Today I wanted to do a wrap-up of the year, but also of the decade because, as I’m sure you’re all aware, it is officially the first day of 2020! I can’t believe how fast this year has gone and the fact that it is the end of a decade as well has me even more astonished. I don’t have any particular points for this post because I really just wanted to sit down and write down all my thoughts about the turning of the decade, whilst reflecting on the previous one.
If I go all the way back to 2009, then the first half of this post won’t be that entertaining because I was only 7 in 2009 (for the last 16 days of it anyway!) and my life was pretty smooth sailing until about 2015. I’ve talked about my mental health quite a bit before, so I won’t go into it too much, but this decade (specifically 2015-2018) was a very trying time for my mental health. I hit some real low points in my depression and anxiety, as well as being diagnosed with Autism and Tourettes.
I hated my time at school with everything I had in me because they were inflexible to my additional needs, put ridiculous amounts of pressure on us and in general subject us to scheduled torture. A lot of people say that you’ll miss school when you’re gone, but I passionately disagree. If you’re one of those people that would just rather not do homework, then yes you probably will miss it, but for those of us that are driven to mental illness because of it, not so much.
I’m aware that that was very dark, but I felt like it had to be mentioned because the last few years of my life have been very dark and I’m not at all ashamed to put the blame entirely on my school system. I realised pretty quickly though that if I was going to make it out the other side, I was going to have to stop caring what other people thought of me (which I’m pleased to report have since I no longer give a single f*ck what people think!) and that I was going to have to do everything in my power to ignore/avoid what the were telling me at school and prioritise myself.
Thankfully I managed it and I am pretty much out the other side now, thanks to the continuous and selfless support from my Mum and friends. That’s not to say that I don’t still struggle because I do, but my moods are relatively stable now thanks to my medication and I’m able to cope when things do go down hill with all of the strategies and skills I have under my belt for such occasions.
That’s kind of where I’ve been mentally for the last few years, but it wasn’t all bad. I did some pretty memorable and fundamentally important things in those years as well like finding my best friend, going to the Photography Show, which founded my love of photography, I finally went to see Dan and Phil in person at their interactive introverts stage show and I still managed to turn my grades around at the last minute, getting nothing less than a B!
Moving onto 2019 specifically though, I feel like this year has sort of represented the roller coaster of a decade I’ve had quite well. I started the year, still in school, struggling to keep up with the work load and crying over my revision notes for maths because exam season was approaching fast and I WAS NOT ready. I was only just starting to come out of the fog of depression at the beginning of the year and I felt like I had missed the last few years of my life, so it was a struggle to catch up. I still don’t know how I managed it!
I thought the exam season would last forever, and every minute felt like a day, but it also flew by at the same time because it felt like I’d blinked and the exams were over. I guess I was just so focused on revising and making it through the next exam that I hadn’t realised I was doing the last one! It took me a few weeks for it to sink in that I had really finished my GCSE’s and that I was never going back to that god-forsaken school and even then I don’t think it really hit me until after prom that that was the last time I was going to see most of those people.
I spent my summer holidays vlogging, like I’d always wanted to and working on my mental health, but otherwise not doing a whole lot. I think I really needed just several months with nothing for me to do, nothing demanding my attention, so that I could really work on myself and that’s exactly what I did. Those few months off allowed me to tie all the loose ends off and find some much needed balance in my life.
The summer holidays soon came to an end though and I was starting at a new college in a new town, studying what I love (photography if you didn’t know), which was both terrifying and exciting all at the same time. I had selected my college and course carefully and we had talked to the staff about my additional needs before hand, which they were very receptive to, but I was still terrified that they would turn out to be just as bad and my mental health would take a dip again.
Thankfully, and shockingly though, the college are actually amazing. They’ve followed the instructions we gave them to a ‘T’ and are always happy to help if I only speak up. This didn’t make me quite as happy as it should have done though… instead I cried a lot and felt so, so ANGRY!
I wasn’t expecting to feel so angry, so it was a bit of a curve ball, but I did. The college are so flexible and are happy to help with anything I need. They even went as far as to swap over which class was in what room because I really hated the room we were in because of the smells and sounds (too many smells and sounds causes sensory overload for me)! I was of course incredibly grateful to the college for everything they were doing for me, but it made me furious because it just showed how easily some adjustments can be made! My school couldn’t even understand the simple instruction to not pick on me in class because apparently it ‘helps me learn’, regardless of me telling them it just made me panic so much I couldn’t listen or learn anything for the rest of the day! I was angry, hurt and confused about why my school couldn’t have made these simple adjustments for me that would have meant I perhaps wouldn’t have fallen into depression, but instead they made me suffer because they couldn’t be bothered.
It makes me angry just thinking about it and I cried a lot at college in the first few weeks, which confused my tutor a lot, especially when she asked me how I was finding college and I just burst into tears! It was sort of like I’d just pent up all this anger and hurt for the last few years and it all just started coming out when I started college because I realised that life wasn’t going to be like the last few years and that school was truly behind me.
It took a good month or two for me to really let go of all my anger, but I managed it eventually by turning my anger into purpose. There are a lot of things I want to do in my life and making life better for people like me is definitely top 3. Apart from all the crying at the beginning, college has been good and I’m feeling much happier with my life and within myself now that I’m out of school, studying what I love and have the support I need. That doesn’t mean everything is perfect because it definitely isn’t. I think I’ll always have to deal with my depression and anxiety in some form, for the rest of my life and the fact that I’m autistic is never going to change, but I’m okay with that. I know how to handle and my mental health now and I’ve accepted my Autism diagnosis as a positive rather than a negative, even though some people are still assholes about it! The jokes on them really though because I’m the one that loves myself, so….🤷♀️ who’s really winning?
So that was my life over the last decade and my whirlwind of a 2019, but it’s 2020 now. I know it’s cheesy, but I really do feel as though I’ve entered a whole new chapter of my life. I’ve struggled and fought over the last few years and I’ve spent the latter half of 2019 dealing with the consequences, but now I’m reading to put it all behind me and move onto the next part of my life. I’ve settled into college now and I’m starting to build my photography portfolio, whilst working on projects of my own. I’m saving money for when I turn 18, thinking of taking my driving test now I’m 17 and thinking about where I’d like to live in a few years time!
I have a lot planned for 2020 and the coming decade, so hopefully the seeds I’ve painstakingly planted over the last few years will start to flower with my hard work and I’ll start to see my dreams come true.
I’m sorry I know that was cheesy, but it’s just how I feel about 2020! How has your 2019 and your decade been? What are you hoping to achieve in 2020 and the coming decade? I’d love to know, so leave a comment down below or come and chat to me on my Instagram @thephotographydragon where we can be all cheesy together!
Goodbye for now!
Over and Out