Friday, December 20, 2013

MISSION TWELVE: Mission Accomplished-ish?

Twelve Days of Christmas, Twelve Steps and Twelve 
Maniac Missions... Coincidence? I think not. 
Though my tree is certainly dressed with 12
crazies cackling. Creepily...

I received an early Christmas present this year. At my last meeting with my therapist, she said the following words: "So... I don't think you need me anymore." Yes, cloud bursts of awesomeness rained down fireworks in my brain when this happened. When the person who has objectively been guiding you out of the woods says you have what it takes to find your own way, it feels pretty awesome. That being said, whatever instantaneous self-gratitude I felt was followed with the reminder that walking alone could lead to some problems: getting lost, muddying my boots, or being mauled to death by a large bear. We'll veer on the side of positivity and say that, in most cases, the metaphorical bear-- my greatest enemy-- is generally my own mind, and that I need not fear such a drastic crash and burn situation. Plus, l like the wilderness, so I would rather go out like a vintage world explorer than lying in bed with a catheter in my... place. Basically, win-win. I celebrate in my victory. I did indeed beat the pulp out of my psychosis Sasquatch. One out of 4,375,295,385,199 psychologists agree. I'll take those odds.

Still, just because I have come to terms with my mental vulnerabilities and misshapen place in the world, just because I have forgiven my past errors and now embrace the opportunity to correct the preceding years of damage and live the Hell out of life like never before, doesn't mean I'm not aware of the challenges that still lay before me, those which I have shared on this blog. All of my so-called "missions" remain open. I haven't totally completed them. I doubt I ever will. Life is a series of transitions, and that's all. I don't expect to make it over a hump and then be A-OK ad infinitum. Nah. I know there's another hurdle coming. I always did in fact. I don't consider this pessimism but mere, general awareness. Before, the forthcoming humps gave me brain ulcers and made me want to cuddle up into a slowly disappearing ball. Now, they make me want to embrace them moment. My malleability has become active instead of passive. I shift with the world instead of letting it take pieces out of me. I (puffs out chest) adjust to the necessary disturbances of life like a master tight-rope walker. Life is crazy anyway, isn't it? Doesn't the danger make it more interesting? (Spoiler alert: the answer is "Yes").

Don't worry. I got this.

In a way, being comfortable with my crazy has helped me explain my originally forbidden eccentricities to myself. I no longer frown on my tendencies to walk in the opposite direction and explore the alternative "just 'cause." Who wants to live a life that's already all mapped out? Not I. Sorry. "I'm nuts." I always will be a little nuts. I'm always going to whirl like a dervish, knock myself senseless, overdo it, and indeed need to hibernate before coming back zanier than ever. I'll probably continue to drive people around me nuts too, because they'll never be able to understand why I just can't hunker down and "be happy." My version of happiness, being different from the mainstream, is incongruent with "reality." At least I know that those closet to me accept me and mercifully trust me to find my own way. 

Indeed, it's all balance. Balancing relationships; giving without completely giving yourself away. Managing criticism; allowing others to help. Keeping the interior battle of "but" or "I don't know" vs. self-confidence in a temperate and not tempestuous place. Taking the bad days with the good, celebrating the victories, and leaving the defeats in the past where they belong. Accepting the integrity of the universe for all its flaws, as those flaws are inherent in me, and then combating them with willpower-- the desire to evolve to a superior level of consciousness, conscientiousness, and spiritual incorruptibility: "I am crazy, hear me rant."

I absorb all of this now. The monkey is no longer on my back. I sent it to the zoo. It's caged, and that's sad. It is my carnival freak. I can occasionally, when forced, visit it and remember, "Yes, you are mine. You always will be. But here you must stay." It no longer lurks, nor threatens so menacingly with its tiny, monkey claws of vengeance. (What a horrible metaphor). Anyway, I'm ready for it. I'm ready for it NOW, that is. I was not ready for it two weeks ago...

I'm going to tell you a little story. If it had a title it would be: "Withdrawal: Fun for Everyone!" Can you smell the sarcasm?

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Scrooge meets Ignorance and Want

Charles Dickens is a personal hero. He's not my favorite author, but there is a special place for him somewhere in my mind/metaphorical heart. He is aware. He acknowledges and articulates the less savory aspects of life. Brave is the conscientious solder, so heavy is his metal... I respect him, as I do so many other valiant masters of penmanship. However, I find myself suddenly, during this holiday season, very much at odds with his iconic A Christmas Carol. In the book, the Ghost of Christmas Present reveals the two wretches of mankind: Ignorance and Want. I mean, spot on. Bravo, Chuck. Bravo. These are, unfortunately two of my "weaknesses."

