The summer started uneventfully, with a mix of rainy weather and cold nights. I long for afternoons in the bright sun, Lou Reed during his Velvet Underground years crooning to me over small speakers, with nothing better to do than wiping the condensation off a cold drink. It’s a life that doesn’t seem far away, and yet a life I never imagine making for myself. I always think it’ll just happen some day, that things will fall into place if I can take care of everything else.
It’s okay to be OCD about how your cards are organized as long as everyone else is.
Aaron has me over for dinner every week with Karen and the two kids. It’s a ritual he has yet to break, even though he told me he didn’t want it to be a calendar event when I asked him if we could do something on a regular basis. Every Wednesday he leaves work early to let me in the house, and makes up the time by working longer hours on other days, a sacrifice that means more to me than he’ll ever understand, and something I never had to ask him to do. It’s nice to be able to look forward to regular plans, and something I share only with him that makes me feel like I belong.
About as often are Magic nights with Trolley and Steph, and these invariably include something delicious for dinner, when Steph takes the culinary arts to a whole new level. They take care of me with food and conversation and booster packs that they never let me pay for. I’m sure I owe a great deal of my sanity to them, when Magic was the only thing that took my mind off the fact that everything fell apart.
Nobody fucks Pretty Wolf.
In between are things less frequent, but no less important. Musical projects with Jesse or Seth that give me the kind of goals and purpose I’ve been looking for. Sessions with Lisa, when we get to share the things we don’t share with anyone else. Hangouts with Tiana to debrief on our ever-changing lives, and to give each other advice or a pair of ears. Dinners with Heather G when I need my dose of optimism and adventurism. Not to mention the people who send me messages of check up on how I’m doing when they can’t be here for me physically.
It feels strange to be busy again. To be productive, and social, and to need days off when I’m not even employed.
Not that it’s been an attempt to stay occupied; more like making sure my needs are being met. That I have fulfilling relationships that provide me with what I need, involving people who make me feel hopeful and worthwhile and connected and nurtured and protected and satisfied and accepted and understood and validated and loved and confident and safe and in control.
You must be saving the world as I write this, making it a better place for the ones like me who never seem to care enough to make a difference. Aside from the easy things like recycling and saving my laundry for large batches, of course, but that’s what you’d consider bare minimum, and it always felt like you used something like that as excuse to keep us at a distance.
Maybe that’s why I’ve never felt as in the way as when I was with you. It hurt to think I was only slowing you down, when I’d already planned so much. There were more shots to take, more cheeks to pinch, and parts of the world to explore together.
I know you needed a fighter to match your heart, but that’s not why I challenged you. Not cause I was a skeptic either, but because I wanted to be convinced. I wanted to be educated. I wanted you to change every preconceived notion I had of agriculture and corporate farming and sustainable growth with strong arguments and sound logic. But instead, you mistook it as apathy and conflict, and just gave up.
That’s why I wonder why you tried to kiss me last time, when things had already fallen apart. And whether I should have turned around; if you would have seen you getting in your car and driving off, or whether you would have lingered to see me wave through the glass. But I couldn’t look back, cause I’d had enough of you having enough of me.
The only things you left me with were a huge purple bruise and three songs in my collection, but I still need to thank you for something rich and fulfilling. Something that made me stronger, cause you were the only person to ever call them beauty marks, the only one to truly make me feel important and desirable and validated.
That’s probably why I think of leaving something in the Dropbox folder to find one day. Something sweet and nice and completely hopeless. But I realize it’s not cause I still like you. It’s cause I miss the idea of liking you, the idea of having something other than all this misspent love.
Before my therapist starts talking, he has this habit of repeatedly pursing his lips when trying to find the right words. It always makes me wonder if I have any habits too, and whether someone could do a reasonable impression of me by mimicking some mannerism I’m unaware of. The only thing I can think of is this particular way of clearing my throat out loud that Bronwen used to tease me about, something I’ve since realized that I picked up from my dad.
The sessions are getting abstract and philosophical, a sign that they’re focusing less on details and issues and more on root causes. He’s been challenging my thinking, but he always does it in a gentle and encouraging way by letting me explore ideas myself, giving me a little nudge in the right direction if I need it. Most importantly, he always makes it clear that I’m the one in control, that I make my own decisions, and that he won’t judge me whether he thinks they’re healthy or not.
