solo in sydney


Overwhelmed
October 23, 2013, 1:08 pm
Filed under: dear diary | Tags: ,

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In moments of extreme stress or anxiety, I often feel like I’m watching myself in the third person, narrating my own thoughts from a distance.

This generally occurs as I lay in bed, struggling to emerge and meet the day’s responsibilities. I can hear the internal battle raging. I’m not dispassionate to the discourse – the pain is still there, of the harsh words being spoken to me, about me – but I feel disconnected from the final decision. The decision to stay in bed, to cancel plans, to shirk responsibilities and let people down.

My narrator self knows how the day should go, how I truly want the day to go. How I want to get up and start rebuilding myself, my life, and the trust in me that my loved ones have long since abandoned. But any attempts to communicate this, even scream it, at the entity that’s making the decisions simply doesn’t pierce through the dense fog between us.

The internal battles go for hours and leave me utterly drained. If there is any relief in choosing to stay in bed, or in sending an email or text message to cancel plans, it is blindingly short-lived and promptly followed by hours of guilt-fuelled tossing and turning. Any sleep I manage is fitful and broken, but the energy to remove myself from bed and rectify the situation, even belatedly, is long gone, and even my narrator self has given up by then.

Defeated and despondent.

Another day gone.



Ticking Clocks and Quiet Goodbyes
September 14, 2013, 10:31 am
Filed under: dear diary, depression | Tags: ,

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In the depths of depression, my brain seems to entirely rearrange my own perceptions of time, blurring days into weeks or even months, but occasionally providing such a vivid, searing memory that I can almost hear the clock ticking off the seconds.

In the midst of Packing, I have two distinct memories that fit into this curious latter category.

The first, perhaps not coincidentally, relates to an innocuous wall clock that had adorned three apartment walls from the first year of our relationship. Gifted to us by my best friend and her partner at the time, the clock in question was of a simple, modern design.

In my early days of packing – those rare few early days when I was lucid enough to be able to strip everything off the walls, all my posters and prints and artwork, I hesitated when I came to “our” wall clock.

I still can’t fully explain the hesitation. Yes, it had been a gift to “us,” and it took pride of place in every apartment we called home. At the same time, it was a gift from my closest friend, whilst not a single friend or relative from “his side” had ever sent us a card or even brought over their own snacks or drinks, let alone kindly giving us something, anything, we would love enough to display in our home.

I felt a righteous ownership. And yet, I hesitated.

Some part of me knew that it would be the kind of bizarre item J would contest.

I was right.

I was leaving 95% of my belongings behind, including many items J and I had bought together but also a number of items that I had owned previously. I just wanted to be gone.

But that clock, for some reason, was mine.

He noticed its absence immediately. He walked into the apartment, surveyed the blank walls, and asked where “his” clock had gone.

I informed him that I’d already packed it.

He locked his eyes on me, his lips in a grim, straight line, and asked “Why?” in a cold and unfeeling voice.

My friend gave it to us, so I’m taking it,” I stated calmly.

“It was given to us. Why do you get to keep it?” he inquired.

I asked what his friends or family had given us in the many years we’d been together.

He was momentarily silent.

Then, with a powerful sense of conviction and entitlement, he informed me that I wasn’t allowed to take something if he didn’t have an immediate replacement. The irony of his losing me clearly didn’t occur to him in that moment. The logic of someone making far, far above the average annual salary being unable to replace a $70 clock was completely ignored.

I dug in my heels. I still don’t know why it even mattered. As I’m writing this, I can glance over and see the clock in question hanging on my wall, and I’m still slightly baffled as to how such an insignificant item became such an issue.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor or an allegory I could make here. Something about how even when I felt like I was losing everything, I was still holding onto the things that mattered, whether I knew they mattered or not. Perhaps an allusion to the fact that J was losing someone he could never replace, and was instead grasping onto an easily replaced item.

Frankly, I don’t know. I didn’t even realise at the time that I still had any fight left in me, so it continues to perplex me why I spent what little energy I had on such an inconsequential thing. And yet occasionally, I’ll glance over at that clock and be strangely proud that I was even capable of standing up for myself at that stage, so deep into my depression.

As that clock relentlessly continued to tick away, I sunk even deeper into my crippling depression, my “reinforcements” arrived, and my belongings were packed into precious few cardboard boxes. To the best of my knowledge, J stayed elsewhere for this period.

With one exception.

I remember nothing else of that day. Whether the boxes were packed, whether my mother was there, whether my flights were booked.

I remember nothing but J walking through the front door, dropping his bag and keys on the floor, walking straight towards me where I was inexplicably hovering between the bedroom and the living room, and taking me into his arms.

He held me gently, and he cried.

In retrospect, that moment compels me to defend him. It prompts me to clarify that he was never an inherently bad person, he was just incredibly bad for me. He was a good person unexpectedly trapped in a bad situation, one that he couldn’t fix, much to his frustration.

At the time, however, I simply I hugged him back, somewhat automatically, and remained blank. I felt a slight twinge of regret and sadness, mostly that I felt so little. I wasn’t physically capable of crying. I couldn’t share his grief or loss. On the whole, I felt nothing.

In between what can only be described as weeping, he meekly asked if we could remain friends.

“Of course,” I said, and he pulled me closer and cried some more.

As soon as he let me go, some time later, my memory fades back into an opaque fog. I don’t know if we even said goodbye, or if I left that minute or that day or weeks later.

But that last memory of J, of his vulnerability, his unguarded, soft side – I wouldn’t say it makes me miss him, nor the good times we spent together (of which there were many, despite what I’ve shared here). But it makes me appreciate those times, appreciate the many lessons learnt, and perhaps even more importantly, to appreciate the people in my life who make me feel important and loved every single moment of every single day, the way that J simply couldn’t.