Recap of my year: 2016 (and my goals for 2017)

December 28, 2016

I think we can all agree on the fact that 2016 was a really bumpy year. A nasty year even. I have cursed it, I have despised it, I have hated it, I was frustrated with it and I have screamed at it. I have shed many a tear and wished for 2016 to be over... but I have also loved 2016 and received a lot from it. It will be hard to give a summary of this year that will not turn into a book volume, but allow me to try.

For me, and many people in my environment, the year 2016 was centered around death and illness. I lost quite a lot of loved ones this year, as did many other people in my social circle. Not to mention the fact that so many wonderful and amazingly talented famous people left the earth - of which Alan Rickman (famous for his role as Severus Snape in Harry Potter) was, to me, the most devastating of all. I was -and am- a huge fan of him and I will sorely miss his handsome face, presence and beautiful voice in the movies.

 Alan Rickman 1946 - 2016

The year 2016 also gave me and my family a really, really painful stab in the back in its last month. As if the year wasn't bad enough! We received the news that my younger sister Melissa is diagnosed with an early stage of cervical cancer. She's only 28 and you can imagine the immense shock this brought. The year 2017 is going to be very, very tough for her, but she's incredibly strong and positive and my family and I will be with her and support her évery step of the way.

The year 2016 was also the year where I took a break from blogging, quite early in the year. I did not regret that choice for one moment. Blogging started to drain me and my content showed it. Although I promised myself to just blog whenever I feel like it instead of posting every day, I can say that blogging started to appeal to me again and it gives me energy like it used to when I started.

Although 2016 was a frustrating year for me, it gave me good things as well: I grew as a person. I grew to understand myself and nothing gave me more calmness than finally understanding myself. I am quite a complex person, for others, but certainly also for myself. I still receive psychotherapy and 2016 was the year where my treatment really, really came to fruition. We had a breakthrough, so to speak, and I learned a great deal about myself. With this new insight into my character, I could work on myself to become a better and happier version of myself. We still have a long way to go, though, but that's ok!

The year 2016 was also the year where I picked up my brushes again and started to paint on a daily basis. As a child, I simply loved watercolor painting and this was the technique I wanted to continue with and it feels so good. I feel happy when I finish a painting and with support and encouragement from family and friends (and even strangers!) I decided that I want to start selling my work so that I can support my hobby and continue to make beautiful things.

Another highlight of 2016 is the fact that I started to shed my vintage look altogether. Although I have loved it every single day of the 10 years I dressed vintage, I feel so much better in my skin now that I stopped wearing it. I still love it; I still find it beautiful and I still follow all the lovely vintage ladies and gents on social media. I also still watch the movies, I still collect old Hollywood autographs, et cetera... but it somehow stopped working for me to wear vintage at this stage of my life. I now find pleasure in wearing the boho style combined with just my very own twist to it, which fits my unconventional, individualistic and free-spirited character.

If you are an avid reader of my blog, you might remember that I set up a few goals for myself to work on in 2016. So, what about those?

Living healthy was one of the things I mentioned. Did it work out? Well, not as good as I had in mind. Granted, I live quite healthy, am a vegetarian and 80% completely plantbased in general, but unfortunately I suffered a major depression (which is linked to my Bipolar disorder) and when I am depressed I can't be bothered with healthy stuff and good looks. I gained a bit of weight because I ate unhealthily and rarely left my house. I am still recovering from this depression and am working very hard to get my health plan back on track. So I am taking this goal with me to 2017.

Expand my food photography was another goal. Although I grew in my photography skills and practiced a lot, I did not practice my food photography as much as I'd loved to. But with the depression going on I rarely felt the energy to cook up something marvelous and photograph it, too!

I also had in mind to make Miss Lindsay Lane, the blog, bigger. Ironically enough, a month after I made that goal I decided to put blogging on the back burner.

Let the past be the past was also a goal I made. And this one was a bit of a paradox this year. In many areas, it worked out wonderfully but I also had times where my past was, unfortunately, dragging me down. Of course, I realize that in my case, I need more time to work on this and so this is another goal I am bringing with me to 2017.

And that leads me to another goal: Work on my trauma's and let them be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, this was also placed on the back burner. Because I suffered a major depression, my therapist and I decided to give priority to getting me through the depression first instead of continuing a treatment for my trauma's that can worsen a depression for time being. But of course, working on my trauma's is a goal I am bringing with me to 2017 as well.

