So I need to admit some things in order to come to terms with them. Meaning, it’s late night confession time.
I am in a panic. I am crying alone in my room. So you know it’s the perfect setting for a late night blogodrama.
The main confession begins with the realization that I’m dealing with an unexpected bought of post-graduation depression. The minor confessions are the fears that have culminated around the existence of said depression.
I came into my main realization just tonight, as I began to open up to Juj about some of the scary things I’ve been feeling, and not talking about, lately.
Before I even finish my second sentence Juj interrupts me and says, “It’s totally the post-graduation depression phase.”
And as soon as the words escape her mouth I feel a thousand pounds of stress fall from my shoulders. She’s hit the nail on the head. And it’s a thing. It’s a thing so common that even people like Juj, who seem so well put together, have heard of it.
Jesus Christ, it might even be a cliche.
I was so relieved when she opened up to me about her own bought of depression after graduating from college. But I was also afraid because I knew this meant I would have to go through the all-familiar steps of coping with a depression. And her process took about two years. And I know the first step would be admitting it, which is always the most embarrassing.
Well…here it goes.
I remember hearing stories of kids getting depressed after high school graduation and scoffing at the epidemic. They were the worst of the popular kids who played a lot of after school sports and went to the born-again church some Sundays and were obnoxious in class and constantly remembered to remind me that they forgot my name. And at the time when I heard about these kids going through post-graduation depressions I didn’t feel bad for them. I didn’t understand why someone would want to look back at their high school years and dwell any longer than necessary. That kind of depression was reserved for the saddest cases in life: the early bloomers. People that would spend the rest of their lives trying to relive high school.
Not me. I was bound for glory- for the slow and steady unfurling of what was destined to be the biggest and greatest of flowers. I was going to be a writer, duh. It was my calling.
Of course, all these thought patterns took place subconsciously and at the time I had very little awareness of them.
You see, I’ve heard about depression my entire life. My best friend even warned that I might have a tinge of depression, like, two weeks ago. I’ve gone through it and I’ve gotten better. But I never expected that it would hit me now, in what is supposed to be my post-graduation high. Not until Juj basically called it.
And yet here I am, with the world sitting in my palm, and my hands are sweating. I’m making new life plans every week and following through with none of them. Here I am procrastinating on everything, scraping by with the bare minimum and dreading the weight of the future. I want to climb back into my comfort bubble, beg for my old job at the co-op, and hole up in the same party house as before. I want to give the real world my middle finger and disappear entirely.
Here I am chasing my feelings away and masking them with distractions like food and alcohol. Here I am, slowly sinking into settling.
I have gained weight, and I’ve isolated my unhappiness to my job life. But it’s beginning to bleed out.
I’ve moved, I’ve sent out countless resumes, and I’ve closed the book entirely on my college days.
Who needs those friends, that first love, that morning-cafe-bike routine? I’m ready for the real world, for a cubicle, for the horizon.
And then somewhere between accepting my first writing award and taking my first office job, I hit a wall. It suddenly hit me that my entire life lay ahead of me, unplanned. That I may actually be a mid-way bloomer. That I may have already bloomed and now all that was left was the slow and steady detachment of my peddles, the eventual bruising of my stem and bristling of my roots.
And while the idea of freedom had thrilled me pre-graduation, it now looms over me. And I have done something I never thought I would ever see myself doing: hesitating. I am still hesitating. I am still making excuses.
And in that split second when I hesitated for the first time, at my crucial moment of truth, I saw the entire world looking at me, waiting, saying “what are you waiting for?” And it was all a very terrible sequel of Eminem’s “8 Mile” memoir. Suddenly I was timid and backpedaling, running for backstage.
Will I miss my moment at the mic? Has the curtain already closed?
You see, I’m not looking to be alright. I’m not asking for contentment (the subtitle of this blog mocks me now). I’m not looking to give up on the act and take a job at the local quicky mart or high-rise office and call it good. I can’t give up on everything I spent all those years working towards and believing in. I still have faith in the strength of the struggle, in the sunshine of recovery. I’d built myself a creed of creativity and beauty and internal motivation, of passion and critical thought and wise, thorough judgment. I believed in what I wrote and there was so much passion in what I did, even if I was tearing myself apart.
And now what? Does the “real world” care about my essay on chaos theory? My killer examination of the contemporary apocalypse novel? My subtle observations of sexuality and other interpersonal nuances? My real life application of the blazone for dissecting and disarming gender stereotypes? The billions of things I’ve learned about love and life’s ultimate meanings? All the big things seem lost in something much, much smaller. And yet the silence of the vastness is deafening.
For a while I hid in my little studio and worked. I still did a mediocre job on my reporting, wallowed in self pity most of the day, but at least I was pouring myself into something. I did everything without feeling. My writing became technical, formulaic, and bland. Now, I can hardy recognize my voice in my articles and all my dreams are strange and graphic.
I was lucky that I even got a job. Sure, it’s part time but it’s a bonafide job by society’s standards. Respectable. Moving in with Jenn was a slight improvement. There were people around to distract me from my rut.
My new job as a real freelancer, making real freelance money, proved a further blessing. I was a paid writer before I even walked the graduation plank. I never in my life expected that would actually come true, that dream, and now that I have the platform I’ve always wanted, I find myself begging to step down, kicking and screaming through the routine act. Oh God, it’s almost too cliche to admit. But here it is, as real and captivating as my first good poem.
And as if that alone were not enough ingredients to simulate happiness, the universe nudges me Chris and I find a best friend and a love all at once. Just as I’d begun to give up on love.
