It’s been a while since I have written anything. I wonder how many times I have said that. I’m never sure If I have anything to truly say. I am still very much the child that wants to be noticed but is terrified that someone will notice me. That’s why I write, I want to scream in agony. I want people to know I am in pain. The truth is, however, everyone is in pain. Being in pain does not make me special. But when am crying alone once again, I just want someone, anyone to know am hurting. That I exist.
I hit a cat with my car the other day. It just ran out into the street as if it was running away from something that scared it. I didn’t feel a bump or hear a thud but when I looked in my mirror I could see it on the road, making its last attempts at moving before dying. It took me longer then I like to admit before I pulled over. I walked to the cat and it was completely lifeless. I pulled him off the road, blood was pooled around his head, but I could not stand the thought of another car running him over. He had no tags or collar. Stray cats are rather common in the area. Still, my first thought was to wonder what makes my life worth more than his. I don’t like hurting others. I always sought to live a life out of others path. To live and to die without being an inconvenience to anyone. Now I wonder if I truly want to live, I will inevitably be in others way.
I’ve never liked the heat. My siblings called me a Polar Bear. In the cold things are silent, peaceful. In the heat the air is heavy. A subtle discomfort that refuses to go away. I can describe my life that way. No matter what I do there is always that small frustration, a feeling that I am doing something wrong.
There are endless weights on a life. Small voices judging you. “Lose weight, make money, clean, do something…” They cause pent-up frustrations. Anxiety, Depression follows. Anxiety and depression only make the voices louder, and myself more lethargic. That endless spiral, down, down I go.
It never truly stops…I know that. Wounds Heal but can reopen. It is always a matter of enduring, building mental muscles to lift the same weight like an old man who felt the same pain in his leg for so long it no longer bothers him. I write to let out my frustration because I know that it will always be building. The weight of life is always building if you don’t learn to carry it, or let some of it go it will crush you.
I am officially 30 years old and like so many of my birthdays, I spent it a depressed anxious wreck. What can I say that I have not said so many times? I did not plan to live this long. In school, they often asked what I wanted to be when I got older. I said a Writer or a Teacher. In truth, I wanted to be dead. Dramatic perhaps, but if Depression makes you anything, it’s dramatic.
So how did I handle the crushing realization of my continued existence this year? I crawled up into a ball on my bedroom floor and sobbed like a child and perhaps because I was feeling nostalgic for high school I took a pairing knife to my forearm. I cut into myself, quickly at first but found my skin much tougher then I remember. Sawing back and forth with the knife I could barely make a mark deeper than a bad cat scratch.
That was it….that was my grand gesture of defiance to living. Nearly a ten years since I last did anything like that broken. But some childish part of me felt I needed to do something. It was unhealthy and stupid, but I suppose it was a better act than a handful of pills or walking into traffic that my young self-promised would happen by now. Still, my young self could not foresee the support I would receive from the friends and family I have now. It’s snowing outside, and it is so very beautiful.
If I were to write the story of my life it would lack structure. My life is a series of disconnected memories. I suppose this is true for many people. They are faded and lacking many details. They are like dreams and am often afraid I am mixing the two. I suppose it’s because there is a lot I wanted to forget, and a lot of living I never had. Am told I was the outgoing, outspoken child when I was very little. I guess I must have been competing for attention between my older brother and younger sister. I do have one particular cringe-worthy memory of that time. I put on a jacket, hat, and sunglasses to pretend I was a different person. It’s embarrassing to think about, but that embarrassment might be the only reason I remember it.
Much of my childhood only existed between two things. School, and the time I spent in my room. I did not have friends, not really. The only friends I may have had I convinced myself were only interested in my brother. I was just something that followed him around. I was a B student. Never doing more effort than was necessary. I slept on the bus to school, I did my homework before the start of class, I hid near other geeky kids or kids that know my brother. The worst was when I had to eat lunch alone. I know I did these things, but asking me to pick a single moment out of any of them would be difficult.
The most dreamlike of all my memories, however, were the times I was losing my mind. The times I had panic attacks or the times I was completely lost in despair. I’ve been on the ground, begging for anyone to help me, but unable to call out or even move. I have walked down the streets at 2am with tears endlessly falling down my face. It doesn’t feel real, nor did it then. It was like watching someone else, It would have been so easy to walk in front of a car, or step onto the train tracks. I know I know I once swallowed a fist full of pills then Immediately throw them up. I can’t tell you when this happened, but I know it did.
