Well, things have certainly flipped around within the last two weeks. It’s a little incredible actually. The plans for ECT were changed after my doctor decidedly retracted her previous statement and said it wasn’t a good idea. She declared that she no longer supported the decision and wouldn’t write the referral. Pissed off my parents and I were. But the same day she told us this, we had a family meeting with Allister and that diffused the tension a little bit. We ended up right back where we started. I was depressed, we hadn’t talked about any medication changes or options for a different approach for my depression so things were at a standstill. Moving out was mentioned more than once but we couldn’t wrap the financials around it so that idea was sort of abandoned. And admittedly, the crippling, suicidal, I-want-the-world-to-crush-me-into-oblivion depression started to lift just the slightest bit. I was making plans with a very good friend. I was going to therapy more than once a week. I was engaging with my family. But people were missing the point. When in crisis, everyone can acknowledge and see the depression. But after the crisis is over, people forget the depression ever existed in the first place. They just expect everything to snap back into place and everything to be fine. The thing is though, that’s not how it works. My problem is that, even though, with the crisis over, I still have an underlying depression. I dip lower when I’m in crisis but I never come completely back to the surface. But…things did slightly turn around. I was able to sort of snap back into perspective. I took some action and got information I needed about my Social Security. I edited my resume. I actively stayed in touch with friends. I stayed physically active. And then, I got a phone call. My old softball coach and sort of pseudo-Mom called and said she had a family friend living with her. We’ll call her Billy Goat. Ms. Hubbard (my extra Mom) informed me that they were having a rough time with Billy Goat’s home health aide because she was from an agency, they didn’t personally know her and she was really only in it for the money. Aunt H (again, my extra Mom. She’ll be either Ms. or Aunt) said she wanted someone she could trust caring for Billy Goat. I have certifications and she knows me, trusts me and knows that 99% of the time I’m not doing much of anything (not to be offensive). And you know what I did? I took the job. I’m being paid to act as a caretaker for a family friend of a family friend. It’s emotional and intense but I like it. It’s a distraction from my own life and a reflection into someone else’s. This week has been stressful because it’s a transition. We’re switching from the home health aide to me and things in her treatment plan are moving forward. I adjusted my schedule to make sure she was comfortable this week, to give her some stability and to make sure she knew I was supporting her. And I know it will be rough the sicker she gets, and the more time I spend with her, but I think I can handle it. When I was with Uncle Fish, there were times when I had to leave the room and take a walk. I had to breathe some fresh air and remind myself that I wasn’t the one dying, he was. I had to remember that this is the life cycle, that it’s not an omen or anything like that. It’s just life. And I think this will be good for both her and me. She’ll be getting the perspective of someone who’s sort of seen this first hand before and I’ll be getting some, well, exposure therapy to one of, if not my biggest, fears. Plus, having a relationship that this so inclusive will give me a chance to exercise some boundaries. I’ll be able to practice being my own person and knowing that I am not her, she is not me and we do not have to be the same person. I think this will work. I hope this will work. We watched the end of The Breakfast Club yesterday. We caught the part where they’re all leaving the building and the letter they wrote to the principal is being read. “Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it is that we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of is…a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.” And it’s true. People don’t care what you think of yourself, they’ve already got what their own perceptions of you. But that’s not what matters. And that’s the point. The Breakfast Club knew what happened in that library. We know what happens in our own lives. We know what goes on in our own heads. Admitting things, coming to term with things, all of that, is up to you, not someone else. Convincing Billy Goat of that, I sometimes I feel like I’m convincing myself. But that’s okay. I think the crisis has been averted. Now, that doesn’t mean the war is over, but as of right now, the battle has been won.
