A new New Year
Posted by
6th Jan 2015

Take a leaf out of Ruby's book and let go of the pressure to think up New Year resolutions. A fantastic blog complete with great illustrations! If you'd like to read more, visit Ruby's blog or follow her on Twitter @rubyetc.

Well, we made it through Christmas. At least that's how mine was anyway, a matter of making it through. The best present, and I mean this is the most mushy and cheesy and annoying way possible, was being sent photos from people who had given or received stuff with my art on as Christmas presents; it was truly lovely. Anyway, New Year (being the sneaky little bastard that it is) often gets lost for me in the black hole of Christmas dread, but a couple of days ago I thought oh yeah, here we go again. Just as I thought I had reached the end of The Holidays Endurance Test another 100m has just been tacked onto the end of the track.


Similar to the pressure that exists around being happy at Christmas, there is a tangible pressure that the 1st of January needs to be a fresh start. We are taught to see the New Year in an excessively hopeful and positive light. I feel bombarded with motivational rhetoric and a general insistence that I must both celebrate the year that has passed and rejoice in the opportunity to 'start anew'. This demarcation leaves me feeling suffocated and heightens the prevailing sense of failure I experience most of the time anyway.

And it is yet another occasion that can lead to often unintentional but definite ostracising of people who are anything less than able and willing to do the going out with friends thing and the celebrating of the year that has passed thing etc. In my current state of mental health, where I am focusing very hard on maintaining stability, and toeing a narrow line between depression and mania, these things just aren't going to happen. It's a nagging reminder of the painful deficits, particularly in my social life, that have formed since I first became unwell.

So, New Year's resolutions. Do we really need them? I am not against goal-setting. If it is a helpful practice, setting yourself realistic, manageable and thoughtful goals to enhance your well-being is brilliant. But by the 1st of January, thanks to the media, diet and fitness industries, and just about anyone promulgating the 'new year fresh start' school of thought, this is suddenly made a non-negotiable obligation. We must ALL make gigantic efforts to better ourselves; be thinner, fitter, more beautiful, more fulfilled AND IT MUST START NOW. In previous years I have caved entirely and commanded myself to make a load of unrealistic goals (see below)

And yep, it did always blow up in my face by about the 16th and trigger off a whole chain of punitive behaviours and crippling self-loathing. I can't even begin to explain the frustration I feel as both a woman and as someone with an eating disorder when the incessant WeightWatchers and Special K adverts start taking over. I mean that's a whole other blog post really.. *COUGH* gross monopolisation of mass female insecurity about weight for profit *COUGH*

So this January I am not making any resolutions. I don't want to put some sort of mental stop watch on hopes and goals for my health, because it's far too much of a complicated and non-linear thing. If I say to myself 'I must lose 30 pounds and be entirely rid of bulimia and find volunteer work and read a thousand novels and pick up 4 exciting hobbies and acquire any sort of social life between the period of January and June' I am setting myself up for a spectacular fall. I don't need to be rocking the boat right now, it's constantly teetering on the edge of a storm as it is. And it's not that I do not want or do not dare to have goals, hopes and dreams, it's just that I want to embark on these extremely demanding tasks on my own terms. I also don't want to compartmentalise 2014 and 2015 in my mind so that they become two separate entities I can compare and probably use to reprimand myself with - hence why I will not be engaging in any 'let's look back at 2014!!!!' trends or documenting an overview of everything that I've been through in the past 12 months.

My life does not unfold like clockwork, and the fact we have orbited the sun once again does not mean I am automatically ready for any self-induced shifts in my life. My breakthroughs and learning curves are cumulative; they will transition naturally into January from December each year and consequently I don't believe I need to feel guilty or lazy about not making any promises to myself with regards to changes I will make just because it's New Years. Continuing to maintain mental stasis whilst I try to build on the rest of my life is really bloody difficult, and for now it is more than enough.

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