I am ignorant. Not uneducated, but ignorant of a great many things that other people take for granted, as I shall soon explain. Ironically, the only method that I can find to combat my present ignorance is to commit the other one of Dickens' cardinal sins and want. I remain landlocked by inexperience simply because I never learned to want, to ask, and more explicitly to believe that I should nor would ever be able to obtain the objects of my heart's desire. So, I do not want. You don't want, you aren't unfulfilled. It's greedy anyway...

I have never know anything but self-reliance. Obviously, part of this was instigated by the vicious brain chemicals that told me there is no one on God's green earth that gives a damn whether I live or die, so if I want to get by, I'm gonna half to hack on my own. Naturally, I had some financial assistance from the parents the first couple decades, but in terms of emotional and psychological maintenance, that was my own deal. My ace up the sleeve was stubborn pride. My sole survivalism was my way of giving the unforgiving world the finger.

Life experience pummeled the other 50% of this truth into me. To summarize, there was a situation that occurred within the family that demanded a great deal of attention when I was younger. It slowly grew into a pressure cooker, nearly unmanageable, and was slowly driving us all in our separate ways insane. This went on for many years. Almost as long as I can remember. Everyone was at their wit's end, no one knew how to handle it. Somehow, I found myself stepping up and into the role of the moderator, soother, and even soothsayer. What I was led to believe was that everything was about to go "Crack!" I provided the glue. Problem solved. And, problem begun...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

MISSION TEN: Mortality

The depressive mind considers the experience of life as one caustically colossal waste of time. In simpler terms, it just ain't worth livin'. The trouble with coming out of the illogic-locked isolation of this specific mental illness is that reality doesn't suddenly change its tune when you do. Even when escaping one's madness, a body still has to accept the fact that there are all kinds of authentic and unimagined phantoms congesting the human landscape. These same threats send a depressive person deeper into their chasm of existential reluctance, but so too can a sane person be driven mad by the senselessness of it all. The question is, how does one carve out a niche of semi-lucidity in this cluster-fudge called "Life?"

Today I heard about the new gang initiation game called "Knockout." Apparently, young recruits are encouraged to punch or beat a random pedestrian as hard as he can, the goal being to knock him down. At least one elderly gentleman died as a result of one such attack. This situation alone gets the mind spinning. How could we live in a world where meaningless acts of violence are being committed? Why is human life so easily dispensed with? How does one gain control of a society gone haywire? Once the mind starts confronting these issues, other questions are raised: where does this rage come from, how are we responsible, how can we fix it, and most importantly, can we? Can you combat these things without merely feeding into the years, centuries, eons of hate and misunderstanding that sit at the source, in turn breeding more?

Any train of thought like this-- be the topic war, rape, the death penalty, poverty, abortion, religious hypocrisy, political corruption, economic hemorrhage-- would set me off on a mental tangent in the past.  All is lost... Woe are we... Just because I'm happier these days doesn't mean that these same feelings and reactions have abated. They still break my heart. As a sensible, rational human being, you can feel quite powerless in a this quagmire of "What now?" The contrast between my past and my present is that I no longer surrender to my own powerlessness but accept it. I broke my back trying to change the world before. I was sure that with enough passion, enough gusto, enough integrity I could rewire the circuitry of mankind's mania and make it right again. Failing at this caused a suffering in me that I can't describe, but certainly one that everyone can understand on some level. Not being heard when your words bear the most meaning, those articles of truth closest to your heart... The result is more than a bruised ego. It is cracked ribs, a broken neck, paralysis, unbearable pain, and the inability to cry for help. It's Hell.

Released of the pressure of playing God-- something no man or woman should ever do-- I now realize that I can't fix everything. Honestly, I probably can't fix anything. At best, I can only influence, at least on my own. You need the force of countless, surmounting voices all shouting at their highest volume to effect real change. One man screaming alone is insane. A crowd? Now that's a threat. Remember the recent blip when we were going to "go to war" with Syria some months ago? The cascading sound of millions of voices saying "What? No!!!" put a quick cork in that one real quick. The almighty government listened to us. We are more powerful than we know. We often forget that we're the ones in charge. So, while standing alone can often make me feel worthless, the knowledge that my own contributory energy does possess an authority that when echoed must be reckoned with, gives me courage.

