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We Are So Lucky Because We’re Not Dead Yet

Written and stitched by Emily Woods.

This is a time where I am happy to be depressed. It feels like I’ve been training to be quarantined for the last seven years. Stay home for a month? Got it. What did I do today? Slept for eighteen hours straight. Am I bored? I am incredible at laying flat for hours without needing any form of entertainment, of course not. I am numb as fuck and this is my time to shine.

In spring 2017 I caught the deadly illness meningitis. I was just finishing the first year of my acting degree in London. I ended up missing a ridiculous amount of school and was told that I had no choice but to defer a year. This would have been fine, aside from the fact that my student visa would not let me stay in the country if I was not in school. So, back to Canada I went.

My parents had moved from my hometown to retire in a two-bedroom condo now that their children were all out of the house. Their new locale is a beautiful city to retire in, but it’s not great to move to at the beginning of summer, mid-depressive episode because you almost died, knowing no one in the city, having no job and no reason to leave the house. It was at that time that my mother and I bonded over our mutual love of a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc at the wine bar down the road.

This was the beginning of my mom and I leaving the mother-daughter relationship and becoming best friends. My mom is a physically disabled woman; she has a broken pelvis after a car crash in 2006 and is now permanently housebound. When I was 15 I developed severe depression and anxiety due to a mixture of her accident and my falling out with my father. The high school years were tough, my mom’s focus was just to get me to graduation, through endless days and nights listening to me sob and making me promise her I would wake up in the morning. I made it.

Since she was disabled she was almost always home and, since I was depressed, me too! It was these days that we finally understood each other’s invisible disabilities; the inability to get out of bed some days, no explanation aside from the fact that it was a bad day. As I recovered from my meningitis I began to learn that I had inherited her love of wine, and we took advantage of its abilities to numb the physical and mental pain we both felt. Lying on the couch watching reruns of Ellen and Seinfeld it was an unspoken bond that had been created. My stepdad Tony took care of both of us, cooking and cleaning, he is too kind for his own good. He told us every day he was just so happy to have his girls together again.

Still, when I did moveto London it represented leaving behind a tough past. Now it’s 2020 and I am feeling some serious déjà vu.

I’ve been back home in my parent’s small two bedroom apartment in western Canada for one month now. This was the last thing I had planned for this time. After the stupid meningitis I was finally about to finish this degree. I was back in London and better than I was the first time. My mental health was so good, I was in a flat with my best friend and comedy was really becoming something I was confident in.

Now here I am, in coastal Canada, drinking wine with my mom and having Tony cook me dinner. I wasn’t supposed to be seeing my parents again for at least a year. I’m lucky to have parents who want to have me home but man, I was about to finish my degree in acting, I had a prime spot for my debut Edinburgh solo show, I had just started falling for someone for the first time in a very long time. Things were looking so good! Moving from London to Kelowna two days after my 22nd birthday was not part of my plan.

We’ve switched from Sauvignon Blanc at the wine bar down the road to glasses of Jacob’s Creek Sauvignon Blanc from the box in our fridge. It’s three years after the first time I had to move back and I have a strange sense of calmness. I have no idea what the fuck is going to happen, but that’s okay. I’m terrified my mom could get sick from my stepdad going to work everyday or me walking the dog along the beach, but that’s okay. We are doing all we can. The world’s a mess, people are dying, I am allowed to be depressed. Suddenly everything feels kind of okay.

In the midst of my first trip back home in 2017 I remember yelling to my mother through sobs, cursing her for giving me her bad luck, why do we deserve the horrible things we’ve had to go through?

“We can’t look at it as though we are unlucky. We are so lucky. We are so lucky because we’re not dead yet.”

So please, sleep for eighteen hours, get drunk and smoke a cigarette in front of your mom, do the bare minimum to get through the day. No one cares.

Stay the fuck home, shut up, and drink wine from a box.

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