Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

If I had to describe 2012 in one word, it would be awakening. Not in the new-agey or born-again kind of way, but more like I'd spent the the last few years walking around half asleep and finally started getting enough sleep that little by little I was able to function more clearly, until one day I finally felt well-rested. 

The year got off to a very rough start. My grandma Northen, my last living grandparent, passed away on December 28, 2011. She was a remarkable woman who, despite her age and increasing physical struggles, seemed timeless. She'd been through so much and always made it through with such spirit, humor, and strength that you just kind of thought that somehow she'd live forever. Then, on the day before New Years Eve, something happened in a personal situation that was incredibly painful for me. Incredibly painful can't actually even begin to describe it. It pulled apart every bit of self confidence and courage I'd manage to build up through my struggles that year, ripped to shreds my belief in people, and left me a crumbled mess on the floor, despite the attempts from good and caring friends to lift my spirits. Thus I entered 2012. 

To ensure that I'm not being overly dramatic or solely negative, there were some good points to the start of my new year (in addition to the help of my friend and family in the above mentioned situation). Though going to ones grandmother's funeral is never a joyful occasion, it brought together practically the entire family on my dad's side. His five living siblings, virtually all of their kids -  plus some of their kids' kids - and family members we hadn't seen in years (like 20+) gathered together in California. We celebrated my grandma's life and legacy exactly as she would have wanted it - reminiscing, laughing, hugging, taking family photos. It was hopeful.  This beautiful family gathering came out of a sad event, and the torch was officially past to us "kids" as the generation of adults who would keep the family glue holding in years to come. A new beginning, so to speak. Which was just what I needed. 

My winter and spring were difficult, partly due to bad decision making on my part to not, in fact, subscribe to the old adage (and White Snake song!) once bitten twice shy. Sometimes I'm a tough lesson-learner, especially when it comes to people in my life. On the up side, I took an amazing trip to Peru in March, for which I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity. The roller coaster ride continued.

In late March, the awakening started. I decided to open my mouth - go figure! But this time, I was opening my mouth about something that has, over the past year, become a very deep passion of mine. I have never wanted to feel like a victim at the hands of my condition, or of anything or anyone for that matter, and I could feel myself falling slowly down that slippery slope. I started to blog about the journey of my life, and in partiular, my life with cyclothymia. I became determined to help people understand, not only for my own sake, but for the sake of others who have this and similar conditions. I feel that mental health is one of the most misunderstood parts of life, and I could no longer sit by and let people be unaware, uneducated, and unsupportive without attempting to do anything about it, even if on a small scale.  Through my blog posts over the year, I have opened up about practically everything, letting readers see the worst and the best. I want people to know that it's ok to talk about it. I'm sick of the taboo. I also started a Facebook group called Mood Disorders Support System, where members with mood and anxiety conditions or concerns (depression, mood disorders, PSTD, mood cycling, panic, etc) could talk, vent, ask questions, be inspired, and really just support and be supported. The decision to take on this cause was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

The rest of the year has had its ups and downs. But I'm learning, and I'm growing. Boy am I growing. This year has had me examining paths in my life. My spirituality has developed in a way that makes me happy. I've found, thanks to a friend, a local Buddhist meditation center that I've begun going to, though not as often as I'd like. I hope to change that in 2013. I've made some amazing new friends, and had to say goodbye to a few as well (to be clear, by choice, not because they passed away, thank goodness). I am in a good place. I am happy. Not because the pieces of my life are where I feel they all belong. Indeed, I don't think that's ever the case. I think we're always growing and learning, or at least I hope so. But becuase mentally, emotionally, spiritually, I've learned so much about myself, and for possibly the first time in my life, I've taken responsibility for my own happiness instead of letting someone else control it. The people in my life are still insanely important to me, don't get me wrong. But I know longer rest my sole happiness with them, or at least I do my best not to.

I have no idea what 2013 holds. I'm slightly superstitious, so I would like to believe that since my lucky number/birthday, the year, and my age all end in the number 3, that it has to be some sort of serendipity and a good sign. Who knows. But I do know that there are things that I can control (myself and my actions/thoughts/beliefs/behaviors) and things that I can't control (everything else) and that I'm going to focus my energies on those that I can. In fact, I'm actually going to work on trying to control less all together. For I've learned that sometimes when you just let life happen, it takes you on a route you may never have thought to look for otherwise, and you find open doors that you hadn't even considered.

To my readers who have made this first (official) year of my personal blog feel successful and fulfiling, I cannot thank you enough! Happy New Year! Let's make 2013 amazing, whatever it holds!

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