A friend posted a question to Facebook this week. She'll be turning 30 soon and was asking for any advice or life lessons or tips as she heads toward this milestone birthday.
I'll be 32 in August. While not that much older than her, I've learned lots over the past few years. Two of my three hospitalizations (for mania) happened within the last two years. There's nothing like a crisis to teach you some life lessons!
Here's what I told my friend, and now you:
1. Trust your gut. Follow your instincts. This holds true for personal and professional plans. During my second hospitalization, I decided that I wanted to become a therapist. I was in the hospital arguing with the doctors and nurses, telling them how to do their jobs, and advocating on behalf of the other patients. I realized I could "do this." I could become a social worker and advocate for consumers on a professional level. I already have one career, as a teacher. But if all goes according to plan, I'll be in graduate school for my MSW in September.
2. Make time for your loved ones. People are more important than things. Hands down. Don't make it a habit of canceling plans or putting off spending quality time with your family and friends. Yes, it takes an effort, and we are all busy. But you won't regret it.
3. Make self-care a priority. Whatever restores you and feeds your soul: do more of that. I've always been interested in self-care, but over the last two years I've realized how important it actually is for mental and overall wellbeing. Self-care is so important to avoiding the burn out that can happen from work or home life. Make you a priority in your own life.
I don't make any claims to being a life expert, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I won't be offended. I promise! But I have become an expert on me. And living with bipolar disorder for the past eight years has taught me a lot beyond the three lessons I share here. Additionally, I've also learned a lot from my non-consumer life: school, work, relationships, family, and friends.
Beyond what I've shared here, I implore you to listen to your own truths. If you pay attention, your own life has taught you many lessons, too. In the words of one of my favorites, Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string."
And please share any lessons you've learned in the comments below!