TBT: “Day 1”

Throwback to a piece of unpublished writing I did in November 2014. P.S. It’s super dark and it makes me sad that I used to be this human. So, trigger warning I guess?

I’m writing this because I want to prove to myself that what is happening to me right now matters. I want to believe that this moment of pain and loneliness is important, more important than all the great accomplishments I have ever made, more important than my future income or the accomplishments of my children. Because if this moment is not of value, then I have zero guarantee that any other moment will matter, or that anything leading up to this point matters either.

I’ve written two books before. One was a fairytale and it mostly turned out to be a checkmark on my bucket list: finish a whole book. The second one was kind of therapy for me, where I wrote about my experiences in high school in second person. I made it all about a different girl, and I ended up sobbing one day at the keyboard as the full weight of what I had lived through engulfed me. I like words like engulf and encompass. I use them a lot when I write poetry. I write poetry a lot. Because it makes sense and it makes the reader do some of the work. If you’re reading this, maybe you’re picturing me being a human and stuff, or perhaps you’ve been envisioning high school hallways, but I’ve been feeding you these images. With poetry you have to immerse (another good word) yourself in the words and flesh out the meaning on your own. And it can mean such different things to different people. And I don’t care what your English teacher says—there is always more than one way to interpret poetry. I think that’s the point.

Let me tell you a little about where I really am right now. It is November. I am at college in a computer lab. A girl with black hair just sat down near me and we shared uncomfortable eye contact. I am wearing a hat I made out of yarn. It is purple and blue I think, but I can’t really see it right now. I have short brown hair and large brown tortoiseshell glasses. My eyes are blue. I have acne, worse right now than usual I think perhaps from stress. I’m wearing a turquoise hoodie from Aeropostale. It is the only thing I own from this store. My aunt bought it for me for Christmas. My tennis shoes have holes where my pinkie toes are. I have a large, curved nose. I’m a girl. There’s an elastic band on my right wrist that I snap when I want to die.

Oh, yeah, I am suicidal.

Now I don’t know what to say. Saying the S word usually takes a lot out of me. People expect some kind of explanation usually but I just never have a good one. I’ll be honest: part of me wants you to understand this. I know this is wrong of me, and that I shouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone else, but I selfishly want to feel less alone. Less freakish.

I feel like this isn’t working. I still don’t feel like I matter. And trying so hard to feel that way isn’t helping. Let me tell you about a friend of mine. He is a boy. We became closer friends over this last summer, especially when I went to work in San Francisco for a month and we called each other a lot. He really helped me feel less homesick. He is going to a different school than this one, but we see each other on the weekends because I get homesick and take the train home every Friday. Except, last Friday I tried to end our relationship, because I felt too numb and I had a vague realization that it wasn’t fair to drag him along, especially if I have a timer ticking away on my life. That week was the hardest one I’ve had in a really long time. I tried to make up for his absence by talking to my family on the phone more, but it didn’t work. It just made the pain a whole lot more real. He respected my wishes and didn’t contact me, but later he said it was really hard, and when my friend says things are hard you know they’ve been hard beyond imagine, because this human feels emotion to a level beyond the norm. I think I like to be with him because of this—he understands how happy and how sad life can be. Mostly sad.

I will call him Dawson.

Isn’t there a show called Dawson’s Creek? I looked it up just now, because I’m on the computer. The answer is yes; I thought of it because one of the actors on that show is Joshua Jackson, and he plays one of the leads on my favorite TV show Fringe. This is my favorite show because the people in the story understand how it is to be broken. And also all the gore and scariness kind of numbs my brain to the horror I had in high school. You probably think that I got raped or something, or I lost a limb. Something life-shatteringly horrible. What really happened wasn’t that bad, actually. In fact, compared to what happens to other people, especially in countries that aren’t America, things are way worse. Or so I hear. I’ve never left the country. But I’ve traveled by plane twice: once to New York City and once to San Francisco.

When I went to those places I realized that they were real, not just pretend places on TV or the internet. I never should have watched The Truman Show—it has basically made me think the entire world is a conspiracy theory. I think maybe this is a self-defense mechanism. I used it once before when my best friend died. This is complicated because I wasn’t his best friend, but he was mine. I claim the title anyway so as not to negate the reality of the agony I went through when I got the phone call and in the years following. It’s been over two and a half years now. But I remember that when he died, since it was just before April Fool’s Day, I sincerely believed it was some kind of elaborate April Fool’s trick, and it wasn’t until I saw his body at the viewing did I accept he really had died.

Him I will call Joel.

I need to go now. I have group counseling at three, and I haven’t really eaten my home lunch. I usually don’t eat very much anyway. I only ever pack a drink, a granola bar, an apple, and a small extra something like almonds or fruit snacks. I have lost weight in the last month. Like, probably five or so pounds. I’ve always wondered if I could be anorexic. I’m not saying I am, but I think I have it in me.

