The Never-Final Countdown

On This Day…you were complaining

There is the thing Facebook does – the Memories. I look at it every day, and more often it is an emotionally masochistic act than a warm-fuzzy one. I notice myself doing an unconscious countdown around November. Now that my boyfriend Paulie and I have been together for less-than-six-but-more-than-five years, as the memories get closer to the day we met I start to think about how much it amazes me that I still really like him, a lot, after X many years. This is a positive memory.

Come December, with Christmas around the corner and holly-jolly in the air, I start looking for clues in the daily Memories: was there a sign that my husband was just waiting for the holidays to be over before telling me he was done, this time for real, he really meant it this time? A few days after the new year things go silent, and I know by then he’d told me, and I didn’t really know what to say on social media for a while.

The last couple of days I’ve seen old posts and known that, even though nothing hints toward this fact, Paulie and I had broken up and would get back together in a few months. Today’s memory reminded me of a previous break-up (why do they always find the break-ups?), the first – and admittedly too soon – attempt at a relationship after my marriage. Our courtship was all from afar, impeccably sweet, and he broke up with me the day before he was going to fly in for a visit. Although I never mentioned him on Facebook, I see our spillage all over today’s Memories. And it is the fact that I notice the very subtly hidden messages in this:

Booooo Hooooo

more than the blatant joy in this:

Holy Glorious Memory!

…that gave me pause, and made me realize something needed to change in my wackadoodle brain.

I was thinking recently about trying anti-depressants. You all know I’m Midwestern so that statement in and of itself should justify my hearing the headparts-ambulance screeching around the corner to collect me any second now, as we are not a people who give in to the whimsies of our emotions just willy-nilly. But I’d been wondering if they might help. Just a little bit – maybe even slightly brighten the edge of the grey cloud I see when I look up from reading, writing and especially, arithmetic.

Last summer, both my boyfriend and my closest local friend independently suggested I might want to try maybe just a teensie baby anti-depressant. I wasn’t myself as of late, and they were getting a tad concerned. I poo-pooed them, told them I’d only recently closed the store I’d owned for 8 years, wasn’t sure what I was doing with my life, was struggling financially…in short, it was a very transitional time for me and I was trying to figure it all out. Case closed.

Fast forward nearly a year (I don’t have a Facebook Memory for those conversations, thankfully), and I was beginning to wonder if they’d been right. If I’d given it the old college try but still found myself slogging through the muck, still trying to figure it out (and I hate that I keep using that phrase, the favorite of another of my exes, the most depressed person I ever knew if that tells me anything), still financially struggling, still suffering from a rabid case of Impostor Syndrome, still staring at page after blank page, maybe my method wasn’t working?

I talked to my therapist about trying anti-depressants. And, because I was going out on a limb of vulnerability anyway, I also asked about trying acid. It’s pretty hard to get a “What the?!” look out of him, so I was pleased if only for that. “I’m just tired of trying to force my way into being who I was when I liked myself more,” I told him. “I feel like maybe it’s time I tried something that will, I don’t know, push me out of…where I am.” I added, “I mean, people say they take acid and it completely changes their perspective on life and the way they see things, so I figured I’d ask about that, too. Maybe I could just try it once and that would take care of everything in one fell swoop, you know?”

He patiently suggested that acid was not a good idea for me. Then he placed a large pillow on the other end of the couch and told me to talk to it as if it were my unkempt, ignored emotions. I told him I needed a bigger pillow.

This was the exact emotion pillow

Later a friend stopped by, and I asked her about the anti-depressants thing, which is something she is well-versed in. She had the same reaction that my therapist ultimately had (after watching my emotion-pillow and I switch places on the couch a few times while having a somewhat productive, albeit annoying, tear-filled conversation). Both thought I probably didn’t actually need anti-depressants. “But,” each said in his and her own way, “if you really want to, it won’t hurt to try. You can try, and if they aren’t working for you, you can stop.”

That was enough to placate me for a few extra days of thinking about it.

Today’s Memories also reminded me that it was only a short year ago that my boyfriend and I were in New York, and I read at Mortified NYC. Which means it has also been a year since I saw my dear friend Mandi. Both happy memories, but which mean it has also almost been a year since Prince died. When that happened, I wrote about it once. Then again. Then again. Then I didn’t write again for months.

It is these parts of The Countdown – the breakups, the smacks of death – that sink me deeper. I mean, not in a ‘I’m going to stay in bed for a week or do myself or anyone I know any harm’ kind of way. But in a ‘well that band-aid sure did hurt when it got ripped off of my apparently not-quite-healed-yet wound’ way.

Making tea this morning, I thought about the Memories I’d just scrolled through. Gabriel Garcia Marquez died 3 years ago today. My kids were cute on Easter a bunch of years ago. I realized that taking anti-depressants isn’t going to change anything, really. They won’t change the fact that it keeps cold-raining to which I say “I know, drought, yes, but ENOUGH ALREADY!” They won’t change the fact that at this time last year, Prince was only a few days away from suddenly dying in an elevator. They won’t make my boyfriend suddenly want me to weigh exactly what I weigh at any given moment. They won’t make Trump not be our President anymore. They won’t make me be done with my Statistics class. They won’t make money start flowing into my pockets. They won’t make me finally win the Hamilton lottery. I decided I needed to stop expecting other people, or things, or chemical balancing acts to get my life back on track. I remembered that it was up to me. Hashtag: Midwest for Lyfe!

After this moment of giving up clarity, I sat down at my computer to hustle for some paying work, and in doing so, ignored said hustling to check my email. Right up top was a message from my doctor, who I’d forgotten I’d emailed after my therapy appointment (which felt like a hundred ‘On This Day’s ago) to get her opinion on the whole anti-depressants thing. She sent a long, thoughtful message, acknowledging everything I’d said about being unsure, and which basically ended with: “all of that being said, there’s a prescription waiting for you, if you’d like to try.”

And I leaned back and thought, Well, shit, now what?

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