mental health

Blond depression

I attended a fundraising event yesterday in honor of a foundation that is dear to my heart, founded, managed and run by a quartet of fearless women, friends I’ve known since uni. There, I ran into a friend that I’ve known since 2009. She has seen me go through ups and downs and my various reincarnations, from kickboxer to boxer to dancer. She commented on my blond hair, and asked me if I’d been having more fun.“Oh definitely. I mean I am depressed, but even so, I’m having way more fun than when I was a brunette. Blond depression over non-blond depression, any day. There is no going back. I can smile even though inside I feel like death.” She laughed, telling me that there would no doubt be a new entry into the next edition of the DSM – blond depression, the cuter, flirtier version of normal depression. The version of depression guys still wanna fuck.

Am I depressed? Yup. Without doubt. I wrote Rough Patch on November 19th, almost 3 weeks ago. Since then, I’ve displayed all the symptoms associated with a Major Depressive Episode, except for suicidal thoughts. Although, I might not have suicidal thoughts, but I do most fervently wish I could fall asleep and never wake up. I consider with a twisted mix of admiration, pity and marvel those people that are capable of ending their misery. It’s not any form of virtue or morality that stops me from doing so myself. It is just that my apathy and fatigue are so deep I cannot summon the wherewithal to come up with plan that doesn’t seem like too much effort. #silverlining

I’m failing at keeping my shit together. My performance at work is alarmingly bad. My bosses wonder, irritated at my inability to deliver anything, be it so minor as to show up before 10am, or answer 1/3 of the emails I receive in a 72 hour window. I think we are all hoping that if I can just somehow make it to the holidays, a 4 day break with no computer might do me good, and I’ll return, miraculously cured of wtv it is I am going through. I wake up every day at 7am, and it takes me almost 2 hours to talk myself into getting out of bed. So really, 10am is a remarkable achievement, but not exactly something imma boast about.

I withdraw from everyone. I cannot keep up any sort of social front. I collapse into tears at the smallest comment, and frequently have headaches from trying to not cry in public. I am deeply worried about work, but somehow that worry never translates into anything, because I am so exhausted by trying to appear normal in public – which I am abjectly failing at – that I cannot concentrate on anything.

I cannot blog – I have no words. Nothing worth saying

I cannot read.

I cannot watch a TV show.

I try coloring, and I panic at the choice of coloring pencils – what if I get it wrong?

The number of horrifying social meltdowns at work and at dance are multiplying. I sense people withdrawing from my negative cloud. She’s such a drama queen. Crying, again?! What are you, a child? You do realize that if you keep acting up, people around you will reach their “fuck it” stage, and fade from your life? Why do you think you are so special – everybody’s got shit to deal with. These are not my paranoid thoughts. These are comments coworkers and my dance team have said. I remember now why depression is such a taboo. While all of these comments fail to demonstrate any compassion or kindness whatsoever, they are not wrong. People do tire of vortexes of despair. Public meltdowns are drama. Employers do expect a certain level of productivity. Everybody does have shit to deal with. I’m trying my best, I swear. Nobody wins a participation medal for life. Life is like the Olympics or boxing. There are winners and there are losers, and there are better winners, and there are bottom of the barrel losers. Who and what you are matters.

And right now, I am nothing but an exhausted miserable mess.


I know my close friends and family will panic when they read this. Please don’t. The panic just adds to the guilt and feelings of inadequacy. I am not suicidal; I am depressed. I can be depressed and still know that I am loved. Unlike the previous depressions, I am no longer ashamed of that love. This is my 4th depression since 2010. If they can sustain this rate of mental health bullshit, I believe that they won’t recoil in horror, be disappointed or bounce.

I can be depressed and still recognize moments of kindness. A guy at the gym last week told me, “Hey. I read the last few posts. I won’t ask if you are ok, because you know you’re not. It worried me, but I know you’ll work through this. I’ve been there before, it sucks, so I want you to know I care, and I’ll be cheering you on as you fight that shadow.

I can be depressed and want to be alone, yet know that Allie & William, Dynamo, Coach, DD, my squad, my darling cousins, my uncles & aunts, my father, my godmothers, love me dearly.

Why blog at all if it is just going to cause alarm? See? There she goes again being an attention whore. SO much drama! I blog because depression feeds off shame. When my brain tries to steal my words, replacing them by tears, silencing my voice, writing, no matter how uninspired or non value-added this post might be, is a way to tell my brain to politely fuck off.

