Trevor

Lately I have been trying to ignore the thoughts I have about the loss of Trevor because they make me angry, and I don’t want to be angry at him. I thought about him for a while last night, and I decided to write him this letter in hopes that I will be able to let some of it go. 

Dear Trev,

I miss you a lot tonight. I miss you a lot all the time. When I see a friend hurting, I miss you. When I laugh with the people I love, I miss you. I give everything I can to the friends I have. I give it when they are happy and when they are suffering. I give it, because I miss you. Sitting with you and being there for you when you were hopeless would have been so much better than sitting here now, imagining what your last moment was like. I try to let it go because there’s no way I’ll ever know, but I can’t. I’m working on it. Some nights, it keeps me up very late and then gives me nightmares. I tell myself that you knew you were loved, but I’m not sure that’s the truth.

For many years I dreamed dark dreams of a bright suicide. And then I got better. And then you died. We talked about it, Trev. The last time we talked, we talked about getting better. We talked about how the fear of life is worth it because of the beauty it gives us. I know you were sick. I know I understood you. Sometimes I don’t think I understand you anymore.

As time passes, I feel further away from you. As time passes, I feel further away from the understanding of suicide. Today, I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t reach into the corners of their mind and tell another human their fucked up thoughts. It makes me upset with other people, too. Why can’t we all just talk to each other about the weirdness that is life? We all have really weird thoughts (and when we say them out loud, it turns out that they aren’t as weird as we tell ourselves). We all think we’re worthless sometimes, we all do and say stupid things and we all contradict ourselves. Life is so wildly meaningless and so outstandingly beautiful- so live it for the beauty, because who cares about anything else? Look at the weird stuff, and see the beauty in that. My anger towards you is beginning an angsty ramble that I do not want to go into.

Your death solidified the fact that I will look at anything, I will talk about anything, and I will face anything I need to face if that’s what I need to do for myself or for others. When I decided not to die, I didn’t embrace that attitude in my friendships to the extent that I have since your death.

Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for existing so that I could learn to ask questions I’m afraid to hear the answers to. I am sorry I was not persistent or straightforward in addressing my concerns about you. What you did to get rid of that darkness inside of you makes me sad, but it also inspires me to stay out of that dark place. When I acknowledge life’s weirdness and light and uncertainty, I see beauty. I wish you were here to see it, too.

Gratitude, Growth, Love, Hope

Today I celebrate two years of recovery in the narcotics anonymous program. I am so grateful. Two years ago, I had no reason to live. Life was meaningless. And not the beautiful kind of meaningless. It was meaningless in a way that filled me with fear every time I thought about it. Every time I stopped to look at the moment I was living in, I wanted to die. I could not cope with my present moment or my present self. I hated myself. I had hated myself for years, and I was exhausted. Getting high was no longer enough of a relief, the only option was death.

On May 31st, 2012, I called my dad to wish him a happy birthday, and then I began my first day of my journey in recovery at a psychiatric hospital that saved my life. I was finally safe. I was introduced to the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous. Those rooms were full of reasons to live. They were full of hope. They were full of people telling my story, but their stories didn’t end in death. Their stories were of pain and isolation, but also of resilience and growth. The people telling them had found a new way to live. The people telling them were funny, non-judgemental, silly, and compassionate. I decided to give this new way of life a try- one try. I had tried everything else- I might as well try this. I am so glad I tried it.

I was told that the journey would be difficult. That there would be dark moments, and only one way to escape them- by feeling them. I have felt a lot of feelings over the last year. Difficult feelings, scary feelings, feelings of loss, depression, anger, shame, guilt, and fear. It has been one of the most challenging years I have experienced during my short time in existence. However, it has also been the most fulfilling. I didn’t have to be alone with my sorrow. I was able to experience the present moment in the hands of those who love me, and in the hands of the power greater than myself. By facing each moment as it came, I was able to grow through my experiences, instead of be defeated by them. I fell more in love with myself everyday as a result. I was able to fight for what is best for me. I was able to see each moment as an opportunity to become me- to embrace me.

The friendships I formed during my first year in recovery grew stronger, and I formed loving bonds with more friends. I truly believe that I am worthy of all the love I have in my life. I believe that I deserve to be listened to. They say that it works if you work it, and that is what I hope to continue to do, one day at a time. I will continue to learn, grow, and find serenity if I continue to practice honesty, open mindedness, and willingness. With those, I am well on my way.

