You might call this a sequel really; this post began six months ago, and I thought maybe, I need to complete it.
I'd known in March 2010 that it was happening, but those months were worse than my first year of college when I was sitting in the communal bathroom cutting myself, talking aimlessly to the school therapist who after our first session recommended I see a psychiatrist and I went in for some psychological testing by my Russian professor (unrelated; apparently he had experience with learning disabilities and recognized a pattern in Russian II that indicated I should get checked out) and left with a prescription for Zoloft from the interviewing psychiatrist and two appointments.
It's only in retrospect I look back on that interview and remember when he asked if it was okay if he spoke to my mother. I don't remember it; its been ten years. In the shape I was in, I may not have remembered it after it happened. I was sleeping eighteen hours a day. But apparently, it was worrying, if my mother's memories of this same time are to be trusted (they are; it was also the time that she was suspecting an eating disorder; I'd dropped to something below 125 and with my frame, it's honestly hideous. I never noticed. I doubt she was relieved it was a symptom of depression, per se, but was probably glad to know it wasn't an eating disorder. Depression my family knows and understands and can deal with).
He said I looked great (I love Dr. Chang) and my blood pressure was excellent; he noted I lost weight (nothing to do with fat/skinny/obese/etc, he's very much into "feeling good? Excellent"; problems with my thyroid manifest in sudden weight gain and exhaustion, so it's an indicator to use with my blood test results to see if my dose needs to be changed). Funny thing on that; I told him about my twenty-pound range. I can't tell it's happening unless I'm on a scale because I'm tall enough that weight distributes fairly evenly (and happily on the chest area, I'd like to report) but it's something to take into account when the blood test results are in. I knew it wasn't all blood tests; being borderline but still having inexplicable weight gain and exhaustion is an indicator as well. I had no idea before how complicated and still in progress the science of thyroid regulation is, and how it's both art and science. I have a very artistic doctor).
Emboldened by nice medical news, we talked about the depression; I explained how bad it had been and how I didn't understand how it plunged so fast when I'd pretty much been in my normal range for a cycle as of August; I was still posting, still reading my flist, still writing and then in October, everything stopped, and I mean everything. Some I can attribute to job stress; this is when we lost a lot of staff and I had a lot of overtime and I was utterly terrified of surgery. But I know my own cycles and they get bad, but never the hopelessness that was Thanksgiving and Christmas, never the inability to care what was happening to me, and not since college when I literally had no fucking clue what was wrong and didn't know what was going on or how to deal was it this frightening when I cared enough to wonder if I should be scared yet.
He surprised me by mentioning something merryish had told me regarding the aftereffects of anesthesia, which you know, I had my gall bladder out right before Halloween.
Six months ago, almost to the day, I wrote about being a cutter after a truly nauseating attack on a cutter in sf-drama. I'm still mad about that and I'm glad I read it, because one of the things that fandom--and not-fandom for that matter--is sometimes, we talk around our mental illnesses--we have them, yes--but not what they are, what they do to us, what they mean to us, what it feels like in our skin. I feel like some of us almost sanitize it for public viewing, talk about the big things that happened but the honest truth is, for me, depression has no big things; that's the horror of it. It's not just that you don't want to look weak; fandom is huge and it's tiny, and I met the most important and best friend of my life online, and a dozen close friends, and the idea of them realizing they were completely misguided on my ability to be a friend kind of kills the desire to give anything more than what I have to.
Cutting is one of the big things, but it's one of the big things that show we recognize the problem and we're doing something about it. That's a huge thing. But it's not what daily life is, what it is every moment between, what it is when even that is too much trouble, when it loops back into you, until the depression itself punishes you again for even daring to have it. That's the hard part. It's not even that you can't get out of bed, can't get in the shower, have to force yourself to go through the motions of living; you start hating yourself for what you can't even help. When you hate yourself for not being able to care and then in self-defense you turn that shit off because the boxcutter is looking better for some artistic expression in an easily concealed place.
This is daily life; it's waking up and not sure why you bothered. It's going to a movie seems like work. It's meeting a friend for lunch and getting nauseated at the very idea. It's staring at the wall and trying to remember what it felt like to care. It's fighting down self-hatred with anything to distract yourself and you realize the one thing that always worked is gone.
It's all the stories in your head silenced. All of them.
