Posted by jennifer gibson on Sunday, June 17, 2018 Under: June 2018

What does it mean to be alive? That question seems to have popped up so many times lately in the wake of the suicides of designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain. Strangely, around the same time this happened, there was a sense of a heavy pall around the world. Was there was a sudden shift in the earth’s magnetic poles? Or perhaps a change in the sun’s solar flares? Whatever the reason, there is a universal feeling that many of can sense that something is not right, deep down in our souls. 

We should be living our lives to the best of our abilities, embracing our uniqueness and accepting the blessings that we receive on a daily basis. Ironically, that is the hardest thing to do. Especially for me. Because of my hearing loss, I was abused, teased relentlessly, ostracized and bullied throughout my childhood. I can’t change that now. It’s in the past where it should stay. Unfortunately, it keeps creeping forward like a dark shadow trying to smother me.

What happened to me as a young child, nearly destroyed my self esteem and self worth. I lost my ability to trust people, particularly men. That exists now, it’s in my face everyday. It has been an ongoing battle for a long time. And there have been times when I nearly lost that battle. It’s an overwhelming fear that encompasses my inner core. I have anxiety and panic attacks. There are triggers present in my life that I’m trying very hard to control and overcome. It’s not easy. When it hits me, I tend to shut down, mentally and emotionally. That happened recently and it was at that moment that I desperately wanted to talk to my mother. But I couldn’t since she died a year ago. Not only was she my best friend and mother, she was also a gifted psychologist. She would’ve imparted valuable wisdom to help boost my morale and remind me that I’m still a normal person. 

Now, it’s up to me to figure out how to shake off that lingering doubt and horrible, creeping feeling of anxiety. I know that logically I need to get out, go for a walk in the sunshine, take photos of the flowers blooming nearby. To me, it’s a form of meditation. I don’t know why it works but it does. I seem to go into a zone where I’m completely immersed in the world of colourful plants. It's also a great opportunity to see life happening around me, hearing and seeing the pulse of the city. When I went for a walk the other day, a kindly elderly lady who reminded me of Mom, said to me "Hello sweetie" as I strolled past her. That lifted my spirits, even though she was a stranger. Being active helps immensely. Watching movies and tv shows, especially the ones that Mom and I used to enjoy, keeps me grounded. That’s when I begin to feel normal once again. Most of all, it’s about taking the initiative to take control of what’s happening to me. It’s my responsibility to figure out what works for me as an independent adult. I need to figure out how to be proud of my accomplishments and count my blessings. 

I need to remind myself to be grateful for the food, even if it means going to the food bank. I have a new apartment and my adorable fur babies to take care of. I love it when the sun streams through the gloriously tall windows late in the afternoon. There is something magical abut watching the shadows of the maple leaves shimmer on the wall, it’s as if they are dancing with joy. Every morning, I feel very lucky to be able to sit in Mom’s rocking chair, sip my coffee, and have a purring kitty lounge in my lap. I need those moments, even if it’s fleeting, lasting from a few minutes to an hour. It’s a reminder that I should feel blessed. And it helps me get through that horrible, tight feeling in my chest from the anxiety. 

Living in the dark, lying in bed in absolute fear, does not work for me. I have already lived through grief and depression and don’t want to experience that again. There was a time for that. I would prefer to keep moving forward, regardless of how difficult it may seem. I know that is what Mom would tell me to do. Deep down, I know there is a reason why I’m here. That there is something that I need to do. For the most part, I’m still trying to figure that out.

Interestingly, at the same time that I was struggling with my anxiety, actor Will Wheaton (Star Trek, Eureka, Big Bang Theory), posted a deeply personal and relevant article about his experience with it. I couldn’t believe the timing of it, it was exactly what I needed to read. His words really opened my eyes and it made me realize that I was not alone. That is saying something. Will is a gifted writer, not only is he funny, he literally paints a picture of what he goes through and makes it more real for us. He is right, that there are times when it feels like we are walking through a thick fog, wondering where we are going next on our journey. If you get a chance, I highly recommend reading Wil’s article about living with chronic depression, it’s very insightful:

Ironically, while all of this was happening, I kept seeing the word, “Alive”. It was the weirdest thing, it kept popping up in the Bruce Springsteen song that I just downloaded (We Are Alive) to the movie “The Mountain Between Us”. Near the end of that film, Kate Winslet’s character, who survives a horrendous ordeal after a plane crash, simply says “I’m Alive” - that really struck a chord with me. 

Soon afterwards, several more famous people posted their thoughts about the recent suicides. Prison Break and Legends of Tomorrow actor, Dominic Purcell, revealed in his Instagram account, that he suffers from mental illness. This was not an easy subject for him to talk about nor reveal to the public. But he decided to come forward, to some degree, since he lost two of his friends to suicide as well. He knew that it was time to say something and share his thoughts about it, in hopes of helping others.

Then I received a message in my email about Gabby Bernstein, who is an international speaker and NY Times best selling author of “The Universe has your Back”. She posted a series of inspirational videos how to make an impact in this world. I took a moment to watch them and was blown away by her words. She said that we are meant to use our gifts to serve others in a meaningful way. Her keywords were: You are needed. Your story matters.

That was powerful. And a really good reminder that I need to take heed of those words. The overall message that kept popping up this past week, was that we need to be kinder to ourselves. Even Russell Brand said this! 

We need to see everyday, mainly life, as a blessing. Being alive is what counts. I know it’s not easy, especially for me, where every single day can be a struggle. That is what I need to do today.  Be Alive. 

Need a little boost in your spirits? I've been listening to Enrique Iglesias lately, go check out his dance songs:

Move to Miami - 

No Me Diagas Que No -

Subeme la Radio - 

I like it - 

In : June 2018 

Tags: "hearing loss" "mental illness" stigma "enrique iglesias" 
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