Some days I think my depression might swallow me whole, like a giant whale. I'm just adrift on a cold, dark ocean, when all of the sudden, my depression whale just scoops me up and gobbles me whole. Everything is terrible right now and I am alone and there's no end in sight. I'm stuck in a horrible loop. I can see it and yet I don't know how to get out of it. At least the inside of the whale is warm? I don't know.
Depression is a funny thing. Some days I can manage to get out of bed, shower, put on make-up and things are kind of okay. Like, I'm functional. I can interact with other adults, I can do my job relatively well, and I can feed myself. These may seem like simple tasks, but when you're depressed, trust me, they are small victories, every single one. On days like these I believe I can make it through. I believe that maybe it's *not* depression, maybe I'm just lazy and stupid and I need to get over myself. Like, I don't have any kids, I'm still gainfully employed at a job I love and that pays me really well, I'm healthy, and I'm surrounded by people who love me. On days like these depression is easy to dismiss.
But then there are days like today. Days when just the idea of getting out of bed seems overwhelming. The thought of interacting with people in a meaningful way seems impossible. Like, could I talk to my friends? Yes. Would I be good company? I seriously doubt it. On days like these it's like I can't stop crying. My sadness and loneliness and general state of ennui just take hold and I can't seem to get past them. I'm like Sisyphus and my depression is Mount Everest. On days like these I forget to eat until it's like 9pm and I've got a raging headache and the only option is cereal but even that feels like too much damn effort. It's been a long time since I've felt this bad - years, really. But when it happens, I can never seem to get ahead of it. I guess we really are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over forever.
It's frustrating, this weird depressive state. Like, do I have a viable reason to be depressed? In 2020, yeah, kind of. The world is fucking on fire. The single most important presidential election in modern times is just over a week away and our entire democracy is on the line; the possibility of serious political unrest on election night is real and fucking terrifying; we've been in a state of lockdown for nearly eight months due to a pandemic that our pathetic government refuses to control in any real way with no end in site; and to top it off, my relationship with the dude ended just about three weeks ago. A perfect recipe for depression and anxiety, right? And surprise! I'm not alone. Lots and lots of people are dealing with the same feelings I am right now. I mean, misery loves company, amiright?!
Every day I see posts on Twitter and Instagram telling me that it's "Okay not to feel OK right now." And some days that does give me a bit of comfort - I'm not alone! Everyone's lives suck right now! Let's all cry and whine and flop around in bed and stare at the wall for three hours together! But then there are those days when social media tricks me into believing that I have friends who are A-OK. Those friends who seem like they've got their shit together and are powering through, pandemic and political unrest be damned. And I admire those friends, I really do. But goddamnit if they don't make me feel this tall, ya know? And don't even get me started with the people whose situations are far worse than my own. Holy fuck, have I got it easy, so what the fuck is wrong with me? Why can't I just get my shit together like every other goddamned adult and POWER THROUGH? The truth is, I don't know why I can't. I try, I really do. But right now I'm not doing so well. And that sends me into a shame spiral, which just kind of makes everything eleventy billion times worse. It's like for every day that I can get out of bed and maintain some semblance of normalcy, there are two or three days where I. Just. Can't.
Le sigh, indeed.
Addendum - shoulda just thrown up this link to Hyperbole and a Half because she fucking NAILS depression.
"I just turned the backyard into a waterpark," he texts.
It's Saturday and it's hot. We've been planning a backyard Cinco de Mayo party (for three!) for the past week, but for some reason I'm having a hard time pulling myself off the couch. I decide to nap for 30 minutes before heading over, but somehow an hour slips past. I call him around 3pm to let him know I'm on my way.
"Are you wearing something you can get wet?" he asks
"No, why? I'm wearing joggers and a tee shirt."
"Joggers?!" He pokes fun at my choice of Saturday attire. "Put on some shorts and come over."
Ugh. Why is this so hard today?
