Having the ever thrilling combination of depression and anxiety often makes it difficult to a.) find motivation and b.) try new things. This weekend, I did both. I biked 20km today. And it all happened before noon.
As an extension to the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy course I took this past spring, I have been instructed to ‘try new things’ (even if I don’t enjoy them). Having depression means losing interest in previously enjoyed activities and part of my last depressive relapse has involved just that. So the focus here is more on the success of the participation than the enjoyment level of said activity. Following a plan instead of a mood.
With the help of my partner-in-crime, I dragged myself out of bed and prepped for a bike ride. I grumbled. I dragged my feet. I complained about there being ‘no point’. And somehow it still managed to happen. The scale on which success is measured is so varied when depression is a factor that I hesitate to add a label. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t undergo any dramatic mood upswings as a result, but I did integrate a short term sense of pride into the rest of my day (!). Ten kilometres there and ten back. 20 kilometres on a new (to me) route. That’s something.
What I’m Reading: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage by Rob Delaney
Those who think that depression is “good” for creative people may form a line and very aggressively blow me. I may be “creative” or a “weirdo” but I’m one thousand [literally] times more productive and useful to my fellow man when I’m firing on all happy cylinders. Just to be clear, I’d rather be in jail than depressed in my apartment. A jail sentence ends. You know roughly when it will end too.
I could have easily spent several more weeks in Florence. We stayed in a great little studio apartment we found on AirBNB that was near the historical centre of the city. This trip was full of climbing to the tops of various monuments and even our little apartment was at the top of four flights of stairs. However, having reached the top we were greeted with two glasses and a bottle of wine.
I earned more climbing stripes by ascending the Duomo di Firenze. It was wonderfully calming to look down and across the city from a big picture perspective.
The inside mural depicts the layers of hell. It was considered monstrous at the time it was finished by other painters at the time. It shows the Lost Paradise / Infern written by Dante that describes the seven layers of hell. At first glance it looks like a typical mural, but on a closer examination as you get lower and lower there are skeletons and devils that are doing some atrocious and painful acts. Let’s stick to the heavens, shall we?
I’ve posted this last photo before but I think heart-shaped pizza always deserves a second look. We entered a little side door off of the main restaurant at Caffè Italiano Osteria to find a handful of seats and a roaring pizza oven. Enjoyed our made-with-love pizza with a cold bottle of beer was a lovely end to the day.
This week from May 5th-11th is Mental Health Awareness Week. I was lucky enough to be asked as someone with lived experience to give two short talks to employees at Ontario College of Trades as part of their planned events for the week. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a trained public speaker so the level of nervousness I experience (on top of diagnosed general anxiety) is high. However, the cause of mental health advocacy is worth it every. single. time.
Part of what I discuss concerns the fact that I, like so many others, have had past work experiences where the level of understanding about mental health has been much less than desirable. Obviously frustrating when one of the elements that individuals find unhelpful is silence surrounding their experience. Social supports, even professional in nature, help move towards assisting the individual rather than stuffing their issues back into the closet.
It is so very heartening to see organizations and businesses like the Ontario College of Trades take part in these events. It means that the importance of opening up a dialogue surrounding mental health and encouraging additional awareness and supports to be put in place has not been lost in the fray. People at these organizations are striving for change. By bringing in people with lived experience and experts from the medical community, they spread knowledge to those who might not have had it previously.
What I Read: Then Again by Diane Keaton
…but I also have an extended family. The people who stayed. The people who became more than friends; the people who open the door when I knock. That’s what it all boils down to. The people who have to open the door, not because they always want to but because they do.
saving sanity wherever I am able to
reading Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
thinking about the now
listening to Kacey Musgraves
drinking homemade lattes
trying to make a shift
writing more.. about travel, mental health, and the process
dreaming of black sand beaches
donating my time
walking even when I don’t want to
trusting when I’m unsure
craving cinnamon and nutmeg
It’s National Poetry Month!
Now, the world of poetry is a beautiful thing because like most forms of art, it covers a wide range of topics. I find slam poetry to be especially powerful because of the emoting and tone that is connected to powerful words. Poems are able to tackle subjects that are not as easily tackled in day-to-day conversation.
In tribute to April being National Poetry Month, I’ve gathered five videos of slam poetry that touch on mental health.
Aaron Burstein – “Social Anxiety at 130 BMP”
Catalina Ferro – “Anxiety Group”
Neil Hilborn – “OCD”
Rage Almighty – “Depression”
Marge Johnson – “Mental Illness”
If you know of any other slam poems out there regarding mental health, comment with the link so I can watch it as well.
What I’m Reading: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me – A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney
I really enjoyed reading this graphic novel. Quotes wouldn’t be as effective without the accompanying illustrations so I’ve included two snapshots from the book itself.
I have been the one underneath that blanket a countless number of times. I would have loved to have read a book like this when I was a teenager. Something that not only would have made me feel less isolated in the depression itself but that showed how creativity could be used to battle it – to produce something that was both fun and emotionally relevant.