I’m Tired.

I’m tired today.

  • I’m tired of trying so hard to keep it together every day.
  • I’m tired of following a sleep regimen and still waking up fatigued.
  • I’m tired of trying to do everything “right” – going to the gym, losing weight, calling friends, not drinking, being vegan and not eating anything processed, and still not feeling good or having extra energ.
  • I’m tired of not being able to have more than a day or two of stability and balance.
  • I’m tired of having to make decisions.
  • I’m tired of not having a purpose that isn’t about myself. While I don’t miss working crazy long hours, I miss having a job where I am spending time thinking about others and doing work for them.
  • I’m so tired of seeing all of the hate and ignorance in the world today. Of watching history repeat itself.  Of knowing it will never stop and will only get worse. And not knowing what to do. Because $15 isn’t enough. Volunteering isn’t enough. There isn’t a job that will be enough. And people don’t really want to listen, to learn, to compromise, to change. I don’t want to stand aside – but I feel so useless.
  • I’m tired of not liking myself.
  • I’m tired of trying to understand why I do not like myself.
  • I’m tired of being told to have hope, to think positive, to just keep trying.
  • I’m tired of not being able to help the people I love. To watch them in stress, in pain, in sadness. Shitty stuff happens, but I wish I could just alleviate some of it.
  • I’m tired of the constant shame I feel about who I am.
  • I’m tired of the guilt I allow myself to carry.
  • I’m tired of not knowing what to do next.
  • I’m tired of not knowing the “right” thing for “me.”
  • I’m tired of caring so much, about everything. Of feeling so much.
  • I’m tired of trying so hard to just keep it together for everyone: my family, my friends, my therapist and psychiatrist. I’m just tired of feeling responsible for adding stress or pain to their lives because of my stress and pain. Of trying to make them happy or relieved.
  • I’m tired of all the dichotomies in my life. Of wanting to be alone but feeling so alone. For wanting to be happy but feeling like it’s a charade anyway. For wanting love but not the strings that come with it.
  • I’m tired of being so scared to do things. I don’t know when I became this way but I’m so fucking tired of it.
  • I’m tired of feeling like I have lost so much time in my life, so many chances, so many opportunities, and still wanting sometimes to just end it all because I’m just too tired to try to catch up.
  • I’m tired of my fucking side effects.
  • I’m tired of trying to imagine what it feels like to wake up without a mental illness. To have shitty days and stress and life, but not have to take drugs that make me feel like shit to just survive them, while others take none and are able to function just fine. To go to bed without fear that tomorrow I might not be able to get out of bed. Or wake up without knowing if I will be able to make it through the day.
  • I’m tired of feeling so guilty that I want more. That this is unfair. That I don’t deserve this. And then feeling guilty for thinking that. It just cycles over and over again.
  • I’m tired of having to change. To constantly fight myself, to unburden others, to hold back my anger, my frustration, my words to not hurt others. To get up every day and try to want things, work for things, be effective, have goals, work to get better at who I am. To push down the bad thoughts, the urges, the desires, to assuage others.
  • I’m tired of never knowing who to blame: is it the meds? the disease? my circumstances? me?
  • I’m tired of only seeing the mistakes I make. The failures. The not good-enoughs.
  • I’m tired of having hope. It’s almost more exhausting than just admitting defeat.
  • I’m tired of thinking.

I’m just tired.

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shit day at therapy

i hate when i leave therapy feeling worse. usually, there is a feeling of relief and safety. not only am i able to speak to someone who understands and does not judge my irrational ways, but that i know cares about me, believes in me, and is there for me. but that didn’t happen yesterday.

she was gone on vacation last week and i only see her once a week now. it felt like forever. throughout the week i wanted to call her – that dependency scares me. it was a bad week for her to leave since i was still having after-effects from the klonopin disaster and had had a few close calls.

i brought up yesterday that i feel like big issues come up and we table them but we never actually get to them. i think i had brought that up six months ago as well. that’s mostly me – i usually come in there like a whirlwind just spewing the latest drama of my family or school or friends. but as i speak of the week, my issues with sexual trauma, self-esteem, boundaries, loneliness, sense of self and purpose continue to come up. and we say “yes that’s something to explore” and then i continue with some inane decision i have to make.

