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Don’t neglect a nagging mental health problem. Make 2019 the year to get help.

Mike Haskey Natalia Naman Temesgen.
Mike Haskey Natalia Naman Temesgen.

Happy new year! This week, I don’t feel like discussing vision boards or resolutions. I’ve enjoyed their value in the past, but this new year feels different.

Years in a life are not created equal. 2018 was better for me than the year before. In 2017, my play “Ace” premiered at the Springer Opera House, but shortly thereafter I was forced to contend with some mental health issues that I had been trying to will away. Addressing that took courage, and ended up being extremely productive. I recommend that any readers who have been neglecting a nagging mental health struggle take the leap in 2019 and seek professional guidance.

After those steps, 2018 proved a year of greater stability — no big creative debuts, but many smaller and meaningful achievements. I was better at saying “no” to requests or opportunities when I was at capacity. I was better at telling myself “no,” too. And my home life and career felt full and exciting. I spent the summer writing for the screen, which included a one-hour television pilot episode and a handful of short films. I also began a full-length faith-based screenplay, which I still need to finish.

And now here I am at the start of another year. It’s just another new day, another new month, but January gives us a chance to visualize the long road ahead. The path looks empty and wide, and has yet to become cluttered by our schedules or stresses. It may feel like anything is possible.

Well, as true as that may be, I am not planning for “anything.” I am just trying to stick to what I know works and looking forward to seeing what fruit that bears. I want to remain in a state of discipline: Physical and mental health requires consistency and maintenance. Creative writing is not a fly-by-night profession when taken seriously. It requires rote and regular effort. Goals for finances and family cannot be achieved in a matter of months, but years and years.

And so, I have no particular vision for 2019 outside of that consistent maintenance work of a healthy and fulfilling life. I am glad to have learned valuable lessons in years past; one of them is that putting specific pressures on a specific year in one’s life is not always wise. The long view suggests that much is out of our control, but what is in our control can be replicated year after year, day after day. Here’s to another day.

Natalia Naman Temesgen is a playwright and professor of creative writing at Columbus State University in Columbus. Her latest project is a webseries called “Grounds,” being filmed in Columbus in January.