Dying of Sadness

As I left another friend’s wake this evening, I reflected on all of the funerals I’ve attended and all the death my age group has experienced in this town. Whether we drown our sorrows in the bottom of a whiskey bottle or a line of opiates, or actually commit suicide, we’re literally dying of sadness.
It’s so easy to take all of your fears and insecurities and mistakes and let them eat you alive. In a small town with one bar and a lot of bored, sad kids, it’s easier to get a pill or some coke or maybe even some meth (if you know the right people) than it is to face the facts. If you don’t get out now, you will die here. Your children will go to school and have the same teachers you had, will spend their time with the children of the people who you could’ve done without seeing again.
I’m the first to admit that when my dad died, I drank until I blacked out every night for months. I don’t remember anything else about that year, except that I was 21, the oldest of the group, and could be seen leaving the liquor store at 10 am on any random Tuesday.
I even got out. Moved across the country, to the seventh largest city in the US, San Antonio. Texas saved my life. But then, I came back. I came back just to watch another friend die.
I can scream about mental illness laws and how terrible they are until I’m blue in the face, but that doesn’t change the fact that the closest psychiatrist is 45 min away, none are accepting new patients, and the only way to be seen by one is in the ER after you’ve attempted suicide. And who’s going to the ER without decent health insurance?
I attempted suicide, many years ago and it wasn’t serious. No one even knows about it because I took a bottle of Tylenol, slept for a while and woke up naseuous and annoyed to be alive. I never tried again.
Every day I think about driving into a tree, or having a freak accident at work and getting run over by heavy equipment (that’s happened twice in this town in the last 5 years, so not too far off the realm). But I won’t do it. I won’t do it because I look around and think about all of the things I haven’t done yet. The places I haven’t seen.
But what if you’re content with the life you’ve lived? If your pain is so strong that the leap off the bridge could happen any time? How does our generation stop dying of sadness?


Being the parent to my parents.

My first memory is of my parents swigging bottom shelf vodka out of the bottle while I was in a carseat in the back. That was the precursor for my whole life.

My mother has been an addict as long as I can remember. She was a highly functioning drug user, rarely missing work and often getting promotions. She was the hiring manager for a popular store chain. She always hired the underdogs, the teenagers and felons no one else would hire. And everyone loved working for her.

Working these long hours meant she was rarely home, and when she was, she was waiting for me to fall asleep so she could leave to score drugs, usually crack cocaine. A pattern started. Put me to bed, wait 5 minutes, pull out of the driveway with the headlights off. I always waited for her to leave and then went to wake my dad up. This was long before cell phones, so unless she left a note, which was rare, we had no idea where she was going or when she would be back. I stayed up until 3 and 4am every night watching TV Land, waiting on her. Happy Days and I Love Lucy still remind me of sitting on the couch in a panic, waiting for her to show up. I also developed extreme anxiety that I still deal with today. If someone doesn’t answer my phone or text immediately, I fear that they are dead, overdosed, car wreck, kidnapped.

My mother is not the only adult child in this story. My dad became an alcoholic when he was eight. Something happened to him and his mother shared her whiskey to get him to be quiet. He woke up every morning and drank a 12 pack before work. He was a mechanic at a tiny shop, and the boss also had a drinking problem. There was always a half gallon of vodka in their freezer.

I knew that we didn’t have a lot of money, that food was scarce. There were nights and nights of screaming fights about who spent the bill and food money on drugs, how were we going to keep the lights on. This was all the norm for me. I didn’t realize until I was about 9 that not every family functioned like this.

My dad usually drank himself into a stupor and passed out by 6pm. This left me to fend for myself. I learned how to cook and ate hamburger helper night after night for years. I took care of our dog, learned how to wash clothes after the kids at school made fun of me for wearing the same thing for days at a time.

Once I started driving, I spent most nights out looking for my mother, checking the local crack houses and calling her friends over and over. My dad sent me because at that point he had lost his license to multiple DUIs and was too drunk to talk. Then my dad died.

My mom went into full out binge mode. Drinking all night, doing meth, sleeping with any man that would buy her a beer at our local bar. I knew I had to get out, so I moved two states away and tried to build my own life. This lasted a whole month, when she called to tell me that she had been up for days. I had to move back home and check her into rehab.

I tell you all of this because I realize that this is the reason that I try to fix everyone. Give me your most broken, felonious, jerk of a man, and I’ll show you how to invest years into ‘fixing’ him. How to wait on him hand and foot while crying myself to sleep every night. How to ruin every good relationship by smothering them to death, constantly craving attention. How to jump from man to man trying to find the one that will actually be able to make to me happy, when the reality is that I will never be happy until I am happy with myself.

On Being Sad

I can’t remember what it’s like to wake up happy. To not feel like there’s a 2 ton brick on my chest. Every day I wake up and sigh because I have another day in this existence. I went to my rheumatologist last month and made a comment about being sad. And she said ‘you seem pretty happy to me’.

It irks me when people forget that just because someone is sad doesn’t mean they have to give up. Of course it would be nice to stay in bed on bad days. To binge on sleep and Netflix and Xanax like it’s the gospel. But most people don’t have that option. There are bills to pay. Appearances to keep. Life gets even sadder when you’re exposed. Lose your job, bills pile up, lose your house. Then you’re really sad. 

I would give anything to wake up happy tomorrow.

I Just Wish My Anxiety Would End

Thought Catalog

I’ve been there. I know what it it’s like to not want to leave your house to even go to the gas station because there are people there. Inevitably those people will judge you and make fun of you and call you names because people are evil and the world is evil and you wish, you just wish it would end.

You’ve thought about putting a gun to your head or swallowing a handful of pills because you know that afterwards you’d be able to be alone and just, maybe, think. At least you wouldn’t have to worry anymore.

Maybe you have a drug habit that you only started because you wanted to ease the pain just a bit, just a little bit and then you decided you liked feeling numb because when you’re away from the world nothing seems to matter. Maybe it’s gotten its hooks in you though…

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Everything we love fails, I didn’t tell my students,
if by fails we mean ends or changes,
if by love we mean what sustains us.
Language is what honors the vanishing.
Or is language what slows the leaving?
Or does it only deepen what we know of loss?

Inside us, constellations,
bit thread knotted into night’s black drape.
There are no right words,
if by right we mean perfect,
if by perfect we mean able to save us.

It is my friend herself who is fragile.
When I take her out to eat, each step is work.
The restaurant is loud and bright.
She wants to know if she looks normal.
I make my words soft. Fine,
which might be the most useless word in English,
everything is going to be fine.
-Excerpts from “The Failure of Language” by Jacqueline Berger

Today I found out that my boyfriend was up all night arranging an escort service. This did not actually take place, but I’m at a crossroads. If i make him leave, he is essentially on the street. He gets too high on this designer research chemical to the point that he loses all control of his mind. yesterday i had to explain to him how to brush his teeth. He still couldn’t get it.

He refuses to admit that he has a drug problem even though he was catatonic for about 30 minutes yesterday. The stress of caring for an infant-like drug addict is making me sicker and sicker. And then the prostitute thing. I can’t let it go, and it gives me so much anxiety that I could claw all my skin off just to get away.