I have a lot of ambivalence about the end of 2018. My impulse immediately upon seeing people reviewing their “Top 9” on Instagram or posting about their year in review on Facebook is to fold into a state of self-pity and say that my year was awful and good riddance to it.
But the truth is that I’m wavering back in forth between being in a pretty terrible place and just sort of hanging on noncommittally. So maybe my perspective on my year is a bit bias coming from behind the negative lens of my mental illness.
Also it’s probably coming from the fact that I hate New Year’s Eve. It may be my least favorite night of the whole year, ironically enough.
Christmas was okay, but at the end of the day I felt an overwhelming rush of sadness. Sitting among my relatives, I felt myself recede emotionally, suddenly tempted to cry. I wasn’t even exactly sure why. The end of the holiday season can be brutal after all the buildup, especially considering that I really love Christmas. But it was also a feeling of distance from my family, a feeling that can remain deeply entrenched in me even as I’m laughing with them.
A few days later, I got some news that sent me further into a tailspin. So much so that I ended up needing to self-medicate (thanks anxiety meds) to be able to fall asleep, as I woke up to a panic the first night. The news wasn’t even life-changing, but it still rocked me, and was a stinging reminder about how quickly I can unravel in the face of difficulty. There was shame attached to that. Maybe I’ll post more on that later.
Anyway, the point is that I know things were not as awful this year as they feel they were in this moment.
I graduated with my Master’s degree after three grueling years in school. I got a job after eight or nine interviews and the crushing blow of losing out to friends and other interns. I started that job, which has been a mix of personal growth, connection with some amazing kids, and overwhelming stress.
My grandfather had a heart attack, and he spent the early months of this month between the hospital in rehab, but he is home now. He’s been home for over eight months. He celebrated another birthday, another Christmas. He is as independent as an 86-year-old man with limited vision can be.
I had a rocky year with my therapist, to the point that I considered quitting multiple times, but we also had moments of complete connection. Moments where I felt completely heard and cared for. All things considered, somehow we’ve made our way back to things being at least semi-okay and I’m grateful for that.
I didn’t get away on a vacation to a tropical place like I’ve seen many others do, but I made some other things happen for myself this year. I attended a football game of my favorite NFL team and got to watch them win. A friend and I went to the both lantern and balloon festivals. I got to do an outdoor ropes course. I took the girls to look at Christmas lights and saw some beautiful houses.
It’s been up and it’s been down. I’ve written some really positive post series that I can refer to and I’ve written some posts from the absolute floor of rock bottom.
I don’t know what’s in store for 2019. Right now, there’s a lot of doubt within me that I’ll ever be able to overcome the intensity of the emotions and the harsh voice in my head. I wonder deeply about whether there is a relationship and close friendships in my future, to the point that when I talk about my future I say if I get married and if I have kids, because I’m afraid to hope.
I’m living with perpetual uneasiness, and those minions who fight back whenever I feel even a trace of joy or confidence. It makes getting up each day feel very difficult and then saddles me with dread as I fall asleep each night. My illness makes me feel lately like I can’t handle life.
But I’m still here, aren’t I?
Even though I feel empty right now with limited hope that things will improve in 2019, I can recognize that they still might. I can recognize there will at the very least be moments of light.
Last year, I set myself an expansive New Year’s resolution that included exercising a specific number of times per week, meditating a number of times per week, and eating healthier. While I didn’t meet all of my goals at 100%, there were times where I was running three times a week, meditating regularly. That’s improvement. That’s something.
This year, I’m not going to set myself any type of resolution like that. As much as I like to make things super measurable, I don’t feel like setting that bar for myself and risking feelings of failure at this time a year from now.
Instead, my resolution is to try to do as many kind things for myself as I can this year. I’m not going to count them. I’m not going to take data on it. I’m just going to try. Try to avoid the razor. Try to dispute the negative voice in my head. Light a candle. Wrap myself in a blanket. Meditate. Go to the gym. Eat a good meal. Text a friend.
I’m going to keep trying to do the things I’ve already had on my goal list, but in greater doses. More self-care. More self-love.
That sounds cliche, and I wish I was further along in this healing journey, but I’m not. I’m right here, struggling. And I’d really like to try to get further down that road to some more consistent relief.
I’m going to try to keep writing. It’s been so hard to do. Hard to concentrate on my own thoughts, because the swarm of them usually induces such extreme emotion that I recoil and go into hiding from them. I haven’t been able to focus too closely on my feelings, for there’s too much associated pain. But yet without writing, I feel like something is missing. So I will try.
Here we are, the end of 2018. I wish all of you a happy and healthy new year. I wish all of you peace, hope, and joy as we continue on the difficult roads we each face. You are worth the fight.