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

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When Things Pile Up

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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