As you read this, my partner has safely travelled, with our cats, to our hometown and I am in a plane to Seattle, ending what has been the hardest and most rewarding 6 year journey of my life. There’s a lot to be said about the time we spent in Vancouver – a lot of beautiful, sappy words and hot, vindictive words that I could use to describe so many of the experiences and relationships that I will always associate with this coastal city.
When I was in high school, at the end of every year, I would write a letter – that letter would be many double sided pages in length, and would highlight the best parts of whatever grade I was in at the time. I saw it as a way to remind myself, even if the overall experience was terrible, there were always wonderful, cherishable memories scattered amongst everything else. So, keeping it short and sweet, in ode to the version of myself I left behind 6 years ago and the one I leave here today…
I’m writing a letter,
to: everyone and everything along the way.
to: a city that simultaneously destroyed my mind and body then rebuilt me bit by bit, year after year.
to: Cody, for your never ending wealth of love, support and ferocity.
to: the people I dungeoned with, the people I partied with, the people I worked with and the people who have been there since the beginning – you all, in your own ways (be it negatively or positively), taught me how friendships/relationships should work, and I thank you for that.
to: me – for taking the plunge in the first place; for growing and admitting your faults; for allowing yourself to be vulnerable and accepting help when you needed it; for stepping out of your comfort zone and stepping up for yourself – and, lastly, for learning when it’s time to let go, and not looking back when that time comes.
to: Vancouver, because I may have grown up in the mountains, but I grew in to myself by the ocean.
p.s. this is my moving playlist – if anyone is interested. I couldn’t help but end with that classic Michelle Branch.
This month is extremely important for me, it marks an end and a beginning that I’m still settling in to. Honestly though, I don’t think I’ve been this legitimately happy for a long time. That’s not to say that this summer hasn’t been stressful, and that I don’t have a minor breakdown every couple of days as the end of the month comes closer, but all in all I can feel weight slowly lifting every day.
At the end of the month my partner and I will be moving back to our home town. We’ve decided that the city life isn’t quite worth the mental and physical toll it takes on both of us… we want to be able to enjoy our lives together and, unfortunately, Vancouver just isn’t conducive for that, for either of us.
I think this is one of the first times in my life where everything just seems to fit in to place… when we initially moved out here, 6 years ago, we came with nothing… no plan, no jobs, ground zero – now, heading back, we have a timeline to purchase a home, our employer has been so amazing and is allowing us to keep our jobs and work remotely, we have so many plans for our future, I can hardly contain my excitement.
I’m also being sent to an event in Seattle, for work, the day after Cody leaves with the cats, so I’ll be saying my farewell to the west coast from my favourite convention!
There are no words to explain how lucky and privileged we are to have gotten to this point in our lives, considering how we started, and that this is a choice we made together, rather than a decision based on monetary necessity. I can’t thank my team mates and current landlords enough for being the wonderful accommodating people that they are and my friends and family for everything over these past 6 years – I am so ecstatic to be back with you all soon.
Hello world, hello future, hello home!
I remember riding in the back of a Suzuki, with the top off, my best friend in the seat beside me. It was a weird point of life for both of us, socially strange teenagers, just trying to navigate high school to the best of our abilities.
One of our frequented albums to play during these wind swept drives was Meteora – Linkin Park.
For me, this album helped validate a lot of how I was feeling and dealing with my depression / self harm issues. It gave me someone to look up to – someone who felt just as I was feeling. Someone who had lived past the demons that currently clouded my judgement. For that, I appreciate Chester.. for sharing pieces of his life, that were no less than excruciating, with me, others like me and others nothing like me. Of course, I now understand that you don’t ever, truly, shake the demons of mental illness… rather, you try and learn to coexist.
I just hope that, in the last bit of his life, he had the same support that he, unknowingly, provided for us.
rest easy Chester, wherever you may be.
Getting older is weird – in the moment, it feels exactly the same as it did last year, and the years before… but really, everything has and will continue to change. It’s hard to believe that, at one point in my life, I didn’t see myself being around this long… there is a part of me that wants to sit my younger self down and tell her how many obstacles she will overcome, and explain that failure doesn’t diminish her self worth. She will hit a rockier bottom than she has ever experienced before, she will lose herself in a city that doesn’t stop, skipping meals for coffee because it’s less expensive. She will hurt the person closest to her and then beat herself mercilessly over it. She will cry, wish she hadn’t left home and fade into the dark backdrop of depression. But, five years later, she will have built a solid foundation for a successful life, she will have a job that she loves, a home full of cats and a partner that has stuck through it all. She will have access to opportunities and choices that she would’ve never, previously, thought possible… and all of this will start from the, seemingly, unending darkness that enveloped her. And it will envelope her, as mental illness does, more than once
I remember my middle school self, having to read an essay about my self harm experiences in front of the entire eighth grade class. I was sat in a plush arm chair in the school theatre, hot stage lights bouncing off my face – my hands shook as the words left my mouth, and then the speakers above me… I don’t think I’ve heard a silence quite like the one that followed, since. The best way to describe it comes in the form of a quote from one of my favourite authors:
“It was the patient, cut flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.” ¹
In that moment, it felt like me and everyone around me was just waiting for it, waiting for the day that I didn’t show up to class, waiting for me to die. I accept that this perception probably existed only in my own mind, but at the time it felt so real.
