My Friend The Terrorist

The thing about depression is it starts quietly. Just a quiet whisper of, “You’re not good enough.” You can brush it aside, not disagreeing, just moving on. Another whisper of, “you fucked up.” Until eventually it’s shouting a steady stream of, “you’re not good enough,” “you messed up,” “they don’t like you,” “you’re not enough.”

And the thing is, if you hear something enough you’ll believe it. You not only believe it, you understand it. It makes sense to you that someone wouldn’t want you because of course they don’t. Why would they? What’s to want? You walk around carrying this weight of failing and everything else becomes harder; simple things like going out in public or not crying in the frozen food aisle of Target because you had to buy your dinner from a section labeled, “Meals For One.” Things like being able to interact with the rest of the population who doesn’t have an emotional terrorist living inside their brain. And the failure pile keeps growing, validating every negative thought your brain has ever thrown at you.

I was reading a story* recently that described depression perfectly.

His depression is like that friend he never agreed to and doesn’t want, a deadweight he’s carrying around everywhere, and isn’t ever allowed to put down.
– Sunsetmog’s Not Your Fault But Mine

And it’s so true. I’ve been dragging this godawful weight with me since I was 16. Which is 16 years of listening to my brain tell me all the ways in which I’m not good enough. And let me tell you, my brain is creative.

I can’t put it down. I don’t know how not to listen to it anymore. I don’t know how not to believe that voice instead of the people who care about me. Because that voice is telling me any nice thing you say is a lie. Look at all this evidence it has complied. *gestures vaguely at Fail Pile*

Sometimes the hardest thing isn’t the depression. It’s remembering the old me. The one who didn’t second guess everything. But I’m starting to wonder if the old me is real or I just made or her up so I had something to hold on to. So I had something like hope that I could aim for.

*Yes, this story is fan fiction. Yes, it is about boys. Yes, it is about boys who exist in the real world; who you may have even heard of. However, it is also the most accurate portrayal of someone dealing with depression that I’ve ever read. In or out of fic.

Gravity Plays Favorites

Goodbyes are hard. They shatter off a little piece of you, leaving a hard, sharp edge, a hole to be filled. Even when they’re not permanent, and that piece comes back, knits itself back in place, it’s always there. A small ache, a fragile connection that lets you know that goodbye is just waiting around the corner. Because you know now. You know how temporary and tenuous the connection can be.

Last Wednesday I was forced to say goodbye to George Weasley. He’d gotten some bad news from the vet a week before, but it still came as a surprise when he had a heart attack (or something like it) in my arms. Then again, I’m not sure that’s something you can ever be prepared for. A couple more people got to witness my ugly cry.

Snoozer  #catsofinstagram

I feel lost a lot. Lonely. In a sea of couples and groups orbiting around each other, I feel like this lone, weird little planet just free falling through the solar system. George gave me someone to tie my gravity to (pull into my gravity? Be pulled into theirs? Science was never my strong suit). He didn’t have all the pesky things that make it hard to tie your gravity to with a person. No spouses or children or careers to get in the way. Just 8.9 lbs of fur ready to be loved.

My view does not suck. #catsofinstagram

There’s a new fluff planet around now. And I have lots of feelings and emotions and thoughts about the fact that he’s a baby, and I adopted him four days after George died. But for now, meet Lincoln. 1.8 lbs of fur and love, helping to tie me to something again.

I miss my bunny face madly. And I have lots of feelings about adopting a kitten four days after losing George Weasley. But for now: meet Lincoln. Named after Lincoln from @@rainbowrowell's Attachments b/c he was the most shy of his litter & turned into th

There Is No Try

Do you ever get that feeling where you just need to do something. Need to create or destroy. Raze and salt the earth just to do something. Or, you know, get a tattoo or finally start that book you’ve been meaning to write since you were six if we’re being a bit more realistic and a bit less melodramatic.

Some days I’m overwhelmed by the sameness of my day-to-day life. I feel the crushing weight of all the things I haven’t done; of watching others live their lives and try for their dreams while I’m too scared to even really think about it. Other days, days like today, I can feel the need for change, the need to do sitting like a physical thing right in the center of my chest.  And it’s not a bad weight, it’s not weighing me down or holding me back. Everything feels possible those days. Change and opportunity don’t seem scary, they just seem part of life. Something anyone could do. Something I could do.

