05 March, 2012


(The story in this post might be upsetting to some people because it involves trying to pressure someone into taking medication and judging them for not taking it.)

I feel like I shouldn't be posting right now because I should be sleeping and I'll be tired on the way to work, but I feel like I use the excuse of sleeping to avoid almost everything, like church, and I barely sleep anyway so here I go.

"They say an unhappy man wants distractions--something to take him out of himself. Only as a dog-tired man wants an extra blanket on a cold night; he'd rather lie there shivering than get up and find one."--CS Lewis, A Grief Observed

When we were freshmen Clayton and I had a friend, let's call her Annie. I don't know how much of this is 100% accurate but I don't think Annie reads this blog, so it's probably all right to just tell you how I remember it. Annie identified herself in conversations as someone who had a mental illness and sometimes hurt herself, and one day she casually told me that she probably should be on medication because she was at an age when the way her brain was was being solidified and if she didn't go on medication right now, she would always have problems. She told me this like it was funny and she didn't particularly care to do anything about it.

Clayton and I both have savior complexes and we made it a project to try and get Annie to go to student counseling. Never mind that he would later realize how fucked up he had gotten from the medication student counseling put him on, or that I've been virulently anti-medication of any kind since I was 16, to the extent that I would rather throw up from pain than take an Advil. For whatever reason we decided that we were right and Annie was wrong and we had to get her to go to counseling.

It was almost summer; Annie wanted to be outside when it was sunny so she could skateboard and hang out with her friends. Every day the two of us would descend on her and try to get her to go to counseling and she would say that she didn't want to go until it was dark. Student counseling closed at five in the evening so this was the same as saying she could never go. I remember how ridiculous and reckless Clayton and I thought she was, and how much we annoyed her.

Annie and I grew apart over the next three years but she is someone I admire a lot because she's so smart and interested in so many things. Sometimes it seems like she just has to think of something she'd like, and all the resources appear to make it happen. I found her hard to be friends with because she moved so fast--she would suggest doing something, I'd resist it because it went against my schedule, and by the time I started realizing I would like to do it she would already have left to begin it.

The point is though that a year or two ago I started really understanding how I could see Annie's decision as smart, not stupid. It got me through the last year and a half of college, trying to think that way--blinding myself to the big picture, trying to unfocus my eyes and look at seconds and colors. I couldn't do things right and I couldn't feel good a lot of the time so I stopped trying. I didn't fail. When I saw something in front of me that might make me feel good, I took it.

So for a long time I've been on that kind of track and I've realized how hard it is for someone outside to see why you don't listen to "reason." Why you'd rather ride in a car than worry about your problems taking care of yourself. Why you'd rather have fun smoking than figure out if you will let yourself live long enough to die of lung cancer. Why instead of constantly apologizing to yourself and everyone for not being more organized, you're making Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in a huge pot and watching YouTube videos with your roommate.

The thing I feel most clearly now is that it was none of my business what Annie did with her time. I'm not as clear on the rest of it--how being like Annie applies to me and how I should feel about it.

I found myself talking about Annie today. I was trying to argue why it's okay for me to be involved with men even though I am gay. I'm probably going to get upset writing about this because the conversation turned to an end that felt more permanent than usual. I know I was convincing him at the beginning. At some point it wasn't working anymore for me to say "we should live in the moment" and "I don't expect to ever have a family or a relationship with a woman, so we might as well try and feel as good as we can."

And I remembered, a few years ago I would have thought being with a guy was like throwing something in God's face, being too lazy and desperate for comfort to feel anything but the shadows of what I could feel. I would have thought it was the real thing or nothing, and even now it's hurting me to type that it's not the real thing, because I want it to be as good as the real thing when it's with a guy, but it's not and that's not my fault. And the boy wasn't hurt, he's the strangest, nicest boy--he was relieved.

The truth is it's very hard for me to work especially not being a driver, and it's really hard for me to live on my own, and the only people I talk to outside of work are men who try and bother me. Giving up smoking is a serious sacrifice not because of nicotine as much as the fact that I lose a reason people will talk to me. I'm really sad right now. Sorry if this is too much information, but I've been going back and forth on the Annie thing for such a long time, and I wanted to write about it. Not Annie herself because obviously she shouldn't have been on meds when she didn't want to be, but thinking about endgames vs. staying in the sunlight whenever I can.

The thing is I don't know if I ever felt so much this way since I was on meds myself in tenth grade. Every day I'd take stimulants and spend a few hours thinking everything was really special and important, not realizing how much I didn't notice or how fucked up everything had gotten. As the day went on I got sadder and sadder and the only thing that mattered to me was--guess what--the person I was dating, who I wasn't actually attracted to.

Towards the end of the drugs, in some sobbing state, I told my mom I wasn't happy. My mom saw me all amped and buzzed up on the way to school every morning after I downed my Wellbutrin and Adderall. She said, "But I see you happy every day."

I said, "but I'm not a happy person."

I built myself back up through the two depressing but somehow joyful last years of high school. I was a very sad but happy person by the time I turned eighteen. I'm not sure how lazy and distracted I must have gotten, to get so far off track--because yeah I have to look at the small things, but this has gotten small enough to seep into all of them.

I'm not a happy person.

And this is me telling God and myself that I'm going to get better.

1 comment:

  1. I can't think of a specific coherent thing to say about this other than that I relate to it a lot and I'm glad you posted it. I'm sort of learning to feel less guilty about being happy lots of the time before I'm "done fixing myself". In a way that's hard to explain this post gave me significant progress feeling less guilty. So thanks I guess.

    I'm sorry I don't seem to have the reading comprehension to get where you are right now in the concept space that the post evokes so I don't know how to frame an appropriate well wishing sentence. But good luck with whatever you're trying to do or feel.