This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Monday, April 24, 2017

I Just Want to Bake Cookies

It’s hard not to hate yourself for being sad when nothing is “wrong.”

There’s this self-hatred that goes along with depression, this feeling that you don’t deserve to be sad if nothing is going wrong. And while I know logically that that is not how depression functions, logic isn’t exactly an effective tool here. I fall into depressive bouts about once every three years or so, lasting 3-4 months. The last time I was depressed I was struggling just being out of college and trying to find a better job. I was stressed and short on cash. Life was overwhelming. I didn’t feel guilty being depressed because I thought, “Well duh, there’s a reason.”

I remember my last shift as a waitress. I very nearly resembled Jessie from Breaking Bad laugh sobbing as I drove home into the night, knowing I was moving the next morning and starting a new job that following Monday. About a month later a couple days after Christmas, my then boyfriend, now husband, and a couple friends of ours were all up north at a cabin for a couple days. Nearly a foot of snow fell over our first night there. I remember the second night, walking outside in the brisk air to the edge of the long driveway and looking up at the stars. You couldn’t see stars in our new town of Oak Park well because of the light pollution from​ the city.

I saw the stars and realized two very random things simultaneously: I didn’t believe in God and I wasn’t depressed anymore.

In my head, I thought, “Oh, well you got a new job and new living situation, so that pulled you out of things. Everything’s fine and nothing will ever be bad again.”

There’s a weird adrenaline rush to coming out of depression I’ve found, a sudden clarity of the world’s “realness” and a feeling of enlightenment. Maybe it’s a douchebag-level thrust to reality, or a weird internal sense of superiority to “beating” something, but whatever it is, I felt it that night. My cheeks burned from the cold but I was smiling and couldn’t stop. Everything was okay now.

We don’t like, as a society, when people are sad for no reason. It confuses us, I think, and there’s a subconscious feeling that it’s selfish or egotistical. Most every character I can think of in media that’s depressed mopes around and such, and yet there’s almost always an underlying issue that’s addressed in the end. Or at the very least, the underlying issue is mentioned pointedly as the character’s source of unhappiness. There seems always to be a source.

We don’t like it when there isn’t a source, because then there’s nothing to fix. We want our characters in books and TV and movies to have issues that need actual solving, or the hint that there is some issue present that could be solved. We especially don’t like when characters talk about being sad, unless that sadness is given specificity. We like montages that fix things, big displays of emotion in the end that show a turning, or a brooding character who is deeply flawed but still fascinating. And even when they are “deeply flawed,” there’s usually a reason. Not always, but often.

I get arrogant about my depression in a way I never do about my anxiety. My anxiety is very apparent; I’m not very good at hiding it and it pops out in various ways, whether me snapping and crying for no apparent reason, renewed body dysmorphia, obsessing over things like where the dog’s leash is laid on a countertop, etc.

Genuinely, I hate to say this, but I’m really good at hiding my depression. And the fucked part is I enjoy that. I wear it as a badge of honor, like, “Look how hurt I am but you can’t even tell! I’m amazing!” I’ve always been stubborn and have deep fears of showing weakness I haven’t already decided I’m going to share. Random musings on this blog over the years has turned up the biggest reason I hide my emotions: my mom made me feel shitty when I shared them with her and it scared me into bottling things up. It’s turned into a cycle of being holier than thou about depression, one I know logically isn’t sound but internally makes me feel better.

My depression doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen on TV. I haven’t seen my depression played out in a way I can deeply connect to, and as soon as I feel like I can it’s revealed the character has a drug problem or other underlying issues causing their pain. Louis C.K. on his TV show of the same name came close, but it was a bit too bleak. The closest I’ve ever come to finding something that mimics how I feel is Patton Oswalt’s “Supermarket Depression” joke.

He talks about a time he goes to a grocery story on a Tuesday just to walk around. He ends up in the frozen food aisle looking at a bunch of Lean Cuisines, and as he’s looking at them Toto’s “Africa” starts playing. He says in that moment, he’s never felt so joyously, peacefully suicidal. It wasn’t even despair, he just would have if he could have in that moment.

