A few minutes ago I came to a magical realization:
This year, for the first time in my soon-to-be 26 years on this planet, I completed all my New Years resolutions ( I know, right?!). I moved to the UK, hiked across a country, started a blog, have the beginnings of a book saved away and am ending the year feeling pretty damn proud of myself.
The difference a year can make is mind-blowing.
Last New Years Eve I was floundering. Stuck in a lackluster existence of high-functioning anxiety and depression, I was able and content to put on a good face, slap on a smile and hide it all away because I couldn’t JUSTIFY my unhappiness. I had every reason in the world to be happy with my life – I was working for the most incredible family and spending my days with some of the greatest kids in the world. I lived close enough to the mountains that I could see them from my back alley, could reach the ocean within 20 minutes and had a good crew of friends. So sometimes when left alone with my own mind I cried for no reason. So sometimes I spent the entirety of my days off in bed under as many blankets as I could find patiently waiting for my body to stop trembling with anxiety. So sometimes I had to cancel social plans when the anxiety just got to be too much. So what?
I was alive, with a roof over my head, a steady income, and people who cared about me.
Oh to have the knowledge then that I have now.
On NYE I decided that wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to lead a happy existence.
So I made some pretty hefty New Years Resolutions:
- MOVE TO THE UK
- WALK ACROSS A COUNTRY
- START A BLOG AND BEGIN WRITING MY BOOK
- LEARN TO VALUE AND APPRECIATE MYSELF
- TACKLE MY ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
- CHECK SOMETHING OFF MY BUCKET LIST
And most importantly – be fearlessly open and honest about the state of my mental health.
It may have taken 6 months, but I’ve checked off every single last item on that list.
I kind of gave up on myself and my happiness for a while but over the last 6 months, and with the help of so many spectacular human beings, I’ve healed bits of my mind heart and soul that I’d long forgotten weren’t fully functioning. I’ve achieved goal after goal that I’d previously thought to be foolishly set. I’ve ventured much further out of my anxious little comfort zone than I thought possible in even my wildest dreams. I’ve climbed mountains, strayed into the wild(ish), run topless through a forest, shared my innermost thoughts with a public audience, stood up for myself and learned to (dare I say it?!) LOVE myself.
(gah the cheese).
I’ve inspired others to speak out about their mental health, and in exchange have found a truly awe-inspiring community to lean on when times get tough.
I’ve learned so much about mental health and have come to the realization that having all the COMPONENTS of a happy existence doesn’t always mean that you will indeed lead a simple and uncomplicated happy existence. Some minds are just born a bit dodgier than others, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do but to accept and learn to cope with the hand you’ve been dealt.
It’s been an incredible year and I am grateful for every moment of it.
This year I’m not setting resolutions.
shit things done.
Starting off with the first of the month – this January I’ll be participating in R.E.D. (Run Every Day) for Mind charity in an effort to kick-start my marathon training and in May I will (finally) JOGLE my way across the UK on a bicycle (bound to be amusing for everyone). I’m cutting out junk food (except for dark chocolate as that would practically be a sin), I’m going to drink socially as opposed to my former method of using alcohol as a means of drowning my sorrows (GOOD-BYE tequila). I’m going to stop running from every possible romantic connection (my inner commitment-phobe is already losing her shit). I’m going to continue writing and advocating for mental health awareness. I’m applying for proper jobs that I’ve previously been too chicken to apply for (time to buy some shoes that aren’t Converse or Blundstones). I’m going to love myself and stop being ashamed of my every weird quirk (I REALLY want a Harry Potter tattoo guys).
And of course – I’m moving to Cornwall, my favourite place in the world and taking up surfing and photography and gardening.
In short, I’m going to do my best to continue down the path I set off on in September.
So, I may be ringing in the New Year behind a reception desk at a dingy hostel all on my own, but my heart is fucking content and I am happily looking forward to the upcoming year. And before I leave you all to your New Years celebrations, I want to share a few bits of wisdom I’ve acquired over the last year.
- You can accomplish anything you set your mind to. You WILL encounter obstacles, and you WILL want to give up at points. But if you want it enough, if you believe in yourself and your capability, you can achieve anything, just give it a bit of time and your best effort.
- The world is friendlier than it may appear at first glance. Stepping out of your comfort zone is terrifying but somewhat akin to ripping off a plaster – you just have to go for it. Humming and hawing will only get you so far, at a certain point you just have to pack a bag, book a flight and get out there. There are friendly faces to be found in every corner of the world if you only open yourself to the love and kindness of strangers.
- You are actually perfect just the way you are. You, are perfection personified. BUT if there is something about yourself that you are not happy with, work at it! Unhappy with your fitness? Sign up for a gym or a YouTube yoga course. Feeling a bit dull? Read a book or sign up for sky-diving lessons. Change all you want about yourself BUT make these changes purely out of a healthy state of mind.
- It is OK to not be OK. I’ll say it again, louder for those in the back – IT IS OK TO NOT BE OK. Wallow in every emotion to flash through your brain for as long as you require just so long as you always have an exit route from your pit of despair. Spend an entire day in a blanket burrito, cry in the shower, fuck it, cry in PUBLIC (because you shouldn’t have to hide your dodgy mental health away) but always know that however low you feel in that moment, it is just that – A MOMENT IN TIME and like every other moment in time it too shall pass. Maybe not immediately, and likely not without a little hard work. You have to work for your happiness but my darlings, it is well worth the effort.
- Don’t hide yourself away. As aforementioned, you are perfect, a true work of art, a valued and treasured member of society and without you the world would be the tiniest bit dimmer (enough cliches for one sentence?). I won’t go on and on trying to stress this point, instead I want to quote one of my favourite human beings to grace the planet, Ben Platt.
“Don’t waste any time trying to be anyone but yourself, because the things that make you STRANGE are the things that make you POWERFUL.”
- Embrace your every emotional outburst. Revel in your rage, even when it is only mildly rational. Sob into a pint of ice cream over anything from a heartwarming viral video to a broken heart to the depression that’s decided to rear it’s ugly head at the worst moment possible. Shout your every success and moment of happiness for the world to hear and don’t let anyone silence you. Your every emotion is valid.
- Last but ABSOLUTELY not least: enjoy yourself SHAMELESSLY. Drink ALL the tequila, kiss ALL the attractive men and women, dance on ALL the tables (topless if you so desire) and just fucking do you (barring any self-destructive behavior of course). You do whatever you need to to ensure your personal happiness…I mean, as long as that doesn’t include setting fire to a public building or sleeping with another’s partner or any major crimes. Don’t allow the opinions of others to limit your actions. You do you (no matter how embarrassing that may be for your friends/those in the immediate vicinity).
With that my darling readers, I bring this post to a close. It’s been a spectacular year yet I’ve this crazy feeling that 2018 is going to top it. I want to wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous and sweet new year (full of rainbows and sunshine and sparkles and all that other cliche
shit stuff). Without your love and support throughout this year, your kindness and never-ending patience and understanding, I never would have made it to where I am today.
Like every other holiday, New Years Eve can be overwhelming for some. If you find yourself struggling, please reach out. I will happily talk with any of you ALL night long. If you prefer to use an anonymous or professional service use one of the numbers below. It can be intimidating to call a helpline (I’ve avoided it time after time), but there is no shame in it.
Samaritans : 116 124 (UK) 116 123 (ROI)
CALM helpline : 0800 585858
No Panic : 0844 967 4848
Papyrus : 0800 068 4141
SANEline : 0300 304 7000
Crisis Centre : 1-800-784-2433
Happy New Years darling people.
Here’s to a stellar 2018.