I pack up the tortillas and queso and picadillo I secured from HomeState earlier that morning, change into shorts and a tank top, slip on my mask, and head over to my boyfriend's house. To party with him and his ex-girlfriend.
Will left for his first-ever European tour on September 19th. We'd know each other for five weeks. At first I missed him terribly. Somehow, in the space of five weeks, I'd gotten very used to including him in my plans. We texted or called each other every day. His absence felt like a large hole.
"Hit the stage in about 20. Starting to get hype. I'm actually a little nervous this time." he texted.
Nearly two weeks had passed since he'd left and I'd slipped back into my single lady life again. Will and I continued to text or call each other every day and it felt like things were moving along nicely. In the back of my mind, though, I was still apprehensive about meeting him in Berlin. We'd really only known each other for such a short time. Would he think I was crazy? Would he turn me down, say no, or ghost me? Or worse yet, what if I never asked and then told him my plan after the fact and he loved it?! How much would I regret not shooting my shot? Is this what it means to be vulnerable?
Fuck it. I decided to do it.
I knock on the gate and Will lets me in. He's right, the backyard is a veritable waterpark! He's filled up a plastic kiddie pool and fashioned a sort of mister from a sprayer attached to a mic stand. It's fantastic.
We both head inside and unpack all the fixings for our Cinco de Quarantino. He kisses me and pours two margaritas he picked up from Lola's on Fourth earlier that morning. Grace is attempting to tidy up somewhere. And that's something I've learned about Will and about Grace during this lockdown. Will is a pretty tidy dude - clean nails, clean hair, clean car. But Grace is another level. She's CONSTANTLY cleaning something, whether it's a dish you just used or some random bungee cords in the backyard or the dog hair. It never seems to end. She reminds me of my mom and I try not to let it bother me.
We survey the spread - picadillo and queso and pickled onions and flank steak and flour tortillas and soooo many margaritas. How the hell are we gonna finish this all? We grab our margs and head back out to grill. He throws the steak on the grill and I relax in the Adirondack chair. The mic stand mister feels good on my thighs and the marg feels good on my lips. My mood is improving by the minute.
The European tour was off to an amazing start. Will made it to Poland and we managed to talk every day. He couldn't believe how hype the crowds were and every day he regaled me with stories of killer food and weird sleeping arrangements. I was so excited for him!
Then one afternoon after work, I decided to pul the trigger.
"Hey, so, I know you've got a few days off in Berlin. And I'm gonna be in Portugal. Would it be weird to fly over to spend a few days with you? You can absolutely say no, I'd totally understand." I blurted out my request. Shoot your shot, right?
And then I waited.
"YES. Do it." he responded emphatically.
OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG. Was I really gonna fly to Berlin to spend 48 hours with a dude I'd known for less than two months?!
Will finishes up the flank steak and I finish my margarita. My thighs and shoulders and nose are getting crispy. It's time to party.
The three of us head in to set the table. Will mixes the picadillo and queso, then warms the tortillas on the stove.
"Do you flip 'em with a spatula or your bare hands?" he quizzes me.
"Bare hands, OBVIOUSLY," I roll my eyes at him. He likes to do this, to quiz me on random cooking shit. He always seems to forget I spent the majority of my 20s working in restaurants.
"Ooh, this salsa is goood." He dips another chip into my homemade salsa.
"Yeah, that's Jamie's recipe," I reply.
"Who's Jamie?" Grace asks.
And that's when I realize things are shifting for Will and Grace, and for Will and me. Jamie is totally unknown to Grace. Jamie is a part of Will's life that Grace does not know. Jamie is a memory that belongs to Will and me. It is ours alone.
We finish dinner. It is superb. Grace spends the rest of the afternoon upstairs.
"Are you ready? I'm out back," he says.
I slide into his black XTerra and we head to the PCH. For the last few nights we've been heading south into Orange County in search of bioluminescence, the kind that makes the waves glow blue. The marine layer is thick tonight, so our chances of seeing anything are low, but we go anyway, because cabin fever is real.
