Saturday, September 27, 2008
Where I Am Now
I have never before felt the need to withold anything on this blog. Admittedly, I have refrained from posting certain information, but usually where it concerned other people; although I write anonymously, I still feel as if I'm betraying someone's trust when I reveal their deepest secrets, even if they're protected by pseudonymity.
If a person entrusts me with something, their soul has imparted to mine something sacred. In sharing the confidence with others, regardless of the fact that the public doesn't know the person of whom I'm speaking, I've devalued that sacredness and the relationship. So I don't do it.
I have, however, managed to be remarkably honest about myself. Some of my journal entries, as I'm sure you all know, are far from flattering. Many of the observations contained therein are infantile, stupid, petty, childish, and even vain. Vanity is actually a huge problem of mine.
Yet because I know none of you personally, and because most of you will probably never know me, I have been able to dispense with the restraint I would usually exercise. There's something very liberating about opening yourself completely to others, what's more to total strangers.
Half of the things I've said about my parents and about my family history never would have been posted had I been writing under my own name. Can you imagine if they found it? Can you imagine, with the years that have passed and the extent to which they've changed, how deeply it would hurt them to read those stinging words?
It would be terrible.
As I said, I've had no compunctions about stripping away my defenses to reveal the truth--until now.
Everyone has a line, I suppose, that they cannot cross, and concerning this topic I have reached mine. Though the majority of you, as mentioned earlier, have no personal acquaintance with me, some things are too deeply personal to submit forth to the public at large, even on a website such as this that has allowed me to interact with some truly wonderful people.
I'm still working out half of it myself, and writing about it would be cheap somehow, a wrong unto myself.
So I will instead write around it, and provide as much as I can so that you understand the gist of the situation without knowing entirely the issues behind it.
As many of you know, I have struggled now, for approximately two years, with depression. At times this depression has become severe enough to make me suicidal. From 2006 on, my life took a radical departure from where it had been, and my inability to handle the circumstances suddenly forced upon me led within a matter of months to serious emotional instability and a spiraling personal crisis.
One of the hardest parts of the entire thing, as I wrote in a post a month or so ago, was concealing it from everyone around me. Being miserable was bad enough, but I was miserable by myself. I had no shoulder to lean on, no one to prop me up when I cried and tell me everything was going to be okay. I kept it in despite the fact that I desperately wanted help, and the effort of that, of pretending to be happy when I was dying, when inside I'd become depraved enough to consider ending my life, was enormous.
I've written that, following the initial onset of these problems in 2006, I found myself unable to cry for some time. During a period that extended for well over a year, I could not weep. Occasionally I teared up, but it was nearly impossible for me to really let it out.
That has since been broken. I think that as I've recovered and the numbness of total defeat has slidden away from me, I've regained my capacity to deal with something besides pure dejection. When you're completely destroyed, when nothing's left, there's nothing to cry over. You've gone as far as you can without pulling the trigger. That's where I was.
Now, as my emotions have reawakened, a host of things have flooded in. There is pain, yes, fresh pain, pain that brings the tears surging again because now there's actually a bottom that I could fall to. There's hope, too, though. There's also, occasionally, happiness. There are times now when I smile and laugh and I'm not faking it, not play-acting the way I did for two years.
The change came earlier this month. It began really in August, when I resolved to see the good in my life and not dwell so much on the bad. That was an effort I made sincerely, but it was also one that I could not always feel committed to. When some of the most important things in your world are missing or horribly wrong, focusing on the few good ones can seem hollow and superficial.
Throughout August and early September I was sinking again. The pressure that had been building since I left for college two Augusts ago had reached a pinnacle. I knew, at least subconsciously, that I could no longer bear the weight of it all by myself without someone knowing, someone real, someone who I interacted with more than just on a computer screen.
I love blogging and I consider some of you to be good and faithful friends. I needed someone to touch me, though, and tell me they loved me, and kiss my cheek and wipe away my tears. I wanted that more badly than anything in the world.