i asked her about it yesterday and she said that she just didn’t want to make me talk about something until i brought it up and was ready to go into it. i dunno, maybe i need to write out a list so i have a better sense of the things that ruminate in my mind all day and that i catastrophize at night. can you go into therapy with an agenda. “today we shall talk about your issues with men. and…go!” But at the same time, i kind of want to scrape at these now, in a safe environment, before i go to london.

the point is, listing the things i wanted to work with and then leaving, i just felt awful. i told her that while i understood that these past few weeks i was clinically unstable, the ideas in my head weren’t invalid. the intensity of which i handled them were – leading me to very dark places. but they are still truths (not facts) in my life. and even feeling better now, they’re still there, taunting me from feeling confident in decisions or in waking up feeling safe in the morning.

when i was clinically depressed i was exhausted all the time. the sadness tired me out, and the pain, both emotional and physical would wreck me. but i’m still exhausted. from my nightmares and anxiety dreams; from my self-doubt and fear of the future; and the idea of what’s next – be it next year, next month, next week, next day, or the next few hours. the problems are still here and i felt like i opened a box of fear and sadness, time ran out, and i was left in my car driving home, thinking of all i have yet to approach.

i hate shit days at therapy.

Go The Fuck To Sleep: A Lullabye to My Maniacal, Stubborn Brain

shut-the-fuck-up-stfu-sleep

While I wish I was clever enough to think of that title or write this page, this comes from the book by Adam Mansbach (read aloud by Samuel L. Jackson) and is worth a read…and I don’t even have kids.

Look,  I believe in the lyrics “you can’t always get what you want ”  but I’m having a difficult time wrapping my mind around “But if you try sometime you find You get what you need.”  That’s where I’m going to call bullshit. my body my brain my legs my stomach -they all know that I want to sleep.  That I  don’t just want it, I need it.  And I assure you I am trying as hard as I can.

it’s like my brain is laughing at me as I try breathing exercises, body relaxation, mocking me for my attempts. I even tried doing visualization, which I think is a bunch of shit, and I tried to lock each of my problems  into boxes with keys so that my brain would be empty.  I don’t want to give away the ending but let’s just say I’m still awake.  I’m on day four of this wacky insomnia bout. I was able to lie down and close my eyes and relax my body, but my brain still wouldn’t let me sleep. and so now I’ve been in bed for three hours: I’ve tried reading, writing, (I don’t want to do anything too important since I’m not sure I’m fully awake,)  i’m doing my best to avoid medication but I don’t know what else to do and I don’t know why I can’t have this.

maybe it’s  my depressions’  childish way of telling me to fuck off since I slept so much when I was depressed and now I can’t seem to slow down enough to enjoy a deep dream sleep.

even when I do fall asleep I’m usually half awake, directing my dreams and getting up every few hours. it’s just this process of falling asleep  that I find so fucking frustrating.

it’s such a simple idea. I remember as a kid I was so good at sleeping. I could sleep anywhere, I slept through anything, it was a problem because I was just so damn good at it. it doesn’t make sense to want something so bad, to try so hard, to even deserve it and still eyes open brain thumping racing twirling, body aching, and wanting.

there’s usually a point when I decide whether to keep fighting or just watch TV until I pass out at three or four in the morning.  This is my current conundrum that I’d really prefer not to have.

Processing Decisions Without Freezing Up

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The current status of my brain

 

You know when you’re on your computer and you’ve asked it to do eight things at one time and you get that circle that just turns around and around. Your screen is frozen and the circle turns. A part of you knows it’s just processing all of the requests, but after a time you start to wonder: is the machine frozen? Do I have to reboot? Will it eventually process my requests? Or did I just fry the shit out of it?

That’s kind of like my brain now.

I can’t tell if I’m just processing an overwhelming amount of information, or if I’m frozen, waiting to have a breakdown from being overloaded with change and choice. Am I malfunctioning? Because unfortunately, you can’t ctrl+alt+del a human brain.

