Looking Back and Looking Forward: 2020

For the past few years I’ve done an “Aims for XXXX” post, but given the general shitshow of 2020 and the likelihood for 2021 being similar, I don’t think I can cope with that. My aim for 2020 was, overall: a year of slow building and small joys. I suppose it did sort of work, given the general overview of the year. Small joys was pretty much all I could handle.

This year, my aim? Survive. Sanity optional.

2020 was, frankly, bad. I don’t cope well with working from home; I don’t do well without some sort of routine; and I definitely don’t do well with an additional pile of stress and work which shows no signs of reducing. My mental health has been spiralling and it’s taken a serious load of anti-depressants (which I did not want to go back on) to keep me at a remotely functional level.

It’s not been all bad – I am grateful that I have been functioning. I am grateful that I have a job that is good and varied, with coworkers who are incredibly supportive, and a culture that accepts mental health as an Actual Thing and takes some steps towards trying to help. I am grateful that I have a medical crutch that actually works for me, and a medical team who (mostly) listen and support me. I am grateful that I have a home, an incredibly supportive and wonderful partner, and we have gained a Very Grumpy and Very Cute cat. I am grateful for my family, my friends, and the place where I live. I know that I have so much to be thankful for, and that has helped mitigate many of the effects of both this year and my stupid brain.

However, I can’t entirely blame 2020 for the mental health dip. The last couple of years have been bad; the Grey has been getting worse, and my mental health was already low when 2020 started. I miss my writing. I miss having a big project. I miss the life I had before Oxford; I miss the relationships, friendships, hobbies. I know it’s all gone, and I am happy and certain that it was the right choice for me – but I can still grieve over what I had.

And it’s also, I think, at the root of some of the Grey. I can’t accept that I’m in a new place, because I’m just waiting for it to vanish again. I can’t make new attachments and loves because they’ll just get taken away. 2020 and Covid has made it worse on that front; I’m waiting for loss. Waiting for grief. Waiting for the world around me to crumble.

The fact that it hasn’t yet doesn’t really do much when it comes to the fun world that is emotional logic. I’m working on it all, but that’s been an uphill battle too. As my counsellor said, “you’re doing everything right, so…” and the advice of “well just keep doing it” is not the most helpful when I’m at the end of my resources and still feeling the same. But I’m trying, and working, and hoping. I’m still here, and still going.

So 2020 has been… not great. I am grateful that I am still here, and that I’ve fought my way through it – it’s felt like wading through treacle for much of it, and that has no signs of stopping. 2021 is, at least for the first half, probably going to be as bad – but I am keeping on going, and keeping on swimming, because that’s all that I can do. I have to hope that there is something more, and that even if the world does crack, or crumble, that I can keep going.

2021 is just about moving forward, and trying to heal a little. I’m hoping that my stories come back, and I’m taking tiny steps to try to find that path again. I’m hoping that I can lift my head, feel the breeze and smile as I cycle past the willows. I’m hoping that I can sip tea in the sunshine with a cat on my knee, and feel the peace spread inside. I’m hoping that I can fill in a few more of my cracks with gold, and dissipate some of the Grey.

I miss feeling. I miss being. And I am hoping that 2021 is a year of healing and of renewal, because goddamn do we need one.

A Kate Update: Christmas 2020 + 1000!

Merry Christmas to everyone, or Happy Holidays if you celebrate one of the many other occasions around this time of year! It’s been an… interesting… year, but I’m grateful to get this far. We’ve got a tree up, presents under it, and good company (when it’s not shouting for biscuits) – so Christmas is looking good so far. December’s been slow, damp and absolutely hectic (despite the slow – it’s been one of those months where each day goes so slowly and I have so much to do, but then somehow we’re nearly at the end? No idea. Time is weird this year.) But I am now on holiday, yay!

Another mini-thing to celebrate:  this is the 1000-post on Writing&Coe! Feels very weird that I’ve been doing this long enough to get to a thousand posts…

So what have I been up to this December?

DIY: We re-carpeted our stairs! (With a rug, but still – I didn’t feel like sorting actual carpet.) The previous carpet was horrible and beige and wasn’t improving with a chonky cat going up and down it regularly, so we opted to strip the carpet off and put down a multi-coloured rug instead. Bobble, of course, had to supervise… and thankfully didn’t get his tail stapled to the stairs!

