This time last year, I was trying to balance a diagnosis of Bipolar II, along with the medication cocktail crapshoot (including side effects) that came with it, the dizzying array of psychological treatment options, and holding down a demanding job.
Turns out, despite my faith in my resiliency, I couldn’t do it all. I had to take a leave of absence.
The road to recovery is long and it’s not a straight line. It curves, dips, goes up in altitude and plunges down into caverns; sometimes, in foggy conditions, it veers completely off course.
It took eight months of acclimatizing to my condition, finding the right medication mix, receiving psychological treatment, and shoring up my mental health toolbox, before I felt that I had enough of a handle on this illness to return to work. I’d rebooted my mental health; now it was time to reboot my career.
As much as I wanted to return to work, it was a daunting prospect. However, the transition from not working for such a long time, to easing back in part-time, to being fully engaged, five days a week, has gone well. As I began to flex my cognitive muscles again, the brain fog began to dissipate and my self-confidence grew.
If it sounds like there is a “but” coming, that’s because there is.
While my work reboot was going well, I’d become frustrated with my progress in my life as a whole. Lately it had begun to feel like I’ve been treading water instead of logging metres.
The other night, I began setting up the April section of my bullet journal. As I started to list my intentions and goals for the month — the life changes I haven’t made yet, all the things I hadn’t accomplished in the previous months — my frustration grew until I had to give myself a time-out.
With a few deep breaths and a lot of introspection, I realized I had expected my return to work to generate a parallel reboot to all aspects of my life: getting a handle on my finances (something I’ve neglected for the past year), resuming the home renovation projects I’d abandoned, re-establishing a fitness regime around a five-day workweek, etc..
I looked back down at my page for April intentions and realized that those latent reboots weren’t failures or rejects from previous months, as I’d been thinking of them. They’d never belonged in those months in the first place.
I’m in a good place with work and, more importantly, work-life balance — something I’ve struggled with since my first job. That is a big accomplishment — one that required, and deserved, my complete attention. It wasn’t reasonable to think I’d also reboot everything else at the same time.
Turning back to my bullet journal, I started a fresh page and wrote down one intention that I will focus my efforts on this month. The rest can wait.
Photo by Cheryl Smith