I have actually been undergoing a transformation in recent times, one that has not been at all easy and has actually left me thinking about things a lot less, yet at the same time has left me more confident in my own being. I’ve realized that all my life I have spent too much time making excuses for myself, the way I am and the things I like. Even if I have not actually apologized out loud to other individuals, then I have often done so in my own head. Saying sorry and feeling humiliated for the things I do and like and even for the things that help make me happy. I have let the image of what I should be like and what I ought to be doing to stand in the way of the beautiful actuality of who I am. I’ve been apologizing for as long as I can remember and I think it is time to finally stop. I am definitely done with going through my life feeling inadequate or ashamed for any of the things I like, have done or will do in the future. Hereon in my newfound liberty is to just be me! That doesn’t mean that because I’m not saying sorry for things about myself, that I do not wish to continue to develop mentally and evolve as a truly well-balanced person. I definitely do. I have every intention of being as versatile as well as open-minded as I can possibly be and I’m not going to quit developing, improving and maturing. It’s just that from now on, I’m just not willing to apologize for not getting there yet.
Often I really feel transparent to the other gender especially when I’m reflecting on my single-ness. As satisfied as I am when I learn that friends who have experienced agonizing separations or splits from their other halves but then have managed to find love once more, I can not help but look at myself and question what it is that I’m doing for me to still be single. There are always these moments where I start reviewing the past 20 years of my life, asking the Almighty just how is it that I am so far behind in the game of life.
And so it was during one of these moments of reflection that I asked God to show me that I’m not actually as invisible as I feel and as soon as the phrase left my mouth, my dog, Rupert, leapt up on to my bosom and began barking loudly while staring at me. I ought to explain that this is not a normal thing for my dog to do. Those of you who follow his shenanigans on Twitter recognize that Rupert is notoriously unconventional and even a little shy. Every time I attempt to stroke him, he fires across the living room in the opposite direction like someone set his rear ablaze, vanishing for hrs into the shadowy corners of my flat. So for him to quickly show up, jump on my chest and stay there for all of 15 mins while trying repeatedly to lick my face was very unusual.
But then again, maybe not so unusual given that the God we serve is wonderfully unpredictable and unconventional. And long after Rupert had actually left to go run after his ball in the other room, I remembered that it might just be that it will take awhile for the ideal guy to see that I am actually not as invisible as I feel.
It’s a new beginning. Don’t remain stuck in the last episode of your life just because what’s to come is unpredictable. Everything in existence that matters starts off with a little unpredictability. The tale of your existence so far was good … and also it got you to the here and now … so be content with all of them, yet after that allow them to go. Transform your life. Allow your own self to be the top girl (or guy) of your life. Stroll in confidence right into the next episode of your existence. Let a few personalities escape the page without needing to follow them … for if these individuals were meant to become leading characters of your book, they surely would not have to be endlessly sought. Transform your life. Do not commit another book, an additional chapter, one more phrase, or even an additional word to individuals who do not appreciate and deserve you. Create room for brand-new personalities to show up … personalities that will make you laugh as well as cry and end up making you a much better individual. Transform your life. Stop looking for a cheerful ending and begin developing a cheerful life. Release the mistakes, the uncertainties, the worries, the struggles, the minutes that have actually made you feel tiny … as well as understand that any person that belittles you just succeeds in making you larger. Transform your life. Tell your story in your own voice and in your own way … and quit asking for help to go exactly where you intend to go and do exactly what you intend to do. It’s a brand-new day, a brand-new week, a brand-new period, a brand-new time. A new beginning. Transform your life.
Something that has been suggested to me to help to achieve personal ‘self-balance’ is having a garden and doing some gardening. Apparently it’s therapeutic – grass-roots therapy. It will supposedly instil a sense of achievement by nurturing plants from seedlings to full-sized adults – sounds awfully similar to having a baby – but it also has the added benefit of a good physical workout – just like having a baby – as well as providing oneself with some nice organic fresh vegetables to eat or beautiful flowers to aromatise your home (ok, you can’t eat your offspring and as for aromas, I think they won’t be as pleasant emanating from a child!). Anyway, being someone who likes to try new things, I thought I might give it a go (gardening that is), and become the next Alan Titchmarsh or someone equally green-fingered.
