2018 - A Year in Review
2018 has seemed to go on forever. Looking back I can barely even remember the start of the year. It is almost as if the first half of the year didn’t exist apart from a few small events taking place.
Reflecting on this year, as it draws to a close, I can’t decide if it has been a good year or a bad year so I broke it down into a few topics I mainly want to talk about;
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder by my psychiatrist earlier this year and then also over the course of the year I have told by multiple different professionals I didn’t have BPD. It's not the first time I have been misdiagnosed but it is what it is and it's something to dwell on too much.
Since June this year, I have been seeing a new therapist privately and made significant progress, in mine and my therapist's eyes at least. My therapist believes I have a Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia and in my opinion, I strongly agree with her unlike when other diagnoses have been thrown around. She came to this conclusion after spending months getting to know me and working together, which is the longest period of time any professional has worked with me. I still see my therapist once a week and this is honestly the best therapy I have ever had and am looking forward to the progress we can continue to make.
I tried a new antidepressant at the start of the year which didn't help at all and left me feeling worse and also with Gastritis. After months of pain and being told it was just my IBS flaring up a doctor finally listened to me and came to the conclusion of having Gastritis and after a couple courses of medication the pain finally subsided and things have returned more or less back to normal.
I also tried some natural remedies like CBD oil, turmeric, black seed oil, unfortunately, none of these really did anything at all so after giving them a good try and not seeing any benefits I decided it was time to leave medication in the past for the time being and concentrate all of my energy on therapy.
At the end of last year, I had my benefits stopped and came into 2018 without any income whatsoever and that lead to a lot of difficulties. I had to max out all of my credit options to stay afloat and not lose everything I own. Eventually, I was able to reapply for ESA and it was far from a straightforward process and it took me the majority of the year to get it all sorted and actually, in the end, be placed into the ESA support group. The last couple months I finally no longer had this huge stress about my money problems and constant difficult dealings with the benefits office and that was such a relief and I could relax slightly and focus more on therapy and getting back on my feet.
Following on from Mental Health which needed a topic of his own;
For the last 5 years now I have been trying to ‘get better’ and therapy has been one of the options I have tried to explore and I have been let down time and time again by the NHS because they can’t or won’t offer me what I need (I don’t want to go into it but 6/8 sessions is not enough and long-term therapy should be more readily available!), I tried counselling and hypnotherapy etc and had very little success, just like with medication. However, this year following the hypnotherapy not working out and with the recommendation of a private therapist, from the private psychiatrist I was seeing, the family and I decided because I couldn’t pay for this myself we would go down the route of private therapy, long-term if it was necessary.
In May after 6 weeks, the private therapist finally got in contact offering me a consultation. Different diagnoses were being thrown around at this point as mentioned above and I felt and was also advised to maybe have a DBT (specifically designed therapy for BPD) consultation to see if that was something I needed. Unfortunately, there were no DBT therapists locally and I decided to go ahead with the therapist I had had the original consultation with.
So June was when we finally started working together properly and there were some problems at first. I was finding it difficult to make it to the offices in Derby city centre then after a couple of weeks we decided to switch to her Burton offices and I was actually unable to make it due to what I know now was having crippling panic attacks and honestly I thought that was it, I thought my therapist was gonna be pissed and not want to continue seeing me because I felt she would see it as me messing her about but then she rang me and we talked for a while and this was the first time I felt somebody really wanted to help me and really understood the pain I was suffering from. She ultimately offered to come and see me at my home to make it easier for me so we could continue working together and getting the help I so desperately needed. At this point, mid-July, I could barely leave the house, that is how bad it got.
I have now been seeing my therapist once a week at my home and it hasn't been smooth sailing, I have panic attacks every week before she comes over and although I want and need this it doesn't get any easier seeing her each week.
The first couple of months we spent understanding the mind before moving on to making small but very important lifestyle changes such as; eating 3 meals a day, having a more regular sleep schedule and putting my focus elsewhere. These were all difficult at first and felt like chores but after a couple of weeks doing it every day it became routine and felt natural. Don’t get me wrong some days these things are still hard but I now know the importance of them and make sure I do them every day to keep myself in a better mental state.
Next, I started going for a walk every morning and doing it regardless of how I felt. This was similar to the above tasks but took longer to get used to and was something that made me feel more anxious because I was unable to leave the house still so this was really pushing myself out of my comfort zone. It took weeks of going out every day for 15ish minutes before I started pushing myself and going for half an hour and changing up my route to accommodate that. When this became something I became comfortable doing the next step me and the therapist agreed was to start driving in the car every day.
One of the things I had kind of overlooked looked was the idea of taking my anxiety with me during these tasks. For as long as I can remember I have been trying to get rid of this feeling because I can’t stand it and I don’t want it but after a very frank and real conversation I realised that this was the wrong way to be trying to deal with all of this and the reality I came to realise was that I am probably going to struggle for the rest of my life and my life probably isn’t going to be what I had planned for it. This hurt at first, I got really down and sad but afterwards my mindset completely changed that yes my life may not be what I had planned but I could learn to manage this condition and make a life worth living because I believe in the therapy I am having and I have and still am seeing progress from when I first started therapy 6 months ago.
Since then I feel I have felt more willing to do the things I should be doing and completely lose the idea of having no more anxiety ever.
We have been trying some experiments of talking to the anxiety whilst taking the anxiety with me and seeing what effect that has on living with it and for me personally it has helped quite a lot and I am still playing around with this idea on a daily basis and applying it to other areas of my day to day life other than just when going out for a walk and drive etc.
There have been other things we have worked through, mainly around my own personal experiences but those are things I chose not to share quite so openly on the internet as I hope many of you can understand.
That more or less brings us up to date and I can honestly say I am so happy with the choice to go privately with therapy and the therapist I have chosen to work with. I am looking forward to 2019 and the progress we can continue to make together. Only good things to come hopefully.
At the start of this year, I wanted to get more into photography and take it a bit more serious at least in terms of learning and progressing with this art form.
I didn’t really have any set goals as such, just to try and shoot as much as possible and take any opportunities that came my way. For most of the year I found myself housebound as you’ve read above but when I could and was able to I tried to take as many photos as possible and continue teaching myself how to edit my photos and use Lightroom. I was fortunate to have some collaboration opportunities on this blog that involved having to take photos of products and also some unpaid work helping out a friend with his restaurant on a couple of occasions which actually landed me having some of my images published in an issue of Derbyshire life magazine.
The last few months with the progress I have been making with my therapist I have been shooting a lot more and for the first time in such a long time, I am feeling inspired to set goals and think about the future. I don’t have any set goals as of right now other than that I know now that photography is the passion I want to pursue ultimately into something I can earn a living from and 2019 is the year I hope I can start making that become something of a reality. Obviously, my health is the main component holding me back so it really depends on how much progress I can continue to make but having at least a single goal is spurring me on to continue to get better and manage my anxiety so I can create new goals and then go out and achieve them.
This feels like a great place to end this blog post. I think this year started and had some bad parts to it but is ending in a lot better place and I would go far as saying in my eyes a good place and a great place to go into 2019 in.
If you like my content and photography make sure to stick around and see what’s coming in the new year. Thank you for reading, I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year.