Reason #69 to Keep Living: Caretakers

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There is hardly anything more valuable to a sick person than people to take care of her. I am lucky enough to have always had caretakers, and the story of my struggle with mental illness can’t really be told without their inclusion.

The photo above is from a time in my life when I felt very taken care of. It’s blurry, out of focus, just like everything was at the time; but still there was a sense of being grounded, of stability, of feeling the earth under my feet. That’s what caretakers provide: a rock to cling to within the waves.

So here’s to the parents and siblings, friends and boyfriends. Here’s to the people we chat with online and the ones who come over for tea. Here’s to the caretakers who give relentlessly and believe in us relentlessly, who read stories to us in bed, take us to the hospital, and help us to the bathroom. Here’s to the people who feed us and give us a place to sleep, who make us shower and exercise — who grab the extra big tissue box and glass of water when we have drained ourselves of tears.

Here’s to the people who never give up, even when we have.  Continue reading

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Reason #68 to Keep Living: Habit

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Getting out of bed isn’t always the easiest thing, especially on a day with no work and no plans, when the hours stretch in front of you like gaping crevices you need to somehow jump across. What motivation exists to pull you up and into the shower? What point is there to start your day?

In these instances, we must remember that depression is illogical. Because, at least in my case, I can come up with tons of reasons why getting out of bed is a good idea (maybe even 101!), and even more reasons why staying in bed is bad. But my depression doesn’t care. It doesn’t use logic, and it doesn’t want to hear why it would be a good idea to get up and a bad idea to stay under the covers.

And so, to counteract this illogical sluggishness, this blankness in the brain, we have to trick ourselves. Continue reading

Reason #58 to Keep Living: New Challenges

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Here’s me in Thailand. I am sweaty, fatigued, and my thighs are smeared with mud. My boyfriend and I had been exploring for a while on and around Railay Beach (near Krabi) when we decided to take a “trail” which supposedly led to a lagoon. The path, which started steep, soon became a climb. I ditched my flipflops. Before long, my muscles were aching, the trail became a sheer drop-off, and I realized I wouldn’t be making it to the lagoon.

This was one challenge I couldn’t complete, and for good reason. (Who wants to traverse the possibly deadly side of a ravine far from any medical help, anyway?) But this wasn’t the only challenge that my travels have faced me with. Continue reading

Reason #56 to Keep Living: Getting Back to Normal

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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

Reason #55 to Keep Living: Making Space in a Crowded Mind

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Although I’m a detailed person when it comes to my schedule, my teaching, and, most importantly, my writing, I have never liked the act of organizing. Making phone calls, memorizing dates, and attending to trivialities puts my mind in a state of foggy uproar.

Unfortunately, if you are familiar with the Canadian health care system (I live in Ontario, and this is the system I am talking about—it could differ from province to province), you will know how agonizingly slow and complicated getting appointments can be. There is the receptionist for the family doc, the receptionist for the surgeon; there are referrals and booking times and addresses and phone numbers. Oh, so many phone numbers. Don’t talk to me anymore about phone numbers… Continue reading

Reason #52 to Keep Living: Routine

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Because I’m a person who believes creativity and spontaneous adventure to be life-giving, it was very eye-opening for me to discover productivity and a certain solace in the schedule I set out for myself during the past few weeks. I had been living half-healthy for a long time, drifting always between exhausting illness and the ability to function.  A routine was nearly out of the question, especially one that took me away from the house for long periods of time.

Then I discovered that I was suffering from low iron and a variety of other minor, but (thankfully!) definable and treatable, maladies. With treatment and time, I was able to follow a routine again, and I realized for maybe the first time in my life the value of repetitive action, of predictability, and of time away from the house. Continue reading

Reason #51 to Keep Living: Birthdays

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I’m sorry this post is a day late: yesterday was my 23rd birthday, and the day was a little too jam-packed to construct a proper blog post. Here is a photo of me about to blow out the candles on my cake. I love cake, so I was pretty happy.

I was also surrounded by family. These are the people who helped me get to my 23rd birthday in the first place. Because for a while I didn’t believe I would make it to my 20th, 21st, or 22nd. Now here I am at my 23rd. I couldn’t feel more accomplished or more surprised at my own perseverance.  Continue reading

Reason #22 to Keep Living: Music

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After spending more than a week and a half out of the city, I return to find myself sick in too many ways. I need to cleanse myself of the rush and roar, of the social media and the schedules and the things. I am overwhelmed, on entering the city, by a desire to acquire things.

So I turn to silence. And, when I have had enough of that, to music. Music, being an art I will never produce on my own, is an art I will never fully understand. That’s what I need when I’m sick from the city: something I will never understand. From misunderstanding comes curiosity, and from curiosity comes thought which echoes on and on, past these walls and this city and this illness.

Past this illness. Past this illness. Past this illness. Continue reading