However, there is a small problem, which the grass-root therapists neglect to take into account when they are liberally dispensing their enlightening advice….what are you to do if you are not lucky enough to have access to a garden? I pondered this for a while – a long while – considering my options. I could go with some indoor potted plants or some windowsill boxes where I could start my agricultural practice, but I was discouraged by the fact that a great deal of the time, they would not be very visually appealing while the seeds were sprouting and when I would inevitably eat them (I am more a vegetable than a flower person). Another problem might be the smell since I wanted to do things ‘right’ and use fertiliser or other plant feed to make them grow fuller and faster, substances that are not renowned for their pleasant aromas. And what of pests? I wanted my vegetables to be organic, so that would mean no pesticides – inevitably exposed plants always develop some sort of pestilence issue and not using pesticide in the open seemed like asking for trouble.
After much soul-searching, the answer came from where else but the trusty internet – the portal to universal knowledge, or so they say – grow my vegetables in a grow tent where the environment is perfectly controlled, so that no pests can get to them, their conditions are perfectly maintained and they are not subject to the vagaries of the ever-more unpredictable weather. They also have the advantage of containing any unsightly mess or unsavoury smells within their walls, so they can be kept almost anywhere inside the home. So there you go – I am now in the process of ordering all of my indoor-farming kit, which includes a grow tent and accessories and the not-to-be-forgotten critical lighting without which this would not work (you don’t say), and I will endeavour to keep you updated on progress….if all goes well, that is!
Wednesday, I hid.
I called out of work. I threw on some headphones. I buried myself under my comforter, afghan, and fleece blankie. I stayed like that for about an hour or so, falling in and out of sleep while listening to Lacuna Coil’s “Shallow Life” and Silversun Pickups’ “Swoon”, my current comfort albums.
I thought about going to the hospital. I thought that maybe I should talk to someone, someone who would get it and would be able to point me to a therapist who would get it even more. I imagined being handed a prescription to try, that might give me more energy and a little more sparkle inside.
I finally got up to go get dressed and eat so that I could go to the hospital, but I could barely eat and didn’t have the energy to get dressed. I crawled back into bed for another hour or so.
I know it was bad. I know that I need to get my ass into a therapist’s office. I know that I need to be tested for bipolar disorder, put on some medication, and need to go through pain management therapy. I know all of this, and still I shy away.
I make passing references to the people around me about how I’m feeling, but I don’t go all the way and say, “THIS IS BAD. IT’S REALLY BAD. I REALLY NEED HELP.” I don’t reach out. Instead, I keep it all to myself. I drop little hints, enough so that I can tell myself I said something, but not enough for anyone to get really concerned. Because, if I did truly say how bad it is, they might be very concerned.
It’s been a long time since I hid like I did on Wednesday.
In a way, it was just what I needed. I needed to regroup. And yet, on Thursday I felt the same as I did the day before. I felt drained, like I wasn’t really here, but at the same time it felt as if there were little teeny jumping beans inside of me and static fluff in my head. I barely sleep, I barely eat, and I feel like I’m barely making it through the days. Thoughts race through my head, about everything going on: about Popi, about Dad, about my stupid mystery autoimmune disease, about my relationship with Mike, about my new niece, about my clients, about my day job. On Thursday I felt like, at any moment, I was going to split into two. Or four. Or nineteen-thousand.
Today, I felt sort of normal — if normal means being on the verge of tears one minute and wanting to laugh like a maniac the next. At the moment, though, I feel okay.
It’s not just everything that’s going on; I go through these cycles all the time, for as long as I can remember. Last week, I thought about killing myself. For two or three days after, I felt high on life. And then I dropped again. I didn’t feel like dying, but I still dropped.
Part of me is ashamed. Part of me admonishes myself. “This was supposed to be over,” that part says. “We don’t want to go back to therapy. We were already there. Things should have been resolved then.” But the other part steps in and say, “That therapist didn’t do her job, and neither did the second therapist we saw about a year ago. We need to be tested for bipolar disorder. We need pain management skills. We need someone to talk to about everything.”
And the argument goes ’round and ’round, until I’m so tired of hearing these thoughts wrestling each other that I consider cracking open my head and throwing a grenade in there. (That’s a joke. You can laugh. I’m not actually going to grenade my brain.)
