That Was Then; This Is Now

MV5BMTk3MTE0NzExMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTUxOTgwMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,702,1000_AL_This post is going to suck. Not a great way to start, huh? I wouldn’t have a future in politics or advertising even though I am fond ofbullshit.

It’s going to suckbecause I’m going to tell you how I felt and what my days were like from May of 2016 until the end of November of 2017. If you don’t want to read about severe depression and passive death wishes and intense self-loathing , you should probably go check Buzzfeed(that’s not a dog on them; I personally love finding out which Harry Potter house is best for me – I’m not even remotely joking).

But I’m gonna try to make it a little more palatable. I’m going to take you through a typical day. I’ll tell you what was going through my mind as I brushed my teeth in October of 2017 and what goes through my mind as I brushed my teeth this morning.

I don’t know why I Want to do this. I guess I just want to illustrate that I’m Probably happier than I’ve ever been in my life and I think a big part of the reason for that is because I survived my own hell and now everything seems like heaven.

Also I think I heard somewhere that if you’re afraid to talk about something, you give it more power. So if that’s a thing , that applies as well.

Try to focus on the present. I know I sure do. The more I forget about 2017 the better.

To wit:

THEN: My alarm, the standard iPhone alarm tone, goes off at 10:30 AM. The first thought that pops into my mind is “I want to kill myself.”

Now before you freak I should clarify something: According to my psychiatrist, the technical term for that kind of thought is “passive death wish.”Not quite as much oomph as “suicidal.” But I’ve never been one to excel. I have told the Myriad number of mental health professionals that I have been treated by over the last 2 years that I really don’t think I ever would have but never making any plan to act on it for three reasons:

1. I’m terrified of death. I’m an agnostic now but I was raised Catholic and I guess 18 years of brainwashing will leave some wounds that are probably never going to heal deep in the recesses of my soul. It’s Weird because if that fear was founded in Catholicism, it doesn’t make any damn sense – or does it? If you’re a relatively decent human being and are legitimately repentant over your sins,you should probably get into heaven; at the very least you should be sent to purgatory to suffer incredible torture for a few centuries after which you would be allowed into heaven. I guess it’s like a good works release program. (I kill me – I’ll be here all week – try the veal!). A few centuries sounds horrific but if you’re weighing it against eternal perfect happiness, I guess it’s worth it? Not that you have a choice. I don’t remember being taught about any appeals process. And I Definitely don’t think you can Bartleby Scrivener that sitch and tell Saint Peter you’d prefer not to be tormented for 300 years and would just prefer if he could be a dear and find you a table for 1. So why would I be scared of dying if I probably wasn’t going to hell? Maybe it’s a self esteem and I feel/felt that I have such an evil center that god’s bouncer would notice my good person costume , pull me out of line, and open the trap door to hades right there and then. Or maybe my future self went back in time and warned my younger self that there was no god or heaven and I should really just go ahead join the French Foreign Legion and have all kinds of unprotected sex all over the world and try all the drugs I was always afraid to try and just generally have adventures,like Caine in “Kung Fu.” Whatever the reason is, whatever the reason was, my fat ass remains terrified of the other side. That Covers the religious indoctrination but it doesn’t explain why an agnostic would be afraid of death. What is there to be scaredof regarding not existing. How can you be in pain or be scared or be sad or be worried or be anything if you are no more? I don’t have any kind of answer for you but the notion of nothingness makes me shudder in the night.

2. I didn’t want to hurt my Dad,my Sister and my Son. It’s one thing to blow up my own life with my amazing choices. It’s another to fuck with theirs. Not that I haven’t already done them wrong. I just didn’t want to do them any wronger. Yeah I know that’s not a damn word. I riff about existential time travel and you get hung up on phonics?

3. I was fairly certain that whatever method I elected to off myself, I would fuck it up, survive and be trapped in a permanent frozen shell where I would be aware of my surroundings but unable to communicate at all. My psychiatrist told me this actually happens a lot more than you would think. I couldn’t believe one of my insane theories was a real thing.