In fairness to myself, I have a shitload on my plate. Not all bad – just complicated. (And let me note that I’m incredibly aware and grateful that it’s not all bad.) I wasn’t naive as to think going to London would provide a clear future path, but I suppose I did think I would walk away with a clear feeling, a sense of direction. I assumed, based on my previous trips, that London would give me chills inside; would make me feel alive. After all: the accents, the metro, the cobblestone streets. What’s not to love?

The last time I travelled abroad I was in my 20’s. I was depressed, unstable, and self-medicated with alcohol the entire time. All of these things warped my vision. And when I travelled, I saw a place to escape from my demons. Just like going to college across the country, I kept thinking that if I found a new place, far from my geographic life,  I could redefine myself without my depression. The bitch of it is, you can’t escape your demons. Those fuckers will sneak their way into your luggage no matter how hard you zip that baby up.

And being there, fully aware that my challenges, fears, and weaknesses would still confront me, whether on the tube or the London Bridge, was both exhilarating and exhausting. Don’t get me wrong: I still enjoy London. But I saw the grey now, (and I’m not talking about the fog,) rather than the black and white my bipolar II provided in the past. This isn’t my Mecca anymore. Or maybe there isn’t just one (when working on myself).

Each situation felt different than before – not better or worse, but more engaging and thought-provoking. Was it relaxing? Not really. It was more of a “working vacation” spent attempting to find myself, to face my fears, and to confront my choices.

It was a complicated, thoughtful trip – something I was not expecting. But being self-aware brought a nuance to my time there and allowed me to see my new strengths and continued weaknesses inside myself that I have missed within my daily life here.

Vacation’s over. I’m getting over my jet-lag, getting back to my routines, and have decided to let the circle turn, giving my mind time to process the experiences I had. I’m trying not to freeze up – to understand that just because I don’t have the answers, that my mind is still disorganized and frenetic, doesn’t mean I’m malfunctioning. I just need to take a deep breathe and give myself some more time. Eventually the circle will go away, and the deeper work will begin.

Panic … Where Have YOU Been?

panic

I thought this was rather apropos…

 

Well the panic has hit and my urges to cancel my flight, my Airbnb, and my plans have all come stomping in. Sometimes I’m in the car and I just think: “I can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t” and envision myself curling up in a ball and become unresponsive for days. I wrote to my DBT coach letting him know and he suggested a little mini-vacation for my mind via distraction. So breathing and relaxation, listening to music, going to the gym. He’s right –  when I’m busy, especially around other people, I don’t really have time to think about the 18 million things that may go wrong. My rumination goes to catastrophe right away with things like this and distracting my thoughts can help slow the heart rate and anxiety.

It’s amazing how clear and rational ideas are in our head and yet how fucking difficult they are to believe, feel, and do. I know it’s 6 days; I know I only have to do a few things on my list if I really want to; there are no expectations; and going now does not mean I have to attend in the fall. I will be meeting this old friend, and based on some past emails, it seems she still might have some of the same behaviors from our past that I have given up. But I have thought through some avoidance techniques, and just have to remember who I am now and how hard I have worked to become that person, and how much I like her (me) compared to the other one (me a few years ago).

Yesterday, I was just reflecting with socialworkerangela on how weird it can feel when you are having a good day because you feel like you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. It kind of takes away the enjoyment of the good feelings because you are in this state of fear things will eventually go poorly. Yesterday, I spent some time looking around at the challenges I have taken on this past year and the life I have built, as simple as it is. But I am building a foundation, and I think the panic was that I am leaving the safety of it all.

Not that I’m still challenging my fears. Yesterday I tried on sunglasses. Sounds stupidly simple, right? But I have had such a fear of looking at my face in front of other people , I have never gotten sunglasses before. It took me until a year ago to get real glasses so I’ve been driving with a bit of a blur for years. With sunglasses, it was even more embarrassing because those are supposed to be “cool.” In the past, I just took my brothers’ old ones when he broke them. Still, seems such a simple task, right? But like…huge for me.

Things will be ok. I will have options. I can decide my own version of failure and success. I am allowed to make mistakes. I just have to take it a step at a time. And evidently there’s this thing in DBT called “radical acceptance” where you just accept your reality. (It always makes me laugh a little when I think about it. It’s just a ridiculously big fucking ask.)

