Coping Musings: Illustrations & Coffee Humour 

Two things help me cope: 

  1. Humour
  2. Art/Arts and crafts (incidentally, why is it arts & crafts and not art & craft? English is such a weird language 🤣). 

As a child, I learned crochet, sewing and embroidery from my grandmother. We spent many a great afternoon having coffee and making stuff together and -unlike whoever my current teacher at that moment was- she was never put off by the fact I was left-handed. I also learned other various crafts at school but as I grew up, I forwent them for the pursuit of science. 

Three or fours years ago, however, during a three week stay at the mental health hospital ward, my awesome assigned occupational therapist had me working on various crafting projects twice a week. That re-kindled my love for the arts & crafts. 

Now I do papercrafts and I am also teaching myself some graphic design. This piece I made last year is based on a tutorial for typography-based design by Design Cuts -who are fantastic, by the way- but I changed their quote for a coffee related one. Because, you know, coffee.

Do NOT get between a Colombian and her coffee. Ever!

Um, yeah… I have a weird sense of humour. I know.

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What’s in a name?

Oh, what’s in a name, sings Timon to Pumbaa. 

Very convincingly too. 

And for the most part, he is right; not much, really. 

But some other times, there is hell in it. Or redemption.

I have known both.

Right now, my name contains my Safe Place. It means freedom. It means healing. It means a chance at being happy. 

I’ve been divorced for more than ten years, yet I still use my married name. Every now and then, someone would ask why. I always say that I hate red tape and it really isn’t worth the hassle of the paperwork and the money and time spent doing it. 

At this point, most people agree and the conversation moves on.

But even more rarely, someone – trying to be useful, I’m sure – will say “oh, it is not as complicated as you think. You just fill out a form and that’s it”.

At this point, I stare blankly at them, at loss for words. 

How do you explain that you simply cannot bring yourself to bear your father’s name again?

How do you say anything when even trying to hint at the fact that the real reason has to do with my father sends me into the amusement-park-house-of-horrors-mushrooms-induced-bad-trip-like experience* that thinking about my father unleashes?

I just can’t. 

All that I have achieved in terms of healing, in accepting myself, in internalizing that my father’s sins are not mine to carry, that I am not a bad seed, that I don’t have to serve time for my father’s transgressions… all of that will be lost if I go back to my maiden name. 

I can’t allow that to happen.

So, what’s in a name?

For some of us, the key to a healthy life.

Footnotes

* I’ve heard and read in the textbooks. I have never been inclined to drown my sorrows in alcohol or drugs despite the difficult, painful circumstances of my childhood and adolescence​.

My momma didn’t tell me

Having one of those Why The Fuck Did I Get Out Of Bed In The First Place? days.

I detest that blasted “fuck my life” expression as I am well aware that my life, when you think about it, is pretty good. I am not homeless. I am not starving. I am a citizen of – and live in- a safe and beautiful country. I know I am loved by family and friends.

That, by any account, is a blesses life in all the true sense of the word, religion notwithstanding.

But right now I am mighty tempted to scream fuck my life at the top of my lungs.

But most of all, and really, this is what it all comes down to, FUCK MENTAL ILLNESS.

You know what I mean?

Don’t mind me if I do

We have a saying in Colombia (we have a saying for every single thing under the sky, apparently) that goes something like this: “No evil/illness* lasts a hundred years”.

Then, also apparently, we have to have corolaries for the sayings. And this ones goes “nor there is a body that can endure it”.

The first part refers to the fact that no matter how bad things are, they are bound to get better at some point, even if it takes a hundred years.

In typical Colombian dry humour, the second part reminds us that if we have to wait that long for things to get better, there is no way we will survive it.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait a hundred years.

A week and counting…

Check my new post on Canvas to find out what the heck I’m talking about:  Don’t mind me if I do

Source: Don’t mind me if I do

* The Spanish word “mal” can refer both to evil, in the sense of misfortune and to illness or sickness.

The one where I want to throw a tantrum

Here is something I am currently struggling with.

Well, struggling is a bit of an understatement.

As I grow old-er, I am learning to make peace with my health issues and the limitations they impose on me.

The chronic physical pain has been inexorably taking me away from all the activities I love, all the physical activities that had made me happy since childhood, such as cycling, skating, rock climbing, hiking, working out, dancing. Some days I am more successful than others in not resenting it but in general I have come to terms with it.

Same -more or less- for the chronic emotional pain.

A few years ago, I was fortunate to be referred to a four-week long day hospital program where I was trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Best thing that could have happened to me, mental health related.

I find CBT tremendously useful in my daily life. I have internalized and incorporated CBT in my coping mechanisms and my life is more balanced and happier as a result. It is not an “and she lived happily ever after” story, of course, but I am very grateful for it. Continue reading

Let’s Talk

For the third year in a row, I have been asked to join the Healthy Minds Canada Team for the Let’s Talk Day campaign Needless to say, I consider it an honour.

Last year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day raised $6,107,538 for mental health initiatives in Canada. Not a bad figure, if you ask me.

Today’s Bell Let’s Talk Day finds me in an almost non-stop 24 hours streak of nightmares and their aftermath of hypnopompic hallucinations and sleep paralysis.

I am writing this blog post with shaky hands and the room is not quite still yet. It is slowly expanding and contracting in a seemingly endless cycle.

When I was first diagnosed with a mental illness, I felt my world fall apart.

As a person, I was afraid I’d be the laughing stock of society at large and pitied by my community.

As a mother, I was afraid that should my children eventually display symptoms of mental illness, they would be unceremoniously discarded as learned behaviours displayed by their crazy mother.

As a woman, I was afraid of being labelled as simply screaming for attention. Which did happen, by the way. Of course it happened. Especially among the medical community, my professors, who were mostly men, of course.

As a physician, I was afraid of being ostracized by the medical community for being unprofessional and hysterical. In the original sense of the word, not in the sense of being ludicrously funny.

Charcot_experience_histeric-hipnotic

Professor Jean-Martin Charcot of Paris Salpêtrière demonstrates hypnosis on a “hysterical” patient

 

All those things happened in one way or the other, so I learned to keep it to myself and instead come up with societally valid excuses for my absences.  Continue reading

Another little victory 

I feel like I need to give myself a sticker or something. 

Are you ready for this?

I swept and mopped the whole place! Mind you, it is a one bedroom apartment but still. 

And then… and then, I showered, got dressed and went for a walk!  

I banged my knee against a door and I have a bump and an ugly bruise but I don’t care. 

My mood improved almost all the way up to a 100% just by seeing how clean and tidy the place was. 

I must not let it get that messy. That’s another bloody vicious cycle: The more depressed I get, the less I am inclined to clean and tidy up ==> the messier and dust-bunnier the place becomes, the more depressed and/or anxious I get. 

The good news is that my bloody OCD prevents me from letting accumulate dishes in the sink so at least the dishes are always done. I just want to shoot myself if I go to the kitchen for whatever and see dirty dishes in the sink. I don’t even want to think of dirty dishes on the table or worse, littering the floor. It’s like having creepy crawlers all over me… gaaaaaaaah

*Take a deep breath* Oy! That was close….

Anyway, Meatless Monday. All my days are meatless, but on Mondays, all items in the menu are 10% off at my favourite vegetarian/vegan restaurant.

   

 Soy meat rice noodle. It tastes as good as it looks. Yum!

I think I smiled all the way back home :)