Reflecting on 2016 -

Reflecting on 2016

For better or for worse, this year has seen me spend a lot of time in my head, reflecting on the past. At times I felt trapped in the belief that things were not progressing, or would not progress. I felt stuck at rockbottom and whilst I’m still far from being above water, I feel like I’m in a much better position. I still have bad days, in fact, I even still have bad weeks. Yet that doesn’t mean I haven’t progressed.

Being caught up in the past is often seen as a bad thing – people instead encourage you to just focus on your future. However, i don’t think reflecting on things a lot is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, spending a lot of time reflecting and analysing situations has really helped me. I have developed a deeper understanding of where I messed up. I have realised that sometimes I’ve brought about bad situations for myself, not others. I have realised my habit for jumping to the worst conclusion – overthinking things until I can only see the bad in a situation.

Whilst we can reflect on the past, we unfortunately can’t go back to redo it. As much as I wish I could, I can’t change events where I hurt others. I can’t change events where I let my mental health stop me from enjoying myself. We can let those thoughts consume us and weigh us down. Am I an awful person? Perhaps. Yet I’d like to think that even if I was a truly horrible person, that I could change things. I can use my mistakes (and the wrongdoings of others) to ensure I don’t keep repeating the past. To ensure that I don’t unintentionally hurt others.

My perspective on my own mental health has changed. In some ways I have realised that I am worse off mentally than I originally thought. Funnily enough, it was a life or death situation that made me realise this. Lying in a hospital bed with only my thoughts and the beeping monitors for company. I found myself sobbing over the fact that I had survived. It was a horrible place to be, both physically and mentally.

For the next week all I could do was focus on that situation. Was I a horrible person for wishing for death whilst others around me fought for their lives? Either way, I broke down and restarted my antidepressants. My doctor is looking in to getting me counselling. There is a lot of me that just wishes to give up, but there is also a part of me that wants to enjoy life. I’ve got to focus on that.

As a child, I often dreamt about going to University. Which sounds like a cliche starter to a personal statement, but it’s also the truth. Admittedly, when I first heard about University, I didn’t really understand what it was. It just sounded cool, Hogwarts like almost. A seemingly magical place of partying and friendships. As I grew up, the dream continued, even once I understood that there would be a lot of hard work. When I was in high school though, I wrote the dream off. I was bullied and let my mental health ┬ástand in the way of being able to do well at school.

My grades were awful, and nowhere near good enough for University. In my fifth year of High School, I found myself regularly crying and begging for my mum to let me drop out. I had changed schools at this point, but my extreme anxiety stopped me from making friends. I was selectively mute for the full year, never really building up the courage to speak unless spoken to. Instead of dropping out though, I managed to force myself to stick it through until exam time. I left school with one Higher – a C in English. Most universities want at least 4 Highers at A and B level. I continued to feel hopeless and upset that university was unobtainable. Found myself bitter and jealous of everyone around me celebrating getting in to where I wanted to be.

This year though, things changed considerably. I worked through an apprenticeship in Creative and Digital media and left with a Diploma and a year’s work experience. I managed to get myself published in the Huffington Post (3 times!), Glasgow Live, and other publications. I’m not sure what it was, but something inside me decided to go and apply to universities. Just to see what would happen. I didn’t really expect anything positive. Sure, I had work experience and a portfolio, but the idea of it being able to weigh up to someone who performed well academically was laughable. I ended up getting an unconditional offer. Sure, I also received a rejection from another, but still, I’ll be going off to university. Sometimes when one door isn’t available to us, we need to find another way in to where we want. Even if that involves making doors ourselves.

In 2017, I will be moving almost 7 hours away from home to attend University. It seems surreal and terrifying, but at the same time it’s exciting. It really feels like this is the fresh start I need. A hit of the reset button, and perhaps a way of me to continue my fight to overcome my social anxiety. I won’t have a safety net being so far from home. Maybe that’s a bad thing considering I still struggle so much with my mental health, but maybe it’ll also encourage me to build a stronger and much sturdier support system.

This year has definitely seen my friendship circles change radically. I have developed great friendships with people that I would have never seen me getting along with before. That’s not to say my personality has radically changed, because I don’t think that’s the case. It’s more a mixture of having more confidence to talk to a variety of people as well as using social media to connect with others. I have a lot of love for my friends, who are all wonderful people. Going above and beyond in terms of supporting me with my struggles and my achievements. I would be in a much worse place without them. I look forward to creating more great memories with friends, as well as forming new friendships.

There is a lot to look forward to in 2017 for me – university, a new job (when I eventually get one!), more gigs & festivals, new music to look forward to, new games to play and new films to watch. No doubt I will still struggle with my mental health. There will be bad moments, and I may find myself feeling at rock bottom once more. Yet I shouldn’t write the year off before it’s even began. I want to fight and prove to myself that recovery is achievable. I want to be more confident and less apologetic for my existence. Here’s hoping that in 2017 the good outweighs the bad. Wishing you all a wonderful new year.