On False Starts, Melancholy, the Old Order Amish, and Pippa’s Procedure

Somedays I feel like taking off running into the woods. I’d go barefoot and not even bother to put on a coat. Maybe I’d scream as I went, some sort of crazy reflection of how much I needed to get away. I’m not even sure what I’d do once I got there, but I wouldn’t be here dealing with all of this, and that’s all that really matters. But then I remember that running into the woods would require actually leaving my room and wearing something other than flannel nightgowns marketed to the over fifty crowd, so I just switch to reading about the Old Order Amish or something else that’s entirely mind-numbing and distracting.

You see, when you’re depressed, just emerging from your covers is some sort of feat. And then to make it down the stairs and into the kitchen makes you deserving of some sort of medal. But today I managed not only to get out of bed, but to eat a (albeit entirely liquid) breakfast and to bike five miles to therapy and back because today I was going “get my stinkin’ act together and get things done.”

Then, I nearly got run over by an overly aggressive bus driver, and my two-hour long romance with becoming a productive and mostly happy member of society was over. It was a rather bad dumping, and it took over two hours of reading about Herman Cain and fuming about the GOP to be able to somewhat recover. Then, I ate a Heath Bar and contemplated the healthiness of a non-solid diet. Because just eating things like soup and yogurt would be totally doable in my world.

The rest of the day continued to be a series of false starts. “Okay, three, two, one, GO!” I would say and then not get up and go do the thing I planned. I just couldn’t do it. Everything was leaden and lethargic and I just wanted nothing more than to sleep. I didn’t even have the energy to read anything that wasn’t nonfiction. And that, my fine feathered friends, is saying a lot.

But then the cats needed to be fed and the laundry needed doing. (I’m in the process of perfecting my recipe for making white clothing even whiter.) So I finally, finally, finally left my bed and slunk downstairs with as much enthusiasm as a tired sloth (something that despite the words’ initial appearance, is not redundant).

And now it is much, much later and I’m just as melancholy. No one else is awake so I may start cracking jokes to the cats, namely Maxwell who has made it his life goal to sleep or sit on my feet all day long. If I had enough energy, I’d make some joke about how even though I had cold feet when it came time to do things, they were actually quite toasty thanks to the cat. Only I’d make it funny. Like stand-up comedy funny. And then everyone would laugh and I would be mostly content to happy forever and ever, and everyone would drink orange juice and eat organic no-sugar-added applesauce, mangos, and real (none of that “instant” or Jello junk) chocolate pudding for the rest of their days.

But tomorrow is going to be different. When I yell “GO!” things will actually happen. And if I feel like running off into the woods just to get away, I’m going to do it. Only I’ll probably wear shoes and a coat because it’s getting kind of cold out now.

In other news, dearest, darling, Pippa has an endoscopy tomorrow. She’s going to be under general anesthesia for upwards of six hours while they stick all sorts of things down her throat, and then she’ll stuck in bed for quite a while after that. Hopefully, we’ll finally get to the bottom of what’s happening with her stomach, and they’ll figure out whether they need to put in a pacemaker. I’ve sent her many pictures of our cats, and she’s said that if she dies, I will get all of her clothes. There wasn’t any word about the future of her bedspread, but I fully plan on keeping it in my possession no matter how she comes out of this procedure. Alive, dead, zombie, reincarnated chicken, she’s not getting it back (until she asks for it and I reluctantly return it).

(To be clear: Pippa’s test is a totally routine procedure, and there is an incredibly, incredibly, incredibly microscopic chance that she will die. Somehow, we’ve both found it amusing, calming, and helpful to joke about the seriousness of it. A little levity makes anything in life easier.)

For the month, you can find me updating my word count on NaNoWriMo here. (I need to do it more regularly so that it doesn’t become flat for a few days, only to receive an enormous spike, indicating that I somehow magically wrote about twelve thousand words in one day.)

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

A Lousy Week and That Time Ella Made Pippa Be a Groom for Halloween

I’ve been having a very lousy week so far.

Like only wearing pajamas lousy.

Also not getting out of bed all day lousy.

And not cleaning anything up lousy.

Just lousy.

So I’ve been drowning my sorrows in cold organic applesauce (none of that sugar added junk for me), cornbread, orange juice, and miniature Snickers bars. It’s not a very healthy diet.

