Photography & Journalism
It's the time of year where we look back on what we've done with the past twelve months of our lives. If you're anything like me, you focus more on what you've failed than what you've achieved, so this year I'm looking back on my year and asking myself, "What have you got to be proud of?"
Without further ado, here's the official list of things I'm proud of achieving/doing this year:
1) Taking Time To Heal
So maybe taking time away from it all to try to heal doesn't sound all that impressive. To some it may even seem lazy. I truly don't care if that's how this achievement comes off. I started this year recovering from being suicidal. I'd quit college due to my mood disorders becoming so overwhelming that I couldn't cope.
So, I applied for some government help and they awarded me a disability allowance to help keep me going since I'm classed as unfit for work due to my disorders. It felt really weird to know I'd have some security without feeling like I'm tearing myself apart trying to find work I know (from experience) will cause further deterioration of my mental state.
Honestly, I felt so low that I didn't want to get better, but I went to therapy anyway as a sort of act of good faith to keep the government happy. For the first time I felt like it really worked. I used my free time to focus on bettering myself and I feel great for it.
I learned why I feel the way I do. I made plans and set tasks for myself to help me climb out of the pit of despair I'd found myself in. I joined the gym which helped me feel better about my appearance as well as lifting my moods. I tried to make friends. I got proper guitar lessons (something I'd wanted to do for years), and I got myself into good basic self-care habits.
This was essential for me. I'm really happy and proud I did it.
2) Meeting Sleep On It
Sleep On It are one of my favourite bands. I love them so much I got a tattoo of the band's logo this year! They came to England for the first time to perform at Slam Dunk which led me to pushing myself way out of my comfort zone (at that time) to travel to Leeds just to see them.
I got very drunk and cried when their set was over because I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I'd seen them in person, and sadness that I didn't know when I would see them again. AJ and Jake asked if I was okay from the stage, and Luka came off the stage to hug me. They made me feel accepted, cared for, and appreciated.
On the train journey home I remember thinking for the first time in years, "Wow, I actually really want to be alive. I want to experience that again."
On a whim, I decided to travel to London to go to their first UK headlining show (which was free for entry) just so I could see them again before they went back to America. This time I met everyone in the band and got a hug off of every one of them. Jake gave me the setlist which I was thrilled by. I'm looking for a frame for it so it can be displayed properly in a safe place.
This was huge for me. I fought off so much anxiety to travel so far on my own and I did it. I was scared, it was difficult, but I did it and I got to experience two of the best days of my whole life.
3) I Started A Business
This website is proof of this. During the year I wanted to take off, I chose to take on the task of starting my own business.
I got some part-time work at the wonderful Strife Magazine as a journalist and photographer which allowed me to gain experience and find out for sure that this is what I want to do. Then, I went on a course with The Prince's Trust who taught me how to start-up and run a business properly.
Right now I'm running my website/blog and building my portfolio as well as writing up my business plan. When I hand my business plan back to The Prince's Trust, they'll check it over and offer my a loan for equipment to help get started and a mentor who will aid my learning and advise me on how to run my business.
It's hard work but I love it. This is what I want to do with my life. One day I hope that I won't depend on government help, and that I'll be earning enough from doing the things I love to live happily.
4) I Started College Again
It may be only part-time, but I joined a college. To help me broaden my skill set and improve of what I can do already, I started a photography course.
Educational institutes set off my anxiety big-time. They hold memories/associations of being treated badly, being misunderstood, and having anxiety attacks where I felt like I was dying in the toilets. I honestly hate them.
Going back to college (even part-time) is a massive achievement. I'm facing one of my very biggest fears every week, and every week it becomes just a little bit easier. I may have silent anxiety attacks in class sometimes, but I keep pushing myself to keep going.
Next year I hope to complete the course with a real qualification in the area I'm going to make my living from.
5) I Got A My First Flat
This is the most recent of my achievements. I almost didn't do it. It looks some research, and a lot of preparation and budgeting to try and figure out how I could do this. I love living with my Nanna, but the conditions are kind of cramped and I knew I couldn't stay in her sunroom forever. I guess I felt like I didn't have my own real space and that was affecting my mental health.
Then, my mental health is also a disturbance to the people who live with me. I find it so easy to fall into unhealthy patterns. There have been too many times I've slipped and ended up being too anxious and restless to sleep, then my sleeping pattern goes to shit and I keep everyone up at night. It's not on purpose, but I know I hate it, and I know for a fact that others are annoyed by it. Of course there are other parts of my mood disorders that are aggravated by living in close quarters with others but I won't go into them. Anyway, I knew enough was enough. My task for my 21st year would be to get my own place.
With my Disability Allowance, I knew that I was eligible for help with my rent. Having my disability status allowed me to look for a place owned by a social landlord who found me a flat close to my family so I'd have support with my health as well as my own space.
There's still work to be done on the place which is why I haven't moved in, and it's stressful budgeting my money to keep the place running while trying to furnish it, especially since I spent the past two years trying to get rid of my belongings so they could fit in the small room. I don't have a lot.
Still, I feel hopeful and excited. I think I can thrive in my own place. My home will be a space where I can work, relax, and recover from slips in my condition without worrying about disturbing (or being disturbed by) the people around me.
So...what about you?
What have you done this year that you're proud of? Give yourself a pat on the back and allow yourself to celebrate your success, no matter how large or small. I hope you have a wonderful new year full of hope, happiness, and love.
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