Reason #96 to Keep Living: Patience


It’s difficult to know what to say, when I haven’t said anything in so long.

This has been a special kind of year. It was the year I completed my master’s degree and worked as a Teaching Assistant at a university. It was the year this Teaching Assistant position led me to apply to teachers college, which I will now be attending in the fall. It was the year I finished the edited draft of my novel. It was the year I got my first car, and my first dog.

It was a big year, and it was an exhausting year. I didn’t write much on here, keeping up with the reasons to keep living (although there were many!), because I didn’t even have enough time in the day to exercise, eat, or sleep properly. And, if you’ve read any of these posts, you’ll know that I regard exercising, eating, and sleeping as some of the most important activities in keeping up mental health. Continue reading

Reason #95 to Keep Living: Early Mornings


If I could give one piece of advice to someone suffering from depression, it would be to wake up as early as possible.

And, by “wake up,” I don’t mean merely opening your eyes and — more than likely — rolling over to look at your phone. I mean waking up, getting up, showering, putting on some clean clothes, brushing your teeth, and eating breakfast. This not only establishes a routine, but also jump-starts your system. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll be tired enough to go to bed by the time evening shows its slow and sluggish head (instead of, for example, watching Netflix into the night). If you’re lucky, you’ll be tired enough to go to bed in order to wake up again, early — as early as you possibly can.

There’s something essential in cutting drowsiness at its core, snipping it like an umbilical cord from your body, giving yourself a fighting chance, some rest before the battle, giving yourself a reasonable night’s sleep, getting yourself up at a time that says, in the temperature of the air and slant of the sun, that there is an entire, full, as yet un-punctured day ahead of you.

Read the original post of 101 Reasons to Keep Living to discover the genesis of this project, or catch up on any posts you might have missed here

Reason #94 to Keep Living: Rest

sunset city

You may have noticed, I didn’t write my scheduled blog post. You may have noticed, I’ve been a little absent. I haven’t been cruising the internet as much, haven’t been rushing for quick and easy publications. I’ve been biding my time. I’ve been resting.

To be honest, this series had begun to feel a little monotonous. Less than ten reasons to keep living from the end, I was wondering why I started writing these posts in the first place. The process of blog posting was weighing on me, becoming cliche and robotic. How could I tell you, again, to keep living? Were there any reasons left?

So I took a break. I rested. It’s summer, and this is the free time I thought I would use to dig into my side projects, blog posts included. I would read books, I would exercise, I would write things — so many things! — and I would somehow, amidst all of this, keep up two part-time jobs, a continually growing list of social engagements, volunteer as prose reader and assistant editor for literary journals, and co-organize a reading series.

I’ve done most of it, a satisfying amount, but there is always more, and more, and more. My blog posts weren’t getting enough attention. They were feeling empty, thrown together in an evening, published halfheartedly. Like an un-watered plant, withering, I wasn’t properly taking care of them. Continue reading

Reason #93 to Keep Living: Health Care


Something easily taken for granted, something for which we must always be grateful: health care.

It’s dangerously easy to forget that health care is a privilege when you’ve had it for so long. And although I’ve complained about the health care system in Canada and Ontario before, both mental health care specifically and Canadian health care compared with Japanese health care, I am, in the end, pretty spoiled when it comes to receiving medical attention.

These medical resources, especially these “free” medical resources, are invaluable. Use them, no matter how tedious they may seem. Make phone calls, write emails, get on waiting lists, show up for your appointments. Get your money’s worth, speak your mind, and take care of yourself.

Please! Take care of yourself.

Read the original post of 101 Reasons to Keep Living to discover the genesis of this project, or catch up on any posts you might have missed here

Reason #92 to Keep Living: New Surroundings, New Perspectives


Enjoying the precipice of a cliff side on the Aran Islands in Ireland.

I’m always finding new, surprising connections between the writing process and mental illness. Here’s the newest and the most surprising: travelling to new places, immersing yourself in new surroundings, and finding new perspectives both rejuvenates your writing and might (just might!) lift you from the monotony of a depressive episode.