I’ve been doing lots of writing (and forgetting to update my word count on my NaNoWriMo account), but everything else has been entirely neglected as I stare at walls and cry.

And after that major suckage, let’s have a funny story and picture.

When I was five, I was very into marriage. But I wasn’t into it in the way that most little kids were. I was into the idea of marriage and officiating fake marriages for other kids and had no interested in getting “married” myself. I was just absolutely fascinated by how fickle my classmates’ relationships were. Marital status seemed to change every five minutes and did not at all reflect what I saw in actual marriage among adults.

Yet despite all of that, I was intent upon being a bride for Halloween. Aznd I needed a groom to complete the picture.

And that’s where Pippa factored into the equation. You see, three-year-old sisters are nothing if not good at being talked into things. So Pippa got dressed up in a little tux, and my father used my mother’s eyeliner (without asking, may I add) to draw her a goatee. I wore an actual wedding dress my mother purchased at a consignment shop that she pinned up so that I wouldn’t be constantly tripping and a lot of white tulle stitched to a white headband. Then, my father put on his white tuxedo (I will never understand why he decided that he needs both a white one and a black one) and took us trick-or-treating. Everyone thought Pippa was a boy, and it was hilarious.

The end.

As always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

As It Turns Out, Eighteen Doesn’t Feel Any Different

Today has been one of those perfect beach days. I got up early and took a shower outdoors while the air was still clouded with fog. Stupidly, I left my towel in the back hall, and had to put my pajamas back on while I was still soaking wet. I marched my way back into the house, the grass sticking to my ankles and feet, feeling pretty defeated. Walking around in wet clothing with your hair deshelved is not a very elegant way of inaugerating being eighteen.

But things quickly got better. I dunked oat squares in lemon yogurt and drank a glass of orange juice, trying to see if I could keep the pulp out my mouth by making a sieve with my teeth. Then, I went out to the porch to talk to my grandmother and aunt and stare wistfully at my presents. I was really give maturity a run for its money.

We finally got around to present opening, and there were sun dresses from Free People, pretty cards, more clothes, a beautiful blue wooden box with a scarf inside, checks, books, and iTunes gift certificates. Tied for first place with the dresses was a poem by Mary Oliver that my aunt wrote out and backed on gorgeous blue paper.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I’m going to have to reorganize my bulletin boards at home to fit this in. It’s lovely, and I plan on memorizing it. That way, I’ll have more happy and beautiful things to repeat to myself when I’m bored or sad.

The house still needs cleaning from having been closed up all winter, so all five of us attacked the living room. All the furniture was pulled out from the walls and every picture, bowl, shell, doohickey, etc was dusted by my aunt and me. Then, I rearranged the mantle so that everything was in height order. As much as this makes me feel happy and organized, it kind of looks wonky and needs fixing. Clearly, I do not have a future in candlestick and trinket arranging.

I ate a goat’s cheese and roast beef sandwich for lunch, which is not a combination I would recommend. However, it’s still above eating Provolone cheese (the spawn of the devil), my other option. I did homework, sent in my voter registration forms, and fooled around until dinner. We ate at my favorite restaurant in town, and I ordered poorly. Scallops in cream sauce with bacon over fettucini seemed like a really great idea until it was right before me and screaming, “I AM PROBABLY OVER A THOUSAND CALORIES!” in my face. I just ate my mango salad and dubiously poked at it for the next hour.

And in the way that poor meals typically go, I ended up feeling so depressed that we just went home after eating. I had been planning on having my all-time-favorite-best-ever Milky Way ice cream for dessert to celebrate but even getting up to walk to the car felt like a chore. We drove home and watched the Bruins beat Tampa and the Red Sox beat Detroit as my dad periodically yelled at good plays, and my grandmother laughed.

Later, I pretended to officiate a church service while wearing a UConn snuggie backwards, and my dad and I went for a walk through the fog. Drops of water dripped down from the condensation on the leaves as we meandered down the roads near the beach. Maybe one night it will be so clear we can see the Milky Way. But I like how it is now, the way I feel cosy and enclosed in the safety of the house. Nothing can hurt me here. Going to sleep should be easy.

Today more than ever I felt loved. People kept texting me, and relatives called to sing Happy Birthday. It is so easy to forget experiences like today when I’m overrun with emotions. I am blessed, and I have a good life. Pain is always fleeting.

