Twenty Nineteen taught me a whole lot of things, but the number one life lesson I taught from the year behind us was that the only person accountable for your own happiness is you.
For way too many years I’ve laid the blame for feeling less than great on other people – partners, friends, family, colleagues or those around me in my wider circle.
The epiphany moment came when a friend asked me what she could do to help me when I opened up to her about my depression and anxiety early in 2019. In that moment, I realised the answer was right there all along.
It became clear, I realised that was in fact the very problem. I had been watching out of the window hoping for a white horse to gallop in, someone to swoop me from my self defined misery, and make things better.
The problem is of course that this mentality only serves to make you feel more miserable, more alone and more worthless.
When you are in that frame of mind, half hearted pleasantries sting like hell, cancelled social events feel like the end of the world and other peoples busy lives going on all around you feels like the twisting of the knife.
So early in 2019 I made a decision, that this was the year I would save myself. That I would get to the crux of why I felt less than adequate in far too many ways, and would get myself in a robust and happy state of mind that would allow me to be me again,for me, and all off my own back.
Whilst I try to be a good friend and reach out to others I see struggling, the world isn’t created in equal ying and yang. You don’t always get what you give, and it isn’t even from a place of heartlessness. After all, what can anyone say or do? Do they actually read the subtle clues between the lines, and does everyone even express their words outwardly anyway? I can’t claim to have supported all of those I care about through their own struggles, when frankly, I may be totally oblivious to them.
As hectic lives whizz past all around us, the self depreciation associated with feeling that no one cares is a downward spiral.
And so it was – I didn’t expect people to mind read. I opened up about how I was and had been feeling. And I thanked those who offered support and let them know this was something I had to figure out for myself. I talked things through with those I needed to, and I appreciate their support but when they told me they did not have the answers, I knew that was not enough.
I self referred for counselling and I took myself to the GP to discuss how I was feeling. I exercised, I made social plans with people I love and sometimes, I said no.
I got myself sober and stayed that way; unravelling the complexities of my social habits and working out new ones that left me feeling up rather than down, for days on end.
In time, I got myself back in to work and I continue to seek support when needed – which is often from the people in my personal and professional network so that I can strive to manage it all.
I ask for help. I ask for a break. And I ask for people who make me smile to be around me – even if sometimes that is just my husband and two kids. Other times it’s him without them, and sometimes, it’s not any of them at all. And that is okay; because the part of me that was all too often fighting for breath was the Sarah before kids, the person I’d forgotten about a little, and the person who I needed to reconnect with now and then outside of my role as a Mum.
I guess we are all figuring it out as we go. But this is a little gem I wish I had figured out far sooner.
I am not stepping into a new decade as a font of knowledge about all things well being, but I certainly do realise that I have been missing a trick for quite some time.
So I’ll be keeping an eye on my mental well being from here on; being my own biggest confidante and checking in on myself from time to time, to make sure that I am okay.
And I hope you do too.