It's such an expectant thing to say but this year really has flown by, as have many of the past few years. One of the times where time seemed to slow down to an almost standstill for me was during my diagnosis of severe depression back in 2010, and those of you who can empathise will understand that feeling of time being rather stagnant whilst you are in such a desperate state. Now almost 5 years on, I can't believe how fast time is moving and it really does symbolise the progression I have made during my recovery.
I tend to not reflect on the progress I have made quite so often as I should, and as we are just over the mid-way point of this year, I'd like to talk about some things I have done this year that I'm proud of. Not in arrogance, but as a reminder to myself that whilst things seemed pretty challenging and impossible at one time, opportunities have come to replace them which I have sought after. These 'achievements' are not so momentous as, let's say, graduating, or getting married, or achieving a doctorate, but are important to me as they were parts of my life which at one point were not achievable or possible.
Most importantly, this year I gained strength and did not crumble following the events of my biological father blocking me out of his life for the second time, alongside most of my family who I have previously spent the past year accepting and welcoming into my life. Whilst I won't go into details, this time last year when I was building the relationship with this man, I told myself (and actually wrote down) how much I would fall apart if this man had ever abandoned me again. True, I've shed some tears and had a few mental breakdowns, but I've picked myself up off the floor and kept going. The experience with my father (which maybe, one day I will blog about in full) has most certainly been an eventful one and one that has more importantly taught me so much, as every experience in life does, I suppose. I now have no contact with anyone associated with my father (besides my half brother), and as difficult as that has been, I believe that it is the right decision for my health and wellbeing. For one of the first times in my life, I took an awful experience and shaped it to moulding the person who I wanted to be, and that person is not like my father in any respects.
I have maintained and kept up with therapy appointments, and not let anxiety stop me from going to them. I've also even travelled to many on my own, which for me is huge, and Nathan has come with me to a few also. Currently we are working on the possibility of me leaving therapy for good at the end of this year, or maybe even before then. Which delights and terrifies me all at the same time!
My relationship with my body has most certainly adapted over the last 8 months, with increasing body confidence - even if it is false! (Fake it until you make it, right?). I dyed my hair for the first time, have been wearing crop tops and shorts on nights out, dresses without tights (if you've been a regular reader of my blog you know this is quite a big deal for me!), bikinis and shorts on holiday, and much more. I still have a long way to go, but these small and subtle changes are a sign of me fitting into the person that I want to be, and I love that.
I have been on far more nights out with friends this year which don't involve Nathan, whether he be working or simply cannot make it. Usually I would let that stop me from going places because of anxiety, but I've really tried to push myself to go on more nights out and to say yes to more things. If I ever say no to something, it's because I genuinely don't want to do it and not because my anxiety is telling me to fear it. A few weekends ago, I went on a night out to a place I swore to my friends I hated and would never go to, and survived, and that really signified a huge progression in my anxiety levels.
I finished my second year of University, which is obviously a huge thing in itself considering how I swore I would never return to University after my failed attempts a year prior. However, I had a pretty awful exam season due to genuine sickness and severe anxiety, and despite not getting firsts in my exams, the perfectionist in me allowed my less than standard performance due to these circumstances and I actually congratulated myself as I thought I had done so much worse. I allowed myself to not do as well as I initially wanted to, and that acceptance to me is so important as I approach my final year. I did pass the year with a first, just about, which has left me concerned for the upcoming year as I am on the brink, but again, it isn't perpetrating my mind which is the most important thing.
I have decided where I want to be after I graduate from University. After years of belittling myself because 'I don't know what to do with myself', I have set sights on some post-graduate options of working for a charity. This is a short term goal and I am aware that this can change at any time but it gives me something to work towards and has provided my life with a little more sense of direction than before.
With that in mind, I applied for a summer work placement at the end of my exams which, in my mind would have been my 'dream work placement'. A bag of nerves later, and post interview I was told I did not get the position. I beat myself up to such a severe degree that I ended up outside Bank station, sitting on a bench unable to move because I was crying so much. Sounds dramatic but unfortunately my reactions to things can be quite severe at times. However, I didn't let this knockback deter me from applying for other placements and opportunities to progress in my career, and after a two week work placement with the charity YouthNet, I'm now interning for Macmillan Cancer Support in their Cancer Information Development Team (until the end of September) which is proving to be such an incredible experience. To have the courage to try again, attend another interview, take on feedback from the previous interview, and then nail it was just what I needed and gave me such a confidence boost. I'm now travelling to and from Vauxhall three days a week, door to door, and really getting a knack for this 'travelling on public transport on my own' thing! Working for Macmillan Cancer Support has proven to be an extremely valuable and rewarding experience so far, and I'm so glad that this is the way that I have chosen to spend my summer.
This year is shaping up to be one of my best so far, without a doubt. The way that I have handled and coped with a proportion of events in my life this year have been surprising yet indicative of my progress. I've ticked another country off my bucket list, travelling to Italy in June and hopefully going to Budapest in October. I'm interning for one of the most incredible cancer charities in the UK, and may have worked out a plan for life post-graduation. I have visited some great places, met some lovely people, and more importantly tried to spend more quality time with the people I love. Being able to get on a bus and a tube alone train three days a week I think just says everything about the person that I am becoming.
There are of course, many more things I'd love to work on during the remainder of this year, and always. I need to remind myself to take one step at a time. I'm in a whizz where I want to accomplish and do everything at once now that these options are available to me, and I'm belittling myself when I'm unable to do them all. Right now, learning that I can't be perfect is the most important thing. Learning that whilst many options are there, that I can't handle them at the same time.
I have however, become less of a sayer, and more of a do-er, which I think bodes well for the forthcoming years. Here is to the rest of 2015.
I'll include here some photos of the year so far:
Have a lovely week!