This time last year, I wrote about how my life got flipped, turned upside down after Donald Trump was elected president. I talked about how chaotic things had become for me, but I also spoke to some of the life-giving inspiration I’d found along the way.
So, looking back on this, the year of our Lorde 2018, it surprised me just how much had gotten better. But naturally, everything had to get much, much worse first.
In last year’s post, I said it was the worst year of my life, and it felt true at the time. Well, 2018 took one look at that and say “Hold my beer.”
A few months ago, after Chris Cornell’s death, I wrote about how hard it is for me to handle celebrity deaths by suicide. What I didn’t write about was how I’d already been battling those dark thoughts on my own. In the past, I was able to keep my suicidal thoughts at bay—a full six or seven steps (of increasingly negative thoughts) away. This past summer, I could get to them in half a step or even less.
And I was fucking terrified.
I didn’t want to live like that—I didn’t want to live. But more than that, I didn’t want to see if the hole I’d dug myself into could get any deeper. So, years later than I really should have, I sought out a psychiatrist.
Ya know, for all the hospitals and doctors hanging out in the Greater Boston area, it is bafflingly difficult to find someone with availability to see me (or who even responded)! It wasn’t until I ran into a friend on the street and she told me about where she was getting treatment that things started to look up. I heard back the day after I reached out to them, and I had an appointment with the psychiatrist days later.
This was actively the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I am finally on medication that actually works for me, in addition to seeing a therapist every week. I cannot explain how drastically my mental health has improved. My head is clearer than it’s been in years, and it’s given me the ability to process things the way people with regularly functioning brains do. I discovered it’s possible to be sad without letting it ruin my week. As a writer, I’m learning how to push past rejection and keep pitching and submitting and just trying for once. My emotions are at what I now understand to be their true baseline, instead of the wildly out-of-whack levels they’d been for… a decade.
I’m not always happy, because no one is, but I am categorically the happiest I’ve ever been.
I am also the unhappiest I have ever been when it comes to social awareness. I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but absolutely everything is on fire—metaphorically as a nation, but also literally for California. It feels like we’re always one breaking-news story away from a collective panic attack, and it is exceptionally hard to keep living this way.
Things have been especially stressful when it comes to my identity as a black woman. Obviously, I’ve known my entire life that I am black, but I’ve never felt more aware of it than in these past two years. It may have something to do with back-to-back work experiences where it seemed like I was dealing with unconsciously biased managers at best and actively prejudiced managers at worst. But, my eyes were really opened to 1) the willful privilege of white people, 2) the unmatched hubris of white men, and 3) all the ways the first two things have affected my life thus far.
And you know what? It is EXHAUSTING to have your eyes opened to some new horror or ugly truth every damn week. On the one hand, it’s good that my meds are working because otherwise I would be trapped in a viscous depression. But, on the other hand, having a clearer head has led to something unexpected: I discovered my capacity for rage. I am furious.
It’s way too much.
I need things to chill for a bit. I know it looks like things are reaching a boiling point; Michael Cohen’s going to prison, Michael Flynn got himself a newly ripped asshole, and former Trump loyalists are jumping ship left and right. But we can’t say for sure if any of this will lead to impeachment, and I don’t know if I can make it through the next two years.
Please, dear Lorde, make this end.
Finally, my writing life has had many ups and downs, building off last year’s fails and successes.
On the positive side: I’m doing a lot of it! In November, I set out to do my own take on National Novel Writing Month: write first drafts of at least two essays by the end of the month. Alongside that goal, I gave myself one directive: write like Rainbow Rowell and Kelly Link are watching (but in a good way).
I guess it worked, because I surpassed my expectations! I wrote an essay and two short stories, and I had two pitches accepted by some women-focused culture websites! And I’ve been writing and pitching almost nonstop since then. I can’t say how well all of this will turn out as I wait for responses, but either way, I feel very accomplished and I hope to build on that momentum in the new year.
On the negative side: An essay I’d written for a specific publication’s call for submissions was rejected. It was a topic I’d wanted to write about for a while but hadn’t felt motivated to tackle until I saw the submission call. So, even with my newfound writing momentum, rejection still sucks.
All in all, 2018 has been a bit of a clusterfuck (I forgot to mention that my sister’s dog died) with some occasionally good things cropping up (like how a group of friends and I started a Dungeons & Dragons campaign)! Twenty-eighteen had been a long, frustrating year, and I’m glad it’s over.
That being said: please go easy on me, 2019. I’m not ready.