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.

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