Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 - A Year Survived

Hi Everyone

Image result for goodbye 2018

So here we are, on the cusp of a New Year.   I don't believe in the New Year, New Me bollocks, but I do enjoy the looking back and seeing how far I've come (or not) and what that means for the path ahead.

2018 really tried to do me in. It's been a year of challenges, but crucially, a year of survival. It's been a year where depression got lonely, and invited anxiety in as an unruly housemate, and at times this year, that anxiety has been pure terror.  Mentally, I've had some of my worst times this year, but I've also learnt more about how to manage it.

For me, control is quite important.  Well, very important.  Some of the worst times in my life have been when I've been stuck, whilst the best have been when I've been fearless and free. Money is integral to that, and the last few years have taken a huge toll on me financially - if I could do it all again, I definitely would.

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Each month became a financial cringe.  Anxiety about my bank balance left me on a constant seesaw - what was worse, not looking and not knowing, or looking and hating what I saw? I became adept at playing the system (use your credit card before the interest goes on to get a little extra spend out of it) but eventually the margins became tighter and tighter.  It was time to grow up.

So finally, properly, I am living on a budget, with no credit cards.   And it's terrifying.  There is no spare cash for all those lovely little extras that make life fun, and without a partner or savings, there is no safety net either.   Bills increase every month and I haven't had a pay rise in 2 years.  I like that I am surviving, but I hate how scary it is.

Money has caused me a lot of anxiety this year, and as I said, that anxiety has often been pure terror.   I spiral quickly from financial concern to homelessness, and it's sometimes taken every ounce of the little mental strength I have left to keep my mind under control.

Key to my mental survival this year has been Matt Haig, who wrote a brilliant book called Notes On A Nervous Planet.   It's full of truth, perspective and illumination, all in small chapters that the scattered mind can absorb.   It's taught me a lot about myself, particularly destructive thought patterns that I didn't realise I had.   I recommend it to everyone.

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Beth continues to be the centre of my world and a reminder of how fragile the world can make us.   Her teenage challenges are so much more acute than they were in "my day" and I'm really glad I'm not part of her over-digitised generation.  She's probably needed more parenting this year than ever before - but I think we've laughed more too.   Parenthood is a proactive thing. We can't just let our child loose in this world and hope they will be okay.  Yes, allow them freedom, but be concerned and interested in their travels.  And more importantly, CARE.

I also had an epiphany late in the year.   The last 10 years of my life have been tough, certainly not the years I envisaged for myself, and I've realised that I have been so focussed on survival that I have forgotten to focus on LIVING. I'm going to write about this separately because it's such a big topic, but I've become so lost in the struggle, that I literally stopped seeing the wood for the trees.   And the wood can be so pretty, and magical.   And my trees had thorns.

Image result for a life half lived quote

We all make mistakes in life, and we all fail sometimes. In fact, it's crucial.  Without failing, we don't learn.  As you look back on 2018, be kind to yourself. By all means identify your mistakes, reflect on them, and learn from them, but DON'T beat yourself up about them.  They are what will shape the YOU you become in 2019 and beyond.

See you in 2019!

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