Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 in Review

It may be the cliché of the century, but this year has passed far too quickly and yet feels like a lifetime all at once. I had initially decided I wasn't going to do a 'year in review' post this year, as I felt like I'd wasted the first half of the year battling mental illness. Truthfully, I was embarrassed and felt like I hadn't done 'enough' compared to the glitz and excitement of others. It then occurred to me that perhaps that's actually a powerful reason to write a review of the year, not just to take stock of everything I did do and how grateful I am, but to show how quickly things can turn around when you're at your lowest.


2018 has been a year of extreme highs and lows, and I am so proud of who I am now, compared to who I was in January. I've learned a lot of lessons, rediscovered long lost parts of myself, and found faith in my journey and goals. I'm hopeful and excited for 2019, and know beautiful things will come of the pain and growth 2018 gave me.  

January 
In January, I visited Sudley House, a perfectly preserved, picturesque Victorian home in Liverpool. It was fascinating, full of delightful pre-raphaelite artwork, and gorgeous furnishings. My gothic history-nerd self was in her element, especially as it was my last hurrah before surgery. In mid-January, I had a deep skin excision surgery in an attempt to cure my hidradenitis suppurativa, which had to be left open to heal from the inside, meaning a long recovery and not being able to walk very much for a while. 

February
Between recovering from the surgery and my incredibly poor mental health, I wasn't very well at all in February. I did manage a trip out to Ghetto Golf, which was excellent fun. The different hole designs are all fascinating with brilliant attention to detail, and it was just lovely to get out and about. I also went to the Chinese New Year celebrations with my family, and hobbled my way through Chinatown to see the dragon dances and firecrackers. 

March
March was truly a horrible month, when I felt all was lost. I moved out of my beloved flat, and Freddie and I decided to take some space from one another. I did, however, have a fascinating trip to the museum, where I really soaked in a lot more of the Egyptian exhibition, and connected it to my own interest and research into death in different cultures. 

April
After the low point of March, I put a lot of effort into making April better. I tried lots of delicious vegan junk food, by visiting Down the Hatch and The Caledonia for the first time. Down the Hatch is now one of my favourite restaurants and frankly, I'm a little obsessed with the place. I also took my only cinema trip of the year, and utterly fell in love with Isle of Dogs, more than I ever expected. Indulging my love of art galleries, I explored The Bluecoat and checked out a fascinating immersive exhibition about VR at FACT. 

May
In May, I turned 23! I took the time to put effort into spending time with my gal pals, immersing myself into socialising again after isolating myself for months. I tried very hard to celebrate my birthday, and to congratulate myself on making it to a birthday I hadn't fully believed I'd see. I also saw a giant replica of the moon in Liverpool Cathedral, one of my favourite places. It was beautiful. 

June
June brought a huge turning point for me. After trying therapy and several medications, and being turned down for secondary services to help me, I'd given up. After a particularly desperate moment, I made a final attempt to get help, and I'm so glad I did. Having been prescribed a medication that finally worked for me, I began enjoying living, and piecing my life back together. 
Within little over a week (seriously!) I was feeling totally different, and with my newfound zest for life, enjoyed the sunshine. I explored the John and Yoko exhibition at Museum of Liverpool, learning fascinating aspects of my city's musical history, and about a man I once looked up to and now have decidedly mixed feelings about. 
A highlight of my year was getting the chance to see the Terracotta Warriors in Liverpool - a once-in-a-lifetime moment I'll never forget. I could have spent hours in there reading about ancient Chinese culture and death rituals, and looking at the breathtaking artifacts. I feel very blessed to have been able to see it all up close. 
As the sun got warmer with my mood, I found myself dancing and tasting yummy food until I had blisters at Africa Oyé, and trying out Jöro, a local vegan cafe for the first time. I finally had a big ol' smile on my face. 

July
By the time July came, I was pretty much drunk on the feeling of being alive and happy. I went to the beach and felt the sea air and the sun, explored the zoo with my nephew, and laughed and danced on the grass in the park. 
I also made myself incredibly proud by going back to work, first at Yogific Yoga and Vegan Festival, then got a permanent job, which I am thankful for every single day. I also started blogging again, and quickly secured a brand deal with Things I Care About, a wonderful vegan indie brand. 
Another huge highlight occurred in the form of having the opportunity to meet Matt Haig, listen to his poignant words, ask him questions, and thank him for writing a book which helped to save my life. If you've not read his works, you should. He's a modern day hero.

