Content warning: this piece contains discussions around mental health, physical illness, and emotional abuse – which means the potential for triggering content. I have made the choice to be forthcoming about my mental health, because it helps me, but know there is never any pressure to publicly disclose YOUR struggles. However, if you or someone you know needs help, don’t be afraid to reach out; I will always be glad I did. The Canada Suicide Prevention Service can be reached 24/7, 365 days a year at 833-456-4566.
It’s just past 1 a.m. the day before my last day at CityNews, and, as I’m getting ready for bed, I have the nitpicking urge to write.
So, I do what I always do when this happens: I grab a drink, (non-alcoholic, thank you very much, since I work in about 9 hours) park myself in front of my Pixelbook, (what do the kids say? ‘Not sponsored?’) and I open it up, the sound of the fridge is my only companion, since Jon is snoring away in the bedroom.
As I sit and I think about what life has been like these past few years, I find myself chuckling, since things have changed so much; my wonderful marriage of four years (and counting!) the only constant. I’ve acknowledged my personal problems by openly discussing my mental health, and my week stay in a wellness centre after what I can only describe as a psychotic break about a year and a half ago – that’s when I was diagnosed with ‘traits of’ Borderline Personality Disorder.
I’ve started to tackle the thousands of dollars in debt I racked up trying to survive on my own from about the age of 18, after my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I’ve chopped off my hair (love it!) after thinking about it on and off for the last few weeks.
But the one change that has really rocked my world the most is that I am leaving this job. No one asked me to. I wasn’t laid off, and it came as a surprise to pretty much everyone – even myself. The day I gave my notice, I had no plans concretely nailed down; no new contracts signed. I felt like Tom Hanks at the very end of Castaway, y’know, the part where he’s looking at all those signs…
It’s odd how life works. I’d been having the ‘what if’ conversation for a while, but I’ve been having ‘what if’ conversations with myself for the past, well, 20-some-odd years.
And then a strange thought popped into my head one day, a few weeks ago, as I was trying to hack out whatever nasty ass fluid was still in my lungs from the pneumonia I’d been navigating: what if I listened to all my what ifs?
You see, it really wasn’t the ‘what if I leave my job’ thoughts. I’d barely had them toward the end. It was, ‘what if you wanted to become the kind of writer you’ve always wanted to be? What if you had the time to work on the projects you love? What if this flipping/picking thing you do really takes off?’
(In this context, flipping or picking is what’s generally used to describe someone who takes pre-loved things and fixes them up, then sells them. I have a Poshmark site, and I enjoy the journey leading up to the sale – fixing things, packaging things, listing and then selling them.)
Unfortunately, trying all of these things would have meant, for my sanity, having to give my notice at my current job.
I’ve learned a lot at CityNews; the big thing being that I will miss the people – be they interviewees, spokespeople – but especially my coworkers. There is no doubting I have had the opportunity to meet some passionate, hardworking and funny folks. I’m taking a lot of memories with me, which is a beautiful thing. Whether it was ad-libbing for 30 minutes at a time during the Capitol Riots in 2021 on the AM airwaves, the hits I did on KiSS Radio, getting trained for the Drive show by one of my best friends, or talking to people about my tiny camera and mic set-up (I VJ using a Canon EOS or my iPhone, which is MUCH easier to carry), it’s been really cool meeting folks who are experts in their field.
Since I’ve announced my exit from W 2nd Avenue, the question I get the most is, ‘how do you feel?’ I know some people have asked this question to poke the bear, because I see them raise an eyebrow – or both – when they make the query. It’s even more seemingly salacious because of the times we live in, with media ‘getting it’ from all angles. And I tell them the sobering truth: I feel good. I feel okay. I had a couple of good cries since giving my notice, and for the aforementioned reasons above: the people.
One of the things I’ve learned to do living with Borderline Personality Disorder is to be honest with myself. It’s hard, ongoing work. I journal nearly everyday; I have to write out how I am feeling to be able to understand and set my limits. For years, I saw journaling as a privilege, especially after growing up with a mother who would actively look for my diaries, read them, then call all her friends about what she’d read. Yes, that shit messes you up as a kid.
(An aside: parents, let your children journal and give them their space, for the love of Pete.)
Knowing now that I really do hold power with a pen and a notebook has been emancipating. And like I’ve said before, I *will* write a book about all of this one day. I’ve started working on it – I don’t plan on publishing anytime soon, but the work is absolutely happening.
Flipping through the last few months of journal entries, I’ve often included how much I want to be a long-form writer, and the thought comes up in different words over and over and over and over again – kind of like having to rattle off COVID numbers. (Yes, we hate it as much as you do, trust me.) When I was in high school, the one thing that ALWAYS made me happy was attending the pitch meetings for our school newspaper; I actually kept some of the issues I worked on, and I’m going to haul them out again in the next few weeks out of sheer nostalgia.
Back to my decision-making, however: in this case, I can take control and make a choice. I’ve never been good at making choices – honestly, my way has been to just pick the thing that’s the easiest; pick what I know and stick with it. I’ve yet to meet someone who has said to me, ‘being safe is so challenging!’
Learning that time is a currency more valuable than money has been one of my toughest lessons. I really thought I was fucked when I was diagnosed with pneumonia; I would NEVER wish it on anyone. For almost three weeks, my days consisted of eating, sleeping, and bathroom breaks. As I told a few people, when I was feeling REALLY adventurous, I would walk from my bed to my couch. I was trying to avoid the hospital as much as I could, and the best way to do that would be to doze off. I was on antibiotics that, I didn’t know could do that many crazy things to your digestive system and make you drop weight so fast, your head would spin.
As a kid, I was sick a lot. I still live with asthma, which is pretty common, but I’ve had Norwalk, viral pneumonia, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, and for a while dealt with optic neuritis. I think the difference being sick now versus being sick as a kid or teen is that I have relatively more life experience under my belt. Being sick the way I had been, in this current context, was an eye-opener – the catalyst for the realization of how valuable time is.
So, as I wrap up my thoughts and down the last bit of my drink, I see myself as a bit of an Ash Ketchum, leaving the comfort and safety of Pallet Town. I’m definitely not ten, and I know the odds of finding real Pokemon on my journey is slim – seeing as Ash is a fictional character – but I’m off to find something. You may be asking, ‘Ria, what is that something? How will you know if you’ve found it?’
I don’t. And that’s the strange, yet beautiful mystery of life. We look. We search. We seek. We try.
“So we beat on. Boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
The Great Gatsby