In defence of 2016

"Are you joining the movement to abolish 2016?” asked Eye Books, my UK publisher, for a blog post they were writing.

Absolutely not was my reply! Yes, there were tectonic geo-political shifts that fractured and polarised, questioning one’s faith in democratic institutions. Yes, the stars shone less brightly with the loss of David Bowie, Patty Duke, and Gene Wilder. While others equally well known died this year, these were the deaths that touched me the most.

It was as if David Bowie was reaching out to me to me when I saw him rock Waverley Park in the 1980s with his Serious Moonlight tour, blowing conceptions of gender and conformity out of the water. As for Patty Duke, I think she was my first girl crush although I didn’t know it at the time when I watched her in The Patty Duke Show on television. And no one will ever come close to capturing the whimsical essence of Willy Wonka like Gene Wilder did.

Yes, some would argue, let’s abolish 2016. But not me. At a personal level, my experience of 2016 was a year that affirmed and heartened. My first book, The Good Greek Girl, was published in the UK under the title, The Mind Thief. In Australia, I saw the publication of my second book, Rebellious Daughters, an anthology I co-edited featuring true stories of defiance from prominent Australian female writers. Professionally, I was acknowledged as one of 100 Australian Women of Influence and I held my head high as an LGBTI public servant with the Victorian public sector contingent at Pride who marched for the very first time.

But my most significant achievement in 2016 is personal. As someone who lives with a mental illness, I made it through another year and did not succumb to the lure of depression’s black dog. My experience of illness has taught me that I cannot take my health for granted. After sustained periods of wellness, I forget about my illness until I hit a road bump and my mood is jolted, my recovery threatened, the black dog ready to pounce.

I still have days when I can’t leave the house because of the grey fog that envelopes me. Then there are the times when I am pinned down by a foreboding doom that stops me from getting out of bed and I cower underneath the doona instead. At one point during the year, I was gripped by an unassailable feeling that I wouldn’t be here next year. It was as if I was spiralling downwards, unable to stop the descent until I found whatever strength was left and called on those whose unwavering support and love lifts me from the blackness.

But I’m still standing, having weathered the bumps and jolts, my equilibrium restored. And that is why I don’t want to abolish 2016 because I made through another year.

Bring on 2017.

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