Cultivating Contentment


Recently, I have been letting my blog slip. Eleven days without a post! Part of this is that it is Christmas and I am preparing for the holidays. Part of this is work and getting things wrapped up before going on vacation -- at a small nonprofit, Christmas is our busiest season.

But part of this is simply that I have difficulty, as a person, sustaining projects.... the reason why I produce article upon article, blog post upon blog post, but never a book. I am a writer by nature, but my writing doesn't take the form of length. I still long to write books, but I am coming to terms with my personality. To be frank, I get bored easily and like novelty. I am never happier than with a new project, a new mountain to climb.

I think the love of novelty is due partly to personality. My father loves new projects, too. When I was a kid, he was always exploring different hobbies. I have stuck mainly to writing, but my writing has taken many forms over the years.

But during hypomania, people with bipolar tend to have racing thoughts and many new ideas. I know I am hypomanic when I am planning a book project. This is sad because I dream of writing books even on my healthy days. But on my healthy days, I tend to view the ambition as something to work slowly towards. I don't throw myself headlong into it.   

To sustain the blogging, I am building deadlines into it.... Starting Jan. 1, I will be contributing bimonthly to bpHope.com: "Hope and Harmony for people with bipolar." There is nothing like deadlines to motivate a person! My blogging will no longer be self-directed but instead will be outer-directed and enforced by having other people depend on me. It also will have a larger audience.

In my personal life, I am working on cultivating patience. The man I am dating has said several times that it takes a long time to get to know a person. He is everything I am not: thrifty, conscientious, lighthearted, punctual. Whereas I am intense and emotional, he tends to brighten the mood with jokes. His humor infuses my own mood with joy. Recognizing that his pace for a relationship is healthier and more mature than the pace I would set, I am allowing him to take the lead. The result has been a healthy relationship.

In my personal life overall, I am working to cultivate contentment. My psychiatrist once said to me that sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. Just sit tight. I am at a good place right now: Yes, I have developed panic attacks while driving over the last several months, but I am making progress on dealing with these. In the past couple of weeks, I have driven distances at night and during the day. I am developing confidence again.

The problem with dealing with intense emotions is that you think you must change things immediately and drastically, rather than allowing change to unfold gradually, in a healthy way. There is the tendency to try to make over your life, to throw everything out and start over.

Contentment whispers otherwise. "Things are really good right now, Meggie," she murmurs. "Don't mess with a good thing."

I am confident, as I go into the 2018, that the panic attacks, with hard work and effort on my part, will resolve themselves. And looking back on my journals from last Christmas, I realize I am far happier than I was at this time last year. Some of this has been due to luck, but a lot of this has been due to hard work, to putting myself out there -- and to the generous responses I have received. People have more than met me halfway. My goal for the New Year is to continue to cultivate patience and contentment -- and let happiness continue to come on its own terms.     


Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing and I understand. It’s difficult to balance the mental state during moments of stress or in general. Staying on task is a lifelong journey with the hope of accomplishing something, anything. Continue pushing on and celebrate each victory! Many blessings and be well.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, Heidi! I will celebrate each victory... as I hope you do!

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