If you have been following my blog you know that I like to caption my years. Wrap them in a neat title and decide what I’d like the next year to be like. 2015 was the year of joy, 2016 the year of important life lessons. 2017 was the year of friendship. This year is the year I am struggling to come up with a fancy, optimistic title because 2018 has been of the most challenging years so far. But nevertheless, I learned some incredibly valuable lessons on the way and I am incredibly grateful for everyone has supported me – both online and offline. So why not dive into the roller-coaster that this year has been?

2018 has been the year of academic opportunities. I finished my second year of university and I now only have a semester left of my undergraduate degree. Although studying has been challenging, it has been even more rewarding. I am still very much happy that I chose to study Psychology as it is a degree I am passionate about and even choose to read books for in my free time (what a contrast to having to read Iphigenia in Tauris at school!). Not only am I about to complete 5/6 semesters, I also got to do an accredited summer internship in Bali which opened my eyes to cultural differences in mental health and gave me the opportunity to work with a wide range of service-users. I loved that we could design our own sessions and got to take part in workshops about traditional healing and meditation. Of course I also enjoyed exploring Bali and the Balinese culture, particularly the swing in the rice fields (yes, it’s a tourist trap, but one that I wouldn’t miss) and the incredibly stunning sunsets and temples. And the vegan food. Generally, 2018 has also been the year of travelling. In addition to travelling to Bali, I also explored Thailand, in particular Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui. Whilst both islands were beautiful, my absolute highlights were snorkelling in Samui and visiting the Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket. And the little town where I stayed in Phuket. Not only did I come across the best vegan Italian restaurant, I also met some of the nicest people – shoutout to my favourite coffee-buddy in Phuket who spontaneously got my grandmother a birthday present. In Koh Samui I got to spend time with my former flatmate who I dearly missed and although we both had a bout of our bodies disagreeing with the local food and a some rain, it was amazing to be reunited. Where else did I go? Apart from finally visiting Asia, something that had been on my bucket list for ages, I also visited Stockholm which turned out to be one of my favourite places, and Glasgow, which I have yet to write a blog post about. Oh and I got to spend a few hours in Munich (thanks to a layover).

2018 has been the year of volunteering. Not only did I continue volunteering on a psychiatric ward, I also started befriending and now have weekly dates with an older woman who has grown very close to my heart in the short time I have known her. We went carol singing (which included a lot of mulled wine) in December and it was hands-down of the loveliest evenings of the year. I also volunteered at a local community mental health centre and although it was only for a month, I loved supporting them and gaining new experiences. 2018 has again been the year of friendship. Not only did I meet new friends and met up with my favourite people, I also don’t think I could have done this year without their support.  Which brings me onto the next, slightly more daunting point on this list.

2018 has been the year of mental illness. The year that I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, the year in which I had two major breakdowns, the year I came very close to giving up, the year I thought I wouldn’t survive. But I did. Despite being in a very dark place and struggling with my mental health on a daily basis, I am still here and I am proud of that. Although the last 15 months have been amongst the most difficult in my life, I am proud of myself for pushing for help when my problems were dismissed, when I was told I was too ill, when I was told I wasn’t sick enough. Although challenging, finally receiving my BPD/EUPD diagnosis helped me make sense of what was happening to me and in a way felt like a relief after 8 years of struggling with mental health problems. Moreover, the diagnosis has helped me connect to others and I have discovered a caring and supportive community online that understands. And that means everything. Last year, I said that I wanted I wanted to open up about my mental health struggles online and raise awareness and I did. Publishing a post about my life with BPD was nerve-wracking but yet the absolutely right thing to do, I still cannot believe how supportive everyone was, it meant the world. In the next year, I am planning to continue raising awareness on Twitter and my blog and I have already got a few more blog posts planned. Also, I am finally started DBT in the new year and I’m grateful to finally receive the help that I need. I wish we all had better access to services and didn’t have to fight for treatment that we desperately need.

Lastly, 2018 has been the year of blogging. No, I did not upload as many posts as I had wanted, but I connected more with the blogging community and produced some content I am very passionate about. My mental health posts are just some examples, I also really enjoyed a post about sustainable living – generally, I aimed to reduce waste and lead a more environmentally-friendly life this year and it has been something I feel very passionate about. I will dedicate an entire blog post to this topic next year and continue the monthly challenge I set up at the beginning of this year. Overall, I have accepted that there will be times when my number of new posts is lacking and that this is okay. It isn’t easy juggling different multiple things at a time. But despite some frustration at not having enough time or energy to blog, I have had some great opportunities this year, including a cooperation that led me to explore King’s Cross and Euston and the FDC Young Designer Award Ceremony, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

2018 has been the year of so many others things. It has been the year I became a student ambassador. It has been the year I rediscovered my love for jigsaws and joined a muay thai society. I has been the year I read a crazy number of books and got into creating poetry. It has been the year of great movies, good food and trying new vegan recipes. It has been the year my brother graduated and the year my love for Christmas has been even more excessive than usual. It has been the year that I dyed and cut my hair, did a lot of exploring and wandering and the year I finally tried dumplings.

2018 has been the year of challenges. And I want 2019 to be the year of recovery and healing. Looking at my new year’s resolutions from last year, I didn’t do too badly. I wanted to be more vocal about my mental health struggles and raise awareness online. I also planned on trying new vegan recipes and broadening my general knowledge. I also wanted to used my weekends for exploration which I did. And I did manage to engage more with the blogging community, although there definitely is room for improvement. The one thing that didn’t quite go to plan was focusing on self-care, although that had been my plan for 2018. But in the end, mental illness in unpredictable and I have come to accept that years of struggling won’t just go away. But I also know I can get better, one step at a time.

So what do I want for 2019? In 2019, I want to focus on my recovery and commit to working on myself. Doing that, I also want to keep sharing my experiences and raise awareness for mental illness online. We still have a long way to go when it comes to breaking the stigma but I know that together we can get there. Apart from taking care of my mind, I also want to take better care of my body. Even though I was off to a good start, I struggled during times of coursework, being on my laptop until late at night. Uni might be important, but so is my health and I really want to get back to exercising regularly and experimenting with healthy meals because I know how good these things make me feel. Speaking of making time for things – I will also aim to meditate every day. I have been slacking recently because I did not want to sit alone with my thoughts or because I couldn’t commit to taking 10 minutes out. In 2019 I want to start meditating regularly again. Lastly, I want to keep informed and improve my language skills – I started learning Spanish last year but didn’t really get past ‘Necessito un sombrero’ (Duolingo is quite random). But all resolutions aside, I want to take life one day at a time and just take things as they come. Because in the end, life happens when we’re busy making other plans, right?

What are your new year’s resolutions? xx