Every new years I make resolutions out of some misplaced sense of obligation. Resolutions are what normal people do, right? Resolutions like going to the gym more (who thought that was a good idea?), eating healthier (doughnut holes are healthier than cream filled donuts, right?), and being more ambitious (see previous parentheticals, ‘nough said), are all things normal people resolve to do, right? As if the habits you currently have don’t exist for a reason, and as if a new year somehow rewrites the rules regarding how new habits are formed or as if there is a discount on changing your life that applies only on the 1st of the year.
And I would dutifully make those resolutions and inevitably fail at them. The problem with resolutions, for me at least, are that they are usually nothing more than a recipe for failure. If I really wanted to go to the gym everyday and really wanted to eat healthier I wouldn’t need a particular day of the year to make that happen. Some people are actually great with resolutions, the added incentive of new years somehow driving them further. If you are such a person, great. Yet, as you’ve probably guessed by this point I am not such a person. I try to make myself better, sure, but the changes are gradual, based on incremental and realistic goals. And unfortunately, missing my new years resolutions isn’t a throwaway failure for me, not given my depressive tendencies.
Every failed resolution, every backslide that inevitably happens, triggers the vicious negative feedback loop that is so familiar to people who struggle with the demons of depression. It is the feedback loop that says you are no good, you can’t accomplish anything, why would anyone care about such a failure, etc, etc, etc. These, of course, are lies, just as the resolutions I inevitably make for myself are, but they are so believable, even more believable than any resolution. And so the goals I make to better myself usually end up setting me back when it comes to my mental health.
But not this year. Nope, this year I’ve recognized that there are going to be bad mental health days. I’ve recognized that those bad days will probably make any resolutions unrealistic. If I want to better myself, better my mental health, I need to measure that day-to-day and week-to-week. Not year-to-year. So this year I resolve to not make any resolutions, because that is the best thing I can do for my overall health, even if it causes some absences from the gym or the salad bar. And wouldn’t you know, I think I can actually keep this particular resolution.
Happy New Years to everyone out there. May you all move forward with your mental health, being the master of your own dark tales, rather than letting them master you.