Perhaps I should leave it alone, perhaps they are better off feeling like dreams. But sometimes I remember something I completely forgot and surprise myself. Recently I remembered I was in some kind of choirs in middle school. We went to six flags, but this is the only thing I remember about it. Did I like it? Did I hate it? I don’t know.
Have you ever laid flat against the ground and feel as if gravity was holding you down? Sometimes I forget how much I distract myself from myself. Just a few moments alone with my thoughts is enough to send warm tears down the sides of my head. I feel somber. My mind is so very clear, but the tears don’t stop.
I recently had to visit a new psychiatrist. My old one had moved away leaving me to deal with a new one. Sitting in a chair answering questions that I had long forgotten the answer too. I can’t remember old doctors names or the years when I started a certain medicine. Suddenly being asked the days date, and counting backward from 100 by 7 was embarrassing. It seemed my last doctor added agoraphobia to my chart without telling me. The lack of control over the situation made me feel so small.
What hurt more than any of my anxiety, however, was my father. Before I left for the appointment I happened to talk to him and told him where I was going. His response was surprising that I still seek help for my mental Illness. I have been seeing a psychologist almost longer in my life then I have not. Nearly more than half my life. How could he possibly not know? The nights I spent crying myself to sleep, the times I hurt myself, the very close fact that I was going to kill myself. How blind has he been to the pain in my life? When I was young I suffered alone. As I grow up I decided never again, for my sake I would be open and honest about it. It hurts to know that someone close did not hear me.
Recently I finally have gotten around to reading something that has been on my “to read” list for a long time. Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. A fascinating short story about a man who becomes a bug. However, there is something about the story that has gotten stuck in my head. The main character Gregory, and his family rely heavily on societal expectations and pleasing them. Gregory’s very first thought upon turning into a bug is that he is late for work. He near kills himself to try and go to work, despite turning into a giant beetle, for fear of being fired from his job even though he has never been late in years of working. His family hides Gregory away as a shameful thing. To make up for the lack of his income, they all get jobs and rent a room out of the house to make money. They go to insane lengths to please the renters of the room. Meanwhile, Gregory hides away and makes a great effort not to upset his family despite being mistreated and dying. He places the needs of others so far above himself that he dies not to upset it. His family only grow contempt for Gregory and wanted to get rid of him near the end. They decide that Gregory has no intelligence from his formal life because they never try to look and Gregory never tried to show it. In the end, Gregory dies alone, and the family gets a happy ending, calling out of work for the first time, kicking out the renters, and firing the rude maid. They realize they can do what they want with their lives and have an open future ahead of them.
So why is this story so stuck in my head? Gregory dies alone with his family seeing him as nothing but a giant insect with no intelligence. This is depressing alone but it’s Gregory’s nature that hits me. I used to be a lot like him. Haveing so little self-worth that any action was taken by the people around me always held more value than myself. I was prepared to die alone in my room trying to cause as little trouble to others as possible. Perhaps like Gregory, I saw myself as an insect. I would live and die a short life avoiding the lives of others.
Self-worth is just so very important to a healthy life. Somewhere along my life I never learned it, and have been trying ever since. If you don’t have the confidence to take a single sick day from work, to take care of yourself then you are barely living. It’s okay to be selfish, your existence is important enough that you can slightly burden others.
PS. I like to thank my brother for letting me rant about Kafka for a night.
An old story that I have told many times now. I stay up late, it is my birthday, and am lost in my head. I’ve said this before, but I think it is important to say, again and again, I did not expect to live this long. I am almost thirty, I truely believed without a doubt in my mind that I would be dead by now. In that respect, every moment I still exist exceeds my childhood expectations for me.
I grow older, but in many ways, I am still a child. I suppose I am not unique in this. We are all still learning, and growing and changing as people. The change is so much more subtle than I thought as a child. Depressed, happy, thoughtful it is all still me. As a teenager, you strive to be unique and even I often wondered who I would be without my depression. While my depression may never go away completely, I have learned to manage it better and better. I understand now that am still me, no matter how I change.