It's that time of year, new years resolutions! People promise themselves that this will be the year to give up something, stop doing this or that, join a gym, get fit, loose some weight, you know exactly what I am talking about! In previous years I would have been right there with the majority of the population making resolutions I wished I could keep but deep down I wasn't sure I would actually keep them. This year though for me is rather different.
I learned a lot in 2015 and it was a significant year for me, for many different reasons. I guess reflecting back over the year now three major things happening and in some way or another they are all linked together.
The beginning of 2015 saw me complete my six-month DBT therapy. This was a huge achievement! There were times throughout the sixe months when I wanted to give up, I even discussed leaving the programme with my individual therapist, but now, now I’m glad I stayed. It was far from easy and right from the beginning I feared entering back into therapy would bring with it some unwanted memories, anxieties, and new challenges and it did just that. I found I had an increase in self-harm at times, I could get quiet down at times and other times I just wanted to be shut out from the world and keep to myself and my comforts, a safe place of sorts. Nevertheless with the support of my fantastic therapist who persuaded me to continue on with the programme I made it through the full six months and learned a lot! I wasn’t too fond of the group sessions but it was in these sessions which I really learned how to cope with things, how to manage my self-harm urges, haw to manage difficult relationships and maintain positive relationships, it was during these group sessions that I realised, despite already knowing it, but I really realised there were better ways of coping! It was during the individual session where I learned the most, I learned about myself and I began to really look deeply into myself, realizing my potential, my personal qualities and that I do have something to give to this world! There is no doubt in my mind that if it weren’t for DBT, would not be 10 months free from self-harm!
2015 saw some hard decisions being made. My DBT therapy began at the end of 2014 and it brought some rough times. I began to get stressed, I was trying to manage med free, go to therapy, and get through my second year of college. College is not easy, assignments, placements, group work and expectations can get overwhelming at times so when I went into my second year placement, one which I was not prepared for things took somewhat of a turn for the worst. I struggled though my placement, having to move between different groups in different towns, conducting research, which I had never done before, and not feeling connected to myself, never mind the work, which I was undertaking. I found myself taking days off, self-harming, being reluctant to try new groups and take on new roles and responsibilities. Despite achieving the tasks set out to me by my placement manager and having what my manager felt given the circumstances a successful placement my college department did not feel the same way. An unsuccessful placement meant I could no longer continue on the BA in Community and Youth Work. I was devastated, never before had I ever worked so hard to get something! I was given three options by the college:
- Defer the year- not really an option for me because not having structure would only increase the negative feeling, emotions, and behaviours.
- Re-do my placement provided I could convince the department I was well enough to handle the pressure.
- Change course to applied social studies; remain with my current class taking on extra modules while they are away on placement.
Option number 2 was the one I wanted but resorted to number three when I was told my placement would have to be redone during the summer, the promise of my double jaw surgery in July meant I would not be able to carry out the 14 week placement. Initially I was devastated but now I am happy with my decision, pressure has been taken off, not having to do another placement really did bring with it some ease. Changing to applied social studies brought with it new experiences, new modules, a new way of learning and despite missing the majority of the first semester due to my jaw surgery it has been fantastic and I have learned so much! To top it all off, I have the opportunity to return and complete my master in community and youth work should that be something I want in the future!
Finally 2015 saw me receive my long awaited for double jaw surgery to correct my underbite. It had been a long and tedious road to getting this surgery and in the end I had to fight for it! I ended up with a new surgical team in a new hospital but it was worth it! I couldn’t be happier with the result and it has changed much more than my face! Mentally I am doing fantastic; I’m more confident and less self-conscious. It is hard to describe how much of a positive impact the surgery has had on me if you knew me well before the surgery you would be able to see the difference. Getting up in the morning and looking in the mirror is no longer something of despair, I no longer despise how I look, I don’t fear eating in public, I don’t avoid photo, it has had too much of a positive impact for me to ever put it all into words but this jaw surgery has changed my life and for the first time in ages I can say I am finally happy.
So I’ve learned a lot in 2015, about myself, about standing up for myself, fighting for what you deserve, that life doesn’t always go the way you plan but that doesn’t mean the end. I’ve also learned that I’m not “cured” I’m still going to have my bad days, sure even since surgery I’ve had some rough days. It has been a hard year filled with many ups and downs but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
One key thing that I learned throughout 2015 as a result of the three big life events is that it is ok to love you and to be happy. So when people ask me what are my new years resolutions are I say I don’t have any. Why? because for the first time ever, I like myself and I am happy! Yeah I still have my struggles but there is nothing I want to change about my life. Yeah I want to get fitter, I want to eat healthier, save some money, get a new job, move out, these are goals which I have had for a while, these are goals which now as a result of my turbulent 2015 will happen throughout my life, as a result of being happy. I don’t need new years resolutions to make a new me this year because I am happy with how I am!