He holds my hand while he drives. We spent the whole day apart, me reading in the park, him watching 70's film noir at home. The quarantine is getting to both of us, but for very different reasons, and it's nice to reconnect tonight.
We stop at Sunset Beach first. The fog makes everything eery and spooky and we hold hands and poke each others butts as we walk across the beach. It's nice to breath in the ocean air, to hear the waves crash. But there's nothing to see here tonight.
"Let's keep going down to Newport," he says.
We roll through Huntington Beach. It's eerily quiet, like a ghost town. All the street parking and the parking lots along the PCH are blocked off. It's Saturday night at 11:30 at there's not a soul out, except for the gaggle of police officers in front of the Havianna's store. This is the third time we've seen police since we left Long Beach - they must be bored.
We stop at a second beach somewhere between Huntington and Newport. It's in a neighborhood, probably on the Balboa Peninsula, but I'm not paying attention. After years of driving alone, it's nice to be the passenger. We hop out. The marine layer is just as thick and swampy here.
"Do you remember that short story, the Stephen King one?" I ask.
"The Mist! Yeah!" he exclaims. We make jokes about the kinds of creatures this mist contains. Probably prepubescent assholes just looking to jack off on the windshield, we agree. This is why I love him, because his sense of humor is my sense of humor.
"Do you want to come over?" he asks.
We don't see any bioluminescence tonight, but the drive was a success in other ways.
The roommate-cum-ex-girlfriend bomb did little to deter us. We met on August 17th and by Labor Day we'd spent more days together than apart.
"I can't believe you're gonna be gone the whole weekend," he texted. "Two weeks and you got me sprung :)"
I couldn't believe it either. I'm usually quite aloof, but he was different. It was scary and exciting and I was terrified of fucking it up. Still am, if I'm being totally honest.
We both knew it would come to an end, though, because just as we were getting to know one another, Will was furiously trying to finish an album for release in February, plus get ready for his first-ever European tour. Our time was limited and we acted like it. Before we knew it, September 19th would be here, and this dating whirlwind would come to a screeching halt for five weeks.
The next five weeks were magical, though, - all hilariously fun dates and sex and talking. We both marveled at how fast things were moving and how out of character that was for both of us. I think we were both trying to convince the other that we were not, in fact, stalkers; that we were both incredibly reasonable people who happened to meet on Tinder and were surprised by the perfectly fantastic person we'd found.
We finally make it home around 12:30. Both of us are tired, but only one of us is burnt to a crisp.
"You're half-baked," he jokes. Indeed I am. The entire backside of my body is an angry red and I'm finding it difficult to sit down.
"I can't believe you didn't put on any sunscreen. You have to put on sunscreen, Mindy, it's not good for you," he admonishes me. He's right and it's annoyingly endearing.
We both head to bed. His room is stuffy, so he leans over and turns on the air-conditioner. We can both feel the heat radiating off my thighs, in the most non-sexual way possible.
All the sun is making me sleepy, but I missed him today. We have very quiet sex and before we fall asleep, he whispers, "Remember that time you met me in Berlin?" I smile. It is good.
"I just want you to know that if anything happens on tour, it's okay. Like, you don't have to tell me, we can just move on."
We were having dumplings at Din Tai Fung the night before he left for tour. Things had been going so well, and I was dreading this conversation. I knew this was the first time he'd been single on tour in a LONG time and I didn't want him to feel any pressure, since things were so new. But I also knew I wanted to keep dating him when he got back to the States. I figured I'd play my cards right and just advocate for a Don't Ask, Don't Tell situation. I was surprised by his response.
"Oh, that's definitely not my style. And I want to keep dating you, too," he assured me
So I suppose it was settled.
But in the back of my mind an idea had begun to percolate, one my good friend Lindsay had suggested. What if, in an epically romantic gesture, you MET HIM ON TOUR IN EUROPE?!
