Relapses in Dreams

It’s funny, you know. In all my dreams about my life, and trust me, I’ve had plenty, I never thought I’d be here. I don’t know exactly where I am in life, but the point is not where I am in life, the point is that I didn’t think I’d BE to have a place in life. I didn’t think I’d BE as in Exist, because you can exist without Being.

Depression has a way of making you walk through life like a zombie on autopilot: you walk through life in a blur, not knowing how you got from one moment to the next, passively participating in the action around you: you’re a background character in support of the main character.

Some days that’s how I am. I exist, but I’m not being, not living but surviving, barely breathing.

People who don’t have depression have this misconception that it’s linear: you go through the rough patch once, and you’ll be good forever. Or, it’s a roller coaster with its ups and downs and upside downs.

The truth is that it’s not really any of those things. I’ve described it various ways before: the overwhelming sense of numbness, and the desire for anything that can help us make it from one day to the next. I’ve also described it as a fight where the only thing you have to fight with is a plastic fork and a metal trashcan lid (for more on that, click here).

Depression is not linear or a roller coaster. It’s really more like a Spiral, which I like to call the Spiral of Doom, and somewhere on this spiral, there is a Monster, Depression, whose path you cross more and more frequently as you go throughout life, and the increase in frequency makes each encounter harder to fight. It looks something like this:

andre

I’ve come to accept this monster. In fact, I’ve named him: André.

Some days, André is no Giant. I can scoop him up, put him in my pocket, and carry on with my life in a normal manner. However, I never forget that André is there, feeding and growing bigger ever so subtly, even when I try to ignore him. And then there are days when I can ignore him no more: he’s gotten too big to hitch a ride in my pocket (especially with the appalling size of pockets in female jeans), so I’m forced to give him a piggy back ride, which would be great if he wasn’t bigger than I am. The weight of André on these piggy-back ride days makes it harder for me to function, to move, to breathe.

He’s been pocket-sized for a while. But lately, he’s gotten bigger, feeding off my insecurities and doubts.

And now I’ve been relapsing in dreams.

I hadn’t had a dream about my sexual assault in six months, a new record. But in the last three weeks, I’ve had a dream eighteen times. 18 out of 21. If that was a batting average, I’d be in the major leagues.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a baseball game.

Only some of those dreams have replayed the incident as it happened; the rest have been made-up scenarios, as if my brain is more focused on the “Could Be”s instead of the “Here and Now”s.

I need to focus on the “Here and Now”s because I can’t go back and change the past, and I have no idea what the future brings.

But I’m relapsing in dreams.

I’ve ripped a suicide note up, threw it out the window as I was driving, and watched it blow away in the wind. I’ve started eating, stopped cutting, and have accepted André as a Forever Friend.

I’ve learned so many things in this short life I’ve mine, but I haven’t yet learned how to purge memories from my mind  that threaten to eat me alive. I’ve tried the Counseling, and the repressing, and I’m continuing to experiment with the writing. Because maybe, just maybe, if I write about it enough times it’ll become less scary, less taboo.

I’ve learned that the pain never really goes away, it just becomes more dull over time.

I’ve learned that recovery isn’t final: the threat of relapsing is all too real.

But I’ve learned that relapsing isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world because if my dreams and my past have taught me anything, it’s that things are a lot less scary the second time around.

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Graduation: I’ll Be Ok

On Wednesday, I ordered my tickets for my College graduation. It’s crazy to think that in a month and a half, I will be a college graduate. But, here I am standing on the threshold of adulthood and adulthood. And people keep asking me, “What do you want to do after graduation?”

I don’t know what to say to them. So I tell them, “I’m not quite sure. I’ve started looking to see what’s out there, started looking to see what kind of jobs I can get with an English Degree. I’ll probably go to Grad school at some point, but that costs money that I don’t have. So I’m looking for a job, any job I can get really. I can’t afford to be picky: there are student loans to pay off, a car to buy, my future to save for. Everything’s being thrown at me all at once, and I can’t avoid it no matter how hard I try—I’ve never been good at Dodgeball.”

Except I don’t actually say that because, well, it’s pretty obvious.

The truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing after graduation. I know what my end goal is: to be a writer. But that probably, realistically won’t pay the bills that need to be paid (at least not right off the bat). I’m looking for a big-kid job that will pay the bills, but it’s a terrifying process.

And Depression isn’t helping.

Every time I sit down to work on my resume or work on an application, depression brings his cousins anxiety and doubt over for a visit.

