Quick general content warnings for depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and various other mental health related stuff. Please take care of yourself while reading.
This was originally going to be a review of every year in this decade. In fact, I was in the middle of writing about 2019 (after having written about all the previous years) when I made the decision to not do that. Writing about all the stuff that happened to me was cathartic, but it wasn’t productive, and it certainly doesn’t need to be on the internet. I don’t want to return to the anger and pain of those previous years of the decade, even if there were some amazing moments in between.
This decade contained a lot of hurt, and I was a very angry person who was in desperate need of a hug or a wake up call. My wake up call came in the form of 2018. This decade contains all of the worst moments of my life, but 2018 in particular broke me. My beloved cat who had been my everything passed away in March, and I had to figure out how to keep going without the one thing that had been there for me for 5 years. I also got hit with the worst depressive episode of my life that lasted from late October 2018 to March 2019. I was pushing back against suicidal thoughts daily, and it got so bad that I couldn’t listen to my music (one of my coping methods) anymore because it was too dark and doing more harm than good. I couldn’t talk about this last year in my 2018 year in review because compiling all this would have broken me further, but it’s relevant to this year’s story. I’m in tears writing about it now.
With that much needed context, let’s see what this year brought me.
2019 started out really rough. As I said earlier, I was very deeply depressed until the end of March. I was missing class and overworking myself, and it was terrible.
In January I began working on a cross stitch design inspired by The Gilded Wolves. I’m a part of the street team for the series, and watching all these talented people create so many amazing things made me want to do so as well. The problem was I am a terrible artist (though I want to learn how to be less terrible), but my aunt did teach me how to cross stitch when I was around 13. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my 2nd and 3rd ever cross stitch pieces, inspired by The Gilded Wolves and The Devouring Gray respectively, but I’ll put the pictures below (The Gilded Wolves one was free-hand, while I made a pattern for The Devouring Gray one).
I gave up on being a math major in 2019, and finally realized that it was okay to not be good at some things. 2019 was actually a huge year of growth for me. After that long period of depression, I realized I didn’t want to be angry and sad anymore. I wanted to be the happy person I was at work. I wanted to be the happy person I was while walking with headphones in, absorbing the music. I wanted kindness to be my first reaction, not defensive anger. I wanted to be as happily animated as I was when talking about things I loved all the time.
So I started working on it. If I wanted to be happy, I had to start respecting myself enough to not just take the treatment I received from people in my life just because they were blood or the only ones willing to speak to me. I finally realized that if my only response would be defensive anger brushed aside, maybe it wasn’t worth the effort or the pain it caused me to be so angry all the time.
Before that happened, I discovered Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) through listening to Spell Check (a podcast where 6 YA authors play D&D), and it quickly became my new obsession. I didn’t understand what any of the terms meant at first, but it was just another form of storytelling and it called to me. I loved rooting for the characters, and I loved the idea that you could live or die on a dice role. I used to love making up complicated fantasy games as a little kid, and I’d never been anything but a giant nerd at heart with a flair for the dramatic, so I think I’d finally found the thing that had been missing (this is why if you’ve spoken to me in the last 4 months, D&D is the only thing I talk about).
Listening to Spell Check every Wednesday (and eventually watching campaign 1 of Critical Role after one of the authors who’s a part of Spell Check tweeted about it) made me want to learn to play. I joined WARP (Western (my university) Association of Role Players) and joined my first campaign this school year. I love it so much. My half-elf rogue Rhea is both my precious child and the bane of my existence (she’s kind of a dick, but if anyone says anything bad about her I will fight them). It’s so nice to get to pretend to be someone else every week. Rhea doesn’t overthink everything like I do (thanks anxiety), and she’s way calmer than I am. It’s nice to be in someone else’s head for a while, even if it takes all my spoons for the day to play the game (thanks social anxiety). Plus, now I get to waste all my money on pretty D&D dice. I love it so much that instead of doing my next bookish cross stitch (King of Fools inspired, as voted on by Twitter), I made a cross stitch inspired by the campaign (Pictured below. Six of Crows pillow for scale).
I’ve been working on loving myself (or changing the parts I don’t love) these past few months, and as a result I’ve been the happiest I’ve been all decade. I haven’t looked in the mirror and worried if I’m skinny enough in months, and I’ve been having so much fun accepting myself as the disaster I am. I am so happy, and it feels so good. I never want to let this feeling go. This doesn’t mean I don’t have depression anymore. I’m in the middle or a very minor episode right now (it’s mostly effecting my sleep schedule), but I think part of the reason it’s not as bad is because of the work I’ve done.
I also still love my job at the bookstore on campus, of course. If you told me I would get to work in a bookstore surrounded by some of the best people as my coworkers, I wouldn’t have believed you. Even though my tongue trips over my words at cash all the time (thanks social anxiety), and certain large groups of students refuse to listen to us when we answer their questions, I love my job so much and I’d be loath to give it up.
That’s pretty much it for my 2019. Despite the fact that I’ll be ringing in the new year alone in my bedroom scream-singing along to Weightless by All Time Low, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time and I can’t wait to see what 2020 will bring.
You may have noticed that this blog has been largely abandoned since I started university in fall 2017. For the Lover of Books has been my greatest source of pride for the past 4 years, but it’s gotten to the point where I only post the occasional ARC review and then don’t post for months. It’s time to let this blog go.
I have a bunch of review commitments I made before making this decision, so For the Lover of Books will see the occasional post until about June 2020, but after that I will no longer be posting on this blog. I think I’m going to keep it up for memory’s sake (and keep my WordPress account alive so I can comment on blog posts by the amazing people I follow (which I regretfully haven’t done in a long time)), but For the Lover of Books will be no more. I’m also still going to be tracking my reading (maybe writing the occasional review) on Goodreads, and my Twitter and Instagram will still be full of bookish thoughts (though I might change my handles considering they’re related to this blog).
I want to say the decision to shut down For the Lover of Books, my baby of over 4 years, was hard, but it wasn’t. Over the last few years, my priorities have started to shift. I’ve been trying my hand at writing a book for the first time, and a bunch of other non-bookish stuff (like D&D) have started taking up my time. My blog has started to be my 5th or 6th priority.
ARCs have also started to make reading less fun for me. All this stress over trying to read something on a deadline (and then missing it entirely) has caused many reading slumps over the years, and I just want reading to be fun again. Getting to read books early has been an amazing opportunity for me, but I just can’t do it anymore with how busy I am.
I want to say a huge thank you to the entire online bookish community. Thank you for welcoming a lonely 16 year old girl in 2015 with open arms. I have met so many amazing people I never would have met through this blog, and I cannot thank you enough. I will always be grateful to all of you and this blog. Thank you!
Along with my thanks, I do want to quickly mention that I’m holding an international giveaway on Twitter for an Owlcrate box full of bookish swag (not just from Owlcrate). Just retweet this tweet to enter (no need to follow me or anything). I had to turn off notifications for the tweet (and Twitter in general temporarily) because the response has been overwhelming, so I might miss some stuff on Twitter for a bit (the buzzing of my phone kept me up all night)
Happy 2020 everyone! I hope you have an amazing new year, and thank you for everything!