As the clock turned 12 am last night/this morning, I was surrounded by my friends and boyfriend and was honestly happy the 1st page of a new 366 page book was being opened for me. 2015 was a whirlwind of emotions and a big journey for me, and those closest to me too. I thought i'd take the opportunity to use my blog to talk about the highs and lows of my year and why I'm looking forward to 2016. This is mostly for my sake, so I can reflect on the past year, but it may also help others who have followed my blog and supported me throughout to understand a little bit more.
2015 was an odd year for me in that I could feel something inside me wasn't right from early on in the year. I moved out of my second year, privately rented university accommodation into safer student accommodation due to a case of violence and breaking and entering while in the house at the time. My Mum and Dad say that they cannot believe how well I handled this due to the fear and shock I endured the night it happened and for the month following it. Myself and my housemate were sent back to our hometowns by our university 2 weeks early for Christmas 2014 to ensure we were safe and happy which helped a lot, and moving into more secure accommodation really settled us both. Alongside this, early in the year, I was referred to a gastrointestinal consultant for a painful reflux/hiccup/squeak/weird-noise-that-sounds-like-a-dog-toy. I had to have blood tests, breath tests, multiple examinations and an endoscopy.
I started to notice my worrying and panicking over the smallest things was getting a lot worse, very quickly and it got to the point where family members and friends were starting to notice. My Mum recommended seeing a psychotherapist in my local town to see if talking to a professional would help me deal with my emotions better. This is where I was diagnosed with anxiety. My psychotherapist was lovely. I saw her regularly and she helped me dig out the cause of my anxiety which I talk about in this blog post and believe me, working it all out helped so much to not feel stupid and understand it better myself.
I then googled blogs and Pinterest boards with ideas on how to help myself with channeling my emotions, fears and worries in a creative and positive way and I started journaling fauxbonichi style (heres a link to Pinterest posts on the style I journalled in) - writing, doodling, drawing and storing memories. It helped me reflect on what I have done that day and how I feel.
In the summertime, after achieving Firsts in all my assignments and projects (70% or over), I had an exam for my nursing degree which I didn't reach the required mark to pass. This was the biggest shock to me as I have always worked my bum off to gain high grades. I was not expecting it at all and only lacked 2%. I still to this day, along with others (including academic staff!) believe I was unfairly marked, but rightly or wrongly, I decided to go ahead and just retake the exam to avoid any further stress. Things were making me very anxious for no reason now. I asked my doctor for help as it started to really affect my life and was prescribed Propanolol for anxiety to help me keep calm and settled.
4 weeks later, my boyfriend, Ben, sustained a head injury while playing football which ended up leading to an admittance to hospital. This shook me up a lot as I wanted nothing more than to come home and be with him while he was unwell but I was on placement and looking after poorly people in hospital. But it got too much and I rushed home to be with Ben. This was around the time I feel first felt the effects and signs of the panic attacks I have nowadays. The fast heart rate followed by the flush of heat and so on. A few weeks later, while I was on placement, I had my big panic attack that ended me in A&E and had me diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder (here's the blog post about that).
I was started on Citalopram and was told by my doctor I was too unwell to be in university or on placement as my mental health was too unstable and I was physically and mentally drained. I had to put myself first. I came home and spent 4 weeks getting myself better with the help with my family and was taken on a lovely week getaway with my Aunty, Uncle, Granma and cousins in Fowey in Cornwall, which helped me escape life and relax all day every day. At this time, no one knew about my diagnosis other than my immediate family, my bestfriend and boyfriend, my Aunty and my cousin, so being treated like normal and being on 'holiday' was exactly what I needed. Fowey and the people I had around me will always be so important to me for bringing me out of a dark place and giving me the courage to get up and start again. However, while in Fowey, I was told via email by my university that I wouldn't be allowed to take my resit exam due to being off sick and this may mean I will have to be deferred 6 months in my course, and this news broke my heart. I didn't want to feel like a failure to myself and to others around me. This is when I started scrapbooking with Project Life. This was my therapy and still is to this day. It is the only thing that really allows me to concentrate on happiness and good things in my life.
Luckily, after weeks of stress and anxiety, I was back at university and I was told that due to the circumstances, I wouldn't have to be deferred and would be allowed to remain in the group I started with (and now will be ending with!). I was ecstatic and was told my resit exam would be in February 2016 - plenty of time to revise. I finally felt like I could get on with my life and get myself better with the help of my support network around me.
My motivation to be organised and work hard is now stronger than it ever has been (and I didn't think it was possible!). For Christmas, my cousin bought me the Oh Deer Daily Journal for this new year which is absolutely perfect for the type of organiser I am. I blog on here to release my thoughts and help others, which is therapy for me, more than anyone realises. I am looking forward to starting a fresh page in my journal, and a fresh page in my life. 2016 is the year I turn 21, the year I become a qualified adult nurse, the year I move back home and the year for proving to myself I can do it. I am strong and I have it in me to be anything I want to be. Everyone who has supported me this year, who has written me letters, emails and texts of encouragement and pride, made me personal and special gifts after reading my blog, and those who have shown your support for me by simply liking my blog on Facebook, thank you. Thank you for sharing my story and allowing yourselves and others to learn about my disorders and the way in which I, and many others may work differently. To those of you who feel you share similarities with me, be strong, be confident and believe you can be whoever you want to be. Make this year the year you change things for yourself. Things will get better. Happy New Year Everyone. Here's to a fresh, new year.
Love Luce xo