As 2013 draws to a close, it seems fitting to look back on this year and reflect upon the struggles and high points of the last year. It was such a tough year between illness, unemployment, grief, and depression, but this has also been a period of learning so much about myself.
January to March
This year opened with some of the worst news anyone can hear- that someone I was close to had lost their fight against cancer. Many tough weeks followed this, as I struggled professionally in an internship which I desperately wanted to succeed at and personally as I tried to overcome a bad shoulder and neck injury. The endless winter further compounded my low mood and my overall feeling that life was absolutely shit.
Life lesson 1: I’m not too sure I actually felt I could learn anything from these struggles at the time but looking back, I realise how fortunate I have been before 2013 to have not felt this low or bad about my life.
April to June
Eventually my depression got so bad that I went to my GP about how I was feeling, and started a course of anti-depressants. My work contract finished in May and I was glad to take some time off work. It gave me some time to focus on improving my mental health and also to tackle the other health issue which was diagnosed in April- diabetes. April to June was really a period of taking one day at a time and trying to do just one thing at a time.
In an attempt to tune out the noise in my head and to also lose the weight which had crept on as a result of my rising blood sugars, I rejoined the gym and took up running. Setting myself small achievable goals helped me to rediscover my sense of self-worth and pride.
Life lesson 2: Sometimes checking out and taking some time off is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Life lesson 3: People are amazing.
Life lesson 4: Antidepressants work small miracles. (YMMV, of course)
Life lesson 5: Running is meditation and therapy on the move, and running up hills is good for deep thoughts about life.
July to September
These three months were really about recovery and figuring out how I should tackle the next phase of my life. Unfortunately blood tests revealed that my diabetes is of the autoimmune variety and will eventually result in daily insulin injections, but my improved mental health and the excellent advice and care received from my diabetes team meant that it seems so manageable going into the future.
However, a rediscovery of the things which give me joy (music, books, photography, food) and a glorious heatwave for most of the summer meant that my battle against depression was well and truly on its way to victory. This was also helped by several sessions of counselling with a wonderful psychotherapist, a service which I was extremely lucky to be able to access at a low cost.
I was also fortunate to be able to travel this summer, and a 12 day trip to Cambodia meant that I visited one of the most beautiful countries in the world. This was very clearly reflected in the 2000 photos I took in 10 days of sightseeing. I also got to meet my then 10 month old niece during this holiday, and was utterly charmed by her sweet nature and love of stealing my glasses. The only low point of the trip was the most horrifying stomach bug from eating all the food the travel guides advise against when travelling in SE Asia (salad, shellfish, soft cheese, street food).
Life lesson 6: Family genetics run a little deeper than having the same nose. Thanks mother for the diabetes!
Life lesson 7: The guidebooks may contain some useful information… ahem…
Life lesson 8: Rediscovering your emotions is a beautiful thing.
Life lesson 9: Once again, people’s kindness and love know no end.
October to December
The final three months of 2013 saw my life turn around and the struggles from earlier in the year seem like a lifetime away. I got a full-time job working in a position I really enjoy, and it has really restored my confidence in my professional skills. Apart from that, being able to plan ahead and look forward to events/ weekends away has been a big bonus of having a regular income.
In the space of three months, I ran my first three timed road races- the 8km Limerick Mini Marathon in 52 minutes, the 5km Race in the Dark in 31 minutes and the 10km Fields of Athenry in 73 minutes (I know, shite time!!), and as a result, I’m plotting out a training regime to absolutely smash those times next year.
Life lesson 10: Life does improve, even when it seems impossible during the darker days.
Life lesson 11: Running is addictive.
Life lesson 12: Money mightn’t make you happy but it does help!
Life lesson 13: A year is a long time and anything may happen.
How was your 2013?