It’s really hard to work on your future when the three cousins are interrupting you:

No one is going to want to hire you.

You didn’t do as well as you could have in college, and now you messed up your future.

Hah! English majors. What good job will that give you?

And maybe their right. Maybe I did mess up my future. Maybe I didn’t do as well as I could have in college because maybe I was too busy focusing on my mental health to worry about getting all A’s.

But maybe their wrong.

Because I didn’t necessarily do as well as I could have in High school, but I still got into college. And not doing well in College is not any indicator of how well you will do in life.

One thing I’ve learned for sure is that I’m worth more than my GPA. My GPA does not measure how many battles I’ve faced, how many battles I’ve lost, how many battles I’ve won. My GPA does not measure how smart I actually am, just how good I am at studying or BSing my way through essays. My GPA doesn’t measure my talents, my personality, how much I care for others.

My GPA can’t tell you how hard I am trying to be ok.

My GPA can’t tell you how bright my future is.

But my doubts certainly can. The harder I doubt, the stronger my belief is that I will do great things. (it’s counterintuitive, I know. But I’ve been fighting depression long enough to know that this is the case.)

I’ve been doubting a lot lately.

And all this doubting has made the world seem a lot heavier on my shoulders. It came to a head on Thursday night. If I was still self-harming, Thursday would have been one of those nights, without a doubt.

Instead, I wrote.

There were a billion and a half thoughts running through my head, but the only thing I managed to get out was “I’ll be ok.”

I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.

I wrote that phrase 150 times, falling asleep half-way through the 151st time: I’ll be.

I’ll be (fill in the blank).

Amazing.

Strong.

Happy.

A world-changer.

But most importantly, I’ll be a writer. That’s what I am meant to be.

And it terrifies me.

I’ve started writing the same book three or four times. And every single time, I get freaked out and stop. But in the past few weeks, more and more people have told me that I need to keep writing. Some of these people have followed my journey from the beginning. Some of these people I don’t even know.

Somebody came up to me on Friday, told me that she read my blog because her friend showed it to her. She then told me, “Thank you for being my voice.”

Thank you for being my voice.

For a long time, I couldn’t find my voice. I lost in the midst of my fear and doubt.

But now I’ve found it, and I have so many stories to tell. Some funny; some sad. Some good; some bad.

And I’m terrified. But that’s ok because I’ve come to realize that fear is a powerful motivator. I’ve come to realize that words have power. Words can change the world.

My words have been my way of making sense of my struggles, and in the process, I’ve become the voice for so many who don’t know how to express what they feel.

And that terrifies me. I want to do myself and others justice. I want to express where I’ve been without losing sight of the future.

And the future terrifies me. My dreams terrify me. But if your goals and aspirations don’t terrify you, they’re not big enough.

I think fear is just your minds way of trying to protect you.

I’ve come to learn that no matter what happens, I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.

What’s in a Book?

In a recent post, I wrote about wanting to impact the world at least half as much as it has impacted me (for that post, click here). I think we all want to impact the world in our own way. Some of us want to be President of the United States. Some of us want to find the cure for cancer. Some of us want to decrease World Suck (if you understand that reference, you are AWESOME! DFTBA!).

I have many dreams. I want to fall in love, get married, travel the world, have children. You know, normal things. But I also want to write a book. Or rather, I want to finish my book. I’ve started this book so many times in my mind, but I never moved past the ‘thinking about it’ point. This time is different. This time I know how the book is going to start and finish, which let’s be honest, is half the battle. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing this blog, it’s beginnings and endings are the hardest, and are almost the most important: it’s who you were and who you became. The middle is just the journey from Point A to Point B: why you are who you are.

So why do I want to write a book?

I want to write a book because I believe in the power of words, but I also believe that I’ll never be very good at saying what’s on my mind. Because when I speak “my thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations” (thank you, John Green for that fabulous quote), but when I write everything makes sense. I believe we can all learn things from each other, because everyone on earth knows something you don’t. And I believe the best way to learn is by sharing stories.

What makes me qualified to write a book?

Absolutely nothing. I don’t know the first thing about writing a book, because apparently reading more books than you can count each summer does not automatically guarantee your ability to write a book.

So, why am I trying?

I’m trying because of my experiences. I’m trying because writing has helped me in my struggles. I’m trying because I believe what I’ve been through, what I’ve learned can help others. I believe I’ve been given this gift of words for a reason. I’ve found my voice. I can be the voice for others who have not found theirs.

