Looking Back Glancing Sideways And Resolving To Keep Moving Forward

So this is what I know after another year in recovery… fighting the disease comes first. But then there’s the neglected clinical depressions and the neglected body. The clinical depressions can be talked into submission with a decent psychiatrist, but the neglected body needs more than better food and not drinking and/or smoking. It needs blood tests and visits to a General Practitioner every three months, and visits to a dentist.
“An Update On My Recovery Progress…”, Me; May 11, 2008.

A New Year’s Resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a project or the reforming of a habit, often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous. The name comes from the fact that these commitments normally go into effect on New Year’s Day and remain until fulfilled or abandoned.
New Year’s Resolution; Wikipedia.

Resolution: a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner.
Definition: Resolution; WordReference.com.

“Life is full of obstacles – the street, dope, prostitution, etc. When you feel like you just can’t go on anymore, let someone else take you by the hand and point you in the right direction. Give yourself time and don’t give up hope.”
Text left on the wall of “Dans la rue”, a Montreal shelter for street kids.

The year of 2008 started off with teeth being pulled from my face and a diagnosis of type two diabetes, so anything short of being attacked by rage infested monkeys was going to be an improvement.

But it did improve, in very real and substantive ways. Over the course of the year I learned how to pay my bills on time, and haven’t missed any of them in seven… maybe eight months; I started to seriously confront the clinical depressions which have hurt me for so long; I started to go grey, which hasn’t sucked; I’m eating healthy, and; for the first time ever I had my parents over for dinner.

I also started riding a bike again; I got checked out at a sleep clinic; I only missed one appointment with my psychiatrist… maybe two; I only missed four… maybe five doses of my meds all year; I voted; my sleeping patterns are under control; I celebrated my birthday, as well as the second anniversary of my blogs, and; enough people voted for me that I came in fourth as Canada’s Best Health Blog.

Even with all of the emotions surfacing from my work on the clinical depressions, and the crap I had to deal with to get the diabetes under control, and the teeth being pulled from my face, this actually turned into one of my favourite years. I’m not sure if that would still have been the case if I had any investments… but I don’t, so… I guess that’s one more check on the “good news for me” side of the ledger. Score.

.

that's right...

My Christmas list was pretty short this year… slippers and cash. My family has a mental block when it comes to my financial situation. Last spring my brother and mother teamed up to buy me a PlayStation3 and a few games. It cost them a little over $400. It came in the mail at roughly the same time I paid my rent… which came out to a little less than the cost of a PS3.

Buying me a game console was a great gesture. Paying my rent, meanwhile, would have allowed me to take the money and buy stuff I could use. Like an XBox360 and a couple of weeks of food. Last Christmas my mother bought me a $300 camera, which I’ve used everyday since. But that’s basically six months of heat and hydro bills.

So this year my parents asked for some ideas, what books or CD/DVD’s I’d like. And I gave them a list… cash, slippers, peace on earth.

Thankfully Santa thought I was a good boy — so basically my January rent has been paid. I also got a drawer full of black sports socks, a huge yellow ceramic peanut filled with peanuts, a set of dishes and a Rolling Stone magazine detailing the quick rise of Barack Obama.

So I’m going to town later this week to buy slippers.

Christmas is actually a calm time of year for my family. I can’t remember any serious drama beyond my grandmother trying to teach my mom how to cook a turkey five minutes before it was served. There is some general sulking the night before, and sometimes the day of Christmas. My grandparents, all three of them, get… nostalgic or melancholy, then the turkey chemicals kick in and it’s like having a house full of eighty-year old bipolar two’s.

This year my step-father tried to get them involved. After dinner he asked everyone about their favourite Christmas memory, or gift. My grandmother grew up in the Prairies during the Great Depression, so she used to get the same doll every year… like the actual same doll. But her mom would make a new dress for it. My grandfather said he couldn’t remember, but it was probably skates and a hockey stick.

...

My little sister had us over for a lunch the Saturday before Christmas. She and her boyfriend of three years recently moved into a clean, mostly affordable, mould and bug-free apartment just a few minutes outside of downtown Ottawa.

Which he can’t leave because he still has another eighteen months left to serve under house arrest from an assault conviction. They’re very much in love. They’re also both on disability and trying to recover from their own mental health issues.

My little sister has been pretty much on her own for the past ten years… or, depending on who’s counting, closer to twenty-six. She’s made remarkable progress in her own recovery. She sees a therapist regularly, and has cut all the alcohol and drugs from her life. I’ve tried to do what I can for her, but until very recently I was never in the position to be much help beyond advice.

She’s the most guileless, honest person I know. After the main group left my sister, her boyfriend and I played “The Game of Life: Simpson’s Edition” while my step-father took a nap. When he woke up we went to see the Ottawa Senators play against the Dallas Stars.

The Senators won 5-4.

...

It’s New Year’s Eve and while it may seem like the thing to do, don’t be wasting your resolutions on your recovery.

It might seem counter-intuitive but you can’t promise yourself into better health just because making resolutions is a common cultural occurrence on a specific day.

