I was on the London Underground, rushing to get to a party; we were trying to arrive before midnight, but the minutes were ticking by and 12 o'clock - and 2015, of course - was fast approaching. As it happened it was actually a very fun and memorable way to see in the new year, some topless dancing occurred on the tube - spoiler alert: it most definitely wasn't me - then passing a busker playing the bagpipes and doing the Highland Jig with a bunch of commuting strangers is something that we'll probably never do again for NYE.
I thought I'd take this opportunity to look back on the past year and remember 'the best bits'. Chronic illness still dominates my life and every day brings its own struggles, but it's a great time of year for reflection and remembering that I can still 'live'.
So, here's my 2014!
I welcomed midnight and January 1st at our neighbours' Hollywood-themed New Year's Eve party surrounded by family, friends and Will. The beginning of one heck of a year!
In February, we went on a family getaway to Centre Parcs for my auntie's birthday. Will came - his head is chopped off in this photo as it was bleached by the sun, sorry Wilbur! - along with my brother and his girlfriend, and it was a lovely trip. I also had my first experience of becoming visibly disabled to everyone around me.
My health Instagram Meg Says Eat hit 1,000 followers - I celebrated when I reached 100 followers, so the idea of over a thousand people caring about what I've got to say felt monumental to me and I was so appreciative and happy about it.
March was a pretty big month for me, as I finally started this very blog that you're reading right now, on Friday the 7th. I introduced myself to you all in my first post - here - and in my second I explained ME in more depth - here. I love blogging with all my heart and I'm so filled with happiness that I took the plunge despite the apprehension.
Blogging wish of 2014 = that I wasn't restricted by illness, and could have the good fortune to be well enough to put the time and effort that I'd like to into it. Blogging regret of 2014 = only that I didn't start sooner. Blogging message of 2014 = if you dream about it, do it.
2014 was a year that I was lucky enough to see Will's family more, they're truly wonderful and it's an absolute pleasure to have them in my life. In April we had a really nice day out at Wisley Gardens - here - which always stands out in my mind as a cherished memory.
My health account Meg Says Eat also celebrated its first birthday and hit 2,000 followers on the same day - here - exactly one year after I started it in my university flat. I'm so grateful for all of the positivity that it has brought into my world.
May was Invisible Illness Awareness Month - read about how you can help in 2015 here - and International ME Awareness Week. It was such a memorable month for me as I finally got to meet Hayley in person - here - after a long time of chatting every day via laptop or phone. She came over to mine for Blue Sunday - created by Anna, see what it's all about here - and even typing this now is making me a little emotional, as I've found such a true friend in Hayley and she made 2014 so, so much better and happier.
Will's birthday falls on Blue Sunday, and I travelled to spend the week celebrating with him. My trips to Sheffield are some of my most favourite memories of 2014 - I love and miss the city itself, and being reunited with my favourite person is always an absolute pleasure.
The 29th was my first ME anniversary, marking one year since my diagnosis date. Instead of crying that it was another year of my youth spent chronically ill and confined to bed most days, I put together the top five positive things I've learnt - here - and chose happiness.
Something amazing happened in July, and it truly made me feel like the step I'd taken back on March 7th really was The Right Thing To Do. Revlon - you know, just the huge global beauty brand who have been my favourite drugstore brand for years - invited me to the preview of their new ColorStay Moisture Stains, as did the makers of my beloved Hydraluron; Indeed Labs. The events were a day apart and this is something I've dreamed of, so my health be damned - I travelled to London and attended my first ever blogger events - see how I got on at Indeed Labs here then Revlon here.
Let me tell you, rubbing shoulders with the likes of ELLE magazine in Mayfair and Soho was way too cool and having only launched Meg Says a mere four months prior, I felt like a little fish in a big pond and it was all a bit surreal. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands however, and the experience was incredible. Special thanks go to one of my best friends who I met in college, Sam - it was absolutely one of my highlights of 2014, thanks for letting me stay the night and for taking such good care of me!
Meg Says Eat continued to grow, reaching 4,000 followers. My love for healthy eating and wellbeing grew also, and I felt positive and confident that my condition with ME would be improved by learning more about and utilising the power of nutrition.
Blogging opened yet another door for me in July, as I was offered a job - here. It still feels crazy to type that, but yep - I received a job offer from health and beauty brand Minvita, which I accepted. Writing is my passion and I never thought that I would land a job doing just that - and online too, working as a blogger and social media manager. I felt immensely proud of what I'd achieved despite being chronically ill and unable to leave my bed.
Will and I travelled to the Suffolk coast to spend a weekend away at The Westleton Crown - here - which was just the most special mini-break and perfect timing, as Will hopped on a plane to South Africa for the summer the following day.
Hayley - you know, that super sassy and gorgeous woman that I gushed about back in May - and I made our first YouTube appearance on our lovely friend Jazz's channel, Flink Life. You can watch the video here if you're interested, we did a Q&A on the chronic illness that we both live with, ME. Wow, July was a big old month, wasn't it!
I announced my new job with Minvita in August - here - which was exciting and I got so much lovely feedback - as well as a lot of emails about how I got into blogging for a living!
I was already eating a 95% clean diet, but I decided to go the whole hog and do the Whole 30 - my blog post here explains what it is and why I did it. It wasn't always easy, but I did it and felt pretty proud of myself. It didn't improve my health drastically, but it was worth a try.
Alongside the Whole 30 I also took up Pilates, and as you can probably tell from how busy the last couple of months were for me, I was feeling slightly better for the first time in maybe a year. I was even well enough to do Pilates almost every single day, and I felt stronger and healthier than I had in ages. It was a good time. I also caught up with my group of girls from high school, the time just melted away and we're still the best of friends.
