Reason #42 to Keep Living: Leisure, Distraction, Variety

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Please refer above to the image which depicts a cat scratching at the face of a woman with buttons for eyes. Yes, those are beetles dropping from her clothing and hair. Yes, this picture should be a bit shocking, considering it comes from a children’s colouring book.

This image is of the “Other Mother” from the book Coraline, of course. It’s one of many fascinating drawings by Jill Thompson in The Neil Gaiman Coloring Book. Where the images in this book may disturb others, they calm me; they have provided me with leisure, distraction, and a sense of variety at the end of my long days of teaching and study. However much I adore my job and the children I teach, and however much I am stimulated by the literature I study, my brain is in desperate need of a break by evening.  Continue reading

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

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

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

Reason #34 to Keep Living: Education

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If I have it my way, the next half of this blog-series will become somewhat of a travel blog, documenting my adventures finding work in countries other than Canada. Travel, as you know from past blog posts, is one of the central reasons I stay alive. I find value in it not only from its pleasure, but also from its inherent educational tendencies. Every time I travel, my brain stretches and my heart grows a little bigger.  Continue reading