In January, 2015, I wrote this post. Instead of resolutions, I chose three focus words:
Peace. Keeping anxieties at bay and being thankful for my crazy, beautiful life.
Courage. Putting myself out on a limb. Facing down fear.
Diligence. Working steadfastly toward achieving my goals. Carving out time to care for myself and others and to do the things I love.
How’d I do?
Peace: I started seeing a therapist, which was step one on my road to feeling better. What I didn’t say in the 2015 post was that I was in the midst of an insane hormonal crash after weaning my son and was having constant panic attacks. There is this picture of me riding on a train with my son back in January, and from the outside, I look happy-ish. But I remember that picture and I remember thinking, “I better smile. This is probably going to be the last picture my son has of his mother.” I thought that about every picture from January until at least March or April. I constantly checked my pulse. I sincerely believed my heart would just stop in my chest. I worried how my son would fare when his mom inevitably collapsed in the middle of the day. Would he survive until his dad came home?
Peace was a codeword for finding some semblance of normalcy again. I started attending more yoga classes, which was helpful until my son suddenly decided he HATED the gym child care around August. I also started taking magnesium supplements, which helped keep my brain from spinning out of control. But honestly? Time has been the biggest help, along with my hormones becoming *mostly* normal again. It’s hard to believe, in the moment, that all this anxiety could be attributed to something as simple as hormones. I read a lot about postpartum anxiety–but I didn’t get postpartum anxiety. Anxiety after weaning was much harder to find on the internet, and the stories I did find were about women who went straight back to normal within a matter of weeks. My issues didn’t disappear after a couple wonky weeks. My hormones were still screwing with me well into the summer, as evidenced by a resurgence of migraines and abnormal cycles. I felt so broken and scared back in January. It sounds overdramatic, but I felt doomed. You know that stomach drop you get on tall roller coasters–like, “oh shit?” I had that feeling in my stomach over and over, all day long. Every. Damn. Day.
Thankfully, things have gradually eased. As fall scooted in, I realized I’ve spent less and less of my time worrying. I wasn’t checking my pulse anymore. I wasn’t convinced every day was my last. And now it’s the end of 2016. I made it another year. Obviously, I can’t say I no longer experience anxiety, but I can say that right now, it’s a side note in my life. And that’s enormous progress.
Courage: With all my anxiety problems, I knew I had to take measures to keep that anxiety from making my decisions for me. Courage, in 2015, didn’t look like it might have in other years. It wasn’t about taking grand leaps, but about making my own choices without listening to my anxiety screaming in the background “THIS IS TOO SCARY AND YOU’RE GOING TO DIE!”
Therapy, again, was the first step here. (Can you tell I’m super proud of myself for taking this step? Because it was one of the hardest/smartest calls I’ve ever made, so yes, I am goddamn proud.) I also went on a family vacation to a lodge that had no cell service or WiFi (it was an hour from the nearest well-equipped hospital, I checked). I made time for friends, new and old. And I defiantly continued writing (you all know how much courage that takes).
Dilligence: Since I had a baby in late 2013, most of my hobbies took a big hit in 2014. I didn’t write or read nearly as much as I wanted to, and I felt like I wasn’t making enough real progress toward my goals. When I had time to sit down and write, I was logging on to social media and reading click-baity articles instead. Being more diligent in 2015 meant that I worked harder at keeping my writing time sacred, and I carved out more time for reading by eliminating electronics in bed. (This also helped my sleep!) My husband gave me some “Mommy Days” for Mother’s Day, which allowed me to run off to a cafe and write all day without feeling guilty. (I always felt guilty anyway, but it was nice of him to try alleviating it for me.)
And my diligence paid off! I’ve written and revised SO MUCH more in 2015, I’ve read over three times as much, and I signed with my agent, Caitlin McDonald at Donald Maass Literary Agency, back in late September! All while dealing with crippling anxiety!
Overall: 2015 was a quieter year. No big moves. No new additions. No far-flung adventures. But as quiet as it was, it was also a year full of internal accomplishment. It was a year that helped rewire my brain and nurtured my creativity. It was a year I survived and came out a little bit brighter.
So, enough about me. How was your 2015?