I write a blog. You don’t need to know what it’s called. But I feel like you should know I already write at least a few times a week. Sometimes I worry that if I got better, I wouldn’t have anything left to write about. Sometimes I worry that if I got better, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

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.

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

8 Things That I Learned In Therapy

Oh my yes. Poignant, insightful, sensitive, inspirational; Sam, this piece is awesome and I hope you never stop writing.

Let's Queer Things Up!

whatilearnedIllustration by Jessica Krcmarik.

Therapy didn’t result in a singular epiphany that changed everything for me. There wasn’t a light bulb moment when I realized that everything stemmed from some childhood event, or that my “issues” began when a bully threw my Popsicle into the sand box. When I began therapy at the age of 17, though, that’s what I imagined it would be.

During my years of therapy, it was subtle realizations through guided dialogue — not one big AHA! moment — that challenged a lot of my unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, and ultimately, changed my life.

What I thought would be a couple months of counseling turned out to be five years — five years that taught me so much, lessons I’ll never forget.

Therapy was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And although the impact is still being realized every single day, I’ve compiled a…

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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?

Poetry Friday: Group Therapy and So Young

Group Therapy

Everyone laughs; it’s
then I feel that, though broken,
we might be okay.

So Young

Your face is red.
Transparent tracks of tears wash your cheeks.
A tissue rubs at your nose.
A dozen eyes focus in.
Not even a breath disturbs the silence of your sobs.
So young, little child, so young to be brokenhearted.
So young to feel this weight
and doubt that anyone can understand.
I can’t.
I am a pair of eyes trained on your agony.
No matter what we say to lift you,
I fear you have lost all hope.

When Swearing Became Therapy

This post, I think, deals with an issue that might raise hairs on some humans’ heads. So just in case you don’t want to read this, I argue that some sins can be acceptable or at least justified in certain situations.

One of my best friends struggles with perfectionism issues. This person is actually one of the kindest, most thoughtful and sensitive people I know, but they (in favor of “he or she”) still try harder than probably anyone else in my life to be perfect. I really love this person, and I want them to be happy. And since starting counseling I have wondered if certain sins are sometimes okay, even in God’s eyes.

For example. A few weeks ago I called my counselor to check in and see what I could do to make my life easier. She said I needed to express my anger in a constructive way. It was weird because I didn’t feel angry; I felt hopeless and depressed and victimized by my own mental problems. How could I summon anger, let alone express it? She suggested I write about how angry I was and specifically mentioned that cuss words would be appropriate.

At first this floored me. Swear? Me? I know swear words but I choose not to use them because I’ve been taught that it drives away the Holy Ghost, and I find I like His companionship. Plus I personally think that using them too often as filler words is kind of a distasteful habit. But anyway! With my counselor’s permission to swear, I realized suddenly that I had a lot to say.

A few days before this phone call, Incresity had introduced me to Eminem, and really rapping in general. And while I feel like most of Eminem’s work is inappropriate for me to listen to, I think he’s an amazing writer. I was floored when I realized how many words went into his raps, mainly because of how fast he says them. (Being sometimes suicidal has made me more open to parts of the world that I wouldn’t have originally been interested in, like rapping, which turns out can be pretty cool.)

Anyway I wrote a rap, a rap full of anger and passion and yes, swearing. It happened. I performed it for a friend–someone may or may not have run into the room worried that we were having a bad fight, but we cleared up the confusion–and it was the most freeing thing I’ve experienced in months. I’ll probably never share it again, because for me, it was art and it was therapy and it was true and real and good, but only in the time and place it occurred. I felt okay swearing because I owned those words–they didn’t own me. I was choosy, too; I didn’t use the Lord’s name in vain, because I love Him. The other words expressed my anger, but to use His name? No, He’s my best friend.

Maybe God is okay that I “made a sinny,” as I’ve heard it called, by swearing. I know for sure that He understands my heartache and frustration at life. I know He knows I’m at the end of my rope but I’m holding on. And I even think, though I can’t be sure, that He was okay that I felt angry and that I let it out. I suspect He understands that sometimes when humans are too numb to feel anything, experiencing anger is the sweetest relief.

This gospel I subscribe to is definitely a gospel of love. And I want to be more loving, not more angry. But for me, and my close friend, and for others out there that struggle with perfectionism, I think the Lord understands that sometimes you need to be okay with your sins. After all, without them, you wouldn’t need His Atonement. And for the record, I believe that no matter what you’ve done or how you feel about life or yourself or Him, He loves you. And that will never change.

* * *

If you’ve read to the bottom, you deserve this tidbit of information: I am sick. Let me rephrase that. Maney, you are sick. If you had diabetes and it was kicking your butt, you would take insulin. If you had cancer and it was eating at you, you’d get chemo. Maney, you have depression. It will kill you if you don’t deal with it! Readers, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I think I have stigma against taking happy pills because I don’t want to do it again. I guess the first step is acknowledging the problem. More to come.