I was pretty absent from this space in 2016. It was another nutso year, with a lot of things taking me away from both reading and blogging.
I started 2016 excited about the new year. I had come so far in the last few months; I had two jobs, a new apartment, a great boyfriend. I was far from where I wanted to be, but I was making it! I would keep growing and moving forward, and I would finally learn to trust myself! (Arrested Development narrator’s voice: “I did not learn to trust myself.”)
The first half of the year passed in a blur as I tried to find a balance between work, friends, Bae, and time to myself. Midway through the summer, a lot of stressful things began accumulating, and I spent the next six months dissolving into a puddle of anxiety and depression. I cried most days and felt nauseous almost all the time. I couldn’t stop the spiraling catastrophic thoughts, I didn’t enjoy the things I used to enjoy, and I couldn’t find the motivation to do anything about it. But Bae was endlessly supportive, I started seeing a great therapist, and I found a medication that’s working for me*. And I’m doing a lot better now; I may not have everything figured out, but I feel like myself again. I’m overthinking less and laughing more. I’m learning to be kind to myself. I’m even reading again. (I would deeply like to thank everyone who commented on my last post. It was a really personal, difficult thing to publish, but you all made me feel so much less alone.)
Before I wrap up, I want to share a few good things that happened in 2016. Because despite my broken brain and our President-Elect-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, it wasn’t a COMPLETE dumpster fire.
- I had some really nice adventures with Bae. We visited breweries, ambled through a sculpture park, hiked a gorge, and wandered around the Grand Canyon of the East.
- I got to hang out with some of my extended family in the Finger Lakes for a few days of swimming, kayaking, and wine tasting.
- I was able to spend a week in Alaska with my parents and sister in September. We climbed a mountain, trekked a dozen miles in the rain to gaze at a waterfall, and hiked a trail overlooking a glacier. I felt the exhilaration I’ve only ever found on mountaintops, and I fell in love with the sound of rain dripping onto the hood of my jacket.
- At the beginning of December, my part-time job as a senior page at the library in downtown Buffalo turned into a full-time position with the development and communications department. I’m finally earning a salary doing what I went to college for at an organization dedicated to books and learning; it’s everything I could have wanted.
And although I spent most of the year in a pretty hardcore reading slump, I really loved a few of the books I read:
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
- Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
- Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
- The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
I’m feeling pretty good about 2017. I know I’m still going to struggle with finding the right life balance, but I feel better about my ability to cope with it. I’m excited for some of my plans for the year, and I really hope to get back to reading more consistently and finding a way back into the blogging community. I’m not quite sure what that will look like; generating content doesn’t feel very meaningful to me at the moment, but I miss the people and the conversations and the enthusiasm.
Happy New Year!
*Posting this feels very personal and difficult. But I also think sharing things like this is incredibly important. I knew for months that I wasn’t okay and should probably get some help, but I wasn’t having panic attacks walking around the office, and I wasn’t unable to get out of bed in the morning, so I felt like I wasn’t anxious or depressed “enough.” It took learning that a lot of people I know see or used to see therapists for me to realize it’s normal and not a big deal and actually a really good thing. And hearing other people’s experiences has made me feel so much less alone. Talking about mental illness is scary, but I want to do my tiny part in destigmatizing it.