2016. A year of political unrest, global hysteria and personal tragedy coupled with great personal achievement. It’s safe to say that it could be described as the year the world went mad. However, through all of the negativity and sadness, a lot of good things happened and just because the negative shit shouts louder it doesn’t mean we have to pay more attention to it. So, without further ado, here is my year in review (with my hopes and goals for the year to come at the end) even though every Tom, Dick and Harry Met Sally has posted one of these recently!
At the beginning of the year, I was still living in St. Annes up on the Fylde coast on my own in my lil’ (rather big) flat and partying away my weekends with my friends from Preston. To be honest, I probably spent more time on blow up beds, spare beds and sofas in Preston than I did in my own bed at home and I must admit that I was using alcohol as a crutch to alleviate feelings of loneliness, depression and as a coping mechanism to make living with OCD more bearable.
I saw the indomitable Billy Connolly at the Hammersmith Apollo which will remain a lifelong memory, I became addicted to a show on Netflix called Red vs Blue (thanks, Jon), visited Leeds for the first time and used a touch screen menu to order a McDonalds whilst totally and absolutely spangled and I started a fitness regime inspired by Joe Wicks, the creator of The Body Coach plan, I met up with old friends for weird and wacky cocktails at The Alchemist in Manchester and I finally got to see The 1975 (after 3-4 times of trying).
At the end of March, I practically moved back in with my dad down in Kent and it was lovely to be home, even though I had the flat until the end of August. I very quickly got back in the swing of drinking with my mates and watching the mighty lions, Millwall, with my dad and his mates. I met an old time proper London gangster and celebrated St. George’s Day at The New Den. In May, I took part in filming for a mental health documentary called Me and My Mental Illness (available until Nov 2017) which aimed to break down the stigma that surrounds mental illness by letting myself and others tell our stories so people could hear the reality of what life with a mental illness is like. As well as myself and some other ‘regular folk’ it also featured two high profile ‘celebs’, Alastair Campbell & Frank Bruno. It helped highlight that mental illness can affect anyone, no matter your status, age, race or gender.
I survived the summer in Preston at the Summer Survival extravaganza, travelled to the home of football to watch Millwall ultimately lose in the play-offs at Wembley and got my first ever DSLR camera as an early birthday present (thank you dad!) which I used to start creating videos for my YouTube channel Rich Biscuit. I mainly make videos focusing on mental health and have a series with the same title as my blog, Inside The Biscuit Tin. I saw two of my favourite bands at Wembley (AC/DC and Coldplay) and celebrated my birthday at a Bavarian Beerhouse.
In July, I flew to Sunny Beach, Bulgaria with my friends on my first (and probably last) ‘lad’s holiday’. Suffice to say, copious amounts of alcohol were consumed, lots of fun was had and I thoroughly enjoyed myself in spite of my OCD trying to ruin it for me. I went on a jet ski for the first time and also paraglided, again for the first time. I felt like James Bond on the jet ski, minus the seawater that I was swallowing and that I was practically blind for the majority of the time. I also attended a paint party which was one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences that I’ll never forget.
In August I was pulled back into the magical world of Harry Potter with the arrival of The Cursed Child. Fuck the haters, I loved it. Okay, I felt Ron was written poorly but aside from that, I was still kept glued to the page with twists, turns and characters that felt like home. August was also the month that I tackled my biggest hurdle which came in the form of a half Tough Mudder in Yorkshire. I did it to raise money and awareness for OCD Action, a charity very close to my heart that does amazing work to help those who live with and are affected by OCD. I also got to see the incredibly talented and laugh-out-loud comedian Louis C.K. and, after a trip to IKEA, I built my bed for my newly decorated room after officially moving back home.
The last 4 months of the year were a whirlwind of blossoming romance between myself and Sophie (over at Petals of Perfection) and I’ve already shared so many wonderful memories with her, too many to list here so I’ll save it for the pictures. In those months, I went to my first ever ‘blogging event’ for The True Honey Company courtesy of Amanda Bootes, participated in my first ever mental health meet and was invited to the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Party in partnership with Mind. I took part in Blogtober and found it a lot harder than I ever imagined, struggling to write daily and often having to write and post multiple entries on one day. I was enthralled by the horse racing at my second bloggers event at Newbury Racing for their 60th Anniversary sponsorship event with Hennessy Whisky and fell back in love with dinosaurs all over again when I took Sophie to see Jurassic Park at The Natural History Museum in London to mark the last year that Dippy the Diplodocus will be the guardian of the main hall in the museum.
At the start of December I was honoured with the position of Chair of the Youth Advisory Panel for OCD Action and OCD Youth and was a guest at the OCD Action’s ‘Thank You’ & Christmas dinner and drinks. Being given the responsibility of Chair means so much to me and I will endeavour to do my best to change the way the world perceives mental illness, specifically OCD. Christmas swiftly rolled around and it didn’t feel like Christmas at all. Then it was the New Year and I was able to visit my family in Blackpool with Sophie before the year came to an end.
However, the entire year was overshadowed by the passing of my beautiful Nanny Rose. On the 30th of March, her heart gave up on her after giving her a treasured and wonderful 92 years of life. By far the strongest, bravest, kindest and most caring person I knew, she gave me so much love and happiness, telling me as often as she could that ‘any time is cuddle time’. I’ll never truly adjust to her not being there to talk to when I don’t know where to turn or I need some wisdom or guidance. Her loss has left a hole in my heart that can never be fixed but I am so lucky that I have so many memories of our times together where we laughed until we cried. I’ll always have extra pie & mash for you, Nanny Rose.
I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me over the past year. It’s been tumultuous, frustrating, difficult and sad. But it’s also been fun, exciting and filled with love and kindness. Thank you to everyone on Twitter in the mental health community that has stood by me when I’ve felt like caving, from the #mhmeet peeps to the #TalkMH gang. You’re all stars and there are too many of you to thank individually so this is for all of you. But most of all, I’d like to thank my dad. He has been more than my rock this year and has lent me his strength and support as well as his love in abundance. I’ll be forever indebted to you dad, I love you.
I wish the very best for you all in the coming year and, most importantly, have hope. It does get better and you’re not alone. Take care and adios.