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It's that time of year, the time when everyone writes posts like this, reflects on the year and says what they're going to do differently next year. I don't know that this will be any different, other than I don't look at life the same way animore.

This year has seen a lot of changes for me. A year ago, I found out that I really did have full body RSD/CRPS. That rocked my world, and not in a good way. I honestly did feel pretty hopeless. I tried not to show it, but those who know me well, especially those who saw me, know that it was a really tough pill to swallow. CRPS is a really tough disease to deal with, and having it systemically is even harder. I have struggled with mental health challenges for several years, which could have set me up for a big fall when I got the news, but between my human and spiritual support systems, I really did make it through that tough spot.

I've reached the point where I can radically accept my CRPS. That doesn't mean I have to like it, but I'm not fighting it emotionally, or at least turning my mind toward acceptance. That helps, I may complain, but I'm not fighting the reality of the illness. It really does make a difference.

DBT has made a huge difference. The darkness is being replaced by joyfulness, it's not always sunny, but it's definitely NOT black as pitch with thunder, lightning and every other natural disaster in my mind. I do still deal with fear, and some other left overs that are persistent. That will still take work, lots of it, but I have hope that things will keep improving.

I've also started to understand shame and the roll it plays in my life and how to act opposite to it. It's truly a skill we all can use in our lives.

On a practical note, the big news is that I finally graduated. After eight years of work, work and more work, I made it! My degree is a bachelor of science in social welfare studies, which is similar to a social work degree, but is customized to not include internships. I won't be licensed, which does limit career options, but for now, so does the CRPS. Once I'm more able, I plan to go for a masters in social work. Right now, I can find resources for people, and try to teach groups of people, just not formally as psychological training groups. I had an amazing day graduating, I felt great walking across that stage, knowing that I'd finally made it. Then having many friends join me for a graduation gathering. It was quite an eclectic group of people who'd watched and been a part of the experience.

I went to the national American Council of the Blind convention, which is always a treat. Seeing friends, shopping and learning is always great. Staying up too late, getting up too early, laughing and having too much fun (the two last ones not having been possible), was wonderful.

That's not all of my year, as It'd take another year to write down, but that's some of it, recorded in my journal for posterity.

Next year, I'll keep using my DBT skills, as they do no good if they aren't used. Increase mindfulness, increase positive experiences, work towards the goal of making each year a better one than the one before, enjoy the ride and have fun. I'm excited for next year, but I plan to enjoy the last of this year first!

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