I once wrote, without really believing it, that perhaps laughter is finite. I was once the chubby kid who danced in the middle of the kitchen to make her parents laugh. But I had forgotten what deep, carefree laughter sounded like, and for a while, it really felt I had used mine all up.
I see my marriage, still healing from the past few years, where anger and fear made me into a distorted version of myself. I see my husband, my son, and myself healing as I make amends. I see our love, infinite, and tell my son our love goes beyond Neptune, beyond all the known galaxies. His love will always go a bit farther he says.
I sit on my IKEA Poäng chair and look at the unfolded laundry in the basket. I can sit two more minutes here reading, the vision of the unfolded clothes no longer attacking me. I can look across the living room and see the imperfections, the dishes after lunch, and not feel the obsessive impulse to clean them. I once needed to control the outside world, just so my mind could find a sense or order where my feelings couldn’t.
I am silly and make silly jokes. I make a fool of myself for the benefit of my son. I laugh on my own, I laugh during movies and when our kitten jumps in front of his toy, believing it is attacking him. I laugh with my co-workers and partners in art, the conspiratorial knowing laughter of shared frustrations and small, hard-won victories.
I bake and bake. I stay up at night thinking of new flavour combinations and daydream about the moment I’ll sprinkle gold dust onto a freshly iced cake. I declare myself a genius and laugh out loud even louder when I taste my crazy creations. I then share them with love.
I look outside the window and breathe in the late evening air. I learn to love the smells of Canada, so different from the tropical aromas of my childhood and youth. I love the smell of cold rain on a Sunday night and the smell of grass on an April morning. One day, during an unusually warm January morning, I heard the birds singing as I walked to the train. I loved their song as it reminded me of very early mornings in the summer, when the light finds you in bed at 5:00 am.
I see my friend. He sits at the foot of the cathedral, asking for change. James with the piercing blue eyes and handsome face. I take him for breakfast, get him groceries when I can. I understand finally that “when you give, you begin to live,” as Dave says. I understand that I am worthy to be here, on this earth, and that I can serve, I can give something of myself.
I walk to my parents’ house and have coffee with them. Dreams do come true. First you have to have the audacity to dream them and then you work hard. Every day, I honour my parents and show them my love, and every day we share in the happiness of being together, here, in this peaceful place. I help my parents, and I accept their help. It does not diminish me, it does not mean I am not working hard, or doing my best. Every day I learn humility and let myself be helped.
I feel a hunger I had never felt before. Bring me the world and I will eat it: its beauty, its colours, its music. Let me take it all and be all I can be. My mind is free, and my heart is free. I know the path is long, and mental illness is always there, right around the corner. But right now, this is what mental health looks to me. How does it look to you?
January 31st is Bell Let’s Talk Day. For every Tweet using #BellLetsTalk, among a number of other ways, Bell will donate 5 cents to mental health initiatives in Canada. I support Bell Let’s Talk Day and proudly participate every year. If you are on social media on January 31st, let’s talk about mental health.
Featured photo: The Adromeda galaxy, “our Milky Way’s largest galactic neighbor” according to NASA. Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.