I am not a Problem

Given that I’ve begun baring my soul to cyberspace, I want to contextualize how I got here.  I want to map the glaring feels and events that have boomeranged me back to depression and the urge to take my life.   We (people affected by mental illness) wander around.  We become tragedies, and no one ever bothers to trace the miles of footprints and clues narrating the climax when nobody bothered to listen.

I know it’s scary to hear someone say, “I’m considering taking my life”.  Your mouth begins moving before you can process the words.  In a flurry of verbal band-aids, you’re trying to seal fault lines far deeper than you can fathom.   This is a loving, desperate, well-intended act, but it’s rarely helpful.  I watched a TED talk about addiction where the speaker said, “the opposite of addition isn’t sobriety– it’s connection.”  Likewise,  the opposite of depression isn’t happiness.  The opposite of depressed is whole-hearted, authentic, connected.  What I’m asking you to do is counter-intuitive: Reach out, hold my hand, listen as I unpack every suitcase I gathered on this downward spiral.  Squeeze my hand when you’re scared, and try to remember that this feeling of terror and despair you’re feeling right now, it never leaves my body.  Imagine going through every day of your life with such pain coursing through you.  Trying takes on a newer, deeper meaning when you live with opaque blood.

I hate the city where I live. I’ve lived in the rustbelt before.  It’s always a brutal return.  Rust remains where progress can’t enter.  As a non-traditional spirit, I don’t fit here.  My life is in cities I no longer call home.  My things are in this cold and unforgiving city.  My job is here, but me– the best parts of me– aren’t here.  I know this is someone’s hometown, and how cruel of me to scorch someone else’s scared earth.   I don’t mean to disrespect others, but I am also done apologizing for my displeasure with this place.

As a teen, I experienced this.  I was seeing a counselor at the time who kept repeating, “Bloom where you are planted”.  Fuck you.  I do not owe it to the concrete to bloom there.  My roots don’t need to waste growth where they aren’t welcomed.  Every day, I try.  I’ve attempted to put my self “out there”.  Whatever out is, it wants me to go back in.  Between the rejection, the 45 minutes it takes to find a parking spot every day, the poor planning of this place geographically, and the distance from what I love, I no longer want to put effort into this black hole.   The cringe worthy, “Don’t you have a neighbor who can help? A friend or family member who can pick up a package or help you?” No, no I am doing this by myself.  I’m always doing things by myself without instructions.  Concerned people hear this and tell me how I need to “get out there”, locals lecture me on the greatness of this place, but my experience doesn’t require critiques from those who’ve never lived it.  My life is not a democracy.

I’m tired of people talking to me like I’m the problem.  Let me be clear: I am not a problem. I am a person. A person with a sometimes problemed mind, but my complications co-exist with everything about me that has overcome.  When I say that location contributes to my depression, do not deny it.  I’ve lived in places that haven’t loved me back before.  I become a mirror to my geography, and this is a fatal reflection.

Why not just quit your job and move?  Suffocating in student debt, my job pays well.   So well that even if I were to take a lesser paying job in a city I love and a second job, my income would still be significantly less.   I need it to feed myself and make my payments.  Frankly,  I worked 3 jobs throughout my college career, and I’m still exhausted.  The subject is so overwhelming, and I feel like I can’t carve my way out.  More and more, the choice becomes my finances or my life– it feels like one will surely claim me.

Trying these days looks like applying for jobs that will pay roughly the same as my current position in another city.  Trying looks like planning for the future– so I have a commitment to hang on.  I’m not a religious woman, but I pray all the time.  But with closed as and grasped hands, I beg God for a miracle.  One spectacular miracle.

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