Okay, so now I just have to actually BELIEVE those statements. I knew there was a catch. ;)

Thank goodness I see my therapist today. I just hope I don’t grab onto her leg and refuse to let it go. That could be a really embarrassing situation.

A Moment of Hope Passed Me By Tonight

ok this might seem weird, but i had this feeling just now.

i’m starting to think that deep down i’m a free-spirited person. not that i want to live in the woods, but that i want to be open to ideas and people.

i think i might like adventure, learning, and even excitement. I like exploring and being challenged. I like making people laugh and being there for them when they need me. i like trying new things, i don’t think i like permanent things or dangerous things, but i’m thinking on a smaller level – like changing to a different style one day, cutting my hair, changing my makeup. dressing up for halloween. wearing a skirt and working it.

I have dreams and desires that involve smiling and laughing and giggling. i imagine busy days and quiet days. i think i like pushing myself and getting that feeling of pride knowing i did something i was scared of.

when i was a little girl, before 8, i don’t remember a ton. but i remember that feeling like my head and my heart were just in a constant state of absorption. watching my parents, my siblings, my classmates, my teachers. arts and crafts, books, and boys. i think at the core, i was fire. like my sign, deep down, my leo was alive and roaring.

i’ll always know i’m imperfect. i know i will always fight societal pressures and question my decisions. i’ll probably always wonder about if i had turned right instead of left. i’ll wish my legs were longer and my nose skinnier. i will still cry because i don’t know how to change ignorant people and eliminate hate. that i can’t do more. that we are not learning from history and so indeed, we are repeating it.

now life didn’t turn out that way. i started to see all the bad around 8. then at nine my father got in an accident and lost his arm and became a very angry person. my siblings followed there paths and i was labeled quite and sensitive early. i always felt like i needed more, but felt selfish for asking for it. and so i turned in and i think those parts of me either died or wilted or just fell deep into the crevasses of my soul.

i just wonder: can you ever get that back? can you ever have a sense of wonderment? can you retrain your mind to find scary new things exciting, not anxiety-inducing to the point of fleeing the scene? can you go back and find parts of yourself and free them?

honestly, i don’t think so. but just for a moment, about five minutes ago, it felt like i could. and it was amazing.

The Myth of Normal

Okay, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but yes, I know that there is no “normal.” And yet, throughout my life, all I have craved was to just be normal. In the throws of depression, I suppose we all develop our own normal as it applies to the “what-ifs” and “if onlys” of our life at that time. Normal is the fantasy of all that is destroyed by the illness. The life we cannot have, the potential we cannot reach.

I remember during my breakdown, crying to my mother about how I could and would never be normal. I wouldn’t be able to have a healthy, sustainable relationship with a man. I would never be happy with my body. I would never not hate myself. I would never fully trust people. I could never just live life without ruining it through self-sabotage, perfectionism, comparison, and judgement.

At that time, normal was having a boyfriend, but still being really independent. It was enjoying my job without the constant fear of failure and burn-out. I would be successful but not too far at the top so I could have a life. I would go to brunch with friends, be open to adventures, meet people from diverse backgrounds, continue to try new things and always be learning. I was thin, pragmatic with money, with a job I was proud of, living in a city where I walked everywhere, and knew my neighbors. I had friends who called me more than I called them, and I knew they wanted to be my friends and needed me in their lives. I  guess normal was really the feeling of safety. A calm contentment and assurance of consistency and order. Boring never sounded so good.

I suppose that’s why this year has been so frustrating. Finally after spending pretty much my entire life in a clinical depressive state, I am evaluating, testing, relearning, trying. Today, I was running an errand, in the middle of the day on a weekday, and I got this terrible feeling: what if I can never go back to work? I’ll be on disability, running errands in the middle of the day with seniors, trust fund babies, and parents who are with their young children or maybe work from home. As I allowed my mom to pay for my groceries, I thought, what if I have to be dependent on my parents for financial support for my life? As I looked into my fridge, I wondered if I will ever be able to look at myself in the mirror and just be okay with it? As I avoided eye contact with a relatively attractive man (I was avoiding eye contact so it was blurry….) I thought, will I ever actually be able to be in a relationship with a man or am I going to have to go back to the old days of just getting drunk, and demoralizing myself to feel wanted for a few hours?

