Reason #51 to Keep Living: Birthdays

305CD399-D5E1-4D60-B370-AE4A41289410

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

Advertisements

Reason #50 to Keep Living: Gratitude

blog collage copy

I am — we are — halfway to 101 reasons to keep living. Above you’ll see a (rather simplistic) collage I made, including some of the photos posted throughout this blog series.

Beginning with my first post, “Color,” I intended this series to be specifically about mental illness. 101 Reasons to Keep Living certainly has been about mental illness, but it has been more about mental health in all of its facets and about life in general. Because, unlike other illnesses, mental illness is intricately connected to every part of our lives. It may be genetically transferred, it may be rooted in human physiology, but it is undoubtedly shaped by our environments.

Despite experiencing my regular ups and downs over the last two years, I have found joy, inspiration, and beauty in my everyday activities precisely because of these blog posts. My “environment” has never seemed so spectacular.

So, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for clicking, reading, and showing me that you care. Thank you for discovering your own reasons to keep living.

Thank you for surviving, really. That’s all I’m trying to say. All of these posts, all of these pictures, are only to thank you for surviving. That’s the gist of it. Thank you for living and for writing about it. Thank you for following me in my own survival.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now, only fifty-one more reasons to go! Continue reading

Reason #49 to Keep Living: Rejuvenation

DSC02209

It has been a very, very long time since I have felt rested in any sense of the word. Perhaps as a consequence, all the writing I have done in the past five months or so has been forced (at worst) and usually uninspired.

I wrote the final exam of my undergraduate degree just under a month ago, and it has taken that long to rediscover my “normal” self (if there is such a thing as my normal self). Some time away from the city — see the picture above — and some time spent with my rather carefree brother helped to fight my fatigue. During the last couple of days I have experienced actual excitement and a sense of purpose with regards to my creative writing. How extraordinary! I had nearly forgotten what a difference inspiration can make. Continue reading

Reason #48 to Keep Living: Staying Offline

IMG_0229

Disclaimer: I did not take this photo; my brother did while climbing a tree in order to get a closer look at this long-nailed, big-lipped buddy. I was down below, on the ground, watching the magic unfold. In another, blurrier photo, the porcupine shows his orange teeth in what looks like a smile, but is probably closer to a territorial snarl.

This all happened in a forest far away from the internet. I spent a week at a camp, not going online once, and found it heavenly. I have always been a proponent of “less screen time,” but I often fail to achieve my own ideals, what with this blog and various social media outlets pulling constantly at my attention. I didn’t realize until I spent this week away from computers how much these distractions were affecting me. Recently, my creative writing has been scarce — partly because my focus was previously on academic writing for summer school, but also partly because my mind was much too scattered to produce a coherent narrative.  Continue reading

Reason #47 to Keep Living: Achieving My Goals

IMG_0223

Tomorrow I will write the final exam of my undergraduate degree.

Wait, what?

Ahem, yes. Tomorrow I will write the final exam of my undergraduate degree!

If you’ve been following my blog for a little over a year, you might remember my post, Time and Too Many Monsters: Why I am Leaving Formal Education, in which I professed my reasons for dropping nearly all of my classes in the early spring of 2016. For a short synopsis, my decision had both to do with persistent mental health issues and a stagnant, frustratingly dreary existence that went along with university life. Continue reading

Reason #46 to Keep Living: Passing Time

IMG_0206

The photo I wanted for this blog post was one of me completing the final essay for my undergrad degree, but it just so happens that not many people like to hang around taking pictures of me sitting with my laptop, especially when I usually tell them to bugger off because they are distracting me. Instead I have this photo of the sunrise on my cottage lake. The water is quiet and mist-covered at six o’clock in the morning, and this photo will serve well enough to represent the passing of time.

I am usually the opposite of grateful for the passing of time. I don’t like to see years go by, let alone months or even weeks. Recently, however, the passing of time has seemed the greatest blessing. The passing of time means the end of summer school, monotony, and exhaustion. The passing of time, in fact, means more time. Continue reading

Reason #45 to Keep Living: Movement

IMG_0187

After reading through my last 101 Reasons to Keep Living post, I decided that “Movement” would be a fine companion to “Naps.” After all, movement (of the mind or body) is what makes me tired enough to nap, and the energy I gain from naps gives me the ability to keep moving.

Movement, for me, has always been a confusing dichotomy. On one hand, I love travel. Going from country to country, getting little to no sleep, learning new languages, making fast friends, experiencing foreign cultures, partaking in spontaneous adventures… These things have always held me enraptured. On the other hand, I have perhaps unrealistic dreams of owning a farmhouse complete with fireplace, overstuffed bookshelves, deep couches, rugs, cats, maybe two or three rambling kids… You get the picture.  Continue reading

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

IMG_0167

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

DSC02124

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