(Caption: Meeting Etenaire was definitely a highlight of my year)
It is beyond cliché to look at the New Year as a ‘turning point’ in your life, just because 365 days have passed doesn’t mean anything is really different. Everyone rolls their eyes at the ‘new year, new me’ posts that will certainly flood our newsfeeds. But, if you put the bitterness aside, is it really all that bad? Maybe the mental thought of a new year is just what we need to take a step that we are afraid of taking, it is that little push to reflect on the last 365 days to see what changed in your life for the good and the bad. It’s not a bad idea to check in with yourself, your memories, your experiences, your goals once in awhile. So I am going to go full cliché and review my year of 2015.
Let’s start with the facts. I am 24 years old this year, I am employed for the first time for over a full year, and I live with my parents. I am not married, nor do I have kids, but I am in a very committed long-term relationship with my boyfriend of three years.
As always, I began 2015 with resolutions or goals in mind, some I achieved and some I didn’t. I wanted to get back to reading for pleasure, and I did. I read 38 books this year, you can check out more of that here. I wanted to get back into exercising, and I did. I walk an average of three miles a day on my breaks at work. I even lost 20lbs. I wanted to fully transition into adulthood. The jury is still out on that one. I do have a steady job and paycheck, and an actual savings account. I even got a promotion this year. And I purchased a brand new car, all on my own (no cosigner). I do still live with my parents which was a huge failure in my eyes when I began this year. I wanted more than anything to move out. While I didn’t achieve that goal, I did achieve peace with the fact that living with my parents after college isn’t a failure. I still have the goal to move out in 2016 but I am done beating myself up about the fact that I like many people my age live at home.
But my biggest goal this year was to take care of myself. I spend so much time taking care of my family, friends, work, animals etc. that I don’t take care of myself enough. On the physical side, I finally went to a chiropractor for my back issues that ailed me all through college, I should’ve went years ago. More importantly, I finally made the decision to take care of myself mentally.
For a long time I haven’t been happy. I’ve been surrounded by amazing friends and family and had amazing opportunities but something was wrong. I told myself that it was me and that I needed to think differently, I felt guilty that I wasn’t happy when I had so much going for me. I cried all the time, sometimes for small reasons, at times for no reason at all. I began to get panic attacks at the thought of being in an uncomfortable social situation, or getting caught in traffic. Little problems became big problems in my head. I felt that nothing would ever get better, only get worse and that I had failed at my goals. I convinced myself that my friends didn’t really like me, that my family just put up with me out of necessity and that my coworkers didn’t respect me. Everyday life became hard to live, and honestly I didn’t want to put the energy into doing it anymore.
Then I took a step. I found a therapist. I was scared to do it, I thought of the social stigma attached and I didn’t want to be thought of as ‘crazy’ or ‘unstable’. But I knew something had to change. I use a therapist through In Your Corner Online, a service where you talk to a therapist on your schedule over Skype (it really is the 21st century). Meeting my therapist Amanda has to be the best thing I’ve done for myself all year. She never makes me feel crazy or unstable and we are able to talk through the issues I have. Since I started seeing her I’ve come to terms that I have Depression and Anxiety. These disorders do not define me but they are a part of who I am. And now I know why I get the feelings that I do. I had been seeing Amanda for four or five months and things were better but I knew I still wasn’t where I needed to be. I then started anti-anxiety medication. At first I was afraid that taking a pill would really mean I am crazy or that it would take my personality away. But the pills help the parts that I can’t, the chemical imbalance and I still have my personality. With therapy and medication I finally feel happy again.
Am I cured? No. It’ isn’t that simple. I still have bad days where I want to crawl under my bed and cry without reason. I still have a stray panic attack in a traffic jam or stress too much when someone doesn’t text me back immediately. But I’m working on it, now that I know more about myself, I know why I react the way I do and I can combat those thoughts in a healthy way. Why am I putting this out there? Well number one, I want to take the stigma away from mental health. If you hurt yourself physically you fix it, it should be the same for your mental health. I want to share my story in hopes it inspires someone who needs help to get it. And number two, I don’t want to hide anymore. I don’t want to make up excuses of why I can’t go out if I have a therapist appointment. Or hide my anxiety medication so no one sees it accidentally. This is a part of me and I’m going to own it.
I think I’ve grown as a person more in the last year than any other year of my life. It has been a year full of many ups and downs. I am so lucky to have spent it with a great family and amazing friends. Without their support, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow in 2016, and I am very proud of what I accomplished this year.
I am proud that I received a promotion at work after only nine months of employment. I am proud that I bought a car without any financial assistance from my family. I am proud that I lost 20lbs (even if I gained some back). I am proud that I posted pictures of myself in a bikini though I am not a size two. I am proud that I dyed my hair blonde on a whim. I am proud that I swam with dolphins in the Caribbean Sea. I am proud that I read over 30 books this year. I am proud that I seeked out a therapist and admitted I needed some help. I am proud that I finally put myself first in my life. I am proud that I wrote and published a blog. I am proud that I’m sharing it with the world. I am proud of me for being me and not apologizing for it.
Thank you 2015 for teaching me so much