I love that joke, the entire set up, because I think to a certain person it’s rather alarming and not really funny. Or they think he thought the experience of wandering a grocery store mid-Tuesday was depressing and he was being funny about it. But to a person who has been suicidal, I found it hilarious. I’m not suicidal and haven’t been for years, but the bluntness, the dull edges that tint that otherwise rather straight forward story, the strangely out of place melancholy in a starkly lit grocery store. Depression just is, it exists in that space, even as out of place as it seems. It’s perfect.

Depression, for me, has never been caused by specific circumstances. Aggravated by them, perhaps, but not caused. It more mimics seasonal allergies that will come every so often and can’t be entirely avoided unless you never want to leave your house. Depression is a tiny small friend I hide in my pocket on a day-to-day basis. It’s a gloomy blanket I can wrap myself with and just melt. I just desperately try to be happier.

MORE DOG MEMES. MORE FLOWERS. MORE #TBT PHOTOS.

I’ve been depressed for about a month now. I’m alright. I mean, I’m not, but I’m doing okay. It’s not as bad this time around as others. But the trees are a paler shade of green and food tastes odd, weaker somehow. If my life is a TV show, someone is fucking with the color settings. Things are distorted. Some days, I’m filled with manic energy, threatening to burst from my chest and run away as fast as it can. Other days I want to sulk and try to morph my body to our futon even if it means crumbs accumulating in my bra because I refuse to use a plate. But most days, it’s just practicing normalcy.

That’s probably the easiest way for me to describe depression: someone has taken the parts of my brain that allow me to interact with the world in a normal way and I have to pretend I can until I can.

I’m finding solace in baking, oddly enough. It’s nothing I’ve ever been interested in before this year. I’ve baked, before this, a total of 5-6 things in my entire life. At the start of 2017 I had beginning rumblings of depression looming and wanted to do something. I decided I would start baking, as I liked it the couple times I had done so. An avid baker friend of mine suggested picking one bakery item to focus on and get great at that.

I picked cookies.

Every other week I’m baking a new batch of cookies. So far I’ve done red velvet chocolate chip, chewy brown sugar cinnamon, peanut butter kiss, sea salt dark chocolate, giant oatmeal raisin, carrot cake, and potato chip toffee chocolate chip. This Thursday, I’m going to try to bake my first two layer cake ahead of Luke’s birthday this Saturday. I’m nervous, but I’m excited.

I don’t think baking is going to cure my depression. But I’m a stubborn piece of shit who refuses to open up to therapy and no longer want to use medication after having done so for 11 years. Both of those things are entirely valid and I applaud anyone and everyone they work for. Maybe I am being a stupid piece of shit and I should give therapy another go, but I honestly don’t want to.

I just want to bake cookies. And I’m sad. I want to bake cookies and I’m sad. But I’m okay. I think. At the very least, I’m not not okay. And I think that’s enough for me right now.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Don't Kiss Tipsy Boys in Bathrooms

This is a random story from college I remembered again a couple days ago I felt like sharing.

As I’ve stated previously on this blog, growing up I always had this base understanding in the back of my head that I wasn’t gorgeous. I wasn’t hideous by any means, but I was awkward, a bit pre-pubescent looking until I hit 21, and made terrible fashion choices. When people would describe me, I’d get identifiers like “cute” or “quirky” or “kind,” which always felt like coded was of avoiding actively talking about my physical appearance.

Perhaps it was going to an all-girls high school that was generally uplifting, but I didn’t have a terrible self-image (beyond some long standing body dysmorphia) until I went to college. I hadn’t been allowed to date in high school and quite honestly, didn’t know many people I could have dated. I wasn’t yet comfortable in my sexuality and was desperate for any kind of attention I could receive.

Desperate is an important word here.

My freshman year, the concept of making out with people at parties was not only enticing, it was rebellious in my mind. Up until around the age of 20 I would kiss pretty much anyone who would allow me to come close. My floor freshman year in the dorms was…complicated, to say the least. There was drama on top of drama that seemed to multiply daily. Nevertheless though, the girl’s Writing Floor and the downstairs boy’s Writing Floor spent a lot of time together outside of class.

