My lifestyle changed radically in the past year.
At Baylor University, I was a human “do-er,” not a human being. Struggling with intense perfectionism, I had to be perfect in order to be respected and liked. I tried to impress my peers and professors and professionals.
I couldn’t fathom letting anyone down. My repetitive insomnia led to days without sleeping and eating. Anxiety ruled my thoughts and actions, invading into every aspect of my life.
But these days, thanks to a little bit of therapy and a lot of grace, I learned to live a simply, healthy, well-balanced life. I now put my needs first, gauging my sleep, mood and energy. I do my best to get 8 hours in each night. I climb multiple times a week. I eat healthier(ish)–let’s be real I can’t resist a mean burger.
Each day, I try to do something which frees, fulfills and gives me function.
America is the “home of the free and the brave.”
In the past year, I started to say “no.”
I say no to others who treat me poorly or took advantage of my willingness to help. I say no to movies which might impact my speech, thoughts and actions. I say no to reading magazine articles that make me feel lesser. I say no to coveting my other friends’ bipolar-free lives.
Saying no has only freed me to say “yes.” Yes to people who encourage my dreams and cheer me on. Yes to eating ice cream once a week. Yes to moving into a new house despite my measly paycheck.
Yes to receiving and giving grace. Yes to purchasing spontaneous tickets to NYC, one of my absolute favorite cities on earth. Yes to making strangers into friends.
Yes to bravery–to owning my disorder, claiming my independence, pursuing longtime dreams. Yes to saying what is on my mind, even if it’s hard to swallow. Yes to me, myself and I.
Sometimes even when I’m free, I don’t feel fulfilled.
There’s always an attempt to covet what my friends do: live in exciting cities, attend law school, move across the globe. There’s an inkling to succumb to comparison, which I know never leads to utter joy.
So I do my best to pursue things, people, places that fill me up. I go home and sit in silence. I buy myself gelato. I pray for peace. I go to therapy to discuss baggage I often don’t know I carry.
I spill my heart out to friends. I give wisdom to others. I come alongside people who need me and people who I need in return. I write songs and lose myself in music. I go on long car rides to create space between me and my worries. I climb during lunch breaks to place distance between me and a stressful day at work.
Possibly first and foremost, I need to function.
I need to sleep. I need to eat. When I become anxious, I rarely do both. I need to pray, go to church, sit with Jesus and know he keeps hold of my hand. I need to rest spiritually more than physically, and even emotionally as well.
I need to workout–I like to climb, because it’s strategic and rewarding. I need to assess my mood and what external factors may be affecting it. I need to be self-aware of why I hurt, how I heal, who I talk to, what I pursue.
I like to be there for people, I still have a perfectionist mentality. I slowly but surely chisel away dysfunctional habits that leave me lifeless, exhausted. I need to know it’s okay to not be okay. I need to know people who genuinely love me will love me despite failures, loss and temperament.
I need to breathe. I need to crawl before I walk, sit before I stand. I need to mind the gap before I leap. I need to care for myself, honor friends and trust I am able to live a life of freedom, fulfillment and functionality.