Hello Goodbye Hello Goodbye
Recently, my life seems to be a revolving door of ideas and plans that begin to take shape and then get thrown away before they have a chance to blossom. I applied to a music school (but couldn't pay for it), I started a web series (but stopped working on it partly because of COVID and partly because I was running out of steam), I attended the community college near me (but left because I was having trouble making it to classes), I started a baking business (but stopped when I got too tired to fulfill the orders), I started writing a musical (but haven't looked at it in over two years because I lost interest)...Basically, I get ideas that I fall in love with and then am either unable or unwilling to complete.
I do not feel ashamed for starting and stopping any of these things, because I know if I were perfectly healthy I would have been able to be consistent and these goals would have come to fruition, but knowing that I have multiple disorders that make it difficult just to get through the day makes me less angry at myself for starting what seems like a venture that could turn into a career or at least a long-term hobby and then shutting it down when I get too tired to keep up with it. I know that I can do all of these things and it's my illnesses that are making it more difficult and sometimes impossible. A lot of people don't like to use the word "impossible" or "can't" because it can seem negative and it can cause your attitude to get in the way of your success, but I think it's perfectly fine to use those words when you're dealing with debilitating illnesses. People in wheelchairs can't walk. People with diabetes can't eat too much sugar. People with narcolepsy can't get up whenever they want just through the power of sheer will. I know I'm capable of achieving the goals I set out for myself, and I know I'm capable of doing them well, because when I do feel good I'm able to carry out what needs to be done. But when the next week comes around and I'm tired and drained and feel sick and need 16 hours of sleep a day, it's just not possible for me to keep up with the things I've set out to do.
I used to feel frustrated and defeated and sad and angry and annoyed at myself for not being able to finish anything. I know to some I look like a person who comes up with a grand plan for a life-changing project but doesn't see it through because it becomes too difficult or too boring, but that's really not me, and I've learned over the years to trust what I think about myself more than what people who don't know what it's like to be in my skin think about me.
Do I wish I could have a music degree and a baking business and be filming a web series and be doing all of these things I know my healthy self is capable of doing - and doing them well? Absolutely. And of course I get sad sometimes when I think about all the things I might be doing if I had never gotten sick. I was always an overachiever in high school and I know that's how I would have been as an adult if I were healthy. I know I'd be doing the things I love to do, making money so I could live independently, and pursuing my hobbies. So, yes, it makes me sad when I think the closest I'll get to carrying out my ideas for a baking business will be me trying out my concoctions on friends and family, but I also feel accomplished that I am able to execute any of these ideas at all - even in the smallest way. I run a nonprofit children's theatre program where I hold classes, lessons, rehearsals, and performances that teach kids about theatre and music. I started out at a local library and at one point we had over 60 kids registered with the program. I moved to my own studio and was there for a year. I had a blast working with the kids, making sets, procuring costumes and props, writing scripts, putting together recitals, and just having my own place that I could use however I wanted. We built a stage and had a small dressing room, and it was a dream come true. Unfortunately, we didn't get as much business at the new location partly because of the required donations to be part of the programs but also because we lost our connection with the community after leaving the library. After a year, I had to get rid of most of the things I had acquired all year and move out. I then taught some classes at home, but that didn't last too long because of COVID. I taught virtual classes, but only a few, and eventually I started to feel even that was too much for me. I was cancelling all the time and was drained after 5 minutes of teaching. I told my students that I was taking a break from teaching and have since been working on writing and taking care of myself so that I can go through my days feeling as good as possible while still feeling like I accomplished something.
I recently reached out to one student and intend to start teaching him again in March. It's a slow start, and it's a long way back to where I was, but it makes me realize that not every goodbye is forever. I said goodbye to my studio and goodbye to my students, but I know I'll be back to teaching - maybe not as much as before but that's okay. Going through "phases" or doing something for a limited period of time because you enjoy it is fine, and it's pretty normal if you have bipolar disorder and have some manic or hypomanic experiences feeling creative or productive. It's okay not to finish everything you start, but what's even better than that is the fact that you can always go back to something you've said goodbye to. Goodbye doesn't have to mean that part of your life is over - it just means that you're moving on to other things and, although you might not have the same relationship you once had to the thing you loved, you can always go back and try again.