VANESSA GORDON | My Father’s Daughter
‘My Father's Daughter’ (link above) is a collection of poetry and stories by Vanessa Gordon which are designed to share, empower and raise awareness of important issues affecting women in the Pacific. Born in Papua New Guinea and raised in Hawaii, Vanessa is the only child of the late New Zealand cinematographer and storyteller Chris Gordon, whose creative intuition was inherited by Vanessa and, following his passing, became the inspiration for ‘My Father's Daughter’.
BRISBANE - A few years ago I wanted to find out why I was always so sad. I was happy enough on the outside. I was hilarious on the outside but on the inside I was always sad.
I thought that grief and loss just kind of lingered and that the feeling would eventually pass but it never passed. I decided to do some research and find out why I felt the way that I felt and how to stop feeling perpetual sadness.
According to google and a two minute quiz in a magazine I ticked the boxes.
I was depressed. Next plan of action was to find a cure.
At first I tried meditation, church and food. The meditation helped kill time on sleepless nights. Church seemed like the right place to go to seek peace. Food filled a void.
The meditation helped put me to sleep. The food helped me gain forty three kilos and church became a place to go on Sundays.
In my attempt to find happiness I read every self-help book I could get my hands on. I made vision boards with positive quotes and goals. My mental health became one big arts and crafts project. I liked and followed inspirational and motivational pages on social media. I tried to speak out and reach out to one of my 986 Facebook friends but each time I tried to speak up I just couldn’t.
I had so many reasons why I couldn’t talk about this internal torment.
I don’t want to be a burden, I can’t possibly talk about depression on a Wednesday, my socks don’t match, they’ll laugh at me, maybe tomorrow, they’ll laugh at me, they’ll talk about me or tell me I just need to get over “it” oh and they’ll laugh at me.
I stopped trying to talk about it instead I came up with my own perfect plan.
The Ten Minute Plan
On bad days I broke every moment down into ten minute blocks.
My “bad days” became a daily thing.
An average day for me would begin waking up and feeling overwhelmed.
Before the panic could possess every part of my being I would tell myself everything will be ok in ten minutes.
Ten minutes later I’m standing in the shower. Sobbing and praying that this too will pass. I close my eyes and remind myself that ten minutes ago I thought I couldn’t get out bed and here I am standing in the shower. Yay for me.
In just ten minutes everything will be ok.
Just ten more minutes.
Ten minutes later I’m making breakfast and lunches for my family and ensuring everyone has the correct bus fare, school bags packed, homework done, I have assigned chores and made a mental note of bills to be paid, overdue bills to be paid, what to have for dinner, how to make a healthy balanced dinner for a family of three with exactly eight dollars.
Before I can step into another state of panic and before the anxiety can hinder my ability to function I remind myself everything will be ok in ten minutes.
Just get through the next ten minutes.
My ten minute therapy helped me navigate through many dark days.
I still couldn’t talk about this constant struggle. There are social stigmas that placed me in a specific box that made my search for a cure difficult. Society put me in multiple boxes.
I am a woman, I am a woman of colour. I am a pacific islander, I am a single mother, I am single mother with two children from different men, oh and I am an overweight woman.
Then there was the cultural flip side I’m too white, too light, a little too loud and outspoken and now I want to talk about depression. There was a shame and sense of dismissive dialogue that the subject of depression is irrelevant.
With everything against me I decided to stick to my ten minute rule.
In ten minutes I will be fine. In ten minutes these feelings will magically disappear.
In ten minutes I will be able to get up from this paralysed state and be able to function.
In ten minutes I will feel better.
I ten minutes I will make that phone call.
In ten minutes I will talk to someone.
In ten minutes I will seek help.
In ten minutes I will pray.
In ten minutes I will stop crying.
In ten minutes I will force myself to be happy.
In just ten minutes.
One day I decided that in ten minutes I will seek professional help.
I made the call and I sought professional help and started therapy that same day. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. My life changed. I started eating right, I started exercising and looking after myself.
Most importantly I am not sad all the time.
I still have my ten minute moments.
Life is full of ten minute moments I just deal with them differently and I’m no longer ashamed of my ten minute moments.