Monday 11 June 2018

Don't Call Me Exotic

My friend C and I often sit around over a shared plate discussing dating in Seattle. Not only Seattle but Sydney, London and all the other places we have lived.

One thing we are quite adamant about is that we do not respond well to being identified as exotic.

Peacocks anywhere but India are exotic.
Moulin Rouge dancers are exotic.
Cane toads destroying the Australian sugar fields are exotic.

I however, am not.

If you see me that way, you need to travel more.

Saturday 9 June 2018

Trigger Warning

It has been a long time since I wrote anything other than a book review that I'd share any more publicly than instabookchat. That is because it is hard to voice vulnerability when you are so far from home.

There are many reasons for that: Upsetting family who are too far away to help you; Worrying that your thoughts may scare the natives; and being publicly shamed for opening up on the whipping ground that is the Internet.

There are more but those are most certainly the top three that hinder my thought sharing.

What triggered this and many other things was waking up this morning to hear that Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide.

Truth be told, I had seen a few episodes of his different shows, read a little of his writing and knew he was dating a fabulous woman 20 years his junior. I wouldn't call myself a fan or a hater. He was the sarcastic loud American travel guy who managed to avoid being cringeworthy while educating Americans on the world outside their small untravelled world.

There are a few things that have bothered me about this whole situation that I feel must be addressed. Surely others will articulate it better but if I don't say it now, I will feel negligent. Negligent to those who suffer from depression; negligent to those who don't; and most certainly negligent to my own mental health.

Having suffered sever clinical depression for 3 years in my early 30s, Bourdain's and Kate Spade's deaths have triggered my biggest fear.

That fear is that I could find myself in that dark place again feeling that there are no other choices to escape the pain than to quit the whole game. I have too many tools now for that. I know when to ask for help and when to voice my pain to others so that the darkness never returns. But, and it is a loud and cautious but, what if there is a situation so dire that I don't get to catch myself before I fall?

News reports keep saying he was happy (even giddy) a week before his death so he can't have been depressed. That is the most naive nonsense I've heard in a long time.

Triggers don't take time to build up to make you snap. They are stressors that happen in an instant and cause you to immediately return to a mental state where you were at your worst. It is as if you never left the dungeon and the darkness. It feels like nothing else good has ever happened even if you were smiling last week.

Therapy teaches you to be mindful and catch yourself in those moments and then apply your tools to stop yourself from spiralling. Those tools may involve asking others for help, negating the lies your brain tells you or not making any decisions until you are safe enough to do so. There are many tools to help a depressed person but sometimes, Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming that you can't even breathe let alone catch yourself.

For all the education out there, those who have not suffered mental illness (and some who have) don't get it. They don't understand how it works and how you don't.

We live in a society that wants to talk about it but we also don't want to because those who understand are afraid of triggering their demons.

This is hard to write. This is hard to say. But the pain is real for many.

You don't get over depression. Not really. You just learn to function and not be frozen in time by the pain. The fear of returning may be irrational but when you watch someone who rebroke and didn't escape it, the fear feels real.

Talk about it. The world is a better place for having you in. Me too.