We are all different people, with different life experiences, and life is constantly changing, shifting, surprisingly us, failing us, guiding us. I suppose the realization I am supposed to have at the end of this post is that there is no normal and that there shouldn’t be. That it’s just a set of standards we set up for ourselves to fail because we will never reach it. Or maybe because it’s put upon us by society and what it tells us to want, need, and be in the world. Normal seemed so obvious and defined when I was so depressed. And now, with possibility, I’m dumbfounded to explain what normal actually is.

But I can’t seem to let the idea go – even knowing it’s an irrational myth. And I still crave to be “normal.” And I think I mourn the normal I never had … even if I know it wasn’t real.

I think deconstructing the myth will require letting go of judgement – of my past, present and possible future. And honestly I can’t even wrap my mind around that. I feel like if you took away self-judgement from my life, I would be just a sliver of a person – it has defined my humor, my outlook, my goals, and decisions. Honestly, it seems like it’s easier to believe in the illusion of normal, because – can you really fail at reaching something impossible?

So how do we handle the myth of normal? How do we not let it consume and control us? How do we redefine life without it, and can we?

my kitchen table

i need to write this because if i tell anyone they will tell me i’m being irrational, i’m tired, i’m scared, i’m stressed, i’m just depressed. i need to write it because it feels so true i ache.

tonight, i looked over at the desk in my kitchen. it was piled with notes, documents from class, open books – the whole desk was covered and stacked with documents. i remembered how in college i dreamed of getting my PhD and what my life would be: you would walk into my office or room or house and know that i was a coffee-drinking, spastic, over-achieving academic, who was forgetful but charming, articulate but real. i would always have tables that looked like the one in my kitchen.

i accepted years ago that that would never be my life. the same way i knew i’d never be an actress, or a producer, a lawyer, or television anchor. that i’d never be in a relationship no matter how many i concocted in my mind. i’d never be thin enough or pretty enough. i would never look in the mirror and be okay with what i saw. i had images of myself, but none ever felt real – they were all fantasies of what my life would be like if i wasn’t me.

i hoped that it was the depression and after this past year, with the chemical depression lifted, i thought it was my time to finally start figuring out how to live life and what it would look like.

in the last year, i have been accepted into an elite university in a country i have always dreamed of living in, i have lost 60 pounds, i have kept an apartment, done my dishes, cleaned my bathroom, cooked even when tired. i took two classes at a community college and i’ve only gotten A’s. my teachers commend me. verbally and in notes. my 70-year old spin friends tell me they believe in and they see me for an hour once a week. i’ve seen my GP once this year, the first time i met her, and she saw my mom months later and told her that i had to go to the university – that i was too smart not to.

i should be proud of my accomplishments. i should smile and feel warm from the compliments of strangers – people who see something in me even from such a small glance. but they make things worse. because every time i do get an A or accolade, i get this tinge of excitement. sometimes it lasts for about a minute. and then i feel like someone has slapped me upside the face. i am the abused and the abuser in my relationship. every time i try to stand up for myself, i throw myself down. i rip into myself and tear apart any shred of hope or joy i may have felt. achievements don’t sit right – they feel dirty, embarrassing, uncomfortable and irritating – like alcohol on an open wound.

and so i’ll never find the right job. i’ll never be able to accept love from a man or believe he thinks i am beautiful. i will never feel good about an A -because it all feels like a farce. it feels like a lucky consequence but not truly earned. because i could always do better, be better, be thinner, be prettier, be kinder, do more. i can’t figure out what i want to do because i know that no matter what i choose, i will feel like i am failing.

and in a way, i am. it’s like i’m in a race, and i have these people around me cheering me on, and i try to run but after a while i realize i’m just running in place, and i’m so exhausted from trying, from pushing myself, that i sit down. but people continue to cheer and i don’t want to let them down. i don’t want them to see how they’ve wasted their time. i get up again and i try to start running again. but i’m just running in the same place.

it doesn’t really matter why, but i guess it started as a child as a way to protect myself from bullies. you make fun of yourself before the kids can make fun of you so they can’t hurt you as much. but it doesn’t feel like protection anymore. i don’t have the bullies around me. i have become my own bully. and when i tell myself i am not good enough, that i will not last, it feels completely and totally right throughout my entire body. it is a truth at the core of my being.

