Is it just me or was 2019 a hard year?
Cataloguing my defining experiences each month for the past year has helped me see that while 2019 brought about a few of my favourite memories, I also witnessed some of my darkest moments.
The energy shift between the ups and downs each month was particularly jarring and exhausting. Above all, this exercise has reminded me that I have so much to be grateful for – even the sadness and loss that the year brought blessed me in ways I am only just beginning to understand.
Month by month, here is what happened for me in 2019:
- January: My Grandfather passes away at the age of 90 and my parent’s finalise their divorce after three years, but I also get a promotion at work, find a second family at F45 Stratford, and start this blog. My mom finds out she might lose her house (the family home we have been renting for 20+ years) and goes on a months long battle to try and find the money to buy it.
- February: Rory’s family takes me on the best snowboarding trip (and second best vacation of my life) to Lech, Austria where I eat my weight in cheeses from all over the world. I also start suffering more severely from depression and body dysmorphia. My mom finds out the seller has accepted a different offer on the house and that she has 90 days to leave. I get my first two wisdom teeth after discovering the bottom tooth is horribly infected.
- March: I continue thriving at F45 and produce two of my favourite photoshoots and social media projects to date at work. But, my mental health continues to decline and a feeling I call ‘numbness’ starts to creep in. Then my Dad has a stroke that leaves him hospitalised for several days.
- April: I travel home to see my Dad and take part in my Grandfather’s celebration of life. Rory comes with me, which is a nice surprise, but my Dad’s prognosis is not good. Smoking is killing him and his only hope is to quit immediately or risk suffering another, potentially fatal stroke. On the plus side, I get to eat my first, life changing cupcake at Peggy Porschen. My Mom is still going to lose her home. I find a therapist.
- May: My Dad celebrates his first 45 days smoke free. The offer on our family home falls through and my Mom’s offer is accepted. I compete at the Plant Based Games where our team takes 4th place. My mental health is at its lowest point yet. I write, ‘Depression is a weight on my chest. It suffocates me even as I try to breath, even as I try to live with more intention. I am withdrawn and cold, isolating and miserable… I feel so hopeless.’
- June: I compete (very publicly I might add) at the F45 Summer Playoffs and celebrate my 29th birthday. I am still very depressed, trapped inside my head and very much at war with my body. I spend a lot of time crying. In therapy I am learning how to identify the colour of my feelings and where in my body I feel them.
- July: I get to go to my first ever bachelorette party for one of my best friends. My Dad relapses and starts smoking again, which is devastating because I want so desperately for him to be around for as much of my life as possible. His relapse is more painful for me than his stroke. I start making a point to share my outfits on social, which helps me find the energy and creativity to get dressed in the morning. Depression and body dysmorphia continue to rage on. We put an offer in on a house and it’s accepted.
- August: I’m climbing a little bit more, which feels good. We move out of Finsbury park and into Rory’s parent’s house, but it’s just for a month or two. Rory’s family takes me on a lush vacation to Hilton Head, but a hurricane hits and we’re forced to evacuate the same day that I get food poisoning.
- September: We end our summer holiday in Virginia and have an unexpected final day in NYC. Rory and I get the chance to run around Central Park, visit Tiffany’s and walk 22K steps around Midtown and the Upper East Side. One of my best friends gets married and I have the honour of being in her wedding party. I feel really distant from my family and alone. I’m sharing a lot less on social because I can’t find the words to share, let alone the energy to write.
- October: I describe myself as a hologram to my therapist – just finding that word to capture how I feel is a relief. I produce my biggest project to date at work for a global client, which is… huge in so many ways. I start running on the weekend to get out of my own head and as an experiment. We are still living with Rory’s parents due to a legal snag in the buying process. Rory and I celebrate three years together with some of the best meals (and wine) of my life, but I also cry a lot.
- November: There are still a lot of tears and I find the weekends particularly difficult. I’m climbing every weekend because we have access to Rory’s parent’s car. I have my last two wisdom teeth pulled because I can’t stand the pain of them anymore. I’m not sharing much on social because I’m suffering. The legal issues with our flat come to a head.
- December: I book an impromptu trip home to surprise my sister for her graduation. It is the best personal decision I make all year and I will always remember it for the rest of my life. We close on our flat surprisingly quickly and become home owners overnight. We pack and move over two weekends ahead of the Christmas holiday. We sleep on an air-mattress amongst our boxes and spend the week between Christmas and New Year unpacking. It’s busy and exciting and then…
It’s the first weekend of 2020 and for the first time in over a month I’m crying on a Saturday. I’m crying because the distractions are gone, the holidays have passed, the freneticism required to get through December is no longer needed. I feel relief, but also fear. I’m back to being in my head and my body. I’m back with the thoughts and the feelings that swerve into and out of my consciousness at random and in my most vulnerable moments. I feel almost exactly the same and yet… I know I am not who I was one year ago. And perhaps that is part of why I’m crying today too… because mixed in with some of the sadness I can also taste the joy and gratitude and hope and I know that some small piece of me has started to heal.
I will fondly remember 2019 as one of the hardest and, perhaps, most transformative years of my life so far.
It’s amazing how many ups and downs one year can contain, and how quickly life can change. Congrats on making it through a tough year!
Gosh you’re so right! There were SO MANY ups and downs. I’m glad to be on the other side of it now! Thank you so much for the support, Janel. ✨