This isn’t my first rodeo with depression. I know the ropes. I will get through it, not unscathed, but I will get through it nonetheless.

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Getting steamrolled by a musical train

My mother loved her classical music (exhibit A and B). For years, she tried to convince me to attend Montreal’s prestigious international music competition with her. It’s a pretty phenomenal concept: an annual competition, cycling through piano, violin and voice. There are several rounds, but the finals are 2 nights of full concertos for ridiculously cheap prices – with musicians that have the potential to be the next great soloists. I attended the piano competition with her in 2008, and the violin one in 2007. After that I grew too busy with work (exhibit C and D), and couldn’t make the time to maintain this activity with my mother. As with many things I shared with my mom, I’ve yet to face my shame and grief by attending this competition. Maybe next year.

I have trouble, usually, appreciating a new piece of music on the first listen. I need to listen to it over and over again, in order to be able to relax into it. Then one day, out of nowhere, usually when I am half listening while doing the dishes or folding laundry, it will suddenly slice through my brain and my heart and I will get it. I grew up listening to Brahm’s 2nd piano concerto in the car, all the time. I’ll never forget the day when I suddenly heard it for real, for the first time. We were patiently waiting to turn left at the red light intersection near our home. I remember the warmth of the sun through the car window on my arm, my mother driving in the front seat, how her sunglasses rested on her cheeks, the wind blowing through her rolled down window, the feel of car seat material against my thighs. A moment of wonderment, as I listened, truly listened, to that music for the first time. I was 9-10 years old, and it remains one of my most vivid memories, almost 25 years on.

At the 2007 violin competition, I discovered Prokofiev’s first violin concerto, which remains one of my favorite pieces ever: technically astounding, frothy and light, with an undercurrent of emotion to give you some feels. I was happily surprised at my ability to relax into the unknown and appreciate this new discovery. I patted myself on the back, chit-chatted with my Ma during intermission, listened an underwhelming Beethoven violin concerto, felt a little tired during the 2nd intermission and wondered how I’d survive a 3rd concerto, especially since it was another new discovery for me: Shostakovich’s 1st violin concerto.

From the very first sequence of notes, I sat, stunned. I listened as my life and my reality, in musical form, were played to me by strangers, written by a man long deceased from a land I’ve never visited, living in circumstances I’ll never know (Stalin’s reign of terror). I felt completely understood, emotions I’d never been capable of naming, perfectly expressed. I was exposed, vulnerable and raw, my persona and defenses stripped away by the truth of the music. It felt like I got hit by a train. That hangover lasted for days.

I didn’t know, in 2007, that my shadow wasn’t an occasional visitor, but my lifelong companion and nemesis. So I was confused why I could relate so strongly to Shostakovich’s 1st violin concerto, which is written from a place of pain, torment and anguish. I didn’t know, then.

10 years have lapsed, and I’ve yet to discover another musical piece that more completely gets all of me. It is me.


I wrote Rough Patch because writing is how I try work through things. Each post is true but cannot capture the whole truth: 750-1000 static words, a snap shot of a given moment in time. Family and friends reached out to me in a state of considerable alarm, which made me feel guilty – I voice my problems because voicing them helps me nullify my shadow’s attempt to foster corrosive shame, but in doing so I dim others’ happiness. Reassuring them about something that I cannot reassure myself about adds to the exhaustion of life.

I lost 4lbs from last week’s 6 hour cry fest. It took me 2.5 days to rehydrate adequately, and rebalance my electrolytes. No, I have not been spending every day crying, since. I even had a few moments of laughter this week. Am I still exhausted, and in that danger zone btn a funk and something much worse? Yes. Am I trying to take care of myself? Yes. I religiously go to the gym every Saturday, because seeing my #squaD is as good for the soul as the endorphins are for my brain. This week I treated myself to a bonus workout on Thursday, totally worth it, except now I have to catch up some stuff this weekend. I try eat fruits and veggies most days. My roommate took care of the fridge. I sleep a lot. I try answer most texts within 48hours so that I don’t feel a pit of guilt for being a bad friend.

This is depression. Some days it is really bad and messy. Some days I look mostly normal. All days feel like Shostakovich’s 1st violin concerto.