The thing I’ve learned most recently is that some people are simply never meant to fill a certain role in your life. Getting upset at them for not being more is like getting upset at your cat for not being able to play LittleBigPlanet with you. It’s a hard reality to come to terms with; not only am I faced with the sudden realization that some people aren’t who I want or need them to be, it means they’ll likely never be that as well.
But that’s the way the world is, and I’m learning to let go, and to not hold everyone to the same standards I hold myself to. The best I can do is connect with the right people, the ones who can be what I need because that’s who they are, not because they’ve tried to change for my sake.
Lisa and Rolf got married on the fifth anniversary of their first date. It’s a fun little secret they’re keeping from people (including their parents), and as the actual wedding will be a non-traditional celebration in August, the paperwork was done in advance. I was honoured to be the only one to know, as well as their photographer, and on Sunday we did the engagement photos, followed by a quick stop at the officiant’s house to sign and witness, then a trip out to Denny’s for breakfast. Denny’s holds a special significance for them, as it was where Rolf took Lisa after he proposed, and ever since, they try to eat at a local Denny’s whenever they travel.
It’s been a long time since I had a project to work on, and to see how well the photos came out has been a delight.
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I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started to feel better, which is a very peculiar feeling in itself. There hasn’t been any event to which I can attribute the fact that I’m not so anxious about how scary the future is anymore, or how I’m not depressed about everything that’s happened. The only variable has been the medication, which means it’s working.
The side-effect that still affects me most is the insomnia. I sleep for two hours, do something mindless for two hours, then go back to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. I don’t feel rested until night, at which point I’m soon ready to sleep again. It’s wreaking havoc with my motivation — not to mention my colitis — which is why I haven’t started rebuilding my life yet. For now, I try to do one thing every day that will make me happy, so I can say it was a good day. Baby steps.
But I’ve also lost all inspiration, and I’m left wondering if this is another effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibition. When I walk the streets, it feels like a completely different world from what I knew.
I used to pick up my guitar throughout the day and noodle. I used to carry my camera with me everywhere in case something caught my eye. I used to write almost every day. Creativity was a driving force in my life, and a huge part of how I used to define myself. Now I never feel like creating. I used to be terrified of going on medication for this exact reason, but I’ve discovered that the medication makes it all okay. It’s like Cipralex is both the cause and the cure.
At least I can go outside now. I can face the world, and start fixing what needs to be fixed.
How quickly my world fell apart. How suddenly things have changed, never to be the same again. No one blames me for being unable to cope when so much has happened all at once.
When diagnosing the severity of your mood, the professionals always ask if you have a plan. Even the two cops who show up at your door at midnight cause your friends fear the worst will pose the question. I guess a plan is the sign that you’re in immediate danger, and I had three.
It means I get to be selfish now. I get to do what I need to survive. I get to think of myself for once in my life.
Even if my friends have never been through this, even if they don’t understand, they still care, and they prove it to me with every lingering hug, every meal they leave me, every call to ask how I’m feeling, every message left to let them know if there’s anything they can do, every reminder that they don’t want to lose me spoken through tears from those I’ve never seen cry.
I used to have nothing but guilt for worrying them, but now I understand that guilt is the last thing they want me to feel. They only want me to be okay. They’ve done so much to make me believe this, and that’s exactly what I need right now.
My life has taken another turn again. The days can go on with regularity over and over, one day indistinguishable from the next. A long continuous chain.
Time loses all meaning when you can’t sleep more than two hours in a row, and everything else becomes meaningless along with it. Some days I can’t eat, exercise, or face the world. All I can do is wonder when it’ll all end, and fight every thought that tells me to give up.
They said the medication may make me feel worse before I start feeling better. This is how I discover rock bottom is always relative. A strange little hole I find myself in, where the days grow brighter with the changing of seasons, insomnia means I never miss a sunrise or sunset, and I have nothing but free time, but none of it matters.
Sanity is supposed to come from little portions of Cipralex, but I have to survive long enough for the doctors to find the right dose. It may well be several months before they discover what works, and every day in between terrifies me.
Until then, I can’t sleep, I can’t come, I can’t eat more than half of what I used to before getting full, and I can’t go without Gravol to fight the nausea. The side-effects are supposed to be better than the alternative — and I suppose cottonmouth is good way to get me to drink more liquids — but every wretched day makes me question whether this unique form of hell is worth it.
This used to be one of my greatest fears, and here I am faced with it cause I couldn’t handle life by myself anymore.