Maybe you are asking yourself what relevance this has to anything? I spent a lot of my life, after that moment, fearing this silence. Fearing, being honest about myself and my mind, might be met with a quiet so thick it could smother me. I imagine, laying on my bed after reading my deepest secrets to an auditorium full of students and teachers, and promising to never speak about it again.
It took me 13 years, to be candid about my experiences, to see a therapist, to accept and validate myself… and I don’t think the teenage me would believe that today, at 26, she would be writing and openly speaking to people about mental health. That for every person who empathizes, there are multiple who want to learn, to understand; That, while silence is scary, it is sometimes necessary; That she would become an advocate for herself for the first time… and for that, I think she would be proud.
¹ – Quote from The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss
It’s safe to say that the last month has been nothing short of a massive (for lack of a better term) cluster fuck. The days have been lengthy and overflowing with negative physical, mental and emotional mojo… but! While shoveling myself out of this pile of personal garbage I’ve discovered some little gems of positivity, small reminders that live in my pockets, that can be dug out and held up to the light during the minutes and hours that seem impossible.
- I may make a lot of jokes about trading my body in for a new one, but this is probably the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in this skin, my skin. Yes, most days are a battle and, yes, I do sometimes feel like it is constantly working against me… but maybe that’s why I’ve grown to appreciate it the way that I do now. It is, truly, the first time in my life where I can say that I am connected to my body, and while I may not understand what it is doing 98% of the time, I can at least look at myself in the mirror and love the person who looks back at me.
- The people in my life are amazing. From my fiance to my family, friends I’ve had since grade school to friends I’ve had the opportunity to make at my place of work… they are all the most accommodating, gracious, compassionate, just genuinely beautiful people and I couldn’t imagine going through all of this without them.
- My experience is valid and my time, like everyone else’s, is short. I can’t be held responsible for anyone’s happiness but my own and that is okay… it’s okay to stop and say that something makes me uncomfortable, even if it upsets someone else, because I deserve that right. I’ve lived a lot of my life thinking that I needed to come last in a long list of priorities – no more!
There are more, but these are the three that I have been channeling recently. I can attest to the fact that it is difficult to manage mental illnesses while also dealing with physical illnesses – it becomes hard to distinguish whether how you feel is because of one or the other, until it all melds in to one rampaging illness bull that knocks you on your ass every chance it gets. Lying, defeated, in the mud becomes more and more appealing each time you hit it, until you no longer want to stand up and bare your own teeth in retort… that’s where I’ve been lately, in a state of belief that says:
“Nothing will ever get better. You will be sick for the rest of your life, all of your friends and family will leave you behind because you are a lifeless burden that deserves nothing but the havoc you are receiving.”
Luckily, I’ve been able to look at myself and see something completely different. What I, now, see is a woman with ambition and goals and love coming from all directions… there are definitely hurdles strewn about her landscape, but, maybe if she takes the time to stop and love herself a little more before approaching, clearing them won’t be as daunting a task; Positive thinking won’t make the bull disappear, by any means, but it will make digging your heels into the dirt and putting your fists up a hell of a lot easier.
I woke up in a body that wasn’t my own this morning – or maybe the bits and pieces that identify me are still sleeping somewhere and I am what is left to wade through the day. Attention span is limited, zoned out yet extremely aware of the pins and needles making their way up the arms and legs attached to this body.
Today I want to analyze some of my personal extremes… like that one, up there. It’s kind of a trip, looking back on an exact moment, the feeling of that moment, and knowing that the feeling was real but not being able to relate to it at all. I remember writing more than that small excerpt, trying to explain the state of mind with a metaphor, realizing that it made zero sense and deleting it; I had a creative writing teacher who always insisted we write in pen, because everything we put on paper has meaning, even if it doesn’t fit what we are trying to say at the moment. Unfortunately, I can’t recall which grand metaphor I was trying to make, I only remember the intention behind it: to create a bridge for myself, to understand what puts me there and how to cope with it.
It’s difficult to explain, or to even comprehend, what it is like to look at yourself and your surroundings and feel like a stranger – the face you see in the mirror is slightly skewed, it feels as though you are treading through thick molasses, yet, the world moves around you at high velocity. Before you know it the day is gone, and you haven’t had a chance to move past the difference in your eyes or how hard it is to breathe… there is very little recollection of what happened, other than it did and that is the end.
When days like this happen I become hyper aware of my own insignificance, really, the insignificance of everything. My job, my home, my relationships, the mind, the body, all of it, have zero significance on a cosmic scale and none of it is worth the importance it is given… but
I choose to give them importance.
Maybe that’s what the difference between my normal mind set and this unrelatable, ball of nothingness I feel is.. (as I write this, a glimpse of the metaphor has come back to me):
imagine, you are strung up, from all angles, in the center of a redwood forest… you are in a circular clearing one hundred feet from the ground, with thin wires wrapped around your wrists and ankles, you are alone. You have to get down somehow, or else you will die of dehydration/starvation, but how?
If you struggle, the wires might snap, sending you plummeting to the forest floor.
If you yell, no one will hear you… except for wild animals which might seek you out and wait for your eventual demise in hopes that you may become a tasty snack.
It is there, it is the opportunity to make a choice, to believe in something, embrace both the negative and positive outcomes, that is the difference. To believe that, maybe, you can use the wire to swing to a tree and make your way down; maybe, you are closer to civilization than the tall forestry leads you to believe, and an s.o.s might be heard. To believe that you have real, tangible options besides waiting to die.
You have real, tangible options besides waiting to die.
I have real, tangible options besides waiting to die.