There was a boy from the downstairs floor I thought was cute and who was generally kind to everyone. For the sake of this story, we’ll call him Steve. Steve had the look of a guy from a Disney live action teen show: perfectly styled hair, hipster clothes that veered more on the side of theater-kid-chic, and big dreamy eyes. He was also relatively gangly (which has always been my type). A lot of the girls on my floor either found him cute or were actively hoping to hook up with him. He had a habit of getting drunk and wandering the halls of the boy's and girl's floor hoping to find someone to make out with. The entire ritual had a high school feel to it, but being someone who hadn’t experienced anything on this level, I was interested.

I was understandably aware that I wasn’t the kind of girl he would be after. To describe 18 year old me as awkward would be a drastic understatement, both in action and dress. But a couple girls knew that I found him cute so one night when someone came up to me and told me Steve was looking for me, I thought it was a prank. “You’re messing with me,” I said with a snort. I was in a causal tee, sweatpants, and was barefoot at the time. Still though I went downstairs and found him standing in the middle of the hallway. I could tell he was tipsy, in the way that someone is just as a party gets going rather than a slosh-fest end of night look. Now, it’s important to note, we were Facebook friends and had hung out a couple times, but only in larger groups and never in a one-on-one context.

“Hey, wanna come here with me?” he said, motioning to the bathroom with his head. I was rather bewildered by the entire experience, but I nodded my head yes. He took me into the boy’s bathroom and started kissing me rather aggressively. I remember the smell of Captain Morgan on his breath, that almost nauseatingly sweet smell that doesn’t go away.

No one had ever kissed me like this, and it was intoxicating. After about ten minutes he stopped suddenly as he heard noises outside. It was getting later and people were starting to hang out in the hallways for entertainment. He peeled away from me quickly, stuck his head outside, and came back over near me. I realized then that he hadn’t looked me in the eye this entire time. He was looking over my head at the tiled wall, thinking. Running his hands through his hair, he turned to me.

“Hey so, here’s what’s going to happen,” he said looking around the entire time. “I’m going to leave and hang out outside, and you,” he reached out and grabbed my shoulders and pushed me back into a bathroom stall behind us. “You’re going to stay in this stall for, say, five minutes, and then you’ll go upstairs. Just don’t…don’t tell anyone about this, okay? This will just be our little secret.”

Smiling a half, pity smile, he closed the door of the stall he’d put me in and instructed me to lock it. He left after straightening his clothes. The last handful of minutes had happened so quick I hadn’t had a chance to gather what had transpired. I remember hearing the swinging door close and trying to feel confident. I told myself, “Holy shit, Molly, I can’t believe that just happened to you. You’re pretty lucky.” I tried to stay positive. This was cool, right?

The sudden realization hit me that I was barefoot in the boy’s bathroom. I still remember the feeling of the cold, dirty tile underneath my toes. Then my face was wet and I didn’t know why. I had tears on my face but I wasn’t actively crying. That feeling of shame, that dense blanket of shame covered me. I had a knot in my stomach.

He didn’t want to be seen with me. When he realized someone could potentially walk in on us, he suddenly wanted nothing to do with me. I had seen him flirt with other girls from the floor and lead them off seductively. Not once had I seen him organize alternative escape routes to avoid being seen together. He’d put me in this bathroom stall to wait, wait until it was okay to leave, wait until it had been long enough that no one would have possibly guessed I had kissed Steve. Wait until he could protect his dignity by not being associated with Molly.

I think he thought I hated myself enough to listen to him, not to tell anyone as a courtesy to him. He was mostly right; I told a couple friends but no one else. When I went back upstairs to the girl’s floor, I tried to play it off as a fun, silly thing. I pretended I was okay with what had happened instead of feeling like used. It was in that moment, back upstairs sitting in the hall on the Writer’s Floor that I felt ugly for the first time. I mentally assessed my short, awkward haircut, my bare feet, and my boxy Hawkeye t-shirt. I had a fading purple streak in my hair that I hadn’t dyed correctly.

It was the last time I remember I let someone I was attracted to make me feel unworthy, at least in the sense of my beauty. That incident stayed with me for a long time, but it served as an important turning point for me not to let my then ever-present desperation supersede my self-worth. I was worth more than that.

I realized a few days later that I had forgotten to mention to him that I had mono (I had shared cake a month previously with someone who had it). In the midst of a soon followed holiday break, someone let me know he had also gotten mono. I apologized profusely to him on Facebook and told other people I felt terrible that I’d forgotten to tell him beforehand.

In truth, I didn’t feel so bad after all.