Note: I hoping to post this on New Year’s Day, but unfortunately 1st January was a reminder that mental illness doesn’t stop for bank holidays and special occasions. 2017 didn’t get off to a great start for me, but I’m trying to use this as a reminder that New Year’s Day is just a day, and one bad day doesn’t make a bad year. So here are my (slightly late) goals for the coming year!
Happy 2017! I always love reading other people’s New Year’s resolutions, particularly when there’s a follow up post at the end of the year to see how they did – so I thought I’d do the same.
2016 hasn’t been the best year for the world, and it’s been challenging on a personal level too. This time last year, I was severely depressed and I’d just taken the decision to take two terms out of university to recover. New Year’s Eve 2015 was pretty tough – it felt like I had lost so much and had nothing to look forward to. My goals for 2016 were simple – recover enough to be able to return to university and get my life back. I’m glad to say that I have succeeded with that and I’ve learnt a lot about how to manage my mental illness. Although it was not exactly easy, I made it through my first term back at uni, and even scraped a 2:1! I’m really proud of myself and how far I’ve come, and I’m feeling much more optimistic about 2017.
My goals this year are more specific, with a focus on what I want to achieve with mental health campaigning and blogging as well as my own personal wellbeing.
Blog once a week. I’ve really enjoyed the little blogging I’ve done so far and I definitely want to keep going with it! My aim is to get into producing regular content, on the same day each week. Given my busy university schedule and the unpredictable nature of my mental health this will certainly be a challenge. I’ll need to be organised and plan ahead.
Share my mental health story with schools. In September 2016, I started volunteering with Time to Change, and I’ve received training for the different types of campaigning I can do. This included training on how to deliver your mental health testimony to school students. Doing this would mean a lot to me because I never had any lessons on mental health at school, and if I’d been taught about depression and anxiety, I would have sought help years before I actually did.
Talk to the media about mental health. Another aspect of my volunteering with Time to Change I’d like to do more of is media volunteering. I’m really keen to use my experiences to help tackle stigma, and talking to the media will help me to reach a larger audience.
Fight my OCD and anxiety. Since I’ve been home for the holidays, I’ve definitely had a relapse with my OCD, which is cripplingly bad and has spiralled completely out of control. My anxiety also continues to hold me back, making any kind of travel extremely difficult and causing me to avoid lots of situations and opportunities. I want to get to the point where my OCD and anxiety don’t control my life and make my world smaller. I’m seeing my therapist on Friday so hopefully we can set some goals.
Mindfulness. In 2017, I want to learn how to use mindfulness techniques to take a step back and take the heat out of the moment. I’m not going to try and meditate at the same time every day, as in the past I’ve consistently failed to make this a part of my routine. Instead I’m going to try and learn more about it, and focus on techniques I can use as and when needed. When I’m anxious I get really upset very easily, and my brain goes into overdrive. I’ll be trying out lots of different stuff, and hopefully I’ll find something that works for me.
Read more books about mental health. I really want to read more books that look at the experience of living with a mental illness – whether it’s a memoir, fiction, poetry, or illustrations. At the top of my list are Ruby Elliott’s “It’s All Absolutely Fine”, Matt Haig’s “Reasons to Stay Alive”, and Lisa Thompson’s upcoming “The Goldfish Boy”. There’ll definitely be some mental health book reviews coming your way. Let me know if you have any mental health book recommendations in the comments!
Use my one-line-a-day memory book – I’ve got one of those lovely five year diaries, where you write a sentence or two per day, and each page has entries for that day over a number of years. It’s a great way to record memories if you don’t have time to do a proper diary, and you get to see what you were doing exactly a year ago. I’ve had this book for ages, but this year I want to actually start using it!
Complete the 2nd year of my degree. A year ago, I had to take a year out of university to deal with my mental health problems. It’s been really tricky settling back into university life, but I’ve just about managed it! My aim for the rest of the academic year is to just get through it. I hope that now I’m a lot better I’ll be able to actually enjoy studying again. This term I’ll be learning about art and culture in Early Renaissance Italy and I’m really looking forward to it!
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