I tell myself over and over, each footstep sinking into a snowdrift, on and on, “It’s going to get better. It’s going to get better. It’s going to get better.” The sun isn’t up yet. I know when I get to the office, my hour and 40 minute journey over, it will take hours before I feel warm again.
I remember when I was young and knew with the confidence and certainty of a weirdo kid whose only friends were cats, books, and one very old horse (exact age unknown) that my life was going to be different. I wasn’t going to get married and bitter and trapped like my parents, wasn’t angling for marriage and babies like my church-going peers. I was going to write, I was going to be an activist - change the world and change myself. The foundation of all these thoughts was that I was going to leave Ohio and be happy.
When I left for college in Indiana, I decided anti-depressants and meaningless (“meaningless”) sex with someone who didn’t know I was a virgin would go a long way to fix my repressed, lonely youth. Moving on from teaching myself for the past five years of “homeschooling” meant discovering I knew nothing about academics beyond understanding my old friends, books and cats. I had to Google double-spacing.
At 19, I spent sleepless nights in the library, unable to finish papers on time, if ever. I couldn’t understand why focus was fleeting, impossible. I went from being told I was on the fast track to Arts editor at the school paper to failing the class. I figured out I was bisexual and tried to ignore the fear of my parents’ impending rejection.
I tried to kill myself twice. Did I want to die? Maybe, but I think now they were terrified cries for help after my careful, beautiful, long-dreamed of collegiate life collapsed in a matter of months. I wasn’t charming teachers and classmates and entertaining lovers. I was failing almost everything, gaining weight rapidly, sobbing every night, and alienating the few friends I had with my paranoia and endless pessimism. I dropped out at the end of the year and went back to Ohio long enough to watch that ancient horse die, before running away to continue my own self-induced emotional torture.
I wanted to be fascinating and compassionate and change the world, but I still seem to be caught up in the narcissistic survival of trying to get through depression. I’m battling insomnia, only out to one parent, wishing I had the energy to track down an Adderall prescription so I can apply to more jobs.
All these years later, and I’m back in Ohio, trying to tell myself, soon, soon, I’m going to get out. I try to believe that when I do, I’m going to be happy.