125ml | the typos in my blood cells.
I write this with a light heart, trying to create some distance between how it feels when someone, for whatever reason, point a finger at your fragilities as if they were something to be ashamed of, something weak.
I properly treat myself for my anxiety and depression since I was 25 yrs old, but I battle these issues since a young age. Really young. I remember having these feelings of being numb at age of 10. When I reached my 25th year on this world, after a very meaningful break-up, I’ve sent an email to a friend’s therapist and told him: My soul is broken and I can’t fixed by myself. He kindly gave me the contact of my — now forever therapist — and I, by my own will, dared to eat the peach and opened up a very painful process, my very private pandora box.
It was such an overwhelming feeling that I could not handle only with what my body could give me. So I went to a shrink, a very trustable one, my family’s shrink, and we started a medication, so I could move on when my brain was telling me to run home for cover, for safety. When my left arm would go tingling right on the direction of my heart and I would fear to die in the middle of the street, or when the traffic was stuck on that classic bridge between Rio de Janeiro and Niterói (my hometown). I’ve had to make the longer way for months, skipping the bus to take the fairy, because the movement of the sea would calms me down. Often, when the fairy was full, my mom would have to cross the sea just to seat with me on my way back. I’ve had that feeling, that even with the waves being scaring, I was moving on and not stuck. And I could find some peace on this painful process.
But my depression/anxiety was not only trigged by some specific trauma (which, yep, I have a bunch of. who doesn’t?) but was something that it also came on my genes, with the women on the side of my mom’s family having face that since my grandmother’s generation. So I grew up watching/living what a mental health condition could do to a family. And — trust me — it was the end of the 80’s beginning of the 90’s, we were far away from the methods we use now. It was sad. And I knew, as a woman, that that was coming to me. When I was a teenager, I would scream at my mom that I would get crazy because of HER family. I was fated to lose control of my emotions because of what was circulating on my blood cells, on my brain. I thought by the age of 30 I would go completely mad — as I’ve saw happening to my grandma’s sisters and other female relatives — and I would get angry as if they were a mirror of my own life.
Noups, nobody knew that. I was a girl, young young young, and I already knew the psychologic description of depression, schizophrenia, anxiety; what medicine they would test, what treatment they would suggest. So it was pretty much a fucked up scenario. I knew my brother and cousins were watching/living the same thing with me, but they were men. That would not affect their lives the way it would affect mine. I was fated. What a burden.
After already develop the first signs of depression when I was a teenager, and faced a food disorder and some poor skilled therapists who would treat me like a child, without taking in consideration my background, my numbness were really trigged when I faced reality again, now on my early 20’s as a young journalist.
For four to five years I experimented what poverty, social injustice, lack of support would do to people as I saw for four to five years dead bodies, mostly murdered for some stupid reason. I could not judged the dead or the killer. But I grew afraid of people touching me, because I grew afraid the touch would harm me. The touch would make me lose that short line that made possible for me to keep watching those “scenes” as scenes. Not reality.
I was in a relationship at that point and — unable to being touched — it’s not hard to know the price my personal life was paying for seeing reality on such a crude distance. Seeing reality with my bared eyes. I’m sorry for those that think they know it for what they share on tv/social media/whatever. But one cannot compare to see three little kids murdered on the Easter morning — each one with a single gunshot on their nape. The blood dripping from the wound and bubbling because of the heat of the sun — , well personally, it is not the same than reading a headline. Precisely what I had to transform those death into… A newspapers headline.
I would work six days a week, seeing around two or three dead bodies a day. The little girl opening the door of her house with her barefoot and guiding me and my team, to the murder scene at the garden, while skipping the blood pools mixed with the water of the rain, all over the pavemented floor.
The more I saw the less I could be touched. Honestly, I could not be touched because the touch would prove my body and brain that I was alive and being alive it would impossible to see those things with the distance I’ve had created. My body was constantly tense like a stone. That was the only way. To be touched it would remind me I was human. And being human, I would break. So when my relationship ended, right after my 25th birthday, I quit the job and let it break, because I was too addict to the diseases of the society. I was poisoning myself with reality to turn it into headlines. I was old and sad. Completely scared. I was urging for a hug naked of second intentions. I needed a hug of protection. To hold me because I was about to fall.
If I was a balloon, I could say this balloon was so full, it was about to pop, but unlikely a balloon, I didn’t popped. I mean. I did. When I first sat down on her couch, on my first session — just to see if we would get along — I’ve spend the whole time crying with such a power. I was crying through my eyes, my nose, my mouth, my whole body was crying in such despair that I felt like the storm it was falling outside. The rain was falling strong, hitting the window and making her presence noted.
After the session, the whole city was underwater. I felt alive and out of place. It was such an energetic feeling. It was new to me. I remember the secretary helping me to tie plastic bags on my feet, so I would not wet my shoes, since the water on the streets was hitting almost my knees. Somehow the rain helped me cry a little bit more than my body could do it by itself. And there was a lot of trash, electric cables mixed up, floating their dangerous assets around me. But by opening my Pandora box I could see them all. But that was just a glimpse of the “All”.