So my neurosis(eseses) saved my life. I’m grateful. I swing my feet around and slowly sit up. “I want to kill myself” pops into my mind a few more times as I sit there and glare at the sunlight coming in from the light colored window blinds. I turn off the phone’s alarm. I lurch out of the bed and sigh my way to the bathroom, leaving my iPhone on the bed.

NOW: I wake up at 5:30, an hour before my alarm goes off and I quickly grab my iPhone and fire up Evernote So I can get that brilliant notion saved so that I don’t lose it and rob the world of my hard earned wisdom. I usually start with just an overall thought but the nonsense just starts to flow from my brain that I’m having such a good time writing it that I Audibly chuckle in my bed. I’m amusing the hell out of myself and I’m feeling absolutely no pressure because I don’t need anyone to read my ramblings. It’s just fun to write them. But I’m not going to front: if some people like some of my posts I’ll Totally be flattered. I’m a sucker for that feeling you get when someone’s feeling my shit. So I keep on jotting down stuff and I’m not tired at all and I lose track of time and all of a sudden, Icona Pop’s “I love It” starts up from the iPhone (I Bought the single – what can I say? I love Swedes and women with attitudes). I jump out of bed, flip on the lights and do my oldman stretches. I’m shaking that ass a little to the song and my iPhone is probably wondering the hell I want silence the alarm. Ipop two of my prescription Mental Heath medications in, swallow,throw my phone into the large freezer sized plastic bag and make my way to the bathroom.

THEN: staring into the bathroom window,wearing only my unfashionable boxer briefs which I unfortunately have not grown with my weight gain. It’s not as bad as a corset but it’s definitely not a good look. I am Santa’s assholebrother. I start to rub my right hand on my flabby left man boob. AsI rub my chest over and over, “I want to kill myself”fraternal twin, pops into my mind, firing off in the same tempo as my hand’s movement, and screams “You are a complete piece of shitloser.” After a few minutes of being yelled at , I remember I’m here to brush my teeth and I shove my electric toothbrush in my mouth and groggily go to work. “You are a complete piece of shitloser” does not care that I’m busy. He keeps firing away. Inevitably sigh and the frothy mix of toothpaste and saliva drips onto my chest. I quickly grab a Kleenex and wipe it off even though I’m about to enter the shower. My bizarre germophobia knows no bounds, least of my very own bacteria. “You are a complete piece of shit loser” follows me into the shower, pounding against the inside of my skull. I manage to clean myself, with“You are a complete piece of shit loser” hammering me while I Rinse. I stand still under the scalding hot water for more than half an hour. It starts to lose heat and I take that as my cueto get out and get dry.

NOW:

I smile to myself for no particular reason. I’m looking at the playlists section on my Spotify App, trying to decide which shower playlist I want. My shower playlists consist of 5-7 songs that get me pumped up or make me feel things. This morning it’s Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt versus Icona Pop’s “I Love it.” Since it’s Friday and I’m in love (with life for probably the first time ever) I pick the list with the Swedish power pop ladies. I brush my teeth and I’m Smiling at the lyrics and digging the melody. There are no problems. I finish brushing and put the phone in the ziploc bag and place it on the shower shelf. That way it’s nice and loud in the shower but I don’t wake up the other inhabitants of the house. I dance a little in the shower as the song plays and is followed by another high energy hit from the same playlist. I finish up pretty quickly, jump out of the shower and notice it’s 6:47. I’m making good time so I bound out the bathroom, ready to get dressed.

