I feel a bit better. It’s been rough, mainly because I went off the Effexor. For lots of reasons that I’m not quite ready to sure with the blogosphere just yet. But I am on my way to wellness… David is taking me back home. It’s not that I don’t love Scotland, because I do, or that I haven’t had a great time here, because I have, it’s just that I have no place here yet. I am here, on a tourist visa, for a boy. I have no other reason for existing here. I’m not doing mission work, I’m not studying, I’m not working. And that kind of purposeless existence is a recipe for mental disaster when it comes to my complicated psyche.
So we are going back home. In two weeks. I have lived in David’s hometown, now he will live in mine. Yes. we are returning to Cleveland, there to stay for a year or so. After that, who knows. But at least I will be able to work in an actual job and feel somewhat useful and not like a lump of cold oatmeal. Hooray!
Will we come back to Scotland? Most likely. I want to give this place a chance, a real chance, when I have a proper visa and can really make a life here. Stay here permanently? Not so sure about that. I need the sun! But everything is up in the air for the moment, except the fact that I am going home. Home!
Again. I am tired of not being well, but there’s really nothing I can do about it. It’s a season, and I’ll get through it, like all the other winters I’ve lived through, and there will be sunshine on the other end. But until then I feel paralyzed and helpless. I wish I could hibernate until it’s passed.
Tags: Love, Whimper
Mainly, things have been rough with David. There has been much discord in our little flat. I even spent the night away with a friend last week (Though it wasn’t all that dramatic, since he drove me there and all. But still, I didn’t speak to him in the car.), but when I showed up at work the next day at 7:30, he was standing outside the deli smoking a cigarette and saying he was sorry. Then he worked in the deli, apron and all, for an hour to make up for it. We seem to have a pattern of A) David saying something stupid, B) Me getting upset, C) Both of us shouting and/or loudly ignoring each other, D) David apologizing and doing something very, very nice. Last night it was cleaning the apartment. The ENTIRE apartment. I sat and watched television, and didn’t even notice at first what he was doing, until I saw him on his knees scrubbing the toilet. Without any kind of pleading or nagging on my part. At all. He just up and did it. I walked around and the place was spotless, and he was vacuuming the floor and sweating and looking pleased with himself. I nearly cried. A man has never, never done something like that for me. Flowers, yes (though he got me those too at one point), little gifties, yes, a variety of aimed-to-melt-an-ice-princess compliments, yes. But cleaning my house? Just, you know, because? A first for me.
Tags: Argentina, Whimper
As in, completely. As in, I want nothing more than to describe all the crazy things I’ve been doing without having to address what I wrote only a few days ago, so far and so foreign does it seem to me. I told you, it is magic, the difference between that me and this me. Already I feel the mild embarrassment that comes when I look back and see my purple prose, overwritten as it always is when I feel some strong emotion. I can’t remember now what it felt like, and it left as suddenly as it came. That’s why I get so angry with people who suggest I just exercize or think positively or something, rather than take drugs. Because when I, who am only three days out of it, can’t understand it, how on earth do they thing they can?
Anyway, I am well. In Paraguay and bursting with stories, though short on time. You’ll have them soon, I promise.
Tags: Argentina, Whimper
So I thought I might escape the whole depression aspect of anxiety this round, but unfortunately I woke up today with the whole leg-shaking short-of-breath heart-pumping sort of nastiness that means new panic, and within a few hours it had settled itself nicely into the heft of pointless, inexplicable sadness. I have dealt with it enough that I can look at it objectively, see it for what it is, but still have no idea how to relieve it, aside from sweating out the four or five more days it’s going to take for my little pills to work their magic. And it is magic, bloody witchcraft, so unbelievably effective for me that even now, when my limbs feel like they each weigh a hundred pounds, when I have to drag myself out of bed and can’t bear to leave the house or speak to anyone who hasn’t known me for ten years, I still get to feel hope, something most people I know who suffer from depression rarely feel. I am lucky, I guess.
