Reason #41 to Keep Living: Understanding

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This photo was taken during a transition period: in the space of an hour before sundown. The world was not yet dark, but I could sense the shadows settling in. I couldn’t see the darkness, but I could feel it.

I am now sitting within my own transition period, and this moment before sundown has made me realize a number of things. It has made me realize I have been happy for a very long time now. That I have been very lucky. Through these bi-weekly blog posts I have been trying to be openly grateful for all of the minuscule, beautiful things in my life, but the words are not enough. I cannot express my gratitude for the health I have experienced, in body and mind, for the past eight months or so.

This moment before sunset, this dusk, has made me realize that mental illness has the tendency to be like the pain of giving birth. I have been told — because I myself have not had the experience — that labour pains are terrible, but after they are finished, they are finished. The memories fade. The scars don’t weigh deep in the brain. The same has held true for me and my mental illness. While I am sick, I am flabbergasted that many people don’t understand psychological sickness, that they think it a weakness and something to just “get over.” When I am not sick, when I am able to move through my days with ease and not much struggle at all, the darkness of mental illness lightens until I can see clearly again — or so I think. Continue reading

While Meditating on the Concept of a Story…

“Some moral tales belong to kindergarten, the age of being afraid of the dark, the age of venturing from the house alone for a short distance, admonitory fables in primary crayons. But other tales are always with us. We tell them to ourselves in midlife and in old age, different each time, accreting as stalactites press toward earth, heavier with each drop and its burden of secret dissolved rock and minerals, the many salts of the planet.”

— Marge Piercy, He, She, and It

Reason #36 to Keep Living: Pain

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This winter has been the easiest for me in years. I’ve methodically incorporated wellness techniques into my schedule, including journal writing, daily gratification, a sunlamp, healthy eating (most of the time), consistent exercise, and medication. I have been efficient, productive, and social. I have been everything Western society claims one must be to achieve success.

But have I been successful? I haven’t written anything seriously my own in nearly a year. Worse than that, I haven’t wanted to write anything seriously my own. The desire to write comes sometimes, briefly, like the rank smell of cigarettes on the wind, and then drifts on by me. I write what I need to in order to get through my university courses, but my heart doesn’t settle deeply within the words like it always used to. Continue reading

“Your race is appallingly alone in its world. No other mammalian species. No other ambisexual species. No animal intelligent enough even to domesticate as pets. It must color your thinking, this uniqueness. I don’t mean scientific thinking only, though you are extraordinary hypothesizers … But philosophically, emotionally: to be so solitary, in so hostile a world: it must affect your entire outlook.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

Reason #35 to Keep Living: Comfort, Coziness, and Cats

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It has taken me the past four years or so to realize the importance of physical comfort and coziness. Oh, and did I mention cats? Cats always help. Always.

If you study the picture above, you’ll see a squishy armchair, two blankets, a window letting in light from outside, a book, and two cats. These are all elements that make up my own personal coziness. You’ll have your own recipe for comfort and coziness, and that’s fine. Not everybody likes cats. Continue reading