Esmé Weijun Wang, one of my favorite mental wellness advocates, has a workshop called “Dream Hunting with Limitations.” To me, that title encapsulates everything I’ve been wanting to do since my diagnosis four years ago: actualize what I truly want, not despite, but with my bipolar diagnosis. As a recent college graduate, I could not imagine telling my teenage self that I’d be diagnosed with a severe mood disorder. I know I would be devastated. I would retract my ambition-dreams of higher education, traveling, making relationships-and wait anxiously for the day that would irrevocably change me. But that day never happened, and I see a future ahead full of promise. I am free to ‘dream hunt’ with my limitations, but also with my strength, insight and power. I’ve long since refused to succumb.
I drank tea this morning. I read a few pages of my book. I watched the snow fall outside my window, the flakes tossing in the wind. I view these all as positives, and every single positive cultivates a life I am growing to be content with. As a person with bipolar, maintaining positivity and healthy ambition can be hard when faced with discouraging statistics; the higher-than-average chances of divorce, suicide, drug addiction, etc. Especially now, when others are making New Year’s resolutions, setting goals with the challenge of living with mental illness can be extremely daunting. Here are some questions you could ask as you begin or continue to ‘dream hunt.’
- What brings me joy? How can I do more of that?
- What kind of milestones or goals are important for me to accomplish?
- What kind of goodness can I exude to the world?
For me, joy is writing creatively, thrifting with my sister, organizing my bookshelf and deep talks with friends. My goals include editing for authors I admire and being surrounded by a loving family. The goodness I can bring comes from how I treat others. It has been a long journey to be able to answer these questions and believe in those answers. If you are struggling right now, know that a contented life will return to you soon enough.
May this week surprise us
with its joy. May we remember
that we’ve not been destroyed,
that we’re still here.
Eyes up. Let’s go.”
– Esmé Weijun Wang