Obviously, this year has been hard for everyone because of COVID, so I'll skip over all of that. Besides that, what happened for me this year?
This year, I got much more familiar with my mental landscape, especially with my depression and anxiety. I was on Prozac for almost the entire year, and it worked wonders for me. But in addition to having a more stable mood and less anxiety, I became much more aware of the differences between depression and anxiety. Those differences probably seem obvious to you, but I think I couldn't tell the difference for a long time primarily (I think) because they always seemed to show up at the same time. I could probably have described the differences, but now I'm pretty sure I can feel the differences. That's been useful because I recently stopped taking Prozac, and it's been interesting to notice how the landscape has shifted without it. (I got both of my medications because I was tired of (1) the insomnia and weight gain from the Prozac and (2) the side effects from the medication that was supposed to mitigate the insomnia. My mood felt pretty stable anyway, and I wasn't experiencing any traumatic life events, so I figured it was a good time to try to wean myself off. I discussed it with my doctor, of course, and he gave his blessing.) My anxiety levels have risen a lot in the last few weeks, but my mood has stayed pretty stable. Weirdly, nothing in particular is making me anxious; I think I just tend to have a higher default anxiety level than most people. In fact, I'd say I mostly experience the physical symptoms of anxiety right now rather than the conscious symptoms when the anxiety kicks in: my heart rate increases, my muscles become more tense, I breathe faster, and I become super sensitive to bright lights and loud sounds...but I feel emotionally quite normal.
I've also taken up meditation. I still haven't set aside a regular time for it yet, but I try to do it any time I have down time. I've actually been surprised at how quickly I've been able to notice changes in how I react to certain stimuli, especially to the impulse to eat. (I won't call that impulse "hunger" since I quite often eat out of sheer habit even when I'm not hungry, usually as a way to cope with anxiety.) I'd like to do more meditation in the coming year!
This year, I launched the Public Domain Tapes podcast. It's been a great way to scratch my creative itches. I wish I could devote more time to it and/or make episodes more quickly, but at the moment there's not really a way to increase the rate of production. But I've gotten tons of positive feedback on it so far, so I'm excited to see where it goes!
For a month or two this year, my spouse and I dove deeply into the Twin Peaks universe! It was SO MUCH FUN to watch the original two seasons of the show, read the two "dossiers" by Mark Frost, watch the recently-added third season of the show, watch the movie (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me), listen to dozens of podcasts, and begin dipping my toes into David Lynch's other work. It's such a fun, fantastic, weird story, even if I don't understand lots of it!
Work has been really good this year. I still have a wide variety of responsibilities at Spark Wave, including web development, design, data science, research, and audio editing. I like having a variety of things to do. I also enjoy feeling needed and like I have the ability to help people. There have been lots of times this year where my boss has looped me into an email thread, saying something like: "Hey, so-and-so! Let me introduce you to Josh. He knows a lot about such-and-such. Josh, could you help so-and-so with this problem?" It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I then get to help the person fix whatever problem they're having.
Finally, I read a fair bit this year. Check out the bookshelf to see the full list. Some of my favorites were:
For 2021, my main goal is to lose weight. I've been steadily gaining weight for the past two years, and it's time to shed it. Ideally, I'd like to lose about 50 pounds. I may write more about that, though, when I come up with a more concrete plan.
As always, thanks for reading! I hope you have a happy new year!