I’m a little late, but Happy New Year! 2020, not a great year for … anyone, really, is finally behind us. Let’s see what 2021 has in store.
I’m not big on new year’s resolutions. I am big on trying to find productive ways to move forward and on setting realistic goals when what you’re doing isn’t working for you. That’ll be the focus of this blog post, which I swear is meant to be positive even if it might not immediately seem that way.
The holiday break, a largely unstructured stretch of time during which I didn’t have access to the health professionals from whom I normally receive help on a regular basis, was a great learning opportunity. How’s that for some positivity? Indeed, it’s amazing how much learning can result from increasingly uncontrolled, sometimes crippling, OCD, an uptick in seizure activity, and other health crises.
Let me take a moment for some genuine positivity—to recognize and celebrate the fact that despite COVID-19, and despite my mental-health and neurological issues, my husband and I had a really nice Christmas. We participated in some lovely virtual calls with family across the continent, did porch drop-offs of holiday baking and gifts to friends in the neighbourhood, and shared quality time. I made him listen to me play Christmas music on the piano, and he pretended to enjoy it (maybe he actually did, but that’s not the point). It felt special—it was special.
Perhaps it was because of these good moments that the not-so-fantastic ones in the days following Christmas itself seemed to come from left field.
As difficult as they were, however, and though the struggle continues, they provided real opportunities for growth. #silverlining
First and foremost, I learned how heavily I rely on structure and distraction to get through my days as smoothly as is possible for me. Maybe I shouldn’t need as much structure and distraction as I do, but it’s my current—and, perhaps, forever—reality, and I’m choosing to accept and work with it rather than let it embarrass me.
Being honest with myself about what I need in order to function has a major value-added: it allows me to be honest about it with others. Speaking of, I (re)learned how much support I have. Even as my OCD spiralled out of control and my seizure frequency reached levels I haven’t seen since the summer, I spoke to close family members, who helped me find practical solutions. One of these is a multifaceted and meaningful project that I’m truly excited to work on. Stay tuned.
I also learned/was reminded of how much support I can and do give. I’ve been devoting an hour or so a day to something that gives me great joy and fulfilment. I’ve managed to maintain relationships. I’ve been trying to brush up on my technical skills so that when Girl Guide meetings restart after the break (I’m a Pathfinder leader this year, actually), I’ll feel more confident using Microsoft Teams (gifted with technology I am not).
I often get stuck in a cognitive trap whereby I don’t make potentially positive changes because I feel weird for not experiencing things in a more typical manner. Shouldn’t I be able to enjoy having free time with my husband without a very rude intrusion of OCD thoughts taking over almost every spare second of what’s supposed to be a time of joy and peace and relaxation, etc. etc.? This year, acknowledging how my brain works and working with it instead of letting the “shoulds” stop me from taking action made a tangible difference.
So, yeah. I don’t have any resolutions going into 2021. My experience at the end of 2020—how it manifested, how I reacted to it, discussions I had with loved ones about it—made clear to me that I’m already working hard to achieve my goals, manage my illnesses, and contribute to my world.