On days like this I wonder if this is what “normal” feels like. If this is what not being weighed down by anxiety, and depression, and financial burdens feels like. Is this is how all you people feel all the time? Good hell.

Usually nothing much comes of these days. Maybe a blog post. If the weight’s still there after work, I’ll even pick up my camera. Sometimes the feeling lasts an hour. Sometimes an entire day. But eventually it dissipates until the hope and promise of possibility is no longer a weight, but a phantom ache of something that was once there.

Stagnant

Lately, I feel like I’m stuck. Physically, emotionally, creatively. I’m stuck. I’m in a cycle that I desperately want out of, but nothing seems to work. If you look back at my life five years ago I was in the same position. Alone. Stuck in a job that I wasn’t invested in, killing myself at that job so I could pay bills, too tired to do anything but that job and every day that went by without picking up my camera or writing chipped away at my…me. And they’re all excuses. If you really love something, you’ll find a way. But when I’m depressed I take away the things I love. Not consciously, but bit by bit it gets harder. The voice in my head telling me why bother? It’s not going to amount to anything anyway.

I’m looking around at my life and, I’m wondering why? If this is it; if working jobs I don’t love and barely being able to pay my bills is  it? If I’m going to spend this completely unremarkable life alone, if I’m not going to be able to share my life with someone, then what’s the point? I want so much more. I need so much more, but I’m not sure I can get it. Maybe I’m asking for too much. Maybe all the time I’ve spent with my head in a book reading about fantastic lives and loves and travels has skewed my expectations. I wish so much that being healthy and having amazing friends and family were enough.

Life would be so different if I wasn’t carrying around this constant weight of more. But it’s there. And it’s been pressing on me for so long I’ve stopped moving. Even the smallest of steps feels insurmountable. And I’m trying to be okay with what I’ve had. Accept that not everyone gets what they need. That part of being human is failing and falling and doing without.

It’s just not enough.

 

Salam, Khoda Hafez

I watch a lot of terrible reality television. I have no shame about it. But the past two weeks, I’ve found myself crying during Shahs of Sunset. And not because I’m watching grown adults act terribly while occasionally speaking Farsi.

For as long as I can remember, I have identified myself as Iranian American when asked my ethnicity. I was born in Indiana. I’ve only been to Iran once. I don’t look particularly Persian and I can’t speak the language outside of a handful of phrases. But, it’s always been something I’ve been proud of. Something I could latch onto and call mine. My mom read me The Hobbit has a bedtime story. My dad read to me in Farsi.

The past two weeks have shown the crew of Shahs heading to Turkey, because it’s the closest to Iran that several cast members could get. One a political refugee, one is gay. They will never be able to step foot in the country they were born in. Watching Asa and her family reunite for the first time since her family fled Iran was harder than I thought it would be. I’ve had that reunion. I may not be a political refugee, my father left Iran for college and has been back several times. But it took 20+ years before he was able to go back. It took 20+ years before I got to meet an entire side of my family that I’d only heard about in stories and whose voices I’d only heard over the phone. Who had only seen me in photos. It took twenty something years for me to be able to discover I had a piece of my heart across the ocean.

Listening to Asa and Reza talk about how the country they love so much is also a country they have so much anger and animosity towards and I understand the conflict. Saying that my dad is from Iran or even just saying the word Iran draws people’s defenses up. The majority of the United States only sees Iran as an evil country. And there is a lot wrong. But there is also so so so much right. My family lives there. Half of my DNA is Iranian. The culture, the history, the land. It’s magical and life changing despite all the war and misguided politics. My trip to Iran was, without hyperbole, the single most life changing event in my life.

I started watching Shahs because it was a reality show on Bravo about Persians. I kept watching because it was a reality show on Bravo about Persians. They looked like my friends and family. Listening to people speak Farsi is my single favorite sound in the world. Watching the show brought a little more of that into my life. But for all of the bad behavior and buying caviar out of a vending machine with $3,500 cash, they’ve done one thing right. They’ve shown that at the heart of this “scary” country is just people. Good people. With families and a history and a love for each other and the language and the food and the country that may not accept them anymore.

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

There are two things I will never not love, no matter how much you side-eye me about them. The first: flying. I’ve had my share of bad flights – being prohibited from getting on a plane because the word Iran scared the lady at Northwest too much; screaming children, delayed flights, being stuck on the runway. But I will never get over (or at least I hope I will never get over) the thrill I get of going somewhere new, somewhere different.

