2020 has been an unusual year and not necessarily in a good way. It was the year of a global pandemic, some online friendships ending, coming across more online negativity than ever before, losing an elderly relative and not seeing my parents in person until September. Despite all these points, there were some more lighthearted moments that helped me get through the year.
Below are the ups and downs of each month:
January has not been the easiest of months what with hardly seeing one of my friends, a parcel delivery issue, seeing some online negativity that really pushed me over the edge (although the worst was yet to come for the rest of the year) and coming across some of the loudest, strangest and scariest people on the bus (one of whom was possibly discussed in a Facebook group I belong to). At the beginning of the month, I spent the first few days in my flat wondering when my boiler, which had stopped working properly in November 2019, was going to be fixed (it was fixed on 3rd January). The day after my boiler was fixed, I saw on Facebook that my cousin who has three children announced she was engaged on New Year’s Eve 2019. Sadly I found out that another one of my great aunts (my late grandma’s sister) had passed away towards the end of December 2019 and my mum attended her funeral in January 2020. I also had quite a few days where I wasn’t feeling myself, which made me postpone my plans for a healthier lifestyle (finishing off some sweet treats I received for Christmas has also made me hold back this plan) and spent the last two days of the month mostly lying down in my bed and watching YouTube due to feeling so tired. Some bright spots of January included shopping trips to my local big shopping centre and Borough Market as well as working on blog posts and videos for my neurodivergent recruitment agency, which was featured on BBC News (I appeared in one of the reports for a few seconds). I also signed up to take part in Race for Life in Hyde Park in July to remember my grandma who died from lung cancer 20 years ago. Unfortunately the event was cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak (the virus hit the U.K. at the end of January), so I decided to do a 5k walk in my spare time in November.
February started off a bit better what with seeing my friend at her flat and receiving a surprise text message from my other grandmother. Unfortunately two weeks later, I heard about some shocking news that had happened not far away from where I live as well as some sad news that reminded me of how I felt at other times of my adult life such as late November – early December 2018, mid-February 2019 and mid-March 2019 for example. I also had a humiliating hospital appointment and a couple of moments of not feeling myself again due to being anxious and concerned about certain things. The month ended on an all-time-low when I showed concern about my friend’s mental health. Positive things I did in February were having a clear-out of Facebook friends that I hadn’t heard from for a long time (I also unfollowed a couple of people on Instagram and muted and unfollowed some from Twitter whose posts bothered me) as well as getting rid of store cupboard foods that were out of date and forgotten; and having a successful meeting with my agency and Universal Music.
I began March in a positive mindset, so I decided to start my plan for a healthier lifestyle, but I felt that I’d eventually lost track of certain aspects of it on some days during the first lockdown. I also had a review with a person from Newport City Council, who was the last visitor to my flat from outside of the house my flat is in before the first U.K. lockdown in light of the pandemic began. In the same week of my review, I was coughing on and off, so I had to self-isolate the week after. I also began volunteering completely from home since my week of self-isolation due to everyone at the agency agreeing that it would be best for us to work remotely until further notice. Something I did in March to entertain myself was sign up to Disney+ when it launched in the U.K. You can read my blog post about my first impressions of it and recommended viewing here.
In April, I was supposed to be going to Newport to stay with my family for my mum’s 60th birthday and Easter as well as see the Mary Poppins stage musical in London, but I had to cancel these plans because of the first lockdown. Luckily I was able to get refunds on my train and theatre tickets. Since my mum’s birthday, I have been Skype video calling her, my dad and my sister once a week with a few exceptions. I also had a day of feeling another all-time low due to not being able to see my family in person as well as feel unsettled at the end of the month. Things I have done in April to keep myself occupied outside of my volunteering were starting the Instagram-popular Six Fan Arts Challenge, having an at-home afternoon tea for one in honour of my mum’s birthday, editing a video for my YouTube channel, writing for my blog and doing some mermaid-themed arts and crafts.
