getting through.

TW: suicidal ideation, suicide, depression, BPD

it’s been six years since i stepped into a therapy office for the first time.

on november 17th, 2016, i planned on taking my own life. it wasn’t the first or last time i tried or yearned for death. (i mean, boy, oh boy, august 2020 was real ruff. insert goofy laugh 🐶)

you know, i no longer feel inclined to unalive myself. i haven’t for years now, and that’s … so strange. living with mental illness, you come to befriend the scribble raining self-defeating thoughts over your head. you learn to like its company. it’s familiar and keeps you safe from the unknown.

but the unknown holds so much more possibility — the kind you can thrive in.

i’m not over it, though.

i don’t think you can ever really “get over” this. it’s not a hike to boast about. you don’t get to the top of Mount Mental Illness, take pictures of the view, and head back down with a pep in your step, accomplished.

it’s something you go through. it’s something you’re always going through.

my brain sometimes feels like a winding tunnel of scraps: my snow white locket. a box overflowing with letters. a box of dried petals in a box of crumpled photos. books i can’t touch but won’t donate. “turning out” by AJR on loop. taylor swift’s folkloric voice piercing through rain. phrases i’ve tried to forget. stacks of movie tickets with fading ink. lists and lists and lists of prayers i’ll never make again.

sometimes the tunnel has enough room to swim in, breaststroke style. other times, i am that desperate last drop of toothpaste trying to make it to the other end. and i don’t know who’s squeezing the life out of me.

i don’t have a guide.

this is not a guide for getting through BPD or social anxiety or whatever mental mess you’ve got. i only have a love for inane lists and immortalizing the ordinary. (cue footage of pam beesly taking down her artwork off the wall of dunder-mifflin)

here are the things currently getting me through the never-ending tunnel:

birds.

A photo of a white pigeon a few inches away from the feet of someone wearing black shoes, daisy-themed socks, and a floral dress.

two years ago, i started writing a character whose main source of happiness was her overwhelming love of ducks. i have never been too keen on birds, but thanks to this character, every bird i come across now brings me so much joy. in fact, my grandma even bought me a waterproof guide to ontario and quebec’s backyard birds which i consult after walking my dog.

the other day, i was chosen by a new friend.

i don’t have any more notes other than the fact the character design of some birds are what have me convinced there’s a God with a sense of humour.

scrapbooking.

A handmade scrapbook cover with the words "friendly reminders for Joseph Quinn, august 2022." The background is of an old map. Layered on top of the map is red lined graph paper with red scraps of paper and tape. Finally, there are three hand-drawn bats.

there’s something deeply calming about cutting up magazines and newspapers, collecting washi tape and stickers, and laying things down next to each other in the most meticulous fashion. (i’ve never sounded more like a virgo than now.)

honestly, i miss this particular scrapbook dearly, and i dropped hundreds of dollars and was traumatized by FanExpo Toronto just to get it to the recipient. (to the woman in green, thank you for ruining conventions forever!)

joseph quinn-related trauma aside, i have discovered an undying love for personalizing cards, letters, and books with collages specifically designed with a friend in mind. it hits the spot texturally, too, which is cozy and grounding.

joseph, if you’re reading this, i don’t care how long it’s been. i want reparations. (for legal purposes, this is a joke.) FanExpo Toronto, if you’re reading this, reply to my email already.

pop music.

there are many basic things about me, and being a jack antonoff stan is just one of them. i’ll be real. i don’t know if any song has captured Yearning (TM) with as much accuracy as “Chinatown.” and if i can be described with any adjective, it’s Yearning (TM).

and i mean. haha, grief you can bop to?

I think pain is waiting alone at the corner
Tryna get myself back home, yeah
Looking like everybody
Knowing everybody lost somebody

Bleachers, “Everybody Lost Somebody”

sign me up.

live music especially gets me out of bed in the morning. there’s nothing like scream-singing to florence + the machine with your cousins or crying at jack antonoff’s “chinatown” by yourself on a cold november sunday night.

god.

Photo of a brown curly-haired dog smiling at someone off-camera while cooling off in a river.

if i had to put a label on my relationship with God, i’d say, “it’s complicated, but we love each other and we’re working on it.” growing up in the evangelical-leaning nondenominational space, and as a PK to boot (translation: pastor’s kid) was not easy by any means.

but when you’re queer, neurodivergent, and inherently awkward, finding belonging in (hesitantly) The Church is exhausting. thankfully, i lean on core values which i believe God embodies: love and justice, intertwined.

personally, clinging to this verse for the last six years has quite literally saved my life:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

i see the truth of this verse every time a friend shows up unannounced to cheer me up. i see it when my parents and i talk about unlearning behaviour that doesn’t serve anyone, no arguments attached. i see it when my brother hugs me when i’m a shaking mess. i see it when i put on “A Prayer” by Kings Kaleidoscope.

mostly, as utterly ridiculous as this might sound, i see God in my dog’s eyes. and if he hasn’t saved me over and over, i don’t know who has.

i feel god’s love in bleachers concerts, in the laughter of my friends, and my mom’s texts. i mean this in the ~ oooOOWOOoo ~ way but also in a very tangible way, in the same way i have my great-grandmother in me.

now, when i step into the bathtub, i don’t feel the same kind of sinking deep. now, i know i’ll actually want to step out of it, uncertain but alive for the things that don’t matter: bird-watching, scrapbooking, and pop music.

not to lean on my love for You’ve Got Mail (1995), but it’s true: all these little nothings have meant so much … something.

hopefully,

mika

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One response to “getting through.”

  1. 2013 going on 2023 – hopefully, mika Avatar

    […] is so much more than the four walls of high school, more than even making it through college. what gets you through life […]

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