Many say the turn of the new year is just an arbitrary date that doesn’t actually mean anything. This is true. However, it is healthy to regularly restock and release, in order to move forward. January is a convenient time to do so, as its association with “New Year Resolutions” helps us remember to take the time to reflect.
Another point to note is that this month marks my blog’s 1 year anniversary! Posting once a month doesn’t sound like much, but life can get busy and I was nervous about committing myself. And, man, did last year hit me hard. And yet I haven’t missed a post! Except for April. But we don’t talk about April 2016. It doesn’t count as a real month.
A Look Inside The Green Bag: Mental Health
In my little blog logo, the green bag holding a bunny represents mental health and family. A year ago, this blog started with my mum heading into hospital for TMS treatment. I worried I would struggle, as mum and I are very close, but it ended up a pretty smooth experience. This was a turning point, and a relief. I no longer had to dread her trips as much.
Then the year really begin. *cough* thanks April *cough*. At the end of 2015 I’d been feeling great, my anxiety was completely under control and I was looking forward to stepping out into new things. But life hit, and it hit hard, and I was soon back at my psychologist in tears. And, generally in tears everywhere, which is unusual for me.
I haven’t said much about my life stresses since March last year, so, quick recap: I dragged myself through until November, when my body could take it no more and my anxiety hit a new-time high.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t calm down. I couldn’t focus on one thing long enough to have a smooth conversation, my mind jumping from and half-clinging to one inconsequential thing to the next. I couldn’t stop shaking. I couldn’t talk slower than a hundred miles an hour. I couldn’t stop rushing whatever I happened to be doing at that time. I felt like I didn’t have control over my own body or mind.
From late 2015 to late 2016, I went from feeling free of my anxiety disorder to being prescribed anti-anxiety medication. An unreasonable roller-coaster of a year.
I won’t lie. I’m still struggling. A few major life problems of 2016 have continued into the year, with some sort of resolve due in the next couple of months. But the start of this year was such a relief. A lot of pain from events in 2016 I was able to leave in 2016. Sure, New Year’s Day is just a day. But it marked an opportunity to release some weight from my shoulders.
A Look Inside The Blue Bag: God
In 2015 I took up the challenge of reading the whole bible, start-to-finish, Genesis-to-Revelations in order to learn more about God, and who He is. A few months into 2016 I realised that this blog was a perfect place to keep my reading accountable, recap in my own mind what I’d learnt and share my experiences with the wider world.
Thus began my series called “The God of” Challenge. In addition to what the content of the bible has taught me, the act of reading my bible every day has been an amazing experience.
Some people recommend reading the bible first thing in the morning, so you don’t forget and have a good start to the day. I chose to read it just before bed, so all day I would think about how it was still on my to-do list.
It didn’t work out everyday. At first, I would miss days or weeks of bible reading while I was caught up in uni work, or tired for some such other reason. But then I started to notice, on my really stressful days when I actually did read the bible before bed, I slept better!
By the end of 2016, I was reading my bible absolutely every day. Sometimes I’d go to bed, and 10 minutes later realise I hadn’t read a chapter yet. I was tired and just wanted to go to sleep, yet I pulled myself up, turned on the light, and read my daily chapter.
I have been able (with God’s help) to release myself from the lies of “it’s too hard”, “I’m not spiritual enough to pull that off”, “it doesn’t matter if I just let it slide today”.
In actual fact, when I get ready for bed and remember it’s time to read my bible, more often than not I get a little thrill of excitement. And that’s while reading the “dreaded” Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. (The posts are a bit behind, currently up to Exodus, but I’m in the middle of reading Deuteronomy now. And have found the “boring” law books remarkable inspiring, so stay tuned!)
I’m happy to say, I’ve become addicted to God’s word.
A Look Inside The Red Bag: Writing
I’ll be honest, I didn’t do as much creative writing last year as I’d hoped to. I am very glad for this blog, and the Writers Edit blog, for keeping me regularly writing, even if not creatively. But there was one big excitement, thanks again to Writers Edit.
Now, I’ve had short articles accepted for publication, and get really good marks at uni and such. But never with short stories. And I’ve told myself it’s just because I’m more a long-narrative creative writer who just can’t do the short stuff. But there was always that niggling doubt that my creative writing just wasn’t up to scratch.
Introducing the short memoir. Written with creative writing techniques, planned like a non-fiction article. I’d written a short piece for a uni class, about mum’s breakdown in 2010. On a whim, I submitted it for potential publication in the Kindling III anthology. And was accepted.
This helped spark my fascination in the memoir genre. Though, admittedly, long memoir pieces don’t appeal much to me. Memoir presents its own unique problem of how to be honest and how to deal with the fact that your life in intertwined with others’ who may not wish to be written about.
Until now, taking on short memoir writing projects never crossed my mind. And probably never would have if not for my publication success. Short writing pieces are important for a writer’s sense of accomplishment and momentum. And now I have a new path to flex my creative writing skills, and release my doubt.
Featuring (by Kyla Bagnall):
I was fifteen when my mother had a mental break down. I didn’t understand what was happening. My family didn’t know what to do. Out friends didn’t know how to help. It took a few years, but now I open up in my short memoir about how to ask after the mentally unwell.
Farewell 2016. You were a year of survival, of dragging myself to the end with as much dignity intact as I could muster. I don’t know what challenges and triumphs and defeats 2017 will hold. But I have released myself from 2016 and will stride into the future with shoulders unburdened.