Mental Health Month: Ivy Pearl Roses

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Beloved and I drive past the local cemetery several times a week.

I often try to catch a glimpse of the rabbits that swarm to the cemetery for some vampire-like zombie reasons, I’m sure. But this week, just yesterday, I caught a glimpse of a name on a tombstone.

Ivy Pearl Roses

The name made me smile. I disappeared into an imaginary world where dear Ivy Pearl had parents who were early onset hippies, deciding that they would bestow upon their daughter the name of living things, natural things, in the hope that as she grew up she would value the natural world and the beauty that is in it, the restorative nature of life and the like. That Ivy Pearl grew into a woman who spearheaded the equal education of women and girls, a woman who had several dogs and a garden and spent her days writing stern letters to the editor and toddling to the local postbox, licking the stamp and shoving it into place with a thumb that had a nail full of dirt from her garden.

Ivy Pearl Roses.

Not just one rose, but plural. I’ve heard the surname Rose many times, and went to primary school with a beautiful local family of that name. But I’d never heard the surname Roses before. Ivy Pearl was a woman born into an abundance of beauty and buds and growth and fragrance. Her name alone was a three stage reminder of the important things in life: To grow in all circumstances; to remember that even a grain of sand can make a difference; to encourage boundaries and respect, lest you feel the pinch of thorns.

The thing is that Ivy Pearl Roses was transcribed upon an old tombstone. She didn’t appear in the cemetery recently. In reality, I’ve probably driven straight past her a million times, unable to see her name because I’d been trying desperately to spot the zombie rabbits.

There’s this irony that exists in mental health, and being as it is Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m going to share it with you.

You can be going great guns for days. Inspirational as all fuck. You can be fighting and working steadily in your wellness, strong, brave, bold, consistent. And then, life. And then, people. And then, change. And then disappointment. It doesn’t matter what your Achilles heel might be when it comes to your mental health. For a while it literally was my Achilles (which has recovered beautifully, by the way). But eventually, things can start to get harder to navigate. Your world might crumble a little bit. Your brain kicks into overdrive. Tears. Tiredness. It gets hard to form sentences. Hard to concentrate. Hard to wake up. Hard to sleep.

What gets me is that it is unreasonable to expect that life is always going to be a course of sheer inspiration and joy. You don’t get told this when you are trying to recover from mental illness. Instead you learn to measure your wellness by how you feel, instead of how you manage. The reality is that you are going to feel sad if bad stuff happens – and happen, it will. But that doesn’t mean your recovery is over, or regressing. It a side effect of engaging in life. And in my mind, engaging in life is the goal of recovery.

What does this have to do with Ivy Pearl Roses?

That’s easy. Her name is a beautiful reminder of life.

Grow in all circumstances. Remember that even a grain of sand can make a difference. Encourage boundaries and respect, lest you feel the pinch of thorns.

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