2018: Thank the Gods that’s over

In 2016 and 2017 there was a surprising amount of negativity as the year drew to a close, with high numbers of celebrity deaths, depressing news stories and the ascendancy of the right wing leading many folks to call these the “worst year ever”. I thought this was quite a daft claim, as a cursory glance over the 20th century shows that these probably weren’t the worst years of the last 100, and further back life appears to be have a rather grim slog.

It also highlighted that it’s all relative. While people griped about 2017 I just looked back at is as the year I got married, the year I got my dog, the year I got to go to Walt Disney World. Sure, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but for the most part 2017 was a pretty good year for me personally, one of the better ones of my 33.

2018, however, hasn’t been that great. And yet online it seems to have just been a bit of an average year. All relative, isn’t it?

I can’t say it’s been a horrible, relentlessly dire 12 month slog, and there have been some really good days, some nice events and even some great things happening.

But if I was going to chart this out like Dave Gorman, the highs of the year would only be a few notches over the “Average” line, while there are a couple of bad things which are way below it.

I’m not going to go into it too much. It’s quite personal stuff and while I will probably write about it at some point, I don’t feel in the right head space to do so at the moment. And it would make this post massively long.

This year has thrown some really difficult stuff my way, from health issues, to the return of personal demons I thought I’d vanquished, to some really trying circumstances.

There was a long period where I was struggling with some pretty dark stuff, and depression returned. I spent a long period in a deep funk, and it was only thanks to the support of friends and family that helped me get past it.

Another thing that happened this year is that once again I handled stress badly, and this caused tension with me and WoM, which made me feel like an utter heel because she was going through difficult stuff too. I could see where I’d gone wrong and I’ve talked about how I cope with a few people and have tried to set up better strategies for the future, they appear to have worked and after a long stretch of difficulty, I pulled myself out for the second half of the year.

The health stuff was trickier. I knew I wasn’t fit, but being confronted with evidence and some problems shook me deeply. It’s part of the reason I’ve tried harder with the weight loss stuff and why I’ve cut way back on my drinking. Luckily, the wonderful NHS were great and the treatment I’ve received means that I’m doing a lot better.

One of the problems was that I found out I had sleep apnea, which is basically that because of being a fat bastard my airway was closing while I slept, depriving me of oxygen. Apparently over the long term this can actually damage your brain from oxygen deprivation, the shorter term effects were that I wasn’t sleeping properly, the irregular breathing waking me up throughout the night, meaning that I never got into deep sleep, leaving me groggy and not refreshed even after hours in bed. I also would get tired during the day, and would fall asleep on pretty much every car journey. This is annoying enough in the car, as WoM would have to sit in silence as I dozed next to her, but is even worse on a bus, where I’d wake up confused, miles from where I was meant to have gotten off and drooling on the shoulder of the poor passenger next to me.

I got given a mask and a machine which blows air into my face, keeping my airway open and allowing me to sleep deeply for several hours. It also makes me look like a fat, hairy Bane.

bane portrait
Self portrait of me wearing the mask

The positive change was obvious pretty quick, I felt better when I woke up and wasn’t as tired during the day. I started to feel better within myself, and to have more energy, which meant I was getting out and about more.

This helped immensely, going out for walks gave me a chance to think and clear my head, as I’ve never been someone who does well staying in for days on end. It also made me feel better about myself, helped me lose weight and thanks to joining the Countryfile Ramble made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile.

In truth, from August onwards the year improved, but it’ll be the bad times that came before it that will define this year in my memory. The good moments lacked the power to topple the bad ones, and while I feel like I’m in a better place as the year comes to an end, I’m glad to see the back of 2018, and to start a clean slate in the new year.

But I don’t want to end on a downer. And so, here’s a short list of the things I’m happy about from 2018:

  1. That I did quite well on the year’s resolutions. I achieved three and worked towards the other five.
  2. I’m feeling a bit better about my body and my health. Adopting the Race for Your Pace challenges has really helped me, providing motivation and a feeling of accomplishment.
  3. Speaking of accomplishment, I’m proud that over the last 12 months I raised £381.86 for charities. It feels good to help others and means I am slowly chipping away at my bucket list item to raise a million over my life time. Only £999,618.14 to go!
  4. Going forward there’s a lot to look forward to. I’ve already started making some plans for 2019, and hopefully these will help it be a much better year.
  5. My wonderful wife, family and friends. I’m extremely lucky to have so many loving, caring people in my life, who I share joy with and who provide comfort during the difficult times. I must try not to take this for granted and to ensure that I show them my gratitude and appreciation for everything they do for me

So, hopefully in 12 months my annual recap will be a lot more positive, and I hope that you haven’t had too rough of a 2018, reader, and that 2019 brings you happiness, good times and fun.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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