and because i am in pensive mood – yes, i can be pensive and angry simultaneously – here is an email i wrote this morning. i figured if i can send it to someone i don’t even know, i can post it here for y’all.
i would say “enjoy” but it’s not terribly enjoyable.
This will probably not be the weirdest email you’ve ever received, nor the most comforting, the most interesting, the longest, the shortest, or any of the superlatives.
It will, however, be an honest one from someone you don’t know, who was in a similar place to where you are now.
And no, not Illinois, although that too.
I had two false-starts with college. In my senior year of high school, when all of my friends were getting excited about going away, applying to schools, having appointments with their “career counselors”, I was hiding and lying to my mother. I never put in any applications anywhere.
So, fall came around and still no college for me. I hated myself for it, and that fall would always be remembered for my one, pathetic suicide attempt.
In December to pacify my mother I applied to UIC and got in, got a scholarship, and went in January. This lasted for four weeks. I stopped going to classes, spent all my time in the library where I would sneak around the catalog system and check email and telnet to MUDs.
My mother found out because I was living with her and not covering my tracks very well. One day I had become too profoundly depressed to get out of bed and my mom had come home early from work. There it was. We talked. More like: I talked, she screamed, she cried, I watched.
My dad, living in Pennsylvania (where I am from), offered his home to me, and a chance at college there where he teaches sociology. Seeing nothing left in Chicago for me, and nothing left with my mother, I went.
And was pretty happy for a few years.
And then false start #2.
I had a terrific beginning and was riding the high of being a part of a co-ed honor fraternity, plus active in the theatre department, plus having a great boyfriend and my own gorgeous dorm-room … all of it. And then something changed; to this day I don’t know what and it still bothers me. I stopped going to classes, stopped eating, stopped showering, stopped speaking to anyone. I would get online at dusk and logout when morning came, sleep the day away, and do it all over again.
My best friend, who lived just down the hall, would come to my room in the evenings to feed me and make sure I took a shower. She would literally lead me down the hall to the bathroom, and then to her room where she made kraft mac & cheese, coffee, and we would watch Jeopardy there, until I would feign tiredness and go back to my room. She saw through it. But what could she do?
Days were punctuated with my boyfriend stopping by, pressing his forehead against my door, calling my name softly, begging for me to talk to him or let him in or anything. Anything at all. Sometimes my dad and stepmom would stop by, on a weekend. They would bring coffee, fresh doughnuts, a little plant to keep me company.
I played Phil Collins’ “One More Night” on endless repeat to drown out the voices of my loved ones, to drown out the phone ringing.
As I write this, I am on the verge of crying, not in self-pity but in fear because I don’t know why that happened to me. It was totally illogical and it was without a doubt the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me. I had no self. I didn’t know who I was, where I was. Days would go by without me remembering anything, only thinking that I had been fed because my stomach didn’t hurt and that I had bathed because I didn’t stink.
I ended up getting kicked out. Failed everything, of course. Lost the boyfriend. Moved back home with my dad and stepmom, got a job, and started to repair the damage, slowly.
I don’t know that I have a moral to this story. I don’t think there are morals, in life. I had to write this for me and for you. For me, because I need to remember that this is part of my life. It ended six years ago; since then, I have been through therapy, on medication, then out and off again. I don’t know that I’m better now or that I’m better just right now.
But I am someone who has been through these things, and who is willing to listen if you want to talk. You don’t owe me anything for reading this. Just contact me if you need to.
it’s enough, for me, that i posted this at all, but your comments are welcome.