My parents tell me I've been telling stories since I was three years old. I wrote my first almost correctly formatted short story in third grade where my teacher had to take me aside to teach me quotation marks while everyone else was learning the use and abuse of a comma. I wrote my first novel in fifth grade, my second in sixth, my third and fourth and fifth in seventh grade, and a set of intertwined terrible written novels about six families of vampires on a French island (dear God do not ask), a sequel to Susan Kay's Phantom, and various historical-based short stories. My right finger had a permanent red groove from pens, and I went through 200 sheet college ruled notebook paper a week during the summers when I was home and needed a new package of pens once a month. College I stopped writing but I never stopped telling stories; all my essays were ridiculously long and sketched out new worlds to make my point.
I haven't stopped writing since 1998, when I took creative writing and something flipped in my head--and I acquired a computer--and I didn't stop again. I've been in fandom for twelve years; from August 2010 to June 2011 was teh longest period of time I wasn't posting; from October 2010 until June 2011, it was the longest period of time I hadn't written. Because I couldn't.
There weren't any stories. There wasn't anything. That's what living with depression is to me; there's nothing there. I couldn't do anything because the way I interpret the world broke; it was slow and dull and I couldn't grasp life because I didn't know what was happening in it. I couldn't write out a thought, a feeling, a shock of recognition, I couldn't communicate, not with myself, not with anyone else.
Two weeks ago I had to get a story for the KisCon zine done; I have thirty almost-finished stories in my folder that need like, a beta to post, but I couldn't understand what I'd meant when I wrote it, so I couldn't touch them.
One month ago I went to visit svmadelyn in Chicago for a weekend; I wondered why on earth I was doing it. But I went and I came home and I didn't tell my flist and I didn't even tell her, but I was sleep deprived and standing in O'Hare when I arrived and I realized, very abruptly, I wanted to be there. I wanted to be there, I wanted to see her, I wanted to wander around Chicago and eat at a dozen places and explore Macey's finally from the ground up and go shopping and wear eyeliner and enjoy time with my best friend. And I did. I had a blast, I was in withdrawal from ritalin that my sister took and so I got tired too fast but every morning I woke up thinking of all the things we'd see that day. I realized how much I'd missed her, and how much I missed everything.
I haven't wanted anything in so long, so you'll have to forgive me that I didn't recognize it at once.
A few weeks ago, I sent a Due South story I'd written three years ago for beta and sketched out the beginning of a sequel; I froze up, shocked, because I didn't know what I was doing.
Two weeks ago I sat down and discarded the Trek story I'd almost finished and started something new and was so terrified I wanted to throw up. It was hard and I kept falling over my keyboard and then I cut teh entire beginning, and I whined to svmadelyn how I'd forgotten how to write, but that's kind of a lie; I was remembering. I just--forgot--how that felt, too.
One week ago I wrote an X-Men story and when I finished it, I sat down and thought I'd cry, because that story wasn't the one I'd originally wanted to write. It was the one that got in first because when I opened Word, there were thousands. There were thousands.
Remember when I said I wrote about being a cutter? Fifth paragraph after the cut, I wrote this:
It gets better. I know. And then it gets worse and the cycle starts again and its' not like I know right now isn't forever, that if I'm right about how this cycles, and I know myself, I have at least six months before I'm back to something resembling baseline, and that's until the next time. I'll backslide again in a few weeks--I know this shit cold, it's hilarious how self-awareness just does shit, but I'm not suicidal. I haven't been. Self-destruction can take so many forms, and if you're really fucked up, there are many better ways to hurt yourself so you have to live with it. I'm not scared, I've never been scared of killing myself; I'm scared of that, of the moment not-caring becomes finding a way, any way, to care about something. Being mildly OCD--diagnosed by a trufax doctor, so fuck off the sneer--has one use only for me when it gets like this and I've used it ruthlessly from spending hours and hours creating spreadsheets no one will ever see of stupid shit to hours reading linux to days and days of doing nothing but uninstalling and reinstalling and crashing my server so I could do it again and again until I could sleep, or what passes for sleep, because you can't call this shit insomnia when your life is where sleep, real sleep, is the fucking exception.
I was off, as it turns out; it's two days early. Five months, twenty-eight days ago, I made myself believe I'd get through this one. I said six months, and I was right; now it's better, and I know it'll happen again, but when it does, I'll read that entry and then I'll read this one, and I'll remember. And I'll believe.
And now I am going out to dinner with a friend I haven't talked to in months, and I'm looking forward to it and I'm excited about it, and when I get home, maybe I'll write a story. And maybe tell my best friend thank you, I missed you, I had a blast, and Chicago was amazing.
So. I need to catch up on everything I missed. Including myself.
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