For about five minutes this morning, I considered becoming a crack dealer. Don’t judge! My fabulous girlfriend and I were discussing paying some bills—my bills. I’m unemployed, which obviously sucks. Before I go any further, I have to say that she’s being awesome about all of it. My evil brain is the problem.
I was standing on the patio, smoking a cigarette in the rain and thinking about what a piece-of-shit loser I am when the idea hit me. SELL CRACK! That’s when my crazy-ass brain went a little out of control.
Dude! I can start selling crack and not have to ask my GF for money ever again. I can buy her a baller-ass ring and a bunch of shit from Williams-Sonoma. Pretty soon, I’ll start a record label and get my band back together. OMG this is gonna be sweet. I’ll probably start a clothing line and my own bourbon. I won’t have to sell crack for too long. Get out of the game before shit gets out of control. Man, that would suck if I got arrested and had to go to prison. I would definitely get ass-raped. I’m too goddamn cute, especially for prison. STOP BEING NEGATIVE. I won’t get arrested. I’ll be out before the police catch on. I’m white anyway. Shit, that was racist. What is wrong with me?
But where do I get the crack? I’ve never done crack, but I have been to rehab. I’ve even bought drugs outside of rehab. Wait a sec. A crack dealer outside of a rehab joint would probably be selling at retail prices, if not more. I’m fucked. No Williams-Sonoma or record label for me. Shit.
I was literally thinking all of that when I walked back in. I must have been looking guilty because GF looked at me and said, “What’s up with you?”
“Uh, huh. What is it?”
“I was thinking about, um, the US/Portugal game last night. Crazy!” That got me out of it. I couldn’t wait for her to leave so I could freak the fuck out in peace.
I went to Home Depot after she left to get a new toilet valve, which was the only item on my to-do list that seemed doable. I started to get low blood sugar and headed to 7-11 to buy OJ. Goddamn buck fifty on OJ when I had free OJ at the house. Being diabetic sucks assholes. Man, I’m complaining a lot today. Anyway, I got the valve and got home without freaking out, but I was so worn out mentally and emotionally that I immediately had to take a nap. It wasn’t even ten.
When I got up, I was still anxious about money and sad that I wasn’t going to be a crack dealer. I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to buy her fancy cookware or start a record label. I paced around for a while before I finally made myself install the toilet valve. I knew I would feel better after I did.
The toilet valve turned out to be pretty easy, and so far it’s not leaking. I’m so grateful for the broken toilet and my ability to fix it. I spent the morning emasculating myself but was able to remasculate myself by fixing a toilet. (I suck at endings/conclusions. All my stories used to end with me getting drunk and trying to figure out what happened, which seemed to work pretty well, but I don't drink anymore.) Ok. Done.
I hesitate to write this for many reasons. I’m tired of writing about it and I’m tired of talking about it. The last job I had was working with people with depression who were undergoing a treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). I’ve had the treatment and it worked, so it was easy for me to relate to the patients and them to me. I would tell them stories about how it was for me. I would tell them about never answering the phone, no matter who was calling. I would tell them about all the cancelled appointments or lunches with friends and the excuses I made to get out of them. Diarrhea was always a good one because it was usually true. The anxiety leading up to having to be somewhere would wreck my stomach. The patients would tell me how hard it was to take a shower or brush their teeth. No one who hasn’t had depression gets that. They would talk about the dishes in the sink and the laundry piling up. They would tell me how lazy and shitty they felt about it. Helpless and hopeless. I would tell them to forget the million dishes and just put five things away during a commercial break, because five is way more manageable than a million or even ten. They understood, and I could see them light up, if only for a minute, being able to talk to someone who really got it. But as rewarding as it was, it also wore me the fuck out some days. Eight hours in a dark room with depressed people can take its toll. And some people had comorbid conditions that would not allow them to hear anything, which is unbelievably frustrating.
I also had to write and tell my “story” for the company. For sales. I would tell prospective patients about being an English professor—it sounded better than Adjunct Faculty—before the depression and anxiety hit. I would tell them about losing my job and moving in with my mom. I would tell them about the drinking. About how I drank so much that I got pancreatitis and almost died. How I’m diabetic now and don’t have a gall bladder or spleen. The suicide plans. The pills that didn’t work. The doctors. The therapists. How worried my parents and friends were. I told them that no one understood. About the people who kept asking me “Why?” And finally, I would tell them about TMS and how it saved my life. I haven’t had a drink since. I don’t isolate and getting shit done is easy.
While all that is/was completely true, it gets a little fucked up when you have to do a commercial about it. Imagine not being in control of your story anymore. Imagine people recognizing you on the street. Not exactly how I wanted my fifteen minutes of fame. I got so sick of it that my boss got better at telling my story than me. The owner of the company would tell my “story” to doctors he was trying to convince to go into business with him. After a very short time, the business part got beyond disgusting.
Another reason I was resisting writing this is because I feel like everyone I know already knows these things about me. Most of the people who read my blog at this point are my friends. (Feel free to skip this one, guys.) As a person with depression, you get the idea that everyone is sick of hearing your shit, but that’s the disease talking. And yes, it is a disease, like random cancer. There is a physiological difference in the brain. Nothing in particular caused it and it is not your fault.
And those are just a few of the reasons I didn’t want to write and post this.