Rough patch

I was supposed to spend the day working, but instead I had a full-blown meltdown. I have a dehydration headache: I’m on hour 5 of crying. I hope I’m wrong, but I think I might have just crossed the line from funk into a real depressive episode. It feels mighty similar to the last episode in summer of 2014: over a period of 3-4 weeks, a sharp increase in frequency of rage blow ups, tears, hearing a few too many phrases that hit close to home (Robin Williams’ death), and then on the drive home from a vacation weekend in Qc city, I started crying, and cried non stop the whole way home. My poor father. 3 hours of driving next to a silent watering pot. Not fun.

What set me off this time? An innocent remark from a friend who witnessed my interaction with an Apple store salesperson. “Vanilla, you are so intense. You talk too much, often about shit that you don’t even know much about. You set up people’s backs, because you give the impression of talking just to hear yourself talk, you think you are so smart. And when you DO know what you’re talking about? You make suggestions that sound like orders. You might mean well, but you are too aggressive. Chill out, girl. You don’t need to have the answer, always. Especially if people didn’t ask you the question.”

Sometimes, the truth fucking hurts.

I do set up people’s backs. Often, especially at work. I’ve a long history of it, and no matter how hard I try, I haven’t demonstrated any noticeable improvement over the years. I don’t know how to avoid it. I listen to people based on their demonstrated intelligence (which I feel I am smart enough to evaluate for myself) and their capacity for problem solving. I mean, that is what we are all paid to do. Deliver. So if I feel I have relevant comments about delivery, yes, I will say them. I AM BEING PAID TO DO SO. Yes, my comments cover a broad range of topics, beyond accounting. Yes, I am fucking smart. No, I don’t start every sentence that way. Yes, I ruffle feathers. That is my job. I come across as some sort of machine, stripping people of their humanity, judging them for not being able to keep up with my brain.

But here is the thing. Fundamentally, I don’t believe in my own humanity. I am nothing more than an excellent accountant. I have nothing else. Literally.

  • I am 34, I have a roommate, I live in an un-decorated apartment, my fridge broke down 7 days ago, and I haven’t even started to look into buying a new one, because I have no time, and I never cook for myself. Hate cooking, in general, cooking for 1 is the most depressing thing ever, and I am never home, either working, working out or dancing.
  • Almost 8 years single. I’ve totally given up on dating, especially online. The guys that I have met in the past 3 years have been rather adept of stripping me of any self-respect, using me for my pussy, my brain, my useful problem-solving skills, my low-key easy company, never expressing any desire for any commitment whatsoever. If I did meet a guy who wanted commitment, I’d assume he was a liar. I wouldn’t know what to do with him, bc I’ve stopped believing anyone would find me worth investing in. My track record proves it.
  • I have no savings, because – and this is not an exaggeration – I spend thousands of dollars a year on Ubers, because that is the only way I can get my ass to work before 10am, because I am so exhausted by work and from keeping up the appearance of being normal. No, I don’t want a car, I don’t want another thing that I won’t have the time or energy to take care of, or the stress of rushhour. Yes, I might have to get one, just from an economics perspective.
  • I spend my free time working out. 5-15 hours a week. Kickboxing, boxing, dancing… the specific activity might change, but the habit is the same, the talent rather unexistent. As my cousin once wondered, someone who avoids being home that much is probably running away from their life. It’s not quite that. It is that I need the endorphins to keep my poisonous shadow at bay. And also, what else can I do with my time? Work more, sure, but even I get fed up of being a work horse. All my friends, my real friends, are busy with their lives, married with babies. I see them 3-6 times a year.

That’s it. That is all. I have nothing else, other than this tiny blog, which reminds me that I have a voice. The only thing I have going for me is my brain. So yes, I make suggestions, good ones, pertinent and on point. I speak up. I hold on tightly to the belief that in some capacity, I must be of use or valuable to somebody, be it only the corporation paying my salary. #howsthatforhumanity

But here is the even bigger paralyzing fear, the same one as in 2014. Every time work hits a certain level of pressure (60 hours, week after week), I can’t sustain it for very long. My brain short-fuses, and I spiral down a road of complete misery. The shadow takes over, the meltdowns increase, the number of bust-ups with people multiply. I slide into depression, a miserable existence that robs months and years of life from me.

