park that car, drop that phone, sleep on the floor, dream about me

August 3, 2019

I’ve been having a hard time lately, and thought writing out my thoughts by hand might do some good. So I dug out the first notebook I could find, and when I flipped through it I realized most of the (little) writing in it was from ten years ago, when I was ending one relationship to start another, searching for an apartment, researching buying a car, starting a new job.

That’s a lot of change all at once.

Anyway, it feels a bit serendipitous to find these little notes from my 25-year-old-brain, so I thought I would share this piece (seems to be unfinished, but such is life) in its entirety, unedited:

It’s taken me a while to sit down and write this story. And it is a story, the same way we warn about telling tales out of school, or tell ourselves stories even if they’re never told aloud or committed to paper. But the parts of this particular story aren’t just words or abstract concepts–they’re hearts, and lives, not just anonymous ones but rather the kind I take great pains not to hurt.

Deep breath, then, and into the open field.

It must be very hard to be in a relationship with a depressed person. I couldn’t say from personal experience, really–I’ve been lucky in that regard, I suppose.

What I can say, though, is that it is also very hard to be in a relationship as a depressed person. And if I really take a hard look at my past, every relationship I’ve ever been in qualifies.

I’ve written about this here before, sometimes with trepidation, often with a great deal of thought, but the short version is that I’ve struggled with depression all of my adult life (and possibly for much of what came before–I was first diagnosed at 18, but who’s to say what state my heart and mind were in before?)

At the best of times, my depression and anxiety blink sleepily far below the surface and don’t bother me much. It’s like being used to dull headaches, or having to squint ever so slightly while the sun beats from behind overcast skies. And at the worst of times my depression bleeds through everything I do, everything I say, everything I taste.

But through all those times, I have to negotiate my relationships with other people, many of them people I love.

Trying to be in a relationship with someone while you’re depressed means there are really three of you involved. There’s you, there’s your partner, and there’s this version of yourself who barely resembles you but knows exactly how to hurt you. It’s like a nightmare version of Peter Pan’s shadow.

This shadow me is not always kind. She is often desperate, usually scared, occasionally malicious. She wants me to feel pain and she knows how to make me do the dirty work.

In the best of times, she trails along a few steps behind, a mostly harmless third wheel who just worries about me a lot, and consequently asks.


Possible Side Effects

July 23, 2009

This morning I went to therapy for the first time in about six years.

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Not just anybody

June 21, 2009

The other day I was about to part ways with a friend when she said, “Let me know if you need anything.” I said I would and she looked me right in the eye and said she didn’t believe me.

“I think one of the reasons we’re friends is that we’re both really self-sufficient,” she said, “and kind of stubborn about that.”

I amended my statement–I said I’d try–and then I got on the subway.

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Guess I Must Be Having Fun

June 20, 2009

The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along…

I was in high school when that sunscreen song came out. You know, the Baz Luhrmann song that was actually a Chicago Tribune column by Mary Schmich but still got falsely attributed to a commencement speech that Kurt Vonnegut didn’t actually give at MIT?

Yeah, that one.

I’ve been thinking about it lately, as I’ve waded through working and living in a college town during commencement season, having never really left my alma mater. I hear snippets here and there of the bleak economic forecast for graduates, the speakers urging all those fresh young faces to buckle down and weather the storm.

But I think if I were speaking to a group of graduates–even better, if I were speaking to myself three years ago–I wouldn’t say anything about the economy, or hard work, or even sunscreen.

I would say You are not alone. And even if you are, you’re still in good company.

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Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, Depressed?

April 21, 2009

So as a proud member of the underemployed, and as someone who just generally likes making a little extra cash, I often participate in surveys, studies, and focus groups. At one point I had a pretty regular gig doing vision studies through a research hospital and I felt like they were secretly training me for the CIA–one of the studies tapped into the massive funding available from Homeland Security by having participants look for weapons in luggage x-rays. (Conclusion: the less common weapons are in said x-rays, the less likely a screener is to notice a weapon when it’s there.)

Anyway, many of these require some kind of pre-screening to determine eligibility. For market research this often involves making sure you don’t work for an ad agency. Other studies are looking for very specific participants–say, dog owners who’ve bought several kinds of kibble over the past few months.

Aside from the standard demographic questions, many screening surveys ask about medical history.

And this is where I almost always lie.

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December 16, 2007

A recent post over at Dooce (1000+ comments!) has gotten me thinking, yet again, about depression. One of the things I love about Dooce is that she talks openly about her own depression in the hopes that talking about it might snowball into lots of people talking and the whole damn thing not being accompanied by such silence and social stigma. But while her post is all about taking medication, mine is about willfully avoiding it. Read the rest of this entry »