As I was telling myself all the reasons I didn’t want to write about depression, I realized that all those reasons are exactly why I should write it. Awareness is key to curing any disease and it’s no different with mental illness. If anything, it’s more important to talk about because of the stigma related to it. Not only do others not understand, but those of us suffering don’t either. We still think it’s some character flaw or weakness, so we stay silent. We keep our mouths shut to avoid judgment—whether the judgment is there or not. Anyway, here’s what’s happening with me right now.
Before I came up with all the excuses not to write about this, I was thinking about my current mental state. In the last year or so, my depression has slowly crept back in. It is nowhere near as bad as it was before TMS, but it still sucks. I don’t want to do anything or be with anyone. I don’t have any fun doing anything. Dishes and toothbrushing are problems again. And again, I don’t want anyone to know. I don’t want them worry. I don’t want people to think I’ll drink again. I’m not going to but I do wonder if people are thinking it. That last part is probably ridiculous, but a bit of paranoia comes with being a recovering alcoholic. Anyway, faking it wears you the fuck out, and no matter how good we think we are at faking it, people know.
It became very clear to me this morning that some old patterns have resurfaced. As I was planning my day—making a to-do list and worrying about being unemployed—I started to get anxious about not having enough diet Coke to last the rest of the day. Of course, that’s fucking dumb, but it felt almost as bad as the thought of running out of booze. I started to think about running out of money for diet Coke and cigarettes. I thought about how embarrassing it would be to ask my girlfriend or mom or whomever for money for those things. I shouldn’t be drinking that much soda or smoking that many cigarettes anyway. The anxiety of it was really fucking me up. All I wanted was to be home alone with enough soda and cigarettes to last through the day. I wanted the doors locked and the blinds shut. Minutes after my girlfriend left, I drove to the grocery store and bought three twelve-packs. I also bought ice so I could put the cokes in the cooler. Pulling cans out of a cooler seems so much more comforting or something. Yeah, I knew what I was doing. Cans. Cooler. Fear of running out. Fear of people and being away from home. Not wanting people to know what I was up to. Putting it all off as long as I could before giving in. Jesus.
But I’m not going to drink or kill myself or anything like that. I haven’t given up. The TMS has kept the real darkness away. I’ve started seeing a new doctor and we’re playing with my meds. I’m reminding myself that new treatments come out all the time. I’m pretty sure I just need a med adjustment, but it’s good to keep all the other options in mind.
I should be wrapping this up with a nice little paragraph, reminding you that you’re not alone. You’re not. I should eloquently repeat the part about awareness. That shit is key. I should go back through this to make the point of view and verb tense consistent, but I’m not going to. I’ve washed my five dishes today and I’m about to go brush my teeth.
So, a couple days ago, I started to play with The Social Media AGAIN. I know I need to do it to promote my writing, but I get bored super quick. I also don’t know how everything works. It seems like one person will post a pic of a racist dog humping a cheezburger-eating cat and then their shit goes viral. I’ve posted plenty of stupid shit and mine never goes viral. I’m a bit of a Luddite too. I don’t think my #SamsungGalaxyS3 is stealing my job or anything, and I’m not scared of it, but I know it’s an unfortunate necessity—and pain in my ass. I’m definitely becoming my father, who doesn’t text or use facebook, and he sure as fuck doesn’t tweet. (Check me out @edgefiction101.) He’s also 72, so it kind of makes sense for him to not give a shit about that stuff. And finally, promoting yourself on SM is a full-time job, and I have better things to do, like playing Plants vs. Zombies 2, smoking cigarettes, drinking diet Coke, and thinking about all the mistakes of my heartbreaking past. Man, I really should have gone to law school and not spent so much of my student loan money on strippers. I wish I was kidding.
Another reason I’m doing it is because there are a shitload of writer jobs out there which require some sort of knowledge about this stuff. Oh yeah, did I mention I’m mostly unemployed? Anyway, I want to be a rich and famous writer or at least employed using my fabulous writing skills. Jesus, I’m way too longwinded in blogs. 500 – 1,000 words, right?
This morning, I pulled up the Twitter on my laptop instead of my phone and saw all kinds of shit I never see when I pull it up on my phone. The list of trending stuff was way longer and way more interesting. On my #SamsungGalaxyS3, I only see the top three trending things, but I saw ten on my laptop. I never have nothing to add to those top three. For example, #Iraq. My first thought on the subject is “Holy shit! If you’re too crazy for Al Qaeda, you are fucking crazy.” But I’m sure that’s been tweeted a gazillion times. #WorldCup? “Yay! #Germany #RanaldoIsHot” Also been said. It was a different story a little further down the list. #Youaintblackif. Booyeah! That’s a conversation I can join. I could even post a picture of my gray cat raping my black-and-white cat with a pseudo-racist comment and go viral.
One of the tweets was this poster of black guys’ heads one might find in an African American barber shop. It said, “#youaintblackif this poster isn’t in your barber shop and the barber never uses it.” Something like that. That’s a conversation I can join without worrying about being super-redundant. I’m a white dude who used to go to a black barber shop (See past blog posts for more on that). I tweeted that and instantly got 10 black twitter buddies. That made me feel really good on so many levels.
What have I learned today? If I dig a little deeper, I might just find something interesting on The Social Media. I’m sure I’ll soon be a world-famous tweeter, blogger, facebooker, instagrammer, etc. I’m not even shitting about this. It was fun and I feel like I got something accomplished today!