Sunny Days in DC

Jack of All Trades, Master of 3-ish.

Let’s all write about suicide! WEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I get it. I do. September is Suicide awareness month, and also the Bloggess (if you REALLY needed that link, you are a naughty little blogger indeed!) has written something on it, and I believe everyone’s favorite terrifying Le Clown may have touched on the topic as well. So I understand. Most people don’t blog because their lives are SO amazing that they feel the need to share the awesome with the rest of the world, though I hope some folks do.

I personally started this blog because I needed an outlet for my rage and pain. I had actually written to the Bloggess at this point in my life, and told her how fucked up everything was for me, and how I didn’t know what to do. I had a new baby, and absolutely zero way to financially provide for him.

“That’s nothing!” you might say to yourself, but we all have our own demons, and mine looks a lot like poverty.

So here is my token Suicide post:

Don’t. Just don’t. Suicide solves nothing and it ends nothing, other than the opportunity for things to get better.

At my darkest, I thought my son might be better off without me. A little voice whispered in my ear, “but what if he needs you later on, and you’re not there?”

You may think no one does, but SOMEONE needs you. Don’t take yourself away from them.

So far, you have a 100% win rate of surviving shitty days. That’s a pretty fucking awesome track record. If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m her. Legit. I am. The Bloggess was there for me, so I am paying that shit forward. I’ll even give you my Irish cell phone number, and you can call me in the middle of the night, because I have a toddler so I’m always up anyway! I’ll tell you stories about how I cluck like a chicken and moo like a cow in the playground to make my son laugh, and how other moms will back away slowly from me. Good times.

So there you go. I’m gonna have some chocolate now.

#FuckDepression

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On Forgiveness…

This weekend, two friends of mine showed up to spend the weekend with us. They were very close friends of mine in college. In fact, I like to think I had a hand in getting them together, although in my heart, I know their marriage was inevitable. They brought their son, and the six of us shlepped around DC in the rain.

Before they left, I gave them a present. It was their wedding present that I had never been able to give them, because I missed their wedding. See, the Friday before they got married, eight years ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. We had only just gotten my step father through his last round of chemo for cancer, and now my mom…

….you know what? I could make a bunch of excuses, but the reality is that I kind of lost my mind for a little bit. Everything in my world tilted on its axis, and…. I lost track of it. I thought it was saturday, but it was sunday… and that’s how I missed their wedding. I know how that sounds… how do you lose a day? But I did. I should have been more on the ball. I should have focused on what mattered, but I fucked up, and by the time I was on the bus to go to the wedding, it was already over.

I turned around and came home.

And what’s worse, I never told them. I spent years holding on to that wedding gift, hoping that someday, somehow, they would forgive me, even as I refused to call them. And the longer I held on to my shame for not being there, the bigger it got, until it was a crushing weight that I couldn’t get my head out from under.

“Just CALL them,” my husband said, “and explain! They’ll understand!” but it had been too long, and I was too scared.

Then, four years ago, and I don’t remember how, I did it. I picked up the phone, or I emailed, but somehow, I sort of explained what happened. We got back in touch, but it was like early cell phones: weak connections.

Finally, a month ago, they reached out and said, “enough is enough, and we’re coming to visit you, and just wrap your head around that.” And they planned it out with my husband. And maybe the first 20 minutes were a bit awkward, but then I gave them my gift. I explained that I had held on to it, but I don’t know if they really understood what that meant.

Through moving states, houses, and apartments, I held onto that gift. Through holidays, losing loved ones, gaining friends, I held onto that gift. The birth of my son, the loss of my job, one of the most amazing and also trying years of my life, and that gift sat in our dining room, waiting. Wrapped in wedding paper that grew soft and tattered around the edges, I held onto it, hoping that I would finally be able to be a part of their lives again.

And this weekend, I feel like I was. We talked like we had in college, but this time it was about adult things. Mortgage prices, and how to put clothes on your child for cheap (FUCK YEAH, eBAY!). We talked about car notes and strollers, and whether we could afford to have a second baby… and each word was a balm on my heart. Each time she smiled at me, I thought, “forgiveness…”

I let my shame keep me from my friends, and I lost years of time with them. For that, I don’t know that I could ever forgive myself… but this weekend, at the very least, I felt like I had the opportunity to start fresh… or maybe as close to fresh as I will ever let myself get.

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And That’s How My Mom Ended Up On The Stage With The Male Strippers. I Swear.

Ok, yes, this post starts out kinda sad, but I promise you strippers. Strippers, Las Vegas, and drugs. Male strippers, it’s true, but strippers nonetheless. So, you know, work with me here.

I haven’t always been the well-adjusted person you’ve come to love over the past few… days. Actually, I guess we don’t really know each other that well at all. Still, it’s amazing how you can look at the things that other people go through in their lives, and somehow, completely relate.

