I found a bunch of draft posts, and while most of them are snippets I found this piece which could have almost been a post. I’ve decided to finish it while quoting what I had written on May 21, 2013 because there are some really terrible ironies.
I really enjoy my end-of-the-year wrap up posts. Ideally they remind me of how much I accomplished in the span of 365 days, but there have been times that they were simply a documentation that I survived a year without giving up the fight. I often wrote those year-in-reviews with a bitter taste in my mouth because they were the hardest fought and yet I had nothing to show for it except my continued existence.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve expressed this sentiment in subsequent “End of the Year” posts, but if I haven’t actually said it then I’d say it’s fairly apparent that they mean something to me since they are the only posts I’ve done for nearly three years.
Yes I know that life – even if it is just existence – is hardly “nothing”, but there have been times that it has not felt so special to me, in fact, the only value I placed on my life was the fact that if it did cease to exist that it would hurt the people I love. I lived because I loved my family more than I hated myself. I don’t write that as some flowery platitude meant to inspire other people going through depression – mostly because when you are suffering from depression nothing will inspire you – but as a fact. It’s a mathematical equation where the symbol just happened to be “>” instead of “<” and equaled “keep going”. (You know you’re really in the shit when a writer starts talking Math.)
If I’m truly honest I’m going through something like this right now. And that fact that I am just depresses me more.
2013 has already been an incredible year. And because my brain doesn’t work the way that it should I swing from being overjoyed to terrified that something’s going to happen and ruin it to overwhelmingly sad as I think of the shitty years that it took to get here.
How soon after I started this post did the first shoe drop? I don’t remember, and it doesn’t matter. I know that it was sometime between the time of starting that post and October 1st because that is the day that my mother got hit by an uninsured motorist, which was the second shoe dropping. By December I knew that I didn’t have much choice except to slide my feet into that set of shoes and walk the path that I had to walk and do what I had to do.
It also doesn’t help that this is the five year anniversary of surviving 2008, the worst year of my life.
This is where I laugh grimly and pat Kat-Circa 2013 on the head and tell her to just wait because in two years she will look back at 2008 and think how stupid she was to be so torn apart by the events of that year. To be fair to myself though, I will allow that 2008 was pretty terrible. I used to say that I would not experience 2008 again for a million dollars, but life is funny how it likes to make you eat your words. While I wouldn’t go through that year again for money, I would go through it again for another year with Kira. Everything and everyone has a price and it’s just a matter of time until you learn the cost.
And then there have been a few outside sources this month that have given me food for depression thought.The first was a new post from Hyperbole and a Half. The post is about what the writer Allie Brosh has been going through in her battle with depression during her hiatus from blogging.
The second was a video of a commencement speech given in 2005 by David Foster Wallace called “This is Water”. I’ll give you the worst, most banal synopsis ever and tell you that it’s about how adult life is very often a series of of day in and day out doldrums because we fail to recognize “what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us” and that if we adjust our thinking we can realize that there’s more to life than there seems. I was floored. It was the best commencement speech I have ever heard because it managed to be honest without being pessimistic.
I stopped there because in my search to see what else David Foster Wallace wrote I found that he had committed suicide in 2008. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who was having a really shitty time that year. I don’t think that normal people understand how much a suicide affects people with depression. Normal people feel the loss of the person and the sorrow that they didn’t reach out before drawing such a terrible conclusion, but for people with depression there’s this horrible fear that creeps in. What if that had been me? They were amazing people. They were loved by so many. If all of that wasn’t enough for them to keep going who’s to say that I’m not going to reach that point. In the case of David Foster Wallace I’m particularly stunned given his brilliant speech articulating basically that shit happens but it’s just a part of life. Why did he forget that “this is water”?
Let’s jump ahead (or actually back I guess) to 2015. There I was having a year where my math skills of greater-than/less-than were what was keeping me going, and I learned that a beautiful friend had ended her life. Again I felt that fear, and it was even more profound given that Stacy was one of those people that when I met her it wasn’t like meeting a stranger, it was like ‘Oh there you are. I was wondering when you would get here’. So I felt her loss on a different level, but given that I was already struggling I felt that fear on a different level too. It really made me wonder why the hell am I still here? Not the what-is-my-place-in-the-universe-existential-psychology-grad-student crapolla, but like what the hell is still firing in my brain that wasn’t firing for them? After I had eliminated everything that I had in common with the people who were gone I was left with the conclusion that it was luck or chance. And I really didn’t like thinking about it in those terms because both imply that I have no choice in the matter. So then I did start pondering in the what-is-my-place-in-the-universe-existential-psychology-grad-student crapolla. I could tell you what I learned as a “life lesson”, but I don’t feel like it.
Instead I’ll jump back (or forward?) to 2014 when I started a short story and then shelved it because reasons. The concept of the story was already teetering on dark humour, but when I looked at it again last year I thought that I should just finish the piece and write what I want to write and people can get over it if they don’t like it. I know this is how writers should write all the time but I’ll be completely honest and admit that in an age where marketing and branding are everything you do question how much of the population you want to alienate by writing what appeals to your own warped sense of humour. The smart writer – the one who doesn’t have to work a soul-sucking day job and write during the hours she can’t sleep before the pills kick in – works to appeal to a large demographic whereas I’m finishing a funny story about a very unfunny subject which will only appeal to a very dark minority. I’m sure normal people reading it will think I’m horrible and they’re probably right, but whatever. It’s all just water.