September 29, 2011


Today was my baby's due date, and I have been sad all day.

September 21, 2011

September 16, 2011

Still in effect

I have been having lots of random memories lately, and this morning is this one:

When we were still teenagers, Chris and I made a pact about haunting. I had always believed in ghosts and was terrified of them, and he did not believe but really wanted to. There were several stories in my own family (and a couple in his) about deceased relatives coming back to visit the living.

I suggested that if I died before he did, I would do everything in my spiritual power to come back and appear before him, rattle some chains, give him a ghostly message, etc. On the other hand if he died before I did, he was under firm instruction not to haunt me in any way. (I didn't buy all the bullshit my family said about not feeling afraid but rather comforted. Screw that. I would drop dead on the spot. And then where would we be?) I did make one concession that he could, like, let me know in a dream or something that he was okay if he could manage that. He agreed to this proposal.

One night years later--in 2005, to be exact--we were living in San Francisco and had gone to see "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" at the Metreon earlier in the evening. It wasn't that great, but parts of it had stayed with me enough to make me a little nervous in the dark for a couple of days. We lay in bed later that night listening to the foghorns and talking about the movie, evil, and demonic possession. When he had to get up in the dark to go down the hall to the bathroom, I didn't like it one bit. "Hurry up!" I called, nervously eyeing the darkness around me and making sure none of my limbs were hanging over the bed for demons to grab. When he returned, I mentioned "the pact."

"What are you talking about?" he asked.

Aghast that he could forget such an important and long-term agreement, I reminded him about who should haunt who upon one of our deaths. I'm sure he rolled his eyes in the darkness when he scoffed, "But we said that like a decade ago!"

"It's still binding!" I cried, "Until death!"

I wonder if he knows I consider this verbal contract still valid.

September 7, 2011

What it's like

In September of 2008, I was raped on a date. I never told anyone. I mean I never told ANYONE. Not a doctor, or a therapist, or a best friend. No one. I was so embarrassed and ashamed this had happened to me, and I felt so stupid that I had not kept myself safe. I felt like all that money for all those fucking degrees ought to have been good for something, and here I couldn't even take care of myself. Normally so forthcoming and expansive, I kept my mouth shut. I didn't want to be told what to do or who to talk to. I didn't want to be asked any questions. I didn't want to explain. I just wanted to forget. Up until that point I felt like I'd been a fairly healthy woman with a fairly healthy sex life, and I was convinced I could maintain that through sheer will.

By the end of the same month, I had started to completely fall apart.

Anxiety seemed to ooze from my pores. I couldn't relax. I had recently started my first job and bought a car and suddenly I felt like I was losing control of everything. I couldn't sleep. I would be awake for three days straight. Not just awake, really, but AWAKE! I needed to talk, I needed to write, I needed to make things. Things to say were erupting out of me and I was unable to control them. I made greeting cards and little boxes. I started writing. I wrote all over my walls, in fact, and pounded out long missives on my computer in ALL CAPS because I WAS RUNNING OUT OF SPACE INSIDE TO PUT ALL OF THIS SHIT.

The lack of sleep made me wild-eyed and crazed, and the long commute to work (not to mention actual work) because impossible. The panic attacks started in earnest around this time, and they made me feel desperate and doomed and frantic. I had them everywhere--in my office, in my car, alone in my bed, in the shower. No place was safe.

I can remember driving home from work, my fingers clutching the steering wheel for dear life. I rocked back and forth furiously chanting:

"I'm sorry," she said, "I have nothing left to give."
"I'm sorry," she said, "I have nothing left to give."
"I'm sorry," she said, "I have nothing left to give."

One day on the drive home I felt so terrified to go home and be alone that I phoned ahead to Nannette and pleaded for her to let me come over as soon as I was back in the city. She told me I was welcome to come, and I fiercely held onto that as I drove. But by the time I got back to San Francisco, I was frantic again and couldn't bear to be around anyone. To her confusion, I told her I couldn't come.

Some nights she let me sleep on her couch because I didn't want to be alone.

I became obsessed with the Golden Gate Bridge. I needed to look at that bridge! I needed to see it, to drive on it, to read about it, and watch videos of people jumping off of it. I needed to know just how deep it was in the bay underneath. It felt important to know just how far down there was to go. I read, "San Francisco Bay is relatively shallow but reaches depths of 100 feet in some places." I had dreams about it. I dreamed of what it felt like when my feet left the side, and I dreamed of what I saw on the way down. I dreamed of the sound my back made when it broke upon hitting the water, and I dreamed of the light disappearing above me. I decided that the exact point at which I would jump off would be 98 feet deep, and I needed to keep that number in my head constantly. I wrote the number 98. I cut the corners out of books that showed page 98. I made a box I called "98 feet deep."

The awful part about it was that I didn't WANT to jump off. I didn't want to! It terrified and horrified me to think about it. But I was obsessed with it. My brain wouldn't leave it alone.

The days without sleep were punctuated by complete crashes. Depression and sobbing and apathy, days I called off work because I just could not function. After Nannette pleaded with me to see someone, I sent my doctor an email. All I could think to say was, "I'm going down fast." On my 32nd birthday, she had me come in for an appointment.

My doctor is wonderful, and she urged me to apply for disability and to see a psychiatrist as well as a therapist. I was getting in deeper and deeper shit at work, but I insisted to her that I could still work--didn't need the time off. I regret deeply that I didn't take her advice, but I was determined to hold on to the balls I was trying to juggle by the skin of my teeth.

Eventually, I got fired. I lost a lot of friends when they didn't understand what was going on or the decisions I made. I made a mess of relationships. I lost my baby.

These days I struggle with leaving the house, with seeing people. It feels like the only place I can be remotely safe is in my apartment, because the outside world is much too scary and unpredictable. The last time I tried to have brunch with a friend, I had to force myself to go. I threatened and begged and cajoled myself to go, and when I got home, my beloved bird was dead. A voice inside of me whispered, "I knew this would happen." It is a lonely existence.

I am taking medication now--slowly--and I have told exactly four people what happened to me. It honestly didn't occur to me until a couple months ago how all these things might be tied together. I'm sure I've told portions of my story in this venue before as I recounted my struggles with mental illness, but it has never been told in this complete fashion. I feel somewhat horrified as I type these words that now it will be OUT THERE and PEOPLE WILL KNOW and I CAN'T TAKE IT BACK.

But I needed to tell my story.

September 3, 2011

Anywhere you want to go

Yesterday I got out of the house for a few hours. I mainly had to run boring errands, but it was nice because I FELT like running those boring errands. My final stop of the day was an appointment with my therapist, Yuan-Lin, who I have really grown to love. I was a little early, so I walked the last few blocks and took my time. I meandered and swung my bag back and forth, lost in thought.

At the corner of 34th and Balboa, a guy about my age interrupted my reverie. "Do taxis run out here?" he asked, leaning against a building.

I frowned and shook my head. "No, sorry," I replied. "You won't really see them out here. If you were to see one it would be down around 36th where all the business are, but we're a little too far out."

He nooded and said, "Right on. Thanks." And then he proceeded to quickly walk ahead of me in the direction of 36th Ave. I continued my slow trek.

When I got to the corner of 36th and Balboa, I noticed the same guy again. "Hey, good luck," I told him as I walked past.

He laughed and suggested, "Maybe you could just take me with you?"

I laughed too, and called over my shoulder, "I'm not going anywhere you want to go!"

"I doubt that!" he called back.