My annual month-by-month recap is usually something I love to put together. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a great way to reflect back on the year and recognize all that I accomplished over the last twelve months. This year, though, putting together this post was difficult. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 2018 was not kind to me. I endured two brutal losses, battled intense anxiety and depression, and just generally had a hard time finding my footing in a year that took so much from me. But I’m here. I’m whole. I made it through the hardest year of my life. There’s beauty and grace and mercy in that. I will choose to look at this year as a series of life lessons and hope that 2019 has more highs than lows in store for me.
In January, I was drained.
The holidays were behind me, and 2018 loomed before me. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted from this year, and that confusion manifested in some rather unpleasant anxiety symptoms. I spent a lot of January in a stupor, looking at my goals for the year and not feeling ready to start tackling any of them. And maybe that was my body’s way of recognizing my whole life was about to change in February, in a way I had been dreading for a while.
In February, I was heartbroken.
The first day of February, I took Dutch to the vet because he had stopped eating and didn’t seem interested in his walks. The vet confirmed my suspicion that it was time to let him go. On February 5th, after spending the weekend snuggling my little love and garnering up the strength, I let Dutch go to heaven. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make (and I am so, so grateful my mom was with me for it), and I spent the rest of the month dealing with the worst grief of my life. My apartment felt so empty, my life felt so lonely without him.
In March, I was busy.
I tried to keep myself as busy as possible in March, as the rawness of losing Dutch began to wear off and I started feeling very empty about my life. I made plans upon plans with friends, asked for more and more assignments at work, and generally did not give myself too many moments to breathe. I tried to delay coming home in the evenings as much as I could because I just hated coming home to an empty, dark apartment.
In April, I was content.
I was overstimulated from a busy March, so I let myself take it easy in April. My weekends weren’t packed with plans and my weeknights were quiet as well. I saw Pod Save America live with a friend, attended my friend’s 30th birthday party where I dressed as Tai from Clueless, and went on a road trip with my mom to meet a dachshund puppy that my mom was thinking about adopting. The end of the month saw me boarding a cruise ship for the tenth time for a seven-day cruise with my mom.
In May, I was anxious.
I have so many good memories from May. I went on a wonderful seven-day cruise with my mom where we visited Mexico, Honduras, and Belize. My mom adopted a dachshund puppy named Chip who easily became the light of my world. I went on a fun work outing to a beautiful golf course in Tampa. But throughout it all, I was living in a state of intense anxiety. I couldn’t even fully enjoy my cruise because I was so stuck in my cycle of anxious thoughts and just wanted to be home in a familiar environment. This anxiety was so overwhelming and I felt like I would never be able to break the cycle, which led to my first-ever serious depressive episode.
In June, I was depressed.
June was a hard month, one where I didn’t have energy to do very much. I still found a way to keep up appearances, only missing work once, but everything I did seemed to take so much out of me. A trip to Target, taking a shower, cooking food. It was all too much, and all I ever wanted was to be at home in bed. It was a scary time in my life, but I also found it enormously hard to reach out and ask for help. I just couldn’t figure out a way to put into words what I was feeling, and I was also scared of how hopeless my life felt at that moment in time. I didn’t want to breathe life into my depression, so I kept quiet about it.
In July, I was myself again.
After two months of intense anxiety and depression, I finally went to my doctor to ask about increasing my antidepressant medication. I wasn’t thrilled to do this, but I also knew I needed to do something to feel better because the way I was feeling was not normal. Thankfully, my doctor was more than willing to increase my dosage and I left that appointment feeling hopeful for the first time in months. After just a few weeks on the new medication, I felt like myself again. It was an amazing turnaround and a reminder of how easily our minds can work against us. I doubt that’s my last depressive episode, but I sure can’t help hoping it is. In July, I spent a weekend on Anna Maria Island with my girlfriends, celebrated my mom’s birthday, and attended a trivia night at a local pub.
In August, I was rejuvenated.
After a particularly miserable and hard few months, I felt renewed in August. I made a goal of walking 10,000 steps every day and spent so many daylight hours outside in the fresh air, moving my body and feeling energized. I went to a dear friend’s bridal shower, spent an afternoon binging on season one of Nailed It! and eating cupcakes with another friend, and had brunch book club at the pool. All in all, August was the best months of my entire year so far. I was just so happy to be feeling good again.
In September, I was happy.
September was just a solidly good month for me. I finally got my Dutch tattoo, something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. I love it so much! I enjoyed a surrey bike tour with my mom, older nephew, and brother. I started therapy. I continued walking a ton. I visited an animal shelter to look at the kittens, solidifying my decision to become a cat mom. And I celebrated my brother and nephew’s birthdays. It was just one of those perfectly content months where nothing huge happened, but I was happy and joyful all the same.
In October, I was overwhelmed.
October is the month I want to erase from my memory completely. In mid-October, Pops, my beloved grandpa, was admitted to the hospital for back surgery. From the moment he was admitted, I spent every evening at the hospital with him, just wanting to be there for him and make sure he knew he was never alone during this journey. I remember how happy he would get when I walked into his room, and I can feel good knowing I played a small part in helping him during the two weeks he was in the hospital. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse after he had a second surgery the week following his first surgery and he passed away on October 28th. It was a shocking, devastating, horrific time for my family because none of us expected us to lose him so soon. He was only 77 and completely healthy. The following days were a blur, to be honest. There was meeting with the funeral director, going to the cemetery, and visiting his home. There was a flurry of family flying in and dinners with them and just trying to come to terms with the fact that Pops was gone forever.
In November, I was emotional.
November was a month where I experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows. The month began with Pops’ funeral, which was the most difficult day of my entire year. It felt surreal to be back in the spot where we buried my grandma just three years prior. We weren’t supposed to be back so soon, burying Pops. Throughout November, I grieved the loss of Pops while also trying to live my life. My mom, stepdad, and I took Chip to his first “Running of the Wieners” event, which was both thrilling and sad. It made me miss Dutch so much. One of my best friends got married in November in a beautiful ceremony in Orlando. Exactly one month after Pops died, I turned 31 and celebrated with a massage, a bookstore visit, a long nap, and dinner with my family. At the end of the month, I met up with my girlfriends to celebrate my birthday. It was an emotional month, but reminded me that even in the midst of grief and trauma, there is still goodness and light and joy.
In December, I was overjoyed.
December began in the most unexpected way: I won employee of the month at work! I was awarded a trophy to sit on my desk throughout the month, a $50 Amazon gift card, and the coveted parking spot in the executive garage (which seriously cuts my drive time in half since our regular parking garage is ridiculous). It was so nice to see all of my hard work awarded! A week later, I adopted Eloise, my beautiful cat who has become the absolute light of my life. She has helped me heal from an absolutely brutal year.