vancouver island-based author and artist

The Gravity: What Goes Up, Must Come Down

I can feel depression settling in like a cool wind that tells you winter's coming.  It's the bite in the air, the need to wear more layers.  Only it's coming as spring graces Calgary.  It's like I have seasonal affective disorder but I react to the light and not the darkness.

I believe one of the most important keys to being a non-shitty advocate is staying true to the cause.  In my case, it's staying true to myself and my experience.  I am resisting the very strong urge to backspace, to delete this entry before it has a chance to go live, and at the very least to type this out in Write2 first.  But I won't do any of those things.  I'm going to sit at my kitchen table trying to drown out Lorde's voice echoing from my spare room, bothered by the light above my head, distracted by the bright orange Birds of Paradise spikes that are peeking up from behind my open laptop screen.  This cannot be a more appropriate analogy to the challenges I face to concentrate.  It often feels like every possible distraction has come out to bide for my time when I'm running a race without seconds to spare - in my mind.  Staying focused on the task at hand is the single direction, repeatedly, that I have the most difficult time following.  As if on cue, my roommate just walked in the front door and told me that it's started snowing.  This is both my pinch and my punch.  It's another distraction, but also another necessary reminder that I'm here.  I live in Calgary still.  Seasons don't happen on-schedule here, so maybe it's appropriate that this is the city I still call home.

I won't censor this.  Any of this.  My highs bring the beauty and wonder of my mind's capabilities to the limelit stages of the world.  My lows bring feelings like this.  It isn't like I don't know how to ride the waves.  I understand that feeling these emotions is what precisely will make them pass.  It's been so long, though, and it's hard not to punish myself for still being affected by my sentimentality to dates, events, anniversaries, changes in weather, changes in time.  I've found a wealth of self-compassion in the last eight months for myself that I lovingly and generously give and take from on a daily basis.  It's made me feel whole for the first time in my life.  It's made me feel happy for the first time in my life.  And I'm still being left behind, I still feel taxed from spreading myself thin, but I deal.  My perspective hasn't changed other people's actions or behaviour and it never will.  But it's changed mine.  This is apparently a code I still haven't cracked, though, and it's now been decades.  Sunny days make me sad.  It's no wonder I've now started to hide from them in order to preserve my physical health.  I started seeing an acupuncturist for my migraines last week.  I'm apprehensive about warm-weather travel and my upcoming visits to places in the world that have even brighter and more plentiful sunshine days than my hometown.  I inherited the skull-splitting migraines from my father and after two hospitalizations in the last five years, I can't take chances.  The amount of Advil I've taken as a preventative measure can't possibly have done anything good to my liver.  And my new acupuncturist says that in TCM, migraines reflect the poor health of your liver and gallbladder.  We'll see how this turns out for me.

I read on Facebook that eating a handful of cashews provides the equivalent natural serotonin of Prozac, though I don't remember how much.  It's frightening to think of how much information is passed through social media channels and taken as the gospel when it's probably complete shit.  But this is a piece I decided to keep.  Anything helps.   Even a placebo is better than the weather in my head; I can handle the unpredictability of Calgary's forecast, but my mental health will still throw me for a loop.

I don't know where I'm going with this, all I know is that I need to hit "Save & Publish" when I'm done.  My one request to you is that you not be afraid for me.  Matthew Good once made the comparison between physical and mental illness like this: when the body is stricken the common reaction is sympathy; when the mind is stricken the common reaction is fear.  Don't be scared.  I'm not scared.  I know how bad this can be, and while it catches me off guard I know my mind like my body, which means sometimes not that well but better than anyone else does.  I don't want anyone's pity, either; to wear a blanket stitched of soft words, pleasantries, and borrowed quotes can cause me to overheat in this climate.  Easy now.  I was built to regulate.  I really am an introvert, in the truest sense of the world.  I feel tired and deflated after a weekend and a bit "catching up".  Describing my progress over and over to make up for lost time.  Leaving out details on purpose because for the first time in my life, I need to keep secrets or else.  (Well, not the first time ever.  The first time there are heavily personal consequences for the alternative.)  And the sensations are new and they are old.  It's an exhaustion I'm not used to because I don't usually let in so many people at once, on purpose.  Yet I find myself wondering how I can still be here, feeling these same things, waiting... for things I know won't come.  I don't know why I build myself up for disappointment when I know how these things go.  In this case, I have a forecast in front of me that gives me 25 reasons why things won't work out.  Yet i wait. I expect. Why?  I can do better than this.  I'm questioning what it really means to be human.  Is it the way we do things we know we don't want to because of guilt? expectation? Is it the way we go back to ourselves after being tried and tested to the depths of our cores?  Is it feeling discomfort, completely? Is it the resistance of feeling? Is it the desire to nurture, to care, sometimes as simple as just giving a shit to feel connected and not completely alone? What do people really need?

Right now I need a dinner that consists of more than unsalted cashews and a few squares of 85% cacao dark chocolate.  I'll probably need the sleep tonight that I doubt I'll end up giving myself.  I think I can do without the caffeine in two cups of Blue Mountain oolong, the tea I drink that's synonymous with motivated, controlled bouts of creativity.  Everything comes at a cost, and old habits... never die completely.  People like me need to abuse themselves a little sometimes in order to feel like they're really here.  THis is tame.  I just need to do my thing.