In the course of my writing this whatever-it-is, I read through other things I had written over the years, stories and blogs and journal entries, and anxiety and depression always seems to be an underlying theme. It’s not the center of my life by any means, most of the time I barely think about it at all, but it is always there, humming somewhere in the background.
I found this old blog entry from my second year in Israel, after I went off Paxil for the second time. I removed it from my blog the very next day, when I realized how despairing it sounded and that, um, people I KNOW were reading it, but it so clearly explains how I feel on the really bad days. I’ve been free of this feeling for a year, and like a person recently recovered from illness, I’ve forgotten what it felt like to be sick. I can’t explain it when I’m healthy, it all seems so abstract. But today I can, today I remember. Here, for your perusal, before it ends up in my book, which it inevitably will I’m sure:
January 15, 2005
This morning I started crying over breakfast. Luise and Tammy and I were sitting around the table, innocently eating toast, and suddenly tears were rolling down my cheeks. I was talking about something mundane–the lines in the grocery store, the paper Luise has to write–and there they were, all these tears without reason. And so I know: I am here again.
I hate the stupid metaphors I have to use to describe what it feels like when you know you are entering into depression. I hate the words sinking and stagnant and slipping away. I hate the fact that I have to use them at all, have to try and make sense of something so utterly ridiculous, so completely unwelcome.
I used to be, in some small immature way, proud to be the kind of emotionally unstable person who suffers–oh how I suffered! When I was eighteen, I felt that it put me in league with the greatest creative minds in history, as if by having a touch of madness in myself, I had the potential to become any one of them. You start to coddle your own unique little agony, that piece of you that makes you different from all the dull masses of simple people who don’t know what it means to truly feel anything. You start to use phrases like falling into darkness or sinking into despair. Having such grandiose expressions attributed to you makes you feel so unbearably special and important.
But after a while, when it finally becomes clear how unromantic, how utterly inconvenient it is to be really depressed–when you’re not sad, or down, or blue, when you’re just paralyzed, and helpless, and disconnected from everything around you. I don’t understand things when I’m depressed. I can’t make sense of numbers, facial expressions, how my feet keep moving, one after the other, on the sidewalk when I walk (When did I start walking? When did I leave home?) I can’t match up emotions to events–am I sad because we got in a fight, or because when the teacher erased the board, tiny flecks of red pen remained there? Both things suddenly carry equal weight, bring equal distress.
This is what it is like to be me: I know myself so well, have spent so much time wandering around in my brain, critically accepting and rejecting parts of me, changing what I don’t like, allowing myself a little pride for the things that I do, analyzing my emotions and motivations and hopes and hurts and longings to the point where whatever life gives me, I will know who I am. But this is when I am normal, when my brain is firing straight and even and I struggle only with the everyday problems of life. The trouble is this: at the first hint of something long-forgotten coming back to reclaim me, I lose it all. It comes up on me so slowly, playing a little game of advance and retreat, so that finally, when it strikes for good, over toast and coffee, I am caught completely off guard, and everything I thought I knew about myself vanishes in an instant.
I guess I write to find it again. I write because I am so tired of this. It does not make me special, or creative, or even interesting. It is trite, it is common, it bores me to tears. I write because I am so angry. With every year that passes I can see myself growing, changing, becoming the person I want to be–and all of it comes to nothing when I’m up against a few rogue chemicals. I write because oftentimes only words and reason can bring me back, only they can make me feel slightly normal when I am suddenly overcome by an almost physical sensation of hopelessness. I am in the thick of this right now. It woke me up at six in the morning, grabbed me mid-dream by the chest, sucked me up through layers of subconscious, and finally pulled me back into reality, only to fill me with irrational panic and fear and sadness. And now I want only to curl up into sleep again, shut down for a while, or run away.
Tags: Israel, Whimper
I failed a test today, for the first time since high school. I am not in a good state. The combination of stressing out over school, preparing to leave the country that I love, and uncertainty over the future has me teetering on the edge of fear and panic. And things with Dave being so precarious at the moment has pushed me dangerously close to despair. (That’s a lie. I am right smack in the middle of despair.) The result of all of these little messes is that I can’t sleep, can barely eat, and certainly can’t concentrate on school.
