Words for 2018

Words for 2018I didn’t necessarily make any resolutions for the new year, but I did sit down and write out some words for 2018. When I reflect on the year 12 months from now, these are the words I hope will come to mind. These are the words I want as my year’s descriptors. These are the words to which I am committed.

2017 was a bit of a struggle for me. If I were to write down words for 2017, it’d look something like this: stagnant, stuck, immobile

I could go on, but you get the picture.

To explain, I need to back up a bit. I’ve mentioned in passing several times that I went through a rough patch in college, but have never gone into detail about my struggles with depression. In college, it was so all-consuming and paralyzing that I couldn’t function and participate in the life around me. I finally ended up withdrawing from school. I took the semester off to seek therapy and get a handle on things and am grateful that I was able to return in the fall.

But by no means was it all sunshine and roses from there—more of a rollercoaster of being trapped inside my own head. Relationships were negatively affected, I had good and bad periods, but I was able to at least function as a student and get the work done I needed to graduate.

After college was when I really got control of the situation and felt like “myself” again. In fact, it got to the point where I felt like depression was a thing of the past for me. Like anyone else, I had bad days, fell into funks, experienced sadness—but as healthy, normal reactions to what was happening around me. For years, I felt great. I was happy, a full participant in my life, and my relationships with friends and family were thriving.

If it’s possible to be cocky about your mental and emotional stability, I was. I would almost brag about how “self-aware” I was (I feel like such a d-bag typing that sentence haha), and I credited my stability to this acknowledgement of my issues with depression. I thought I had conquered it and had total control, and I regarded my past struggles flippantly.

Welp. 2017 was humbling.

Turns out self awareness only gets you so far. In fact, self awareness without action isn’t very useful at all. I was depressed throughout most of this past year. It crept up on me slowly, and I saw all the signs and recognized my behavior patterns were exactly those of when I struggled with this in college. But I was stubborn and convinced that I could get a handle on it myself without help from anyone else. Yeahhh … not so much.

I turned a corner later this fall and for the past month or so have felt like myself again so I’m confident this bout is behind me. I’m also no longer so naive to think that’s the last time I’ll experience this.

One thing I’m sure of is that keeping it to myself and refusing to talk about it out of conviction that I could solve all my own issues was the worst thing I could have done. When I talked to my mom about it at Thanksgiving, she said something that couldn’t be more accurate (she’s so wise and I’m an idiot for not seeking her guidance more often). I’m paraphrasing here, but:

Everything is scarier in the dark because it’s hard to see clearly in darkness. When you hold your issues to yourself in secret, they’re living in shadow where they can fester and grow darker and bigger and meaner. It’s when you bring those issues and struggles out into the light of the world around you that you can see them clearly for what they are. They become a lot less scary and a whole lot easier to overcome.

I haven’t been able to get that visual out of my mind. I picture reaching into the depths of my chest and pulling my depression out of that dark cavity to spread my palm open into the light. From there the pain dissolves in the sunshine and sparkles off into the air.

When you hold things inside, your worldview becomes myopic and your issues become all-consuming. You eventually become inseparable from your troubles. When I finally got the (jumbled, incoherent) words to come out of my mouth to Joe, it was like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt light in both meanings of the word: no longer weighed down and no longer in darkness.

I also have been feeling compelled to share these experiences on the blog. Maybe selfishly as a type of catharsis? But hopefully with benefit to readers who may be experiencing something similar or know and love someone who is.

I don’t think my mental and emotional hardships are extraordinary. In fact, compared to what a lot of other people go through, I honestly feel a bit silly claiming to have overcome any sort of obstacle. I know that all in all, I’ve had a pretty damn privileged life. However, it doesn’t matter where your issues fall on the spectrum: If you are unhappy and unhealthy, you need to address what’s going on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to be able to look at the bigger picture and see that people have it worse than you—that perspective fosters gratitude and optimism and helps us avoid sweating the small stuff. However, just because your struggle isn’t as large as someone else’s doesn’t mean it should be ignored. ← This “wisdom” coming to you from the Queen of Ignoring Her Issues

This month, I’m going to talk more about my struggles in college with depression and disordered eating; my recent bout of depression; and the resources and practices that helped me then and continue to help me now. I’m going to break it into a series of posts because I’m long-winded (as you’ve probably noticed by this post) and will publish one a week. If you couldn’t care less, there’ll still be recipes, workouts and other posts published in between so fear not!

The new year always feels like a bit of a reset button, and that couldn’t be more true for me right now. I feel like I’ve emerged from a fog and am excited to once again be an active participant in my life. For most of 2017 I was just sort of floating suspended as time and life moved on without me. Nothing progressed (personally, career-wise, etc.) because I was paralyzed by this depression. This year will be different.

My words and phrases for 2018: progress, movement, mobility, create, produce, COMMUNICATE, LIVE.

Looking forward to sharing the next post in this series with you next week. [JUMP TO NEXT POST]

xo Nicole

Photo by Nick Cosky.

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  1. Caroline L says:

    Hi Nicole! Sorry to hear you struggled last year and in college with depression. I’m so glad you feel like you’re coming out of the fog and I look forward to reading about what helped you. Best of luck in this journey. I’m rooting for you!

  2. I”m glad you’re feeling better 🙂

    I learned throughout recovery that “Secrets die in the light.” As soon as we talk about what’s going on — as hard as it can be — the easier it is to acknowledge the issue and find a solution. Here’s to 2018!

