“The only discomfort I really experienced was to live in my workshop among discarded limbs and unfinished torsos.”

Vladimir Nabokov, “On a Book Entitled Lolita

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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 #54 to Keep Living: Grief

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Grief is pain. And it is a reason to keep living.

I know, it seems paradoxical at first. But bear with me. Grief is pain. In fact, grief feels a lot like mental illness, but grief has a source for the emotional pain where mental illness has none. In this way, grief is a little bit of a relief. It’s purposeful. I can see the point behind it. I can feel something intrinsically human in my own pain and the pain of my family.

Also, grief is fantastic in the way that it brings people together. My grandma died this past week, and I have seen more of my extended family in the last five days than I have perhaps in my entire life. Continue reading

Reason #53 to Keep Living: Progress

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Photo taken by WordsFest London staff

This is, and always will be, one of my biggest reasons to keep living.

On Sunday morning, I had the privilege of reading and speaking with four other writers at WordsFest in London, Ontario. This is the kind of event I couldn’t have been part of three or four years ago — partly because of health reasons, and partly because my writing was no where near good enough to be read in front of a room full of people. My writing still needs A LOT of work, but opportunities like this remind me that I am progressing, and that my constant work and practice is getting me somewhere.

As a writer, signs of progress are sometimes few and far between. I will take what I can get, and this one was more than enough. Continue reading

“Such is the World, such Man, such Love. What are we (I ask) but puppets in a show-box? Oh, omnipotent Destiny, pull our strings gently! Dance us mercifully off our miserable little stage!”

— Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White

Reason #50 to Keep Living: Gratitude

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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

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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