At the beginning of May, I was meant to be going on holiday to Butlin’s Bognor Regis for a 2000s music-themed adult weekend but because all three resorts were closed in light of the pandemic at that time (they reopened in July but closed again later in the year), I had to cancel my trip and get a refund. My relaxed autism-friendly performance of The Lion King was postponed until October also due to the pandemic, but it was postponed even further until spring 2021, so I also requested a refund for it. I celebrated my 33rd birthday in lockdown, but my day was made by family, friends and one of my Instagram followers and her other half sending me some lovely cards and presents in the post. I also received a present from my friend from down my street that the manager of my block of flats brought from her house to mine. Some fun things I did in May were hosting my very own Disney Day at Home, finishing editing My Ears Collection video and participating in the first ever Blogosphere Virtual Festival.
June was definitely my worst month of 2020. Throughout this month, I have had moments of feeling stressed, overwhelmed and emotional. In the first week of June, I received a nasty comment on my YouTube video about my autism and Asperger’s story that not only disrespected me, but also disrespected my brother. I reported the comment and blocked the person who made it. I also received another comment on the same video that I wasn’t entirely sure about, so I deleted it too. I fell over in my local high street, received a damaged item in one of my deliveries and initially got distressed about one of my favourite YouTubers not uploading a single video all that week without me knowing why (she eventually explained that she didn’t upload due to addressing the Black Lives Matter movement when I DMd her on Instagram to tell her how I felt about her not uploading. Another possible reason for her not uploading was because it was her first week with her new dog). The week after, I had some days of not feeling myself mentally. A personal misunderstanding with another YouTuber I was online friends with that reminded me of a difficult situation I was in a few years ago even made me want to temporarily privatise my Instagram account as well as edit some of my blog posts and an Instagram post, remove some of my Instagram stories highlights and make some of my YouTube videos private. June was also 20 years since my grandma died. To make matters worse, my grandad was admitted to hospital with a stroke later this month. He died at the age of 90, 20 years and 13 days after my grandma passed away. I took a week off from volunteering in light of the news about him. The week before my grandad’s passing, I mistook something that had happened in the news for something I thought had happened in my personal life. One good thing about June was being able to solve some mysteries including one that I was trying to solve for ages.
At the start of July, I continued with my week off from volunteering in order to come to terms with my grandad’s loss. I also began sharing fond memories of him on my social media that week. The week after, I resumed my volunteering and watched my grandad’s funeral via a live stream online. In the middle of the month, I was appalled to learn that people had mentioned me several times in a gossip forum in terms of how one of the aforementioned YouTubers the thread was about interacted with my feedback on her content (the people on the forum claimed to be concerned about me in terms of how the YouTuber interacted with my feedback, although I didn’t mind how she interacted with me, particularly on YouTube, at that point). I also had a Skype video call with my family that didn’t quite go to plan due to technical difficulties and had a day of feeling flat and a bit under the weather towards the end of the month. On the plus side, I took part in a webinar and a quiz about neurodiversity with my agency via Zoom and I participated in my second Blogosphere Virtual Festival. Even though I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the one that took place in May also due to technical glitches and missing a talk that was rescheduled (I got confused as to when its new start time would be, so I ended up putting on my laundry and making lunch instead), there were still some good presentations. The Zoom webinar and quiz went very well for the most part.
I began to have doubts about my voluntary role at the beginning of August because I felt that someone from my agency had set me a task that I found so frustrating and stressful that I was unable to continue volunteering for the rest of the day but the following week, I was able to resume volunteering as normal. I also found myself in another difficult Instagram situation that I outline in this blog post, feeling panicky and being the most emotional since the previous month. There were also times when I felt lazier than usual due to stress, tiredness and the heatwave and towards the end of the month, I was angry and unsettled about online communication issues, but I was generally more relaxed over the bank holiday weekend. Some positive points were hearing about the potential of seeing my family again in September and taking part in more Zoom events with my agency as well as my first ever Big Potato Games live stream quiz on their YouTube channel and uploading my first YouTube video for 3 months.
At the beginning of September, I started to feel concerned about the way my house support staff communicated with me. They sometimes asked if I needed any support when I didn’t need any and I had to wait a long time for them to answer some queries I had. This made me feel very unsettled and possibly want to move closer to my family in Wales. Another concern I had at home was a new tenant having a crisis and possibly disturbing other tenants including me. I was also worried about one of my favourite creators not uploading any new videos for a whole week in case something had happened in her personal life (things actually did happen in her personal life the following month), but it turned out that she actually took a well deserved break. This made me realise that it’s okay for YouTubers to take a break from uploading whether there are just one or two people behind a channel or even a family of 7, 8 or 10. One mood booster I experienced was having my first haircut since July 2019. I also stayed with my parents for the first time since Christmas 2019, but I only stayed for 2 nights due to Newport going into a local lockdown at 6pm on the day I returned to London.
