You hit “publish” through the tears, and then you wait.
First the messages come, one by one, a flood of unanticipated support in your inbox and DMs. They call you brave, tell you your piece was important. Inspiring. At least two people tell you it inspired them to seek treatment. Long-lost high school acquaintances confide in you about bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, a suicide attempt.
It should feel good but it doesn’t because nothing feels good.
Labor Day weekend: your last hurrah. You drink a little and then a little bit more. Then you go to dinner at your favorite Mexican place, where you drink a margarita bigger than your head. You probably keep drinking after that but it’s all a little bit fuzzy. Why did you let me do that, you ask your boyfriend in the morning, your head pounding. …
I have never been raped, but I have stories that I do not tell easily. The words only come when it feels like I cannot keep them inside anymore — when I’m drunk, when I’m in therapy, when I need to warn another woman about a potential predator or, worse, when I need to comfort her.
I do not tell these stories easily because I know what people say about Women Like Me. A woman who sometimes drinks too much, who sometimes wears low-cut shirts when she’s drinking too much. A woman who grew up without a father. …
First, let me tell you how sorry I am.
It’s a touchy subject, and talking about depression can be inherently uncomfortable.
For example, I’m sure that VP from another department I ran into last week was uncomfortable when he asked how my international vacation was and I had to tell him I was actually on medical leave.
And I know the other participants in group therapy were uncomfortable every time I half-joked about driving my car into a tree.
All true growth in life is painful. Teething. Puberty. Heartbreak and the lessons learned from it. We hurt, sure, but we become better people from it. …
Let’s start at the beginning.
It’s 8:29 a.m. and I’m peeking my head around the corner of the HR director’s door for our meeting, which starts in one minute. Immediately, I know she knows. My boss said he didn’t tell anyone except for his boss, so I don’t know if he’s lying or if his boss told her or what, but she knows. You can always tell when people know. They look at you differently, even if they don’t mean to.
“What’s going on?” she asks. We make eye contact and she smiles, a kind smile but a knowing smile, because she knows I know the question is rhetorical, and I sit but only briefly because I’m flustered and I think the other chair might actually make more sense logistically so I stand and move my things, I’m going to sit in the chair furthest from the door so I don’t look like I’m trying to escape and isn’t another person coming to this meeting, I will sit in this other chair with the plush emoji sunglasses pillow already taking up half of the seat, okay here I go, I am sitting on the emoji’s face, this is fine. …
I reentered the dating world in late 2014 for the first time since college. Like a baby giraffe taking its first rickety steps (except, you know, if that giraffe were a 25-year-old adult human trying to get laid), I attempted to fill out my very first Tinder profile. 5’2” and nearsighted, I wrote. I have most of my teeth and I’ve never murdered anyone.
In no particular order, here are some of the men I met.
Codename: My Ex’s Doppelgänger
Met: via Tinder in November 2014
K was the first person I dated after my ex of four years and I broke up in October 2014. He was a lovely person, and I cannot recommend him more highly. …
I’m a liar.
I guess technically we’re all liars. Everyone lies. But I am a Liar, capital L.
I couldn’t even tell you how it all started, really. I think when you’re young, you begin to realize that lies can be convenient. Maybe the truth hurts. Maybe the truth is complicated. So you wander into that murky grey area — does a lie really matter if it doesn’t hurt anyone? And that’s a slippery slope to be on.
Like, something didn’t come up, okay? It’s just that my sweatpants felt like a big warm hug and I knew that coming to your party meant changing out of them, and also potentially poking myself in the eye with a mascara wand (and that’s all before I’d have to interact with other humans). …
“HOSPITAL SWITCHBOARD,” yells a gruff-sounding voice from the other end of the telephone. I’m confused. I tell the voice that the last person I spoke to said they were transferring me to outpatient mental health scheduling. The voice wordlessly puts me on hold. The hold music is “Walking On Sunshine” and I think it might be mocking me.
A woman picks up and I explain what just happened.
“How did that happen?” she asks, her tone strongly implying that I’m the one who made a mistake. I stutter. “Hold please,” she says. “Walking On Sunshine” is still playing. …
Trigger warning: This post contains sensitive topics such as depression, suicide and self-harm.
“I was 11 years old the first time I tried to kill myself.”
People always ask how long it’s been when you tell them you have depression. It’s hard to answer in a way that’s honest but also not terrifying. It’s hard to want to answer at all.
“The earliest memory I have of wanting to hurt myself is from when I was four. I was upset and I wondered what it would look like if I jumped out of the moving car.”
“Since always, probably.”
I was never an outwardly sad child, but my inner life was always just a little bit off. I thought a lot about death and dying. I read a book about injuries and communicable diseases from cover to cover. Twice. I was obsessed with natural disasters. I went through bouts of paranoia: first that our house would catch on fire, then that I’d die in a devastating earthquake (in western Ohio), or that we’d get hit by a tornado. I spent an entire summer sleeping with a baseball bat in my bed, afraid that I’d be unprepared if someone broke in and tried to hurt me. …
In October 2014, I did something I’d been afraid to do for a long time. I broke up with my boyfriend of four years. And then I ran away to Aruba for a week.
I cried for the first two days of my trip. I floated face up in the ocean and thought about what it would be like if I just drifted out to sea. I texted my ex and asked if he could take care of our dog (“correction: my dog,” I remember typing) if I died. …