maybe i can find a way to live like this. i mean, i don’t feel suicidal right now. i feel kind of defeated, tired, a little sad. but i will keep running in place until i’m too exhausted and then i will do my best to get up and run some more.

looking at that table, i realized it will never be enough. because no matter what i do, no matter what those around me say, i do not believe it in my heart. i can’t. it’s too deep inside me. it is who i am and it is what has defined me. i cannot love myself. not because i don’t want to, but because there is no part of me that truly believes i am of worth. no matter what i do, no matter how others see me, i will never believe in me. i will never be good enough for me.

i know i am damaged. i am broken. and i just don’t see how i can be fixed.

this too shall pass?

Something’s wrong. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I can feel it deep within. I have decided to play this one out…see if I can wait it out until it gets bored and subsides. I know it’s a futile attempt.

This mounting, ominous presence has made my torrid relationship with sleep even worse. I want to outlast my inevitable sleep – a looming fear that begins when I wake up. Every decision I make throughout the day, I wonder “will this help tonight or make it worse?” I’ve become paralyzed. Complacent. Sad. Scared. I remember six months ago, when the medication was in full effect, still waking up scared, but excited too. I didn’t know if I would have a good or bad day, but I wanted to try. I miss that feeling.

For the past year, I have tried really hard to develop a sleep regimen to lessen my insomnia. I have to be in bed by 11, take my pills to help me sleep, and read, not watch tv. I turn on my fan and my noise machine, prep my eye mask, and as soon as I feel my eyes begin to tire, I turn off the lights and wait for my dreams or nightmares to come – I’ll take what I can get. But now, I feel a panic inside as I start to wash my face and begin my process for bed. I brush my teeth and I start to think about my day, my life, what lays in store for me once I get underneath the covers – the thoughts that will consume me no matter how much white noise I use to try and block it out.

I tried to avoid dealing with this panic for a few weeks by staying up until I was exhausted and over-medicating myself with relaxants. The problem was, I woke up painfully exhausted, spending the day with a headache, frustrated and sad, and unless committed to someone else, canceling all of the things I use to keep myself above the tow of depressive thinking because I was just too fucking tired.

Before I fell asleep last night, I reviewed the day. I did not get any errands done. I did not do any homework. I did not contact any friends. I did not do any cleaning. I did not go to the gym. I did not shower.

I opened the book I have attempted to read with little interest, and noticed the age on my hand: veins, dry skin, worn down knuckles. I am not a child anymore even though my life is like one. In therapy, we talk about trying to volunteer one day a month; we discuss learning who I am and who I want to be; what could make me happy; why I have so much hate and detest for everything I am. I have barely maturated past the emotional age of 15, but my age hasn’t. And I started to cry.

I cried for how little I have accomplished. I cried for the potential my life has and had that is slowly and constantly draining away. I cried for the exhaustion of fighting this disease even with medication. I cried for the craving I fight every day not to self-harm, to punish myself. I cried at how long I have been fighting this and how when each day passes, opportunities lessen. I cried because I am so painfully lonely. I cried because I never wanted to make it past 30 for this very reason. I’m getting older, but I’m not moving forward and my life is passing me by – unlived.

I cried because I’m losing hope in myself that I can be saved.

I woke up this morning, and did not want to get out of bed. Once I got out of bed, there would be choices to make, and I knew already that I wasn’t going to make the ones I wanted. And I knew that that was my fault. Maybe this weakness has been triggered by events beyond my control but I haven’t been fighting it, at least not enough.

Maybe tomorrow I will wake up and find the power to push past my fear. Maybe it’s just a phase in the process. Maybe it’s just a down time, “like all people have.” But maybe it won’t, and I’m scared, and I’m sad; and I’m just so fucking tired.

Not to Rock the Boat, But Something Good Happened

A dream come true or a mental breakdown waiting to happen?

A dream come true or a mental breakdown waiting to happen?

So I’ve been writing a lot about the stress of “moving forward.” What does it look like? When will I know I’m ready? How will I know if it’s the right step? What if my chemical depression comes back and brings me back to nothingness?

