Christmas is over and a new year is nearing. As much as I love Christmas, I also really love this time of year when the holiday madness is over and the week-between lull starts. The end-of-year lists and retrospectives appear, offering a chance to remember what was and think about what will be before normal life resumes and the daily what-is takes over.
So let’s do some retrospecting, shall we?
Pick a picture (or a couple, if you wish) for each month of the year, post, and link up with me to say farewell to 2011 in photos. (You can focus on the photography or the memories – up to you.)
One winner will be randomly chosen from those who link up to receive a complimentary registration in the Brave Girls Club’s Soul Restoration I class.
This is the only photo I’m including that’s not mine (credit underactive on Flickr) but it’s what best represents January to me. January 2011 is when I started this blog and shortly after that I started using this image in my header. I’ve had 2 other designs since, but this one is still “my” image. It remains my wallpaper on my laptop and I’m still getting gifts inspired by this image. I love it, and it will always represent this blog and what it has come to mean to me.
I took this photo as we were preparing to take off for Toronto from my hometown, which doesn’t get a lot of snow so de-icing is a rare requirement. This picture is not about the snow, though. It’s about the trip, and not because it was memorable but because it wasn’t. In thinking about February I knew I had travelled for work but I couldn’t remember where I’d gone. And even now, I barely remember that trip, except that I forgot to pack underwear. It was the start of my realizing something within me had fundamentally changed over the last couple of years, and not in a good way.
The happenings in March—including this visit to the antenatal assessment unit—were the precursor to what happened next and what my year has become. On the current path of my life this yellow hallway was the start line. It was where I went to see the psychiatrist who put me on the medication that almost killed me (and that, incidentally, also probably saved my life). I will never, ever forget this hallway.
In April I plummeted. Crashed and burned. And this room is where I ended up. No, not a psych ward, but the guest room of a friend’s place. She was out of town and kindly offered me a sanctuary when I badly needed to run and hide. At the beginning of a 4 1/2 month leave from work I spent a few days here, awake late into the nights before finally taking a shrink-prescribed pill that knocked me out completely for at least 12 hours. When I think of the me who spent time in this room I barely recognize her. This grainy picture from my BlackBerry isn’t one I’ve published before, but I took it because I wanted to remember this room. When I look at this picture now all I feel is unending gratitude for that time and space and my friend’s generosity.
By May I had scraped myself up off the floor and was riding a yo-yo. Yearning to be better but mostly bouncing between desperate depression and feeling nothing. I walked. A lot. On the day I took this picture I decided it was time to start looking at what was around me again.
June was the start of the road that let me where I am now, though I didn’t know it at the time. “We could move to Alberta,” my husband said, and shortly after that we went to Calgary for my sister’s graduation. This picture was taken at the Calgary Zoo and I remember enjoying the visit while one question reverberated around my brain: “Am I ever going to feel better?” And yet, at the same time, I started to really see myself again.
In July I had had enough. Enough of being on leave from work, enough of being drugged all the time and enough of feeling like a mental patient. I started to explore going back to work, but my psychiatrist wasn’t so keen. I was annoyed at the time but when I look at this picture I remember that she was right. My husband took Connor out one day so I could have some quiet time alone in the house. It was badly needed, but when he sent me this picture all I could think was that I should be there with them. But at that point early in the month I just couldn’t. When I look at this picture I think about how I missed out on so much time with my son. Not just months, but years.
By August I had taken a stand. I fired my psychiatrist, weaned myself off the sedating anti-anxiety medication (note: don’t try that at home – much better to have a doctor’s advice and know what you’re getting in to), and scheduled my return to work. But first I went to BlogHer ’11. It was totally amazing – incredible and life-changing.
I got myself back.
In September I turned the focus back on others and streaked my hair blue in support of suicide prevention (and my friend Cristi, who is tireless in her efforts to raise awareness). In the end, there were many #bluebloggers who did this, including my mother.
But that’s not all! September was so monumental it deserves two photos. This is my baby on his first day of preschool. I just love this kid.
In October we did it – after a month of prep work we put our house up for sale so we could move to Calgary. It sold in less than two weeks and we haven’t looked back.
In November we made a quick trek here, bought a house in one day and moved into it less than a month later. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing, right?. (Smart cookie, that Helen Keller was.)
And here we are at the end of the year, living in snow and sunshine. Our whole world has shifted and we couldn’t be happier about it.
As I sit here now, late on the evening of Christmas Day, I will admit to looking back at this year with some emotion. I’m aware every day, around every turn and with every breath of crisp winter air, that life is different. That I am different. That I’m not where I thought I would be. But it’s been a while since I really looked back at where I was.
2011 was hard. Gut-wrenching, tear-stained, and really, really hard. But ultimately oh so good. As we finish out this year I’m so, so grateful and unbelievably excited about what 2012 will bring.
What about you?