Goodbye 2021 🖕🏻, Welcome 2022 😊!

2021 can suck it. I mean that.

I left the year with the thing we’ve all been avoiding for almost 24 months. That’s right, I got COVID-19. And it was bloody horrific. I had a couple of days of extreme pain and extreme tiredness, and I use the word ‘extreme’ quite deliberately. After 3 whole weeks of the dizziness, loss of appetite, aching and white-hot coughing I’ve truly had enough. It’s New Years Day now. 1am. I can’t sleep (again) and the cough lies in wait, attacking my throat and lungs usually just as I’m managing to relax. Being poorly during the festive season is NO FUN AT ALL. And i’m still not even over the worst.

Saying that, our daughter experienced her first Christmas this year and no amount of pain or tiredness was going to stop me seeing it and being part of it. And it was nothing short of MAGIC. It made Covid retreat for a few hours and allowed me to sit with my little family and enjoy the excitement. We did everything from making santa footprints on the floor, to gingerbread house building, slapping window stickers everywhere, introducing her to our favourite Christmas films (for me its The Snowman, and as I completed my annual blub fest, our girl gave me a hug and I realised she is magic too), playing board games and putting together Playmobil sets only for them to end up in the drawers, on the bed, in the cupboards and all over the floor. Make no mistake, a bare-foot trampling of anything Playmobil will hurt as good as Lego, as well as being just as frustrating.

But even the pained, plastic stabbed feet didn’t dull anyones sparkle, myself included.

I’ve just had another coughing fit.

Despite all this, watching the excitement unfold through the eyes of a 5 year old has been eye-opening, hilarious and generally just wonderful. I highly recommend it, especially if you need distracting from something else.

Another reason to delete the memory of 2021 from my brain is the depleting ability I have to keep control of my mental health. It’s been up and down for nearly a decade, but this year I’ve started to understand the reasons why I am the way I am, and it’s actually made it harder to contain. Remembering the grief that plagues me with such a level of clarity only served to etch it deeper in to my mind. But knowing this makes me believe that with the RIGHT help, I’ll be able to start recovery, find some confidence and get my life back. I’m praying it can improve because I’m trapped in a very real daily struggle. Which leads me to my next issue with last year…

My agoraphobia inflated. I’m still indoors. It’s 8 months now. I’ve talked a lot about it already on here, so I’ll just leave this comment as it is.

Finally, is it me or did the world start to feel like it’s just really fucked up in 2021? From covid wreaking even more havoc on us all, to the continued demise of this planet and our collective failure to take care of it, then the invasion of Capitol Hill, the terrible about-turn in Afghanistan and the unimaginable loss of life and freedom, hurricane Ida amongst so many other natural disasters and the many reports of abuse, death and destruction around the world. Sometimes I had to stop watching the news. I used to love catching up in the morning with a coffee in my hand, but now I find it too hard. 📰

It’s possible being a mother has made me more sensitive to world events. I worry for our daughter and the future she and all the other children can expect. All the news reports I mentioned above just reinforce that feeling.

I wanted to counterbalance this sadness with the good things that happened in 2021. I couldn’t think of anything and when I researched on the internet there was barely anything to find. Just one thing sticks in my mind, although it was short lived.

Covid recovery.

Families that had been seperated for months, sometimes years, were finally reunited. Pictures of elderly relatives that had been lonely throughout were beaming in photos, meeting new grandchildren and enjoying time celebrating the reunification we all doubted at some points. Friends who missed a drink at their local could get together again in pubs and nightclubs. Theatres and the hospitality industry reopened and started to recover. Tokyo Olympics 2021 was an incredible event in itself, showcasing the best of the best and even without an audience for encouragement, they all managed to bring it. And other sporting events restarted too from football to local tennis clubs – people could enjoy activities again. ⚽️

Strictly Come Dancing was also a personal highlight with the unforgettable couples choice dance from the eventual winner, Rose Ayling-Ellis with Giovanni Pernice (my secret crush). One of the best television moments I’ve ever witnessed. The coupling and runner-up success of John Waite and Johannes Radebe, the first homosexual pairing on the show, proving that not only could it be done incredibly well, but we should all be accepting it as the norm. Both those partnerships did a lot for underrepresented groups, making it a game-changing year for the show and for many of us watching it. 💃 🕺

So it wasn’t all bad.

However, there are so many amazing and surprising things that happened to me and, although they are personal rather than international, I’d like to acknowledge them too (too provide at least a little more balance).

Our daughter sprouted a personality and an attitude. Being a parent to an autistic child isn’t always easy, especially when it’s your only child and you have no previous experience. However on the flip-side, it can be incredibly rewarding when you see them grow, learn and shine. Despite struggling with communication and other aspects of every day life, our daughter has started to learn compassion and care, she’s interested in occupations and what she wants to be when she grows up, and she enjoys spending time with us (that is going to change one day, so I’m being very appreciative for now!).