My identity, the only purpose I serve in this life, is to be an accountant: it is contingent on my brain. And my brain betrays me when it matters most. I had hoped, so much, that going on medication for my ADD would help. But it doesn’t. I can’t handle the pressure levels required of any top-level professional… even by giving all of myself. Literally. My place is a disaster, my finances are a disaster, I have no personal life, no kids, no husband, no friends. All I have is work, and I can’t keep up.

I quit my job in 2014 because of my depression. It broke my heart. I loved my job. But I couldn’t bear the misery of my life and hoped that by opting for something less stressful, I could still fulfill my need of being a valuable, smart accountant, without putting myself in an environment that would eventually push my shadow to kill me. I changed the entire course of my career to accommodate my sick brain.

Here I am 3 years later, and despite making lifestyle changes to keep my brain happy (regular exercise and medication), despite a job that I love so much… I can’t keep up.

So where does that leave me? By every humane metric, my life is a complete failure. My sick brain, yet again, seems keen on sabotaging my career.

Hour 6 of crying.

 

But… you’re so talented! Why blog?

Vanilla, I know this blog is important to you… but… but you’re SO smart, and talented. You’ve so much potential, both as an accountant and with your words. Why blog? You are aware, aren’t you that this could have an impact on your career, whether deserved or not?

There is a lot to unpack in those few statements.

I know this blog is important to you.

Major understatement. This blog is an essential part of my trusty toolbox that I use to fight my shadow every day. Therapy + exercise + blogging. My tripod. I can survive off of 2 out of 3. But less than 3 = misery.

You’ve so much potential, both as an accountant and with your words. Why blog? (Subtext: blogging is a waste of my talent. If I were writing poetry, novels, popular editorials or at a minimum free-lancing and earning some sort of revenue, that would make my writing an acceptable hobby for an accountant. Because credibility is apparently only dependent on the form (poetry/novels), the reach of the audience, or it’s income generating success.)

I blog because it proves I have a voice. My shadow seeks to convince me that I am nothing, that I am worse than nothing, I am a noisy distraction and annoyance. Every day, I fight that part of my brain that seeks to convince me that the world would be a better place if I were silent. I blog because it is an exercise in vulnerability, and without vulnerability I have no hope of ever vanquishing my shadow.

I blog because in this day and age of social media, with so many of my friends successfully adulting, I felt like a misfit. I share my story, so that others who feel isolated in their struggles to successfully adult may feel less alone. A virtual community is better than no community. I blog because of moments like this and this. For the dozens of times where an acquaintance or a stranger has written to me to say that reading my words made them feel less alone in their struggles, gave them insight, made them laugh on a day when the world was nothing but grey.

One day, maybe, I will write a novel, or I won’t. One day, maybe, I will be a wildly successful columnist for the Huffington Post. But that day will only happen if I continue to believe I have a voice. So I blog.

(Incidentally, I do freelance – I’ve drafted promotional material for three different international dance festivals. Does that make me more credible, somehow?)

You are aware, aren’t you that this could have an impact on your career, whether deserved or not?

Yes, I am aware. Obvi. People form judgements, their judgments inform their opinions, their opinions inform their decisions, and their decisions inform my life and my opportunities. I might be a fucking brilliant accountant, but knowing I suffer from depression, ADD and anxiety, and have piss-poor taste in men? Suddenly I am tarnished goods.

But here’s the thing. I don’t care.

I am that girl, the fucking brilliant accountant with mental health issues, and crazy baggage. That is who my company hired. I will NEVER bring up either the mental health issues or my baggage in a work context, because I firmly believe that to be irrelevant: everyone is dealing with shit of their own. I was hired to deliver, and I am evaluated on my capacity to deliver, baggage notwithstanding. I expect that of myself and of every other employee in the organization. That I chose to share some of my struggles on this blog is irrelevant. If any coworker choses to read my blog, and as such learns of my struggles – that’s on them. They chose to seek out additional information about me, and I cannot be burdened by their difficulty in assimilating it. I am too busy delivering the value added to the organization that I was hired to deliver. I’ve written this before: I carefully consider every single post, before publishing it. I consider the whether the impacts on myself, or those featured in the stories, are fair. Any post that is published, I am willing to defend and 100% own up to. I anticipate that anyone could read it, from the CEO of my company to the Arch-Bishop of Canada (who does, incidentally, occasionally read my blog), to influential promoters in the dance community, to politicians (true story, one of my followers is a former member of our House of Commons).