For the past ten months, I have tried to find my action steps. It was like “I’m going to go to the gym today; I am going to call a friend; and I will turn off the tv by 10pm and read a book instead.” And I would bitch and moan to my therapist about how this wasn’t enough. I wasn’t “moving forward” fast enough. Where was the volunteer work? The job? The boyfriend? Why the fuck wasn’t my life perfect?

Perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough? Or maybe my “steps” were too little? But what if I tried something too big – that might set me back. And then she, in her kind, thoughtful demeanor, suggested that perhaps my life has been  moving forward without my conscious effort to do so.

After all, I go to spin four days a week. I have stayed with my vegan diet. I live in an apartment alone and still manage to leave and make appointments. I have begun to socialize and inhabit this evidently “funny,” odd, and loud person it seems I am, especially when around people. I have made some decisions that others have disapproved of, but that felt right to me. I make mistakes or bad choices, I get pissed, and then I move on…eventually.

So, one of my undemanding “goals” was to apply for this Master’s program. I actually had applied for one at a different school last year and didn’t get in, but this was different. This school has been a dream of mine since my senior year of college. I always imagined, even in the depths of my depression, that if I could go there, I would find my true self and be this mythic version of myself. But every year, it just wasn’t a good time and the fear of getting rejected from my dream was just too traumatic.

So, five months ago I get an email from them and they are starting this new program. And it’s basically about the things I love to study, argue, and discuss in life. There’s no specific deadline (I think they weren’t sure if enough people would apply) so I set a really relaxed goal – I gave myself almost a month and a half. And some nights, I’d work on it. Maybe one day, I’d go to the library and write something up. And piece by piece, I actually applied. I didn’t really tell anyone besides my therapist. For me, the purpose was to apply – to face the fear of failure and do something I had wanted to do but had always been too depressed and insecure to do. And I was proud of myself. It only took 12 years, but hey, I fucking did it.

But then about one month ago, I’m lazily doing my morning email check and see an email from them. It was an unconditional offer of acceptance. Ok…see…that wasn’t what I was expecting. I was actually prepped for not getting in – had a whole “philosophy” on how I was going to see the positive of it all. And the school that I got rejected from earlier is nowhere near as competitive as this one. So yeah, I would say pure shock for the first 24 hours. I mean, I felt nothing. I told my therapist who cried because she was happy for me. (She’s the best.)

I saw so many reasons not to go – money, pragmatism, what if I wasn’t ready? I mean, I didn’t know if I could commit to volunteering and I’m going to go to another country for one of the most intense academic experiences ever? A part of me wished I hadn’t gotten in just so I didn’t have to deal with whether it could be a possibility.

After all, I have been depressed almost my entire life. I have missed so much because of my own self-hate, doubt, and depression. I have missed out on opportunities I craved. I have spent so much time, in bed, feeling that I was breathing, but not living. I was truly staying alive for my family but not for myself and I told my mom she had me until 35 and then I was done. Was this one of those things that “moved me forward” without me intentionally doing so? Did getting in signal the next step in my progress?

It did catch me at a weird time. I’ve been actually “settling” into my life slowly. And while there is always anxiety that it might get boring, this was an explosion. It brought up a lot of my past feelings of competition, passion, worthiness, independence. Also, four years ago this August, I had decided to kill myself. I spent a year and a half in electro-convulsive therapy. I wrote wills. I self-harmed. I cried until I gagged. And some of this was still happening ten months ago. Sometimes I still feel like I could fall and there wouldn’t be anything to catch me.

But I have wanted this. I have dreamed about this. And I fucking deserve it. I don’t know what the rest of my life is going to look like – I might get depressed again, I might never have a job I want, or find someone to love, I may gain all my weight back and end up back at my parents house, in bed, for days.

And for a while, I knew so clearly in my gut that this was the right step. This was all part of moving forward – of things just happening that push me ahead without my complicit and thoughtful attempt to do so. Here was a chance to do something totally impractical, definitely not pragmatic, most likely useless to my career, and potentially awesome. After three years of living at my parents house and wanting to die, maybe this was my “Welcome Back” cake to the world of possibility and happiness.