The truth is, my friends, that I NEED HELP. I am drowning, and with all of the external things going on as well as what is normally in my head, I’m having a really hard time staying afloat. I don’t want to die. I don’t want my mental illness to kill me. I don’t want to be the zombie I feel like. I’m tired of faking. I’m tired of being afraid to say anything to the people around me, partially because I’m afraid they have enough problems of their own and I don’t want to be yet another weight on their shoulders.
It’s also because I am partially ashamed of going back to therapy. I don’t want to. I tried it again, with Kitty Bhide, and she sucked. I know that if I just try a few different people, I’ll find the right person. But then I make the excuses of, “Well, I don’t have that kind of money,” and “It’s going to take forever to get in anywhere, and by the time I get in, I won’t feel this way anymore.” Even though that’s true — hi, that’s why I need to be tested for bipolar disorder — it’s still not a good enough excuse, because I still know that soon I will feel this way again.
I go through this, every time.
And it’s draining.
I’m typically what I like to call a “functioning depressive.” When I’m depressed, I can still perform everyday tasks. It just takes every ounce of energy I have. I can’t remember a time when I just completely shut down and couldn’t get out of bed.
Is it so wrong, then, that I want to do just that now? I feel like I’m running out of energy. I don’t want to function anymore, dammit. I just want to hole up and kick the world out for a little while. I want to call out of work. I want to sit in my own little bubble and numb everything out.
Honestly, I feel like I can’t take much today. I don’t feel very strong. I just feel like an open target. I want to hide. I’m tired of going through the motions, pretending that I don’t feel like shattering. For once, I just want to tell the motions to fuck off.
I have a favor to ask you all.
Some of you might know that I run a pen pal support group, Letters of Love, for people with depression, self-injury, etc. Some of you might know that I suffer from depression, that I used to self-harm, that I have on several occasions wanted to take my life. In the almost two years that I’ve been running Letters of Love (LOL), it has grown very large, helping many people.
I’d like to take it a step further.
I’ve long been wondering why there isn’t a directory of organizations who help people with mental illness, as well as a directory of bloggers who struggle with mental illness. I mean, we spend an awful lot of time feeling alone. I’ve been using LOL to try to connect us all, but I really think I need to do more. I’ve been wanting to put this directory together, but wasn’t sure how to tackle the job.
I’ve finally decided to do it, but I need your help. If there is an organization, such as LOL, Holding of Wrist, or To Write Love On Her Arms, that you know of that helps people with depression, or a blogger you know of who openly writes about his or her experiences, please comment with a link to their website. (I will, of course, ask any bloggers for permission before linking to them in this directory.) If you could also write a short description of who they are, what they do, and why you recommend them, that would be great.
Please pass this link along to anyone you think might want to help or who might benefit from the directory when it’s complete.
Maybe I am just jaded, but I wonder why people who claim to love each other but are having problems in their relationship decide to separate. They say, “Maybe we can resolve this in X months.” I’m wondering, why not now? Why perform what is the equivalent of breaking up but staying friends with benefits, rather than sitting down and facing your problems?
I once was in a relationship where things were not working out. He lived over an hour away, did not have a job or any motivation (he couldn’t even hold a job for more than two months), was beginning to get into hardcore drugs as opposed to just smoking pot, and I was having second thoughts. I cannot count how many times we took a break. Looking back, I can clearly see that things were never going to work out, and that instead of wasting time taking breaks, I should have just broken up with him and moved on. I had tried discussing our problems with him, but it did no good. These problems were unfixable, and I see now that I did not love him in the right way; the way I felt toward him was more like the way a sixteen-year-old party animal loves someone else’s child that is thrust upon them permanently. (This analogy might suck. Bear with me, or I will sic the spambots on you.) I spent more time taking care of him than actually being in a relationship.
I am now in a true love kind of relationship, the kind where I know down to the marrow in my bones and the little teeny atoms in my heart that we are meant to be. This is the kind of relationship where, five years or so from now, we will be married. Eventually we will have kids. We will constantly be working together and sharing a life with each other. It may sound naive and absurdly romantic in true Virgo fashion, but it’s true.
That being said, I cannot imagine taking a separation. To me, when you love someone deeply but have problems that do not involve cheating, physical/sexual abuse, drug/alcohol abuse, or a few other Get Out Of This Relationship Now issues, you need to face them now — not six, eight, nineteen months from now. If you truly love each other, it is worth working through those issues and facing the demons that come with them.
