…Sometimes I still pretend I’m fine when I’m not.
This is me calling myself out. Am I the pot or the kettle? I’m not really sure. Either way, I’m about as black as I can get without literally taking body paint to myself. And I just don’t have the energy for that this week.
Maybe another time.
I’ll let you know.
Four hours ago, I was in the grocery store. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be ANYWHERE that other than in the darkness of my bedroom, connected to the outside world only by a wireless router. I went though, because I knew that once I made it to my bedroom, I wasn’t leaving again. And there was no food in the house. Not that I really, particularly cared about that, since moving from the bed to cook anything these days is the kind of monumental task that I just don’t want to undertake. But I’m told that it’s good to eat.
If you lose too much weight, your boobs start to shrink. And let’s face it, I don’t really need to add that to my list.
So I was in the store, running on four hours of sleep. I was up most of the night last night, in some mixture of OCD and Depression hell. Crying spells mixed with panicking spells and everything in between. It happens, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been HERE. Usually, Russian class is enough to snap me back to the reality of having too much to do to be completely anti-social.
Grocery shopping while anxious, muted, and exhausted is futile. I wound my way through aisles, stopping and examining things that I had no use for. Essential oils. A plastic football. Magazines that I’ve never read. I bought nine items. Only two of them actually go together. The rest are mostly useless. Sloppy joe sauce, but no meat. Cheese whiz, but no macaroni noodles. A candle. Because I can TOTALLY eat that. It was like wandering through the store on autopilot, in some kind of a haze.
And when I got to the check out line, it happened.
I made the inevitable “friendly” eye contact with the woman standing next to me. She, as it turned out, was a talker.
The LAST thing I wanted to deal with.
I’m not great at petty chit-chat with strangers on a good day.
She said something about the magazines. I smiled politely. And then, feeling the urge to make it clear that I was tired and didn’t want to talk, I uttered the words, “I’m just ready to go home to bed.”
It was the last completely honest thing that came out of my mouth up until the cashier asked me if I wanted my receipt and I told her no.
“Oh! You’ve been working all night?” The woman asked.
It hadn’t occurred to me that the rest of the world didn’t find twelve thirty on a Monday an appropriate time to go to bed. I found myself faced with the choice of either admitting that I’d only been awake for four hours or playing along with her game. My version was uncomfortable. Usually the poster child for OCD in this city, today I found myself unwilling to admit that I’d been doing rounds with monsters in my head. That the accompanying depression was physically exhausting me, making me ache, making my colors dull. That I didn’t want to be talking to her at ALL.
Working all night? SURE. That sounds like a GREAT idea. We’ll go with that.
“Yeah,” I answered. A veritable fount of linguistic goodness I was. Maybe my short answer would be enough to encourage her to leave the subject alone. After all, I was tired.
I’d been working all night, for God’s sake.
She smiled at me and nodded sympathetically. “Where do you work?”
Oh Frack. I had about three point two seconds to come up with a plausible place of employment. Why wasn’t the woman in FRONT of me gone yet? Why couldn’t the cashier check her out faster? I only had NINE UNRELATED ITEMS dammit. I just wanted to go home.
I opened my mouth, and like magic, words came out. The lie was effortless.
“I’m a writer,” I said. As if this explained everything.
And it wasn’t technically untrue. I did write last night. In between rounds of Obsessive-Compulsive Madness.
The woman was very excited by this development.
“Oh, a writer! How exciting! What do you write?”
This was getting complicated. I really didn’t intend to have a conversation of fiction with this woman. What did I write? Excellent question.
Whiny blog posts?
OCD informational booklets?
The occasional ten page paper about Russian Youth Culture, Pygmalion and The Sims, or Homoerotic Football?
“Young adult fiction.”
Of course. I didn’t even write young adult fiction when I was a young adult. Then I wrote about strippers and extra-marital affairs. But we won’t go there.
I’ve never written a story about a vampire.
“It’s easier to write at night. I don’t like this daylight thing.”
Maybe if she thinks I’m a vampire, she’ll leave me alone.
“Well isn’t that wonderful,” She said. “Published?”
By this time, something in my head had taken over the job of talking. I was grateful that it didn’t invent a title and a publishing company and send the woman on a wild goose chase.
I shook my head. Ironically, still not completely true. I did once have a short story published in an anthology. It was not, however, about vampires. And it was horrific. I was only 13.
“My son is a writer too…” And off she went, blessedly finishing the interrogation so that she could give me her son’s life story.
When I finally got out of the store, reality hit me.
WHAT THE FRACK WAS THAT?
Had I really just had that conversation? Left a perfect stranger with an image of me as an as of yet unpublished young adult fiction writer? Where had those lies come from? And why in the world had they come out of my mouth?
You have to understand, that’s not really my style.
These days, I tend to fall more along the lines of brutally honest.
Really, it makes people cringe sometimes.
Then again, as I think back through what my weekend has been like, I realize that it’s been full of these little moments. In Russian today, I was off. Someone asked me if this was a hangover thing. I could have just said, “No, I had a bad night.” I didn’t. I let him think what he wanted, and tossed off (in Russian, at least,) “Я не хочу об этом разговаривать.” I don’t want to talk about it. Better to have them think I’d gone on a bender than that I was actually having some issues.
My weekend was full of words like fine, just tired, and busy. Only a couple of very close friends actually got to hear the extent of what’s been going on in my brain.
And so, I’m calling myself out. Calling this what it is.
A bad fracking mental health week. OCD. Depression. A hitch in my giddyup.
I’m a little off-track.
People sometimes ask me how I can just talk about OCD like I do – so openly, so candidly. A long time ago, I stopped being ashamed of it and I’m about as OUT as you get right now. I tell them I don’t know. It is what it is.
But the truth is, I’m not much different from anyone else. I still have bad weeks. And sometimes, I still lie and pretend I’m fine when I’m not.
Even if that means that a stranger in the grocery store now thinks that an unpublished young adult author is writing about vampires in North Austin. Who knows. Maybe I will someday. And soon, I really will be fine again. I always am.
But today? I really just want to stay in bed. Mkay?