Friday, October 4, 2013

MISSION NINE: Manifestation

The thing the average "happy" citizen doesn't understand about depressions is that it's not about sitting around feeling glum. It's not laziness, or lethargy, or inactivity. All of these things are merely the symptoms of the main, mental event, which is the perpetual broadcast in the noggin of the afflicted of the movie I Hate Myself. I don't know if the average person can understand the deep level of violent antipathy a depressive personality inflicts upon himself-- how much I directed toward myself. I mean, I just thought I was a walking piece of sh*t. I was a loser. A waste. Everything about me was wrong. Depressives are dirt. When the weight of this self-loathing starts to become overburdening, the sufferer may displace some of this pent up frustration by placing blame on the external world, but the twisted Milky Hate Galaxy of one's inner cosmos is the true place where the depressive lives, breathes, and breeds self-defeatist asteroids of psychological, emotional, and even physical destruction.

The exhibit of social disinterest, indifference, and apathy are really just expressions of the depressive trying to erase himself. It's like trying to Photoshop yourself out of the grand picture of humanity: "I'm not here. You can't see me." Not admitting one's presence in the world is a safety blanket. If I'm barely alive, I can't f*ck up, make a fool of myself, hurt, etc. You know what they say, "When the going gets tough, the depressive takes a nap, Rip Van Winkle style." Fine. I made that whole thing up, but that doesn't make it any less true.

At my darkest, I loved the idea of not existing anymore. I always thought it was strange and somewhat laughable, for example, how people feared death. A) In a world of followers, what could be simpler than doing that which all before us have done? It is the only concrete and reassuring certainty we have. It's kind o' nice. It's the one thing you can depend on. B) Death makes the indeterminate years between birth and The End much more tolerable. It's inevitability at least lets you know that no matter how bad things get, you won't have to put up with this garbage forever. It takes the pressure off, no? I think people think I'm exaggerating sometimes when I describe my prior outlook on things... Perhaps they think I'm trying to be funny or am merely being irreverent for the sake of irreverence. "She didn't really thing death was 'awesome.' Yeah, I did. I was that messed up.

I can back this up with a pretty profound experience that I had at the beginning of the year. My New Year's present of 2013 was finding a small lump in my breast. Hooray? So, I went to the doctor to check it out, because I mentioned it in passing to my folks and they flipped (irrationally, I thought). The doctor's response was, "It's probably nothing, but..." So, I went to get an Ultrasound, which I found particularly entertaining, as I figured that this would naturally be the only case when I would actually have one. Doctor #2 said, "It's probably nothing, but..." So, I went in for the biopsy. Now I'm thinking, "Christ. I may legitimately have cancer." This too I found hilarious, as I was but 29-years-old at the time, exercised religiously, and was pretty damn healthy. "Sure. I'm the one who gets the big C. Ooooooof course."

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Don't get me wrong. I didn't expect for life to unfurl before me like a red carpet to freedom when I started treatment. I'm a realistic gal. I'm pretty much prepared for "the fuzzy end of the lollipop" or any other whip-bam-boom that comes my way. I'm aware that survival is a struggle, life is hard, love hurts, etc. The tough stuff was normal to me-- expected. In fact, I used to laugh or roll my eyes a bit at people who bitched and whined about how "hard" they had it. "What's the matter? Did you have to try or something?" Pft. Honestly, what did they expect? No one said it would be easy, after all.

I know that people like to camouflage the blatantly absurd nature of life with things like video games, fashion, or romance, but I don't think that anybody's been bamboozled from the fact that this whole "living" thing is kind of a sh*t storm. "Get real, cry baby," I'd think when someone started blubbering over some break-up or random, petty BS. "This world's got bigger problems than your self-absorbed nonsense." Perhaps subconsciously I was being my happy, prideful, narcissistic self: I've got real problems. I'm insane, and I hate myself, and this entire universe is a joke. People are cartoons, everyone's a liar competing for first place in some non-existent prize fight, and they beat each other to a pulp over nothing-- and this despite the fact that we all cross the same finish line no matter what came before. "Holla', Conqueror Worm! Eat me!"

