A year ago I:
- Had double pneumonia. I was beyond sick. I couldn’t get out of bed. I had it for like six weeks before considering going to the doctor (which I couldn’t afford). I started taking antibiotics and they took a long time to work. It was unreal. All I did was sleep and lose touch with my friends.
- Was poor. Not just poor in the general middle class everybody-is-poor sense, but using SNAP (food stamps) and relying on kind aunts to supplement my feeble income to get by at all. Giving gifts for the holidays was not a thing. Eating ramen and salty things from the dollar menu at Taco Bell was.
- Was single. There was some girl who dated me and then I got sick and we lost touch. I still don’t know what happened there. I wasn’t just single, but lonely. I wasn’t sure that I was lovable. My heart was still broken from a delightful woman who I had no business dating.
- Had just been in the hospital. In early October of last year, I checked myself in. Not very many people know that, but I was ready 2 die. It seemed like I had hit rock bottom (when in fact I’m just a bottom feeder and I’m always at rock bottom lulz). The cost of this hospital visit financially was ridiculous, and I had to face my father, who cried in the psych ward lobby. How does one forget that?
This covers just a snapshot of where I was at a year ago, early December last year. With all my privilege, I had a pretty shitty life. I had friends but felt isolated. My poverty was all-consuming. It’s hard to think about ambition and advancing when you feel like there’s no hope.
Where am I at this year at this time? I:
- Am kind of healthy? I even have “fantastic” blood pressure (direct quote from my nurse two weeks ago). Yeah I could lose a little weight, eat a little less McDonald’s. But I certainly don’t have pneumonia, and I have more support to get medical attention if I ever need it. I even have paid sick time.
- Have a great job that pays me fairly. I work 40 hours a week and when I go home, I am home and not at work. I love the people I work with. I have a retirement savings plan. I have insurance that I carry myself. I am not on SNAP and in fact I support people who help give food-insecure people resources. I get to write all day. I have a fantastic boss. Everything is so much better when you’re not completely fucking broke.
- Have an amazing, beautiful, supportive girlfriend. Can I talk about her enough? No. We’ve been together for ten months and I feel like I’ve grown as a person and as a partner SO MUCH. She is a blessing to know, much less be loved by.
- Have stayed out of the hospital. I have a terrific, life-changing therapist. We are working through stuff I didn’t even know I needed to work through. I tell everyone I know about her because I think she’s a magical miracle-worker.
My life is more or less the opposite, measured by the above metrics, as it was one year ago. And yet, yesterday I made plans to die. Not just vaguely suicidal, but developing a course of action. My girlfriend called me and I’m fine but like, what? I had CONVICTION.
It’s tricky because I want to be REAL with you but I don’t know how REAL to be. How can I face you, you who helps make my life great, and say, “yeah, I’m on meds, I have a great therapist, great supportive network who gives me affirmation and validation constantly, and yet I’m ready to check out.”
It makes me think about resilience, but resilience through what? My difficult circumstances? No. My life is cool. I’m in love and I can support myself and I have this cute truck that makes me feel more confident. I can buy myself Pad Thai (instant happiness) when I’m feeling like treating myself. I feel like I’m always meeting great people. On Friday evening I sang Karaoke for the first time, a goal I’ve had for years and a 2016 New Year’s resolution I feared I wouldn’t actually be able to accomplish (it took me until December but hey!). I’m driven and I’m starting to make scary adult phone calls without having to give myself a pep talk first. Maybe I’ll even get to the dentist soon.
Resilience through what?
When the tool to get through resilience (your mind and body) is the thing you need to get through, that’s something else entirely. I don’t have the answers. I don’t even know the right questions. But I love you, and I’m sorry.
My doctor once referred to my mental illness as “hard-to-treat depression.” I think about that sometimes. I often think he’s right, but I’m also like, does that mean it won’t be treated? Does that mean I have to learn to live with this?
How can I be so in love, feel so lucky, and feel so desperate to end it?
But I keep somehow surviving. If I had died any time I wanted to, I’d be dead before I turned 10. I wouldn’t know any of you. I still have so much work to do. I have things to write and feminism to spread and capitalism to end. I have Trump to criticize and call out. I have memes to laugh loudly at. I have a dog to one day own. I have a girlfriend to love. I have a sister to be there for. I have a BUNCH of friends to be grateful for.
It’s not helpful to say to someone who’s depressed, “You have so much going for you,” because they probably know already. It’s obvious. But that doesn’t mean I’m well. I’m just serotonin deprived, or something.
Thanks for listening.