My Year Without Fear Begins

2016 is finally here. I entered it surrounded by my oldest friends, a little tearful and a lot drunk.

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First selfie of 2016. Feeling freshhhhh.

I’m not usually one for relying on the new year to bring about some kind of deep and mystical meaning, but for some time now the thought of being able to finally leave 2015 behind me has provided a small amount of relief. Not because everything changes when the clock strikes midnight, or that somehow Big Ben chimes away all of your problems, but rather because despite everything, I made it. I’m here, in 2016. And what’s more, I’m stronger than ever.

2015 has taught me a lot about my strength of character. This year I’ve faced challenge after challenge and have wanted to give up more than once. Since July I’ve been working hard to get myself to a place where my thoughts are no longer in control of me, but rather I in control of them. It’s been a tough, uphill struggle, but now I’m here I finally feel that I can begin to start building upon more than just my mental strength.

Which is where this comes in.

I’ve decided that this year is going to be all about me. About rediscovering who I am, what I enjoy and getting back the ‘muchness’ that my illness tried to take from me. Back in May when I was living in a 28 person commune in Berlin and in the middle of a four month long mental breakdown, I came across 100 Days Without Fear, a project by a woman called Michelle, who felt like fear was the only thing holding her back from living her new life in NYC to the fullest. At this point in my life, I realised that just like Michelle, fear was holding me back from so many things. I could barely look out of a window or leave the house, let alone achieve anything from my Bucket List. I was living abroad in an incredible city, surrounded by amazing friends and in the country I’ve geeked out about since high school, but fear was ruining everything.

After years of struggling with depression and trying out all the therapies, medications and treatments that were on offer, I decided to try something new. The thing that inspired me the most about Michelle’s project was how personal and even mundane some of her challenges seemed to appear. She received a lot of criticism about her fears ‘not really being fears’ (as if another human being can possibly dictate to you what you can and can’t be afraid of) and this struck a chord with me. Mental health conditions come with a lot of stigma and I am no alien to remarks from the Stupid Opinions Brigade about how my illness is made up and my natural reactions to situations are wrong. Watching Michelle face her fears, however big or small they may have been, motivated me to do the same.

It started out with having a shower, then getting back into bed. Then slowly that turned into a shower and getting dressed. Occasionally, I’d even have a conversation with a room-mate or if I was feeling particularly brave, a trip to the local supermarket. Once I returned back to the UK in July, I began to feel able to push myself further. A part-time job, going for a run and reconnecting with the friends all seemed possible again. And you know what? Let’s throw in some silly ones too like a Brazilian wax and a spontaneous oyster tasting session.

Nine months on and I feel it’s about time I took things to the next level. Committing to anything publicly quite frankly scares the shit out of me, and therefore seems like the logical next step. So this year is going to be My Year Without Fear (MYWF, for short). Where nothing, not fear, nor anxiety, nor depression can hold my back from living the life I feel that I deserve. I’m not setting a challenge limit, just working towards writing on here at least twice a week by the end of the year, about my fears and what I’m doing to overcome them. Fingers crossed, this is going to be a lot of fun.

First fear up: commitment.

Come at me 2016.

***

NB: Something I learned in the writing of this post is that perfectionists shouldn’t blog on a hangover. I’m so glad the edit button exists.

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