Moving On

There are a lot of words inside me lately, all swirling in my brain and confused about how to get out. The summer is winding down and I’m looking forward to starting Fall 2015 semester soon. This summer ends along with the hope of a new relationship: someone I love decided I wasn’t for him. It has been painful, and I feel the tugs of grief and frustration as I say goodbye to an era I inhabited, to the pieces of my heart I gave to him.

To quote David Foster Wallace, “Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.”

In truth, though, opportunities have been opening up around me, just as other doors close. I feel a shift in the wind and I wonder where I’ll go in the future. Where my bones will travel until they turn to sleeping dust. There seems to be an infinite number of roads ahead of me, and I’m trying to figure out my dreams and goals as the winds of time push me on and on, as new pathways appear and others fade into darkness.

I wonder if I’ll ever really do my best; if my life is going as well as it could be. I wonder how me being alive affects the world around me, and I worry whether it’s for good or evil. Because this life is the only one I get, and someday I’ll look back on it in joy or sorrow. I can almost hear myself calling from the future, urging me to try harder now, to seek for wisdom and truth, to become whom I need to be.

Of course I can ramble on about these feelings, stringing words together that hopefully convey to you where my mind is, but I’ll curtail my post with these thoughts:

Readers, don’t live in the past. Accept yourself and strive to be better. Live for something greater than yourself. Trust God and know that He loves you.

Just keep moving forward.

A music video of Yael Naim singing New Soul.

Poetry Friday: Enough

Enough

 

I will shake with sobs

on the couch

in the office,

cover my face and

wish it were over.

 

I will build a pyramid

of used tissues in my lap

as my tears stream;

slowly working through

the questions, and,

even harder,

the answers.

 

I will leave thinking I am

through—too broken,

too late— but you will call

asking for advice,

and I will pay this mercy

forward.

 

I will do what I can,

because I love you.

 

It’s all I have left,

but enough.

Why I Am Maney

I started this blog one year ago on the sixteenth. Some of you may have wondered why this blog is called “maney smiles back.” Happy one year anniversary, folks. Here’s the story:

(Quick background: my siblings have called me Maney for years. I think it started in teasing: “Mane-again is a pain-again;” or maybe that stemmed from the nickname. Dunno. Doesn’t really matter anyway. I like the name.)

One day at my state college, I noticed a book sale in the library. Everything cost two bucks or less, since it was mostly outdated textbooks. Of course I ignored the sale because I’m a hopeless cheapskate. But then a few days later, the signs changed! Suddenly, all the books were free. I was enthralled. I decided that an appropriate amount of free books would be ten books of poetry. I chose ten and carted my treasure home.

They were all good, but my favorite was called Trudi Smiles Back by Mikal Lofgren. The dedication page says simply, “For all the Trudi’s.” I wondered if I was a Trudi. Was this book for me? (I recommend the book but it’s probably not easy to acquire, as it was published by the Utah State Poetry Society in 1998.)

The story takes us through Trudi’s adult life to her age-inflicted mental deterioration. It is heart-wrenching, yet funny; banal, yet insightful; relatable, yet just beyond my understanding. I loved it. I grew to love her.

The last stanza goes like this: “Trudi’s brain dries like mud, / dries and folds and cracks, / but when someone smiles at Trudi, / Trudi smiles back.”

I wanted to be Trudi. I wanted to be clever and complex and compassionate. I wanted to be stronger than my pain; wanted to smile back at life, no matter how difficult it became. I wanted my story to have the effect on others that her story had on me.

So when I started documenting my opinions and experiences and beliefs, I published the words that had become my inner mantra: Maney. Smiles. Back.

* * *

And, hey, here’s the old About page, if y’all are ever feeling sentimental:

Maney is not this writer’s legal name, but she will respond to it when called, so it’s kind of her name. She is trying to blast through college and get on with life. She often feels guilty for not taking classes like rock-climbing or studio art. She is Mormon (LDS) and it manifests itself in her writing. This blog is where she addresses her mental illnesses, random tangents, and (hopefully) somewhat poetic ways of viewing life.

Some favorite quotes:

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

-Albert Einstein

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.”

-David Foster Wallace, This is Water

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

-Romans 8:18

Maney loves the smell of mail. She drinks hot chocolate in the summer. She likes books that expand how she perceives the world and make her a better human. On her good days she thinks life is really wonderful. She is just getting by one day at a time, doing her best, and sometimes not even that. You may be wondering why she is writing in the third person.

(Also, she tweets: https://twitter.com/maneysmilesback )

© [maneysmilesback] [2014] [Content is free to all as long as you give Maney credit and share a link back to her site.]