For example, it drives me absofuckinglutely insane when I ask Mike if he wants to watch a movie and he immediately says no, or when we actually do go to watch a movie and I get no vote in which movie we should watch. There are many fights over this. I say things like, “You never want to do what I want to do,” and he says things like, “That’s not true,” even though we go through this at least once a month. I’ve come to accept that this is one of our quirks, trivial things that we will probably argue about until the day we die. (Or until he either kills me for nagging or I kill him for being a movie vote hog.)
I also tend to be a bit of a brat when I want to do something and he doesn’t. I drive him apeshit. I think he sometimes wonders what he got himself into. If I want to hang out and he doesn’t because he is tired, it is too late, or he is sick, I say things like, “Why don’t you want to hang out with me?” He says things like, “I never said I didn’t want to hang out with you,” in a completely tired, “Why do we keep having this discussion?” tone (similar to the tone I use when I say, “You never want to do anything I want to do!”).
We may go around and around and around this, but we face it. I don’t say, “Listen, Mike, we need a break. Maybe two months from now we can resolve this.” No, it needs to be resolved now! Or else, resentment builds up and the relationship becomes more and more strained.
I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad. I just feel like I’m seeing a lot of people giving up rather than fighting. Don’t get me wrong, some people out there are facing their problems. It might take a lot more work than you ever thought would be necessary, but it’s worth it, I promise you. There have been a couple of times where I almost didn’t continue to fight for what Mike and I have. Looking back, the problems at hand were so small compared to the bonds between us. Had I let those little things break those bonds, I would be cheapening what we’ve worked so hard for throughout our time together.
So, if you are in a relationship and are having second thoughts, please think about it before doing something drastic. Please don’t give up fighting (unless, again, it’s a Get the Fuck Out Of This Relationship Now kind of problem). Don’t take a break. Don’t separate. Sit down and talk.
I just have one question for you today, my friends: When Twitter goes down, and you want to tweet about it, what do you do? I think you need to sign up for rehab. And yes, I’m actually talking about myself.
I forgot to set goals for this month. Yes, I set New Year’s resolutions, but in the grand scheme of things, the little goals are what will carry me through and help me accomplish the bigger goals. Or at least make me feel like I’m accomplishing them.
The problem is that we’re already almost halfway through January. RATS! So I’ll just have to settle for even smaller small goals:
- Finish the Kirk section of Secondhand Mom. This is a section that flashes back to my main character’s second most important past romantic relationship and accounts for who she is in the present. It also sets up one of the most important subplots in the book: The Love Triangle. I grew up loathing love triangles, but it’s pretty integral to this story. (While we’re talking about writing, could you please give me some advice?)
- Code WordPress theme for Perpetual Smile. I seriously need to JUST DO IT. Hopefully, this week will bring the end of a HUGE client project, which will give me the free time necessary to do this.
- Code “Super Secret and Exciting Web Project” and release into the wild. This should literally take me a day to do, and it’s going to be a great piece for my portfolio, so I need to JUST DO IT, too.
Meanwhile, I also need to not lose my mind. There is so much going on that I don’t even know how to begin writing about it. I really wish life would give me a break.
Would you stop playing the fucking DS? I screamed in my mind.
I stood with one arm on the top of the rocking chair Mike sat in. When he rocked, I reeled.
Stop fucking rocking.
I watched my grandfather put one hand over his chest while his left arm sat on the arm of his chair, tensed with pain and numbness.
Is he really still trying to watch TV?
Followed him with my eyes as he got up from his chair and sat down in the chair next to the dining room table.
Make it stop.
I watched my grandmother put the blood pressure cuff around my grandfather’s arm. Watched him fuss over the position of the wire from the blood pressure machine. Saw the pain in his eyes.
The blood pressure cuff tightened and the little machine measured. Even if I could see the numbers, I wouldn’t know what they meant. Had the doctors told Noni what good and bad blood pressure numbers are?
Mike shut off the DS. For a moment I wondered if his stony exterior was disguising the memories running through his head, memories of his little brother having a stroke.
She said something that meant, “You’re blood pressure is fine,” but the words themselves meant nothing to me. “I don’t think it’s your heart,” she said.
I didn’t relax. I was under water.