Depression and anxiety run in my family. They run in my husband’s family, too. When he and I were dating, I took a minute on more than one occasion to consider whether dating and marrying someone, and also probably having children with them, when you both share a propensity toward… that… is a smart idea. What if you end up having kids with depression? What if what they have is worse than anything you ever wrestled with on your darkest nights?

It gives you pause.

My depression and anxiety were never that bad, until 2003.

In 2002, my college sweetheart (d’awwwww!) and I graduated. Well, I graduated. He was an English foreign exchange student, so he went back to the UK to finish up his last year. I traveled back and forth between New York, where I lived, worked, and was attending graduate school, and London, where he was finishing up school.

As hard as it is for some people to believe, it really wasn’t that tough. Yeah, it sucked that we couldn’t see each other every night, or even every weekend, but honestly… military wives have it worse. All I had to do was save up cash, and I got to see my boyfriend, AND Big Ben… yes, take that last sentence as you will. 

At some point, shit took a turn for the worse. My family lives in Brooklyn, and both my mother and step father developed Cancer as a result of exposure to the crap in the air during 9/11. I quit my job to take care of them, but things got more complicated, so I ended up quitting school as well.

That sucked, but I honestly don’t have any regrets. My life is taking a different turn anyway.

Then… then in 2003, on a trip where he had planned to propose, the boyfriend broke up with me. Any one of those things would have been a lot, but all combined, it was too much for me. I spoke with a doctor, and he agreed to put me on a combination of medications: Clonazipam, and Zoloft.

Holy. Shitballs.

The first thing I get asked by a lot of people is: did it work? I guess some folks have a hard time with Zoloft?

Hells yeah it did!

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*FUCK YEAH!*

But I knew that these things were only meant to be temporary, so I decided to work my way off of the anti-anxiety meds (Clonazipam) as soon as I could manage it.

That’s when my mom won an all-expenses paid trip to Vegas.

For clarification, Vegas on Clonazipam looks like this:

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*Your hotel room is behind the giant screaming triangle. Welcome to Bat Country.*

So now, I’m trying to come down off of a highly addictive anti-anxiety medication, in one of the most stimulating cities in the country, while simultaneously ignoring all the strip clubs and nude/ partially nude/ at-this-point,-it-doesn’t-even-matter-because-YOU’RE-IN-FUCKING-LAS-VEGAS-WITH-YOUR-PARENTS flashing signs and images.

Anyway, my step father had officially proposed to my mother only weeks before, and since we were in Vegas, my mom decided she wanted to see a show. Because Las Vegas is known for its…. theater scene? Anyway, she finds a show called “Australian Thunder from Down Under,” and buys tickets for the two of us. I’m not sure where my step father was… honestly, I’m not sure about a lot of things that week.

I’m pretty sure that donkey thing never happened.

Anywho…

When I would later ask her why that show, as I delicately removed a piece of a male performer’s costume from the back of my shirt (no lie), she would say that it was “nearby,” and she’d “never been to Australia.”

It all seemed so perfectly logical, until the lights went down, and the strobe lights came on. That was also the moment that my anti-anxiety medication chose to kick in, and I realized that I could taste music, and feel the universe breathe.

It was everything you can imagine from a (legal!) drug freakout in a dark room filled with oiled up men who were dancing around you and your mother, who had purchased her tickets using the AARP discount. At some point, they asked if anyone there was engaged to be married.

Of course, she raised her hand.

They brought her up on stage and proceeded to give her a personal lap dance, while I sat quietly in the front row and wondered whether this was all really happening, and if it was, did it mean that I now needed more or less medication to deal. I still ponder…

On our way back to the hotel room, we walked through the slots section of the floor, because everything in Las Vegas is “on the other side of the floor, through the slots.”

It’s an odd kind of clarity you get from these drugs sometimes. I can’t speak for illegal drugs because I’ve never done any, but as I floated across the room with my mom in tow, I suddenly felt sad for all the people sitting at the machines. They were just these tiny people, sitting in impenetrable plastic bubbles, never talking to each other, never interacting. A room chock full of people, each inside of their own little worlds, all of which were touching each other, but who were each completely alone… 

But coming down was oddly the most amazing/terrifying experience of my life. I don’t think I would ever have been able to have had those thoughts, or look at people the way I did, if I hadn’t been coming off of my meds. I’m not promoting pharmaceuticals, or saying that everything can be solved by them, or that even ANYTHING can be solved by them. My meds worked for me, and I’m no longer on them. I’ve moved past that stage of my life. But I get how someone can say that drugs could alter how you look at things. I think it’s fine, and even accurate to call these things a “crutch.” If you break your leg, you rightly need a crutch. Then, ideally, you learn to wean yourself off of it. But a crutch isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In sum, I found Zoloft to be numbing. The anti-anxiety meds gave me tremendously odd experiences, but Zoloft dulled the emotion I felt around them. Instead of being sad about the slot machine slaves, I just felt… observant. I don’t miss that part, and I don’t know that I would ever want to go back…

But holy shit y’all, what a wild fucking ride!!!!

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*Yeah, not all of us make it out alive, kid. Sorry!*

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