I always intend to write these year-end reflection posts, but I am either too preoccupied, or frankly, too lazy to do it. Even this time around, I procrastinated and have found myself writing this on New Year’s Eve, on the eve of the first day of 2022. This past year, 2021, was a doozy, and it deserves to be recorded. Trials are just a normal part of life, but sometimes it feels like things are incredibly tough. I really hope 2022 takes a turn for the better, but let’s commiserate for just one second.
Now, I am only naming these trials because I want to remind myself of all that I have overcome. I don’t want pity. These trials have only made me lean harder on the Word of God, because that is the only thing that has gotten me through this. Maybe, that was the point. Here goes:
- We had no income coming in this year for the first six months and we were running out of savings. We were at the point of wondering if we needed mortgage payment assistance or to sell our home and rent. The credit card debt was racking up because we wanted to preserve what little cash we had and the anxiety in our house was getting out of control. We were just so scared, and we had just brought home our baby boy after a stressful NICU stay in November 2020.
- My Postpartum Depression was getting worse, I couldn’t bond with my baby and I was sleeping all day.
- I had to make the decision to leave medical school without knowing what I would be doing next. I knew I needed to and would make the same choice again, but it was still hard to watch my classmates graduate and start residency this year.
- My dad went from living on his own to moving into a nursing home. He fell at his apartment and was crying out for help for over 24 hours before the EMTs broke the door down to get him. I had a panic attack the morning I got the call that he was in the hospital, and I wished more than anything that I was there to be with him. We were still in Chicago and he was in South Florida. I blamed myself for what happened. The first time we went to visit, we could only talk through the window when we visited the first time because of COVID. He held his grandson for the first time after he had already turned one.
- I jumped into a career before I was ready to. I stopped taking my meds, I wasn’t seeing my therapist regularly and I wanted to prove to myself that I could still do things. Because I wasn’t really mentally well, I was only able to stay for a couple of months before I needed to leave. I never meant to take the job, but we needed the money.
- I thought my depression was gone in August, but it came back just in time for the holiday season, resulting in me leaving my 9-5 after only two months of working. It all just felt like a waste of time.
- We lived out of suitcases for a while after we moved from Chicago until we figured out where we were moving to. Noah slept in his pack-and- play and we lived in clutter and chaos.
- We took Noah to the emergency room because he wasn’t breathing well and he had a really high fever. He ended up having pneumonia and an ear infection. He has literally been sick non-stop since starting daycare. I blame myself for that because he wouldn’t have gotten sick if I had not started working.
What I’m Grateful For:
- None of us have had COVID so far (that we know of), all of our tests have been negative
- We have been able to lean hard on family since we moved, a luxury we didn’t have in Chicago
- Mark & I were employed and were able to save some money
- We have a home and a car that works
- We have always been able to afford food, formula and diapers
- I have been able to connect with a therapist and get the medications and help that I needed
- We moved to a neighborhood where the neighbors take care of each other, which is such a blessing
- Got to spend time with family over the holidays
- Daycare and childcare in general is so much more affordable here in South Georgia (⅓ the cost compared to Chicago)
- We are alive, healthy and have a new year to look forward to
How can I look back at all of these things and not feel so grateful that in spite of everything I have been through, the Lord has always provided. It might have been just enough to get by, but we survived. While I know we have so much to be grateful for, I am also human and this year has affected me deeply.
Year-End Reflection in Perspective
I don’t think I have ever felt so defeated in my entire life. I have almost given up on making plans, dreaming big or trying, honestly, because everything seems to just fall apart. If I ever thought I had control over how my life was going, I now realize that I never, ever had control. In the midst of this depression that never seems to end, as much as I want to isolate myself and shut out the world, I also feel an equal need to share what I’m going through. I hope that it helps someone to not feel so alone. Experiences like these only make us stronger and give us the empathy we need to take care of our community, our family and ourselves.
I don’t know what 2022 will bring. I don’t know what professional title I will have this year, or what struggles we will endure. All I know is that I want to focus on what is most important: faith, nurturing family and community, and getting well.
It was so therapeutic to write this year-end reflection. When times get hard, try making a list like this. Acknowledge your trials, but also take the time to reflect on what you are grateful for. Gratitude helps give us perspective on our trials. We can see that we are not alone and we can see the good that exists in spite of those trials.
I am wishing you and your family all the best in 2022.