Traditionally, in the workforce, people limit what they show their coworkers and employers. They play the game of presenting their best selves, carefully packaging their image and brand. The fact that I do not play that game ruffles feathers and is sometimes perceived as vulgarity or an indication that I am too stupid to play the game. Wrong. I worked 5 years for a Big 4 accounting firm. I can play that game as well as anybody. I just hate it. By playing it, I’m tacitly implying that part of myself should remain hidden – feeding perfectly into my shadow’s game plan to convince me that who I am is not worthy of being. So I chose not to play that game. I chose authenticity and to believe that I will professionally get my just desserts based on my performance and my unquestionable intelligence. Besides, the people that do play that perceptions game? They inevitably end up revealing their true selves eventually, despite their best efforts not to.

Recently a dude in my professional network tried to cause shit with my blog, by sending a careful selection of posts to some individuals that would react unfavorably to them. He did so behind the scenes, thinking I wouldn’t find out. So. What does this tell me? It tells me that this guy, who knows I have a doozy of a story about him, is terrified that I will one day blog about it. And rather than chose to trust in my good judgment – writing about it would violate my principle that my right to self expression must not come at the price someone’s right to privacy – he attempted to force my hand, and create enough headache for me that I would reconsider blogging at all. How cute. He played the game, and he lost, since he revealed all of himself to me through his actions, whereas I have revealed nothing that wasn’t already public information.

You are aware, aren’t you that this could have an impact on your career?

Absolutely. A positive one. Just watch me.

How you doing? Oh, just like Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto

“So, how’ve you been doing? Whatcha been up to? What’s going on in your life lately? Anything? Nothing?!”

I hate those questions. They suck. They are only ok to answer if you have something to boast about, when your life is all gold stars, rainbows and unicorns. My first half of 2017? I LOVED talking about my life. I visited 5 different cities, and went on the most transformative trip of my life (Dubai). Work was exciting, dating was ok, dancing was incredible, I was happy. Then my shadow woke up from its nap, and the 2nd half of 2017 sucked, despite some pretty sweet moments:

“Everytime I wanna know what is going on in your life, I just read your blog.”

Ok, so then why are you asking me what I’ve been up to? I have not been up to much, although the above list of blog posts proves that I witnessed a fair bit of other people’s lives. If you read my blog then you should be aware I’m struggling with depression these past few month. Yes, still – that is what depression does, it robs one of one’s capacity to live for months, if not years. Reminding me that I am still stuck in this garbage zombie state isn’t doing me any favors. At best, I feel equally irritated and anxious about my inability to prove that I am living life in a manner worth living, in accordance to wtv standards of the person I am talking to. At worst, I feel shame, and my shadow goes off on a rant about how much of a fucked up train-wreck I am, still with nothing to show for all my talent, intelligence and privileged opportunities I’ve been given, just a disappointment to everyone, really. It is taking most of my energy to survive, and still be a semi-useful employee, worth employing. Just because I blog about my struggles doesn’t mean that I want to talk about them all the time. I am a depressive – I fucking hate vulnerability. Talking about my depression, unexpectedly, face to face, with acquaintances or not close friends? Ummm, no. And if y’all don’t read my blog… then I am just as unlikely to say “Oh hey nothing really has been going on, just fighting my way through my latest bout of depression. How about you? Still happy as fuck? That’s nice.”

“So, how you doing? Whatcha been up to? Work, work, just work? Anything else? Dating?”

Look, bro, I know at this point you are just fishing for a topic for conversation to make this less awkward, but I am not gonna make this any less awkward. YES. WORK. THAT IS ALL. THIS IS AWKWARD BECAUSE PERSONAL QUESTIONS ARE IMPERTINENT. Didn’t you ever read Miss Manners??


How’ve I been doing? Ok-ish. Work has been nuts – I am on my 3rd consecutive week of 65-70 hours. It feels nice to be given a challenge, and to feel myself stepping up. Just in time, too – my funk noticeably affected my performance at work from July-September. I really don’t have much time for anything else. I’ve been trying to stay semi-constant at the gym, my happiest of happy places, and manage to squeeze in 6-8 hours of dancing a week, down from 15+ in Sept-Oct. Work, with its series of definite goals (Nov 25, Dec 22, Jan 23) gives me structure. Every day is a new day, must continue moving forward, one step in front of the other, no time to think or feel too much.

