I’m not exaggerating when I say that 2014 has been the most painful year of my life. It was the year my depression finally caught up with me, proving I could never outrun my own thoughts or successfully drown them given enough distractions or Prozac. I had a complete mental breakdown which almost killed me. Every aspect of my life has been coloured by this event: work, finances, health and social life… it has defined me. I couldn’t work for months (and still can’t manage full-time). I missed out on promising projects and career opportunities. Most importantly of all: I lost friends. People I trusted and cared for – many whom I’d known for years – cut all contact with me without so much as a ‘goodbye’, let alone an explanation or an actual conversation. This was what hurt most of all and has been the biggest barrier to my recovery.
But despite everything – despite ten months of hell (and counting: believe me, I’m not out of the woods yet) – I wouldn’t change what has happened to me. Because 2014 is also the year I stopped running. If something mostly works you put up with its occasional faults; it needs to completely break down before you make a serious change. Being swallowed by that tsunami of despair was my breaking point.
That suffering has taught me more than a decade of cushy living ever could: I’ve grown as a person and am humbled at the realisation of how much more there is to learn about the world, about people, and about myself. To borrow the words of J. K. Rowling: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
To the friends and family who supported me through this year: thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You’re the reason I’m still here today. From turning up at my door when I was scared to be alone, to letting me bend your ear late into the night when I needed to talk. For helping me with basic chores I found overwhelming, for putting me in touch with professional help, and for your endless patience while I told the same story again and again, constantly and desperately analysing every detail to try and make some sense of it all. Whether it was once or a hundred times: thank you. I will never forget it.
To those who hurt me, from those who silently removed themselves from my Facebook friends to those who actively sought to get me fired: I’m trying hard to understand why you acted the way you did and to forgive you for it. I don’t believe in holding grudges and I know you all have a capacity for kindness because I’ve seen it. There are days when I reach a state of acceptance and forgive you – taking a step back and seeing you were acting ‘for you’ rather than ‘against me’ – but there are others when I’m paralysed by resentment, sadness or fear. But I won’t give in to them: as tempting as those thoughts and feelings are, I’ve made my choice; I won’t let negativity define who I am any longer. I’m taking control of my own fate and not letting circumstance dictate what I think or feel.
Bring it at me, 2015. I’m ready for you.