Better Days


While I was in the psychiatric ward, and could still write a little, I wrote: “BETTER DAYS AHEAD.” It was more me trying to convince myself of the idea, than it was that I actually had any hope left in me. Those days were pretty dark.


That was then, this is now. Although, as I pen this, the year 2020 is coming to a close. As I think about it, now still kind of feels like then. We’ve all felt a bit hopeless this year.


2020 is one for the books and has forever changed our worlds. But, if you’re like me, you’ve still found a lot of good in your life, and you have faith in 2021. Better days ahead.


2020 has been an (dumpsterfire, shitstorm, middle finger – you pick your poison) interesting year. All the more reason for next year’s upshots. New Year’s resolutions are new to me. Although I lived my old life in increments of setting and achieving goals, I never had a bucket list, nor did I make New Year’s resolutions. The new me is less concerned with adding feathers to my hat, and more concerned with finding ways to enrich my life.


Here’s how I’m looking at 2021.


2021 is the year of the book! I have worked tirelessly on it, off and on, since May, 2019. I want to see it out for others to read and (be terrified of) enjoy, soon.


Whether I traditionally publish it, self-publish it, or make copies myself and hand them out next to the man who sits on the corner of Expressway and 7th with his sign about the Rapture, this damn book is coming out!


Self-care. A lot of focused me time. You know, the time I don’t have for anything, because I have two young children on laptops in online school and a baby. No more excuses. The me time has to come, and I will make time for it.


I’m not talking about an out of state day spa, I’m talking about time to clip my fingernails. A few minutes on my exercise ball, with my headphones on (music in, children’s noise out). A quick meditation podcast. More books. Rest. Walks through snow and shine. All of this with no frustration, no shame, and no lectures to myself about productivity. But, a ton of thankfulness to my husband, who helps me find this time.


I know – it all sounds like a lot of fluff, but, there’s some wisdom and psychology behind it. Just ask me. I have dedicated a great deal of energy to reflection on how I lived my life leading up to AE. All work and all business all the time, comes at a high price. Breaks, me time, and rest are important. My past dismissal of self-care was destructive.


Mental Health. World Encephalitis Day is February 22. Leading up to that day, I plan to focus my blogs and the Brain Fever podcast, on mental health. I promise to be more open about my own struggles. It has been too easy to speak of being misdiagnosed in the psychiatric ward. I have long been too stubborn. It’s time for me to be open about the struggles I have endured. Mental health isn’t other people’s fight, it’s mine too.


Openness. After a long and rough 2017, I very ignorantly challenged the Gods and said, “Goodbye 2017, don’t let the door hit you in the ass.” And then came AE 2018. And then came an unexpected pregnancy in 2019. And then 2020 (sssshblamm – kaboom – fireworks). Only God knows what comes for me in 2021, and I’m fine with that. Whatever comes my way, I’ll just keep my mantra, “Better days ahead.”


Happy New Year to you and yours! Thanks for being a part of JM Stebbins. And, thanks for helping me spread the word about autoimmune encephalitis. God bless.


Love, jackie


“And you asked me what I want this year And I try to make this kind and clear Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days ‘Cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings And designer love and empty things Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days


“So take these words and sing out loud ‘Cause everyone is forgiven now ‘Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again” ~ Better Days by Goo Goo Dolls

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© 2020 by JM Stebbins, LLC