You Don’t Call a Baby Girl a Linebacker

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It’s all coming together now. I know what happened. As I was about to make my grand entrance into this world on July 7th, 1988, I was already thinking nah, fuck this living thing. I’m just not feelin’ it. I decided it was a good idea to choke myself out on the umbilical cord, which was tightly wrapped around my neck three times. But alas, they saved me. I was born the color of a blueberry and my mom recounts that I “was a face only a mother could love”. She’s not an asshole, I swear. She reminds me time and time again what a beautiful person I am (thanks, Ma). Not ONLY was I an ugly shade of purpley-blue, I was also ten pounds. Can we stop for a minute and imagine birthing a fucking ten pound bowling ball? That poor, poor woman. Anyway, the doctor took one look at me and yelled, “Jesus, she’s a linebacker!” And apparently without missing a beat, the nurse smacked him on the shoulder and said, “YOU DON’T CALL A BABY GIRL A LINEBACKER!” I swear in my undeveloped baby brain, I heard that shit. I heard it and I thought to myself, well joke’s on you bitches. Just wait. Give me about 15 years.

 I’ve recently obtained my growth charts from my pediatrician’s office so that my eating disorder treatment team could map out where my weight would be had I not periodically restricted my caloric intake for over a decade. I was originally pissed off about it because I thought guessing my target weight would have produced a much lower number; but it was pretty intriguing. It was a graph that showed my weight on a steady, normal incline as I grew each year. And then riiiight around age 15, we started going the wrong way. There were scribbled, illegible doctor notes on the bottom of the chart, one which said, “poor weight gain as a newborn.” I asked my mom about this and she told me that the doctor explained that “some babies are just content to starve”. Oh, the irony. I mean if that’s not some blatant foreshadowing…anyway, thank you Dr. Curscio for kicking off a life full of fear foods(see what I did there?? Football? K.)  Case closed.

But let’s go back to the umbilical cord. It’s morbid but I share it as a comical segue into the topic of depression. Depression isn’t funny at all. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk about really painful things with a sprinkle of humor. Let’s talk about what depression isn’t.

Depression isn’t a cold that goes away in three days. It isn’t just being sad. It isn’t something that can be remedied by being told “get over it”, “you have it so good”, “just try to be more happy”. Holy SHIT! Is that all it takes to make this all go away?! And for all this time… When we think of depression, we think of someone laying in the fetal, with their blinds pulled shut, skipping their ninth consecutive day of work and sleeping all day. While this is the story for some (also, not passing judgment here, just thinking of how society paints the general picture), it’s not everybody’s. The guy sitting next to you on the train with his 900 dollar suit (I have no idea how much a nice suit costs, 900 sounds good) could very well be suffering. The dude at work who rattles off witty jokes, the sidesplitting kind, he could be battling with it. A lot of people going through it are actually wearing some pretty rad, convincing masks.  

My alarm goes off at 5:27. Nope. 5:33. Nope. 5:46. Nope. I open my eyes up at 6:03 and remember my hair’s too thin to get away with a shower-less day. I get in the shower and just want to stay in there for an eternity. I brainstorm fake but believable reasons to call out of work. But I quickly snap back to reality because I have rent bills and therapy bills to pay. I stand in front of my closet, figuring out what outfit will make me look least fat (eating disorders, man). I turn on the news so the quiet isn’t so deafening. I throw on the makeup and I comb the freshly showered hair. Feed the cat. Pet her and promise her I’ll be home later (separation anxiety, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). I realize I have 5 minutes to catch my bus. I run to the kitchen and begrudgingly put my antidepressants on my tongue and swallow them down with a sip of soda. I say begrudgingly because I don’t see the point of putting 5 pills into my body when I don’t feel they’re providing any benefit – except for giving me heat flashes like I’m a middle-aged menopausal woman and nausea so horrible that I can’t even drink my coffee in the morning (and listen, nothing usually stands between me and my coffee). I open the blinds so said separation anxiety-ridden cat can at least distract herself with bird watching all day, and then I rush out the door. I pull my bookbag from my back, grab and light up a cigarette, puffing as fast as I can. Hop on my bus and away I go. And then I sit and think. It feels like my thoughts have thoughts. What is my life? I forgot to pack a lunch…fuck it; I’ll probably feel like barfing all day anyway. Did I take my meds? Is the stove off even though I’ve cooked nothing in it for a week? I’m so tired. Can’t I just sleep all day? It’s almost the weekend and I’m not even excited. I’m really not excited about anything actually, except for going to bed tonight. What is wrong with me? I really have no right to be miserable. Maybe I’m just lazy. But really, I’m so tired. Ugh. The woman with that damn briefcase on wheels again. I LOVE when she trips me every time we get off of the bus. Why am I so irritable? Why do I feel like I could start to cry for no reason? Oh my god, why do I have to be at work? What is the point of all of this? I feel so trapped with nowhere to turn. And then I walk through the door at work, put a smile on and start cracking jokes.

Whether you have the fetal position, blinds shut kind of depression or the nice guy with the suit on the train depression, it is still depression and it’s still equally as awful. I’m going to work and making money. I have people who love and support me. And I’m still miserable. It frustrates the shit out of people. From the outside looking in there is a very quick, easy solution to this. Don’t isolate. Be happy. Eat. And it frustrates the shit out of me that it doesn’t feel that simple. It feels like it is entrenched in my brain forever; it’s all I know.

I think the single most awful thing about depression for me is I don’t remember what ‘not depressed’ looks like. I’ve certainly had pockets of time where it didn’t feel so all-consuming; but it always feels like it’s lingering in the background, like shitty elevator music. I can’t pinpoint when it began (unless we want to count the umbilical cord incident). All I know is that by 17, along with depriving myself nourishment, I discovered booze. And from 17 to 27, each time I popped the cork off of a bottle of red wine (or natty light or smirnoff cranberry vodka…fucking ew), I’d wave goodbye to my feelings and watch them sink to and drown at the bottom of the bottle. But the bottle is empty now which means the feelings have no place to hide anymore. I have no way to mask them. They’re reintroducing themselves.

So I have the emotional maturity of a 17 year old, because I feel I stopped growing in that capacity at 17. Feelings suck, but they suck for everyone and I have to learn to feel them just like everybody else. I’ve just recently met and shook hands with the not so fun feelings like anger and sadness. And it is excruciating sifting through these dust covered feelings that have been sitting in my body for years. But I have to sift or else I’m right back to where I started. Although right now I’m having trouble seeing light at the end of the tunnel, I’m trying to hold on to the tiniest glimmer of hope that someday I’ll be introduced to a new friend. And I’ll run toward her with open arms like I’ve known her for years…I think she goes by the name Contentment.

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