  3. This was brave. You got this!!!! As all the basic bitches say…New year, new you. Love you!!!!

  4. I really appreciate your honesty in this post. Like you said, it’s so easy to keep those sorts of things to yourself, but I think it helps others going through similar things to hear about other people’s experiences.

  5. srconnergta says:

    Thanks Nicole! Giving voice to mental health on a personal level takes courage, and is also much needed for all of us to recognize the reality of this aspect of our lives. I appreciate your leadership in this area of health and wellbeing. Also digging your idea of considering words you would like associated with this year :).

  6. this is a really powerful post on so many levels. many people think health is all about food and fitness, when in reality it is SO MUCH more than that, we have to take care of ourselves and that includes our mental health. as another reader commented, thank you for giving a personal voice to mental health as i believe this helps those in a similar situation (or anyone who has a loved dealing with depression, anxiety, etc.) feel that they are not alone. your blog is great – i love your workouts, fashion, and sense of humor and this post just took it to a whole new level. you are honest and real and i love that. cheers to a year of progress, movement, mobility, create, produce, communicate, and live!

    • Thank you, Courtney! It’s true—mental health is just as important as physical health. In addition to the workouts and recipes I hope to share more about this realm of health on the blog moving forward. 🙂 xo

  7. thanks for sharing <3

  8. Carolyn McKibbin says:

    You are so brave for sharing this, Nicole. This year will indeed be different. Love, Carolyn

  9. You are awesome for being so honest! I have struggled with anxiety for years and for most of 2017 I was pregnant (had my second boy in August) and had MAJOR panic attacks alongside some awful thoughts that I knew weren’t mine. I sought out therapy during pregnancy and went back on anxiety meds after having baby and am trying to be cautious of diet and the role that it plays (mind/gut)..It’s so difficult. Looking back I realized I started telling so many people about my anxiety/depression as a coping mechanism. Bringing it to light eased the “Scary”…A therapist I saw in Boston several years ago said to me “Everything’s scarier at night” and it stuck with me to this day. Hang in there girl!!

    • Thank you for your sweet words and for sharing your story, Lindsey! Good for you for seeking out therapy and being proactive with your mental health—it’s something I should have done much sooner. Wishing you a happy, healthy 2018 with the new addition to your family! xo

  10. Claire Wellington says:

    I have to say, it is refreshing to hear that you are human like the rest of us:)… we often only see the good side of people through social media. It was really brave of you for sharing… Thank you!!

    • Social media is a highlight reel for sure! But a good reminder that light and dark can coexist and even when life seems rough, there can be moments worthy of adding to that highlight reel. 🙂

  11. Kellie Gallerani says:

    I think it’s great that you’re able to be so open about your struggles, and I’m sure your posts will be helpful to so many who think they’re the only ones that feel this way. Here’s to a bright and enlightened 2018!

  12. I absolutely understand where you’re coming from! After my mom passed away my depression and anxiety got worse, but I think we should keep going and keep our head high!
    You’ll only get stronger!

    x Mariya

  13. I’m excited for 2018! One of your words is mine for the year: produce. Although I hesitated slightly since people may think I’m obsessed with veggies (although I am going more plant-based), I chose the word because in a world where I can endlessly consume (social media, mindless internet surfing, binge-watching shows, etc), I want to focus on producing tangible things over the next year. It encompasses several areas of my life: professional research, relationships, blog, work-outs, etc. I love the idea of a power word. Best of luck in your transition from a rough patch in life- it sounds like you’re well on your way to great things!

  14. just wanted to add a few words of support, i always enjoy how you keep it real on your blog. i have lived with dysthymia my whole life and had two major depressions in 2015 and 2016… toootally know what you mean about seeing the signs and patterns and thinking, can handle this myself >:| stuck with my helpers in 2017 and did not have a MD, woot! sticking with them in 2018 too, haha. best wishes xoxo

  15. Meredith Goldthwait says:

    Thank you for sharing about your bouts with depression. Your mom is a wise woman and her words to you were on point. Mental health is a subject that needs to be put forward every chance we get. Your words will most definitely help another person in their struggle with depression. I look forward to reading more about what you have learned in this last year. Wishing you the very best in 2018.

  16. Glad you feel better and loved the comment from your mum! So simple but so smart! Loved that.

  17. Melanie Williams says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I had a really tough 2017 as well. I suffer from an anxiety disorder, that like you I got in college. I had certainly gotten better over the years but this last year kicked me in the butt with it. It started to come out as physical symptoms that I was positive were real and had nothing to do with my anxiety. I know the difference! Yeah, not so much. Well a visit to the Urgent Care opened my eyes – I did not have my anxiety under control. And like you, on paper there was no reason for me to be anxious or depressed. Great job, great homelife, loving husband, etc. I’m so happy I hit rock bottom this year. It sucked ass but wow, did it open my eyes. I’m definitely still a work in progress but I have really high hopes for 2018. I really appreciate hearing your story and look forward to your upcoming posts.

    • Thank you for your sweet words and for sharing your story, Melanie! One quote I love is “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” 2017 was hard and humbling but necessary for me. Cheers to a bright 2018—for both you and me! 🙂 xo

  18. Thank you for sharing your tough moments on this platform. I know many people who seek these posts will know that they are not alone! Peace in 2018!

  19. Preach girl, preach. Your mom is a wise woman. Opening up about my own depression has helped tremendously. So have therapy and meds (for me, personally, antidepressants have quite literally saved my life). I am always so grateful when other people speak up and talk about their battles with depression and/or other mental health issues. It’s so helpful and makes us all feel less alone. Thank you for opening up. <3

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