From Prince to George Michael passing away, terrorist attacks, good old Brexit to the US election where Melania Trump proved that sometimes in your attempt to get a sugar daddy you accidentally end up as First Lady. In summary, 2016 was pretty crazy but not anywhere as awful as my 2015. So I chalk it up to a win.
Thankfully I have come out of 2016 feeling stronger, more at peace with myself and far happier. Despite the challenges of the year I am so proud of my achievements and things I have learnt about myself and life.
It Hurts…but I’m used to it…
2015 was my year from hell. I got to a point where I had spent so long trying to believe people’s lies that I didn’t even know what the truth was anymore. I felt I didn’t know who I was. I was just done with everything and didn’t trust anyone. I felt like I was pretty much going crazy.
After it all stopped I went through a really sad time and I began to question myself and think of all of the nasty things someone had said to me. I had been so used to always feeling on a rollercoaster of emotions when it suddenly stopped I finally had time to think about the actual words that had been said to me. They played on my mind every night and day. I kept thinking – am I such a terrible person, am I really all the things they said? I totally lost myself and thought everything that had happened to me was all my fault, and that I was awful and crazy.
I didn’t like this feeling and I hated having these toxic thoughts. I realised those negative things I was feeling about myself had brought my PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) back with a vengeance. I had previously been mentally and physically abused as a child which is what had caused the PTSD in the first place. Even more sadly, I realised that once again, I had basically been treated exactly the same. No wonder I felt the despair I did when I was little as it was the same situation and my brain couldn’t cope. It took me weeks, maybe even months for the fog to clear and for me to piece together what had actually happened. I was baffled how I could have been in a situation for so long, and not have a clue what was going on. How did I live like that for so long?
Once the realisation set in that I hadn’t been strong enough to work out what was going on, or to stop it sooner I was even more disappointed in myself for not being the strong woman I once prided myself on being and for letting myself down as I had always promised myself that would never happen to me again.
On the outside, I tried to put on a brave face and act happy but I wasn’t at all. I felt defeated and miserable. I didn’t know what to do to make myself feel better or stop the flashbacks, panic attacks and general anxiety. I had trouble talking to people about it, as I knew they didn’t understand and I didn’t want to bother anyone, I felt so alone.
It took a while to get there but finally I made the decision to put myself and my happiness first. To get back to the self that I remembered and liked and was happy with. Mentally, physically and emotionally. My 2016 journey began.
The Beginning of Getting Myself Back
I made a bold move to travel to Australia in December ‘15 and stayed until January. This is where I did my first skydive, went on my first helicopter ride, stayed with friends, met up with family but also stayed truly alone in a hostel for the first time. I also travelled to Guangzhou China by myself (first time in mainland China) on my way home. I needed to do something just for my benefit for once. I made loads of friends and I started, little by little, to feel a bit more like myself and have a bit more confidence.
Once I got back I realised I needed to go back to therapy properly as while I knew I wasn’t broken, I certainly didn’t feel whole either, I didn’t love myself and to be honest, my heart felt squished (not in a relationship way, in an everything way) I didn’t feel like I loved anyone or anything else, I didn’t really feel many emotions apart from sadness, everything else just felt numb. Before I went to Oz, days could go by and I would barely notice. I was existing rather than living. I had panic attacks and flashbacks pretty much every weekday on the way to work and had terrible insomnia and nightmares.
The More You Love Your Decisions,
The Less You Need Others to Love Them
The first six months of 2016 were spent trying to have weekly therapy sessions and work through everything she said for me to do, think of and work on. I was probably a large contributor to deforestation due to the sheer amount of tissues I went through. I am thankful every day that the second therapist I visited was so great (the first was a bit of a weirdo) and I think I would have lost the plot without her. It felt so good having someone tell me that I was not crazy and that my brain was simply reacting to the shitty way I had been treated again, by a similar type of person to who did it the first time. I also learnt to forgive myself, which was the main thing.
After a few months I felt so much better and while I still have the occasional wobble, today I feel a million times better. I haven’t had a flashback in months and my sleeping and panic attacks, while not gone entirely, are much improved.