Staying creative,  I think my favorite goal for 2016, worked out quite well. I picked up painting and sketching, started writing again, and practiced my photography skills in nature and also whilst traveling. And it felt so damn good.

Also, in one of my hypomanic episodes a few months ago (a symptom of my Bipolar II disorder) I bought a traditional Russian instrument, a Balalaika, with the intention of finally learning to play a musical instrument. Even though I am not in a hypomanic episode at this moment, I decided I still want to try and learn how to play the Balalaika and find a creative outlet in music as well. A new goal for 2017!

Another goal was to be less of a slave to the Internet and my smartphone. And that worked out as I had planned. I was still active on the world wide web, but definitely less so, unless I was in a hypomanic episode. When I am in such an episode I am practically all over the world wide web, but apart from that, I felt less of a slave to the Internet and my smartphone this year and it felt really good.

Then this: as you might have noticed, I talked freely about two of my mental illnesses (Posttraumatic stress disorder and Bipolar II disorder) and especially in this blog post. And that's not without a reason: I want to contribute to FINALLY remove the stigma that sadly still hovers over mental illnesses in these modern times. I realized that, in order to do so, it starts with yourself. I want to talk openly about it and show people that there is no shame in having a mental illness. It really is no different from having a physical illness.

The truth is that anyone can develop a mental illness at any time in his or her life! Not everyone will develop one, but no one is immune to developing a mental illness at some point in their lives. And when that happens, wouldn't it be devastating if people view you as a monster rather than see you as someone who has "simply" a chemical imbalance in their brain?

I realize that stigmatizing happens largely because of people being uneducated on the topic. The views on mental illness are ridiculously antiquated. Which is sad, if you realize that more than 3 million people in my small country alone, the Netherlands, suffer from a mental illness at one point in their lives. The chance that you know one or two people in your social circle struggling with mental illness is very likely. Ask yourself: do they deserve such a stigmatizing treatment?

And to those people who stigmatize mental illness, making fun of it and shaming it I want to say: shame on you! Shame on you! You should stop it because it is mean, outdated and you are poison to the human spirit. There is no excuse to be uneducated on a topic like this in times with Google at your disposal.

Start educating yourself on the topic, because the chances that you are deeply hurting a loved one struggling with a mental illness who does not have enough courage to speak up about it because of your outdated and mean stigmatizing views is very likely. The dramatic consequences of stigmatization are devastating, and why on earth would you want to contribute to that? Do you think it makes you look like an amazing, cool and kind person if you drag others with an illness down? Do you also make fun of people with Diabetes? Epilepsy? No? Then why make fun of someone with, for example, Agoraphobia or Anorexia Nervosa?

Luckily my PTSD will go away at some point in my life when treated properly, but my Bipolar disorder is something I have to accept and learn to live with for the entirety of my life. It is very treatable when diagnosed properly, but it is a dangerous disorder if you take into consideration that untreated Bipolar disorder has a completed suicide rate of 30% and is, therefore, one of the most severe forms of mental illness when untreated. And this is why fighting stigmatization in mental illness is so, so, so important! Untreated mental illness can be very dangerous, and in order for the illness to be treated people need to feel free and encouraged to speak up about it and feel no shame in seeking help.

If you think you might have a mental illness, please seek help. Do not feel ashamed; there is simply nothing to feel ashamed about. You deserve help and you owe it to yourself! If you need someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me!

I have cursed and hated my Bipolar II disorder diagnosis, especially in times of depression, but I do realize that it is a part of me and it makes me who I am. There's no need to be afraid of me, I am not dangerous to other people. I am not a murderous maniac. Quite the opposite actually!

And you know what? I am in very good company: Marilyn Monroe, Vivien Leigh, Carrie Fisher, Sylvia Plath, Mel Gibson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gene Tierney, Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, and many other famous people had and have Bipolar Disorder.

So yes, that is a goal of me in 2017: help de-stigmatize mental illness, starting with myself; talking openly about it without shame and also educate people on the topic. Because stigmatization is outdated, devastating and so unnecessary in these modern times.

I want to end this "epistle" by quoting one of the most badass princesses ever, namely Carrie Fisher, famous for her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, and who sadly died at the age of 60 yesterday!