I had been doing some work on my computer downstairs, and around midnight I went up to the kitchen, ostensibly for some snacks. I don't think that was ever the real reason I climbed the stairs that night.
I was standing in front of the open pantry, pondering what I might eat, when out of nowhere it came upon me. A mountain of grief, dumped as if by some malevolent god, fell at once on my shoulders. Without entirely understanding why, I was suddenly overcome with total anguish, and I submitted to it as the tears, like mighty rivers at last burtsing their dams, coursed down my face. I was hemorrhaging my pain.
Before long, I found myself clutching the pantry's wooden door with one hand and holding my mouth with the other, trying to keep the sounds of my weeping from other people in the house.
After a moment, I heard the floor creak upstairs, and with a small gasp I gulped in a deep breath, rubbed my hands over my face, and tried to compose myself. I didn't want them to see me.
Of course, though, I did. I did want them to see me. I had wanted to be found for ages, but had never allowed it. After years crying in the dark, moping in the shadows, dropping the mask only when alone, I needed to be rescued. I have needed that since this began.
There was a step on the hardwood as someone coming down the staircase reached the first floor. I thought that my father, with his insomnia, had come down to kill some time and maybe get a few hours of sleep. Instead, it was my mother.
I'd resolved, though, to approach one of them, and, without revealing too much, request help in a limited way.
My brother Powell, you see, has been in trouble before for underage drinking. As a consequence of this, he is now required to see a therapist, as a standard issue of court order. I figured that I would just, in a very dignified manner, tell one of my parents that I had some things I wanted to discuss with someone, and ask them if they would please set me up an appointment. There would be nothing wrong with me, of course. I'm an adult who's well comported, quite stable, and I just have some very respectable issues I need to work out.
The only problem with this was that I'd been sobbing literally minutes earlier, and from my blotched face this was very apparent. Also, I hadn't completely gained control of myself, so my voice was quivering somewhat.
I caught sight of my mother, in her pink pajama bottoms and white tee-shirt, coming into the living room from the dark foyer.
"Hey, Mom," I began.
"What, BB?" she asked, distracted by whatever it was she'd come down there for (I still don't know why she was up well past midnight when she had work the next morning).
"Can I ask you something?"
Something about my tone made her look up.
"Um..." here I chose my words carefully, both because I didn't want to give too much away and because my voice was wavering. "You know how Powell has to see that counselor?"
"Yeah," my mother answered.
"Well, if...if our insurance covers it and...if it's not too expensive or anything...could I do something like that, too?"
"Yeah," she responded. "Why do you want to see a therapist, BB?"
"I just..." I said haltingly. "I just...have some things...I'd like to talk about, that's all."
I was taking deep breaths now, attempting to stave off the weeping that I feared were coming.
"BB, what's wrong?" she asked.
"Nothing," I said.
"BB," she said, squaring her hips. "Don't tell me nothing's wrong when you're sitting here crying."
"I'm not crying," I lied again, but her acknowledgement of it only made it harder to hold back, and about two seconds later the tears that I could no longer pretend away were coming down, blurring my vision, wetting my cheeks.
"BB, what's wrong?" she asked, her voice suddenly full of concern. "Honey, what is wrong?"
She reached forward and pulled me into a hug, not something we often do. That was really what did it. The warm touch of another human body against mine, the arms around my shoulders, stood in such sharp contrast to the cold nothingness I'd felt that I completely lost it, completely collapsed.
I heard a strange wimpering sound emit into the air. It was coming from me.
That I would not abide by, and so with a soft "No!" I pushed away from my mother, turned into the kitchen, and, my hands on my head and lungs heaving, desperately tried to regain control. It didn't work.
Soon, she'd coerced me into a chair, and over the course of about an hour, I confessed everything. There were four issues on my mind, three I discussed with her, and two that I feel I can detail to you.
I told her of my intense depression over the last two year, and some of the reasons for it.
