2016 was hands down the hardest year of my life. Being so, I learned a lot and I want to share with you 16 of the most important lessons that came out of it.
1. It is okay to ask for help
This was a huge lesson that I learned this past year. For me, this was really engrained into me in terms of my mental health. This past June, when my depression was worsening, I mustered up the courage and sought help from a professional. So began my long journey to accept and recover from my mental illnesses. You do not, and should not, go through anything alone. It is okay to ask for help.
2. Accept this help
Likewise, accept the help that is offered. Needing a little guidance is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I’d say that realizing the need and welcoming help is something to be proud of. It shows a strength that is often overpowered by pride.
3. Sometimes what is best doesn’t always feel right at the time
Life can be cruel. In particular, my decision to leave school and my decision to admit myself to hospital for NG tube feeding were two decisions that felt so wrong at the time. However, once I came to terms with it, I understood that it was the best decision for my health.
4. Your health is the utmost important thing
Similarly, I made those decisions when I realized that school and relationships can be put on hold. My health could not. I will have other chances at education and social events, but I will never have another chance at this life.
5. The importance of Self-care
This was a huge learning this year. Take care of yourself. Do what you want to do. Take a little bit of time each day to focus on yourself. I’ve listed some self-care strategies here.
6. It is not selfish to put yourself first
Similarly, it is okay to do what is best for you. In fact, sometimes it is necessary. True friends will be okay with this. If not, then you don’t need them.
7. It’s okay to say “no”
Again, you don’t have to please everyone. Do what you need to do. The people who are meant to be in your life will still be there.
8. Food is Fuel
It can be so easy to fall into unhealthy behaviours regarding food, take it from me. Don’t forget to eat. Your body can do amazing things, but it needs energy to do so. Food provides it with that energy. Eat, and eat well.
9. Slow down
Life isn’t a race. Live in the present moment.
10. Be grateful for everything
Take the time to appreciate everything and everyone around you. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are.
11. Express your gratitude
Say it out loud. Write it down. Express this gratitude in some way. Trust me, it will make you feel so much better.
12. Take life day by day
This became my mantra while in recovery. Like I learned to slow down, stop fretting about what the next day, week and month will bring. Just focus on getting through life one day at a time.
13. Radical Acceptance
It is what it is. There are things that you cannot control and things that you should not control. Particularly, this was something I learned in treatment when struggling with meals. I need food, my fuel, to get better. That is that. I can resist it and continue to get sicker or I can accept it and get better. Period.
14. Your mom is your best friend
I’ve always had a great relationship with my mom, but this year, with my coming forward about my mental health issues, put her to the test. She passed with flying colours. I’ve never felt more love and support from another being. Although we are bonded through blood, she did not have to do the things she did for me.
Put yourself out there. Talk to profs. Think about future employers. Do something to make yourself known. Even after leaving school I continued to e-mail some of my professors, so that, when I return, I have networks. When further education and job applications demand reference letters, you will thank yourself for this.
16. Speak out
Stand up for what you believe. You have a voice and you should use it. You will feel empowered and strong.