Seven days seems like a lifetime ago.
Friday was great. I got a lot done, had a fantastic plate of nachos and a hug by the ocean. Saturday was memorable, due to the fact that I took myself out for pizza and in half-hearted, half hilarious bid to change a pattern of behaviour, actually received a phone call. It didn’t work. Grandma called just to make sure I didn’t forget that her door is open should I like to visit anytime at all, and to make sure no breaking news bites had come in from the great wide world concerning my immediate circumstances or any of my immediate family members that I might care to share — seriously, Grandma, it’s not even been a full 48 since I was last in your living room. I love you, but, I’d appreciate some introvert appreciation 🙂
There’s two sides to this. On the one hand, I feel significant pressure to invent some wild, passionate, enthralling tale to tell to people with insatiable appetites for novelties and truly heart-stopping news. And on the other, I want to tell them to go take a hike, or rather, let me go take one– I swear I’d be happier than a pig in mud off-grid and out in some wilder, greener place far removed from this the city that never sleeps, or even the ‘quaint village’ as one of my big-city cousins once termed my hometown.
My days maybe are not ‘interesting’ in the usual sense, but they are certainly never dull. I get so much joy out of the work that I do, the independence that I have, the inspiration that I find in everyday places and people and actions. Little things. I have an affection and an appreciation for the little things. Like, if someone feels safe enough to say ‘hello’ or calls me by name. If faxes come through with little smiley faces on them, or a sincere ‘thank you’… Japanese tea sets. Hobbits. Attention to detail that makes a story or a song or a work of art come alive and sends chills rippling out from your core and through a crowd.
[Like this quote from the Vampire Diaries: I never answered your question, if I’d ever thought about being human. Once. I was on a track in the Andes, and a hummingbird flew up to me and just hovered there staring at me. Its tiny heart was pattering like a machine gun… And I thought, ‘What a thing, you know, to have to work that hard every day just to stay alive, to be constantly on the verge of death, and how satisfying every day must be that it survived…’ And that was the only time I thought about being human.” — Klaus to Caroline, Season 04, Episode 7]
The smell of the ocean. The sky. Days full of nothing but movies and meals from scratch. Sleeping when you’re tired. Running when you want to. Good jokes. Great hugs.
Today for example: It’s been awesome. My phone died (to be clear, I’m happy about that one). I woke up at 11am after a fantastic sleep. Went out, grabbed a sandwich with everything on it and watched the world go by. Changed my change for laundry, Did two loads and hung them to dry. Cleaned up. Watched ‘The Super Vet’ and had my heart broken at least three times over. Showered. Drank three glasses of orange juice, had a live bar and some frozen dessert. Journaled, blogged. Listened to tunes and moved freely about my space. Planned dinner — yet to be executed. That is what awesome looks like. To me. And yet, some people just can’t see that. Like the guy on the scooter I smiled at while passing in the other direction at high speed with the wind in my hair and the sun on my face who scowled and said simply, “I feel sorry for you” (Whoa, dude! Sorry? I’m sorry, but — what the fuck for?) And I worry about them, I really worry. They make me think of Dementors and their origin story. They start to sway me into thinking that the world is a dark and scary and horrible place with no hope and no escape from the things that have gone so terribly wrong, and I hate it. I hope they know that they are loved, that they would be missed, and that help exists and hope is within their power to grasp.
I spend a good portion of my workday screening referrals for severe depression and other conditions. And there’s a lot of stigma still attached to mental health, a lot of barriers down an already difficult road to ask for help and begin recovery. But, try to remember that it’s all real: how you feel is real, the illness is real, there are treatments that work and people who can help you, and you are not alone.
Mental health is so important. My work environment helps drives that home every day. I never really appreciated it before, never really understood its impact on my life and the lives of countless others. But I can now say without a doubt, that I have experienced both depression and anxiety to varying, but undeniably significant degrees during high school, university and as recently as last year.
I have gone to counselling and worked to develop coping strategies. But those weeks and months of panic attacks, sleeplessness, crying every day and for lack of a better descriptor, being in the depths of despair still hurt to think about. The struggle was real. It remains real for far too many people. The measure often used is, ‘have you experienced symptoms x y and z or 1 through 10 over the past 2 weeks, and has that affected your ability to function at home or work or school significantly…? Just think about that for a minute. Two weeks, 14 days. That’s not a huge chunk of time. But it is enough time usually to notice any changes, or realize that some changes need to be made. If your arm had been hurting for 2 weeks or you hadn’t been able to see out of one eye for that amount of time, most of us would not hesitate to visit the good doctor. To investigate further, find support, ask for help, begin treatment. But people sometimes wait years to reach out for help for mental health. It has to change. We need to start taking better care of ourselves, better care of our loved-ones and better care of each other as human beings.
So, that’s all I have to serve up to the blogosphere today. I need to go build myself some coconut curry and get ready for tomorrow which I’m sure will be entertaining and I know will contain at least one California roll, a few dance moves and some friendly banter. And hopefully more sun!
Mental Health Links (British Columbia, Canada):