Getting out of the bell jar

Photo by Jessica Owen

This same essay was written and rewritten about a thousand times here. And it has been written and rewritten a thousand times more in my own head. But there’s just that moment where you have to open up your heart, or your feeling will eat you up like hot lava.

I was diagnosed with Recurrent Depressive Disorder about two years ago, and most recently, with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Depression makes you don’t care about anything, while anxiety makes you care too much about everything. So I think you get the idea of how tiring having both is. You don’t want to get out of bed because there’s no strength to face the world out there, but you believe that if you don’t go to work and take care of business, you’ll lose your job, drown in debt, screw up your whole family until you are all living in the streets. When you least expect, you’re hyperventilating and thinking about how you could survive as a homeless person, and you didn’t even got out of bed yet.

I never want to talk about it, but after revisiting “Bell Jar”, by the brilliant Sylvia Plath, I just thought I should. When I first read the book, I read it with the disdain that only a 18 year-old college student could. Thinking how spoiled the main character was. That she didn’t need to act out like that. Of course, that was a different me. A Tatiana who have never worked a day in her life, been through traumas that would scar her for life, that never lost anything. True loss. Reading the book nowadays, after an amazing review by one of my favorite authors, Tati Lopatiuk, I see myself in every line of that book. Esther is so real, so plausible and so… me. It hurts to see yourself in fiction. And it hurts to picture yourself going through all that and thinking if they still use shock therapy for depression patients or if there are refined retreats in my city. I bet they don’t. But getting out of the bell jar, just like one does out of the closet with their sexual identity, it seemed like the most viable option after reading about Esther.

When my psychologist filled in the forms for the health insurance with the CID for reccurent depression, I thought she was just being smart. Of course, if she worsen up my case, I could get more sessions. Not once occured to me that that was the real diagnosis. It was just a “fix” so I could have weekly sessions instead of monthly ones. A little white lie. It wasn’t, and finding out about it was the next step: when she asked me to look for a psychiatrist, because therapy wasn’t enough to heal me.

I went through a series of psychiatrists I didn’t like. They treated me coldly. My symptoms like crying facing day-to-day problems were seen just like a cough or a localized pain would. I might as well be talking to an endocrinologist or a heart doctor. Such a coldness I went to believe it was normal. When I finally saw a good doctor, that heard me, that let me open up about my feelings and fears for more than quick fifteen minutes, but about two hours, I saw what a real psychiatrist was. I don’t even have to tell you, but the medicine she gave me worked way better.

I have a constant fear of existing. I feel tired just having to live among people. I made up excuses, I lie a lot. No, I can’t go to your party, I have to work. No, I can’t get together, already made plans with my mom. Is it ugly? Yes, a lot. But it’s easier than going out and facing the world. I recently got to read a writer named Jenny Lawson, who describes that feeling with spoons. Every day, when we woke up, we get a supply of spoons. A spoonful to take a shower, another one to eat, another one to leave the house, another to talk to someone. It’s like someone with depression gets less spoons a day. So you have to get through the day with like, 5 or 6 spoons. If I take a spoon to take a shower, I can no longer get out. Maybe I can get a spoon to go to friend’s house, but then I won’t have another to go back home. It’s way harder, it costs more. And it bothers. Medicine helps, therapy helps, exercice helps. But not always.

The hardest part is that there’s no reasion for it. I’m not depressed because something happened, I didn’t had a panic attack at the subway station because something went wrong. It just happens, no reason behind it. And lots of times, your friends try to figure it out, and study your life through to solve it. Come on, let’s sit and review each aspect of your life and fix it. There’s no fix. It isn’t broken. It’s rotten. It has a kind of infiltration. No fix, just standing there, all wrong.

Even writing about it, I feel really bad about it again. Who’s going to read it?Who’ll care? But I do write, for you, that thinks just like that. You care. One of my favorite rappers, Emicida, sings in “Levanta e Anda”:

Irmão, você não percebeu que você é o único representante do seu sonho na face da terra?
Bro, haven’t you realised that you’re the only supporter of your dream in the face of the earth?

And it’s basically that. It hurts, it hurts a lot. Sometimes friends help. Just hugging you, saying they’re there. Getting your head away from the issues, making you smile. Getting you out of the numbness and getting you back into the real world. But holding yourself onto other people is very dangerous, because they’re not always there. It up to each and every one of us to find that inner strength. We won’t find it every day. Well, we won’t find it most days. But only one can climb out of that deep dark hole you got yourself into and get out. Only you can look at yourself in the mirror and choose to think “I’m awesome today” instead of looking for trouble. It’s a daily struggle. So get up and walk.