Sunday, 25 June 2017

Retrospect Is 20/20 (get it?)

I can't be the only person who counts years from birthday to birthday, not January to December. For 4 years now I've been counting my life in birthdays because, for some cruel and unusual reason, my birthday has always been at the very centre of a great change in my life.

2013: Anxiety: The dawn of an era
2014: Anxiety II: Woops more anxiety
2015: Anxiety III: You have no qualifications but here is some depression
2016: Anxiety IV: Hey, maybe it isn't all bad.

When June rolls around, and I begin the 29-day countdown, I can't help but become nostalgic for the very recent past, and this year feels even more important because I finally close the "childhood" chapter on my life and apparently become an adult.

This last year, starting from my 19th birthday, of course, has been a wild ride if ever there was one. Admitting it is hard, but the truth is, I never believed I'd make it to 20. In fact, I believed it so little I even wrote it down. Looking back now, I'm so glad I chose to keep an official record because it serves as a constant reminder of how far I've come. This year has been one of massive change, my family life and my social life, and therefore my own personal life, has been flipped upside-down.

New meds, new therapist, new me.

It's not that I give full credit to these things for the improvement in my mental health, but I can't deny the huge help they've been or the fact that they appeared shortly after my last birthday. This time last year I was seeing a perfectly reasonable therapist - a good one in fact. I truly owe him for dragging me out of the gutter I was in back in 2015 (And recommending that I should date my now boyfriend). That said, 18 months is a long time to spend with one therapist and once I'd reached a certain level, his help was no longer making much of a difference. I moved on, found someone new with a different approach and began to make strides again. I've achieved things in the last year that I thought I'd never get to do again.

At the very same time, I'd decided to change my medication. I'm proud of being on medication to control my mental health, it's no different to antibiotics or pain killers. I'd hit a ceiling with my current medication, I had been taking a subtherapeutic dosage for 6 months and couldn't stand the side effects which came with trying to increase that level - so I packed it all in and anxiously started something new. So far so good is all I can really say on the matter.

It's no secret that the last few years haven't been easy for me, and if they were a 10 on the "boy this sucks" scale, then this past
year has been a 6 (okay sometimes 5, sometimes 7). I'm a little too superstitious to admit it, so I say cautiously, that this year definitely feels like a whole new life.

I'd also like to take a moment to get mushy about the people (and animals) in my life who pushed me further towards this new beginning.

I'd never imagined that anyone would be able to truly be on side with how my life works and the irrational ways I feel, and yet, despite all the odds, one year ago, my best friend of the last decade officially became my other half. While I wouldn't credit another person for fixing me, I will credit him for being there every step of the way while I fixed myself. So many of the new experiences I've had this year have been because of him. Not because he made me, or even that it was his idea, but because he let me do the irrational things I needed doing in order to step out of my comfort zone and being right there with me. I wouldn't have managed half the things I have this year if it weren't for what we have, thank you for letting me be me. (gross, I'm done now)

MORE IMPORTANTLY, this year brought the newest edition to my family, the Moo. Mia is, and always will be credited for the biggest improvement in my health. Never could I have imagined that one tiny being would be enough to push me to put their needs above my own anxiety, but here she is, convincing me every day that some things are just worth the risk. Because of her, I have broken down walls I thought would stay up forever. Because of her, this year, I have reached a place where I can just about pass off as a functional human.

I try to steer well clear of setting goals and expectations because they only give me more stress and anxiety, so as far as the next year goes I'm keeping an open mind. One day at a time is all I'm really concerned about. So far, that's paid off pretty well. I entered this year with the lowest of expectations and purely negative ideas of how life would be. I never would have dreamed that things would end up the way they have, and I will never stop thanking my lucky stars, and whatever other spirit is watching out for me, for getting me to where I am now.

I may be miles from the finishing line, but at least I'm back in the race. 

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