So here’s to another year of my life. Let’s see how it goes.

On General Unhappiness

Somedays the world around me becomes so overwhelming that I just want to crawl into bed and pretend that all the pressure doesn’t exist. Putting a pillow over your head and wiggling your way down so that the covers go over your neck creates a nice soft noise-dulling barrier for crying, and the cats will always come sit on the end of the bed.

At least I have a system for being miserable.

Small Victories

Whenever I feel like my challenges are innumerable and have no will left in me to fight, I need to remember that this too will pass. Today was pretty rough, but I didn’t have a panic attack on the bathroom floor like I did every night in February, and I didn’t spend all week in bed à la December and January.

On Stage-Managing Sadness

Last night and this afternoon, I ushered for our school’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” And while it was fun to hang out with Sadie and Jacob, I couldn’t help but feel like I was wearing a sign across my front that said failure.

I didn’t stage manage this show or last year’s musical, and I also had to drop out of the drama and Showcase half-way through Junior year. I’ve become some sort of washed up, pathetic former stage-manager, and it sucks.

There is no way that I could have stage-managed a show, kept up with school, and maintained some degree of sanity. No way at all. And I know it. I know it very well. Showcase this fall was disaster on many, many counts some of which were my fault and most of which were not, and going through it again would create bad repercussions.

Stage-managing was supposed to be something that I did with Cecelia. Something that I was good at. Something that was fun. Something that would make me special and define me. And like so many other things in my life, it hasn’t.

I am inadequate.

I cannot keep up with my peers.

I am not the person I want to be or planned to be.

I am a small, despicable person.

But I am still me, and I still have the future. Years and years of potential. As long as I don’t screw up.

So I try to wrap my hope around me and let that failure go. I have Jacob and Sadie to hang out with. I have people to direct to the bathroom. I have concessions to sell. I have people to stop from bringing food into the theatre. And I find that it’s enough. Enough to pull me through.

When I go back for the second weekend of shows on Friday, I refuse to wallow in self-pity. I have job to do, and I will do that job well. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find time to laugh without any sadness left in me.

On Looking Forward to the Summer

Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on pictures like this one, instead of all the stress and unhappiness. It isn’t going so well.

I really wish I was at the beach right now.

On Sad Ruminations

Today, I went to school for the second day in a row–something that I’m supposedly supposed to celebrate. (They call me a “writer” because of word choices like that.) As I sat in the Large Group Instruction room this morning, choosing my next elective (the history of the 2000s), I was met the overwhelming disappointment that my “celebrations of achievement” are all just living up to the norm. They’re nothing exemplary at all.

No one else gets high-fives for attending class or not crying. But I do, because I’m different. And that different hurts. It hurts so much. That different makes me feel entirely alone a lot of the time. It makes me awkward, unwieldy, scary. I’m not like the rest. I don’t fit in. People don’t know how to respond to me, and I don’t know how to respond to them.

I know that everyone is insecure, even the people that I idolize, but I am sure that this suspicion of awkwardness is well grounded in fact. I miss pop-culture references. It takes me minutes or days to figure out dirty jokes. “What’s the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts? One’s a dollar fifty, the other’s under a buck.” left me confused for about a week. (As it turns out the joke is not about deer poop, as I initially thought after two days’ reflection.) I tend to repeat things, ask abstract questions (Do you ever think that people would still like you if they could see inside of your brain? Do you ever think about how abstract the concept of money is? Isn’t our ability to communicate amazing?), or just have no idea how to talk to someone (Namely, boys. I really suck at talking to boys. They’re intimidating, and rarely seem to like me.).

So it’s nights like tonight that leave me thinking: Will I ever be independent? Will I ever leave home? Will I ever go to college? Will I ever be loved by someone else? Will I ever get married? Will I ever be able to have children? Will I ever be halfway normal?

Somedays, like today, I would do anything to be taken off of all of these brand new medications and to go back to January or December when I spent weeks in bed. Sure, I was horribly, horribly depressed, but I owned my brain. I didn’t forget where I was or wander around the hallway in circles for half an hour wondering where I was supposed to be or what I was doing. I didn’t feel like I was floating or that I was actually hovering above my own head, looking at the world with a bird’s eye view. I didn’t feel as I do now, as if I am caught on a boat, being gently pushed by waves, leg muscles constantly shifting to maintain balance. I’ve got a royal case of “sea-legs” which hasn’t halted for weeks, and it scares me. It really, really does. The knowledge that this is how the rest of my life will be is terrifying and makes me incredibly unhappy.