Naturally, while these hopeless, FTW, FML, RIP thoughts were polluting my internal world everyday, I worked overtime trying to disprove my own theories by outwardly portraying the Disney heroine of the Midwest. Ask not, want not. Always say 'please' and 'thank you.' Help others even when you can't help yourself. Most importantly, always turn that frown upside down! I was begging the existence I viewed with cynicism and the people I viewed with skepticism to prove me wrong. Reward this shadow of goodness with the real thing. Please, before I die of heartbreak!

I've written about the struggle this balancing act became for me in past articles. I've also written-- in my Introduction article-- about my lowest point. What I haven't yet expressed is the terrifying and yet almost exultant feeling one gets, when barely holding onto an over-burdened state of mental torment, looking downward into the abyss that is utter insanity. It seduces with white noise reverberation in your head. This feeling of, "Yeah, I could go there... I kind of want to go there," tempts the mental victim to just let go and free fall into oblivion. It provides quite the unexpected and disturbing orgasm-- knowing you can marry, consummate, and submerge your flesh with nothingness. It's signing a contract, consciously or unconsciously; it's accepting your mind's exit.

How fine to just give up, how fine to no longer care... Hasten life's cruel process by delicately resigning and annihilating thyself! Deteriorate! Be banished and unreachable, and never, ever come back! Allowing oneself to look down There-- into the pit of surrender-- and partly get off on it, this is the part that invokes terror. It's so far gone. So far. Deep. There is no return... While the soul is willing, the mind is weak and it, in turn, weakens the flesh.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

MISSION SEVEN: Identification

The greatest mind blow one can receive on the other side of treatment is that life is much more than you thought it was; or rather, it could be much bigger than you previously believed. The second "Holy Moses" moment is the epiphany that you are not at all who you thought you were. The presentation you had previously displayed, the identity you once thought was your own, which you had so carefully crafted to protect your inner frailties, was in fact nothing but a performance. One Hell of a grand performance. Thus, when the actual You-- the one who had been painstakingly encapsulated and left to lie dormant-- starts to unfurl and reveal herself to you... There are no words. I could perhaps present the sensation to you in song, The Red Hot Chili Peppers rendition of Rollercoaster of Love-- "You give me that funny feeling in my tummy"-- but I will have to do my best with the following, feeble-minded text.

If there were one word I could use to describe my pre-treatment persona, it would be “Resilient.” If I had three words, “Resilient as f*ck!” The subconscious nerve that was somehow aware of the imbalance in my system directed my brain to compensate for its weaknesses almost from birth. I knew something was “off”; I self-protected with steadfast personal conditioning. Thus, the public Meredith was a rock-steady, reliable, strong-but-silent type. I was a stubborn bull in a polo shirt. A stubborn bull-dozer, more like. I would just put this Bitch into high gear and go. Running a tight ship on a quickly sinking vessel, I suppose I thought I could make it through the Bermuda Triangle-- before submerging into its perplexing vortex-- if I just sped like Hell. Well, we all know how the "full steam ahead" plan worked out for the Titanic. 

For a time, I was indefatigable. School, homework, good grades: check. Family matters, mediation, dutiful daughter: check. Patience, loyalty, just stay calm: check. Hobby after hobby after hobby: check. I held together the little, screaming Munch man inside me by promoting an outwardly placid demeanor. It was a "fake it til' ya make it" scenario. In the end, it wasn’t the valiant racing around, my hyperactive attempts to craft a rich outer life, or my skillful indulgence in or distraction from my chaotically toxic inner life, that caused my eventual collapse and total exhaustion. It was [holding-myself-together] that did it. Big, tight , uncomfortable squeeeeeeeze. Lying to myself that I was OK, that it would "all be all right," that if I just held on a little longer, I could make it-- these were the things that broke me down, for they were fruitless attempts to counteract my very nature. 

The identity that I had chosen was a heavy one to bear. I became who I thought I needed to be to survive. The result was a highly imaginative girl with obscene ambition and very poor interpersonal skills. To protect my inner fortress of “stay calm, stay calm,” I kept everyone at arm’s distance. I socialized, I had friends, I could even be hilarious; but so often I heard the sentence-- “You’re so mysterious...” Really? I’m pretty sure I’m just quiet, but whatever you say. In any case, I had managed to NOT develop a personality. I was too busy trying to keep mine under wraps. I had become an utterly blank canvas. Not even a drop of paint. I had subdued my inner tension until I had diffused myself out of existence. (That’s how much I hated myself back in the day). It was far more violent than suicide. It was self murder.

