2018 was a rollercoaster.
For some reason I decided to spend 2018 punishing myself for not being where I had pre-determined a 31 year old should be. I don’t have any children, nor do I have a ring on my finger. I don’t earn much money, and I’m still in an entry level job. I let my anxiety get the better of me on more than one occasion, which resulted in arguments and upsets. I like to be in control, but I felt like I had no control over where I was going or who I should be. I spent way too much time comparing my life to others via social media.
On paper I had a nice year. I made it to Budapest, Madrid, and Andalucia. I wrote about Budapest here. Then in the summer we went to Mad Cool Festival in Madrid. I’ve never been abroad to a music festival before, it was a far cry from a rainy Leeds Festival circa 2006. Saw loads of amazing bands – in no particular order, QOTSA, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Depeche Mode, Tame Impala, NIN, Underworld, Justice, James Bay, to name a few! A vast amount of gin and Fanta lemon was consumed, all in 30 degree heat!
I started a new job in February. Marketing. An area I’d been looking to get into for a while, and working at Bupa I was able to move sideways, but only on a seconded basis, which meant no pay-rise. But it did enable me to escape the bear trap of my previous manager. It wasn’t until I moved that I realised just how difficult she was making my life. My IBS settled down, and my work life became a much simpler place. However there was a continual underlying anxiety about the secondment coming to an end and the fear of not being able to secure a permanent role in the department, and having to go backwards, and back into the bear trap.
I rejoined the gym in May – a birthday present to myself. I turned 31 and the wobbly bits just don’t go away on their own anymore. I needed to exercise more seriously.
The summer was all a bit of a blur, anxiety took over and I found it all really really stressful. Looking back I tried to cram too much in and put too much pressure on myself. We drove to London for British Summertime in Hyde Park for Interpol and The Cure. And then drove all the way up to Cumbria to surprise my Dad for his 60th birthday, and then down to Clacton-on-Sea for a long weekend. I was exhausted. I sat in my parents garden on my own with a glass of wine wondering why I was so stressed – not able to put my finger on what was causing it – I should’ve been having a nice time?! I cried over stupid things, like a belated birthday present failing to arrive, and receiving a hug.
Come late August and my gorgeous boyfriend got a promotion at work. Something he’d been working towards for the last year and a half and absolutely thoroughly deserved. All I did with the great news was punish myself some more. A Harriet-pity-parade coming right towards me, and plowing right through our relationship. Why was I not earning as much as he was? I’m 5 years older than he is, so I should be doing better than this? How is he doing this? Why is he doing this to me? Why could I not be happy for him?
The following week we went to the villa, somewhere we have been together twice before, so a nice, no-pressure break. I wasn’t in the mood for a holiday, but I assured myself a week in the sun would fix everything. It didn’t. I was an anxious wreck. It made me never want to get on a plane again, or go somewhere remote again. We got home, had no hot water, the sky box wasn’t working, and my car had a flat tyre. I cried, a lot. I took myself to the doctors and the doctor diagnosed me with depression. 2 days later my boyfriend moved out, and my heart fell out of my arse.
Depression was a diagnosis I never ever thought I would ever get. I’ve had a lot of friends deal with depression, but I’ve always ignorantly thought that I wouldn’t be affected. That whole “oh it won’t happen to me” card. At this stage given that I was already gymming it, already seeing a therapist, already walking lots, the only option was medication. I’ve always seen anti-depressants as a slippery slope, so I was nervous to take medication, but at this point it was my last resort. The chemical imbalance in my body needed correcting. By talking to quite a few friends, I begin to learn that anti-depressants seem to be almost the norm. A couple of my close friends take them, their boyfriends take them, a friend’s girlfriend takes them, a friend’s Dad takes them. Is this the world we’re living in now, that we need medication to just survive?
In hindsight my boyfriend moving out was probably a good thing. I was able to find myself again. Discover who I was and what I enjoyed doing. We worked on our relationship, I started seeing my friends again, I had my own plans, the pills were dramatically helping my mood and life started to become a better place again. I needed to teach myself the importance of doing things for me. Doing things I wanted to do, instead of permanently compromising to make others happy. Being selfish.
Fast forward to the new year, and I’ve been made permanent in my marketing job. There’s no longer that fear of heading backwards. I should’ve had more confidence in myself. My boyfriend and I are in the best place we’ve ever been. We laugh, we joke, we smile. Our home is my happy place, and my therapist signed me off.
This year we don’t have any plans. We now both have jobs that allow us to be able to take last minute holiday instead of having to request it 6 months in advance, so we’re going to live more day-to-day. It’s unusual for me to not have any holidays booked or in the pipeline but I’m looking forward to 2019. My best friend is getting married in June, followed by another close friend in August. I’m looking forward to crying happy tears.
And I’m looking forward to multiple impromptu pints with these two. The man on the left has listened to me moan all year, listened to my problems, offered advice, and amazingly still wants to hang out with me! The man in the middle is my world.
Onwards and upwards. Happy New Year. xoxo