And as my thoughts spiral and I start to sob, I think about how my classmates don’t know how lucky they are. How incredibly, incredibly lucky. They are all leaving for college next year. They have beautiful, rosy futures. They have lives that don’t revolve around doctors’ visits. They’ve never spent time in a psych ward or months in outpatient clinics. I don’t think they know how much I am jealous of them and how very much I admire them. Those incredibly lucky and wonderful people are why I fought to go back to my high school and not to some therapeutic boarding school; they’re why I try to go to school every day; they’re why I love my classes so much; they’re why a lot of this pain is worth it. I’m going to miss them so much when they all leave. So, so much.

But despite all of this, I have my courage, and I have my hope. I must stop crying, and I must begin my work once more. I am determined to force the answers to my questions to become “yes.”

Post-Debate Syndrome

Today, like most days following long stressful trips, was a “dark day.” I stayed in bed, feeling depressed, reading Wikipedia, and staring at the walls from seven in the morning until three when I left for therapy. The grey cloud of sadness drifted nearer and began making ominous thundering sounds in the late afternoon while I watched Youtube videos about various charities and quietly cried.

It’s night now, my back is throbbing, and I’m ready to go to sleep. Getting out of bed again, let alone going to school, seems almost impossible, but I’ve got my Penn tee shirt draped over my desk chair, cheering me on, and I will not accept defeat. Besides, if I am capable enough to win a Golden Gavel, I can certainly make it up the front steps of school tomorrow morning.

Ella the Oversized Lab Rat

I missed school today after having attended for nine straight days. Last night, I had another really bad, vivid dream from the Geodon that woke me up at four a.m., and by the time for getting up to go to school rolled around, I became convinced that if I got anywhere near the train tracks, I would be hit and killed. After a minor freak out, I went back to sleep. To continue this series of unfortunate events, I woke up in a panic at nine, thinking that I was about to drown in the ocean and that I was in trouble for not protecting a little kid well enough.

This morning wasn’t my finest moment.

However, I was able to climb out of bed and get a lot of work done. I finished my homework on Shakespeare’s sonnets (five pages!) and spent some more time outlining my thesis. Hopefully, “Kate Chopin: Feminist or Liberationist?” is going to be a work to rival the Iliad and Grapes of Wrath. At the very least, it’ll be as good as The Baby-Sitter’s Club: Kristy’s Great Idea (a book I’ve never read, but I feel that I can accurately assume it’s worth). I’ve already got a legal pad full of notes, a binder with around twenty marked-up critical essays, and six pages of pre-writing.

Sadly, things weren’t exactly looking up. I started a new medication called Oxcarbazepine/Trileptal on Friday, and it’s been making me feel funny. Funny in a I-really-don’t-feel-normal-or-like-myself sort of way. It’s not enjoyable and led to a near full-blown panic attack on Saturday. Thankfully, my Dad put on my favorite movie, Miracle, and I calmed down.

On days like today, I just feel like an oversized lab rat. Every time I go to the psychiatrist my medication changes, as we continue in our quest to find the perfect chemical cocktail. Let’s see how Ella’s liver metabolizes this! Let’s see how her brain reacts to that! We accidentally sedated her? Whoops!

During therapy, we worked on a plan for me to be “my own best advocate” and to “own my body” (which totally sounds like it belongs on a NOW campaign poster for women’s empowerment) when speaking to the psychiatrist about my adverse reactions. Unfortunately, I know that if I can’t tolerate this medication, then electric shock therapy is left uncomfortably close to the top of the list. And no matter how intimidated I am by diplomas from medical school and dislike this new medication, I’d take it any day over ECT.

In the car home, I tried to broach the subject with my mother. That discussion did not go well, and I was told, “You just need to be patient. It’ll improve.” I sat in the car and cried while she and Pippa went into the grocery store to pick up seltzer. I just want my head back. I want my thoughts to be solely mine. I want to know that when I look down at my body that I am the one controlling it.

It’s evening now, and I’m sitting on my bed, surrounded by cats, full of hope that things will improve. Because things have to. I refuse to believe that the world is a cruel place.