"We have been given a challenging illness, and there is no other option than to meet those challenges. Think of it as an opportunity to be heroic - not 'I survived living in Mosul' heroic, but an emotional survival. An opportunity to be a good example to others who might share our disorder." — Carrie Fisher

Another goal of me that I want to pursue in 2017 will be that I am going to completely dedicate myself to Phytotherapy and herbalism and will follow a study in it. From my teenage years on I have developed a huge love for herbs and their healing powers. I work with herbs for a long time now and I decided that getting a degree would be a logical next step for me and, hopefully, someday in the future have my own Phytotherapy practice. It will absolutely thrive in my anthroposophic hometown, that's for sure!

For now, it is time to knit an end to this enormous post. But not before I have said this: please be kind to one another in 2017. Have a little compassion for people a little different than you and try to understand them! We are all unique. Make the world a better place with your compassion and your loving heart and understanding and also realize that the earth was created for all forms of life; not just human life. The world in itself can be a toxic and hateful place... don't contribute to that!

I want to wish you all a marvelous New Year's Eve and I hope 2017 will bring you lots of love, insight, happiness, creativity, and courage.

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  1. Hello Lindsay, I do not usually talk in blogs ... but I have to tell you that what you have written is very brave of you and I am proud that someone else is able to talk about mental illnesses in an open way and without fear. I do not understand that this subject is still taboo on this days ... so thank you. Sorry for my bad english,i have the language a little forgotten... :D. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Spain.

  2. Dear Lory,

    Thank you SO much for chiming in and responding to my post. I appreciate it very much, especially since you usually do not do this.

    I have to admit that I did not wrote this without feeling a bit of fear. But I also realized that, if I do not speak up about it I, in a way, contribute to stigmatization. Mental illness is not something that should be brushed under the rug never to be talked about again.

    I hope that, with this post, someone else, even if it's only one person, suffering from a mental illness also feels encouraged to speak up about it without feeling ashamed, or that someone suffering feels encouraged enough to seek help.

    The more people talk about it, the quicker stigmatization as it presents itself now, will vanish.

    And no worry about your English, I understood you perfectly fine! :-)

    Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

  3. Thanks alot for writing this. We need more people like you, Lindsay.

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Thanks a lot for your kind words.
      I hope you had a great NYE and may 2017 bring you a lot of joy!

  4. hello Lindsey,

    I hope you have had a nice new years celebration. Happy 2017!
    I also wanted to say thank you for writing about mental illness. It means a lot to me. I suffer from anxiety and my family things I am just being dramatic. I cry all the time bcause of it and have learned to hide it. Your post makes me feel a bit stronger.

    Take care.

    1. Hey there!

      Thank you for your kind words, I hope you had a lovely NYE celebration, too! May 2017 bring you lots of joy!

      I feel so sorry for you that your family thinks you are just being dramatic. Being able to find support in your family and surroundings is so important when you experience anxiety. I am not sure if you follow therapy, but if so, maybe you can bring them with you to a therapy session and your therapist can explain to them what you are going through. Maybe it helps them understand you better. Most of the time it's not ill will from the people around you, but just that they don't understand it.

      Hang in there!

  5. I am happily married with my hubby, but damn I'd go lesbian for you! Sorry for saying it so unapologetically *haha*. You look beautiful on those pics. Happy 2017.


    1. Hi Heather,

      Hahaha thanks... I guess? You made me blush (quite) a little! ;-)

      I want to wish you a very happy 2017, too! May it give you a lot of love, health and joy!

      Kind regards!

  6. Hoi Lindsay!
    Wat heb je dit toch weer prachtig geschreven.
    Maar wat een naar nieuws over je zusje, ik kan me voorstellen dat het een grote schok voor je is. Heel veel sterkte voor de komende tijd.

    Ik probeerde je laatst te bellen maar kreeg geen gehoor. Zou je me even een berichtje willen doen zodra je dit leest?


    1. Hoi Annemarie,

      Dankjewel voor je lieve woorden.

      Het was zeker schrikken; 12 januari krijgt ze een biopt en dan weten we meer. En wat gaat de tijd dan langzaam zeg.

      Ik heb inderdaad gezien dat je me gebeld had, maar laat ik gewoon eerlijk zijn: ik heb een enorme telefoonangst en ik neem zelden tot nooit de telefoon op. Door een enorme lading stress de afgelopen weken ben ik compleet vergeten je te contacteren op andere wijze. Mijn welgemeende excuses daarvoor. Ik hoop dat je het me vergeeft? *puppy ogen*

      Ik zal je vandaag of morgen even een berichtje doen.

      Ik hoop dat je een fijne jaarwisseling hebt gehad en nogmaals mijn excuses!

      Dikke knuffel voor jou en ook voor lieve Sara!


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