see in 2022. Yet the stigma still exists and also plays, I believe, a subconscious role into how one with a mental illness reacts in any social situation.
So, new year, new me? I don’t know. New year, SAME me? I sure hope not. But here’s to putting my first foot forward every day, 2022. That’s my resolution.
Just remember: one day at a time. Even if it is only the first.
You hear it at the beginning of every year. “New year, new me.” It hardly ever seems to work out that way but it’s a nice thought. If you are one of the lucky ones, though, then good for you.