Reason #61 to Keep Living: Surprising Myself


Looking in my bathroom mirror recently, I can’t help but feel surprised by the person I see. The expression on her face is always a bit alarming, balanced somewhere between total exhaustion and relief at being home finally at 8:30 pm. The hair on her head doesn’t have any opinion: it’s pulled straight back into a ponytail, braid, or a variety of other methods that help her pretend it doesn’t exist during the day.

And those eyes… I try to not even think of those eyes, let alone look into them. They’re tired, always. They remind me of how much older I’m starting to look, how much older I’m starting to feel.

Surprisingly, despite the rush of this new life in Japan, despite the stress, the busyness, and the millions of tiny frustrations and disappointments, I am getting along just fine. Continue reading


Reason #60 to Keep Living: Building New Homes


Finding a new home: the bus ride from Nagoya to Tokyo

For a long time I have underestimated the comfort and necessity of a home base. I’ve always idolized the notion of living life with no ties, of jumping from place to place, of being unattached to material possessions. I was discussing identity with my boyfriend recently, talking about how places, things — even people — slide away so easily and abruptly. And here we are, continuing on, somehow still ourselves.

So I don’t need a home base for definition or security. I’ve realized that more and more throughout my travels from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Krabi, Nagoya, and now to Tokyo. What I do need a home base for is comfort at the end of the day. Continue reading

Reason #59 to Keep Living: Sweet Treats


To you they may seem trivial, but to me, “sweet treats”, or baked goods in this case, have been my saviour over the last two weeks. Japan is full of little bakeries strewn in the most unlikely places, and it’s one of my greatest guilty pleasures to shuffle through the sliding doors of one of these shops and take my pick of doughnuts, tarts, and fruit breads (melon and lemon are my favourite).

I know it’s dangerous for someone with a sweet tooth to depend on pastries for comfort, but, seeing as I’m only two weeks into a new and energy-consuming job, I’ll take what I can get.

Eating at these bakeries is like enjoying a slice of home. Besides these little pastry shops, Japan doesn’t pay much attention to bread, so this is indeed a treat.

Here’s to comfort food in unfamiliar settings!  Continue reading

Reason #56 to Keep Living: Getting Back to Normal


Goodbye 2017, and good riddance!

Don’t get me wrong, this year had some pretty nice highlights. I traveled to Hawaii, received my TESL certification, got a job in Japan, and graduated from university. The end of the year, however, was challenging in the extreme. November and December brought the death of my grandmother, an absurd amount of preparations for my travels in the new year, surgery, and a nasty cold that erased any chance of New Years celebrations.

After all of this, in addition to a schedule that gets me up at five in the morning, I am more than ready to get back to normal. Continue reading

Revisiting “Depression, For the First Time”

Many of you may have already read my post, “Depression, For the First Time,” which was written and published a year ago here on the Amber Typewriter. This article has been republished on The Mighty, an incredible website I recently discovered. The articles on the website cover an outstanding amount of illnesses; mental health is only a small category, but I intend to write regularly and post about depression and bipolar disorder there as well as here on the Amber Typewriter.

My article has been retitled “When No On Knew Your Depression Was ‘That Bad’.” I encourage you to check it out, and the other articles on the site as well!

If Only We Were Wizards: Banishing Depression with the Flick of a Wand


Picture this: you are lying in bed feeling like complete crap, and not for the first time. It has been too long since you showered, your bedroom is probably a mess, and you have all but memorized the bumps and cracks in the ceiling above you. You can’t see any real reason to get up. Happiness — or even contentedness, for that matter — is less than a distant memory: it doesn’t exist anymore. Your energy has disappeared as if… yes… as if it has been slowly sucked from your body. Continue reading

Depression, For the First Time

It was a small child standing in the corner of my dreams.

It was a scratching on the inside of my skull, a weakness in my bones; it was a dry mouth and drooping eyes.

It was a weight on my chest in the middle of the night.

It was regret and fear and failure.

It was all of these things, and it was none of them. Depression, for the first time, was abstract and incomplete and perfect. It was indescribable. It was harrowing and breathtaking. It was the recognition of my own mortality with each push of blood through my veins. It was the high of feeling alive because I knew my heart was dying.

Continue reading

Suicide and Selfishness


that is the question of today’s blog post. And what a tough question it is, although it may seem quite simple and self-explanatory to a person who has no inner struggle or emotional difficulties. To a person without mental illness, it may never be a question at all.

Now, before we continue and get into the nasty little details of suicide, I would like to clarify that I am not trying to glorify it in any way. My goal is not to make suicide seem heroic, purposeful, or whimsical. Suicide is death, and so it is painful, and messy, and usually, from my experience, like a ginormous bomb being dropped in the middle of a family, smashing up anything and everything within reach and leaving nothing but craters and rubble. Continue reading

When Things Pile Up


My family’s bird feeder, on an unusually sunny winter day.

The world of London, Ontario is slowly moving into spring — finally, undeniably. Most of the snow has melted and it is even possible (if one listens carefully past the sound of traffic, beeping cell phones, the chatter of television, and every other noise cluttering our lives) to hear the song of birds, perched high on telephone wires and in trees, or stomping about in the yard looking for worms. In springtime, and especially in the life of a student, all the stresses that have gathered and piled up like the high snow banks in winter begin to melt, acquire less density, leak away. Final assignments and essays are completed and submitted; only the exams hang looming like dark clouds ahead. The dim promise of four months of warm summer nights (those not spent at a grueling minimum wage job) provide an elating sense of hope and freedom. As a woman in my meditation class observed, “it feels as though we have overcome a large obstacle, or relieved ourselves of a heavy burden. The winter feels like a sort of personal oppression and battle that we must defeat every year.” Continue reading

Mental versus Physical Illness: How to Describe Depression and Bipolar Disorder

When mental illness is described as being identical to physical illness, I can’t help but cringe. Don’t get me wrong, I know what advertisers and mental health representatives are trying to accomplish by making these comparisons, and it is a very noble goal. They want legitimate treatment and understanding. They want the prejudice associated with mental illness to come to an end. But mental illness is not identical to physical illness. Continue reading