I had a phenomenal Christmas this year and I needed it. Every aspect of my trip to Austria was positive and I stayed relatively well in spite of the cold I took with me and brought back too! At least I didn't do down with anything on top. I travelled with a group of very friendly sociable people and was able to completely ignore the ones who weren't so their negatively didn't affect me at all. Now that was a huge step for me. Usually when people are being negative around me I think it must be down to me in some way and it's also down to me to turn the negativity into something far more constructive. I've come a long way to be able to shut that negativity out and not be brought down by it.
Thinking back to Christmas 2010 I recognise now that I was drained physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually and had nothing in reserve so actually things were bound to be strained. It's no surprise that when things began to go wrong I didn't have the resources within to process and deal with it. It's also no surprise that I was ill. The amazing thing is that I made it to that Christmas and got through what was a real tough time and have been able to turn it around for myself by having a fantastic Christmas this year.
Reflecting back to being in Dover on the 22nd and bumping into a driver and tour manager I'd met on previous Christmas trips. I was astounded I had the confidence to go over and chat with them the way I did!
I was surprised how much I enjoyed the food we had in Austria. It's a long time since I enjoyed eating and I thoroughly enjoyed every meal we had. It was positive to realise that even if it was just for a few days, I could enjoy food and enjoy eating.
During this trip I really established my passion for photography and didn't care what anyone else thought, which also was a huge step forward for me.
I was much more relaxed in every aspect than I've ever been and what a difference it made to the holiday and to how I felt.
The only point where I wasn't relaxed was during meal times when I felt very out of my depth socially and was so aware of how isolated I've become.
All in all it was an amazing holiday, every aspect of which I enjoyed. I allowed myself to enjoy it and I allowed myself to feel that I was enjoying it. That is HUGE progress! I will hold the memories for a long time and I know they'll feed me and strengthen me through the tough times ahead this year.
Before I went away 'M' asked me to be gentle on myself and notice what I was thinking and feeling throughout my holiday. I was very sceptical of my ability to do that and I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to do that.
The New Year period was very wobbly and I went to some dark places emotionally but I weathered those wobbly days. It feels good to be getting back in to some sort of routine. It also feels good for my support workers to be kicking in again post the holiday break. It's good to remind myself how much support I have now! It was hard coming back and facing the reality of my life but it's good realising I'm not dealing with all this stuff alone any more.