Last night, I visited the first meeting I ever went to in Houston and had the opportunity to share my gratitude and hope with a few new faces, a few people who were there on my first day, and two people I love who made the drive from Austin and back a great adventure.

I am writing this post from the desk in the small business I run with a woman I admire, love, and gain hope from everyday. She is teaching a screen-printing class while I use my birthday as an excuse to do what I want (thanks, E). I get to work hard everyday in a loving, creative environment. Something I would not have if I were a) high, or b) dead. This afternoon I will frolic in a field of flowers (or have a dance break, or smoke cigarettes and drink coffee) with a man who likes me even though I haven’t seen most cool movies, and I don’t know most Stevie Ray Vaughan songs. I don’t have to lie about how cool I am to get someone to like me. I get to be unapologetically me today, and I get honest love in return (thanks, J).

Tonight I get to introduce my biological family to my Narcotics Anonymous family. I am so grateful they are willing to see this world, and support me as I grow. Today I get to celebrate the birthday of the best man in my life- my dad. I have watched my dad become an amazing human being, someone I trust, admire, and seek advice from. He taught me a very important lesson this year- never make a promise I don’t intend to keep. And if I do make that promise and break it, don’t wait until the fourth quarter to get honest.

My siblings, my tia, my professors, my mom and stepmom, the baristas at the coffee shops I go to- every person in my life is so vital and such a source of light for me. I have said before, and I’ll say it again- the meaning of my life comes from the connections I have with other people.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, all I have is today. And today is a wonderful day.

What I’ve Learned

Perhaps this should be titled “what I’ve re-learned”, but the following things are things I see in a new light now, so they are sort of new. These are some observations I have had over the last few weeks.

[side note real quick:  I have made an agreement with myself that I am going to think less about what I write, and just write more, we'll see how that goes. Also, more comics coming soon, my scanner is on the fritz.]

I have learned that I can’t feel anyone else’s feelings for them. Obvious of course, but good to acknowledge. If I think someone secretly feels sad, being sad for them is not going to get anything anywhere positive. I also can’t control people’s thoughts about me, as cool as that would be.

I have noticed that people treat me like I am smarter when I am quiet and cynical and hating existence. They treat me like I am slightly more stupid when I am bubbly and happy and excited about life. I understand, because I used to think happy people were stupid, too. But get serious. That’s just an observation it hasn’t taught me anything yet.

I have learned that I was right about things getting better. Even though things were off for me mentally, I remained consistent as much as possible with my daily routines. I showed up as much as I could. They are right when “they” say that half the battle is just showing up.

I have remained honest in my interactions with the people who love me. I am grateful to have very compassionate people in my life. And I learned that I am still mostly me when I am going through fog.

The fact that I am depressed or was thinking about death, did not mean I was going to kill myself, and I am so grateful for that truth today. The people who love me were possibly worried, or maybe annoyed, but they didn’t throw me in a hospital; best of all, they didn’t ignore me. They didn’t put pressure on me to do anything in particular- they just wanted me to take care of me.

I have learned that I am the person who puts the most pressure on myself. Aren’t we all?

Maybe most importantly, I have learned that a large contributor to my foggy days are the things that I avoid for so long that they become monsters that eat me up and leave me terrified. The obvious solution is to not avoid the things that cause me just a tiny bit of anxiety at the beginning, because they become huge sources of anxiety later. However, when they are just little anxious thoughts, I push them away and assume they will go away, or things will take care of themselves if I don’t look for long enough. Obviously this is wrong, but tell that to the Simone who is feeling good and is trying to take care of the bigger things that she put off before this little thing showed up.

I have learned that I don’t need to be perfect, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to work on. Working on myself, or on my performance at school or at work does not mean I am striving for perfection. It feels so good to work hard, whether that’s on developing new coping skills or coming up with ideas and following through. For example, the other day I woke up four hours late on an important day with some serious deadlines. Let me emphasize: it was not good that I woke up so late. I didn’t cry, scream, throw things, or feel worthless. Instead, I took a deep breath and thought “okay, let’s go from here, have some coffee” That positive reaction has never happened before. Truly, never. Personal growth, and it felt so good; plus I still have all my plates in tact.

I have learned that just because I may feel depressed, doesn’t mean I can’t also laugh at things or smile at really cute babies or feel good and dance around when Carl Carlton’s “She’s a Bad Mama Jama” comes on in the grocery store.

