First things first: “on a budget” is not a precise scientific phrase. I live in Amsterdam, which most tourists consider to be expensive. When I go to Reykjavík I am shocked by how expensive everything is. Therefore “on a budget” should be understood as “cheaper than the others”. And, let’s face it, as an author that hasn’t even published anything at all yet and spends tons of money on research books (and on non-research books…) I am poor. This article is going to make me look like a cheapskate. Good! Because when it comes to spending thousands of euros I AM a cheapskate due to not really having thousands of euros.

To prove this works (buy my book on social media guruing that will bring you $10,000…sorry, wrong guru) – we went twice so far. Four days in June 2017 cost us approximately 2/3 of what we’d spent on four WEEKS in April 2018. First time around accommodation constituted about 50% of our spending. Second time around – 80%. We stayed at the same spot in Reykjavík. So what did we do differently?

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Since I first visited Iceland in 2016 I never stopped missing it, thinking about it, reading, gawking at photographs. We spent almost all of April 2017 there and it didn’t help. I am homesick for a country I never lived in.

 

Part I: Poland

I was originally made in Poland. I never met my biological father. My Mom raised me as well as she possibly could, but she had no influence over the ever-present homophobia. I left that country in 2006. While the LGTBQIA+ organisations grew and started to fight for our rights, so far results are rather unimpressive. I mean, it’s lovely that there are Pride parades gathering thousands of people. It’s just that they don’t really affect anyone except those who partake in them. When Husby and I visit my Polish family, because of the Polish law we are not only considered not married, we’re considered to be total strangers. We always buy extra insurance to fly us home in case there is an accident because I wouldn’t be allowed to make any decisions on behalf of my husband.

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I’m writing about depression, because they say “write what you know”. But this advice probably applies to most of us who suffer from various sorts of chronic or recurring illness.

A while ago, I saw a recommendation for a book. I will not quote the title or the author for obvious reasons. The gist of the advice provided was “I know it’s difficult, but you just need to work harder and everything will be hunky dory” coupled with “…and if you don’t work hard enough, then it’s your own fault, enjoy your depression”. (Oh, and “buy my books”.) I managed to get to page 11, therefore I am not qualified to give the full masterpiece a 1-star review. On page 11 the author took someone’s suicide note and applied his wisdom to it, noting – I am paraphrasing, don’t google that – that perhaps if the dead author in question had access to useful resources, such as that book, everything might have been fine. The quotes that appear on previous pages can be summed up with “oh, I get depressed, but that’s awesome because it gives me so much insight into myself and improves my creativity, I am so grateful for depression!”.

This is not depression. It’s called navel-gazing. For a person suffering from actual depression this book is actively dangerous.

 

Depression is an illness that often kills.

Again, there’s no need to quote names of people who were famous, successful, appeared perfectly happy, had money, family, whatever else you could possibly dream of, then died of depression. Their loved ones – and people who have never experienced depression – called them cowards for committing suicide. They didn’t understand that it wasn’t “committing suicide” any more than dying of cancer is “committing suicide”. Death is the final result of the untreated depression and is often brought forward by the sort of good advice provided in the book I mentioned above.

So…what is a creative person supposed to do when they’re depressed?

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