Last night, I laid wide awake all night next to Chris just fighting off a breakdown. I can’t keep ignoring this but I’m not sure how to balance it. I don’t want to watch our momentum die down. I don’t want to taint this relationship with some slow and toxic emotional cancer. I don’t want to purge my depression onto us.
I literally have everything I have asked for. And yet I am restless, unmotivated, and angry. I have moments when I am uncontrollably neurotic and I feel insane. Moments later I’m elated. Afterward, I am disengaged and exhausted.
And I’ve been feeling this way since before December. I’ve been feeling this way since college actually ended for me, which was this past summer when I moved to Sacramento to swear off college life and get a real job as a reporter. I spent winter quarter, my last quarter, seething at my professors from behind my desk. Classes were hours wasted, better spent on completing my deadlines.
And as the same anxious feelings have followed me regardless of the positive changes that have happened in my life, it’s just now starting to dawn on me that I might actually be depressed.
And this comes as news to me because I never expected to feel this way but also because I hate admitting it. It’s so cliche. It’s so self righteous, to be depressed for no reason. To be depressed because you have somehow accomplished too much and are bored and fearful for your future. It’s just so selfish. This kind of depression is reserved for rich white people who are bored enough to indulge such feelings.
Yet, everyone seems depressed these days. There’s so much violence around midtown I’m actually afraid to walk home at night. People seem obsessed, some excited, with the idea of the zombie apocalypse. Doomsday theories have gained recognition by some of the most prestigious news outlets, as if we now accept that this generation will be our last.
And yet there is no denying the constant fear I have harbored that this restlessness, this anger and sadness, will ruin what I’ve always seen as my two sole functions in the world, no matter how impermanent that world may be: to write and love well.
Writing has long been my solace. Faced by a zombie apocalypse, I wouldn’t care so much as I could write about it and write well. I can’t help but feel hopeless wandering where all my essays and stories and poems have gone. What do they matter now that they are packed away somewhere, collecting dust. Was it really just a whim? An indulgence? Does the world really have no use for my myriad theories and inspirations? All that existential theorizing. All those epiphanies that kept me up till sunset? Those 4 am ramblings on ideas I can hardly recall now? Those crazed and passionate frenzies that took my breath away and sent me soaring? Were they really fleeting?
I can’t accept that my English degree is going to restrict me to dull office work. I cannot accept mediocrity. I cannot sacrifice passion for practicality. And yet I fear that this mindset, this hopelessness, will take me straight to where I don’t want to be. I fear that my tendency to disengage and give up will jeopardize my job as a reporter and my relationship with Chris.
I dream constantly that I am in the circus and I laugh to myself in anticipation of the night I finally take to the tight rope.
Freud would have a hay day with that one.
I fear that I will let fall away the two most important things in my life: writing and love.
My love of writing.
I am afraid of so many things. And I am writing about them now as a way of acknowledging their existence, in hopes that by acknowledging what’s going I will help to make it better. I am writing about all of this not because I am hopeless but in an effort to preserve/rekindle some amount of hope. Because I want to spread awareness and because I want to expel the junk that’s clogging up my heart and brain. Because I am going to explode if I don’t write out this crying fit. If I don’t purge this giant hairball that is plugging the suction tube in my vacuum of life.
Ah, you see, it’s not all bad. There’s still some humor left in me, after all.
But alas, back to the fears.
It scares me that I fall asleep crying when I fall asleep alone. It scares me that I want to run away from everything right now, knowing full well that what I have right now is exactly what I need.
It scares me that I no longer care enough to do the things I know I should do, to carpe the diem. It scares me that I have so much to lose and feel powerless in controlling the situation. That I have settled for sub-standard reporting and extended deadlines. I am disappointed. I am ashamed. I am confused. I am denying myself feelings. Am I apathetic because I have put all my eggs into the wrong basket and journalism just isn’t my destiny? Or am I apathetic because I am depressed and as a result I cannot fulfill my destiny?
It scares me that I’m holding the world in my hands and my first reaction is to drop it and run.
It scares me that I am writing this, that I am rambling and telling the truth. I am afraid of who will read it. I am afraid of Chris’ reaction to it. I am afraid that I am letting go of my veil. That I am coming into an understanding of what might be wrong with me, and that I may have to go through it entirely alone.
But this is me. And I have always known it. This is where my strength is, in battling these invisible wars. I have these scars and tendencies and neuroses. These things are me and I am responsible to express them as I am responsible for my part of the global dialogue of the human experience.
Lofty, but true.
And then there is the idea that by acknowledging all of this I have already begun the recovery process. And then there is the idea that I am good at recovery, that my revolution may be just around the corner.
It also infuriates me that nobody prepares people for this. A simple Google search has brought me countless articles on post-graduation depression and did I hear a single thing about it while I was in school? No. I was given a very expensive piece of paper and sent on my way. I was dismissed. And now I wonder why the world cares so much about college if it’s just going to dismiss everything it teaches you as soon as you graduate. Why does the world recognize a degree that only half prepares people for its expectations and then why are we dumped into the system when the operators are fully expecting the majority of us to fall into one of the hundreds of intentional chasms carved deliberately into the desert-life metaphor like minerals out of mines. After all, there can only be so many people at the top.
I refuse to accept the reality of the mechanism. I want to believe in my ability to create the life I dream of. I want to believe in the reality of that dream, not the reality of those that gave up on their dreams before me. Not the reality created by others in order for them to cope with the forfeiture of their own dreams.
So what is stopping me? And when will it leave me alone?
And when will I really fly again?