With the New Year approaching I imagine most people are reflecting on the year they have had and their hopes for the year to come. I have been doing this lately and all I can think about is the amazing changes that have taken place in 2015.
The year started with me not in the best place. Not in the worst place by any means but definitely things were not as I wanted them to be. When I arrived home for Christmas, I spent the first couple of days in a constant flood of tears. I had been working so hard on my dissertation and was convinced that this meant that I would fail my upcoming exams. I spent all day revising and beating myself up. The result, my eating disorder (ED) was showing it’s ugly head.. I spent the Christmas break binge eating, restricting and obsessing (not the best way to prepare myself for the upcoming exams). I knew I needed to sort myself out, but I had yet again succumbed to the heavy pressure that I was placing on myself. With the exams fast approaching I was stuck in a vicious cycle of negative thoughts, disordered behaviour and crippling stress.
Reading my last paragraph you couldn’t be blamed for predicting a horrible 2015 for me.. but to the contrary, 2015 has been one of my favourite years yet.. I’ll try and sum up the year so you can see why:
January: Battled through exams. Not much sleep, not much eating, lot’s and lot’s of crying.. quite frankly I was a mess.. (my housemates even had to put me to bed the night before one of my exams). In my head, I knew this was ridiculous behaviour and was desperate for the exams to be over so I could get myself back on my feet.
February: This month made up for January in every way. I picked myself up, carried on and seeked professional help for my ED in the form of some phone counselling. This wasn’t easy for me as I thought I had left this all in the past, but I knew it was the right thing to do. All within one week I got my results (& did amazing!), had an interview and got a place on the perfect PhD and celebrated my 22nd birthday surrounded by all of my friends. My hard-work had finally paid off and it felt as though so much pressure had been lifted off my shoulders!
March-May: Dissertation blur! I have never been so proud of anything as I was with my dissertation. I worked extremely hard on both my dissertation but also on looking after myself. I prioritised sleep, exercise and healthy eating, all of which I usually neglected throughout my high-stress periods. I battled a lot of guilt in order to do this but with the help of the phone-counselling, things got better and better.
June: My finals. The feeling I had coming out of my last exam (even though I was convinced I had failed it) is definitely one of the highlights of my year! Knowing I would never, ever, ever have to put myself through that again. To celebrate I went on a 10 day holiday to Malia with my friends to blow off some steam and have some well-deserved fun!
July: Spent some time at home.. Struggled with food like I always do when I go home; probably due to the loss of control and the terrible anxiety I get when I am surrounded by junk food.. On a positive, I graduated with a first-class degree and even won a special award! If I am honest though I am more proud of the personal-battles that I won during my time at university than I am of my academic achievements.
August-September: 6 weeks in South-east Asia visiting the beautiful Vietnam, crazy Cambodia and exotic Thailand. Exactly what I needed. An amazing experience that will stay with me for life.
October-December: Started my PhD in the best of places. Happy and confident. Met lots of new amazing people. PhD life for me is so much more preferable to undergraduate study. I find it easier to separate the work-life balance and although there is the stressful day or week there is not the same crippling, chronic stress that I have suffered with in the past. I absolutely love what I do and feel so fortunate that things have worked out this way.
The way things have transformed this year have been truly incredible. I have achieved so much and had so many fantastic experiences and opportunities. I always say that I am lucky, and people always argue that I have got where I am because of the hard-work that I have put in. I think the truth lies somewhere in between, a combination of both. I think determination, hard-work and perseverance allows you to make your own luck. My real battle in life will always be my wellbeing. My internal struggles are always going to be those that attempt to prevent me getting what I want.. they are the reasons I spent days crying instead of revising in January, those that made me stay on the sofa feeling too weak and ill rather than going out for a run or ringing a friend , those that made me doubt myself instead of believing in my own abilities.. But by fighting my ED and my inner insecurities constantly and relentlessly I am achieving more than I ever expected I could. It goes without saying that none of this would have happened if I hadn’t battled my ED to get to a point where my achievements, goals and wishes are no longer based on how big my thighs are, how many calories I have eaten or how many hours exercise I have done today.
I share this because I think everyone has such incredible potential in all sorts of different ways. I think we too often let stress, insecurities and internal torment get in our own way. My new year resolution this year? Simply to continue prioritising and respecting my own happiness, health and wellbeing. Sounds easy but I know better than anyone this is much easier said than done. But I also know that by continuing to work towards this goal, I will continue to make my own luck in life.