I must admit. I am depressed.
Not clinically depressed, and not intending on receiving a diagnosis. But for the first time in my life, I can say without a doubt: I am undeniably, irrevocably, and hopelessly depressed. This is because I am failing to admit to myself terrible truths.
It’s harder to try and dive into the reasons, but I will section them out.
First, in work. I work as a bartender and server for a corporate chain. It’s a comfortable job, one that makes enough money for the miserable bills that I have collected, with the opportunity to pick up extra shifts and make extra money for the little things that have gone wrong. I’m friendly and familiar with the people that work with me. I have some friends, but none that I choose to hang out with. I have a couple acquaintances and regulars that frequent the bar when I work that I could easily exchange numbers with, plan to have a drink with on the weekends. I don’t struggle with the hatred of going to work, as I have with other jobs.
However, I don’t like it. For as long as I’ve been in the restaurant industry, I have never felt so out of place. For one, I am almost too old for the environment run by students and people in their late 20s that have lost their focus in life. Don’t take me wrong; I’m not hating on people that choose this life. I’m simply saying that it is not for me. That I, in their position, and even in the position that I am in now, feel like I am achieving nothing. This is the problem I have with the job. It is too easy. It is too simple to agree to work for easy money and live off of the gratitude of other people. Too easy to refuse to fix my resume and go out and apply for jobs with the degree I received when I graduated from Rowan University in the spring of 2014. I am not living up to my capabilities, and at the same time I have convinced myself that I don’t have time to do anything different. In the same minute, I’ll be picking up another shift at work.
It’s greater than this. I am defining myself by the amount of money that I have, though I promised myself I would not. I feel like a failure when I don’t make enough money in the week. Why do I choose to torture myself in a job that doesn’t fulfill me for money that I just want to turn into another number in my bank account? A strange paradox that I cannot break out of, and instead simply choose to continue on my path.
Second, in school. Never in my life have I been more challenged as a writer, or more focused in my writing, than I am as a graduate student at William Paterson. I truly feel that the efforts of my professors, namely the darling Professor Buddhos, who instructs Fiction Writing Seminar 1 this semester, have forced me to realize dark and wonderful things about my writing. For example, I very clearly excel at surreal and imaginative writing. I can capture the essence of dialogue without thinking twice about it. And my faults have been revealed summarily as well. I struggle with description and tell too little in my stories, to the extent that the reader becomes lost in the pages and the plot. It is now something that I am actively working toward correcting and improving in my writing.
The problem comes in the writing itself. Namely, in the writing that isn’t happening. I can write to complete assignments and I can write to satisfy grades. When it comes to my individual writing, I stall and stall until months have gone by and I haven’t touched the beautiful, handmade, leather-bound notebook that my boyfriend bought me for my birthday last year. This writing, not my job, is the way that I define myself, yet I shy away from it. With several stories in mind, I choose to play video games and watch Netflix and scroll through endless useless posts on social media accounts. And it’s not even that I am afraid of failing, because I know for a fact that I can succeed.
The simple truth is that I love writing. I do not know why I cannot write, and I do not know why I need to write, but I know the internal struggle is killing me slowly and I am losing my sense of self.
Third, in my relationships with others. At this point, I do not maintain a regular friendship with anyone. I have several friends organizing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign once again, and I eagerly await that beginning, but until then, I spend nights by myself. Not that I mind this – an introvert at heart, and unwilling to open myself up, I don’t want people bothering me. The occasional meet-up with the close friends I left behind – or that left me behind, and I do not try to keep up – is all that I need to maintain the sense that I am moving through this world with someone at my side.
But my relationship with my boyfriend has been shaky, through the stress of work and school, the balance of both, and finding free time for each other. Plus, and I say this with heart, we are both stubborn as hell and we tell each other about it, and fights that should only last a couple minutes turn into hours when we forget how much we love each other and how to speak without being cruel. These fights have planted a seed of doubt that terrifies me. I know I want to be with him forever, but we cannot stay this way forever. We must get better, or fall apart. It’s something we are both working on but change is no easy thing. I wish everything would fix itself, but that would be too easy.
My family life, as well, is nonexistent. Before the move, I was in constant communication with my grandmother, who lived below me, and who always brightened my day. Since then, I have sparsely spoken to her over the phone. My sister texts on the occasion with strained messages and awkward conversations. My father is busy in Virginia with his sick wife and new grandchildren, a fact that I don’t blame him for but with that I could change. My mother texted me two weeks ago to ask if I was coming to Thanksgiving, and hasn’t spoken to me since. She’s busy with her new boyfriend, and I do blame her for that – a story I won’t bother to get into, but which basically involves her constantly and consistently replacing her children for her latest boyfriend.
Jon’s family is happily stepping up to the plate, though I do not know why they like me so much. I can only hope that they will accept me into their family eventually, and I will know them like a family.
Under these daily things is the fact that I feel like I have no time. I’ve wanted a tattoo for months, yet I have no time to schedule the appointment to go get it. I’ve wanted to begin writing. To buy new shoes. To clean the house and do laundry. To go food shopping. To get my car fixed, or decide to scrap the piece of shit for good. But what have I been doing with my free time?
Nothing. Wasting time. And, paradoxically, sleeping, when I feel that I am too depressed to get anything done. On these days, even feeding myself feels like a chore, even when I am ravenously hungry. I want to eat my feelings as well, and, as always, there’s no time to go to the gym.
It is as though my body has deemed me too worthless to help itself, all while trying to lift itself from the terrible rut. In the process I am losing my mind. I shuffle between all of these things, wandering, waiting for a passion to strike but never edging myself to that point.
I have heard several ways to help myself, and some things sound like they will work. I want to make a list of the promises I want to keep myself and I hope they do not turn false.
- Write. Write every day. Write in the best notebook ever bought. Start writing the novel you have brewing in your head. You can do it.
- Fix your resume. Apply for jobs. Follow up with those jobs. Feel successful.
- Don’t stall. Fix your car. Get a tattoo. A half hour of free time is enough time to get everything done in the day chore-wise. Don’t be lazy.
- Don’t stress about money.
- Forgive the people you hold grudges against. Forgive Jon in particular. Remember how much he cares.
- Try to maintain a relationship with someone, or start a new relationship. Maybe you can find some writer-friends.
- Put your all into school. What you will do with life will come later.
Writing this post is my first step. My admittance of my feelings, the ravenous guilt that comes along with them. This is my pledge to changing who I am, and how I act. A pledge to becoming the person I want to be.
My hope is that it will be that easy.