Usually when I get depressed, there’s a stage where I need to write.
I used to squirrel away ruled notebooks in my bedroom and write in them, but then I would get paranoid that my parents knew I was writing in them and would look for them and read them.
I wanted to write about dad, and my emotions, and how unfair his rages were. Sometimes I did.
But it beat like the tell-tale heart underneath my mattress, in my pillow case, in my underwear drawer, hidden in my closet, until I ripped out those pages and hid them among the trash in the garbage cans right before they were wheeled to the curb for pickup. Nothing was safe.
If mom found it, she would tell dad, and dad would rage at me. It was unsafe to even vent to paper. I had nobody else to vent to. I was homeschooled, and all interactions were always supervised and even when they weren’t, I didn’t have the courage or the words or the trust that it wouldn’t somehow get back to my parents. Because everyone else trusted their parents. Obeyed them, because they were raising their children in the way they should go.
I remember when Harriet the Spy came out. I loved that she wrote in a journal, observing everything. I tried the same thing, but mom and dad told me not to. It was actually a bad thing to do.
When I moved out, I packed up these notebooks that had gotten thinner as time went on. There was one where I forgot to rip out a page. It was about my dad acting like Trump–dumping negativity about how ugly all the women were on Miss America because football was on, but I wanted to watch the pageant with my mom in one of the last few tender moments I remember having with her, laying on the couch, leaning against her, as she ran her fingers up and down my arms, and occasionally finding an ingrown hair and pulling it out gently.
I may have been in my early teens. For some reason, the age 14 sticks in my head, but I’m not sure. Late enough I was already starting to worry about paying for college and feeling too ugly to compete in this pageant.
I started college, and we were required to have journals. I carried it around with me at all times in my backpack. Plus my writing was terrible enough it would take time to decipher it, and I could catch my mom before she could understand a word. I still self-censored my writing, because my writing teacher wanted to just check and see if we did the homework, and we could mark the spots with a sticky note and highlighter and she would read just those pages, but I think she read my writing anyway. She mentioned something to that effect, liking what I had to say in the rest of the journal and to keep it up.
She also asked if everything was okay at home, and asked about socialization. I don’t think she knew we’re conditioned to provide the “right” answer on socialization. Sure, we have proms! Game nights! Sports!
But I think the depression and abuse showed in between those words.
And now, I write on this blog. I have since 2011, it seems. It doesn’t seem all that long, but so much has happened. I write when I feel good and have ideas. I write when I start slipping into depression and anxieties. I feel the words flow, eloquence on my fingertips.
But at a certain point, it stops. Anxiety. Depression. Stress. It binds those words up, stoppers them like a dried up wad in the tip of a glue bottle. They call it “writer’s block.”
Oh, but the words are still there–but shame intensifies and binds the ideas together so it won’t come out easily. What will people think if I say this? Or that? Sometimes I’m afraid to even put it in my paper journal. To voice something makes it real.
It also takes away its power. Because then others know of it. Because then you can talk about it, process it, which is necessary to file it away in its proper space in the recesses of my mind. And if I pull it up again, it won’t be as powerful the next time. And even less power the time after that, because I can put more words to it, weave it in so it’s part of my story.
I was full of words for a while. Then, like that, the eloquence was gone. Just stilted words that roughly describe how I feel, to my therapist, my psychiatrist, so they can figure out treatment.
I have eloquence once again, but just for a little while, thanks to a small increase in my Seroquel last night, but I see the storm in the distance again. The rule of thumb with tornadoes is that if it’s not getting smaller, if it’s not moving to the left or the right, then it’s coming toward you. The same is with this storm. It gets darker as it moves in, and then the rain bands hide things as it moves toward you, like a hurricane.
Medicine helps the storms weaken or dissipate, like barrier islands and the land itself. Therapy gives you the tools to cope ahead, board up the windows, and weather the storm.
And I am writing in case I lose my eloquence (and power) later.
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