Me: Did you see what just hit me?
You: I think it might have been a year.
Me: What model?
You: Looks like a standard model
Me: Did you at least get its number?
You: I think it was … 2011?
I got asked last night whether 2011 was a good year or a bad year – or whether it was a great year or a terrible year.
The answer to simple questions are not always simple, and a simple question such as “was 2011 a good year or a bad year” is decidedly not simple. Or to be more correct – it doesn’t have a single answer, and if you do want a single answer, that answer has to be both.
At the start of 2011, Darren and I were still living in Springfield, NSW (2250, not 2630, as Dominos would want you to believe – shit heads), and while our plans to move to Melbourne were well and truly apace, we still had almost 6 months to go. But that time raced by, with the one exception that to a degree we’d already moved, in our hearts, and so living away from home for that length of time was a bit painful for both of us.
The move would have been incredibly stressful, were it not for Darren’s cool headedness and the phenomenal organisational skills of my aunt (we used her national removalist company to get down here). Within 24 hours we were socialising with people, including one person who was to become my best friend in Melbourne, yet even the arrival was tinged with pain, for within just a few days of arriving Darren’s grandmother, Betty, passed away. It was not so much unexpected as it was a melancholy closure to that chapter of our lives. Darren had spent so much time in his grandmothers’ house, growing up, that it seemed impossible to reconcile all those memories with the simple fact that she’d never be sitting in the kitchen surrounded by loved ones and friends again. It was also, for me, the first time I’d had someone close to me die; whether getting to 37 years without having to deal with such an event is a blessing or a curse is impossible to say, though.
We arrived at practically the start of Southern Hibearnation, and yet, throughout such a huge fortnight where people were thoroughly busy with either attending or organising (or both!), we were made to feel so incredibly welcome that we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we’d made the right decision in moving down to Melbourne. While we didn’t go to many events, we went to enough to meet some amazing folk, both locally based and spread far and wide – Sydney (ironic, given our previous proximity to it), Brisbane and Auckland, just to name a few.
And it was in that community, surrounded by so many friends, many of which were already like a new family to both of us, that when RUOK Day rolled around and passed by, I finally got to the point where I admitted that I wasn’t, and it was time to do something about it. That road is now well trod, with the net effect being that I’ve been able to deal with a lot of the monsters of the Id and neuroses of my past, and while I don’t pretend to be 100% fine, I’m certainly OK, and I’ve got the tools I need to continue the journey. (And if you’re wanting to read about that from start to finish, there’s a list of links at the end. After all, I share so many other thoughts on my blog, it would have been lying by omission if I’d left out that journey.)
30 November 2011 marked our 15th anniversary – not bad for a first relationship, we thought, and certainly having lasted a lot longer than so many of those celebrity marriages people pay money to read about in magazines, and so we threw caution to the wind (and ourselves up against Den night) and invited a big group of friends to help us celebrate that achievement. Ironically, we found ourselves introducing people who had seen each other across crowded rooms for years to each other, and at one point when the party was at its fullest, a close friend who we’d both previously expressed our fear of diving into the bear community to leaned in and asked almost incredulously, “And how long have you been living here?”
2011 was one hell of a year: it wasn’t so much marked as its good points or its bad points, but by the roller-coaster ride in-between, and the frenetic pace at which it passed. But even taking into account all the challenges of the year, I’ll say this much about it: it was fantastic.
— finis, 2011 —
And now, that quick list of posts of my mental health journey:
- When I first started to realise I had to deal with some issues: “Sometimes, I was the dog“
- The decision was made: “Take a crazy ride with me“.
- The irony of going to talk to your doctor about mental health on your birthday: “Step right up, step right up, place your bets“.
- The feeling of relief after saying “I think I have a problem” – “Follow the yellow brick road“.
- The highs and lows after the first trip to a psychologist: “Will the vulcan klingon?“
- Wondering whether the second trip to the psychologist will give me the same roller-coaster ride: “High anxiety“
- Learning how to acknowledge and deal with the “Monsters of the Id“.
- Learning about integration vs suppression: “Advice to my younger self: don’t change a thing“.
- Learning to see outside the square: “The triple edged sword of introspection“.
- And finally, “A man walks out of a psychologist’s office“.
(For what it’s worth, I haven’t reposted all those links just to celebrate the Madness of PMdG; rather, I’ve been wanting them all together in one place for a while, in case they help even one other person decide to take that journey of self discovery, and this seemed as appropriate a post as any to put all those links in sequence.)