2020 Review pix

Why 2020 was one of the best years of my life.

If I said 2020 was one of the best years in my life, would you think I’m crazy?

Would you think I must have been living under a rock, was I not impacted at all by the Covid-19 pandemic, how could I actually declare this?

Yes, I was impacted by the pandemic – not as drastically as many around the world, but in some ways such as loss of income due to clients cancelling projects.

Asides from work, which I have always been doing from home anyway, most of my interests are home-based as well (writing, learning stuff, watching TV) so I wasn’t too miffed about the staying home aspect. I also always prefer more intimate, small group gatherings, so I didn’t mind the cap on the number of pax for meets.

But I am grateful that there was no major impact on physical health for example, which is such an important aspect.

The year my Mental Health journey began in earnest.

A major impact on my mental health though, which is why I view 2020 as being such a positive year for me.

Having lived with a schizophrenic brother since I was around 11 or so, and the dysfunction it has caused within my family, has certainly had a far-reaching impact on me.

Regardless, I have survived, even thrived, despite all the crap, but this year, I finally took better charge of my mental health. I recognised that my self-awareness and support from my amazing hubby and friends were not enough and I finally sought professional help by way of therapy.

And a truly beneficial decision that was as I have learned how to:

  1. Accept all my feelings as valid.
  2. Process them in a way that is healthy for me.
  3. Better regulate my emotions.

Don’t get me wrong. In no way have I been elevated to some zen-like state or conversely, firmly grounded with deep roots. Reacting in a mentally healthy manner to issues is not muscle memory yet.

I am in no way done, I am still working through the complex emotions that crop up with regard to my family but I am slowly getting a healthier perspective that allows me to reduce unnecessary stress in my life.

And this already is worthy enough a reason for me to say 2020 was good for me.

And the universe played ball with me.

Also, the universe seemed to have conspired with me and presented me with several opportunities and challenges for me to advance in my journey as a mental health advocate.

  • The most stomach-churning moment was when I started this blog on Jan 1st this year. It was scary to suddenly speak so openly about such a personal topic on such a public platform but I felt compelled to do so because I remember when I was looking for answers, reading other people’s frank experiences helped me a lot.
  • On that note, I was thrilled to be invited to share my learnings at a few mental health events and initiatives. Two of my highlights centred around what I did for the students from my former secondary school. I spoke on the topic of Values which I will be transposing into a blog article next year and I wrote a Letter to my 16-year-old self that was published in a commemorative book by the graduating class of 1990.
  • How exciting was it when I did my very 1st initiative for this year’s World Mental Health Day?! I was happy with the participation from the community, many of whom advocated the importance of reflecting on mental health. I was especially proud of the kids that took part in this.
  • Even the stars aligned when it came to work. Two new work projects landed that centred around mental health. A Covid-19 and Workplace Mental Health e-guide that was distributed to companies and embassies and the second, which I am in the midst of – creating the branding and marketing efforts for a psychologist who is launching her new clinic.

I know I can dance, I know I can act, but singing?!

I discovered a new talent that became a shared hobby with my musical genius of a hubby – a singer-songwriter in the works! I wrote and sang a few songs under my husband’s music project, Buddha in the Balcony. Our 1st EP, Sundays in Marais, is inspired by our 2019 France trip.

And again, I am aligning with my mental health advocacy journey by working on a few songs about mental health which I will release in 2021. I even started singing lessons so that I can do a better job singing the new songs!

What will 2021 bring?

Now, as 2021 approaches, I don’t necessarily feel any sense of great change or renewal. Yes, there is the good news of the vaccine, but Covid-19’s tentacles are far from being chopped off. It will still be reaching deep and our lives aren’t going to magically change when the clock chimes at midnight.

For me, my usual festive mood that I have during the year-end has been tempered by the fact that my mother has been ill, having been rushed to the emergency department twice since 15 December and subsequently admitted into hospital (still in hospital) for long periods.

As some of you might know, when she is sick, it isn’t just about her – there is the problem of my brother who is 100% dependent on my mother. So when she is unwell, there are things that my hubby and I need to do to help such as picking up his monthly medication from the Institute of Mental Health, making sure there is enough food for the live-in helper to cook for him and so on.

Bundle that with the mood-dampening Covid-19 effect, I’m not exactly feeling like it’s going to be a brand new year with fresh beginnings.

I wish you a Balanced New Year.

I think it’s going to be a continuation of many challenges ahead. I think it’s less about “fake” positivity or forcing oneself to be super-everything but instead, a balanced approach to life and its ups and downs, with healthy doses of self-care.

Our resilience will continue to be tested and I hope that everyone can find their own ways to manage whatever life is going to throw at them. My previous post talked about resilience and how to build it, do give it a read as well.

As for me, I plan to bring all the “good learnings” from my mental health journey in 2020 and continue to improve on how I manage my emotions and reactions to everything that I will be facing next year!

Till my 1st post for 2021, all the best to you, and I wish you a calm, balanced and healthy a year as can be!

I just had to throwback to one of my favourite times, enjoying a winter X’mas in Vienna (2018)!

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