I think my time here on Tumblr has come to an end. Between working and going to school full-time, I no longer spend much time on the internet. I definitely (and unfortunately) don’t have enough time to take photos. And, well, Tumblr doesn’t feel necessary anymore. I likely will not delete this blog, at least not right away, but I think it is time to start a new chapter and close out the ones before it.
If you need anything or just want to talk or be friends, please don’t hesitate to reach out! My information here is still current.
SURHUL Clubs and Societies Smashing The Stigma
Mental health conditions are not taboo. Perhaps you don’t want to shout it from the rooftops, but don’t feel that you need to hide it for fear of isolation, especially from yourself.
I have been affected by a mental health condition and I am not afraid to say it.
It runs in my family. I am not immune, but I am not a victim either.
There was the time when I was seven and decided that I could sleep over at my friend’s house in Beacon Hill, about a fifteen mile drive from home. I woke up in at 12am, sobbing. I didn’t know what was wrong, I was inconsolable. It was so bad that my friend’s parents offered to drive me home. I was mortified.
There was also the time when I was fifteen. I couldn’t breathe. My heart was racing. All I could do was cry, still inconsolable. It was another panic attack. I cried alone in my room the entire night.
I don’t have any instances that are necessarily worse than that, but at times, it feels as though it is seeping its way back into the crevices of my mind, then through my veins, and ever-so-slowly into my lungs where I will finally start to notice that I cannot breathe as well as I could in the morning. I never knew what to do when that happened and I was on my own, so I started to distract myself; I started to ignore it.
This morning it happened once more, perhaps with a bit more of a vengeance than in the past couple of years. It’s unsurprising, really. The day after my grandfather passed I started winter quarter, which has proven to be all-consuming. I felt my vision become unfocused, my mind become weak, I felt my body become submissive to the anxiety that began to overwhelm it. Between full-time school, full-time work, a nasty illness, and the death of someone that I held higher than I ever imagined, the past month has pushed me far past my expectations of myself. I was ready to lose it this morning. I was ready to crumble.
And then something peculiar happened…I talked myself down. I stopped to breathe, I made a list, I went out and tried my hand at running again, I ran down streets I had never stopped to notice, I told myself that I could and would feel better. And so I did.
And so I did.
For the last few years, I’ve seen my grandparents less and less. From weekly visits and phone calls to monthly visits, then bi-monthly calls, and so on and so forth. This is, of course, in part due to the distance that life has put between us. First my grandparents moved from their house down the street to the assisted living down the series of roads adding up to about five miles. Then I moved down a longer yet series of roads about 20 miles long. Then I moved yet again down a couple more roads, as you do when you’re an apartment dweller in your 20s.
This whole time, though, I wasn’t simply putting miles between us, I was building a wall. The older my grandparents became, the more photos of the past I hung on the walls. The more ailments I was told of, the stronger I tried to build it. Although I adamantly denied it, I was doing this on purpose. I wasn’t busy enough that I couldn’t have called them back or spent a few hours with them. As these realizations came to light, more and more holes appeared in those walls I had worked so hard to build.
I didn’t want to believe that the days of traveling to their cabin in Gold Bar to sit on the huge rocks by the Skykomish with my Papa watching us over his newspaper on the deck behind us. I didn’t want to believe my grandmother’s Macular Degeneration would win. I didn’t want to believe that my grandparents would shrink, shrivel, and moan in pain throughout the day. So, I didn’t.
Last Sunday evening, I couldn’t quite ignore this hollow, sinking feeling in my belly. In an attempt to distract myself, I picked Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking from my bookshelf and dove in. By the second page I was absolutely spellbound. By the end of the night I was 60 pages in. What I didn’t know was that, as I was putting that book on my nightstand to drift off to sleep, my grandpa was on the other side of that wall and down some roads going into cardiac arrest.
Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant.
The last week has been a blur of tears, long drives, and holding hands. I know the third floor of Issaquah’s Swedish Hospital quite well by now. I know that the hospital machines make much more pleasant noises now than they did in prior visits. I know that my grandparents are not invincible and that they are dying. I know that, but I don’t know that I believe it yet.
Self-pity is the question.
Death is harder than I imagined it to be. I don’t know about death itself as we are not at that part of the story yet; but even the concept of death is so much heavier than I could have ever imagined.
I’m not going to tell you to cherish your time with your loved ones, or to appreciate what you have, but I urge you not to build that wall. Or at least to try not to.
What a ridiculously beautiful city we live in. Holy moly.
Whoa, y’all. That’s an insane amount of notes.
Rebecca Mock, a Brooklyn-based illustrator, is one of a handful of artists who have done GIF work for the New York Times
“Be kind to all of your neighbors / ‘Cause they’re just like you / And you’re nothing special / Unless they are too.”
The Honest Truth - Typhoon.
So much has changed in the past year, but I feel that now, more than ever, I am on the right path and I couldn’t be happier.
Second Avenue at night, 1951 (by Seattle Municipal Archives)
Third Avenue, 1928 (by Seattle Municipal Archives)
The way we treat the mentally ill makes me absolutely sick. They’re not third-class citizens, they are people too. We need to grow out of the mindset that this is some plague that will get us if we get too close. This is a growing problem, and, as someone who grew up in a home with a mentally ill person, I think it’s time we make some changes. This is getting us absolutely nowhere.