As I sit down to write this next to our family's very 70s-looking Christmas tree, cup of tea next to me, and god knows how many chocolates tempting me, I remember the one Christmas, 5 years ago, that I just couldn't feel happy. I'd recently gone through a break up and I couldn't enjoy my favourite time of year. I was full of anxiety, I couldn't relax, and any minute that I wasn't busy doing something, I was sad and probably crying. I felt sick, because my anxiety had taken complete hold of me, making things up that never turned out to be true.

5 years later, in 2017, I'm here, happy, and about to start what I can tell will be one of the most important years of my life so far. Before I begin, I need to think about the importance of 2017, and all that's happened. Because everything that's happened is going to come in handy next year.

I'm most thankful for my mental health. I've never had a year that's taught me so much about how my brain works and who I am as a person, as cliche as that sounds. This year has shown me that even when you think it's all over, it isn't, and that's ok. It's shown me that anxiety and depression can come back and bite, but that doesn't mean they'll win. It's shown me that what once was terrifying no longer has a hold on me. So what terrifies me now, won't always.

This year, I had the opportunity to face what was once one of the most anxiety -ridden triggers. I visited Hong Kong for the first time in my life, and guess what? I bloody loved it. 4 years ago even the name would've sent me into an anxiety attack, let alone a visit, but this year I did it and I'm not looking back. Whether it's big or small, progress is progress, and I'm proud of myself for beating that anxiety.

I'm thankful that for the first time in so many years, not one of my closest family has spent a night in hospital. Whilst the NHS have been, and still continue to look after us, knowing that hopefully we as a family are leaving behind a long period of hospital stays - both emergency and routine - for the foreseeable future makes me very happy. For now, I can relax and be positive.

I'm thankful for the fact my studies are now done and finished. My Master's degree, though painful at times, was rewarding and now I've done it, I'm grateful I had the chance. I've learnt a lot (not just academically) and if I hadn't had the experience, I'm not sure I'd necessarily be the same person or know what I want to do in the future. So, for all the stress, tears, frustration and anxiety, it's done and I did it, and next year I get to wear another fancy robe and hat and graduate again.

I'm grateful for the fact I made it through my job contract even when mental illness wanted me to give up. I'm grateful for the friends that have been there, and for those who've pissed me off, because now I don't need 'em. I'm so, so grateful that, as this year is ending, I've started to develop a little more self-love and pride, and going forward, I won't be putting up with the bad things.

Life is too short not to.

M x