I could never...
"Hey, we just finished dropping the dog off at the dog walker's house. He's gonna keep the dog for a few days until the ASPCA opens on Wednesday. I need a drink. What are you up to?" Will calls an hour after our Killing Eve watch party was supposed to start. I'm a little annoyed, mostly because I hate when plans change unexpectedly. This is something I'm working on.
"Just doing a bit of writing," I say. I'm not sure how he'll respond if I confess what I'm really up to. Best to sit on this little endeavor for a minute.
"Come over when you're finished," he says.
Forty five minutes later I change out of my sweats (but keep on my favorite shirt - a soft black tee that says BUTT STUFF across the chest), brush my hair, slide on my mask and head over to Will's. I knock on the back gate and let myself in. Grace meets me at the back door. She's on the phone, but unlocks the screen door and welcomes me in with a smile. Will meets us there. He kisses and hugs me and asks about my day. We make drinks in the kitchen while Grace finishes her phone call.
"Goddamn that was stressful. I'm glad we got rid of the dog for a few days. Grace and I were getting really snippy with each other. Like, she was getting pissed that I didn't post about the dog on social media early enough for people to see it," Will says. "But I kind of wanted to keep him," he confesses.
"Oh, I KNOW you wanted to keep him. You fall in love too easily," I joke with him. He smiles. It's true, he's a sucker.
"Yeah, but he would be mine. Like, when Grace moves out, we'd share the other dogs, but I'd keep him for myself," he explains. It's the first time he's mentioned Grace moving since lockdown.
Two months ago, when I met Grace at the bar in Long Beach, we had a plan in place. At the time Will was on a six-week North American tour and Grace was still at the house caring for the dogs. It only made sense for her to move when he returned from tour and April first was the date we had all been counting down to.
At this point Grace and I had only shaken hands once. Will was on the West Coast leg of the tour and the bands were coming through Los Angeles. In an epic stroke of genius (or a drunken, misguided attempt at appeasement), Will thought it best to just "tear the band-aid off" and introduce us at a crowded bar in Long Beach on a Sunday night.
Except the bar wasn't crowded. The only people there that night was our crew, and to say it was awkward is perhaps the understatement of the year. Some of us got very drunk and some of us got very emotional and *some* of us made fools of ourselves. But it got done. The band-aid was off. Now I just had to make it to April first and the third wheel in our relationship would be no more.
Or so I thought.
Will and I settle in on the couch together. I bury my cold feet under his legs because he likes my cold feet.
"Hey, Grace, are you watching this with us tonight?" Will yells toward the back of the house.
"What? Oh yeah, just a second." Grace finishes her phone call and settles into her chair.
While Will searches Sling for AMC, Grace and I chat about how shitty it was that they killed Kenny on the last episode. He was so cute and funny, what a bummer.
"Shit. For some reason it's not letting me access the show. Do you guys wanna watch a movie, or 90 Day Fiance?" he asks.
We both choose 90 Day Fiance, maybe because we're both masochists who also like to laugh loudly at strangers. Grace has a laugh that is open-mouthed and loud and often reminds me of myself. Sometimes it is alarming how similar we are to one another.
It's the beginning of week two of our lockdown and we're getting into a groove. Will's tour was cut short and he had to cancel the last six dates. He ended the tour with a ridiculously under-attended show in Manhattan before flying home on March 14th. We've spent a lot of time together since he got back, mostly just catching up for the last few weeks he was gone. Over dinner one night he brought up Grace's move.
"So, I don't think Grace is going to be able to be out by April first. I told her I'd help her out financially, but that huge account she was working on for Coachella just got canceled and she might just be living off savings for awhile," he said.
I knew this was coming.
Since September Grace had been doing freelance graphic design work. Things were going really well. But then this goddamn pandemic had to go and ruin everything. And since my boyfriend is not an epic asshole, we carry on.
