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Looking Back Through The Year

We've made it through another year! I know many have considered this year to be the worst year we've experienced in a long time, or possibly ever. With that said, I don't like to dwell on the negative things. There were a lot of good things that came out of this year for me. I'd like to take some time to recap the highlights of my year with all of you.

Honestly speaking, while many started the year with joy and optimism and watched that decline, my year kind of went in reverse. This time last year, I was in one of the lowest points I had been in a long time. Depression and anxiety have been elements of my life for as long as I can remember. That said, I was incredibly stubborn about not taking any medications to help me with this. I heard too many stories of substance abuse that scared me. I didn't want to be someone that was popping Xanax like tic tacs. Instead, I just grit my teeth and powered through it. I forced myself into uncomfortable situations just to keep myself from becoming a hermit. I swore to myself that I would only consider taking any sort of medication to help me if my depression and anxiety stopped me from living my life.

In January, my anxiety and depression did just that.

I was going to meet up with some friends for dinner after a snow storm. I didn't think about how challenging the parking situation would be until I got there. Suddenly, I found myself having a panic attack and driving away. I couldn't handle it. I've been living in Wisconsin my whole life. I learned how to drive in the snow. I've parked on snowy roads so many times before. But in that moment, I couldn't handle it and I needed to get out of there.

I went home and had an absolute meltdown. I really struggled to calm myself down and reached out to one of my coworkers who is also a really great friend. In a flurry of texts, I explained to him what happened and how I wasn't okay and just needed someone in that moment. Thankfully, he responded to my texts almost immediately. He didn't comment on what happened or how I was acting. Instead, he asked me what are the things that help me calm down when I'm upset like this. He listed off what helps him and he's upset. I had never had someone approach talking me down in such a way before. It was new, it was refreshing, and it was exactly what I needed. I didn't need to go over and over what had just happened. I needed to figure out how to calm myself down. It was quick and efficient and in no time flat, I stopped crying and was breathing normally again.

The following Monday at work, he pulled me aside and asked how I was doing. We talked through the events of that night. He asked if I had ever considered taking anything to help me with my anxiety and depression. As a knee jerk reaction, I rattled off all of my excuses for not considering medication or even trying them. He gently and without pressure encouraged me to consider talking to my doctor about it.

I had a couple more bad days where I would get worked up for no reason and have to figure out how to calm myself down. By about the third day, I realized I was doing myself an injustice by not admitting this was stopping me from living my life.

That day, I contacted my doctor. She quickly got me in for an appointment.

For those that are unfamiliar with how these kinds of appointments go, I first had to fill out a questionnaire explaining what I was experiencing. I couldn't stop crying as I filled out each question. It made me realize how not okay I was. My doctor and her team were very kind and comforting. They explained that these appointments were usually very emotional for people and to not feel bad about it.

By the end of that day, I had taken my first dose of Zoloft. Now, almost a year later, I'm so unbelievably grateful for that tiny pill. I'm so grateful for my friend that talked me down and knew just what to say to get through to me. I've thanked him before for being there for me during my lowest points, but I want to say thank you again. It was life changing for me.

There is a certain stereotype with artists and creative people that avoid taking medications for their mental health. There is concern about loosing what makes them creative and special. I won't lie, I found myself believing that on some level. So I was a bit nervous about what this would do to my creativity. I will be honest, it only made things easier for me. It made me realize that I wasn't enjoying what I had been working on and gave me the courage to try exploring other avenues. It gave me the push to not just talk about starting over with a new blog, but take the leap to do it. It gave me the push to create a page on facebook to promote my writing. I found myself enjoying writing again. I found myself feeling more like a writer again. I had been feeling lost, but I found myself again.

While this year brought different obstacles, I managed to find things to appreciate and enjoy my days. Don't get me wrong, not every day was great. As quarantine began, I started optimistic, but it wasn't long before I was feeling completely alone. But in general, life isn't steady good or bad. There are good and bad days. I simply feel fortunate to have had a great number of great days this year.

I spent time folding a lot of paper stars with my free time to share with my friends and coworkers. It was fun to see people enjoying the stars.

I got into the habit of buying myself a bouquet or two of flowers on occasion to brighten up the room.

I took hikes, went on walks, and enjoyed the natural beauties all around me.

In my hometown, there was a nice memorial put in to honor those involved with organ donation. My grandpa had received a kidney when I was in 7th grade. That kidney donation gave us so many more years together.

My dad and I worked on taking an old bookshelf of mine and giving it a face lift.

I went to a sunflower field for the first time and took home a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers.

We celebrated my cousin and his beautiful bride's wedding day.

I went to an apple orchard to do some apple picking.

I challenged myself to try crocheting new things. I made these two for my cousin's baby on the way!

And of course hanging with my favorite dogs.

This year hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows. I've had my fair share of trials and challenges. This year has tried some of my friendships and not all of them survived the battle. I've had days that I've felt alone or cried for no reason at all. I've been angry, scared, confused, as well as joyful, excited, and hopeful. There have been little victories, such as paying off my car.

While this year has brought a lot of challenging things to the table, I've also found a lot of beautiful things too. I've found so many reasons to smile. And I hope by sharing some of this with all of you, it will remind you of the good that may have come to you this year too.

Cheers to all of the incredible people in my life!

Happy New Year everyone!

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