September was by far my busiest month - I only had two things planned, but they're big things for a chronic illness sufferer. In 2013 I spent pretty much the entire summer in bed and this year I didn't want to say 'no' to life and be shut inside again, but the worry of how I'd cope - here - and the knowledge of how much pressure I'd be putting my body under was really scary, and I felt really stressed and almost helpless.
At the start of the month I went away to Centre Parcs for five days with Will's family - here - where we enjoyed lots of time together as well as some fun activities. I felt so happy just to be there, and would 100% recommend it to anyone who suffers with illness as you really can take things at your own pace there and their disabled facilities are fantastic.
The day after we got back from Centre Parcs I flew to Portugal with my family - see why I was so stressed about whether my body would cope? - and I was so excited about going away with everyone. It was so much fun - I had a few ups and downs and was sadly stuck in bed feeling dreadful which wasn't pleasant, but overall being with my family and having as many laughs as we did completely made the suffering worth it and I'm so thankful to them all for taking such good care of me. I wrote a post all about it - here - so you can check that out if you'd like to read about what we got up to and see our holiday photos!
The next month after returning home from Portugal was a tough one and my health took a real battering. After feeling so positive that I was on the road to recovery in August it was a shock to the system to be 100% bedridden and dependent on others again. It's difficult, and I felt guilty as I knew that I'd done too much too soon and been overly-ambitious by thinking that I could go on two holidays back-to-back and not damage my body.
On October 22nd it was my birthday, and I turned the big 2-1. We enjoyed a week of celebrations as my brother's 23rd birthday was the day after my 21st, and which made it even more lovely. I dedicated a post to the celebrations here, and my 21st was one million times more special by my best friend Josh travelling home all the way from university to surprise me on my birthday. It was the kindest gesture and made me so happy that I could burst! I never imagined that I'd be chronically ill at twenty-one, but I really can't complain thanks to all of the wonderful people that I have surrounding me.
I made an exciting announcement in November - here - that I'd be starting my own YouTube channel before the end of 2014, as well as collaborating with some of my friends who also suffer from chronic illness to create a channel, too. We got such lovely feedback and I can't wait to set out on this new venture with them this year.
One of Will's friends turned 21 and held possibly the most amazing party that I've ever been to. It was such a memorable night and I felt so grateful that my health held up and I could have fun with everyone. I'm appreciative for Will in hundreds of ways, but this night made me feel like the luckiest girl on Earth - every single person I spoke to sang his praises and I probably looked all puffed up with pride to be on his arm. It's a little soppy I know, but he made 2014 perfect and will always be the Jim Halpert to my Pam Beesly.
I started December off on a very exciting foot, as I uploaded my first ever YouTube video - watch it here. As I've mentioned a thousand times, YouTube has honestly been something that I've wanted to do since I was around 14 or 15 - read more on why here - so to be biting the bullet and starting my own channel at 21 feels huge. I seriously didn't expect it to get the reaction that it did and I'm overwhelmed by how many people commented and sent me nice messages - it was a big confidence boost and I no longer feel too shy or nervous to make videos. I'm finding it pretty hard health-wise but it's worth it, and I'm just over the moon that I can look back and say that 2014 was the year that I finally did it.
The majority of the rest of December was spent mainly resting, as Christmas is a wonderful time of year but for chronically ill people it's often also the most strenuous and difficult. I knew I'd be wearing myself out come the 20th onwards, so I ensured I had lots of '
me ME time' and took it easy. I managed to film my second YouTube video despite numerous technical difficulties - here - and am really excited about creating more content.
Hayley and I have been planning to go 'out' on Christmas Eve since mid-2014, and I'm so pleased to be able to say that we did it. It was her first 'social' evening out in three years, and I'm incredibly proud of everything that she has achieved and how far she's come.
I could write a whole post about how positively the online ME community has impacted upon my life, but I'll keep it short and sweet - this post is already pretty gigantic! - and just say that I honestly don't know what I'd do without you all. Living with ME is made a heck of a lot easier by knowing people who understand and never judge, because they know exactly what it feels like. I feel like I've known you all for years and hope to for many more.
I'd also like to take a second to say the biggest thank you to my family, who have been the best possible support network, making me laugh on the dark days and allowing me to attempt the road to recovery whilst walking every step of the way beside me. Heartfelt thanks to my supportive friends, also - becoming chronically ill is rather eye-opening when it comes to friendships but the true, genuinely caring ones know who they are - all my love.
Something lovely happened in December, which lead to something monumental. I wrote a blog post about Zoella, who I've followed and loved for years - here - and somehow, she read it and tweeted me. How that happened when she has millions of subscribers I don't know, but it was a little reminder than actively putting kindness out into the world is recognised. It was my fourth most-read blog post ever with over 35,000 views, then...
...Meg Says hit 250,000 views. I haven't posted anything about it yet as I still find it quite hard to believe considering I only published my first post nine months ago, but I've been watching Google Analytics in disbelief since March and the average hits per month is now 50,000 - and here we are at quarter of a million, AHHHH! It's not about the numbers, but I'm pretty chuffed with that one. Thank you to every single one of you!
Christmas was truly special - read more here - there's nothing better than being surrounded by your loved ones at a time of giving and I just adore the festive season - I should've been born a Who, really. The cherry on top of a beautiful year!
And there we are, 2014's 'best bits'. Looking back, it was a pretty good one, wasn't it? I think it's easy to get caught up with chronic illness when you're living it day in and day out - there are very few moments where I felt 'normal' and free from illness, but when you take a glance at the bigger picture it's easy to see how the suffering is outweighed by the experiences and overall, how much you've achieved despite your limitations.
Here's to 2015, let's hope it brings better health and is just as fabulous!
What was your favourite highlight of 2014? Do you have any hopes for 2015?