Except that of course, I do. Feel.

While working yesterday, I put on some classical music (latest coup de coeur: Max Bruch’s violin concerto no.1). Youtube is a wonderful concept, really. One beautiful piece after another, old favorites, reliable staples. And then… familiar notes, forgotten from my youth. I stopped working, and listened from beginning to end.

To try limit my mother’s “favorite” piano concertos to less than all of them would be hard, but without doubt one of the top contenders would be Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto. Rachmaninoff wrote it after a serious, almost career-ending depression that lasted 3 years. Friends and family urged him to seek professional help, which he did reluctantly. His therapist, an esteemed expert at the time, used hypnosis on Rachmaninoff with success. The result, a few months later, was the 2nd piano concerto. Rachmaninoff dedicated it to his therapist, and credited the man with saving his career and life. My mother always felt that the origins of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto could be heard in the score. A tormented first movement, an awakening of hope in the 2nd, and a verve, readiness and capacity for life in the 3rd.

An awakening of hope, she thought. “It sounds like a blind man seeing his first sunrise on a new day”, she would say. Then why does it make me weep with sorrow? Every time.

How’ve I been doing? I’ve been doing as good as the 2nd movement of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto. In theory, I am headed towards a happier ending, but right now there is more sadness than joy.


It doesn’t help that this weekend was a true fall weekend. Cold, rainy, grey, with winds that cut to your bones. Bright leaves falling, turning into damp rotten mush on the sidewalks. Just as in years past, as the leaves fall, grief bubbles up, and I miss my Ma terribly. I suppose it is only fitting that I listen to Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto on loop. Memories of sitting in the passenger’s seat of the car, listening as it played on the drive home from the Pointe-Claire library (her favorite place ever – her body prevented her from physical travel, so she found solace for her mind by reading everything. No joke, she never borrowed less than 5 books at a time, every week). Of sitting parked in the driveway of our home, till the concerto finished. Of her sigh of contentment. Of the click-clack of her canes on the pavement, as she climbed slowly up the front steps of our home, while I carried her books for her.

I’ve not been back to Pointe-Claire library since her death 5 years go. A place I spent thousands of hours in, growing up.

“So, how’ve you been doing? Whatcha been up to? What’s going on in your life lately? Anything? Nothing?!”

Oh, nothing much, just the usual weeping whenever I hear a piece of music I strongly associate with my mother. That’s all.


Here is a recording of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto. Although Arthur Rubinstein is primarily known for his Chopin, he does a brilliant job. Jack the volume up, make sure you have surround sound, and enjoy.

 

 

The D has arrived

Update on my funk/shadow situation: I’m ok-ish. Not getting worse or better, just meh. Treading water. I appear functional to the outsider: I make it to work every day, I am mostly delivering on my projects, I smile, laugh and occasionally have a sense of humor. But there is a huge cost to appearing so normal: I am permanently exhausted, my concentration is nowhere where it should be, I’m apathetic about my career, friends, blogging and dancing. I require a lot of naps and time-outs. But I know that as long as I am patient and persistent, eventually this cloud of grey through which I see the world will fade, and bit by bit the colors of the world will reappear. In the past, I used to feel shame of how I was wasting my life, drifting aimlessly. Now, I understand that this is the cost of depression: delayed career goals due to unrealized potential, strained friendships, and loneliness because I am in no state to meet anyone, practice vulnerability, and take risks. It is too bad, it is slightly unfair, but the Universe loves to dish out shit to everyone, and this is my particular cross to bear. There is no point feeling shame, or beating myself up. I am trying my best, I refuse to give up on the dream of one day achieving happiness, and that tenacity is something I should be proud of.

Part of taking care of myself has involves training at my boxing gym with Coach aka Dr. Booté. The vibe and the friendships run deep. One of these friendships is with TooWhite, a mini-me: with skin that is blinding in its whiteness, she is a 25 yr old kickass smart accountant that struggles with similar insecurities to mine. I feel very protective towards her, like a mentor professionally and personally. Yet she can squat 250lbs, has the best taste in trap music ever and is infinitely cooler than I will ever be. My little gym-bae. Soon after resuming regular training at the gym in August, I texted TooWhite admitting how much I’d missed the gym & Coach.