Am I arrogant to believe that my words are important enough to be read?

I don’t know. Maybe. All I know is people read what I write. All I know is I’m scared my words aren’t important enough to be read. I’m scared maybe I’m making a big mistake, maybe what I’ve been through in my life is totally unrelatable and totally not something that should be written about.

Basically, there are a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t write a book and a thousand reasons why I should. And when push comes to shove, I need to write this book, not because I need to be validated, but because I need to be liberated. I have this intense desire to help others, and if writing about my experiences can help others, then I will gladly relive every moment, every painful memory.

I believe in the healing power of words. I believe words are beautiful, and I want to leave this world more beautiful than it was when I arrived.

Death and Love

We’re lonely people. But that shouldn’t be a surprise. From a distance, we’re all just specks. We’re tiny and insignificant. We are floating on this rock, in orbit around this giant ball of gas, in a solar system, in a galaxy with balls of gas that are bigger than our sun. These balls of gas are incomprehensible in size, and are located in a universe that spans to infinity and beyond, which contains an infinite number of galaxies, with planets that could be just like ours. And nothing lasts forever. When we are born, the world is a different one; we are unaware of our own mortality. But we see death around us: in the death of an ant because of our deliberate footsteps, in the death of days, seasons, and years. We witness the death of people we hold dear. One day, you will understand what death really means. This is when the air is sucked out of your lungs. That is the day when the music stops, the world tilts upside down, and the realization of your own mortality hits you. That is the day when you are scared of going to bed, because you’re terrified of not waking up. Perfectly still on our beds, we cry at night because we feel so alone; we want someone to hold us. That is when the nightmares set in—our past and what the future holds haunt us daily. Our dreams are the hands that hold on to us, the people who stay. When they are there, we are no longer alone.

Is that what love is? Another person to hold you in the dark when you feel like you are disappearing; a life whose heartbeats move with the same melody as your own; a way for everyday to mean something? We wake up in the morning, get ready, and sometimes try to impress someone. But for what? You shouldn’t have to dress nicely to impress someone. Is the way to someone’s heart nice clothes? But for years we have the same routine. Until one day, the loneliness claws at our spine once again, and we are left with a self-inflicted paralysis. But there’s always someone there. We create perfect, fairytale love stories in our minds because we think we don’t deserve real love. And one day we find someone that fits this fairytale, or at least pretends. Then they leave us broken and bleeding, convincing us that this is what we deserve. They come back, convincing us they have changed. And so it goes.

We accept the love we think we deserve.

No more. No more.

One day, you will find someone who loves you for who you are.

Because you can’t keep running away from everything, and wondering when you will stop this and just find the person, the place where you are ok existing, where you are ok being in love—mostly where your heart doesn’t need protection from anything, anyone (especially not yourself).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster under the Bed

“Daddy! There’s a monster under my bed!”

As Children, we were ever watchful for the so-called “Monster Under the Bed” or “the Monster in the Closet.” After turning off the light-switch, we would proceed to try and beat the dark–to make it in the bed before the Monster got us (because everybody knows that monsters only come out at night when it’s dark); this would often result in diving onto the bed, bruising something, or banging something in the process. But it was worth it. We beat the monsters.

We’d also avoid sticking our limbs off the bed, because everybody knows that the monsters eat our limbs. And no matter how hot it got, we’d always sleep under the covers (although, I must admit, I still do this).

When I was really little, I remember begging my daddy to “tay me bit more” (stay with me a little bit longer) because I “saw” monsters in my closet, or, since my mattress is/was on the floor, “swimming” around my bed. My monsters always resembled alligators, and at some point I gave them names (not that I remember their names…).

At some point in our growing up, we moved past this “Monster under the Bed” phase, not because Monsters don’t exist, but because we realize they are inside us. They are in our minds telling us we are not worth it, we have no value, we are not beautiful. Unlike the monsters of our childhood, these ones do not go away when our parents search for them. “Super Daddy” can not fend off the monster with his magical powers. And they certainly don’t only come out when it’s dark (although, that is when they are most common).

These monsters try to distort the truth about us. These monsters are always on the prowl. All the time. Trying to make us their prey in this inner battle, trying to stop us from following our dreams. My monsters in particular are relentless about hurling these lies at me. They make me weak, and afraid to fight. They hinder me from following my dreams.

But, no longer. I will step out of my own shadow, follow my dreams, and break away.