I spoke at a conference on Friday. The previous 2 days I was barely functional. Sleeping, crying, listless, an effort to put on clothes. I have dealt with depression most of my life, my own, and the depression of those around me. My Mother, Father and sister regullarly talked about how they wanted to die or kill, I just thought about it, I still do. Death was ever present. My means of escape was the Mall, the TV or silly pop and disco records. I still like silly pop and disco records, but the escape in to them never felt as unhealthy as when I would become submerged into the TV. Or the hours spent looking at clothes I couldn’t afford, making up stories to the sales people so I could try them on and get out of there without feeling too bad. I don’t think I realized until much later that there were healthier ways for me to escape and deal with my depression. I don’t always remember them.
It’s hard right now. really hard. nothing is solid. I have no home. My mother is dying. I have no regular income. I still can’t stand this City but I can’t leave it either. Can’t stand is a bit harsh. It drives me nuts, it has a few redeeming qualities, but mostly it’s a soulless, passionless hole with bad architecture. So i’m all over the place. I started with talking about the conference because it helped with the overwhelming depression I was feeling. In my mom’s place there is a TV that is on alot. She can’t do alot other than shop, eat and watch TV. So I do that with her. The same mechanisms for dealing with depression that I used as child, as a teenager, and as a sort of grown up. They are easy distractions, they don’t require alot of work. At this conference the other day, a man who was speaking on the last panel about sustaining activism, told me I needed to take care of myself. He looked me in the eyes and told me” You are precious. The world needs you. You must take care of yourself. Excercise, eat well and meditate.”( maybe not exactly like that, but that was the gist of it.) He then put his hands on my face, gave me a kiss on the cheek and hugged me while I cried. He has worked for Greenpeace for over 20 years, front-line Greenpeace, on the ships, chained to pipes, arrested, arrested, and arrested. Arrested for saying no you can’t destroy this planet. People to tell me to care of myself all the time, this felt different. When he told me to look after myself the other day, the world needs me. I believed him.
I know what is best for me. I know that I need to exercise everyday, make things that are responding to the world around me with other people, and meditate. So yesterday It took me until 2pm to leave the apartment, get out of my nightgown, go to the store to get some things for my Mom, and then I went to the beach, put my feet in the ocean, washed my face, overthought things I can’t fix about someone I can’t and don’t want to fix, looked at all the shells, matched a bunch by colour, shape and direction of grooves, and then watched them get pulled away. Walked up to the pool, swam ten laps, came back to the apartment, had a shower and went for dinner with a friend. This morning I watched “Sketches of Frank Gehry” which I have seen before, but my mother hasn’t . She loved it. So do I. It doesn’t feel like an escape it feels like a gift. I went swimming again today. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes. The irony of depression as any one who lives with it knows, is that the things that make you feel the best, or at the very least, give you a bit of energy to keep you moving and communicating with the rest of the world, are the hardest to do. Or maybe they aren’t. For the most part, I know it’s a mind wrestle. The image of the arm wrestle is in my head, which way will I go, to the pool or the couch? I’m voting for the pool.