The fog was thick as I came down here. My arms sting but I’ve sort of been enjoying the pain. It’s something to feel other than this dark, twisted hole that has replaced my innards. “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay came on my iPod while I was driving. Actually, every song that could’ve fit the mood I’m in came on my iPod right when I needed it. It’s like it was tuned in to what I was feeling. But I’ve never listened to those lyrics with ears veiled in depression and despair. Those lyrics, even if I wasn’t looking through gloomy glasses, fit my life to a T. “For some reason I can’t explain; I know Saint Peter won’t call my name; Never an honest word; But that was when I ruled the world.” I know you aren’t supposed to take song lyrics literally but the way this works is perfect. I used to feel invincible and untouchable by everything and anything. I wasn’t me. It wasn’t honest. I wasn’t being true to myself or who I was. Plus, every word out of my mouth (to anyone, let it be my parents, my teachers, anybody) was literally a lie. It was a faucet I couldn’t turn off. “For reasons I can’t explain; I know Saint Peter won’t call my name.” I think that’s kind of the reason I’m not dead yet. I feel like that’s the reason I haven’t actually carried out any plans (well, except for that one time. But it didn’t work, so does it count?). I don’t think I’m going to heaven. I’m not receiving any sort of retribution for what I’ve done on Earth. It has to catch up to me eventually, right? People don’t get free passes. Everyone knows that. Cultures throughout history have, like, never given free passes to people. Hindus and Buddhists are reincarnated until they reach the ultimate understanding of the universe. Jews have been treated like dirt basically by everybody for, well, forever. Christians had to kill the son of God before they could get off without a punishment and even then, they still have to live by His law and do decent things. Extreme Muslims believe in jihads and stuff so they go and blow themselves up to reach the blessed afterlife! I don’t know where that leaves me. I want to be here for Thomas. I want to be here to help anyone that is going through the same shit I am because I know what it feels like. I want to get a psychology degree because that’s the only way I know how to do the aforementioned. I don’t want to disappoint my parents anymore. I don’t want to feel like a failure. I want to love myself: body, mind, and spirit. I want to be proud of my “accomplishments.” I want to feel like a relatively normal young adult instead of a freak. I want to take responsibility for anyone and everyone I hurt throughout my life. I told Allister on Thursday that children weren’t really people because they hadn’t experienced anything in life. They hadn’t had their hearts broken or been denied anything (except maybe Second Breakfast). They hadn’t known true pain. But I was wrong. I think children are the most real people out of anyone on this planet. That’s the point. When they know pain for the first time, even if it’s something that seems trivial to us (adults, that is), that is the most powerful force in the world. When they know joy, even if it’s something that seems trivial (you guessed it, to us, adults, that is), that is the happiest, brightest, most vibrant shade of joy that can ever exist in one space. Our life sort of goes down hill from that. (But don’t be upset, no! Just keep reading!) And I think people with depression are more in-tune to that than other people. Not to say that others don’t feel anything, but when you’ve known your entire life (like I have) that you felt things more strongly than other people, that you were different from your family because you could literally feel emotions coming off of people like vibrations from a cell phone, it sort of becomes a problem. Because you spend the rest of your life living to find that first-discovered joy again. You want to experience that first heartbreak, that first sadness, that first moment of pure rage…because at that moment, it meant you were feeling something. Now? My world is covered in bloody cuts, covered by long sleeves, covered by a sweatshirt, even though it’s uncomfortably warm in here. Part of me wants to linger in this space. This little 2×2 section of the galaxy because I know this place. I’ve paced this little cell, I’ve touched every pore and crevice of these walls. But I’ve grown too big for this cave. I need to come into the light. I need to see, once again, what children see, just through a different lens. Children know pure emotion but the part of growing up is being able to hold onto that experience, being able to learn and grow from that and become someone from it. Instead, I chose to linger on it and crush it like someone who was too excited about having a new flower. But you know what the nice thing about flowers is? Once the seed has been planted, they tend to regrow.
