I used to have a blog, different from this one, that I loved because most of the words weren’t mine. The titles of all my posts were derived from the lyrics of songs. The content dealt with ideas that had spent so much time inside boxes, inside my brain, that I couldn’t remember life without them–but they weren’t my words. I found myself feeling uncomfortable in class today because people were discussing their lives. Their words. I hastily redirected the conversation to the text at hand.

I have always had trust issues.

Today, I received feedback on a paper I wrote. I got an A. I panic when instructors hand back papers. I consciously slow my breathing as I read through the comments and see the grade I have…have earned? Have been assigned? I am surprised each time I get an A. I am vastly disappointed each time I don’t.

Jennifer told me that I need to write. I told Mom. She told me, “Duh.”

But it doesn’t feel that way, you know? I spend hours agonizing over the terrible quality of papers I have yet to compose. Each piece I write is the worst thing I have ever written. And I’m no writer. Other people are writers. I am simply…a person who writes. Writing is something I do. It is not who I am.

But it is.

But it isn’t.

I don’t know how. How does one write? How does one go about becoming a writer?

I thought, momentarily, about choosing a Creative Writing emphasis instead of a Literary Studies one. I abandoned the former because, in the latter, the words are not mine.

It is not me who is lying there on the desk, being poked and prodded and dissected and reconstituted. I am the one poking and prodding and dissecting and reconstituting. I am the reactionary.

Maybe someday I will be one of those healthy, anxiety-free people who can take being pared down with a grain of salt. I hear those people exist, but I think it’s a myth. In the meantime, I’ll stay trapped inside my skull, paralyzed with fear at the prospect of spending my life doing this thing I love–and perhaps one day being good at it.

Here goes.


Personal Statement.

I have come to a nice stopping point in my homework, and I have 10 minutes to fill, before I have to leave for work.

I really don’t want to go to work. I really just want to go home and sleep. I decided that sleeping for 8 hours was integral to my recovery from the world’s longest panic attack. So, I lay in bed for 8 hours this morning/afternoon…I slept for a nonconsecutive 3.5 of those 8 hours. I miss sleep.

Anyway. Time to kill. What to do? Blog, of course. I wrote this…thing…as a final for one of my classes. It’s supposed to be a personal statement to get into a pretend grad program. I changed the names and such, for the blogosphere. Here you go:

“Money is only a metaphor,” I said to my uncle. “Pass the artichoke dip, please.” The Taylor Lunch Bunch was at Applebee’s, doing their best work: eating and arguing. My uncle’s shoulders stiffened. My grandfather let out a frustrated sigh. My grandmother rolled her eyes. “The world cannot function without money,” Grandma retorted. “You’re not going to make a very good politician if you don’t believe in money.” That’s fine, I thought. I don’t want to be a politician, anyway. “I’m changing my major,” I blurted out. “I may quite possibly kill myself if I continue in Political Science. I am going to study literature. Are we going for dessert?” I took a sudden interest in origami, folding and unfolding my napkin in my lap. I felt the shock fill our booth as the other Lunch Bunch members tried to grasp what I had just told them. “So…you want to be unemployed the rest of your life,” Grandma said, breaking the silence. “I thought we could go for an ice cream.”

The Lunch Bunch dropped me off at the curb of the Liberal Arts building, after our weekly lunch excursion was over. I slung my bag over my shoulder and felt a sense of peace settle over me. I am going to study literature, I told myself again. That sense of peace drove me through the next four years, as I committed myself to being an English person. Literature is not merely a field of study. Studying literature requires us to reorient ourselves to the world and to reevaluate every principle we accepted as being true; to navigate again through our own identities and construct ourselves as more attentive human beings, in tune with the half-truths and artifices that comprise our world.

In a writing conference, Dr. K—— told me to “find [my] tribe,” or the people to whom I belong. Among the students and faculty of HV University’s English & Literature department, I have found my tribe. I want to continue my studies in this department at the graduate level, because it is with my tribe that I will cultivate the skills and the confidence necessary to teach literary criticism. My aim is to seek out a professorship within the English discipline, once I have completed my graduate studies. I have had the opportunity of working closely with both Dr. B—— and Dr. N——- as an undergraduate, and look forward to their mentorship on the graduate level as I hone a specialty in the critical field of Gender and Queer theory.

In fifteen years, when I have completed my graduate education and have spent time working as an academic, I hope a Political Science student decides to take my introductory survey of literature. I hope to provide an environment in which that student can connect to the texts, and find a home amongst literary critics the way that I have. I will encourage each of my students to “find your tribe,” and will remember how my education at HV University laid the ground work for my career as an academic. If accepted to the graduate program of the English & Literature department, I will not only be an asset as a student, but will commit myself to becoming the type of academic whose work will reflect well on HV University.

Sob Story.

Today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Technically it was yesterday. But, I haven’t slept yet. So, it’s still today.

I won’t go into all the details. Something about the possibility of being kicked out, mixed with a 16-hour panic attack, mixed with midterms, mixed with the inability to focus because of the pain, which is exacerbated by the anxiety, which is exacerbated by the insomnia, which is exacerbated by midterms and the possibility of being kicked out.

