This year has passed by in the blink of an eye – it doesn’t seem long since last New Year’s Eve. I always like to reflect on the year gone by, but I don’t really want to dwell on this one: it has been a nightmare. I wish you could switch the year off and on again at midnight, to reset things and make everything ok, but sadly, it’s just not possible.

I generally try to stay positive but I’m going to struggle to find them for 2017. It began with my in-laws being hospitalised and, a week in, we lost my mother-in-law. That left us to try and get the best possible care for my father-in-law and, let me tell you, it was not easy. There are obstacles thrown in to your path and you suddenly have to become an expert in elderly care. You also have to find the courage to stand your ground and a voice you didn’t think you had! You also have your eyes opened as to the lack of dementia support. Luckily, we fought and got him the best care but, sadly, we lost him last month. It was a release for him but a loss for us – a generation of the family. There’s still a lot to sort out, I’m sure. The Elf Walk was a great way to honour Arthur and I hope we can all do it again in 2018 – it raised valuable funds for The Alzheimer’s Society.

Even our dog had dementia, and we dedicated a lot of time to caring for her. Lots of people will read that and roll their eyes. I feel sorry for those people. We loved our dog like a child (nobody can quantify that) and when her day came, we did what we could to make it as easy as possible for her. It was three months ago and we miss her. She left a hole bigger than her size.

My grandad had a fall down the stairs a few weeks ago and is being cared for in hospital. Well-cared for, thankfully. That left us to care for my grandma as the council is too short-staffed to provide full care. The family is drained but what other option is there? I hate to use the term ‘Tory Britain’, but I detest our current government and I wonder if 2018 will bring our first workhouse (cleverly named, but a workhouse all the same).

Foolishly, despite all of these things going on, I embarked on an MA. What a fool. I’d love to say that all the factors above contributed to my poor feedback but I’m just not engaged in the course. Dare I say that I’m lazy or not clever enough? I want my own voice, rather than that of an educational establishment. I’ll never conform, so I can’t imagine that 2018 will bring me a graduation ceremony. I’m ok with that. I’m ok with saying that I’m not good enough – writing, art, etc. It doesn’t mean that I’ll stop doing those things…

I want to look for some positives for 2018 but I just don’t want to feel the pressure to achieve anything. I think we just need to…’be’…for a while. We’ll do our bit to support others and maybe treat ourselves a little more kindly than we have done but I’m not going to force resolutions upon us this year.

Sorry for the negativity but if you can’t be honest in a blog, what’s the point. If you’ve read this (or even if you’ve just skimmed to the bottom), I wish you the year that you deserve: good health, good fortune, good friends and happiness to you and those you care about. I genuinely hope that 2018 is an improvement on 2017.