Twenty fucking sixteen. A terrible year for the world, in all sorts of ways. Highlights of shit for me include Brexit, President Trump, the death of Carrie Fisher, the ever-worsening crisis in Syria, the terrible epedemic of opiod addiction, the proliferation of neo-nazis and the increase in systemic discrimination against trans and non-binary individuals.
For me personally though, 2016 was excellent. Because good is always relative, I want to give you a brief rundown of 2015 first, so you can see why I loved 2016 so much.
At the beginning of 2015 I was at linux.conf.au in Auckland, giving a talk on using freedom of information laws to get source code. This was exciting, and my first LCA. I loved it. It’s an amazing conference, and I was incredibly privileged to be speaking. But every night I would go back to my room and listen to Shake It Off on repeat and cry.
It was during, or perhaps just after, LCA that I realized I needed help. That this depression thing wasn’t getting any better. Over the course of 2015, it got a lot worse. In January I wasn’t taking any medication. By December I had been through two GPs, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a sleep study, a respiratory specialist and at least six different medications (including antidepressants, antipsychotics and some things that I don’t even remember).
My work performance was abysmal, with genuine questions raised about my capacity to continue to work. Hospitalization was discussed, and I took out private health insurance specifically to be able to go to a private hospital when that was finally required. My doctor was surprised I was alive. Regularly I found getting dressed was impossible. I was broke and broken.
But that was 2015. Things were different in 2016. I started the year by applying to RC, and getting approved. I spoke in the big room at LCA in Geelong. I quit my job and went to New York City, which I loved, to attend RC, which I loved. I decided to stay in New York, a place that I love, and I got a job at Etsy, a company that I love.
For me 2016 was a transformative year. In fact, this transformation started in the latter part of 2015, when I found a psychoogist I liked and a medication that worked. Then in 2016 I changed cities (and countries) and jobs (and careers) and I found things that worked for me. There was a lot of change, and much of it seems sudden but it really was a long time coming. There was a lot of dreaming before I finally built up the courage to make the changes. Or perhaps it wasn’t about built-up courage, but pent-up sadness.
I’m still depressed, of course. That bit doesn’t go away, ever, as it turns out. I’m still on medciation, and I’ll work on finding a shrink in 2017. But I think I made it through 2016 without even once crying naked on my bed and failing to put on my socks.
I’m not much one for resolutions, but I think 2017 will be a year of consolidation. I’m not expecting much in the way of big changes. I’m hoping that I’ll have some ree time to volunteer - in education, in community legal services, and in defending the United States from rampant Trumpism. I’ll build my community, see a shrink, keep taking my meds and build credability at work. I’m excited by the possibilities, and glad for everything that happened to me personally in 2016. I’m happy; happier than I’ve been in a long time.