So, earlier this evening, I hopped in my car and headed north. I called my mom, and asked if I could come hang out for a few hours. Aaaaand…I promptly broke down and sobbed my way through a five-minute phone conversation. Mom told me to come on over.

I probably should have been doing homework. But, I couldn’t think straight and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get anything accomplished if I just went home and stared at my computer screen. So, I drove to my mom’s house so I could get in a good venting session and get a therapeutic hug or two.

When I was a teenager, I never imagined my relationship with my mom would be like this. I remember so much fighting between us, and I just wanted my mom to have my back. Then again, my relationship with my mom has always been like this, and she has always been the only person to have my back.

It’s been a rough go. I’ve seen a lifetime of pain and sadness in my short 21 years; a lifetime I would never wish on anyone. And through it all, my mom has had my back. It typically isn’t in the way I want her to. She makes sure I know when I’m being irrational or when my world is falling apart because I’M the stupid one. Some days, it’s precisely the way I want her to. Like today, when she let me just ramble on for three hours, and told me that it isn’t me who is overreacting. But whatever the circumstances, and however “in the loop” she is about the situation, I can count on her to be my shoulder to cry on and to give me that reassuring hug that let’s me know she’s in my corner, no matter what.

She helps get me out of my head long enough to do a bit of regrouping. Which I appreciate, because heaven knows I can no longer get out of my head by myself.

Anyway. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And then it became a little less terrible, and a little more bearable.

Thanks, Mom.


Some days, all you need is for someone to wake you up, gently, from a much-needed nap (I use “nap” liberally, here. The three hours of nap were more than the two hours of sleep from last night…) with corndogs.

Seriously. Jennifer woke me up from my nap and said, “I put corndogs in the oven.” I had fifteen minutes of easing into a functional state, which was much appreciated. And then I grabbed two corndogs.

What is it about wrapping a hotdog in cornbread, and dipping it in a ketchup/mustard swirl, that makes a hotdog edible? Not just edible but…delicious?

I have no idea. All I know is that today was rough. And I found out that I paid a lot of money for a test that yielded negative results. Normally, people would be excited about this. But being told that your scans came back completely clean when you’re in excruciating amounts of pain for no discernible reason does not get me excited. And I’m looking forward to a very busy night at work, tonight.

A good nap and some corndogs were a much-needed pick-me-up.

And Jennifer, of course. Jennifer may have had something to do with it. 😉

Streaming Barely-Consciousness.

I always thought Winona Ryder was pretty.

I was really little, the first time I thought about dying. Seven. I punched a kid in the face because he was mean to my friend. To be fair, I told him that I would punch him if he didn’t stop being mean. He didn’t stop. I was the one who got in trouble.

When I got home, I opened the hall cupboard and stood on my tippy-toes so I could see how many boxes of pills we had. If I took some and went to take a nap, maybe I would never wake up. Maybe then Mom would never find out about me and Tim the Bully, who completely deserved to get decked in the face. I was so ashamed, and I didn’t know how to process those emotions of guilt in a healthy manner. Not much has changed, in that regard.

I am thinking about milestones, today. I’ve been Dani the Medical Mystery for three months, two weeks, and one day. I haven’t had caffeine in five months and one day. I’ve been living the “single” life, free from abusive relationships, for one year, one month, and six days. My dad died twelve years, four months, three weeks, and four days ago; my first boyfriend, five years, five months, three weeks, and six days ago. It has been less than a minute since the last toxic thought passed through my brain.

I told Jennifer that it isn’t about dying. I am tired. Everything I experience is so intense, and it is draining. The pain. The work. The Brain. The pretending like everything is okay. I just want to be done with it. I just want to rest. In peace.

Once upon a time, when James was my bestie and Jennifer had yet to come into my life and show me what Healthy interaction looks like, James and I used to joke about me checking myself into a psychiatric hospital someplace, and staying for six months. Or longer. However long it would take to fix me up as capital-“n”-normal and not think about pain medication cocktails when I am feeling insecure.

But I’m not that brave. After all, what would I tell people? I’m taking a break from school so that I can get my brain in order and learn healthy coping mechanisms which, in turn, will significantly increase my ability to physically function and possibly get me out of The Valley sooner? No. That would just make too much sense. Much better to stay trapped inside my own mind and fester in its toxicity. The people who are my blood? They’ve found a way to do it. Those are my genes, too. Why can’t I?

Yesterday, I could not get out of bed. I texted Jennifer, and told him that I was going to miss our morning classes because of a migraine. It was partly true. The migraine was there. How do you tell someone that you just want a few more hours of sleep before you have to get up and deal with the fear and the guilt and the omnipresent feeling that, even at your best, you are never going to be good enough? The migraine could have been triggered by something I ate; the more-likely culprit is the increasing number of panic attacks. Even my body has shoddy coping mechanisms.