This month didn’t start the way I expected it to because I contacted house support staff about another disturbance, but they sent me a confusing reply about it. The following week, I contacted them about yet another disturbance but they didn’t reply on this occasion either. A bit later in the month, I sent them a reply to another e-mail and their response angered me because I felt that they had overlooked the first message I sent them earlier in the day, they assumed I said something I didn’t actually say and I thought that they were telling me what to do and what not to do. I continued to have more e-mail communication issues with house support staff such as them giving me very short responses to my e-mails (although I eventually became more tolerant towards them). More positive things I did in October were participating in 2 autism-related webinars, my first Blogtober challenge and a virtual quiz with my parents, my sister, her housemate and my mum’s friend. My dad also booked a holiday to Gran Canaria for September 2021 where I’ll possibly be going with him, my mum and my sister while I started my first little bit of Christmas shopping.
I began November by feeling doubtful about my Christmas break. I managed to complete my 5k walk in order to raise money for Cancer Research U.K. by doing it around local streets and a nearby park. The virtual quizzes with my family and my mum’s friend continued while I got in touch with my friend from down my street for the first time in two months. Halfway through the month, I read about some appalling instances of online trolling that were aimed towards some well-known supermarket chain’s Christmas adverts (I was especially shocked by this bout of trolling after what had happened in the news in March and May this year, but Channel 4 and several supermarket chains stood against the hate) and one of my favourite TV shows. Towards the end of the month, I had flashbacks of some difficult moments I had 15 – 17 years ago as well as some vivid dreams of going on holiday to Gran Canaria and this year’s originally planned Christmas break (I have had lots of vivid dreams throughout the year, especially during the toughest lockdowns). I was also worried about house support staff taking longer than I expected for them to reply to my e-mails where I told them I was feeling unwell and I even took the matter to the head office of the company that runs my block of flats besides some other complaints and concerns, but I never heard back from them. On the plus side, I continued with my Christmas shopping and took part in my first Zoom meeting with my agency to discuss plans for a virtual Christmas party in December.
During December, I had racing thoughts of certain online posts I saw throughout the year on top of a rather tiring volunteering from home day. I also had some thoughts of past regrets and some stressful moments such as learning that I would no longer be seeing my family over Christmas while another one of my cousins revealed she was diagnosed with COVID-19. I even had a meltdown towards the end of the month over an observation that my house manager had made about the condition of my flat despite the fact that I had cleaned it before he came to change my smoke alarm’s battery. I was also upset that it had been six months since my grandad died. To make amends, I decided to gradually de-clutter, clean and tidy my flat into the new year. Some more positive things I did in December were finishing my Christmas shopping, taking part in another Blogosphere Magazine virtual event and participating in my first virtual watch party where my colleagues and I watched Arthur Christmas as well as a virtual Christmas party with them. My parents also refunded me the cost of my contribution towards our originally planned Christmas break and our booking was moved to Christmas 2021. To my relief, the tenant who had been causing disturbances since September was reported to the police, arrested and was never to enter my block of flats again. His departure meant that I could have a peaceful Christmas alone in my flat after all. I spent Christmas Day opening my presents, having video calls with my family, making my own “whatever-I-could-find” Christmas dinner and watching Home Alone. My dad booked for my family and I to stay at Warner Leisure Hotels Holme Lacy House Hotel for a Twixmas (between Christmas and New Year) break straight after our Christmas break, so we could be staying at the hotel for a whole week.
Due to a lot of things not having gone to plan throughout 2020 and feeling uncertain about the start of 2021, I do not have any specific goals set for the new year, but I would like to continue with my volunteering, preferably from my flat. My hopes for 2021 are going on my planned trips to Gran Canaria and Warner Leisure Hotels Holme Lacy House Hotel, getting a COVID-19 vaccine, continuing with video calling my family and seeing them in person more often.
GOODBYE 2020, HELLO 2021!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored blog post.