Snowglobe snow. I love the snow. It’s pretty. If it’s going to be cold anyway it might as well be snowing. It’s weather appropriate. It’s seasonally appropriate. And no matter how much I hate digging my car out of it, or how much I hate that suddenly it makes every Indiana driver act like they’re driving on the lava level of MarioKart, I still love it.

It’s also quiet. It dampens everything, makes everything soft and soothing and still. My brain these days is not quiet or still. The few brief moments of peace I’ve had has been when it’s been snowing. Something about it helps me slow down, quiet the parts of my brain that overthink everything. All my worries of jobs and money and weight and keeping this damn cat alive, and finally getting the apartminium clean, and being the last and only single person on the planet, and food, and and and. For a brief period they disappear.

One of the benefits of having dealt with depression for so long is I can see the symptoms manifesting. Just like I know I’m getting sick when my ears start hurting, I know I’m slipping when I see myself get grummpier. I can see the way my internal focus shifts. Everything is terrible and nothing is okay. And the problem is I can see these things happening. I know what’s happening. I know where my brain is headed, but I can’t stop it. I use my SAD lamp, I drink more water, I work out, I’m even eating cleaner. And it works. For awhile. And then I’m right back down. And I don’t know which is worse; having it sneak up on me or seeing it come for me and knowing I’ll lose.

I know Indiana is over the cold, but I could use a good snow fall; a few more moments of silence.

My Sweaty Secret

Can I tell you a secret, Internets? I really like working out. *waits for you to collect yourself after dropping that truth bomb*

Okay, so that’s not entirely true. The actual working out part I’m not so much a fan of. But the after? Oh y’all, the after is the best.

Two weeks ago I joined a gym. I haven’t worked out in a proper gym setting in half a decade. But I marched up the stairs at LA Fitness, determined to look like I knew what I was doing, and jumped on the first thing that looked like an elliptical. Y’all. Y’ALL.  It was not an elliptical. It was a Precor machine. The bottom part moves like an elliptical, but on an incline. Thirty seconds into I realized I’d made a terrible mistake, but at this point there’s no turning back. Part of the reason I need a gym membership and can’t just workout by myself at home is there is no one to shame me into continuing when I get tired. Sure, the stupidly attractive dude on the treadmill probably isn’t paying attention to me. And okay sure the tiny college co-ed with her tiny thighs that don’t touch probably isn’t going to judge me if I stop and find a proper elliptical machine, but you try telling that to my brain.

So, I kept going. Twenty minutes, I told myself. You can do twenty minutes. Twenty minutes is just fine.

A minute and a half into it: Fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes is a perfectly acceptable amount of time to work out for the first time in forever. Fifteen minutes. You probably won’t die. You can do fifteen minutes.

Five minutes in: Oh god, you are going to die. You are actually going to die at the gym. The tiny girl with her tiny thighs that don’t touch is so totally going to judge you. Do you think her thighs get lonely with all that space in between them? Oh god, you’re going to throw up. Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up. Oh jesus, he’s pretty. Why is everyone here so pretty?

Spoiler alert: I made it to 15 minutes without throwing up or dying. I also managed to make it down the stairs without my legs giving out. Whose bright idea was it to put the cardio equipment UP A FLIGHT OF STAIRS?

And then I sat in my car looking like this:

The most attractive photo of me ever: let’s put it on the internet!

and trying to get my heart to return to normal. Eventually I made it home during which time my body got real confused. What is this…happy feeling? Am I saying that right? Happy?

BEST. MOOD. EVER. And the only one around to appreciate it was the cat.

Is this how you people feel all the time? Like, you look at that pile of dirty clothes that’s three weeks old and starting to move on its own and it doesn’t make you want to jump out a window, you’re just all, “IT’S FINE.” You see all the dishes in the sink and the empty cat food cans and you’re all, “NO BIG DEAL. HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.” Still broke, still single, still trying to piece my life together at 31, but IT’S FINE. I FEEL HAPPY.

It’s a new emotion for me, is what I’m saying.

In the meantime, I’ll be buying bulk of this magic tape that makes my knees feel like they’re 16 again and chasing down this happy feeling like a fat kid chases cake.