‘Whether you’re excited or scared, relieved or neutral about the New Year, I hope you can be a little bit proud that you’ve made it through this one. And remember that there is no pressure for you to be anything or do anything to prepare for the next year – at the end of the day, it’s just a day. Take it one step at a time, and know that you are not alone. Goodbye 2020. Hello tomorrow.’ These were the words from the Happy Note I posted on Instagram today. There can be a lot of pressure on New Years, and I am someone who societal pressure tends to rub up the wrong way. I have mixed feeling about New Years, but in the end I usually just let it be.
I wanted to say ‘good riddance 2020’ but I stopped myself. Why? Because to me ‘good riddance’ connotes total negativity, and yes this year has been very difficult for many people in many ways, but I have found positive moments within it – it would be an injustice to the good memories and growth within my own life to say that it has been all bad. I have to hold onto the small good things, if only as a survival mechanism. So what have been some good moments? I made new friends, started exchanging letters with them, became more active on Our Happy Notes, and got some qualifications. And that just scratches the surface. Can you think of just one good memory or moment – no matter how small – from this year that you can hold onto to? Think of it and try and allow it just a single moment in your mind on its own, without any thoughts like ‘but the bad moments are worse’. No matter how short, try and give it just a moment.
I was also tempted to make resolutions. But resolutions often lead to a sense of pressure for me, and then a sense of failure or stress, and that’s not good for me. Instead I have hopes. Hope is a beautiful thing. I hope that I will continue to push for mental health system change in 2021 – I hope that my ideas grow and reach other people, and that I can use this space to continue to discuss the reasons and ways in which we need change. I hope I read some more books. I hope I am a good friend. I hope the world heals just a little bit; changes a little bit; loves a little bit more. I hope I can learn how I can help to treat the environment better. If I could make a single resolution, the first one that comes to mind is to be ok. Mentally. To be stable and recovered. But I cannot put a timeframe on that, nor do I believe I will ever be ‘recovered’ as opposed to ‘recovering’. And that hurts to think sometimes, so again I bring in the hope (like my shining sidekick). I hope that I will make it to 2022. I hope that I will find a few more tools to help me manage my mental health this year. I hope that I can find the joy in the idea of constantly recovering – the fact that I get to constantly learn, even if that means going backwards a step sometimes. What are your hopes?
What I’m trying to say in the midst of all this blabber is that 2021 doesn’t have to be anything other than a collection of days. You don’t have to be anything. Especially for anyone living with a mental illness, this doesn’t have to be ‘your year’. Your recovery can’t be forced, though I am in awe of the fact that you would want to take steps to help yourself. I’m in awe of the fact that you made it through this year. Take those steps, by all means, but take them a day at a time – there doesn’t have to be a timeframe on it. And if the only step you can take is surviving the day, then I’m still so proud of you. I especially hope we can carry a sense of community into 2021; being there for eachother.
You are never alone.
Goodbye 2020. Hello tomorrow.