I had a little bit of a rough ride emotionally in 2017. Looking at the big picture and everything that has gone on, I haven’t really had a bad year. Although this season was much more stressful at work, it also taught me a lot of things and somewhere deep inside of me is now a tiny corner of confidence named “Maybe I’m not completely shit at this”.
However, I’ve had a difficult year in controlling my thoughts and my emotions. Although there have been plenty of wonderful moments, there have also been some very, very dark days and nights. I promised myself at the beginning of last year that I will name my demons and thus be rid of them. The reality hasn’t been quite this simple. I have named a few of them but that hasn’t really helped me feel better. Instead, some days I feel even more desperate because although I know these demons, but I don’t know how to vanquish them.
Between all of that, the joy of being alive has slipped away from me a bit. I thought about it first a few months ago. This summer, my Employer took me along paddle boarding on Ullswater a few times and ever since then he has urged me to buy a board. I was (and still am) reluctant to rush into it as it’s expensive kit and I’m not sure how much I would use it. To that my Employer said, “Don’t think about it like that. I would think about it what brings you enjoyment in life.” Even then, I wasn’t sure how to answer that as I was struggling with enjoying life.
A few weeks ago, I had another bad day of feeling sorry for myself and my life and I realised again that it’s been a while since I have really felt joy. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and found pictures from my first summer in Cumbria. What stabbed me most deeply was that I didn’t recognise myself on the pictures. There were photos of the walks I had taken; of the night I spent wild camping at Grisedale Tarn and of walking back to Shap the next day. Who was that girl? She was clearly enjoying life, full of joy and feeling alive. She didn’t care for the mud and sweat. She knew how to switch off her brain. I cannot believe she’s me.
This year, I have struggled to get out of bed and out of house. I have hardly been to the hills. It would be easy to blame it on work but I was working on the same job last summer and was just as busy. In fact, this summer I actually had nights and mornings when I wasn’t working. Yet I didn’t find the energy to go out exploring. I think partly because I was too scared to ruin the hills for myself. I was afraid of not being able to find peace there and not actually enjoying it because my mind was troubled with negative thoughts. But also I was so exhausted by those same thoughts that I just couldn’t find the energy and the calling for it.
I had plenty of happy moments in 2017 but I miss those hours spent out hiking in the hills. I miss the fells. I miss that girl who felt most alive in the hills. I wish I knew how to find her again because life without enjoyment is pretty dull and I’m getting really tired of it.