"Hey. Come over, I made breakfast. Also, Grace* found a dog."
"What? What kind of dog?" I ask.
"Looks like a German Shepherd. He's smart. Just followed Grace home on her walk this morning."
"Ok. I'll be over in a few," I say, and hang up.
I brush my hair and teeth, slip on jeans, a tee-shirt, and flip flops, and don my mask for the three block walk over to the house where my boyfriend lives. With his ex-girlfriend.
I knock on the fence door. Grace opens it for me while she holds onto this foreign doggo.
"Good morning! Watch out, he's a bolter!" she warns as I slip past her and the dog.
Will* meets me on the back step, motioning me to come in and eat. I step inside the house and slip off my shoes. Will kisses me, slaps me on the ass, and says, "Good morning!" He offers me an orange juice. He prepares my plate of eggs, sausage, and toast. We chat about the dog. When we're finished, we head back outside so Grace can eat breakfast and we can watch the dog.
This is normal, this eating in shifts. Sometimes Grace eats before we do, sometimes she joins us and the three of us settle down at the table together, like a weird, slightly uncomfortable throuple. Today, she eats last.
"Are we still on for tonight?" I ask.
Tonight is the second episode of season three of Killing Eve, a show we all fell in love with during the first two weeks of this shelter-in-place order, when bingeing shows felt fun and novel.
"Yeah. Is it on at 6?" He confirms. A plan is made.
Grace finishes her breakfast and joins us outside. We all play with the dog. We all make guesses as to what kind of owner would give up such an expensive, well-mannered dog (he's a Belgian Malinois, probably no more than a year old, and lovable as fuck). We all throw out names, just in case Will and Grace decide to keep the dog. Will likes "Ronnie", as a sly nod to the Corona virus. Grace suggests "Kevin", and I'm totally on board with that, but not like in a "agree with the ex so she'll like me" way, more like "I'm an asshole who loves human names for animals" way.
I finish my coffee and get ready to head home for a few hours of work and Zoom catch-ups. Will takes the dog and skateboard and accompanies me to my place. We kiss on the street and he heads home for the afternoon, where he will deal with the ASPCA, the foreign dog, and lunch with his ex-girlfriend.
I first met Grace nearly two months ago, at a bar in Long Beach. My boyfriend and I had been dating for about six months. I knew about Grace, in fact *had* known about Grace since my sixth date with Will. Typically that sixth date would have been a few weeks in, but we moved fast. I had known him for a week and we had already spent a ridiculous amount of time together. As far as I knew, Will had a roommate who was kind enough to care for his dogs when he went on tour. What a score, I thought. And then, during a dinner date at the park overlooking the Queen Mary, he confessed that his roommate was not, in fact, just a roommate, but his ex-girlfriend.
"But we split up in January," he assured me. It was August.
"If you want to be done with me, I totally understand," he said. "But I want you to know we're over. If there is a red flag, it's not that I live with my ex-girlfriend, but that I wasn't honest about it from the beginning," he said.
I was stunned. He looked at me expectantly. I sat on a rock overlooking the marina and thought, "I could just push him in and be done with it." And then I sighed. He seemed like a good dude. He didn't seem like an asshole. Was I really going to write him off because real estate in Southern California was fucking cutthroat?
And so we decided to tentatively give this whole thing a try. And hilarity (and tears and frustration and a whole lotta grace) ensued.
This morning I woke up to the news that Anthony Bourdain had passed. Suicide. I literally screamed in bed. And then I burst into tears. I cried in the shower. I cried through the blow drying and the dressing and the (half-assed) makeup-ing.
My 8 o'clock session was going swimmingly until I burst into tears, AGAIN.
I managed to make it through the workday relatively tear-free, but then the waterworks flowed again whilst I sat alone at the laundromat, watching two weeks' worth of clothes toss and turn and churn.
Just to be clear, I didn't actually know Anthony Bourdain. What the fuck is wrong with me?