So I failed my Arabic test. Last night I remember thinking: I should study for this test. I really, honestly should. And then I remember thinking: I don’t have one ounce of strength left. I had to leave my apartment, get out, see people. I was on the way into town when Dave called, and he was near my apartment, but I’d already left, and that knocked the wind out of me even more. I tried to play it cool, but I don’t know how to play it anymore.
And then this morning I was staring at this test, and I couldn’t make myself care about it at all. I left most of it blank, and half-heartedly filled in the rest. I am alternating between an eerie numbness and the sudden inability to keep myself from crying. Not good.
Tags: Israel, Whimper
Sometimes I have to remind myself of things. Rilke helps:
“If you have this love for insignificant things and seek, simply as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems to be poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more conciliatory, not perhaps in understanding, which lags wandering behind, but in your innermost consciousness, wakefulness and knowing. You are so young, you have not even begun, and I would like to beg you to have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and to try to cherish the questions themselves, like closed rooms and like books written in a very strange tongue. Do not search now for the answers which cannot be given you because you could not live them. It is a matter of living everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, one distant day live right into the answer.”
Last night I had a dream that I was sitting on the beach, and the tide started rising really quickly, and I had to scramble up the sand dunes, and even higher and higher, as the water kept rising and the waves kept getting stronger. There was nothing threatening about it–the waves were almost gentle–but they were eroding something, taking pieces of things away, and I couldn’t stop to save any of it, just had to keep moving. I was grabbing onto things for leverage: trees, roots, heavy stones, and pulling myself up slowly slowly, but I was still wet, still aware that if I stopped moving I’d be swept away. So of course the waves are time, making loss out of everything, and the things I take hold of are these questions, that help me climb upwards but do nothing to stop the tide, and the sea itself may be mortality, or it may be the answer, because no matter how fast I scurried, I never thought for one moment that I was moving towards anything in particular, and I had the vague sensation that what I really wanted was behind me, that what I really wanted more than anything was to be swallowed up and carried off. And yet there I was, still scrambling and panting, grabbing onto what I could and watching precious things drift away. These are the things I dream about.
Tags: Israel, Whimper
I erased my last post, as you can see…sometimes I forget that this isn’t my own personal diary, that people actually read this, people who might possibly think that I’m crazy…I get a little carried away, you see. It’s probably because I haven’t written in my actual journal in so long, which is really strange for me. All my thoughts have gotten all jumbled up into a big impenetrable mass, which obviously makes it harder for me to make any sense when I try to sort them out (often to no avail).
I am okay. I will be okay, anyway. It’s so weird how different this year is from last year. Perhaps I’ve stayed past my usual allotment of time to any given space–I already feel the urge to move, move, move…you know, keep things whole. The second year in a place is always hardest; that’s when it begins, the little howling. It gets louder with time. Here it is, only January, and it’s at a fever pitch.
Tags: Israel, Think, Whimper
I’m getting tired of writing about the things I’m doing here–the parties and the sightseeing, the classes and the papers, what have you. All these external things–even the extraordinary place where I live–all of these refuse to penetrate at the moment, and I’m left walking around inside my own head. Not walking. More like treading water.
I am not unhappy. I am not even panicky or anxious. I am just confused.
We only get one life, you see. We either use it to seek truth, or we give up and start to collect things. I want to be good, I want to be kind, I want to be pure of heart, but I don’t know if I want to look for truth anymore. Suddenly it seems very, very silly, like investing in something that will never yield any actual result, that will never make any visible impact, that will merely serve as some sort of spiritual pacifier that calms me but doesn’t nourish me, eases everything but changes nothing. I don’t want to cling to something because it makes life more bearable or makes me feel like a part of something or gives me a sense of identity. I want to believe in something because it’s true, not just for me but for everybody, and this, this I suspect may not exist at all.
Tags: Israel, Whimper
This has been a rough week. I’m battling a shapeless little loneliness here, and it’s tiring. I’m having another of those disconnected days–I want to plug myself in somewhere, lean on something for balance, only there’s no place, really, for me to go.