End of Year – A look back at 2014
It seems to be the thing to do end of year reviews, whether it’s TV shows, best music of the year, best films etc and jumping on the bandwagon I thought it would be good to look back at some of the highs and lows of the year and trace my personal journey so I can see how much better things are now.
I can’t say I’ll be sad to see the back of 2014. Don’t get me wrong, there has been some good things and I’ve learned a lot about myself but as I have commented on elsewhere I started the year already sliding down into depression and anxiety. The change of job that I thought was what I needed was not the move forward that I hoped and the first few months were a spiral into a pit I never thought I’d find myself in. Thankfully I realised I needed help, was signed off work for the first time ever and spent the following six months getting treatment, dealing with the bureaucracy of work and slowly making progress with my recovery.
Yes it’s been hard, incredibly so at times. I’ve hit lows I never knew existed, I’ve thought there was no point carrying on and it’s still very upsetting to admit that at times I thought that not being in this world anymore would be the best option. What kept me going? Looking back now I can say it was people. Family and friends, the thought that I couldn’t do that to them, keeping in touch with people who were willing to listen, not judge and still wanting to invite me to see them and hang out at events. And somehow I made it to many events this year, more of which in a moment, though I’m not entirely sure how.
I’m not going to mention individual names, I’ve said thank you to them so many times it’s getting boring, and probably very annoying, but now that I’m so much better no matter how many times I say it, it doesn’t seem enough but all my gratitude to them for being there whether it’s just been to listen, give me something to smile about, get me out doing something or being blunt with their advice to kick me out of wallowing in self pity. The relationships with them have certainly been put to the test and I’m so grateful they are still there.
For anyone in the same situation I found myself please try and stay in touch with people, that support network is so important whether it’s in person, on the phone or online,
A lot of this year has been a blur. I can’t believe where the time has gone, things that happened months ago seem to have been just days ago but thankfully I’ve had the strength and support to fight and while I come to the end of the year not fully better I am back at work and able to look forward much more positively.
I spent weeks barely being able to go out of the house, sleeping most of the time (during the day anyway, nights were another story), dreading being awake and having all the dark thoughts running round my head. I reacted very badly to the various medication I was put on and ended up almost like a zombie, feeling nothing and just wandering around in a daze. Eventually I was put on a very low dose of a particular drug which I am still on as I just couldn’t function effectively on anything else.
Somehow I managed to get to a couple of events I had paid for, Chevron 8.1 – a Stargate Convention and Wales Comic Con. I’m not entirely sure how I got through these and one of my friends recently commented how bad I seemed at the time but I needed to try, it felt important to do what should be enjoyable things to help my state of mind but I needed the support of friends and family accompanying me to get through these.
At the Chevron event I remember standing in front of one of the guests who asked me what colour pen he should use to sign the picture I had. I nearly burst into tears as I couldn’t make even that sort of simple decision at the time.
More positively and something that did help was that I started some volunteering work at Luton Hoo Walled Garden. Helping my father in the Cactus house there. It got me out, mixing with people, doing something productive and while it wasn’t always easy I actually began to look forward to this weekly activity. I also managed to get to a few gigs but everything was an effort, from getting up in the morning, to getting dressed, to going outside.
Slowly, very slowly, with weekly counselling sessions, staying in touch with friends etc things improved. There have been setbacks, mostly centered around work and I suppose I’ll always be susceptible but I’m now so much better. It’s still not always easy but I am now back at work, far more stable and really looking forward to some of the things planned for 2015.
But there have been some really good things this year too even if I haven’t always been able to fully appreciate them. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the FA Cup Final to watch Arsenal eventually manage to beat Hull City. Great atmosphere and a thrill to be there even if I did forget to take a decent camera and only had my phone.
There were a number of conventions, though as above I’m not entirely sure how I managed them but met some great people including the legendary Stan Lee. Check out my linked photo gallery for pictures and there are reviews in this blog of those I’ve been to since starting it so I won’t repeat all the details again.
In July I went with a friend to Copenhagen for a couple of days, a trip we’d planned long before my illness and while on the way out there I felt very uncomfortable about going, wanting to stay in the familiarity of home but I ended up having a great time even though I got quite a bad case of sun burn. It was a fabulous city, nice and relaxed, great people and some very interesting places to visit. Highly recommended and I was actually sad to leave so soon.
One of the real highlights was managing to get a ticket to see Kate Bush in concert in September. Again, I’ve written about this on here but it really was an amazing experience and well worth waiting all those years for.
A disappointment was having to miss seeing Heather Nova in concert back in March. This was just as I was really ill and although I’d bought the ticket months before, when it came to the day I just wasn’t in any state to go.
Music wise, the big shock of the year was the release of a final Pink Floyd studio album featuring the last recordings with Rick Wright. Mostly instrumental, it’s received some criticism from some corners but I find it to be an excellent piece. Called The Endless River it really does feel like you’re being swept away in a river of sound. And being a huge fan of David Gilmour, there’s some excellent work from him to hear on it.
Another surprising discovery was an album by Carice Van Houten called See You On The Ice. I came across this as I’m a big fan of the TV show Game of Thrones, another highlight of the year and which she appears in, and heard one song on YouTube which I really liked. She has a really great voice and I’ve been playing this a lot.
I’ve been trying to do a lot more reading this year. Initially as a mean of just taking my mind off things, give it something to focus on rather than just race away with negative thoughts. This really helped and towards the end of the year I’ve even discovered some comic books that I really like thanks to one of my friends and this has opened up a whole new, and often confusing, world. One I’ve never really understood before but now I finally feel at least a little bit a part of. Again, I’ve written about this on here too.
And reading lead to another highlight, meeting Gillian Anderson again at the launch of her first novel. Thanks to the heads up from a friend we arranged to do this prior to heading off to a Star Trek convention that started later that same day. A few hours of waiting was more than worthwhile as she is really quite lovely and it’s a pretty darn good book too.
And so we come to the end of a difficult year. I’ve definitely come out of this a stronger person, with more clarity of what I need and with more self awareness. I’ve learned to listen to myself and not necessarily what others expect. I was hoping to start 2015 in a new role so in some ways it feels like I’ve come full circle but that isn’t true as I’m different and that’s the message I look forward with and hope to build on.
I end with a huge thank you to those who have bothered to read what I’ve written over the last few months. I’ve enjoyed doing it and if it’s helped anyone in any way then that’s even better, though it’s primarily a personal thing. I started this as an experiment but I will continue as there’s plenty I’m already looking forward to writing about.
And to those friends who have welcomed me into their lives, put up with my bad times and are still there, you’re the best and I’m so thankful we have the relationships we do. Now let’s put 2014 behind us and have some good times in 2015.