It's nearly 10pm and I think I've maybe gotten a handle on why this celebrity death has kinda sorta rocked me.
Reader, if you've been a ride or die, you know I, too, have battled some fucking demons. Shit has been tough for me (mostly because I'm neurotic and moody and aloof as fuck), and there have been a handful of times when my brain almost fooled me into thinking life was maybe, possibly just too fucking painful. But then someone saved me. And I think that's why I'm over here bawling my fucking eyes out, feeling all the feels. See, life is pretty good for me right now. I'm doing the things I want to do and building the life I so desperately needed. I'm fine. But there were so many time when I wasn't fine, so many times when frustration and shame and debilitating anxiety threatened to take over.
Like that winter in Korea. You know the one. I was fucking miserable. Life felt empty and weird and all my friends at home were moving on without me. I was nearing thirty, directionless, flying solo, and questioning why the fuck I ever thought it was a good idea to move BACK to the other side of the world. But someone reached out to me and gave me a home. Jamie was the dude who cooked for me, watched Jersey Shore with me, and let me cry in his bed when I just fucking hated everything. He was gentle with my mind and heart, for I think he knew I was maybe a little fragile. His friendship is what got me through that winter and let me come out the other side. His friendship is what allowed me to laugh off all the absurdity of my life in Korea and to embrace the people around me, many of whom I still count among my closest and dearest friends (I'm looking at you, Casey the Human).
Jamie literally saved me from myself.
Or like the fall of 2006. I was kinda sorta newly graduated, definitely newly single, and living alone for the first time. At the time I don't remember feeling lonely or lost, but in hindsight all the signs were there. Things came to a head when I got caught drunkenly fucking a pirate on the bathroom floor at a Halloween party. We were both so hammered, we never skipped a beat. I don't even know how we ended up back at his house, but I do know that his car was outside. I woke up feeling disgusted and embarrassed and ashamed beyond belief. Twelve years later I am able to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all (sorta), but at the time, it was a symptom of a much larger problem. Anxiety and self-loathing are two of my greatest hits and I think that fall was marked by a great deal of both. But someone reached out to me and acknowledged that I was maybe standing on a ledge, if only figuratively. After two days of calling in sick and dodging phone calls, my mom hauled her ass over and climbed into bed with me. She is the reason I went to the doctor that day and finally admitted that I was having a hard time keeping it all together. She was the reason I filled that first prescription and why I kept filling that prescription and why a year later I was able to stop filling that prescription.
My mom literally saved me from myself.
Or like those entire two years after I came home from Korea. No need to rehash how fucking miserable I felt upon returning to a life that was no longer familiar and no longer mine. Reader, I struggled. Every. Damn. Day. But someone reached out with such gusto and conviction that I couldn't do anything *but* surrender to her friendship. I don't know if Erica knew it at the time, but I was in desperate need of a kick in the ass. What she gave me was so much more. She made me believe that I could do the thing, if I just took small bites and didn't look too closely at the big picture. She made me believe that I was smart enough, that I was deserving enough, and that it didn't matter if I sometimes didn't know what I was doing. Every day I still struggle with the battle between perfection and good enough (ask my supervisor how long it takes me to write an eval...), but because of Erica's mad cheerleading skills, I think I'm able to navigate that battle just a little bit better.
Erica literally saved me from myself.
There have been others throughout the years who have reached out to me to let me know they see me (lots, actually). And I think that's why Bourdain's death hit me so hard today. Those people who reached out to me in my shittiest, darkest times are literally the reason I get to sit here today. I'm saddened that Bourdain chose to take this path; I imagine he, too, had loved ones reach out to him. But sometimes it's not enough. Sometimes YOU'RE not enough.
I don't know how else to wrap this up. It seems so fucked up to say I understand that feeling, to say I get his choice. So I guess today I'm thankful my loved ones reached out. Today I'm thankful I'M enough.