Sunday, 21 December 2014

"Ten Years/365 Days"

 
I enjoyed one of my favourite Christmas traditions last night. I had dinner with my BFF and her sister - we exchanged gifts and caught up. It was long overdue. My life has felt like a whirling dervish of late. Lots on the go with my awesome new job has meant that I have had to balance my social life and ensure that I have enough downtime to recharge. Unfortunately, that has meant that I haven't seen much of my favourite people.

As we were catching up (where do you even start?!) my BFF looked me in the eye after I told her about a cool thing that happened to me and asked me, point blank, "Why haven't you written about that?" Good question.

When I wrote my last post about a week ago I looked at the post previous to that. It had been two months between posts. Yikes! I love this blog and I adore writing so that was a reminder of what has been on hold over the last few months. Maybe it's time to reflect on the past year, for more reasons than just the fact that 2014 is almost over.

I spent a decade in and out of some very deep depths of depression. A pleasant journey it was not. But with every depressive episode I gained strength and resilience. For some reason I never seemed to completely let go of hope. I struggled, I faltered, I retreated. I also kept moving forward. I never gave up. Trust me when I say that not giving up was a difficult thing.

Along the path through ten years of mental illness I quit jobs and tried new ones, made new friends, lost old friends, lost belief in myself on many levels. Sometimes I faked it - yes, everything is fine. I am fine. Sometimes I was overcome by my illness - there was simply no strength left to fake anything.

Then a miraculous thing happened. Slowly, very slowly, the clouds started to part. I began to emerge from the darkness. I started to believe in myself once again. I decided what was important to me in my life and I started to fight for it, to prioritize it.

It's been an amazing year since I returned to work in November of 2013. I have done things that I never dreamed of. I met two of my heroes. Rick Hansen shook my hand and chatted with me about disability challenges in the workplace. Margaret Trudeau asked me about my experience with depression and then wrapped me in a giant hug. I have begun public speaking on the topics of mental illness, disability and diversity. And I am finally in a job that I can truly say that I am passionate about.

My illness has not completely left me. Nope, depression and anxiety are chronic for me and, realistically, I will most likely not be free of them in this lifetime. That is OK. I experienced the worst and came out through the other side. I am stronger that I ever thought that I would be. Yes, I have learned resilience, compassion, and empathy through that decade of illness. The gifts are great.

Life for each of us is a work in progress. As 2014 comes to an end and 2015 looms near, I am thinking about what I want for myself, where I would like to go. I need a better balance between work and home, I know that. I have big dreams and here's something that this past year has taught me - I can make them happen. Here's what a decade of illness taught me - never give up.

KB xo

 
 
 

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