Lifestyle

A New Room, Turning 30, Renovating a Bungalow and Reasons to be Thankful: Highlights of 2020

Let’s be honest, here. 2020 has been a disaster. It’s been an awful year for everyone and I sure am glad to be looking at better times ahead.

Some good things did happen though, and I’ll do my best to remember them here and be thankful for what I have, rather than have had to sacrifice. I think for everyone this year has taught us a couple of cold, hard lessons. One being not to take things for granted, another being to be thankful for what you have and find happiness in not dwelling on things that you can’t have or do. Admittedly, I’ve not always found that easy. But here I am going to look back on the good bits and remind myself that there are always positives in everything, though it is hard to be completely positive about what has frankly been the worst year of my life.

My closest friend and I managed to have an evening together at a place called The Cosy Club in March just before the proverbial excrement hit the fan. I’ve obscured her face below though out of courtesy. It was a lovely evening and the food was great. We made sure we enjoyed the evening as much as possible as we had an inkling that this would be the last opportunity for a while, though I was totally unaware that the ensuing crisis was going to be as bad as it actually was.

One thing I’m thankful for is my parents. I blogged earlier in the year how incredibly close me and mum are after a toxic relationship that lasted over a decade. If it wasn’t for that miracle two years ago when my relationship with mum was completely transformed, I would have had nowhere to go when the nightmare of coronavirus unfolded.

I started working from home on the 17th of March. On the 23rd the first lockdown began. My mental health was rapidly declining because I was literally convinced the world was ending and had nothing left to live for. Once a couple of weeks had passed since my last day in the office I moved in with my parents and this became my home for the next 15 weeks.

I truly believe that if I hadn’t have done this, I wouldn’t have survived. Covid took away all of the things I used to do to keep myself healthy mentally. Prior to this, I regularly filled my evenings and weekends with as many things as I could to get out and meet new people. But the first lockdown was the lowest point of my life. I never thought I’d be telling my own dad that I was contemplating ending it all. But you know what, we all pulled together. My mum got me through many emotional chats about how I was feeling and she has been absolutely amazing all the way through this.

I looked back over lockdown 1 as a testament to how much my relationships with my parents had transformed beyond recognition. I became even more appreciative of miraculous events that happened in 2018 to make that kind of vital support for me possible.

I attempted to move back to my house in May, but it was too much too soon as we were still heavily locked down at that point. I stayed with my parents until July when the first lockdown was lifted.

One good thing that happened in the early summer is the arrival of a completely new home project to get stuck into. As an avid watcher of Homes Under the Hammer I always wanted to do renovations of homes other than my own. I got that chance this year as me, mum and dad started to do up the bungalow my grandad used to live in.

To date we’ve not been able to do much other than clearing stuff up as that has been quite a task and we all have full time jobs, but I’ve been told that soon we will be taking up carpets and beginning to do the fun stuff.

Soon August came and I had an extended summer break from cancelling my Easter holiday due to lockdown. I did that because sitting around for ten days doing nothing wouldn’t have been much fun and would probably actually have made my mental health even worse. But by the summer holidays I’d worked all the way through the first wave of a pandemic that caused me a huge amount of anxiety and unrest. I felt utterly mentally exhausted and needed a break. With half of August off I got that downtime.

I had a milestone birthday, 30, in this holiday. I didn’t quite anticipate celebrating this day in such crazy times but, here we are. The day before I went to Cambridge and enjoyed a great meal outdoors with one of my best friends at a place called Thrive, a vegan restaurant. This was my first experience eating vegan fish and chips. I think it went down well!

Then, for the third year in a row, we visited Bury St Edmunds. This is quite a place to visit if you are into history. I’m not, but the Abbey Gardens are lovely to look at. True to form I visited tons of shops and barely spent any money.

Well, maybe I did spend a little. In a cute little shop called The Parsley Pot.

On the subject of reaching this age, I thought it was worth talking about what I thought of it because with most of my friends being around my age and listening to their feelings, I always got the impression that turning 30 was something that a lot of people dread, for some reason. I blame society for this, but here’s what I think…

30 is not old!

Especially these days when more and more people are living well into their second centuries, I think most people would agree that middle age doesn’t start until at least 40, and even then that’s not exactly long in the tooth.

I don’t think anyone looks at a 30-year-old and thinks, cor blimey, she’s getting on a bit!

Life doesn’t have to follow a timetable

There’s a lot of pressure placed on us to have things in place before the big three zero. Especially things like marriage, kids, your forever home even. You may not necessarily have it applied to you directly, but it’s still there implicitly and especially if you are like me then you’ll put that pressure on yourself times ten. But if you haven’t gotten all of those things figured out, that’s ok. Everyone’s lives are different and everyone’s circumstances are different.

Like Jon Richardson for example, who was single pretty much until the age of 32 after a lifelong battle with OCD when he met Lucy Beaumont, moved in together, got married and had a child.

In the grander scheme of things, it’s actually still quite young

The problem with age is we always think back and compare it to when we were younger. When we are 30, we tend to compare it to when we were like five or six and think, wow where did that time go? I really am getting old.

But then I remember that my dad turned 60 this year and would give a lot to be 30 again.

I might be considerably older than a toddler, but I’m sure pensioners would consider 30 to be a pretty young age.

But for me, the biggest positive about 30? This…

There was a time when I didn’t think I’d make it

I’ve talked about this before but when I was 24 I started to become very ill with rheumatoid arthritis. I was signed off work for three months and didn’t know if I’d ever get any better as for a long time we didn’t know what was wrong with me as I was passed from pillar to post between what must have been a dozen doctors. At my worst I was in a wheelchair because I couldn’t walk from one end of the hospital to the other, my knees had swollen badly and the level of inflammation in my body was enough to give me heart palpitations. Honestly, I was fully unsure about whether I would still be around in good health, or even at all, five years on.

This is why, for me, reaching 30 was something to be immensely grateful for and something to truly embrace and celebrate.

Anyway, moving on now…

I have a whole blog post on this, but my house gained a new room, The Laundry Room. This is the one and only room I have downstairs. It might be small but I was super proud.

Also just before the pandemic hit the UK, my long-awaited Bathroom renovation got completed, which I was really happy about! The bathroom was tired and needed a lot of work so this really felt quite momentous.

That’s probably it for highlights this year. We have just had a lovely Christmas as a family, all within support bubble rules, but out of respect for those who haven’t been able to see their loved ones or even spent Christmas totally alone I’m not going to go on more about this.

I thought 2015 was going to be the worst year of my life as that was when I became ill, but this year has topped that by a million miles. I’m incredibly grateful for my family as this year the pandemic has pushed me to a very low point with my mental health and I would not have survived without them. Dealing with this year’s events has been very stressful, especially as I had pre-existing mental health issues that were made worse by the pandemic. My physical health suffered a lot too – the stress and the inactivity that comes with lockdowns and the mental health issues affecting my inclination to exercise has meant that 2020 has been a perfect storm for my health to regress. My knees in particular were very stiff and painful a lot of mornings. Honestly, keeping up my work to a high standard through all of this has been a real struggle. But I have. And now I know how strong I really am.

Here in Norfolk we are now in the toughest level of restrictions, Tier 4. But I have a lot of hope that we are through the worst of this and better times are really not far away at all. Recent news on vaccines has been very positive. So let’s just accept that this hasn’t been a great year and look ahead to 2021. I fully intend to make up for lost time with the things I’ve had to miss out on.

See you in the new year! I hope to be back with plenty of updates on that bungalow and the last of the work I have planned for my own home.

L x

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