So I’m sitting here in my pajamas, stressing about the Tolstoy and the Woolf I have to read before ten-o’-clock classes. Unable to concentrate, because panic attacks do that to a person. I can feel another migraine coming on, and I think this one has something to do with the lack of sleep I’m getting. It is difficult to sleep well, or for very long, when your mind won’t shut up and the pain won’t shut down. I’m wearing Dad’s old t-shirt and the flannel pants Mom got me for Christmas — sometimes you need a hug from your parents, but your dad is dead and you feel compelled to be strong for your mom. So you choose your pajamas so that it’s like wearing a sort-of hug. It doesn’t make me feel any better, but I like to think it would, if I were capital-“n”-normal and my insomnia was able to be defeated by a dose of Melatonin.

I sleep all the time. It has been months since I last slept.

I cannot take sleeping pills. If I have to choose between not being able to sleep, and not being able to wake up, I’ll choose the former. I’ve chosen the former. I am choosing the former? And thanks to the four months of Prescription Roulette at the beginning of last year, I’m flagged as having drug-seeking behavior. They try not to prescribe pain medication to people with pill-popping tendencies. They put people with fibromyalgia on anti-depressants, because they help to calm the nervous system. Apparently that’s what I have, if I don’t have cancer or MS or out-of-control anxiety. Maybe I have all three. I get to see a neurologist in a month. I think the wait time would be shorter in Canada, and I wouldn’t have to pay for the medical bills.

And the medical bills. How does one afford a stay at a psychiatric facility, anyway?

I told Jennifer that I don’t know if a stay would make me better, or if it would make me worse. He said he thinks I need a retreat.

How does one afford a stay in Aruba, anyway?

I wonder what Winona Ryder would look like with a mango mojito in her hand…

Trust Issues…

Can you trust yourself?

I can’t. Trust myself, that is. I’m sure that I can trust you, depending on the situation. I cannot trust myself, regardless of the situation.

I am learning, slowly, that my brain is full of poison. I have adopted, through the years of maladjustment and dangerous “coping” mechanisms, a toxic way of thinking. And I’m searching for The Antidote.

Minus the part where you cannot just inject yourself with something and have your brain magically transform into Healthy.

I follow The Bloggess, She makes me laugh, which is something that is hard to do, these days. But, when I found her, she had posted something about how “Depression Lies.” And it does.

And on days like this, or weeks like this, or months like this, I try to remind myself of that. Depression lies. Sometimes it’s hard to remember. Sometimes it’s easy to remember but difficult to internalize. Sometimes you know it’s true, but that doesn’t stop your world from spinning like it’s threatening to throw you off of it.

But. Still. Depression lies.

Which can be a comforting tidbit of information, at times.

Posit on Parenthood.

Hello, World. I know it has been a while. Life has been crazy. Something about bad reactions after blood tests, and creepy people stalking me, and out of control anxiety levels, and sinking into a deep depression after a day filled with triggers, and items that were stolen (namely, my wallet…wherein all my important items rested). It has been an intense and upsetting past few weeks.

Speaking of intense and upsetting:

I’ve been mulling a lot of ideas — somehow all tied to children and parenthood — around in my brain. Ideas about how Parent is a different brand of human. How, once you have a child, your life is theirs until they reach adulthood. Is this a terrible way to conceptualize parenthood?

I’m taking a Literature by Women class. The class is filled with fantastic reading material and endlessly frustrating discussion. We recently read The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. I read this novella in my high school AP Literature class. I hated it. I understand the need to realize oneself. I can sympathize with being stuck in a relationship that neither party wants to be part of. I can empathize with needing to escape a situation in which you are seen not as a person, but as a possession to complete a collection of Correctness. I DO NOT excuse Edna Pontellier’s suicide (I apologize for ruining the ending, if you have not read the book…but not really) as being tragic. Why? Because she abandons her children. More than that, she kills herself as a means of running away from her children. I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS.

Does that make me a terrible person?

I have been reading articles about recent attempts by states to legislate the bodies of people who could become pregnant—from making access to emergency contraception more difficult, to instituting long waiting periods for abortions, to “personhood” measures that define a fetus as having constitutional rights, to defining the termination of a zygote–>embryo–>fetus as murder, to requiring that rape victims carry their pregnancies to term or go to prison for evidence tampering. This world makes me very, very sad.

I have been thinking about Edna Pontellier, and how she never wanted children. She was never a “mother-woman,” as she puts it. I wonder what Edna’s life would have been like, if she had never had children. Would she have been happier? Would she have stayed in a loveless marriage? Would she have run away with her lover, Robert, and lived happily ever after?

I don’t want kids. That may change, someday; but, I do not want kids. It isn’t that I don’t think I would make a good parent. I would be an all right parent, I guess. I have this need to take care of people. I just think that I am better-suited for other things.

Is that so bad? Does that make me a terrible person?

Life is filled with so many choices. Being a parent should be a choice—not a de facto choice that is made for someone by the result of other decisions, but a conscious, deliberate choice. People should have that…that right? And children should have the right to grow up in a household where they are not only going to be raised by loving parents, but in a healthy, stable environment.

Is that naive?