Looking back over the past twelve months I can safely say that 2017 ended up being one of the most challenging years I can remember and sadly I know I am not the only one who feels this way. Like many of you, I have lost loved ones, there have been a few close call accidents, my health has suffered and overall I just haven’t felt like me. The year was so emotional and stressful for so many different reasons and I am disappointed to say I let 2017 get the best of me. It’s not something I am proud of, but it’s the truth. I feel like it quite literally and figuratively drained the life out of me, but I refuse to let that happen in 2018.
Without a doubt the things that have happened last year have not been trivial. 2017 was an overwhelmingly tragic year full of once in a lifetime natural disasters like the recent California fires or any of the hurricanes that hit around the world, devastating global events such as the Rohingya crisis, numerous heartbreaking terrorist attacks, the terrifying rise of white supremacy and the recent #METOO sexual abuse and harassment revelations, among so many other issues that I can barely keep track of at this point. I feel like we are living in crazy times where the moral fabric of society and humanity is being ripped apart and I don’t know what to do, nor how to carry on as “normal”.
Despite all this, the way I handled 2017 cannot carry on. I got a huge wake up call via twitter a few weeks ago when I realized that I had 28,000 tweets on my personal (and private) account. Now, maybe that’s normal for typical Twitter users but for me, this all begun in January after the inauguration and every single one of those tweets is a re-tweet of an article or comment about the news, politics or currents events. That’s it. Nothing from me personally, just tens of thousands of tweets from people like Joy Reid of NBC, former FBI Director James Comey or Obama’s former speech writers and advisors.
I realize now this was my way of coping. I was and still am, so angry at everything that has happened and is still happening and I channelled that sadness, rage and frustration into being as informed as I possibly could and endlessly re-tweeting into the void because I felt validated to know others were as outraged as I was. While doing this helped me to feel connected and like I was doing something, it wasn’t the most constructive use of my time and really, it is the one thing I did the most consistently this year and that’s not really a good thing.
It’s funny because looking back at my 2017 Resolutions, I had high hopes for the year, but ultimately ended up failing at every single one of my resolutions, although not necessarily because I didn’t have the time, I just didn’t have the motivation or inclination. I blogged and Instagrammed much less than I wanted to because my heart wasn’t in it for the most part and that goes for my work and personal life too. I feel like I let people down and didn’t live up to expectations, but the events of 2017 truly consumed me. At times I felt crippled by my emotions and overwhelmed by what was happening, which left me too exhausted to do anything but hide under the covers.
These are strange and difficult times, but in 2018 I need to find a balance. I need to find a way to stay informed with what’s going on in the world without letting it affect me as much as it did last year. The way I handled the events of 2017 left me feeling hopeless and powerless, which really impacted how I felt about my own everyday life and made me feel like I was on autopilot with ‘general non-specific unhappiness’ as my default emotion. I felt sick, tired and just blah most of the time and I know I have to do things differently if I want this year to be better. Yes, 2017 was quite the failure and admitting that is hard, but I know I can change things.
With that in mind I spent the time between Christmas and New Year in quiet reflection to help let go of everything that happened this year and look forward to 2018 with a more positive outlook. It’s not going to be easy, but it is very necessary and I hope those of you who have also found last year to be a tough one will consider doing the same whenever you can. Regardless of what is going on there is always (or should be) something to be grateful for and I need to remember that more.
Life isn’t always going to be easy, fair or enjoyable, but we cannot let it get the best of us. We must all stay strong, never give up the fight for what is right and try and find as much love and happiness in as many moments as possible because we all deserve it. So before I finish I wanted to share with you one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite authors, because it is just as relevant today as it was when he first wrote it:
‘Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.’
D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Finally, I want to say a massive thank you for all your immense support and love last year. Joining the Victoria Health family was truly one of the biggest highlights of 2017 and I am so grateful that I have had the chance to connect with my fellow Addicts even more. It has been a huge honour working alongside Gill, Shabir, Jo, Natalie and everyone else, and I cannot wait for what’s to come in 2018.