I opened up to her about the fact that I'd actually seen a counselor on campus to manage my obsessive compulsive disorder, which the second semester of my Sophomore Year became unmanageable and started to interfere with my life. My parents hadn't even been aware I had the condition, which my counselor said often flares up during times of intense stress.
I suppose this makes sense in a way; earlier in the year I'd actually gotten shingles, something that left my doctors frankly very surprised.
After this I did one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Against my better judgement, against my instincts, and fighting a subconscious that held the words back and only let me get them out bit by bit, I told my mother that I suspected myself of having a certain mental condition.
This condition is not dangerous and does not make me hazardous to be around, but I am too ashamed to say it here. Maybe with time, I will reach the point where I feel comfortable sharing that, but not right now. It makes me feel mentally disabled.
"BB," she said. "We know. Your father and I have thought that for a long time. Your grandmother thought that when you were a baby."
"Yeah, I know," I said. "I just didn't want to admit it to you. I thought that if I kept it a secret, if no one knew, it could go away. I've gotten so much better at hiding it as I've gotten older."
Not completely, though.
Then I told her that I'd been suicidal. Powell had informed them months ago that I'd reached that brink in 2007, but none of them were aware that I'd come far nearer to it in July of this year.
"I just..." I began. "I couldn't find a job, and I had nothing to do but sit around this house all day, by myself, with no one here, completely alone. I just...I started thinking about ways that I would do it, where I would do it. I thought about just closing the garage and sitting there with the car on."
Now it was my mother's bright green eyes that filled with tears, making them sparkle.
"BB," she said. "Please, please promise me that if you ever have thoughts like that again, you'll tell me. Please promise me that."
"I promise," I said.
The truth is, I'm not better in the sense of being wholly well. I am better in the sense that my unwellness is not as bad as it once was.
Some days I am okay, even hopeful. Other days I just can't face the world. I'm trying, really I am. I resist the urge to feel like a melodramatic attention-grabber and push my problems aside.
For several days after first speaking with my mother, I felt better, optimistic, happy, relieved. I began to think, because I wasn't miserable in that exact moment, that the therapy wasn't really necessary, that it would just hamper my schedule.
Then came some bad days, and I understood that the need would not go away, at least not for some time.
I have been awfully sick since about Thursday. My chest is hollow and chilled, my head pounds, and in general I am in a state of extreme discomfort. I must periodically clear my throat, with a sound uncannily like leaves being crunched, of mucus that clogs it. Occasionally the angular substance works itself in around in such a way that my voice comes out strained and raspy.
When I wake up in the morning, I find that it has accumulated over night, so that I must cough a tunnel through it all in order to breathe.
My mother, typical to form, seems greatly irritated with me for being ill. Yet what she calls my "moping around" and "being a drama queen" actually means that I am so dizzy I can't stand up, so nauseous I can't eat, and afflicted by such a headache that I can't even turn my neck.
This has all been a few days ago, though.
I am tired of going back and forth, up and down, over and over again. I need help.
I reminded my father of this today, and he promised to call the therapist's office Monday and set me up an appointment.
I would also like for us to go to family counseling together, and, privately, would like to see my mother and father in parenting classes (especially my mother), but one battle must be fought at a time.
I really think I've come far from where I was, but to what purpose? Are things really any better?
At least I'm making an effort.
By the way, Aunt Ostentatious attempted suicide today in Humid State. She is in the hospital down there, and none of her family have informed the medical staff that she wished to take her life. They're releasing her with pain medication, and my mother, on the idiotic grounds that it's "not her place," refuses to intervene.
On a happy note, my father, currently working at a car dealership, recently went on a job interview for a much better position and is currently in the top three that the company is considering for hiring.
He would be selling pavements and pavement packages to distributors, very similar to what he did at Solar Explosion.
Next week he goes to Ugly State for another interview, and he'll likely know soon after that.
I promise I'll write again soon.