Pragmatically, going makes no sense. It’s going to drain all of the money I have, I’ll go into debt. I haven’t been in a classroom for over a decade and I’m going to be with the most elite academics who have been in school recently and I don’t remember how to write an analytical essay. I might hate London – fog hates my hair, that I know. Maybe the grey will depress me. Maybe the men are all prats. Maybe it won’t be the fairy land I have made it to be in my mind. Maybe I’ll fall into a deep depression and have to drop out or maybe I just won’t be able to cut it and I’ll have to drop out. If I can’t find a job there or the man of my dreams (definitely on my to-do list) than I’ll come home, in debt and without anything added to my resume that’s going to give me a leg up.

Plus, their health system, while free, is not so much evolved in terms of depression. From the research I did, it’s like the country hasn’t technically agreed that “depression” is a real disease, let alone bipolar II. Will I be able to establish a strong enough support system (not just people but things) that I have developed here to maintain my health and sanity? Will I even have time?

Then, just for shits and giggles, there’s an additional complication. I received an unconditional offer which means that I can defer for a year and attend next year without having to reapply. During this deferment, I could take a trip over and see the campus, sit in classes, check out where I might live. I would have time to apply for some scholarships and funding and even if I didn’t get it, I’d know I had tried. I could apply for housing early so I actually lived where I wanted, learn where things were, and just get a better sense of what I was getting into and make a more clear, decisive decision – even if it meant not going after all. It also gives me another year to strengthen myself. I know – it sounds great. In fact, every time I had a conversation with someone, it always ended with us agreeing that deferring was the best decision. But I still didn’t. I’ve had a shit ton of these conversations. And yes, they all end with me agreeing with deferment. But I stopped myself last week, sitting, looking at the page on my computer where you fill out the deferment form, and I couldn’t do it.

Maybe I’m afraid if I don’t go, people won’t really believe I’m better. Maybe I’m scared if I don’t go now, I won’t ever go. Maybe I’m worried that by next year, the medication will have stopped working. Or maybe I will realize this really isn’t what I want or I’ll have gotten a job or someone will need me to stay for something. I know this is not a decision you just allow to happen. After all, the amount of work I’ve already put into this is gross. And I’m not even talking about the emotional toll. For the past 10 months, I haven’t needed to take xanax or had panic attacks. In the past three weeks, I have had three panic attacks and have begun to take xanax on a relatively regular basis. But I mean, even someone without depression would be probably needing a xanax when trying to understand a visa application.

It begs the question: how do you know if you’re ready? I mean, I know I’m not ready to work full-time. When I’m out all day, even doing different things from 9-5 or if I am engaged with people for five hours in a row and be “on,” I’m exhausted and need two days to recover. Without the depression, I’m starting to uncover some abusive situations I allowed during my depression and their impact is growing as the depression lessens. I still can’t sleep no matter how hard I spin, and I am either groggy until noon or I wake up at 5 in the morning and I can’t go back to sleep. Clearly, I’m not just a work in progress, I’m a mental mess of work in progress. Maybe this is too big of a step. Maybe I shouldn’t do it. I still have time to pull out and defer. Give myself more time to decide.

There is no clear answer. When I sit with myself and try to clear my brain and feel, nothing clear comes to the surface. I don’t trust myself but I can’t make this decision based on anyone else’s opinion. It has to be mine. Every time I think I know the answer, eight other questions arise that pull me back to a state of cluelessness.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. Sometimes when I’m nervous, I tell people I’m going so I don’t have to deal with the not working conversation. It felt good to tell people from my past and see their eyes light up and hear their happiness and pride for me! I haven’t heard that in a long time. Even the things I have been proud of, I don’t think most people acknowledge how big those steps are – but this is a validated societal step up.

Is there a right reason? Is there a clear answer? Who knew an accomplishment could be such a dilemma of confusion, fear, and doubt. I know that I love the issues. I know I like winter clothing. I know that 12 years ago, I loved sitting in a classroom and having my mind blown. I know that I have been searching for the past 12 years (minus a few) for how to make an impact, share, learn, teach, change. But maybe this is just a distraction from the fact that today I had a crying fit and couldn’t figure out what exactly was causing it.

How can something so “good” be so…not?