Reading: Don’t ask, because I haven’t been. Same for writing. No chance!

Eating: Our local Chinese supermarket does mochi, yay! I tried the peanut one today and it’s great. The local cafe also does fantastic cakes, so I’ve managed to pick up some pandan roulade, and also brought some sayendo home for the Otter to try.

Baking: Lime curd, and veggie roast dinners. My aunt sent us some fabulously adorable silicone pig moulds that are intended for pigs in blankets (well, mini sausages surrounded by pancake batter) so we’ve just been doing pancake versions. They are adorable and very tasty!

Listening: Christmas Jazz! I can’t face standard Christmas music at the moment (incidentally, one plus of lockdowns is less opportunity to get Whammed? Which is a good thing, I think) so we’ve been listening to jazz mixes.

And me… still grey. I upped my meds briefly, but I’ve now shifted them back down to what I feel is a more manageable level, or at least one less likely to make me spaced. I’m still a little out of it, but that’s possibly better than breaking every five minutes, so I’ll take it! Been napping a lot, but still functioning – I’ve been getting out on cycle rides, managing to (safely) see friends & neighbours, and argue with the cat.

Speaking of, we have got him a tiny bow tie for Christmas… I’ll keep you updated about how that goes!

I hope everyone has as good a Christmas as possible under the circumstances, and sending good wishes and hugs to everyone – here’s hoping that 2021 starts to improve.

The Morning Of My First Day Of Holiday

Tea tea tea tea tea is it a coffee day? It’s a coffee day.

A Very Unhappy catI HAVE TO GO SOMEWHERE AND YOU WANT FUSS NOW?!

Nice Autumn leaves.

Tea tea tea tea tea

*briefly checks work email*

I am so glad that fence is getting replaced, it’s seriously falling to pieces. All over the living room. Yay.

*sees work trashfire and nopes out*

PHP updates? How do I even PHP?

WHY CAN I NEVER FIND A BUCKET WHEN I NEED ONE

*Googles: How to kill bamboo*

Oh god the cat flap fitter is coming too I forgot…

*Googles: How to clean media library*

“Please could you make some small changes to a file? They shouldn’t take you long.”

*despairing laughter*

Tea tea tea tea CAKE

*Checks in on Twitter*

*Googles: Apocalyptic stockpile*

Cake cake CAKE CAKE

“I’m not that scary! See, I have treats…”

*Googles: DC Superheroes*

“No, I think that’s enough treats.”

*Googles: Marvel Superheroes*

“Look, do you WANT to look like a small black furry pumpkin?”

*Googles: newt habitat*

Tea tea tea ok more coffee CAKE

 

And it’s not even lunchtime…

A Brief Kate Update: October 2020

Still here. Still going. Finding everything very grey and tiring; I usually love autumn, but I just don’t have any capacity for appreciation this year. The colours are beautiful, the sunshine is lovely, and I just… meh. Yay, depression! Always fun.

Anyway, happy things? I should probably find some happy things.

I made chutney! And pear jam. I’m making notes for what went wrong so I can do better next time… (Mostly the jam had too much sugar, and I wasn’t entirely sure about the chutney. I just need to experiment there, I think.)

I planted a tree! A neighbour was digging up their plum tree and offered it round, and it’s now in our Close to replace one that was there but died. I’m hoping that it’s going to survive the winter – it’s had compost and food and a lot of rain, so we’ve done all we can…

Cat asleep with his paws covering his noseOne sort-of happy thing – I had an awesome story dream! And then forgot it, of course. I keep getting the occasional story idea, too – nothing that I can write, but it’s reassuring to know at least the ideas are popping up.

Smol Grumpy Black Cat is currently a pumpkin; he’s officially Stout (whoops) and has been sitting under our Hallowe’en banner like a small black pumpkin, so  I’m currently calling him Grumpkin. Other than that he’s well, grumpy, yowling and generally extremely happy – although he doesn’t have enough biscuits. THERE ARE NEVER ENOUGH BISCUITS.

I’m on hooooliday! As of tomorrow, anyhow. I’ve got a week-and-a-half off; unfortunately I’m not in Canada as planned, but I am going to be doing a bunch of DIY, planting some nice bushes in the garden, and sleeping a lot. Maybe if my brain will co-operate, I might get some reading done too…

That’s it. Be kind to yourselves!