2018 was, in a way, an easier year than 2019. In 2018 I had very real problems to fight against. The challenges I faced weren't physical but "all" that was required from me was to do hard work for a short period of time to solve them. I think the word I'm looking for is that they were palpable but I'm not 100% sure (my vocabulary is actually terrible). One example was making a name for myself as an "esports reporter". Another, finding a new job. Both fairly intense tasks but all that was required was "just" writing and "just" talking to people. Or... when I read this back I realize that all my 2018 challenges were external. The 2019 challenges this year have all been internal.
I've written about these internal challenges, the mental health issues, throughout the year and I'm still in therapy and still doing well. I think in a way, the fact that I became happier is what caused my downswing. For those who don't care about reading through all my previous posts, TLDR: had a colleague who somehow understood my self-esteem issues and how to handle me. The result of this was that I felt better about myself. The problem with that was that I wasn't mentally ready to feel good. Which, I understand, may sound weird to outsiders but that's the state I was in. The result of that was a huge backlash in terms of mental and probably the closest I've ever come to insanity. That state lasted for probably two months.
Looking back at that time now, knowing that I could very well fall back down to that point again if I don't continue working on my issues, I actually feel a bit sad for myself. The state I was in back then was one I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. I couldn't control my thoughts as they raced down a negative spiral. A dropped glass turned into thoughts about being fired and becoming homeless. Every interaction was analyzed and only the bad parts were held on to. I was drinking a lot as that slowed down the bombardment of negative thoughts. And I was in a constant haze due to my mind being tired by never getting rest. I remember all of this BUT what I'm taking away from this long-ass paragraph is what I said at the end of the very first sentence: "I actually feel a bit sad for myself". And that's progress, believe it or not. Six months ago I would've said I deserved to feel like that. I wasn't worth anyone's pity or compassion. Especially not my own. While I still have problems accepting external compassion, I can at least accept some from myself.
That's not something that happened right away when I started therapy. It's something I've built up to and suddenly the scale tipped. I can't pinpoint exactly when but I know when I realized it had happened: the 28th of November at 13:01 CET. Just after a long presentation for Victor (Nazgul) about a project I've been working on for the last nine months. It's one of those rare moments where you realize that something has changed rather quickly. Two months before that I had another, HUGE, presentation for Victor that I worked on for two-three weeks. I was super nervous and after the meeting I actually had to lie down for a nap because of all the stress and tension leaving my body. I couldn't keep my eyes open. This later meeting, I didn't have as much time to prepare, two days or so, and while it wasn't as big as the previous one, it was definitely as important, if not more important. I worked my ass off on this presentation and afterward I didn't have the same feeling of stress and tension leaving me. That had instead been replaced by a sense of pride. And it wasn't cause I did this in two days. It was because I allowed myself to feel good about what I'd done. I was over the fucking moon. I can't even recall the last time I felt that. I don't know if I've ever felt that.
And here's the thing: when the ball gets rolling it's easy to pick up speed. I started doing more things. I started going out to meet people. I got a hobby going. I started caring more about what I thought of a situation than how others would perceive me. I started setting healthy boundaries. I have the wind in my sails and it feels gooooood. (I'm actually writing this with a slight smile on my face).
So what about 2020. What am I gonna do to keep this positivity going? I don't have it all mapped out but here are some of the major things I know of already:
This is something I've been wanting to do for years, actually. I don't ethically agree with the killing of animals for food. I never really have but I've chosen to ignore it. I'm going lacto-ovo (which means that I'm allowed to consume dairy and eggs). I understand that the dairy and egg industry have dark corners where the life length of the animals are severely shortened due to the animals being treated like machines but when I was a child a family friend was a dairy farmer and the way he treated his animals makes me believe that I can avoid the shady companies by being a smart consumer. Also, I really like eggs.
I have a favor to ask all my friends: if I ever become one of those people who start sentences with "Well, as a vegetarian" (you know the kind) please, please, PLEASE tell me to shut the fuck up.
A problem when you get this upswing is that you feel like therapy isn't needed anymore. I have to, consciously, push that thought out of my head for at least another year. Then I can look into slowing down and trying to stand on my own.
I like programming. A lot. It's fun to problem solve and create something. It's one of my few creative outlets. I have a few projects in mind and I hope to have launched one of them by the end of next year, although that's not a hard deadline.
Lose some weight
This is like a standing order on my future plans list, and something I really need to tackle... again. I've lost weight a lot over the last few years but I can't seem to make it "stick". And it sucks. It's a blow to your self-esteem. Not to mention the incredibly annoying fact that the choice between a long-sleeved t-shirt and a regular t-shirt can be the difference between being freezing cold or dripping with sweat
And there we are. My 2019 in review and my plans for 2020. Happy new year and take care of yourselves!