Friday, July 19, 2013

MISSION SIX: Raising the Bar

I celebrated five months of being on drugs this month.

I realize that information may seem less than uplifting to the average person, but I am damn proud of it. Five months: still high as a kite, still going strong! In terms of my illness, I have even become a little arrogantly oblivious. I pat myself on the back consistently, reminding myself how I beat the tar out of my depression and left it's corpse-- which had been violently pummeled by the righteous force of my vengeful fists-- dying in a pool of its own blood behind me. Sometimes in these visions, I heroically ride into the sunset on horseback; other times, via motorcycle. It all depends on my mood and the movie I watched most recently.

Sadly, this victorious delusion is just that. While my mood and general mental processes have found an appropriate and even superior sense of equilibrium, there is still a great deal of collateral damage left over from the "not-so-happy" times. The "life sucks" times. The "I am a gigantic piece of garbage that should be six feet (or farther) under" times. Oh, sweet memories of youth... While I can proudly say that I have been attacking my life like gangbusters and getting so busy that I am loathe to even find time to sit and write this brief article, I have noticed one prominent and quite appalling issue that I will have to add to my list of things to do (over)-- My version of Me. What that even means, I don't know.

My self-opinion seems to be totally fine. I am here, I am just, I'm a decent person, and I accept myself for who I am. Go me. (I'm not the cheerleader type, so I didn't use an exclamation point there). I'm happy, and life is good. Yet, therein lies the problem. I have accepted life as merely "good." I expect nothing more. I spend time with awesome people, I indulge in multifarious passions and hobbies, I work my ass off trying to make something of myself, but at the same time, I don't see any payoff nor any finish line after any of it. I simply do for the sake of doing. Somewhere along the line, I stopped believing that anything is possible-- 'anything' being the basic necessities of life that make it worth living. I can't quite envision myself receiving the proper rewards that come to someone who, I dunno, drove herself to the point of exhaustion in the quest for some kind of socially beneficial contribution. Whereas in the past, I lived only for tomorrow-- kicking my ass for emergence into that sacred light at the end of the tunnel-- I now have a tendency to just lie down in the middle of the road and count the pretty cars that roll over me. I mean, it's cool. That's life. I accept it. I'm just happy to be here. Nice transmission, by the way.

Monday, June 10, 2013

MISSION FIVE: Incorporation

Clinical depression is a very different animal than people imagine it to be. One typically envisions its gloomy victims as lost souls who are bereft of both energy and will power, not to mention broken to the point of not getting off the couch. (Thank you Zoloft commercials).

The truth is/was very different for me. The burden of a CD-sufferer comes from the pressured, outward masquerade of normalcy not, as one would assume, the internal pessimism. This is because the brain is one Hell of an incredible machine. 'Before,' I definitely knew that this organ, which controls the functioning of an entire human being from the hair-follicles to the toes, was impressive. Yet, it wasn't until my 'After' that I came to understand the baffling and awful intricacies of the mechanism. It is awful both in the most amazing way and in the worst. It is a Yin-Yang battlefield of your worst victim and your best friend.

By whatever act of God or Gorilla, I just so happened to inherit a certain genetic trait that made me a little... different. A negative situation, which would be irritating but easily passed over by the so-called average citizen, would instead burrow itself deeply into the caverns of the "I hate the world" part of my brain. I would grit my teeth and simmer in frustration at whatever trigger had set me off. If there was not trigger, I would still find a way to attach myself to a random thought and take it to a dark or otherwise unnecessarily complicated place. There was no sacred haven in life untainted or impenetrable from my scrutiny, and over time, I somehow purposely yet accidentally buried myself in my own venom. Essentially, life was an unsolvable puzzle that I was determined to figure out, but-- as such a thing is impossible-- I got tangled and tripped up in my own hypotheses. There was no answer, there was no point. All of life was meaningless. You live and you die. That's it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

MISSION FOUR: Adjustment

Alcoholics and addicts are supposed to go through 12 steps in the rehabilitation process to find honest sobriety. I'm not sure if there are equivalent "steps" that a depressive personality can or should take in conquest of honest sanity, but I would assume that the process may not be all that different. On the one hand, at least in my case, there was no substance abuse involved. On the other hand, I was shamelessly addicted to a drug called self-antipathy. Daily doses of "giving up" went down like shots of good, Kentucky bourbon. I could probably join AA and find a way to relate to every speaker at the meeting. I am certain that the frustrations of these same recovering, lost, and found souls would make perfect sense to me and my own demons, though we may be dressed in distinctly different styles.

