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Passe-Temps. Story of One Life. IX

Yana Malysheva-Jones

IX

I’m standing in front of an old house that used to be a windmill and now my new therapist lives here. Behind me is the road with cars going left and right fast, loud, dangerous. In front of me is a tranquil view of hills. The day is grey, but fresh. As usual I woke up in a good mood and I am scared knowing that the mood will start going down soon. Some time in the afternoon, in the most inconvenient time. That’s what depression and mental health problems happened to be to me — high in the morning, low in the afternoon, and hopefully quite ok and cheerful by the end of the day. If I’m lucky. Over the four years of me living with this I have had numerous hypotheses of why exactly I’ve been having this pattern and I’ve come to a conclusion that can easily be backed up by both traditional and non-traditional healers and therapists — Max was born at 17:02, I myself was born at 18:15. So double trauma — my birth of Max was morbid, my own birth was not much better. Being really late, just like my son, I didn’t even breathe when I was born so I had to be taken to a special care unit for several days. My mum told me — my silence silenced her, the revelation she felt after hearing me cry after a few of a midwife’s taps on my little body was everything.

That’s what I learnt and that’s what real growing up happened to be to me — coming to terms with the fact that sadness and joy, beauty and fear, peace and terror always come together in life, inevitably, every moment of it.

Who am I to tell someone to quit drinking? Who am I to say that their relationship is toxic or the world they live in is profoundly wrong?

Yesterday I was in Shropshire. Today I’m overlooking the roofs of posh houses in Kensington in central London. The Polish guy we met last night on the street pierced me right into the heart, again. Like all others. He said he was raising money to get a room for ninety pounds and he had already managed to save seventy. Ninety pounds it is what I’m thinking — per night? Per week? Per month?

Having a billion dollars in your bank account should become a crime, Ben tells me over breakfast. I tell him if we see this guy again today I’ll give him ten pounds instead of one and a half we donated last night. I wish I could give him more I swear. I would have given him two hundred, three, even a thousand. If only I had the opportunity. I think of Keanu Reeves and all the stories I read about him — his generosity, his lack of greed, his understanding as it seems of real values in life. His simple comprehension that it is simply ridiculous to be paid millions of dollars for a role in a film when all other crew members get paid thousands times less. Who created this system and why is it still functioning? Common opinion is that Keanu’s grief after having a stillborn child, then losing his wife and later sister didn’t make him tougher and more sinister. But how could it? His heart being probably already soft and sensitive softened up even more and created this inevitable ability for him to notice and feel things that stay unnoticeable when you have dollar signs in your eyes more than anything else.

Andrew was the same. I didn’t know him very well in real life but I got a grip of what kind of person he was through Ben’s telling me about him. Those things I heard about him at his funeral alertedly reminded me of myself — always seeing grief in others, talking to the homeless, sharing his money with them thinking they definitely deserve it more. Specialists might call it ‘depressive state of mind’ as it is something to change and yes, it is something to change and maybe Andrew then could have been still alive. But at the same time I find it difficult to have any other kind of mindset when what we experience everyday is unbearable inequality, inhumane suffering and tons of empty houses as well as tons of homeless on the street. I cannot come to terms with it and I wish one day I will be able to do something about all this.

His suicide triggered my own mental state and my own reflections about life and death, about the world and people around me. Every day the darkness of the loss switches to the lightness of the person he was and still is. It is true what it says in that famous speech about wearing sunscreen: ‘The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday’.

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