The Life of a Depressed Optimist

And suddenly, I am gone again. Where did I go? I have no idea.

I woke up a few days ago after a suicide nightmare and I didn’t feel anything. I woke up, but part of me didn’t. Part of me is somewhere else. Part of me has had enough of trying and is hiding in a cave in the corners of my mind, refusing to come to me. I cannot force myself to come back.

My desire to show up for myself and for others is not here. Thoughts of nothingness and thoughts of suicide impede my attempt at holding a conversation, or listening to others, or focusing on anything other than my desire to hide in the darkness and never come out again.

This is the hardest thing to write about. Partially because I would rather be sitting in an empty room staring at a wall than writing all of this. And partially because I want anyone who reads this blog to read about a girl who used to be suicidal and depressed, but isn’t anymore. However, I think it is important for me to write about this now. Why? Because I know that this disturbing numbness will end, and I want to share that knowledge.

The only feelings I have felt in the last week are anger and hope. I am angry that I am gone. I need myself right now- my whole self, my present self. I have things to do and people to talk to and deadlines to meet. I am angry that my only response to these obligations is a quick and simple, “fuck it, I’m not doing that. Take everything from me, I do not care about any of it“. I am angry, because that’s not true. I do care. I do not want my success and my opportunities to leave me. But honestly, right now, I cannot will myself to chase those things. The more I get angry at myself, the further away I will go.

I have hope that these feelings of hopelessness will end. Contradictory, of course, but I think it makes sense. The positive thing about this leave of absence from my mind, is that I have people in my life daily. I have a job, I have a community at school, I have my family, I have therapy two times a week, and I have the narcotics anonymous community. My mind told me “people suck, don’t show up” and I listened. My meeting attendance has not been great this week, I skipped more classes than the previous two semesters combined, and I skipped a therapy session. However, because of my previous consistent attendance to those things, people noticed. This resulted in a meeting with my sponsor, a meeting with my advisor, and making up my missed therapy session. In each of these scenarios, I was given compassion, understanding, and solutions.  Most of all, I heard a resounding, “I will help you through this“.

I don’t know what the catalyst was for this fogginess. I know that it didn’t just happen with the wave of a magic wand. I think there was a collection of little things that built up. Maybe I didn’t notice the warning signs because I didn’t want to. Maybe they were so subtle that I couldn’t notice them. I think fear is playing a role in all of this. I also think that when this ends, I will have a better idea of what caused it.

I am what some people call a “smiling depressive”, which is someone who likes to smile and wave and say everything is under control while the thoughts are the opposite. I do not want to do that anymore, I do not like that habit and it certainly never helps me, it’s also exhausting. I want to admit that I am struggling so that I can ride out this wave of emptiness on the support of others. I have hope that this will not last too long. I can handle this. I can wait out this storm. I am strong, even when I tell myself I am weak.

In every step of my recovery, I have been aware that I will encounter depression throughout my life. That makes me sad, but I also know that I can make it through every time. In my letter to myself I wrote, “Living with the demon that sometimes takes over is a tough fight, but you can overcome this. Again, and again, and again,” and that’s true.

I know that I am here somewhere, because I was able to write this post during bursts of self-awareness . I will end with a quote:

“To know that you are not present is a great success: that knowing is presence”.

Gratitude List

Here are things I’m grateful for

you, right here, then gone again.

Life is busy always changing

I’m here, right here, then gone again.

The noise a heart makes when heard

through shirts and muffled hugs

It’s true, I’m here, then gone again.

Revolving doors. Two ticking clocks

the second hands not quite synced up.

Grateful for forgetfulness

more so for remembrance.

Things I’ve done, I’m sorry for

still grateful that this fight exists

this life exists in spite of it

grateful I’m a part of it.

 

 

 

Today

I used to know a girl who hated herself and the world. She was hurt and she was scared. Most of all, she was angry. She could not accept the beauty of life because she was consumed in the meaninglessness of it. I love that girl. I wish I could hug her, but I do not think she would like me very much. She did not like people like me- people who were secure in the insecurity of life. She did not want to be happy because she wanted everyone around her to read her dark mind and feel her sadness.

I have been thinking lately that who I am today is a wonderful betrayal to that girl. It is possible that instead, who I am today is the person she secretly wanted to be.