Huzzah! 2016 is finally gone and we have a whole new year ahead of us. I can’t stress enough how happy I am that last year is over. It was a bloody awful year in truth. Politics aside, 2016 was a year of tragedy. I started 2016 with awful news. My uncle was no longer responding to his cancer therapy and time was not on his side. Just three weeks later, he was gone. And while the last few years have not been good – I’ve suffered with bad health for nearly five years now – this blow was a big one. As you know, I suffer from depression, OCD and general anxiety disorder. My uncle was one of the few people I have opened up to besides my Mum and Dad. It’s not that I’m embarrassed about my illnesses but rather I don’t want to have the hassle of being judged by people negatively for it. People are funny creatures and many still follow the idea that mental illness is a sign of weakness rather than sickness and I really never want to have to deal with that prejudice. It was hard enough explaining to people that I could no longer travel long distances into work when I suffered my other health-related issues and I’ve had to deal with occupational health visits and the like already. Anyway, I digress. So, my uncle was one of the few people I shared this information with. He and my aunt are both wonderful people, truly the nicest people, and they both were so understanding. I never had put on any airs or graces with them and I could just be me. So when I heard the news that there was nothing more that could be done for him, it was really hard though nothing could have really prepared me for the news of his passing. Nearly 12 months on, the world still doesn’t seem quite right. I have regrets too. Like, he always wanted me to visit him more often in America. My anxiety, being the way it is, never really allowed me that opportunity. The idea of visiting an unfamiliar place and being away from my Mum and Dad scared me a lot. I worried about how I would cope if I broke down or how they would cope without me (My Mum, bless her, needs her family close as she worries when they are not in sight and I always worry about how my actions impact her, especially with how much she already has to deal with). So, going away from my parents never really seemed a non-starter. And now that he is no longer with us, I do feel bitter. Bitter that I’ll never get that time with him; time which he would willingly give me. I hate my anxiety for that. What also eats at me is that I never played him more at Xbox. We played a fair bit. In truth, he got me into Xbox. It was a way that me and him could shoot the breeze, play some soccer online (we loved FIFA) and just destress. Things got quite competitive at times and whenever he saw me online, he’d want to play. But I wasn’t always up for playing. Sometimes, I’d hide offline so he wouldn’t ask me to play when I wasn’t in the mood. I feel really guilty for that. Honestly, I would do anything to play him again. I miss him terribly. Last September, when the annual version of FIFA came out, I bought it but I haven’t even taken it out of its wrapper yet. The thought of him not being there to play it with me is too hard. I don’t know how I could ever enjoy it without him. And every time I was on FIFA, it would be to play him. It just seems pointless without him now. I cannot imagine how my aunt copes but the world seems less bright without him. The last time I played him at FIFA was early January 2016. By that time, he was dosed up on morphine and he wasn’t that lucid. He FaceTimed us and was chatting to my mother and me and said to me that he wanted a game of FIFA. And though the transition from downstairs to my bedroom is a laborious task of decontamination, I said yes. Of course I said yes. I ran upstairs, changed clothes, washed myself quickly and logged on. When we got into the game, he couldn’t figure out how to start a match, which he could usually do with his eyes closed. He asked my Aunt to help out and she set it up for him. He was just out of it. And when we played, he struggled. He had little control. In truth, if I had tried, I’d have made light work. But I didn’t want to try. I just played with one hand. I wanted him to enjoy the experience as best as he could because the truth be told I was terrified. Even though he could barely play, he won 3 games to 1. And I don’t care that I didn’t try, I just wanted him to be happy. It didn’t really register at the time that it would be one of the last times, if not the last time we’d ever speak. I just know that we got to play again and that he won. What sticks in my mind also is that even though he was just about with it, he told me after he beat me for the third time that “it just wasn’t my night and that I should shoot better on goal”.
Last year, I was able to include a short dedication to him in one of my publications. It’s not enough. But it’s all that I could do. There is an important lesson though. Never take anyone for granted and make the most of the time you have with the people that mean the most it. If there is a heaven, and I have never hoped more that there is one, I hope he knows that he meant the world to me; and I hope he knows that all those rejections to visit him when he offered were not a reflection of my love for him but because of the entrapment of my own issues. He has been one of the most influential people in my life. I will love him forever. And while each day is hard without him, the ONLY saving grace is that he is now at peace and that he no longer suffers. As for now, I just not to remind myself that life is fleeting and not to forget that no matter how much the rest of my family can get on my nerves at times, just like I can on their nerves, that they are my only family. I hope they know how much I love them all, how my parents are my rock, and how I could not manage each day without them. I can never thank them enough for how they’ve supported me with my education, with putting a roof over my head and food on my plate and how they have made me feel loved. I admittedly can be a jerk at times. Sometimes I have my mental illness as my reason behind it. Other times, it’s just me being a jerk. But I love them dearly.
But with the above alone, 2016 would have been a horrid year. I’ve also had a tough year for other reasons. Indeed, I have had one of the worst years of OCD in my life. I have had trouble with my teeth, a visit or two to accident and emergency because of my health issues, seeing both my brother and father go in for surgery and an Uncle struggle with his memory. Professionally, life has not been much better. This year, I have felt overlooked and for the most part unappreciated with my job. I got passed up for a promotion twice in the year despite my long service to the company and despite the fact that I have had to cover other people’s asses numerous times at the expense of my own work. Truth is, if I hadn’t been unwell, I would have probably said “enough is enough”. But given that finding another job as someone who is technically handicapped in terms of what he can do and travelling (I’m not handicapped – at least not to the degree that some people are and would never say that my plight is anywhere near as bad as some people but you get what I mean I hope), it’s not the easiest thing to do. Plus change scares me. My anxiety again. Turning my back on the security that I have would be a potentially reckless thing if I had no viable alternative). So, I’m kind of stuck.
And then there is my general health and wellbeing. It’s been pretty bad. That being said, I have tried to make baby steps with my mental health, more needs to be done. I will never be free until I break from the confines of my poor health. But really, that isn’t something specific to 2016 but ongoing so while it is bad, it’s not unique to the year. Given my lack of physical condition and my chronic low self esteem and social anxiety, I have once again found it hard to connect to people. It’s been a lonely one romantically. I keep telling myself maybe next year but it’s usually the same. Each year seems to hurt just that little bit more.
If that wasn’t enough, 2016 was a year of severe international unrest. There was Brexit, which to this day, I still can’t quite fathom. What went through the minds of the people of Britain? One thing that’s for certain is that I can’t imagine a future where we won’t live to regret our decision. March 2017 will be interesting as that will be then we officially begin our exit when we submit article 50. Buckle your seat belts folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. But hey, at least we don’t have Trump. Unfortunately though, that is something my aunt will have to endure.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, I guess it’s because I want you to know there is a little more substance behind the man who posts cheeky stories, who comments about body positivity and who writes poems about boobs. At least partly. Also, I tell you this because I hope that 2017 gives us something different. I want 2017 to stand for something more. Something better for all. And while I can’t imagine that we won’t be without some trials and tribulations with the governments that we have and with the general feeling of global discontent that we live through, especially when you consider how the people of Syria must be suffering now, I hope that we can together move forward to something special. I want 2017 to be filled with prosperity. It’s time to let go of all the sadness, while learning from our mistakes, and move forward. Otherwise, where will we be? I don’t think I could even survive another 2016. I don’t think I’d even want to. I want to be able to want to make it. Does this mean that I will have to be proactive? Quite possibly. Does this mean that I will have to put myself in uncomfortable situations? Very probably. But if the outcome is happiness, then we have to go for it right? If not, then what’s the point?
I wish you all happiness in 2017.