Energy Spent

I gotta be honest with you. It’s 11:01 on Sunday night and I’ve got more on my mind than the consistency and quality of this blog. Mostly, sleep. Glorious, peaceful sleep. Sigh… Certain parts of life have gotten harder lately, like tweeting and blogging and talking to other humans. I just don’t have the energy. But it’s all good because I moved home on Wednesday and now I’m back in my dear old room with my wonderful family. I can be my broken, exhausted self around them without the fear of judgement and rejection. I plan on getting back to my “normal” self by mid-February (as a rough estimate), but for now, I’m taking my sweet time to heal. Today’s post is just to say I’m not as depressed anymore, but healing almost takes more energy from me than sinking quietly into suicide. That’s okay, though; this is energy I’m glad to spend. Hope y’all are doing well, and I send extra love to those of you stressing about finals or holiday preparations, because I really understand. Here’s to all of us humans who are getting through life one day at a time. Cheers!

Stories and a Shameless Plug

Happy December first! This was me on Thanksgiving morning:

I have three family parties in the next three days. Shoot me. Stuff me. Mount me.

However, they all went better than I expected. I think the trick is to set your expectations very low and be pleasantly surprised.

Right now in life I feel really vulnerable. Being suicidal really changed how I viewed myself and the world, and now that I’m rising out of the worst of the depression (through medication and counseling), it’s kind of like I’m having to relearn who I am. And of course this is multiplied by the fact that I am young and in college.

So with finals approaching and the promise of moving home in December, I’m caught between my head exploding with stress and anxiety and my heart exploding with excitement and gratitude. Oh, did I mention I’m transferring from Mormon Harvard to my old university in a few weeks?

Yes, well. I was going to share that tidbit of info eventually. One of these days I’ll explain why I’m leaving, but tonight I am just trying to recover from the socializing I have endured recently. So, courage, Readers. I will speak with you again soon.

P.S. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing on Twitter, but I tweet or RT almost daily and you could check out my site if you wanted to: maneysmilesback

Getting Serious Adult Help

When I started this blog, most of what I wrote about depression was just memory. I didn’t expect to blog while depressed, while suicidal. But it happened so I guess we carry on. Maybe this is more authentic anyway–you get to see my mood changing from day to day.

Last week at group therapy I told them I had seriously considered killing myself over the weekend. I wanted them to leave me alone after that, but they pestered me for probably half an hour about how that wasn’t okay, and why I mattered to them, and that I needed to get help. I cried. I fought back. And when I left school, I almost got hit by a car while running to the bus. The bus driver said something like,

“My bus isn’t as important as your life.”

I said quietly, “That’s debatable.”

And he pestered me, too!

But I’m glad they called me out in my self-harm thoughts. Because that night, after crying for most of the bus ride to my house, I decided I needed to skip college for the rest of the week, go home and figure out how to get better. My parents have been so supportive and totally nonjudgmental. I went and saw my previous counselor and she suggested an increase in medication and other things to help me feel less isolated and depressed.

So this post is dedicated to Thursday night when I lay in my bed deciding whether or not to tell my parents I felt suicidal at that moment, but ended up just falling asleep because I was so tired. Here’s to the moment when Dear Prudence came on my iPod and told me that I am beautiful and sometimes we just have to take life slow. And in case anyone else out there wants to die right now, please hold on, if only because I’m holding on, too.

Dear Prudence, open up your eyes.
Dear Prudence, see the sunny skies.
The wind is low, the birds will sing
that you are part of everything.
Dear Prudence, won’t you open up your eyes?

A Letter to the Editor

Dear Maney,

We, your humble readers, have a few thoughts to share with you. We’ve been following your blog for some time. We feel that we know you. We feel that you have adequately expressed to us your sorrows and weaknesses. And we have something to tell you.

When you write about how sad you feel, we suffer with you. You don’t know this, but we’ve had a fair amount of suffering as well. Some of us have also lost loved ones–parents and children. Some have suffered abuse, verbal and physical and sexual. Some of us have been broken by divorce, misplaced trust, war-torn countries. Some of us have been in the army and our PTSD is far more severe than yours. You complain because you feel sick when you see life flight helicopters? Some of us become incapacitated when we see children. For some of us, our life or the lives of our loved ones has been severely limited by disease, poverty, addiction, enslavement, and more and worse. But we’re sorry you cry alone sometimes.

And, Maney, we were shocked to hear about the explicit rap. Thankfully you dusted your shoes at the door with your little comments about how proper your sinning was. It was a relief for all of us hardcore, real-life sinners. Some of us are still struggling to forgive ourselves for past wrongs, but thanks for throwing salt in the wound by flaunting your obviously spotless record. We appreciate the comparison. On days when we wonder if we might actually have atoned for our sins, we think of you and realize just how much longer we have to go.

Dear, dear Maney. Would that we could fix your problems. We would go to any lengths to make you more comfortable, for we love you so. However, because of your pride, we cannot give you this simplest of cures, the very thing that would fix you up and shut you up, so we can worry about our own very real problems–ones that can’t be swallowed away with medicine. So in your anguish, please keep in mind that most of your struggles will end with a little blue pill. And this very cure is what you are angriest about.

Grow. Up.

Love,
Several umpteen readers you keep in your head

(P.S. I started taking happy pills again. I feel sick now but maybe in a few days both my stomach and brain will feel better.)