Reasons To Stay Alive
I'm reading a book by Matt Haig called Reasons To Stay Alive. As you can rightly guess from the title, I'm looking for reasons. I'm not actually enjoying the book very much, but that could be because when I'm depressed enjoyment isn't easy to come by, or I just don't like it, but yet I plough on in the hope that it will provide the magic potion that convinces me. Every time I'm about to stop reading something from the next page catches my eye. The first was that he began to write of Graham Greene. Greene's book The End of The Affair challenges and inspires me. The opening line is my favourite of all the books I've read:
"A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead."
I highly recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by Colin Firth. There are times when I can't sleep or I'm too depressed to even read that an audiobook is akin to salvation.
The second time I was about to give up on Haig's book I caught the word "Bermuda". Just like I have in the past, many writers and artists have turned to travel as a way of escaping their feelings and moods. The American painter Georgia O'Keeffe was hospitalised in 1933 due to severe depression and anxiety. After being admitted to hospital, which provided no relief, she went on to travel, which did a world of good. One of those places she travelled was to Bermuda and she found that she healed.
Mark Twain is quoted as saying "You can go to heaven if you want. I'd rather stay in Bermuda." In his autobiography he wrote "The spirit of the place is serenity, repose, contentment, tranquility." Of course, Bermuda has changed a bit since 1909 (Twain's last visit), but there is something calling me home. I've been wanting to move back for a few months now. London is a grind. I miss my family. I want to write by the ocean. I want to smell the sea. However, I'm engaged in a six month long psychiatric treatment in London. I have support from the NHS that isn't available in Bermuda including free home visits, therapy and medication, as well as extensive external support groups. I worry, as a freelancer, about moving home as health insurance is prohibitively expensive and I've been previously turned down by a local company for coverage due to my "pre-existing condition" of Bipolar disorder. Along with conquering stigma, the battle for basic assistance is exhausting to anyone, let alone someone struggling. Bermuda, you must do better.
Today I woke up and I wrote this blog post. That's more than I've been able to do for awhile. It appears there is a crack in the clouds. That crack lets the sun through and I just have to keep turning my face towards that single ray of sun. It often slips behind the clouds again, but I know it exists behind that. Today I know that. Two days ago I didn't. Because that's what depression does. It robs you of hope and fills you with despair. But that crack, that is a reason to stay alive. Because eventually the sun will fully shine on my face again and I'll bathe in its warmth and swim in the ocean and find "serenity, repose, contentment, tranquility". In Bermuda. In London. Wherever I am.