I’d like to pick your lovely brains on something.
I’m writing an article for One in Four on the subject of the New Year. I celebrate the New Year (capitals and all) as a means of a sort of bookmark. “Done!” It used to be a celebration of, “Holy shit, I’m STILL ALIVE! Who’d have thunk it?” I think that does have a value. It’s a more acceptable way of doing, “one day at a time”. And I will say I am personally a person who likes markers- like I said, bookmarks. I need those little milestones, and I value them, and January 1st is as good as any. I also like having that acceptable time to assess where I’m off to. And 2011 has been a great year for me so damn right I’m going to see it out with a raised glass. So I’m aware a lot of people reading may feel similarly to me in that they value the bookmark of a new year as a means to move on.
But I bloody hate all this, “New Year, New You!” bullshit that gets hysterically vomited out of the press starting September. I hate that the Old You isn’t enough anymore. I hate that in particular that it shrinks huge facets of your humanity down to easily marketable packages and does it under the loathsome guise of self improvement. “Shit, you’re fat! Don’t be fat anymore! Buy this!”, “Shit, you look like a purse! Buy this purse, accessorise your purse face!” and etc. I also detest the implicit message that if you just had enough willpower you could do anything!
It sets anyone up for failure (which is why I’m not making resolutions this year) but I think it can be even more so of a trap for people with mental health problems. What if January 1st is just a day? If Christmas was just a day? You’re still the Old You, with the Old Life. And the, “willpower” aspect of getting over mental health problems- that you might have had in 2011, 2010 and before- is not a pleasant thing to play with. You can’t be well by wishing alone, and the assertion that you can get anything by basically closing your eyes and wishing hard enough is dangerous. Willpower can be good, it can help you quit smoking etc- but I don’t think that willpower alone is going to cure someone of schizophrenia or drug addiction, or loneliness.
I also think that, particularly for people with depression, the bollocks of a New Start is a bit of a kick in the nuts. Some people may find it helpful, and that’s cool, but I think we should drop the superstitions around New Year and take what we will from it without it being shoved down our throats. A new year could simply mean, to a lot of people, another year of shit and dread and wondering if you should be alive at all.
What do you think? I’m having trouble getting my thoughts in order about the topic (maybe it’s not a strong topic?) and it would be helpful if you could tell me what you think and maybe what things you’d like to be discussed in regards to new year and mental health?
Filed under: Bipolar Disorder