Mark, right after a haircut session, December 2014
Mark, right after a haircut session, December 2014

By the time you read this, we will be about to leave, already in the plane or maybe even landing. It doesn’t get vaguer than that, I know. But you can’t really be sure of anything when you’re travelling, especially when you leave Canada in the dead of the winter, right before the New Year, because of a last-minute decision. So, you know, hopefully, we are somewhere.

Same team: Feng, Mark and I.

A destination was picked, tickets were bought, Air Miles were spent and bags were packed.

We should land shortly before 2014 turns into 2015.

We don’t have plans other than embracing the adventure.

2014 has been a tough year. We started it jetlagged from the French trip with a series of appointments at the eye hospital after Mark accidentally scratched Feng’s cornea. Shit happens and everything turned out okay in the end.

But shit happened a lot this year. Pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong, by nobody’s fault but bad luck. Nothing that dramatic, I guess, but we did experience many disappointments and frustrating moments that we became terrified of “the jinx”: every time things seem to go our way, it won’t last. The last straw was finding out that Mark’s daycare went bankrupt overnight, only weeks after he started.

To me, 2014 was the year where I had to face my demons and fight them—or at least try to—and come to grips with a malaise that had been with me since the pregnancy.

But first, I had to acknowledge that I wasn’t doing well.

I don’t know what triggered the storm and caused me to slip into this state of mind, to experience so much anxiety and feel overall so powerless. Maybe it’s the stress of pregnancy, adjusting to motherhood, maybe it’s some kind of life crisis, maybe it’s weariness, hormones or the full moon. Who knows. It doesn’t really matter, after all.

What mattered was identifying the triggers and getting better. I’m not that dark moody person. I’m cynical, yes, but I’m an optimist at heart.

This wasn’t me. And I wanted the old “me” back.

Depression is often described as a complete lack of interest in life, an overwhelming lethargy that makes getting up in the morning harder than climbing the Himalayas. I’m really not qualified to diagnose myself, but if I was indeed depressed I didn’t feel lethargic—quite the opposite actually. I didn’t want to lay in bed and sink into a deep sleep, I wanted to fight. I was angry. I wanted to make things right, regain control over my life and find a solution to solve all the day-to-day problems I was facing, some psychological and some practical. I wanted to be a perfect person, a great mother, an awesome freelancer, a loving partner and help other people along the way.

I set standards that were impossible to achieve and I burned myself out.

I was exhausted.

Some days, I felt I had stepped into the wrong life. I wasn’t sure who I was and I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Nothing made sense anymore, nothing felt good anymore. The days were a series of chores, more or less unpleasant, and I couldn’t find peace. The weight of the world was on my shoulders and I wasn’t strong enough. I kept on going, and going again, without looking back and without asking for help.

And of course, I kept on breaking down and sinking deeper and deeper into depression.

I left for a few weeks because I had no choice. Sink or swim. A few days into the trip, I started to enjoy life again, and I learned to slow down and enjoy the moment. I wasted time, I indulged myself and I relaxed. This helped me to realize that I wasn’t completely crazy, that the stress of life at home had just taken its toll on me. It was a relief to find out the problem was also environmental rather than purely psychological.

But of course, solving it was another matter.

This year of intense struggles culminated during our trip to China in the fall. Looking back, it was a recipe for disaster: travelling with my in-laws, immersed in a very different culture with relatives we barely knew. Oh, it was intense alright. Cultures clashed and arguments were had. The trip was overall a success, I still love China and we experienced a lot over there, but it was tough.

And we came back, more exhausted and more lost than before.

Then, Mark started daycare, and suddenly, life somehow got better. We no longer had to beg Feng’s parents for respite care (and argue with them in the process), I had time to work during the day and I had peace of mind that he was enjoying himself and having fun. In the evening, we were a family, doing stuff together because we wanted to, not because we had to.

Mark changed quite a bit too. He started to talk and communicating became easier. He outgrew several phases… okay, only to start new annoying ones, but still, he is turning into a fun little boy.

The daycare interregnum didn’t last long, as we found ourselves without a childcare solution in early December. This month was tough again.

But the year is ending, and I know 2015 will be better. For once, I’m muting my pessimistic and cynical French self. This is the North American in me speaking. “Yay, a new year, new opportunities!”

I’m following my lucky star.

Meanwhile, care to follow us for this trip? Destination revealed in the next article!


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  1. Jeruen December 31, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Urgh, what a cliffhanger! Nevertheless I do hope that 2015 is a better year for you. Looking forward to reading more about your upcoming travels!

    1. Zhu January 19, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      Cliffhangers are fun, though 🙂 Mostly, I was superstitious…!

  2. Shannon December 31, 2014 at 9:40 am

    It’s been one hell of a year! Here’s to 2015 and hoping it brings some good moments. Can’t wait to hear where you’re at 🙂

    1. Zhu January 19, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      Thank you!

  3. I Say Oui December 31, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    You went through a lot this year. Glad it got better!

    Looking forward to reading your travel stories. I found your China trip really interesting.

    1. Zhu January 19, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Thank you!

  4. Amy January 1, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Happy new year to you and your loved ones !
    It seems life has been quite hectic for you. Thanks for sharing so honestly, it’s always a pleasure to read you.
    As we say it in here “Que le meilleur de 2014 soit le pire de 2015”.

    Cheers !

    1. Zhu January 19, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Merci! J’aime cette devie 🙂

  5. Cynthia January 2, 2015 at 4:43 am

    Happy new year!

    I’m curious to see where you are heading next!

  6. Holly January 2, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Oh, here is to a better 2015 🙂 I have a feeling mine will be a good one now (after an abysmal 2014)…here’s to a great year. But…where are you off to this time??


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