My sense of humour is back and I realised that all that really matters in life is doing things to make you happy, leaving situations that make you uncomfortable and unhappy and saying a big fat no if someone tries to manipulate, take advantage or treat you like shit. They are not treating you like shit because you deserve it, anyone treating you badly when you are being good to them is doing it because THEY have issues, not you.
Talking About Me Behind My Back?
Guess My Life Is Just More Interesting
After explaining to the therapist how my anxiety was made so much worse by people talking about me both behind my back or to my face asking demanding questions or telling me things I didn’t want to know she insisted I needed to stop talking to certain people. From acquaintances and colleagues to some friends, even avoiding events or places they would be, if necessary, for my own sanity. I can’t tell you how much this helped. Distance and time are such good healers. I wish I could gain distance from all of the problems, I can’t, but I do the best I can at getting the hell away from them whenever possible as subtly as I can.
She said if anyone was that bothered about me rather than gossip they would reach out to me, apologise or at least ask how I was doing, and I would know whether they were genuine. None of them did. Sad, but in reality, good riddance! I learnt it is better to have 5 close friends you trust with your life than 20 that are fair-weather friends who aren’t there when you need them.
WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK
Work was as usual, demanding and stressful, but hard work does pay off, and we had a great conference in September in Rome, which also meant I got my own mini-break to check out the city. When I was there before it was only for 1 night before I went to Naples. I love Italian food, people and wine, so Rome was amazing.
Seeing More of the World
If there’s one thing I love in life, it’s travelling. After going to Australia and China I made plans as soon as I got back to go on another adventure. In May I travelled to Thailand and then around Cambodia which was definitely an experience! It was enlightening to see another culture, make some great mates and catch up with my cousin in Thailand where he lives and teaches.
After that I went to Paris for the second time which meant that I could see most of the things I didn’t get to see the first time. I would still definitely go back again as there is always more to see. After Paris was Rome and after Rome was Copenhagen, one of my new favourite places.
I sincerely hope I get to travel just as much this year. Travelling is a way to escape the everyday drudge of commuting, chores, work and seeing the same people every day. I also love being on a plane and just flying in general, especially now I’ve got the hang of sleeping on the plane. The further I am away, the more peaceful I feel. I do sometimes wonder if I should emigrate, but maybe that’s something for the future.
Doing What I Want for A Change
In a therapy session she pointed out the obvious after asking some questions, that I had spent my whole life trying to make someone else’s life better, nicer or easier or just generally worrying about others. Which is fine to a point, but I was doing this and mostly getting nothing in return. I now realise that being that way to people is only a good idea when it’s justified and reciprocated, rather than taken advantage of.
I am still fairly unsure exactly what I want as it doesn’t come naturally to me to think that way. A small step was I decided to get rid of Sky and my TV and use the money to pay for a cleaner every week. I’ve never really been interested in many TV programmes. I use my laptop or iPad now to watch things on Netflix, YouTube or iTunes if there’s anything of interest.
Having a cleaner has freed up my time to go out or blog at the weekends and it’s always nice to come home after your holiday to a freshly made bed and the house smelling great. It’s great to have more free time for enjoyable things.
So That Was My Year
Looking back, 2016 has been a lot. But I am proud of my achievements and hope sharing them might help someone else who may be in a similar situation to how I was last year or in 2015.
I rarely write posts like this, despite wanting to, as it’s a website that anyone can access so I have no guarantee that anyone I wouldn’t want to read it, does actually read it. But I guess there’s not much I can do, as I don’t want to have to censor myself 365 days a year. If you know me personally and have a question, please just ask me directly rather than talking about it to someone I know. Thanks.
And That’s All Folks
I’m hoping that this time next year, after getting a lot of things back on track in 2016, I will be writing a post which says I have also got back into going to the gym 4 times a week and feel fitter and stronger. I hope I write that I once again feel super happy and as confident as I was before all this happened. I hope I can also include many more cities and countries I have travelled to on my list of what I did and talk of even more friends I have made.
Sending you all my love and here’s hoping we all have a happy and healthy 2017.*