I am still undergoing a lot of physical and mental changes as my newly medicated self. I have been forced to make my peace with certain things, forgive myself, ask others for forgiveness, admit my helplessness, and embrace my strengths. While one may not call it an exactly religious experience, it definitely is somewhat of a spiritual transition. As my brain chemistry re-works itself, I have gotten to know myself better, as well as the far reaches of my own mind. Life is more than I thought it was.

I would say that the first step in mental rehab, after admission and treatment  of course, is just adjustment. In this case, the initial adjustment to the drugs took some time. I remember vividly the first week that I was on Effexor, then the following week when I bumped my dosage up from 1 to 2 pills per day. The first couple of days, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I felt "high," but I definitely had a nice buzz going. It was like the monotonous motions my body went through on a daily basis got a supercharge. I felt very much alive, very aware of my body, and even a little loopy.

I remember feeling as though everything looked a bit different. Objects became more invasive or obvious-- more three dimensional. It was like looking at life through a fish lens. I noticed the second or third day on the pills that my eyes were extremely dilated-- a minor reaction my body had to the current changes in my system, which may have explained the odd visual phenomenon. I also got the sensation on more than one occasion that I was walking underwater. My mood had definitely been acquiesced to a better place. Stress did not reach me as easily, in fact, it seemed not to touch me at all. If someone honked at me on the highway, I would wave back happily: his anger is something he has to live with, not me. If my job was overwhelming and all over the place, I would simply whistle (mentally) while I worked: no one is going to die if something gets finished a minute later than they want it.

Toward the end of that first week, I started to feel more "normal," but I went through the same series of emotions and reactions when the dosage was increased the second week. All in all, I would say that the first month of my new life was simply about acclimating to the meds, which I did rather quickly. The only symptoms that remained, aside from my now constant good mood, were insomnia and lack of appetite, both of which I still battle. Still, my head was no longer pulled to a dark place when one of my triggers surfaced. I was... happy. I couldn't believe it!

Naturally, the second month was sort of devoted to enjoying this new pleasure as the new me. I celebrated a milestone birthday, reconnected with old friends, made some new ones, saw my family, and embraced the wide open spaces that now laid before me. A newly eclosed social butterfly who was experiencing an optimism that I hadn't felt since my youth, I kicked the iron door of my self-resentment shack open, took a breath of fresh air, and started wandering into the curious world of civilization.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

MISSION THREE: Relationships

It is easy to write articles regarding a compare and contrast between my once and former self. However, when the 'once' is a "still" (with possibilities), the discussion of my personal progress is more of a question than an answer.

Here's what I can say about the past. For the entirety of my life, I have never believed that I deserved anyone. The tiny, insidious voice in the back of my mind that began this whisper of self-doubt was unfortunately echoed by a series of life events that made my insecure impression of romance a concrete and unshakable ideal. The only member of the opposite sex that I can ever recall telling me that I was beautiful was my father. My rational self, while appreciating this reflection of his love, also deflected the compliment for the same reason. Of course, your parent is going to say wonderful things about you, but it's not reality. How long can you believe, and how long can you repeat the same words to yourself, when they aren't uttered by another, totally objective human being?

This opens a whole can of worms, for the argument accidentally adheres to the theory that a woman's sense of self is still very much attached to the way she is received by the opposite sex. In defense of the silent attacks of nothingness that I was receiving from the opposite sex, my inner Susan B. Anthony retroactively told me that the opinions of men didn't matter. On certain days, I would tell myself that I had evolved past a place of warmth, total emotional connection, and (the dream of dreams) life defining sex. I was a girl who did not need, because I had all the universe within me and that was enough. Other days, I would tell myself that love was still possible, but if I were going to find a life partner, I would just have to win him over with my wit and humor. No one was going to look at my skinny, shapeless self and be filled with desire. I accepted that.

