“Darling, just fucking own it.” These words are engraved on a bracelet my roommate gave me for Christmas. If I could choose any words to sum up the close of 2017, it would be these.
As another year ends, I can’t help but think about how exhausted I am. I know, I’m supposed to say how great the year was or how I can’t wait for the next year to come because it’s going to be full of so many good things. And those things are true, most definitely. A lot of 2017 was amazing (I went on like 5 vacations this year, did well in school, and made lots of new friends). But if I’m being honest with you – if I’m being honest with myself – I’m exhausted.
This year was hard. If you’re close to me, you know that the last few months have been especially rough for me. It feels silly to even say anything about it, because I’m well aware my life is pretty blessed. And yet, it’s still hard for me to get out of bed in the morning, hard for me to eat, hard for me to talk to people.
When I was maybe 8 or 9 I had my first panic attack. I can’t remember the exact reason behind my sudden fear, but I remember the feeling of panic that settled into my stomach. It crawled up into my heart, making it race, and then into my throat, choking me. I felt it all the time as a kid. Going to my grandparents’ house? Panic. Going to school? Panic. Seeing friends? Panic. At the time, I didn’t know how to label what was happening, I just knew it was the worst thing ever and then would get anxious anticipating it happening again (what a fun cycle!)
As I grew up, it got better and worse depending on life, you know. The usual. Nothing too out of the ordinary. I never really thought much of it. I mostly just thought I was being a baby and needed to get over myself (because who panics going to see their own grandparents!?) I was healthy and relatively happy and had nothing to complain about. It was just a thing that sometimes happened to me. Most of the time I just tried to ignore it.
So, when I started to feel my thoughts changing a few months ago, I told myself I was fine. I had work to do. I was busy. I don’t have time for this. I’m not this person. I’m okay, I’m okay. I’m crazy, but I’m okay. Don’t let it win. Keep going.
And then suddenly I was sobbing, curled up on my couch sipping ginger beer out of a glass while my roommates patted my back and covered me in ice packs an hour before a date.
Oh, maybe I’m not okay.
For weeks after that, I still tried to convince myself I was fine. It was a fluke, I would be better next time. It will get easier. It is not going to win. But then I wasn’t sleeping. And I wasn’t eating. And my head wouldn’t stop spinning and the world just seemed a little too overwhelming. I crashed again a few more times before I had to admit I couldn’t fix this myself.
Because admitting that it was there wasn’t letting it win. I just needed to fucking own it.
Now, with the help of my friends, family, and therapist, I’m starting the road to recovery. A road back to who I was before this year. I miss that girl. She was warm and brave and strong-willed. She’s in there somewhere, and this year is going to be about finding her again.
So, here’s to 2018. If you’re tired like I am, you’re not alone. If you feel broken or overwhelmed, know that it’s going to be okay. We’ve made it this far. The sun still rises every morning because it wants us to have another day of warmth. My hope for you (and for me) is that we learn to enjoy the little moments and find beauty in small things. Like that first sip of a warm cup of coffee, the sun kissing your closed eyelids, the feeling of slipping under your sheets with freshly shaven legs.
There’s happiness in the world, and it’s more powerful than the monsters in your head.
Happy New Year, friends.
(Picture by Mallory Dawn)