2020 was a hell of a year. One that I’ll never forget in some ways, and would like to forget in others.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the responses that I have gotten, and continue to get, to my blog post about my struggles with mental illness. They’ve warmed my soul; made my heart ache for you; and brought me to tears on several occasions. One thing is a constant: I’m so glad that we’re talking about it.
I truly didn’t realize how many people cared and it’s for that reason that I’m sharing an update. Trust me, my intention isn’t for 67% of this site to be blog posts about anxiety. If you’ve been a regular visitor you know I hardly ever discuss my life at all, but I guess it started to feel important to continue with this topic a little bit.
I wish I could write this post today, just shy of 6 months later, and tell you that I’m all better. That just isn’t the case, and I’m still hurting and scared in a lot of ways. I am, however, operating at the level of something much more similar to a normal human, and at times I even feel like my normal self. So if you want to stop reading now, let your takeaway be: I’m getting help, and it’s working.
2020 brought so many new circumstances and situations. A global pandemic rife with heartbreaking loss and a void of leadership to tackle it. Struggling to find purpose after my company, which I joined as an early employee when we all sat in the same cramped room, and lived and breathed for 5 years, was sold to a large corporation, our tiny Baltimore office shuttered permanently. Learning to love being at home and cultivating a happy space here after spending all of adulthood procrastinating on the matter. Missing my friends and family and the routines and rituals that we all shared.
Last but not least… for the entirety of my romantic life I’ve attracted unhealthy relationships or sabotaged good ones, and I could write a whole book on that (and have read several). I am lucky and honored to be loved right now by someone who is supportive, independent, and secure. I owe him a debt of gratitude for inspiring (not asking, or forcing) me to change. I love this relationship and person, but this personal growth will improve my life forever, regardless of what happens.
I am so happy about my progress. I understand myself vastly better than I did the last time I wrote about it. I continue to experience ups and downs. The downs can still hit me like a bus, but I notice that they aren’t lasting as long. I notice that I’m back on the path to setting goals, identifying my needs and making myself feel loved, even if I’m not yet consistently getting that right. Also, I sleep a lot more now. Almost every night 🙂
I owe a lot to my decision to go to therapy and to keep going, every week. Actually, I owe everything to my decision to just keep going, in general, with everything. To ask myself “what would allow me to thrive today?”. To take a genuine interest in myself and what brings me joy.
I’ve made all sorts of changes to my daily routine. Some of them have helped, some I’m not sure, but when I have the presence of mind to do so, I try to see my life with curiosity and decide what I’d like to tweak. I think this overall approach has worked. If I’ve learned anything in particular it’s that there are no shortcuts. If you want to truly change, you have to be different, consistently, and sustain it until it’s second nature.
To anyone else (and I know there are many of us) who has been having a difficult time, I want to restate it in no uncertain terms: by not giving up, I have made progress and I feel better and I believe deeply that I will continue to. I hope that you can find the same sort of hope, and whatever shred of resilience that you need to keep moving in the right direction. I also want to reiterate my message that it’s a gargantuan if not impossible task to move on from these struggles alone. Get the help you need. Therapy is an amazing, eye-opening, life-affirming, slow-moving process, so get started yesterday. A mantra that I try to repeat to myself is: The choices that you make today create the life that you will live tomorrow.
Finally, on a lighter note, I’ve actually been cooking a lot over the past few months. Nothing has popped up here because for the most part I’ve been obsessing over making the perfect vegan croissants, which is not a “works on the first try” type of thing, or even a “works on the tenth try” type of thing. Similarly, I’m a few trials closer to cracking the chocolate cake code. I made a new video for my reader-beloved Garlic Sesame Noodles, which I just posted yesterday, and I’ve wrapped up another new chili recipe. Nothing can compete with the ultimate vegan chili, but you’ll still love it. I’ve got it on my schedule (yes! I have one of those now! Days of the week have reclaimed their meaning!) to cook every Wednesday evening and I just can’t wait to start sharing new recipes here again.
Thank you so much for reading, caring, sharing your own experience with me, and being a part of this space. I try not to take for granted the fact that real people, with their own messy and complicated lives, are cooking the things that I suggest they cook, and reading the words that I have to say. It is sincerely an honor, and I have love in my heart for each of you.