2017: The Year of Balance

I live my life in extremes. My thoughts are black or white. My actions, often all or nothing. I’m very rigid, very controlled, yet I can also be completely out of control at the same time. When I reflect on my personality, I find it fitting that I am diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and anorexia nervosa. Both illnesses are known for grandiose or extreme behavior. With bipolar, this is often due to the impulsivity factor, and with eating disorders it is the behaviors that appear so extreme.

On some level, my extremes help me. I push myself academically and have excelled in graduate school. My motivation pushes me to work out every day, a habit many struggle with. If I have an interest, I throw myself into it and become immersed, a self-taught expert. It makes me a hard worker.

But the reality is this: extremes are dangerous. Extremes are often destructive. My extreme nature causes me to to go above and beyond what you can imagine when it comes to my eating disorder behaviors. It has led to hospitalizations and health crises and stays in residential facilities. It causes me to miss opportunities because I am too afraid to try something new. Both sides of the extreme are life hindering.

I’ve spent 33 years living my life in extremes. This year, I’ve decided, that changes.

I don’t usually make resolutions. That is because my resolutions tend to resemble the way I live my life: extreme. Unattainable. But this year is different. This year I want to grow, to thrive. I’m tired of standing still.

Perhaps I don’t give myself enough credit. I know I’ve grown over the past year. But my thoughts remain cemented in the rash, the firm.

I believe that if we want to implement change we need to take that change in palatable bits. We don’t need to overwhelm ourselves. That is why I set one goal for myself when the new year rolled around.

My one goal for 2017 is to find balance, to find at least a little less discomfort in the in betweens. I want to stop missing out on life because I’m too anxious to step out of my house. I want to stop missing opportunities because a fear of failure and of success simultaneously hold me back, causing paralysis.

I’m making small goals that fall under the umbrella of balance throughout the year. Milestones.

I don’t have to achieve perfection to accomplish my goal. I don’t expect to magically end up in a perfect world where everything is healthy and balanced. Even if I only inch slightly towards that goal, I am achieving something.

Because this year, I dare to step away from black and white and into gray.


Charlie is a graduate student pursuing a degree in English and Creative Writing. When she is not doing coursework or writing, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and dog. She writes both fiction and nonfiction, in particular essays and novel-length works. She blogs daily on her site Decoding Bipolar, with a focus on educat05102012ion and incorporating positive changes in order to live fully while coping with mental illness.

You can follow Charlie on FacebookTwitter and her personal blog


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