A Year in Review: My Biggest Lesson from 2018

There are no regrets in life, just lessons.
— Jennifer Aniston

As another year comes to a finish and I find myself embarking on the adventure that is the promise of a new year; I can’t help but be reflective. For me, 2018 was an incredible year. When I say incredible, I don’t necessarily mean all sunshine and roses. If I’m completely honest, 2018 kicked my ass, threw me to the ground and tore me into a million pieces; however, it was also one of the most exciting, eye-opening, and joy-filled years of my entire life.

On November 29, 2017, I published the article, My Struggle with My Mental Health, and on December 17, 2017, I published, My Experience with Holiday Depression. Both posts were perfect snapshots of my suffering during this time in my life. I am no stranger to depression. In fact, I’ve blogged about it and posted about my struggle on Instagram many times before. My descent into depression started when my marriage fell to pieces and continued for well over a year. At the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, I was in the thick of mental illness. It was one of the most horrible times of my life. I honestly saw no way out. Suicide was something I contemplated because I couldn’t cope with everything. I have spoken up before about suicidal ideation and I won’t shy away from speaking about my experience in the future because it’s important to bring awareness to an issue that affects many of us.

There I was, kicking off 2018, suffering from grief, trauma, depression and suicidal ideation. My suffering also pulled me down into a place of zero hope for a bright future.

I was posting inspirational quotes and smiling selfies on Instagram, even though I was fighting one of the biggest battles of my life. Depression is a huge beast that haunts every corner of your mind and doesn’t easily loosen it’s grip on your thoughts. It was a horrible way to begin a year; however, as I mentioned earlier in this post, 2018 turned out to be one of the most exciting, eye-opening, and joy-filled years of my entire life.

Around summer is when everything started to change. I had just finished work for the year (I’m a teacher and finish up at the end of June). I knew I had to make healing and self-care a priority in my life over the summer. I’ve travelled a fair bit in my life, being fortunate enough to make my way to over 22 different countries. From my experiences, I know how beneficial travel is for healing and personal growth. So I did one of the best things I could have done for myself at this time in my life and booked a trip to Europe, specifically Portugal, Spain and Greece.

I packed my bag, jumped on a plane and headed across the ocean to find the healing I desperately needed. Fortunately, this is exactly what happened.

I listened to traditional Fado music in Lisbon surrounded by locals and exquisite street art. I marvelled at the beauty of the cityscape in Porto. I ate Paella in Valencia and watched the stars sparkle in the sky. I felt the waves of the ocean on my feet while I sat beside my beautiful sister in San Sebastián. I danced all night in Barcelona and felt the music rush through my body. I got lost in a secret cove and floated in Ibiza. I fell in love with unforgettable Greek sunsets in Mykonos, Santorini and Ios, while surrounded by amazing new friends. During all of these experiences, I found myself healing in a way I hadn’t experienced before.

Leaving my hometown and heading out into the world gave me the perspective I needed at this time in my life. I was reminded that there is so much beauty on this planet and so many amazing people in this world. I was reminded that life is extremely short and I need to appreciate every day I am lucky enough to have. I was reminded that life can be beautiful, bright, and absolutely everything I dream for myself.

By September, after my trip, I finally felt like I was back to who I was before I was destroyed by divorce and mental illness. In the fall I moved into an apartment with one of my best friends. It was exactly what I needed as I was finally getting back on my feet, both financially and emotionally. My best friend and roommate is one of my favourite people on this entire planet so it’s been so wonderful to continue to develop our friendship in this capacity. By late September, new amazing people entered my life and have completely filled my heart. Life has become so incredible!

I guess my biggest lesson from 2018 is that at any moment everything can change and you can find yourself happier than you’ve ever been.

To be cliche, you never know what’s around the corner. Your Splendid Path might not be so Splendid right now; however, there might be something amazing heading your way soon. Happiness may creep up when you least expect to be happy. I started 2018 in utter darkness as depression plagued my mind, and now, I find myself entering 2019 so incredibly happy and filled with joy, light, love and hope.

Even if you’re suffering and only see dark, don’t lose hope. Life is unfolding exactly as it’s meant to for your journey. Joy will reveal itself.

In the meantime, I am sending you only light and peace.