Thoughts on the New Year

I hadn’t intended to do a year-end wrap up this year, and I’m still thinking that it’s not quite the right thing to do.

For all that I accomplished in 2019, it was a very difficult year for me personally.

I wrote more than 100,000 words across multiple formats and platform, including 90,000 words of fiction that may or may not become something.

I got a grant and traveled to England for two weeks, where I conducted research and gained a much-needed change in perspective and respite from the everyday.

I returned to school, took up my seat as chair and helped lead the charge to forming our new School of Communication.

But nearly every day was a struggle. My own battles with depression and anxiety sort of overshadowed many of my achievements. Weekly therapy is now a thing, and it’s a helpful thing.

I think we don’t spend enough time as a society focusing on our mental health. I know that I grew up thinking that any problems “in my head” demonstrated weakness, and I simply had to get over it, whatever “it” was. I developed numerous techniques to hold the darkness at bay, including secluding myself with a book.

(Former classmates might recall that I spent every lunch during ninth grade with my nose in a book, tuning out the world around me. That marked the start of the worst of my teenage depression.)

I also got involved in multiple activities. Keeping busy, I thought, would help keep those shadows away. I wasn’t completely wrong. Anything that could get me out of bed, out of the house, and moving in a positive direction was a good thing.

Back then, I could not have accepted help from a mental health professional, even if it was offered. But now, I know better. Accepting help–seeking help–is the only logical, and most important, action one can take when facing problems with mental health. Depression and anxiety at this point are old adversaries, but therapy has helped me open some new doors to acceptance, healing, and management that I’d never before considered.

As we move into 2020, I plan to continue to set goals for myself professionally and personally. I plan to keep my writing pace this year, and to seek out opportunities to publish my work. I plan spend more time with my family, and to see new places.

And I plan to continue to focus on my mental health, because I’m important.

You are, too.

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