This time of year always feels a bit unreal to me.  I suppose that partly results from the fact that for me, the whole New Year’s big-deal just never materializes.  It never seems to me that December 31st and January 1st are anything other than ordinary days.  To me, they are not infused with anything.

I’ve been reading many blogs today, and the focus is overwhelmingly on recapping 2008 and proclaiming resolutions for 2009.  I am not particularly interested in doing either.  But I will say some things about the outgoing year.

2008 was a year like most this decade, for me.  My depression and anxiety took centre stage and ran my life.  I have not yet even approached the point where I can be a person, who happens to have a disability.  My life, my identity, revolve around my disability.  I hope one day that this will change, but for now, that’s where I’m at.

I formed a good relationship with a new psychiatrist, Dr. F.  She worked in my community for only seven months;  I was faced with finding another psychiatrist and starting all over again.  In June, Dr. F projected that I would be seen by the doctor to whom she referred me by August, or September at the latest.  In fact, it was November.  2008 continued the theme of lost referrals, referrals that are only acted upon when I call the specialist to find out what the hell is going on.

I last saw Dr. F in June;  I didn’t meet Dr. V until November.  Way too long between psychiatric appointments.  I did see the Counsellor (sometimes) during that time.  We really work well together, the Counsellor and I, but because he and I get to the heart of things, it is painful and hard.  I resist.  I avoid.  I don’t want to go there, even though I know that I must, that the path to a better life is through that hell.

I like Dr V, and I think he and I will also work well together.  I like that he specializes in depression, that he started our first meeting by telling me that he’d read my file and I didn’t have to tell him my whole story all over again.  I am hopeful.  I also extorted from him his word that he is not going anywhere anytime soon.

In many ways, 2008 was a year of anguish.  I have spent far too much time agonizing over a certain personal issue, and at the end of the day (or year, if you like), I am still unable to make a decision.  I hate being stuck where I am, but I seem to be unable to make the decision to change it.

I spent a great deal of 2008 failing to live up to the idea of who I want to be.  I have been unreliable;  I haven’t been able to keep my commitments on either a professional or personal basis.  I had to give up my role as Abuse Prevention Educator for the Canadian Red Cross, because my anxiety prevented me from following through on the workshops I agreed to do.  Personally, I made many plans to socialize with people I care about, and often my anxiety led me to cancel.

In many ways, 2008 was the year that anxiety took centre stage.  Up until about a year/year and a half, ago, depression was the major issue;  it was in the driver’s seat.  But then somehow, anxiety surreptitiously took over.  Anxiety is the controlling illness;  depression is still there and still prominent, but anxiety is the lead.

I have had yet another doctor confirm that my major depressive disorder has become chronic, and that my anxiety has reached the level of generalized anxiety disorder.  I have tried new medications, searching for that elusive cocktail of drugs that will allow me to be most stable.  I have battled terrible side effects.  Most, I have put up with, given the devil’s bargain that defines my life:  irritating side effect (like cotton mouth), or the ability to sleep/to avoid the deepest darkness of depression, to blunt the razor-sharp edge of anxiety?  Generally, my choice is to live with the side effect;  it is better than the alternative.

But I have also been confronted at every turn by a side effect to which I cannot submit.  At this point, every med I add increases my overheating.  Unless people have seen me, they cannot imagine the reality:  sweat literally pours down my face and neck.  It is humiliating and ugly.  Because I am fat, people assume that to be the reason.  It is almost entirely due to my medication, but I know what people are thinking.

(And my weight is due to medication as well.  I know the fat-phobic attitudes that prevail in our society, and I know that people judge and blame me.  I am tired of feeling like I have to explain that I gained 80 pounds in a matter of months due to a single medication.  Or rather, I am tired of believing that I have to justify, explain, apologize for my weight.  But I know that fatness is one of the few remaining grounds of discrimination that is acceptable.)

With the latest med, my overheating has taken on a new and frightening character.  My head feels as though it is overly full of heat, as though the heat is going to bust through my skull at any moment.  I can’t really describe it with any more accuracy.  Perhaps like there is a heat-filled balloon in my head that keeps expanding to the point where it feels like it cannot be contained within my skull.

In many ways, I feel like I’m further behind in my recovery than I was this day a year ago.  I am coming up on my ninth anniversary since my breakdown, and I am beaten down by my illnesses.

So, the year of our Lord 2008 has not been a banner year.  I didn’t want to think about all of these things, didn’t want to enumerate the various low points of my year.  But I guess I did a retrospective, even though I started out planning to avoid one.

It is difficult to think of ways that 2008 was a positive year.  My siblings and I are closer than ever, due to our coming together over the death of my sister-in-law in July.  I am very grateful for the time we spent together, for the new understanding we share.

I began blogging, which has been both a blessing and an anchor pulling me down.  I want so desperately to be good at it, and this desire makes me procrastinate and avoid.  I always feel better having posted, but actually writing has been intimidating and scary.

Dannan’s blog has been quite successful.  The numerous friends I have made in the blogging world are another of the high points of 2008.  However, my people-pleasing addiction makes even that pleasure into a towering monster of expectation (that I perceive to exist, but which I know – on one level – exists only in my mind).  Perfectionism is paralysis.  I have such high expectations of myself that I cower, unable to take the first step at all because I am afraid that I can’t finish the task brilliantly.  So rather than doing something, I do nothing, and beat myself up for it.

I have just sighed a very deep sigh.  This is exactly what I didn’t want to do, to write a litany of gloom.

I will just comment briefly about resolutions.  I find that New Year’s resolutions are a way to set myself up to fail.  I dislike the idea that I should make a resolution at this particular time, the pressure that tomorrow is the day to set my year’s goals.

I do have goals for the coming year.  They are not resolutions, and I am not proclaiming them today or tomorrow.  They are the goals I have been working on for many months, and I have tried to make them as reasonable, as reachable, as possible.  The last thing I need to do is set myself a goal that will reinforce my feelings of failure.

Having totally brought any reader I might have down to my gloomy level, I do wish everyone a Happy New Year.  I want for you what I want for myself:  a 2009 full of laugher and love, good health and good friends, hope and peace of mind.  If you are planning to celebrate the changing of the calendar, please be safe.  And be warm, it’s terrible cold out there.