Resolutions seemed important when I was a kid because the adults in the room seemed to believe they were. Especially when they’d ask me to make mine. But resolutions always seem to be made up on the spot based on what we can remember of the previous twelve months at that moment.

I cannot remember any resolution I’ve ever made. But I can remember deciding what the best first step would be to quit a two-pack a day, seventeen-year long smoking addiction; stop chewing my fingernails; reducing my diabetes blood sugar from coma-inducing levels to normal, and; learning how to pay my bills on time and in the correct amounts.

Making a promise to yourself is one thing. But we have to be ready to follow through, or to at least acknowledge how difficult the struggle to quit an addiction is going to be. I didn’t resolve to do, or stop doing all of those things. I was only successful because I was in a position where fixing a problem was something I was prepared for.

Making a promise to yourself because it’s New Year’s Eve is almost entirely meaningless. What power does New Year’s Eve have over your life two months later? People make promises to their God, or to their children because, chances are, those things mean something and will be around for some time. People who make resolutions to fireworks generally end up smoking “socially” by the end of January.

In fact a 2007 study followed 3,000 people after they made New Year’s resolutions. Of the entire group 52% initially believed they would be successful. A year later “only 12% actually achieved their goal”.

Besides, the promises we make to ourselves in order to fix a problem are basic and vague. It’s important to acknowledge the problems, and doing so in short statements like “I promise to be a better human being” is important only for the acknowledgement something was wrong.

Just saying “I resolve to become a better person” or “I resolve to take my medications regularly” is not the recovery. All of the little steps must be followed.

Anyway… resolutions are important, just not when they’re done out of a bizarre tradition of promise-making. Maybe instead of a resolution it’d be better to actually write out a list of what it will take to get the resolution resolved.

But it is the end of a year in… actually, I guess it’s another year in the lifespan of our civilization, society, culture. And it should be marked. So I hope each of us gets the peace of mind, the health of body we need in the coming year. And the strength and resolve to carry our recovery forward.

So, all hail to the good times. Now pick up your balls, and load up your cannon for a twenty-one gun salute…


There’s a YouTube here of AC/DC “For Those About To Rock”.
If you can’t see it please reload, then contact
Google and tell them to stop being evil.

Happy New Year…

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.

About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have a 4-year old son, a newborn son, and I'm helping to raise my 8-year old step-son, I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal.
This entry was posted in Bipolar, BiPolar Christmas, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Looking Back Glancing Sideways And Resolving To Keep Moving Forward

  1. thordora says:

    I decided the other day I would resolve nothing. I would continue down the path I already initiated-being a better person, wife and mother. It’s hard, but it’s life.

    You’ve had an incredible year-you’ve been a wonderful support to so many of us-you’ve come so far, and still manage to give so many of us someone to look at as good recovery.

    You’re awesome. 2009 should be wonderful for you and yours. You deserve it.

  2. Gabriel... says:

    I’ve definitely had an incredible year, but the last few months were the ones which made it incredible in a good way… and not that “we live in interesting times” Chinese curse type of incredible.

    Today, after being up all night writing this piece and now with the sun shining in and Airbourne singing about saving Rock n’ Roll really, really loudly on my stereo, I’m inclined to agree with you about the awesome thing. But the support goes both ways Thor. I get a lot of inspiration from your blog, and a lot of the ones in my blogroll.

    You’ve come a long way down the path of your own recovery this year. Each step you’ve taken is proof you can take another… happy New Year Thor.

  3. btu says:

    What a beautiful pic. That’s fantastic.

    HNY, mister man.

  4. raino says:

    good post. i totally recognized ‘so, all hail to the good times. now pick up your balls, and load up your cannon for a twenty-one gun salute…’. i am old, showing my age.

    happy new year to you g!

  5. raino says:

    oh yeah. another thing. good pic.

  6. Happy New Year, Gabriel!!! I’m always reading your blog, even when I don’t comment. Congratulations on all the steps you’ve taken to get healthy.

  7. Nita says:

    Everyone seems to do a lot of introspection on new year’s day but somehow I don’t feel too different! :)
    HAPPY NEW YEAR GABRIEL!!

  8. alruiceis says:

    This post made me feel better about being so cynical regarding the ridiculousness of making resolutions just because the earth made another trip around the sun. Thanks and happy new year :)

  9. animar says:

    You’ve accomplished a lot in this year Gabriel…plus you scored some cool games. I’m in awe. I pat myself on the head when I finish a story or remember to do the laundry.

    Maybe I need a view adjustment or something.
    See you
    Anita Marie

  10. jennyspeaks says:

    “Making a promise to yourself is one thing. But we have to be ready to follow through, or to at least acknowledge how difficult the struggle to quit an addiction is going to be.”– Well said.

    You can make a resolution anytime, not just at new year’s. And what’s more important isn’t the resolution, it’s the things you need to do to make it work. :)

    hope your new year will be a content one! :)

  11. Hella Stella says:

    Happy New Years Gabriel… It sounds like you’ve done a lot of great things this past year and I’m sure more are to come!

