The end of a year is an opportunity to look back over the past 12 months and reflect. All over social media, TV and the radio people will be going over what happened this year, talking about resolution-making, with the opportunity for a new start. To look back at the year and what you have done is natural, and the habit of reassessing is common.
For someone with depression the idea of a ‘new beginning’ is hard to believe, it is difficult to look at things with a new perspective. You think that the way your life is now is how it will stay forever, so there is no use in wasting time on false promises. There is a societal expectation to be overjoyed with anticipation for what is to come in the following year, but not everyone feels that way, and that is ok.
Those who aren’t dealing with mental health issues can still find the holiday a difficult one, while people with existing depression may find that their symptoms worsen.
The pressure to make resolutions and stick to them can be difficult, when depression makes carrying out simple daily tasks difficult it can be daunting to think of starting something new with the idea of ‘self-improvement’, and it can make you feel like you are failing.
When you are suffering with depression, and have holidays come around where you are expected to be positive and engaging it can be distressing. You can spend months in a black hole being held hostage by your depression, and then all of a sudden you are pulled out by people expecting you to behave in a completely different way, regardless of how you are feeling.
You look around and think that everyone else is happy and worry-free, that they are obviously having a good time, and you start to blame yourself for the way you are feeling. You try and force yourself into behaving a way that is considered ‘normal’, which will make you feel worse in the end.
Stop comparing yourself to others – you are enough. Paint a picture in your mind of where you are now, and where you would like to be this time next year, all the while congratulating yourself on your accomplishments this year. Don’t be so hard on yourself with your resolutions, be kind to yourself and set realistic goals.
Set aside time for yourself, to breathe and take everything in at your own pace. Just because everything that is going on is fast-paced, doesn’t mean that you need to be as well. Acknowledge how you are feeling rather than attempting to force happiness.
This year I started talking. I wrote and spoke for myself and on behalf of so many others with the hope that I would raise awareness. I was able to express how I felt through writing and made it public for the rest of the world to see, but most importantly so I could see what was in my head. By doing this I had the opportunity to realise that so many other people feel the same, and that gave me an immense amount of hope.
This year was full of ups and downs, but it always is and will be, and I learnt to accept that. I appreciated that my good days will be accompanied with bad days, but it was me who was in charge of how I reacted to them.
I have made huge leaps in my journey towards getting better, and for a long time I believed that it was a road that would eventually end. That I would one day wake up not depressed or anxious and feel like a new person. But this year I came to terms with the fact that it most likely won’t end, and who I am today is and always will be enough. I will keep struggling with my depression and anxiety, but I will learn to control and understand it more. So, although my road to recovery is never-ending, I’m still hopeful.
I pray that the new year is full of light and hope for you. I am proud of the victories that you have had this year, however big or small. Hold your head high with pride knowing that you have made it through another year.