// TW: Brief mention of self-harm & suicide, sexual assault, death & mental illness //
Narrowing the last 10 years down to 20 photos was so much harder than I thought it would be. When I think about the fact that the 2010’s are ending, it really doesn’t feel like that long. But a decade is a long time, and so much has changed. My life has gone in directions that I never could have imagined.
When the 2010’s began, I was in Grade 10 at ADHS working at the O’Brien theatre… I included a photo of myself in that gem of a uniform, because LOL. To this day, 2010 was one of the hardest years of my life. I was struggling to come to terms with my sexual assault and dealing with a lot of unaddressed mental health issues. I was also getting bullied consistently at school. That year I was self-harming on almost a daily basis and finally in February 2010 I attempted to kill myself. I never told a soul about it other than my husband. Looking back on that 10 years later, and at how much has changed since then, I’m SO glad I’m still here. I made a lot of mistakes that year, and in the years that followed. But I learned a lot. And I wouldn’t take anything back.
On a lighter note, in 2010 I also went to Halifax with the school band. It was my first time travelling outside of Ontario without my family, and it was one of my first big exercises in independence. To this day, Peggy’s Cove (pictured) is still my favourite place on earth.
In 2011, I did more travelling. I went to Massechusetts and France, both life-changing experiences. I was still really struggling with my mental health, but I was starting to come to grips with things. That was the year I started to get more serious about writing with the help of some mentors at school, so I was starting to find my little niche in the world. I was still getting bullied a lot, but I was starting to learn to focus on the friends I did have instead of dwelling on people who didn’t matter.
Through 2012/13, pretty much every aspect of my life changed… I graduated high school in 2012 and moved to the city at 17 to take English at Carleton U. I had a bad breakdown that involved passing out in the exam room and had to move home in April 2013. That was when I finally decided to grab the bull by the horns and sort out my mental health. I was diagnosed with PTSD, social anxiety disorder, general anxiety disorder and clinical depression. It was a lot. It was overwhelming, but it was also the real beginning of my road to healing. Or rather, coping. I still deal with these issues today, but they’re not winning anymore.
In 2014 I moved with my family to Gananoque and I can confidently say that Gan feels more like my hometown than Arnprior ever did. It was a fresh start for all of us and it felt like home from the very first day. The friends I met there are more like family. Totally random and unrelated, but in 2014 I also chopped my hair off and my iconic pixiecut was born. RIP pixie cut, we had some good times. I almost bought a bookstore, and I was so bummed when it didn’t work out, but little did I know that it was because I was about to discover my real calling in life.
2015 was the beginning of the best 2 years of my whole life, and when I look back on the 2010’s as an old lady, 2015 is the year I’ll remember the most. I was sick of working retail and having no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so one day on a whim I decided to apply for the journalism program at Algonquin College.
Before I knew it, I was back in Ottawa. In college I met the most amazing group of friends and professors who all played an important role in helping me find myself. I discovered who I was, but more importantly who I wanted to be. 2015 was also the year I met the man who would become my husband!
2016/17 were also great years, if not a bit of a blur. Through journalism I met and interviewed some truly amazing people. I’ll never forget meeting Steve Vai and shooting his show at the Algonquin Commons Theatre – the best part was, he remembered me and really hammed it up for the camera so I could get a good grade on my assignment! I shot a lot of other memorable shows, too, and discovered my passion for covering arts and entertainment.
Unexpectedly, I also realized how much I enjoy covering community news during my internship at Metroland Ottawa East, before they closed. I graduated college in June 2017, got engaged, then started at uOttawa in September that year. University has been… an experience… and I’m about to (finally) start my final semester there in January 2020.
2018 was an extremely difficult year for my family – without really getting into it, we went through everything from extreme illness to (a lot of) loss, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect my mental health in a huge way. I swear if I EVER have to go to another funeral home or hospital room again it will be too soon. But, ya know, such is life.
Anyway, moving past the disaster that was 2018, that brings us to this year… which has mostly been a year of healing and recovery for my family and I. I made some progress career-wise, started a second job that I love and even got into more freelancing. In October I married the love of my life and I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t have gotten through the last couple years without his unconditional love and support. This year I learned some hard lessons about people, and who/what in life really matters. I learned a lot about prioritizing the people and things in my life, as well. It’s easy to get hung up on the stuff that drags you down, but in the end I’ve learned that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel as long as you have the things that truly matter in life. And I do.
Which brings us to the beginning of 2020 – a brand new decade. I’m the queen of making and breaking resolutions so we’ll see how this goes, but there are a few things I’d like to try and focus on in the coming year:
- Getting back on my meds & sticking with them
- Making more time for family and friends
- Developing my photography business
- Graduating university
- Getting ready to move out of Ottawa (fingers crossed!)
Like I said, a lot can happen in a decade. In the 2010s, I grew up. I can’t wait to find out what the “Roaring 20s” will bring!