I was always a moody kid. I was easily hurt and cried a lot.
For a couple of years in high school, I threw up anything I ate before school. I discussed it with some people and concluded it was a "nervous stomach." In reality, I wouldn't have eaten anything at all, ever, if I hadn't been so afraid of my parents throwing me in some treatment facility. I stayed healthy for fear of what would happen to me if I didn't. How's that for backward logic? Whatever works, I suppose.
In college, if I didn't have a class, I could stay in my dorm room for days on end, sometimes without eating. Nobody around to stop me anymore. I could be as self-destructive as I liked.
Funny how I never got into punk music. Those kids were into suicide though, and I never went that far. At least, they sang about suicide and death all the time. Maybe it was pretense. I was into Broadway and pop music, all about empowerment and fun and true love. That was my pretense.
At the end of Streetcar Named Desire, when Blanche is taken away by the people in white coats, Stella cries in Stanley's arms. I always imagined her knees buckling as she did this, and Stanley holding her up by hugging her against his chest. As she cries, Stanley says "Now now love, now love..." As though there hadn't been before. As though they had been waiting for it, all this time. Tennessee Williams describes her sobbing as "luxurious." As though she finally is allowed the luxury of collapse.
Everyone always said I should have played Blanche, but I would have made a great Stella.
I don't like being around people who cry all the time, who insist on being the center of attention all the time, who need to be felt sorry for, who wallow in their victimhood. I can't stand it. Go home, I want to tell them, go home to your apartment and cry there. Go to your therapist, your Mom or your ex-boyfriend or whoever your issue is with, but NOT HERE.
I mean, that's what I did.
Ever since Dwight Whats-his-name in college told me that I didn't seem to be trying very hard to get over my breakup with that fat kid... can't remember his name either. It was a stupid, reckless relationship that ended badly. And I cried a lot, not over the loss of it, but mostly just for feeling stupid and foolish and lost. And I was out with Sue and Dwight, and I was mopey all day, and probably talking about it a lot. And at some point Dwight made some comment about me not wanting to get past it. "Are you crazy?" I said, "Of course I want to feel better!" "Well, you don't seem to be trying very hard," he said.
So ever since that day in 1992, I've been hiding my grief, hiding my tears, at least, trying to hide the worst of it. Oh, don't get me wrong, I do talk freely about my problems, and when something happens, I do cry on the shoulders of friends. But not for very long. I make sure I don't pollute the atmosphere any longer than I think is socially acceptable. It's only fair to others. And, for my part, it keeps me from becoming emotionally self-destructive.
All that changes when you get married.
Now, all of a sudden, there's someone CONSTANTLY there. My living space will ALWAYS have another person in it, the SAME person, for the rest of my life. Where am I going to go now? I don't have that Depression Room anymore, where I can just hole up for days on end in that state of pseudo-death. In he comes, and he sees me, and he's concerned. And sometimes he's worried, almost scared. And other times, especially after a certain amount of time has passed, he's irritated, frustrated, downright pissed off. Not again... I see it in his face. The same look my father would get after dealing with my mother, a sort of sad resignation, and a profound tiredness.
It's hard to make a life with a depressive.
It's never easy to be depressed, but some circumstances make it easier to deal with. Living alone, I don't have to worry about polluting anyone's home but my own. Maintaining short-term relationships means nobody has to deal with too much of my fallout. Living in New York City, there are endless distractions and cover-ups, even in daylight. I had a nice bag of tricks, and life didn't suck.
But move to the suburbs, to a town that rolls up its streets at 9pm, and share a one-bedroom apartment with the same person for three years? With the knowledge that this person will be there for the rest of your life?
When my mother was 37 years old, I was 11. It was a terrible, terrible year for me. I was awkward and gangly, and full of yearnings. I was a total dork at school. I had crushes on boys. I liked school but hated the kids who picked on me mercilessly in the cruel way that children do. I kept amazing journals full of adolescent fantasies and passions. And my mother screamed and yelled at me all the time.
Things only got worse between my Mom and I. by the time I was 14, I was so sick of being afraid of her that I finally told her I didn't love her anymore. And I meant it too. Of course I realized after awhile that I did love her, and that I always did, but that it was hard to define my feelings for her. She made my life hell, but she was my mother, and there were times when she was wonderful. It was complicated, and I was just too young.
I'm not sure when she started the Prozac, but she has been a different person ever since, and our relationship has improved. It's incredible how we've talked about everything we did to each other, and worked it all through. I've released most of my resentment (hey, there was a lot). But it took a very, very long time. And for me, the damage is done. I still react strangely to things, as a result of how I grew up. I still have an inordinate inability to trust. I have become incredibly private in certain ways.