This is not to say that men weren't occasionally attracted to me. I, like all young women, was encouraged by the heart-fluttering cat-calls of horny teens and overgrown boys hooting from their cars. This, of course, made me feel very special. I mean, you can start your day feeling like garbage, but if a man shouts "Nice ass!" or sticks his tongue out at you lewdly, sunshine suddenly pours through the darkening clouds of your inner torment. (I'll let that image marinate until you're sure that I'm being sarcastic). Clearly, I never found these objectifications enlightening or validating. When a stranger came up to me at a bar and made a pass or appeared out of nowhere, grinding against me on the dance floor, my initial reaction was definitely not, "Ah, a hero at last..."

Firstly, with my dangerous self-criticizing, I figured that the male interloper clearly didn't realize that I wasn't a real girl. I was a Meredith: a mysterious asexual unable to exhibit any form of intimacy with a man. Secondly, I fully understood that the male sex drive has an end game that goes from A-B (Aim---> Bed) which has little to do with truly taking interest in the creature that has assisted him in his night's cathartic release. Some women seemed to overlook this and let the erotic male gaze energize them. I took it to another place, which was composed more from pity than disgust. While I don't make masculine ego maintenance my problem-- sorry, angry honkers, that I didn't bat my eyes at you and make you feel powerful-- there was also room for compassion. I mean, the poor saps just couldn't seem to get it together enough to be human. (Watching a boy try to figure out how to become a man is like watching a flatulent giraffe trying to work a calculator).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

MISSION TWO: Conversation

Before you judge too harshly, I must protest: talking is harder than it seems. At least to some.

I cannot totally blame my naturally bashful demeanor on my disease. To be fair, I was always a shy kid. I was the quiet, blushing girl at family reunions that all my elders would lovingly taunt just to see my face turn beet red. Around my immediate family or friends, I could learn to relax and unwind a bit, but I was always a little uptight when it came to divulging personal information: things that were upsetting me, boys I had crushes on, inner emotions, etc. Tears were sin, at least that's what I believed. My sister "Joan" certainly never took issue with letting her emotions run wild, but as for the rest of my family, privacy and discretion were king.

I sometimes attribute this to my Kentuckian sensibilities. As the eternal neutral state, my bluegrass "peeps" seem to be a little more laid back by birth right. Inside all of us there is a fiercly loyal wildcat but also a worn, tired, and comical old man sucking on his pipe on the porch. He rocks in his chair, puffs thoughtfully, and watches the rest of the mad world go by in his peaceful solitude. "What you do don't bother me none. Be true to yourself, and t' Hell with everyone else." It's a sort of don't ask, don't tell, just shrug and go fishin' mentality. Needless to say, as I matured, my seemingly stable, silent nature made me a favorite amongst my friends' parents. They seemed delighted when I was around, hoping that I would be a good influence, because I came off as "sweet" and "well-behaved." I can't speak for the former categorization, but as for the latter, I was pretty much the most morally rigid and self-regulated kid that ever emerged from the Midwest. Where I went, my lazy tongue followed.

The upside to my lackluster speech skills is my continued ability as a listener. By studying people speaking to each other, or about each other, whether stressed out, sad, angry, or indulging in screaming matches, I have developed ways to balance my intonation for every appropriate theme. In a way, it is a manipulation but not a mean-spirited one. Par exemple, Joan and my mother "Kate" used to indulge in intense fights growing up. It was all noise. Both parties were stressed out and certain that they were going unheard. Both were determined to get their points across, prove that they were right, and obtain the last word. What could have been a calm discussion would turn into a competition of increasing volume, until both threw up their hands and marched to separate corners of the house. All the while, I had been sitting there, taking in both sides of the argument, and registering what the actual problem was, while remaining emotionally detached. Then, I would go to Joan and explain the misunderstanding in a way she could understand, so that she would calm down. Then, I would go to Mom and explain the source of Joan's confusion and anger, so she could make her peace with it. They would patch things up and pretend nothing had happened. The end.

Friday, March 22, 2013

MISSION ONE: Confession

Once I had surmounted the hurdle of admitting that I had clinical depression, received the medical attention I needed, and consequently started feeling better, the first step to my real recovery was "confession." In other words, I had to come out of the boo-hoo, self-pitying, retard closet and make amends with the people who had undoubtedly been affected by my... odd behavior over the years.