THEN: back in my bedroom, I get fully dressed and make sure the door is locked. I lay down on the bed to begin my post morning shower 3 hour nap. I lock the door because it’s an extra barrier that keeps my mother at bay and I get fully dressed so that if my presence is required, it doesn’t look like I just went back to bed after just waking up 30 minutes prior. “I WANT TO KILL MYSELF” pops into my mind about every 15 minutes. I wake up to my alarm set for 1:30 pm which is the time that my mother is normally back into her room after her two hour breakfast. I make the same lunch every day: 1 bagel, 1 banana,1 glass of water, 1 glass of orange juice, 1 apple. I go back to my room and start my 12 hour session of tv watching. Ishuttle through the various streaming websites (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, all the premium channels have their own outlets , too.) I try mostly to find comedies because I really don’t want to digest anything significant. During this tv stretch, the same things happen every Friday: I text R.S., one of my closest friends and ask if he wants to see a movie tonight. That’s pretty much the only thing I can stomach leaving the house for nowadays. A couple hours later, I am half-watching an episode of Frasier when my mother’s footsteps can be heard coming up the stairs. I quickly mute my iMac and pull up a job search site. She stands at my door and tries to start a conversation. I hold her back by claiming I am busy researching jobs and she takes the hint. But Before she does, she asks me if I have exercised today, because it is”very important for your depression.” I see the inside and tell her I have. She believes me every time, I think. An Hour passes and I’ll be watching some milquetoast sitcom because they sometimes can numb my brain a bit and keep “I WANT TO KILL MYSELF” at bay. But then I’ll just start quietly crying. It’s not because anything sad happened on the show. I just happen to step outside of myself and am so sad that this is the best I can fucking do. I don’t cry for long but the opening is enough for “I WANT TO KILL MYSELF” to thunder in and clapme a couple more times. A couple hours after that I can hear the front door open and I know my dad is home. I quickly bring up the same jobs website and mute the computer. He comes to my door and asks how I’m doing and if there is anything new with my jobsearch. He asks this question every day. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays him from hoping against hope. I give the same answer every day: I had (insert random number between 1 and 3) phone interviews today. “We’ll see if they call me back.” It would be impressive if they did since the interviews never happened. He chooses to believe me, I think,and heads downstairs. R. S. texts me back about the movie andhe suggests one I absolutely do not want to see but I don’t have thestength to even tap out an alternative. I don’t even want to go. It’s just that I don’t want to stick around my house and risk more reasonable questions from my parents. I’ve been awake for 5 hours since my morning nap so I finalize details with R.S. and get back into bed for my pre-movie nap. It’s too much to be awake.

NOW: I’m in my prehistoric door commuting to work and, like a good liberal, listening to Terry Gross Do her NPR podcast. It helps me keep calm when I’m in the sea of furious commuters. I’ll still snap into road rage whenever another car fucks with me which is quite often on the DMV streets. But I hear Terry’s voice and I know she would want me to chill so Ido. I am not thinking about anything except the podcast and avoiding vehicular manslaughter. I swing by my favorite convenience store and grab a large coffee and glazed donut (breakfast of champions) and swing into the office by 7:30 AM. I’ll have completed 3 hours of boring, easy, low stress, white collar factory work (read this document, do this to the document, file the document,rinse and repeat, all. day. long. it’s ok – this is exactly what I need right now). I’ll hum through the day, listening to music and podcasts and stand up specials, laughing openly at my desk. Thing are easy and productive and my desk mate and I are friends who talk about anything but small talk; we don’t like to waste time. I take a nice long lunch where I eat very slowly and write more terrible blog posts. R.S. texts me and asks what’s up tonight and we usually end up bickering about which movie to catch. I’m Happy to have my spine again so that I can stand up for myself. Before I know it , my time at the paper quarry is up, the whistle blows and I Fred Flintstone it out to my brontosaurus mobile and head to the city, listening to my current audio book because I am too lazy to read and because I like see how my heroes get it done. I Always find a parking spot right next to the theater now. That Never happened before. I stroll into the theater lobby to meet R.S.