Isn’t she the cutest? She’s the cutest. #squad

The past 2 weeks have been very hectic, causing me to miss 2 workouts because of Canadian Thanksgiving and because I had another show on Thursday night. I missed my dose of TooWhite. When I showed up to the gym on Saturday, at the front desk was one of TooWhite’s close friends, J-dawg (he’s badass by association). Even though I’d had two coffees at that point, my brain clearly was not awake:

Hey! Long time no see! Is TooWhite already here? Yeah? She is! Sweet. Imma go get changed, but meanwhile can you tell her her D has arrived?

J-dawg blinked. I realized what I had just said. I stammered an explanation, “I’m her D, as in the letter, not as in the male genital, because you know, I’m a woman and all, and even if I wasn’t I would be broadcasting the intimate nature of our relationship, if any. D as in #squad, oh god, I’m not making this better, am I?” TooWhite’s friend solemnly promised me he’d pass along the message. When I strolled into the weight-lifting room 3 minutes later, I found him & TooWhite uncontrollably giggling. I’m a walking eggplant emoji, apparently.

#squaD

Recap of various vanilla Vanilla highlights at the gym:

Depression and exit strategies …….. the holy grail of depression sufferers

I went for drinks with some friends and friends of friends last night. One dude, who I’ll call OG, recounted a story of how he broke up with his ex after her 2nd suicide attempt. How he’d felt trapped and tricked. She’d looked so normal for the first 2 years, emotionally volatile, sure, but normal. After the first suicide attempt he learned she’d tried other times, before him. This was a recurring mental issue, one that might kill her and would inevitably derail his own life. He felt he had no choice but to make the best decision for his own life and future, and leave her. Leaving her freed him up to focus on building up his own life, success and well-being. However, almost a decade on, she still refuses to talk to him. One of his friends hypothesized that his ex felt shame, “Sometimes, when you’ve acted in a way that was just too awful and unacceptable, you can’t face any reminders of that, the shame is too painful.”

I stayed quiet throughout that conversation, which I regret.

I didn’t say that I suffer from depression.

I didn’t say that OG’s comments confirms one of my deepest insecurities: anyone who gets to know the real me, and meets my shadow, will run, will deem me unworthy the effort of loving, I come with too much baggage.

I didn’t say that this is why I’ve chosen to remain single for 7 years now. I don’t think I can survive another instance of giving all of myself, working through the terror of vulnerability, attempting to build a life with someone, only for it to fall apart because the burden of my shadow is too heavy to bear. I chose a life of loneliness, limiting how much I inflict my depression on friends and family, rather than face the unbearable pain of being rejected. I also chose loneliness because I don’t ever want to be the reason someone holds back on living their life, choosing to stick with me & my sickness out of loyalty. My shadow stifles my dreams and happiness. I don’t think I could accept if it stifled anyone else’s too. I completely understand and respect OG’s decision to leave the girl.

I didn’t say that they’d gotten it all wrong. The shame is not derived from the “unacceptable” act of trying to take one’s life – only someone who has never suffered from depression would think that suicide is unacceptable or selfish. Without ever having met the girl, or been present in that decade-old saga, I would argue that the girl deems OG’s actions as concrete proof that she is unlovable, something to be abandoned once her true self is revealed. A depressive spends all day every day trying to survive, look normal, hide the mess from the world. On the rare occasions that a depressive reveals their true self to anyone – something incredibly traumatic and shameful – being rejected gives their sick brain all the ammunition necessary to convince them they are worthless. Having to face a reminder of that? Unbearably painful. I too would be incapable of facing such a reminder.

I didn’t say that I admired the girl – 10 years is a lot of years to put up with a sick brain, good for her for still being alive.

#weallhaveexitstrategies

black dog

I was speaking to another “depressive”(someone who suffers from depression – usually with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and possibly Stress thrown in for shits and giggles — I might have just made that word up, but it seems to work, so I am going to leave it there) a week or two ago and we were chatting about shit and things and really playing catch up.

We had not seen each other in quite some time, so it was a very nice catch up and we did spend a lot of the time laughing, and snorting.

The conversation took a turn and we started speaking about the fact that we both suffer from Depression — not the “here take one pill and call me in the morning kind” but the sort that takes you 13 years of therapy to really understand what it is you are working with.

Years of enduring…

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