We are both incredibly proud of her.

I’ve lost weight. Not just a few pounds. I’ve lost 13 stone (82kgs or 182lbs) and I’m still going. It’s not been easy because I’m unable to exercise, but controlling what I eat has allowed me to slowly get slimmer. 2021 was the year I started to really look different and got to enjoy wearing nice clothes and putting on make-up again. Wearing the same joggers and sweaters for years had been getting old. I will write a post about it soon. I don’t have any tricks or cool pills you can take that will solve the problem. The long and the short of it is it takes time and effort. That’s it. ⚖️ 💪

I’m incredibly proud of myself for achieving this loss.

My writing hobby has become far bigger than I imagined. When I had the courage to open this blog in 2021 I never expected I would grow to love and care for it as much as I do. It’s become a little routine for me and provides me with a distraction when I’m in pain, struggling to get about or having a mentally-heavy day. Dealing with those things has been daily life for me for years, so writing and having successes in writing has really lifted me and given me something to be proud of again. I have a small purpose and I enjoy it. The challenge of being creative every now and then is a relief if nothing else. It’s not always easy and every post, every story and every comment still makes me incredibly anxious even today. I know from time to time I have to talk about things that might be controversial or off-limits, but this is my life and these are my experiences. I have a responsibility to be honest if nothing else.

The blog has also given me an unexpected reason to draw regularly. I didn’t realise how much drawing would help me when I’m struggling, my favourite and most treasured distraction, even at 3am in pain and in tears. Drawing takes my mind off things. In fact, 3am is the time I usually produce my best work!

I’m incredibly proud of myself for having the courage to go public with my thoughts and feelings, as well as my creativity.

The knock on effect of managing this blog, drawing, writing and having social media accounts attached to them is all of YOU. Without question, the most enjoyable, surprising and fulfilling thing that happened in 2021 was meeting new people with a passion for the things I enjoy too. I’ve had chats with people I would never have found before, found new ways of having my writing reviewed and sometimes even published, I’ve had praise and compliments from people who don’t even know me, and I’ve made friends. Albeit virtual friends, but when you’re low on the real thing you’re grateful for ANY contact. It’s been genuinely life-changing and I would like to THANK YOU ALL for being part of it. Every read, like, retweet and comment means the world 🌎 to me. I’m so glad to have them that I sometimes go back and re-read what was said. It’s a nice reminder that someone thinks what I say is worth reading…even if it’s only one or two people and even if they disagree with me.

I wonder regularly why I didn’t explore my love of creativity sooner. Why did I wait until I was 40? I guess the timing was never right and my priorities were different. I was blind to see what I was able to do, what I could create if I tried and the creative world that existed online. 🖊

I’m incredibly proud and honoured to have met you all and hope to meet and get to know many, many more of you in 2022.

So what does 2022 hold for us all? Who knows. In 40 years I’ve never seen our planet exist in so much fear and uncertainty. All I can do is continue to try and improve, take part in things I enjoy, get to know more people, write and be creative and be kind to myself and everyone around me.

Lets have more love in 2022.

Finally my usual note on the accompanying picture. This one was special for me. I went back to the roots of my drawing, where it all started and the style I love. Kawaii and cartooning combined are so special and always make me smile. I’ve tried to include cartoon depictions of the things that I know will be important to me this year. See if you can find them! There is a red monster (representing my daughter), our dog, representations of drawing and writing, my impending wedding, weight loss items and various other things I love.

It might look a bit crap, but it took me a while and I enjoyed it, so I wanted to share it anyway.

Happy New Year and welcome to 2022. Lets get our lives back.

Published by stephc2021

Hi! I'm Steph, an amateur writer and illustrator specialising in Mental Health and being a self-confessed Spoonie. My website is home to any successful fiction I create, with stories that have won so far covering difficult subjects such as baby loss and mental health in grief as well as some funny and heart-warming tales when I get the inspiration. Every drawing and picture on my website was created by me. I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations to accompany all of my posts and pages. I try to create original content across all of my channels, whether I'm writing about my own fiction or just generally musing on mental health or my own issues. I want to be part of the change because I believe the understanding of MH in the UK is getting better, but has a very long way to go. By being honest about my own struggles and symptoms I think others will relate and hopefully it will encourage them to talk to someone and get the help and support they need. Long term my goal is to help children too, help them understand their own mental health and how to help with the mental health of those around them. I live in the UK with my partner, daughter and dog, I swear frequently and I adore a well made, traditional, gooey, chocolatey, delicious brownie.

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