THEN: I’m sitting in my father’s car with the engine off and the same thought keeps cycling through my head: how can I get out of seeing this movie with R.S.? But the microscopic ember that flickers at the center of my black hole soul wails plaintively. I can still hear it even though I have to strain. Guilt turns the key and I pull out of the driveway and head into the city. I drive around trying to find free street parking but I cannot. It even seems that very time I traverse the same block again, there are fewer spots available. I Don’t mean more cars are parked. Somehow the block has shrunk and hope has shrunk with it. I make my way into the parking garage, which doubles its rate every week and head into the theater lobby to meet R.S. As I push open the lobby door, “I WANT TO KILL MYSELF” pops into my head again as I plaster on a fake grin for R.S. who greets me with a real one, I hoped. We fist bump has only two awkward suburbanites can and head to the concession stand. I order the same thing every time: small popcorn with layered butter,largest sized Cherry Coke and a jumbo Hershey’s Bar. Before the sun set, carbs and sugar made me happy and “I WANT TO KILL MYSELF” had a hard time busting in when I was flooding those pleasure centers. But the popcorn was always cold now and there was hardly any butter on it. The soda was flat now and I would now inevitably forget that I left the chocolate bar in my pocket soby the time I powered through the flavorless popcorn, it had melted into an inedible mess. “I WANT TO KILL MYSELF” went to the movies with me and like that annoying patron commenting on every scene, “I WANT TO KILL MYSELF” would pounce whenever there was a moment that was not almost perfect. And I don’t know if you know about the state of modern movies but that is one tall order. The movie makes me uncomfortable almost immediately. Not because it is a horror movie or an intense drama but because I desperately want to leave. “I WANT TO KILL MYSELF” is getting louder and louder and I keep checking my phone in the vain hope that time has accelerated and I’ll soon get to go home and watch a rerun of The Goldbergs. The movie mercifully ends and R.S. and I chat about it as we walk to our cars. I throw vague criticisms and even vaguer appreciations at my dear friend who I can’t stand to be around tonight. Who I can’t stand to be around every Friday night. He offers me the same advice about working out and not giving up and trying to take baby steps. I nod pensively and try to look surprised by his advice and usually I’m able to extract myself after 8 minutes. We wish each other good luck and I get into my car. I wait till he’s out of site before I let the tears flow. “YOU ARE A PIECE OF SHIT LOSER” burrows into my heart and I am enraged. I am furious with myself that I can’t even enjoy one of my closest friend’s company. The anger keeps me awake as I drive home in complete silence.

NOW: I give R.S. a big hug and he’s visibly uncomfortable. I don’t care. I warmly start in about some weird theory I read about the movie. R.S. chuckles and we head down to the concession stand. R. S. asks if I’m gonna grab something and I reply “Nah, I’m trying to eat healthy so I’ll pass.” We both LOL and get in line. When I get to the counter I order a water bottle, a gluten free oatmeal cookie and some cashews.” Did I get you? I’m not gonna order that shit! I order the same damn thing I always order: a large Cherry Coke, popcorn soaked in butter and a chocolate bar. Except the difference this time is that I actually enjoy what I’m eating. Oh! And I remember to take the chocolate bar out of my pocket so it doesn’t melt. During the movie I don’t look at my phone once or think about when the flick will end. (I mean – if it’s any good – I escaped mental health hell; I didn’t lose my mind) I bring back my Wu-Tang style and suspend all disbelief and just hook on to the hero and ride or die with them. R.S. And I heard back to our cars and awkwardly fist bump each other and jump into our respective beaters. I plug in my iPhone and scroll down to the following saved album: Guns ‘n Roses’ seminal classic “Appetite for Destruction” and I turn it up to 11 as I peel out, laughing into the night.

How are things now in general and not just on Friday? FUCKING GREAT. If life were a A&P parking lot at 2 AM, and my soul was a 1980 Pontiac Trans Am, I would be drunk and on uppers and Teddy Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, JLaw and Jesus Would be my passengers and we would all be losing our shit as I did crazy ass donuts in the lot.

“I WANT TO KILL MYSELF” still visits me once a week or so. But I’m not mad at him anymore. We’re like two old warriors, in the sunset of their lives, meeting in the nursing home. He doesn’t scare me or hurt me anymore. I was older then. I’m so much younger than that now.

Don’t worry. I’ve scheduled some much lighter shit to post about in the coming days. Well, at least tentatively. I can’t make any promises. The words get to decide what comes out. I can only make suggestions.

4 thoughts on “That Was Then; This Is Now

    1. True – oatmeal cookies are gross regardless of whether they have gluten or not – thanks for taking the time to read it

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  1. Good post amigo, I really like reading your stuff . I remember when S, M, and I met you for dinner at Pasta Mia a while back, and I left thinking, “Man, something is up, he just doesn’t seem like the same guy I used to live with.” I had absolutely no idea what you were dealing with at the time, and I feel a little bad about that, but I am so very happy that you’re doing so well now. Can’t wait for the next pasta dinner (or Jumbo Slice, or McDonald’s) so we can rehash some of those good times on Euclid St.

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