2017: Reflections

December 31, 2017

Hello, people! Every end of the year, I think about my resolutions for the following year. Most times, by February or March, I'd be so lost with the pace of the everything that there is a good chance I'd forget what I had set out and by June I'd have completely forgotten that "resolutions" even exist in my vocabulary!

I remember that at the end of 2015, I felt really terrified and afraid of what 2016 would bring. The reason being, I had a very emotional and rough 2015. During that time, I really missed home and I was on the verge of giving everything up to go home and just feel safe with my family.

This was followed by my diagnosis of severe depression and anxiety on 1st of February 2016! The reason I remember the date so vividly was because my mother had flown from Malaysia and missed Chinese New Year to be with me in the hospital. Chinese New Year was on 1st of February in 2016. My mum brought my favourite Chinese New Year cookies: pineapple tarts.

I started 2017 like a baby learning to walk. I was very shaky on my feet as I was still struggling with depression and anxiety. With every step I took, I gained confidence and I am happy to say that I have recently learned to skip as I walk. This means, I've shown progress and have been stable on my antidepressants long enough that I was ready to have them reduced.

At the same time, my therapist was happy to let go of my hand and allow me to venture the world on my own. I've completed two years of therapy and am ready to live this world with the skills and awareness I've learned.

With everything that's happened, I feel it's very important for me to reflect on the past year (or more) so that I am aware of triggers, assess the reactions I've had and shown appreciation for the tough moments I survived. Therefore, below will be my proud list of achievements accompanied by a thankful list and the things I want vs need that would guide me towards 2018!

I hope that this would inspire you to reflect on your past year and hopefully help you shape a 2018 full of joy, happiness, good health and positivity.

2017 Achievements

  • restarted my PhD after a year long break for mental health
  • completed ONE YEAR of my PhD (I thought I wouldn't be able to due to health reasons)
  • learned a lot about myself from 2 years of therapy. Completed therapy in good health.
  • been stable (no depressive episodes or hypomania) for 1 year on mood stabilizers. Psychiatrist agrees to reduce dosage of medication.
  • in April, I got to know of the Raspberry Pi community and met a lot of great people since and more!
  • in June, I found the confidence to move out and live on my own. Best decision that made my lifestyle better.
  • met someone I like without using a dating app. So happy that we met through a common interest.
  • received support morally and financially to continue my enjoyment in teaching/showing more children they can do so much and more.
  • managed to balance my time between work and play by setting and following strict boundaries while understanding and listening to my needs.
  • realising that human interaction is a need. Inefficient but necessary. The most memorable and important events are shaped around the environment I am in, which is influenced by the people around me.
  • I feel like I belong.
  • helping others with their mental health and talking openly about it.

2017 Thankful List

I am thankful for
  • my life
  • the opportunity to continue my PhD
  • my therapist who has held my hand and guided me each step of the way
  • being diagnosed with Bipolar II which led to correct treatment
  • for a safe home that is mine
  • the unmeasurable support from my parents
  • the chance to pursue my dreams
  • my health
  • my peace of mind
  • the kindness of people
  • the opportunities to be kind to others
  • being at the forefront of medical research to improve the lives of young children
  • my experiences that has shaped me 
  • a supportive partner in crime
  • warmth in the cold winter
  • being able to express myself and be who I really am

2018 Wants vs Needs

I want to
  • love and be loved
  • be more patient and accepting
  • learn the japanese language properly
  • walk or play with dogs
  • create my own fashion line incorporating electronics
  • travel to Japan
  • visit Makerfaires around the world
  • visit Disneyland and Universal Studios, Orlando
  • learn the World History properly (world history is omitted from Malaysian education. I know!)
  • have a fit and strong body
  • have less things more experiences
  • speak about my involvement in STEM with more confidence
  • read more books/blogs/anything outside of my research study
I need to
  • work harder on my PhD to publish
  • be mindful of my limits
  • make a plan for maker events vs PhD work
  • read more scientific literature - write an updated literature review
  • eat healthier and exercise
  • remember to check in on my mental health frequently
  • maintain a strict balance between work and play
  • be kind and forgiving to myself
  • update my lab book more often and collect more detailed data

I'm thinking, "Now that I've published this, IT'S REAL!"

It's important to remember that these are reflections and serve as a guideline to want you'd like to affirm in your life. This doesn't mean that there is no room for flexibility or change. 

I am excited for what 2018 will bring and with it I hope that I will have the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Wishing you and your loved ones a splendid 2018!

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