New perspectives in writing (for example, shifting the narrative point of view, describing a scene from a different angle, or trying out a new tone) can cut through writer’s block in a way nothing else can. What makes writing interesting in the first place is how it presents life from different and new perspectives. Finding these fresh perspectives, however, can be challenging. Immersing yourself physically in different cultures, and therefore immersing yourself in different opinions and ideas, can sometimes be the ticket.

But when it comes to difficulties, cutting through the torpor of mental illness is certainly the more back breaking, the more mind numbing of the two. Continue reading

Reason #91 to Keep Living: Projects


If there is any one thing that gives me a reason to keep living, it’s my projects.

During the summer time, when school isn’t my first priority, I actually have time to indulge in these projects. First and foremost: writing. It may seem nerdy or bizarre or completely irrational, but to me there is nothing better — really, nothing better! — than spending a couple of hours or more a day on a long writing project.

It’s odd, isn’t it? That to slug away at something, day after day, to return to something and rethink something again and again, is eternally satisfying and stimulating.

To work full-tilt on a project. To have your mind buzz with it and your fingers ache. For those few hours you have to work on it — to think of nothing else.

But putting your energy into a long term project isn’t just about distraction, although it can certainly distract you from other things going on in your life. Continue reading

Reason #90 to Keep Living: Play


Here is a picture of Squirtle sitting on my bed. He’s sitting on my bed because recently I’ve been playing a lot of Pokémon GO to pass the time and keep my spirits up as I transition into a new stage of my life. When things are scary, uncertain, or a little out of control, it’s nice to be a kid again, to laugh, and to lose yourself in play.

Find a way to smile, no matter what it is. Remember that there is tomorrow and the day after that. Keep creating and playing. It’s important to keep joy and a sense of discovery at your core as you look past the grit of the day. I will keep joy and a sense of discovery at my core as I look past the grit of the day. I will.

I will.

Keep finding your reasons to keep living. Keep on keeping on.

Read the original post of 101 Reasons to Keep Living to discover the genesis of this project, or catch up on any posts you might have missed here

Reason #89 to Keep Living: Working Hard for my Heart


Getting up close and personal with the things in life that make me happy —  in this case, my dog.

This whole blog series is about practicing gratitude in order to alleviate some of the heaviness of mental illness, but being grateful for the little things in life doesn’t just make you feel better — it makes you, in general, a kinder person.

The more you focus on what you have rather than what you lack, and the more thankful you are for these things, the more you appreciate the people around you and, in effect, the better you treat them. Continue reading

Reason #88 to Keep Living: Coffee


I hardly ever drank coffee before I started working at a cafe. My family never had it around, never ordered it when we went out to eat, and in general never cared much about it. We didn’t even have a coffee maker in the house while growing up. But now, when it’s free at work and I’m fighting my way through a long shift, usually after a long day of school work, coffee is a little hard to resist.

When the ideas aren’t flowing: coffee. When the morning alarm is unwelcome: coffee. When you’re up late writing a paper: coffee. When you hit that afternoon lull: coffee. When you want about ten minutes more of procrastination: coffee. When the days are long and the nights are longer: coffee. When you just need something to warm your hands: coffee.

Coffee, coffee, coffee. Okay, I’m done. Excuse me while I finish my essay and drink more coffee. Continue reading

Reason #87 to Keep Living: Milestones


For the last couple of years, school hasn’t been the easiest for me. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know a little of the story: I began my undergraduate degree at full speed in 2013. I was flying. Great marks, great motivation, and not a lot of worries on the financial side of things. But two and a half years in, my brain had run out of steam, my mental illness had flared up worse than ever, and I was ready to give up formal education altogether.

Then, I discovered Japan. After a two and a half week trip there in the summer of 2016, I was desperate to go back, and this time long term. How could I manage that? Teaching English, of course.

But in order to teach English I needed to finish my degree. Continue reading