August
In August, the summer fun continued with a trip to the fair in New Brighton, eating vegan ice-cream and going on rides way too many times. I made art in the sunshine with my friends, and had a 'Pride Party' featuring a very corny playlist. I tried the No Bull Burger and had my vegan tastebuds fully confounded, and started going to a mental health support group which I am blessed to be a part of. 

September
I found my confidence to get all dressed up and glam and to be a bit more adventurous and social. I was also lucky enough to work with some amazing brands, like Seatox and Pnk Lettuce, and truly got my blogging mojo back, and with it, far more clarity about my future. I rescued a hedgehog trapped in a train station walkway, which was a memorable experience. 
Unfortunately it was at this point, I realised something was wrong. The aches, pains and tiredness I'd attributed to depression weren't getting better, but much worse, and other weird symptoms were starting to crop up, thus beginning a couple of months of testing leading to a diagnosis of fibromyalgia

October
In October, I made lots of extra time for fun as it's my favourite time of year! I saw giants roaming the streets of my favourite city, sadly visiting for the last time. It was quite an emotional experience, and made me remember just how precious this city is to me. I perused the Victoria Museum, filled with natural history and dental artifacts, interesting and a tad macabre, and took in enchanting local art at the Liverpool Biennial. 
I got some adulting done too, in the form of starting CBT, as despite knowing it was the wrong therapy for me, thus being incredibly stressful, it was the stepping stone to the help I really need. I also had the opportunity to work with a wonderful local charity through my job, and having the chance to help local people in poverty was truly something special. 
Naturally, there was plenty of time for Halloween-themed shenanigans too! I took my nephew to a Zombie Pirate Trail at Blakemere Village, decorated the house, had fun with trick or treaters, and partied it up in my favourite horror-themed bar (obvs!). 

November
The spooky fun continued in November, when I attended a talk on local hauntings by a man who has studied paranormal incidents for years, and specialises in separating real experiences from urban legends. It was so interesting and really refreshed my interest in the paranormal! I also had fun dressing up as Baphomet for a friend's 'horror icons' birthday bash, as Baphomet is kinda the original horror icon! 
Other fun in November included trying out some new vegan additions to the Zizzi's menu, and getting to babysit a very sweet dog for a night - and packing as much snuggling as possible in!

December
It'll come as absolutely no surprise that December was put aside for Christmas fun and Christmas rushing. I started off the month with a wholesome trip to my local village Christmas fair, followed by a less wholesome afternoon at Liverpool Horror Club's Xmas Market, where I met a very rude Santa! Continuing the naughty theme - I checked out the fabulous Spectaculum, a carnival for adults only, featuring hilarious prizes, and rude twists on fairground games. It was a lot of fun. 
I then had a marvellous minibreak to Manchester, perusing the festive markets, Affleck's, and throwing axes with Whistle Punks Urban Axe Throwing. It was just wonderful. 
When I returned, it seemed that Christmas was in full swing, with the Aspen Rocks party with work, my Support Group Christmas Party, Christmas Shopping, decorating, wrapping, and having Christmas with Freddie then Christmas with my family. How many times can I fit the word 'Christmas' into one sentence? 

Writing it down sure shows me how much I did achieve over 2018. I'm beyond proud of myself for everything I've done and become. The struggles of this year have taught me many lessons, and helped me discover my inner strength. I'm walking into 2019 with power, and hope, and determination, and I hope you are too. 

  

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This blog post contains samples, experiences, and/or products gifted by brands. This has no effect on my opinion. For more information, including what happens to non-vegan/cruelty-free products gifted, see my disclaimer. 

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year beautiful!! I really enjoyed reading this blog post and hearing more about your year. I need to visit Sudley House myself, it sounds so wonderful. I am so happy that things have worked out for Freddie and yourself as you're such a great couple, sending you all of the love and happiness for 2019! 🌸💜

    With love, Alisha Valerie x | www.alishavalerie.com

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