As I started facing my immediate traumas, memories, feelings, everything that were well hidden started coming to the surface. I would dare to say they were demanding their spotlight after so long under so many layers of neglect. As I left each session, at that point it was twice a week, I would start feeling more and more, and since I was no longer seeing dead bodies, my relationship has ended, I’ve had just graduated, my whole reality was new. Nothing was familiar anymore. Everything familiar has ended. And — as the extreme opposite from my previous phase — everything I could do was to feel it. And I felt a lot. So much that my skin wouldn’t seem enough to protect me from those touching memories. What once was neglect now was becoming fingers pressing my crude wounded flesh. I was aching and I could only cry.
Shrink. “I need you to sleep”. Yes. I needed it too. My insomnia was present since my childhood and I would be afraid to sleep for years or be unable to because any little noise or light would keep me awake. I would be afraid to sleep and something would happen: my ex-partner’s car would be stolen (I was not welcome in the family in part because I was from a simple family so if that car was stolen while we were in my house, that would mean a big disappointment to me), the noises from the outside, my brother’s allergy, my mind wouldn’t stop to think think think. At that point I already had been through a few nervous breakdown and my mother would be the only to understand what I was going through but at the same time I would resent her genes, my grandmother, the mother of my grandma, for being who I was (am).
The prescription was easy. My doctor would follow me by phone through that first Saturday I started the medication. I was on the sofa watching documentaries for the whole day. Dry mouth, numb brain, that weird feeling of walking without feeling my steps. Mom was there. When she left, I asked her to come back because I needed someone I trust close to me.
I was the first person to judge myself for taking remedies. I was the first person to say / think / feel: I’m weak, that’s why I need this shit. I’m crazy. I’m mad. I’m unworthy the gifts I’ve been given. I was given no gifts. Looser. I should be dead.
Feeling those feelings was not simple. I could not be reckless about my alimentation anymore. I wasn’t taking any strong medicine, but I was thin, I needed to take care of my body in a moment I couldn’t care less about it. So my mom would make a smoothie every morning for my breakfast. She would prepare lunch for me to take to work (I would hate the food because I was too demanding. Which was very Veruca Salt of me).
Little by little I started reconnecting with my friends. I was back in touch with my best friend in high school, the only one who never pointed any finger at me. In order to help me to get back my social life together, she would pick me up wherever I was and respect my reactions. With her came some other friends from high school. With these friends came a sense of “us”. They knew what I was going through. It felt I could count on them.
This feeling lasted until the firsts sings of problems common between a young group of friends. There I experimented the judgment for being under medical care for the second time. Not from all of them. But things like “she takes medications” resonated all over my body not like a bullet that would go through my flesh on single wound, but like poison that would take days to come off. Those words would take days to get out of my system, if they even have ever left. And I don’t think they did.
“It’s just for a phase” “I would never say you take these things!” “Oh my god, I’m sorry”.
For what exactly? For me being brave enough to ask for help? To acknowledge that I’ve had a limit that I disrespected for too long and now I was able to say: I can’t do it by myself.
I’m an artist. A writer. A forever maker. And most of all the Creator of my life. I’m almost 34 years old now, almost a decade under the influence of medications that somehow help me to get through my demons (trust me, I face them more often than I would like to). Can I live without it? Maybe. But I have to build a certain structure for myself before taking off what helps me to stand up today. And I have to acknowledge that maybe the answer is No. Not because of weakness, but because I’ve been through stuff that changed the way my brain cells work. Because I come with this over sensitive skin and bones from generations in my family and we — like people — are too judgmental about other people skin and bones. Maybe I won’t just because I can’t and this goes beyond any explanation.
I could let this over sensitive me take me to the suicidal way of living. Trust me: been there, thought that. I lost a great friend because her skin was too thin as well. I’ve known too many people that had chosen not to live because they too had this skin and bones. You, that judged me somehow, also have this thin skin. We are all sensitive beings. But I skip darkness through this witch way of living. I take my meds and subject myself to this crazy thing called Life. I’ve learned, after years of self-denial, that — FUCK — lucky me for being daughter of the crazy one. For carrying inside me this crazy gene. I’m not a creation of madness, I was given the right to create magic. To see the good in the evil. The desire of getting better on the scream of an agressor. Because I was like him too. I am.
So yes. I am made of flesh, bones, blood, venlafaxine and clonezapan. My truth cannot be seen. As well as yours. And it takes some guts to face the loneliness of your wounds to acknowledge with LOVE the components of your life — the good and the bad. I have nobody to blame for me being me. I am myself my own experiment and I choose to live through what resonates as true to me.
I have my mom, I have my grandma. I am the Feminine and the Masculine. Because those crazy women I once denied in my life, were the ones that kept the men, the kids, the LIFE of our family and beyond. They were the ones for the rescue. And I am blessed for each little part of them I carry within.
So if you are going through the same shit, if you too have this everyday pills to take, and everyday judgment to face, count on me. Keep going. Share your story. Do not isolate yourself. Do not keep secrets. We are all colorful beings. We are all experimenting Life somehow. We are all experimenting Love somehow. And learning. With or without medication. Everyday is a new day to research our own private formula. And this search is beautiful. Cherish that. I now do.