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A reflection on 2016

Updated: Feb 26

At this time of the year everyone is rushing around thinking about the last of their Christmas shopping, wondering did they remember everyone. The music channels are playing the best tunes of 2016 and Facebook is covered with pictures and memes complaining about how bad 2016 was and how it was supposed to be their year. In 2016 I have realised a lot and put a lot of daemons to rest! It was defiantly my year! And I was extremely lucky some may say on what happened in 2016.

I do agree that I have been extremely lucky in what has happened in 2016 in terms of my life, but I also believe that I worked extremely hard on what I have achieved and deserve a small part of it.

This year my family faced some extremely difficult times in terms of caring for my father, we asked for help and received none, but that’s a story for another day. A family member passed from cancer which was extremely difficult for dad to understand. #imnotdrunk literally blew up my phone one night and several nights for that matter.

I had the opportunity to travel to Kent for the European HDYO camp with 4 of the girls from Northern Ireland, during the camp I had my eyes opened to how young adults coped with Huntington’s and what their life experiences were, I was able to get the help I needed ten years ago. This I think was one of the biggest moments and times for 2016 that I will never forget.

At the Euro camp I had the chance to catch up with a good friend of mine Charles Sabine! It is because of people like Charles I want to make a difference in the Huntington’s world and I feel privileged and honoured to have met such an inspirational man! Again! And I hope I get the chance to met him again!

I also got to met Dr Ed Wild again and hear him talk not only at the camp but also at the Huntington’s Disease Association Northern Irelands conference in September! This man has made a real difference to the world of Huntington’s and I hope it will continue not only in 2017 but further into the future! If you ever have the chance to hear either Ed of Charles speak I urge you grab the chance with both hands!

I can honestly say 2016 was a fantastic year for me and my family, my brother got a new job he seems to be a lot happier in, my mum got a new job she loves, and I started #imnotdrunk.

In September 2015 I started my second year of university, I blew through exams and finished the year with good marks, Stephen and I had moved into our house and we were settling in! I started my placement year as soon as I finished university, I done three months at castle Leslie estate working on reception. I then moved to the Huntington’s disease Association Northern Ireland where I was appointed the youth and events officer, this was a dream come true and i am truly enjoying the work I am doing for the charity. I had been working for the charity from I was 16 years old, fundraising and raising awareness for the disease, it became a large part of my life, good and bad.

In July I had an awful experience with Huntington’s disease, nothing new I’m sure to anyone in my situation had suffered before, this was when I made one of the biggest decisions of my life.

After being angry for some time I decided anger would not change anything, it would not change the public’s point of view on Huntington’s disease. I decided to start #imnotdrunk! And I have never regretted one minute of it! In just over four months my Facebook page has received almost 400 likes, my blog is read worldwide and I get messages on a weekly basis from people in the same situation as myself. It touches my heart knowing that I may be helping people in my situation and making those aware who before had no idea. #imnotdrunk is not easy, it takes time and effort, I sit each evening (especially this month doing blogmas) planning and righting! And my grammar and English is not great so the blogs are not always perfect, I have turned my life into an open book and pray that I won’t be judged or ridiculed for what I write. As hard as it can be balancing a job, my placement duties, #imnotdrunk, being a board member for Huntington’s disease Association Northern Ireland, spending time with Stephen, family and friends and trying to meet the responsibilities of looking after daddy. Can i just add no one warns you for looking after your own house! Laundry, cooking and cleaning takes some amount of time! I still try to smuggle laundry into my mum’s house!

This year has been full of tears and happiness, it has made me feel on top of the world and unbreakable and for a time it broke me! But I kept fighting and fought my way back to the top of my mountain! Thank you to those who helped pull me back on top and listened to me complain and moan! In 2017 I suspect there will be plenty more tears and plenty more experiences I will encounter which will try to break me down! I am strong and I will fight through them and I hope that anyone ready this blog will fight with me!

2016 has been one of the best years I had had to date, Stephen and I celebrated our one year anniversary in our beautiful home, I was asked to speak at the medical training day in Belfast city hospital, and again at the Huntington’s disease conference, and also got interviewed on Help4HD radio show. As well as these public speaking events, I have had articles on Armagh I and in the Ulster gazette. I plan on making headlines in a lot more newspaper’s and radio shows in 2017 and continuing with fundraising for Huntington’s disease. In November I was extremely lucky to have the support of family and friends to raise 730 euro for Huntington’s disease Association Northern Ireland!

I truly hope the future holds some travel for me; a dream would be to travel to America to their conferences and some of their Huntington’s events, as they have such a large Huntington’s community. I am unsure what 2017 holds for me and my family, I guess all I can do is wait and see.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I hope 2016 was as eventful and positive for you as it was for me!

I truly believe we made the decisions which shape our life! Take your time, think and make the correct choices.

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