Sayeth the blogger, haha. I'm so far from Emily Gould, I have like 5, 6 readers, and the New York Times is NOT calling. Blah blah blah. The internet is a crowd of thousands - easy to be invisible.
So this post is about how my Mom was violently depressive when I was growing up, and for all of my adult life, I've been self-destructively depressive. And now, I want to have children. And I want my husband to be HAPPY married to me.
So maybe this time, it's time to do something differently.
I had a good, long talk with my OB/GYN last Thursday morning. I don't know how it happened. Well, maybe I do - she commented on my very short hair. "I'm having an identity crisis," I joked. "Really?" she asked. "Why is that?" And I sort of froze. No snappy comeback. I mumbled something about my job. And we were off.
I couldn't help but shed a tear or two. Not enough to run my mascara. But I was talking so much about how unfulfilled I am. It was ridiculous, it was embarrassing, hearing myself say those things. "I never expected being married to make me happy," I said. "A husband, no matter how great, will never bring about inner fulfillment for me. That's going to have to come from something else."
We talked so long, I began to feel guilty for keeping her from her other patients. "I'm sorry," I said, "This is not why I came here today!" "You need to talk," she said simply. "You're clearly depressed."
A brilliant psychologist once told me that my depression wasn't from a chemical imbalance, it was from having shitty situations in my life. My grandmothers were dying. I was divorcing. I had a shitty roommate. My best friend moved back to Korea. My job sucked ass. I had PLENTY of reasons to be depressed! SSRI's would do nothing for that. I felt so empowered by this realization. It led me to do a lot of things differently. For awhile, I led a very rich life.
Then I moved to Nyack.
I hate it here.
No. I'm off track. Get back.
My doctor said, "I hear you saying things like 'there's no point in trying,' and 'I don't believe anything's ever going to get any better...'"
I buried my face in my hands. "Oh god," I said, "Listen to myself. You're so right. I'm saying all the classic depressive lines." I stared at my feet.
I told my OB that story, about how the cure for my depression lay in changing my life so that I had good friends, good activities, a job I felt great about doing, etc. I did those things. I let go of some toxic friendships, I took part in a women's spirituality group, I went to massage school.
I'm still miserable. I'm not singing, and everything else is just whiskey.
I have to accept that this dream of mine is dead. It's over, and I have to let it go. I'm married now, and my body is SCREAMING to have a child. I'm not going to be a nightclub singer. I'm going to be a Mom.
I don't want to be a Mom like my Mom was. Like my aunt Delores was. I don't want my family to be poisoned by the resentment that seeps through my pores. I don't want my children to take second place in my life, behind my obsession with my failed dream. I don't want my husband to become my punching bag, like my dad did for my Mom. I don't want to drive everyone away. I don't want my kids' friends to feel sorry for them, like my friends felt sorry for me, for having a crazy mom.
What would my adolescence have been like if my Mom had started SSRI's when I was eleven?
My doctor and I discussed Zoloft. "I could write you a prescription, but I don't know how appropriate that would be," she said. "I don't think I'm ready for that yet," I said. I want to keep trying external things first.
Singing isn't the first love I've had to let go. It's not the first obsession that threatened to wreck my future. It's not the first time a vision of who I wanted to be has driven me to drink. I've been in this hole before. I got out of it last time.
I asked my husband if our health insurance came with an EAP. He asked what I was looking for. "A psychiatrist," I said. So he goes on the computer and gets me all this information. It's a good plan. We're covered for a lot of visits.
He made a funny face. "I think you said you wanted a psychiatrist, as opposed to a psychologist?" He asked me. "Yeah," I said. "I'm not totally sure of the difference," he said. "Zoloft," I said.
It's scary, because I don't remember exactly how I got out of the hole before. I do remember it hurt like hell. Something in me died. But I did it, I got out. And then other parts of me sprang to life. And the dead part sloughed away. Life renews.
I tried an SSRI once before. It was a fascinating experience, and I learned alot about myself in those three months. I tried it for a very specific adjustment that I had to make. Once I made the adjustment, I stepped myself down off the meds. The side effects were AWFUL. I decided right then and there that I never wanted to be on any kind of med that was that difficult to get off of.
I know my Mom will have to be on Prozac for the rest of her life. But she's in her 60's!! I'm not even 40 yet!! I don't want to be on anything for the rest of my life - not starting NOW!
But... maybe my Mom should have been? And maybe, just maybe, I should open myself to the idea that this is the help I've been needing?
I want to do this for them. For my husband and children.
My doctor and I talked about how, with your serotonin levels balanced, you can better deal with life as it is. It puts you on a more even keel, so you can then assess your situation, make decisions, and take action. And that, THAT is what I want to do for me.
So maybe this time... nothing inside me needs to die. Maybe this time, I try the meds.
I'm calling a psychiatrist Monday morning, and we'll see what he has to say.