Sitting in Barnes and Noble, you see the funniest characters. There was once an episode of Family Guy, where they were making fun of people who go to Starbucks and places like this to be seen using their laptops in public. They’re hipsters. They aren’t really doing anything useful or important, they just want to seem like they are so they go to a public place that most people perceive as cool or like upper-class and sit there and pretend to be watching their stocks grow or pegging their investments. I’m sitting in a Barnes and Noble, the same one I was in yesterday and the same one I’m in every Thursday with my laptop, waiting for my appointments with Allister and Dr. Glover. There’s an elderly couple here, talking and laughing over pastries and coffee. They’re some of the smallest older people I’ve seem and the man has a bit of a ducktail (something Thomas would be proud of). But they seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves. There are a few people (including me) on laptops, with headphones in, all with drinks of different kinds, doing God knows what. Actually, a lot of the laptop people are peering around at the rest of their cafe mates. There are a few odd couples here: two women who look like they might be on an interview, a man and a woman that might be studying for something. And of course, the slew of single people, all doing random things like talking on the phone, juggling the cutest little girl in the world while reading a magazine about vintage cars, staring out the window at the passing cars instead of at their computer screen. Or simply staring at nothing in particular while sipping their coffee, with their sophisticated headphones around their neck instead of over their ears. It’s really interesting what kind of people this places attracts. And I think that’s part of the reason when I run away from home, when I try to escape and leave all my problems behind, I come here. Part of the reason is because it’s far away and I know the area. I’m pretty comfortable with the streets and the roads down here. Albeit, I still get lost like it’s nobody’s business, but down here, it’s a little trickier to do that. Partially, also, because I always hope that if I pop over to Hunt Valley, if I swing down the winding, curving roads that are super dangerous but overly thrilling, I’ll find my grandmother, waiting on the porch for me. I’ll find my childhood on pause, waiting for me to step back into it. But when I get there, when I pull up in front of the house, I find someone else there. I find someone else’s cars, their stuff, and I have to speed off before they see me and think I’m a creeper. Even trying to reconnect with an old friend, the boy who lived in the next house over, is difficult. We’ve gone on and lived our separate lives. We’ve grown up. We’ve done things and met people and moved on. Something that seems totally impossible for me to do. Mara (I know, totally random) stole the last year of middle school, all of my high school and a good portion of my college life. And right now, I’m sort of stuck on the fact that I won’t be getting that back. I won’t get to repeat that stuff. I won’t be able to take those memories of prom and graduation and scrub them clean of her disease and filth. I can’t undo what was done. Everyone says I should forgive myself and that I am forgiven but I can’t believe that. The crime was so heinous and there is no punishment for it. Except this mental one. This mental prison that I’ve locked myself in. I’ve been trying to run from the responsibility I now face since graduation. I’m supposed to find a job, supposed to be a productive member of society until I can start on my bachelor’s program in the fall. And no one, no one, thinks I did this the wrong way. No one thinks I did this backwards, or out of order or anything. And I can’t get around that. How is that possible? There is an order to life. We’re supposed to do things in a certain sequence, and I royally fucked things up by being Mara’s “friend” but no one thinks I deserve any retribution for it. My dad, whenever he talks about his mother, always says that when he got a job or was in school, he would help her pay the bills because his father wasn’t there. Of course, she was noble beyond all reason and didn’t spend a lick of what he gave her, but the point is is that my father was an adult. He grew up. He accepted his responsibility and moved on. He didn’t fuck shit up like I did. My mom, when Laura said she wouldn’t be her friend anymore, just sort of moved on. She didn’t linger, she didn’t let it destroy her life. I did. My brother has the reflexes of someone who’s been abused because of the way Mara and I used to attack him. We used to physically beat Thomas for fun. Not like, until he was unconscious or anything, but he definitely had to defend himself. And because of that, Thomas’s reflexes are freakishly fast. He doesn’t hesitate to tell me that either. I don’t think he knows what he’s saying is hurting me, otherwise, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t say it, but still. It drives the knife in that much deeper every single time. These people sitting in Barnes and Noble with me…they don’t see Mara. They see a girl with makeup on her face, a teal dress on, gray boots, a sweater, jewelry…it’s a nice facade. I look normal. “If you hear horses in Central Park…” But I’m not a horse, I’m a zebra. And making people understand that is impossible. I can’t keep blaming her for my mistakes. People tried to tell me over and over again that she was bad news and I didn’t listen. This whole situation, this whole undoing of my life is my fault. I was telling Jackie how depressed I was yesterday and she was sympathetic. I was saying that no one does that anymore because people expect this to go away sort of like a broken leg. It’s there and then after a while, it’s not. It’s not supposed to be an ongoing problem. Yesterday, it definitely was. I was suicidal, cutting, depressed, reckless. You name it, I was feeling it. Except happy, don’t name that. I wasn’t reaching out to anyone either. DBT was there but it was on the back burner. I told you, I feel like my life is just crumbling around me and I don’t even have the energy to blame someone else. I don’t feel like I have the right to blame someone else. This was my doing. I made this bed and now I have to lie in it. But how easy is it to say that when you’re simply looking at the bed, or thinking about it? When you’re actually lying in it and it’s itchy and your back hurts and it’s uncomfortable, you want more than anything to be in Fiji, soaking up sun and drinking mojitos out of a coconut with Hugh Jackman next to you telling you he signed the divorce papers this morning and that he is officially a single man. I guess the whole point of this runaround story is that I’m sort of coming to realize…this is my life. This is what it is and this is what it always will be. An endless stretch of days and nights, an endless sea of ups and downs, darkness and light, varying shades of gray, never a glimpse of white but always flashes of black. And I have no one to blame but myself.