The New Year:
A Time to Review and Celebrate When You Have a Mental Health Diagnosis
By Rick Qualls
“As the old year retires and a new one is born, we commit into the hands of our Creator the happenings of the past year and ask for direction and guidance in the new one. May He grant us His grace, His tranquility, and His wisdom!” ― Peggy Toney Horton
The New Year is an opportunity to let go of regrets and continue our positive growth.
As I was reviewing my past year, there is bitterness that needs healing. I was surprised at the grudges I was hanging on to. I know my bitterness is self-poison, but it is there none-the-less. At times I thought these self-imposed grudges were healed but was surprised they are still there.
What regrets do you have that are lingering into the new year? There may have been actions that have hurt ourselves or others. We may feel embarrassed or even shame over things we have done.
Perhaps, like me, you discover anger that has turned into bitterness over time.
This is a time to give to God our disappointments – with circumstances, with others, and with ourselves.
One exercise that helps is to write these things individually on a piece of paper. Then wad it up and throw it in the trash.
The Bible says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him…” (Psalm 103:12-13)
Review the year. Release the negative into God’s hands. Focus on our hope in God. “…His compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:23-24)
Now is a time to review what triggers our manic or depressive episodes.
My primary triggers are inadequate sleep, not staying with my medications and seasonal changes.
Some other stressors that can trigger a bipolar episode are: addictive behaviors with drugs, alcohol, gambling, or sex; taking inappropriate drugs such as stimulants or those that have depressive effects; stress in personal relationships, such as family conflict, divorce, deaths; change in routine such as a move or change in jobs; poor diet and exercise habits.
Along with triggering events an understanding of your early warning signs (behaviors) is important.
As far as New Year resolutions, Ellen Goodman has these thoughts: “Maybe this year… we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
As you review the past, make a list of your strengths. Some of my strengths include being caring and compassionate, having an open mind, and being responsible.
What are some of your strengths? How have they helped you manage your bipolar illness and other life crisis? Find ways to put your strengths to use. Never forget you are hand-crafted by the Creator Himself. “For we are God’s masterpiece.” Ephesians2:10 (NLT)
Be kind to yourself. “Instead of saying, ‘I’m damaged, I’m broken, I have trust issues’, say ‘I’m healing, I’m rediscovering myself, I’m starting over'” — Horacio Jones. Words do have healing power. The Bible teaches: “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
Be aware of your self-talk. Learn to use positive encouraging words for yourself. As you practice being kind to yourself, you will grow in your kindness to others.
Letting go of things holding us back and focusing on our hope in God is the reason to celebrate.
Fresh Hope is a faith-based nonprofit organization that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.
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