For example: parties. Parties are situations of much conviviality and libation, for everyone except fruit-loop Meredith, of course. I could put on a good show from time to time, mind you. My current, solid group of friends came into my life at a period when I was at one of my low points, (why do people fall in love anyway? It's stupid). Meeting my surprising new gang and being initiated into their group actually did a lot to repair my broken feelings. In fact, I became so happy in their presence that they probably thought I was normal at first. (Ha, fools)! On a good day, I would be excited to connect with them. I would forget my troubles and unwind in the pleasant company of their wit and candor. On other days, when the blues started creeping up again, I really wouldn't feel like being social. Yet, I would make myself go out with pals, if only because I know how it feels when people don't show up for you. (I once threw a pool party in the 7th grade, and a meager two people showed up. It was a very pathetic Little Man Tate rejection situation. I think it scared me off throwing social events forever). 

The more time went on, it became likely that I would indulge in the "punk out." I just couldn't get it up, I guess you could say. The idea of having to deal with a large group of people was too unnerving. I rarely feel comfortable in crowds. I'm best in groups of two or three, where it's not as overwhelming, and I don't feel obsolete. However, even the 'punk out' was not the worst case scenario. Worst case scenario was me showing up only to find myself overly intimidated by all of the faces-- familiar, unfamiliar, didn't matter. I would slowly withdraw into myself. It was like my personality had been sucked behind my eyeballs and was now watching everything  from the inside through a pane of protective glass. I was a visitor to an aquarium of colorful human beings, the neutral colors of my own being sitting silently on a bench watching the beautiful, fluid people come and go. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, "Are you okay? You're being so quiet," well... I would have a "sh*tload of  nickels"-- or so a great man once said. (Ten Awesome Sanity Points if you know what I'm referencing).

Every time I entered a group of people, it felt like an introduction, even if I had known most of them for years. I had to investigate who these people were, their motivations, and how I would fit in. With the slots of funniest, loudest, smartest, most sarcastic, prettiest, etc, always taken, I often found it hard to find my place among them. The solution was to remain quite and not to speak unless spoken to. Yet, many times, I would feel so unnecessary or ignorant that a torrent of negative thoughts would start firing in my brain. I would decide that no one really wanted me around, so I would mentally bow out. As psychosis often overcomes reason, I would ignore the fact that I had been "invited" to these get-togethers, so my presence was indeed wanted.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


A funny thing happened on the way to my life: I got lost. The most pathetic confession that I could make is the same sad detail that has defined and controlled my life for the past 29+ years: I don't know what joy feels like. I've had good days, bad days, and in-between days, but mostly I've felt wretched. That is, until recently. Recently, I'm discovering that happiness is not a myth only to be found in the movies.

 Before my eye-awakening redemption, I was merely a well-trained dancing monkey who was incredibly good at following orders, keeping my mouth shut, and putting on my game face. Yet, beneath it all lied an unbearable sadness. There was always a voice in the back of my mind telling me that what I essentially was was not good enough; that I had to work harder than anyone else to deserve the very air I breathed. This voice-- which I have now mockingly begun to refer to as my "dark passenger" (a la Dexter- who by the way is a fictional serial killer, so this isn't self-complimentary) began to spread like an infection into every corner of my brain, body, and bone. The arduous process of pulling my own weight became difficult. I was exhausted. I had run out of steam; run out of smiles. Finally, I could not even run from the fact that I hated my life and myself.

I combated this by protecting myself in a formula of daily routine, scheduling every minute of every day of the week so that I was never left with even a split second to look myself in the face. This worked out fine-- except for at night. There, lying in bed [alone], I would be attacked by thoughts of my worthlessness. I would cry myself to sleep at my loneliness, at my personal and professional failures, and at the notion that I had to go to work in the morning at a job for which I felt perfectly unsuited and performed terribly. In typical fashion for the overactive mind, insomnia quickly followed. I never slept. Respite came in brief increments that felt like seconds and included constant tossing, turning, and the resultant frustration at fate's robbery of my peace. With bags under my eyes and an aching head, I would awake from whatever measure of sleep I had had, fight the urge to cry again at the day I knew I had to live-- a fight I almost always lost-- and peel myself out of bed. A born Taurus (if you believe that malarkey), I still made it to work every day and on time. I performed every duty required of me. I didn't apply myself. I did merely what was asked and no more. It was an obligation for money. I would compartmentalize myself like a prostitute, lie back and take it, but I would be damned if I was going to fake an orgasm for it. At 5pm, I returned home to force myself through the rest of my regimen before repeating the process the moment my head hit the pillow. Life-wise, I was there but not there.