  12. markps2 says:

    Happy New Year! Congratulations on your improvements.

  13. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks, and a Happy and safe New Year to all of you as well.

    Thanks, Dame, for the Paul Simon. I like his work a lot, but I don’t listen to it enough. Try this one: We Will Still Need A Song

    raino, I think both of our ages are showing. I can still remember Brian Johnson when he could walk smoothly across the stage. Now he’s got his old man pants on with his belt hitched up to where the girls used to sit and listen to his stories while they fed him peeled grapes.

    Thanks Lydia and fightingwindmills… happy new year to you both.

    NITA!!! Thanks for the best wishes. I think having one day set aside for reflection, even if it is superficial, is better than none. It kind of breaks the monotony of compulsion and split second decision making based on little to no information the vast majority of us are forced to live in during the other 364.25 days of the year.

    Careful Esther, I’ve never had the impression you were a cynic, but cynicism for the sake of cynicism is a slippery hill… believing in nothing takes as much energy and thinking capability as believing in everything. Resolutions in themselves aren’t bad, it’s the reasons and the understanding behind them which are the important bits. I like your new avatar… very chic. It’s always great to see you here.

    Thanks Anita Marie… I think most of what I did was accomplished in steps I wasn’t entirely paying attention to, it feels more like I did little things to take care of each problem and everything just added up. I forgot to write about the three new games for the PS3 my brother gave me… EASports NHL08, Resistance: Fall Of Man, and Call Of Duty: World At War.

    He wants me to get online to play in the COD tournaments, but between the blogs and watching TV I really just don’t have the time.

    Hi Jenny, thanks. And thanks Hella and Mark for coming over. I hope the New Year is good to you guys as well.

  14. raino says:

    yeah. i still like them. i would have to say that aside from pearl jam and ozzy, acdc would have ranked as my favs. so, you’d be a johnson fan? so am i but hubby liked bon scott i think his name was.

  15. qweenminx says:

    You lose a few teeth, grow some grey hair(s), learn you have some kinda diabetes… like, it has a number and a type… as long as you (we) know, yanno(?), what it is… you(we) deal with it.

    Gabriel. The one thing that never ceases to amaze me about you. The thing that I fell in love with. The thing that I will always love about you because it became and becomes you, is your courage.

    Sometimes I wonder, no, I don’t wonder, I want to know… do YOU know that about YOU?

    You’re a bloody hero, our kid. That’s a fact.

    You are one of the most gracious men I have ever had the good fortune to meet. And, that’s because you are a gentleman. But, lo and be hold… oh yes, that lo and that be and that hold, if, someone crosses you in the ‘in-toe-leck-chew-all-stakes’… then it’s bloody and ugly and an utter garlic free for all (if we’re still leaning towards vampiric – ah shucks)… anyway.

    Gabe… i just loves ya babe.

    and i owe you.

    lmg

    xx

  16. Clare says:

    Happiest years to come to you G.

    I had a “moment” tonight which was significant in that for that mere moment I let my guard down and trusted totally. I was doing nothing special–just sitting in a comfortable chair and the feeling lasted only a second or two but it was very curious thing to feel so completely serene.

    I want more moments like that in the new year…

  17. bromac says:

    “My grandparents, all three of them, get… nostalgic or melancholy, then the turkey chemicals kick in and it’s like having a house full of eighty-year old bipolar two’s.”

    ??????????????????????????????????????????

    I feel confident it is a joke of some sort, but I’m not getting it.

  18. dw says:

    Qweenie! I haven’t seen you forever! Happy New Year, lovely lady. I miss you!

    Sorry Gabriel, I just had to use your spot to do that. I thought our girl had disappeared. =(

    (loves to ya, chica) xx

  19. Gabriel... says:

    I don’t know how many people coming here and commenting ever read my “About Page” so… “If you leave a mark somewhere, I will probably respond, however — being an extreme introvert — that may not always happen.” I have a very difficult time responding to personal comments. There’s what I want to say and what I want other people to read, added to what words I think of in that specific moment.

    So what happens is, while I’m thinking of what to say and how to say it, other people comment either on the post in question or on others and it all gets more complicated. So… Qween, I’ll send you an email soon.

    Hi raino… AC/DC were two different bands with Scott and Johnson. They were way closer to the Led Zeppelin-style power blues with Scott and with Johnson they pretty much reinvented power blues by taking it deeper and further into the Metal range. I think both bands — Scott AC/Johnson DC were great, and AC/DC is totally unmatched in terms of records and songs.

    bromac… as we discussed in the emails no bridges were burned, those were just the circus performers. I know you have some difficulty with the bipolar to grandparents metaphor, but I don’t see a problem comparing the behaviours of two different groups to each other when the behaviours have such obvious similarities.

    Hi Clare… that’s what I want as well.

  20. bromac says:

    I don’t see a problem either. I am so glad no bridges were burned. And thanks for the shout out.

    Hope you have a good weekend, Gabe

  21. Pingback: ZOLENGTHE | Connecting the Zo People

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