Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reflecting on 2017

The title is a little bit misleading. I just spent the last hour writing a blog post about how horrible 2017 was. Two minutes ago, I saved it as a draft and started over. It was a bad year, but I realized while producing a ten paragraph brain-spill about how fucking terrible everything is, that there's absolutely nothing productive in putting that out there. I've heard people say getting it all out there makes you feel better, it's one of the reasons people write journals and go to therapy. But, having a pity part didn't really make me feel better, it made me feel worse. Thinking about the miserable year I had, writing it down, seeing it in black and white made me feel like shit.

So, I'm not doing that. This will be the last post of 2017. I'm not going to make the last blog post of 2017 ten paragraphs about all the crap swirling around in my head right now. That's pointless. So instead, I'm going to talk about the few things I did to better myself this year and how I intend to make 2018 better than this year has been. That seems much more productive than wallowing in self-pity. So, here goes.

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Focus on Self 

The single best thing I did for myself this year was to try to turn my focus inward. What I mean is, I'm trying to start focusing on self-improvement and figuring out how I can help myself. I suffer with depression and anxiety, I have a pretty severe case of agoraphobia (which has been diagnosed as moderate, but feels pretty severe inside my head). Those issues have actually gotten worse this year. For whatever reason, my mental health is declining, which is confusing because every time I think it can't get worse, it does.

So, I started trying to focus on those things I could do, without going to therapy, to make myself feel better. To improve my mental health, even just a little bit. My husband suggested that mindfulness meditation might help with my anxiety and depression. He practices and swears by it. He's a pretty calm person, something many people actually comment on, and which he attributes largely to mindfulness. I figured I'd try it.

I downloaded the Calm app for my iPhone, upgraded to the premium service, and started trying this mindfulness meditation thing. The first thing, this shit is hard. It's not as easy as "breathe in, breath out, feel better." It may look that way on the outside, but it's tough and takes quite a lot of practice. Since I only started doing this late this year, I'm still trying to get the hang of it. What I like is that it focuses on trying to be mindful of yourself and your thoughts. No weird spirituality involved. It's like yoga for the mind.

The silver lining, it is actually helping me. I was skeptical that it would work at all and I tend toward pessimism, but am trying my hardest to take it seriously. I haven't had the energy to practice much this past month. I've been sick and can hardly breathe, so a practice that focuses largely on breathing is kind of out of the question. But, I have noticed an improvement in my ability to cope with my anxiety since I started doing this.

I plan to work harder to keep to a daily mindfulness meditation schedule in the coming year. Maybe that will make whatever's coming at us in 2018 easier to handle. If how I'm feeling so far is any indication, I'm hesitantly hopeful (ha... see what I did there?).

Weight loss

I lost 30 lbs this year. I may have gained some of that back during the holidays and with my depression, I tend to self-medicate with food, but I've manage to lose some weight. It's not a lot, especially for a whole year, but it's something. I'm counting it as a win for 2017 and something I hope continues into 2018, even though I have no plans to go on a "diet."

Writing

This is the hardest one. I've so neglected my writing, both this blog and my book projects. I've struggled with coming to terms with the fact that despite having written hundreds of thousands of words over the past ten or more years, I will likely never publish. The anxiety causes so much fear, I can't imagine putting myself out there that way. But, even still, I'm working on coming to terms with the fact that that's okay. That it's okay to write, just for me, without any artificial expectations about publishing. I can write the story in my head, the way I want, as an outlet for my creative energy. It's okay.

So, I've started to write again. A little at a time, I'm working on a novel that's been collecting virtual dust and I'm actually enjoying it. It's been nice. I'm hoping to finish that particular piece of work early this coming year. And, when I do, it will likely just sit in a folder on my hard drive. But again, that's okay.

I'm also going to try to blog more and work on starting another blog that I've been wanting to write for a long time. A book blog, of sorts, with a focus on romance--I read 3-4 romance novels a week, so I'd have more than enough material. At this point, the only thing holding me back on that project is that I can't seem to settle on a good title for said blog. Which actually kind of sucks since writing catchy titles for papers was sort of my jam in college. Professors would actually comment on how awesome my titles were. I think may be I'm losing my touch.

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Ultimately, though the year wasn't a particularly good one for me, it wasn't as terrible as it feels either. Somehow, wallowing in self-pity made it feel monumentally worse than it actually was. At best, it was a stagnant year where I accomplished absolutely nothing. It could have been much worse. But, I'm hoping as I approach my 40th year on this damn earth, that I can get something done. Even one accomplishment of any kind would really help me feel like I'm getting somewhere.

So, since it's the last post of the year, here's the last selfie I took in 2017. We went to Salt Lake to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square and I snapped this pic, all bundled up with my Star Wars scarf. It was damn cold and I look happier than I am. But at that moment, surrounded with Christmas lights and wearing brand new shoes that were absolutely killing me, I was content. In that moment, I was okay. That feels like something positive, however small.

4 comments:

  1. The twisted person in me wants to read the original self-wallowing version of this post, but otherwise, I think you did a special thing here--focusing on the things you accomplished for 2017 (and wow, they are pretty impressive Kristyn!) and how to make 2018 even better. I especially like your writing goal, because it takes the pressure off and lets you write for the sheer joy of writing. It wasn't until I announced on my website that "I will not be writing a sequel to Chasing Echoes" that I finally felt inspired to write it. Now, with the burden is lifted off my shoulders, I'm approaching the 40% mark on the manuscript. If you write your book and it just sits there in a file, you still accomplished something that most people never do.

    Cheers to an awesome 2018!

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    1. Haha, noooooo... I got rid of it, I think. Sometimes, I save my most rant-y blog posts as drafts so I can look at them another time, but I never actually share them. ;)

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  2. Good job on the self-improvement front! I know it can be hard -- I tend to get anxious and depressed a lot, too. I think I've finally worked out my food issues and I was able to lose some weight this year, too, and I feel great. I feel a bit hopeful for the future.

    Feel free to send me an email sometime if you're feeling low and want someone to remind you that you're not, or to bitch about food choices and workout plans!

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    1. That's awesome that you're feeling better. The weight loss has had me feeling a bit better, too. I think if I could lose enough, it might help with some of my other issues. But, that's easier said than done. I tend to self-sabotage and gain the weight back. Or, I'll start to try to diet, but do something to screw myself over. Ha!

      I'm going to shoot you an email in the next few days. I miss talking with you!

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