I chose the Magritte painting, Attemting the Impossible because 1. I like Magritte 2. I feel like I’m “creating” myself each time I have to go out into the world, or I’m putting the pieces of myself together each morning 3. Having confidence in my own body seems like attemting the impossible and 4. Because you should download the apps ArtStack and Fleck if you have any interest in art and design.
I called the Rent Allowance office today to see if there’s any hope of getting a dig out from them. Things are desperate financially: the phones have been disconnected; our broadband is likely to be; I got home on the fumes of fuel this afternoon having already had to borrow yet more money from my poor mother In order to fix up my account with the vet and I’m constantly getting calls from banks and insurers and debt collection agencies. I have two euro and three cents in my account, which isn’t even my account: I’m still using my fifteen year old daughter’s account because I’m likely to be over my overdraft limit for quite some time yet.
I had planned to “deal” with them all, the incessant callers, this week by writing them letters, or if possible, working up the courage to call them (before the phones got cut off, I was). I don’t think financial firms and organisations, or individuals sometimes, realise how irrationally terrified sufferers of anxiety and/or depression can be of talking on the phone. That looks ridiculous as I type it: I’m a thirty four year old woman with years of speaking in front of large groups of teenagers and I’m scared to answer my own phone. I have no idea what I’m afraid of: somebody will shout at me; somebody will tell me I’m going to prison because I can’t pay my M50 toll fine; Danielle, the snotty sounding D4-drawl-accented twentysomething who keeps leaving me voicemails to call her back urgently but never clarifies which of the eighteen money seeking possibilities she could be representing might make me feel like a tiny piece of snail shit on the red sole of her black Louboutin court.
Or, as happened today on the phone to Patricia from the Rent Allowance section at the Department of Social Protection, I fail to hold back the tears and end up breathlessly sobbing down the phone: “I’m so embarrassed, I’m so sorry, I don’t mean to sound pushy, I just don’t know what to do”. She was so kind. She was one of the nicest people I’ve ever cried to about money on the phone. And there’ve been a few.
They hadn’t received the last lot of documents they requested in order to process my application. She said they could be in the pile and just not on the system so she couldn’t tell me where in the queue I am, if I am at all. She said she’d go through the pile and apologised that it would be Monday before she’d be able to get back to me. So now I have all weekend to conjure up worst case scenarios.
I made an absolute show of myself.
“Why don’t you just go back to work? Find a job for the summer. Work – you lazy bitch!”
I know you’re thinking that.
“You’re broke, you have a child and two dogs to support. You’ve been through college and you’ve had educational opportunities some people could never dream of. Put it to good use. Go out and earn your keep and quit moaning and sponging off the State!”
I want to, believe me. You think I like being at home all day on my own, talking to my dogs and answering myself, in their imagined voices? I envy those people trotting off to work in their comfortable runners; heels or suit shoes waiting under their desks. Often, the women – the working girls – are on the phone to their mam, or sister or friend on the way home from work going over the weekend’s antics or planning the next or discussing going for promotion or the next weekend they’ll make it “down home”. I want to be Her. Her, with Her career and Her life and Her full days and Her phone calls and Her voice. I don’t want to be here in my silent little bubble but yet, I fear the PanicDin if it bursts.
Someone asked me today, “Are you depressed again?” and I thought it was the stupidest fucking question I’ve been asked in ages. Bruce Banner in The Avengers movie says that his secret is that he’s always angry just as he dramatically morphs into Hulk to go “smash” things. That’s my secret – I’m always depressed, I’ve just got better at controlling it.
Depression isn’t a short lived few days of being down in the dumps, that much I’ve learned. It’s not even feeling sad and crying down the phone. It’s a hundred negative emotions and thoughts crushing your mind and stamping out your sense of yourself like you’re a cigarette butt. It’s being afraid to look people in the eye in case they recognise your weakness and simultaneously wishing they would see how fragile you are so they’d back off. It’s not feeling worthy of walking on the same street as the woman who gets up and goes to work each day. It’s looking at your life and seeing all the things you haven’t done instead of all the things you have. It’s craving sleep because you’re exhausted with no physical explanation as to why; you hope sleep will give you a break from the constant knot of dread choking you but when you do sleep, you’re tormented by what’s lost and a fucked up mélange of subconscious fear, that wakes you up with a silent scream and a hot, shivering sweat.
A friend enquired today if I’d been having longer periods of good days in between bouts of darkness. Yes, I have, but, I replied, that’s what’s making it harder to cope with the Dead Days of Waste. I’m thrown completely by these bad days because I thought I was so much better.
But, really, I’ve only been better in my safe little routine, if I’m honest with myself. I’ve packed myself away and as soon as I plan to haul myself out of my bubble wrap, I get a massive migraine and puke all over myself.
In ten days, I’m going to America for two months. Elsadaughter and me. No dogs. Don’t get me started on leaving them or I’ll be doing a Patricia all over again.
“You’re going to the States for TWO MONTHS and you’re moaning about being depressed?! You spoiled little brat! You privileged bitch! Not reading another word you write! You giant FAKE!”
I wouldn’t blame you. I have so much to be grateful for, not least my wonderful second set of parents (Mammy, I LOVE you!) in Texas who booked our flights for us and will feed us, take us to cool places and love us like we are their own for the third summer in a row.
But I can’t shake it just by thinking that I should be… undepressed. I’m more than happy that we are going: we have so many friends there and life seems easier and lighter there – probably because we are so utterly spoiled and minded by our family. But also because it’s sunny and warm and they have top loader washing machines and garbage chutes and summer staff who pack your bags at the grocery store and people who are genuinely interested in how your day is going, especially when you reply that it’s “Grand, thanks and yourself?” In your Irish accent and suddenly you’re a rock star in Costco.
“So what the fuck is up with you, princess? I’ll be lucky to get a week in Tenerife after a full year’s hard slog and mortgage payments!”
I have to take my brain with me. Running off to another country won’t let me escape the shit in my head and certainly won’t stop my creditors (I never know if it’s debtors or creditors) chasing me. I’ll take all the internalised angst with me and have all the external stress to come home to.
Also, I am so worried that when I have bad days, my family will think I’m an ungrateful, rude spoilsport. I don’t know how I’ll handle the not sleeping at night; the getting up to pee seven times before I’m satisfied I won’t wet the bed; the night terror screaming and the three or four pairs of pyjamas in the wash each day; the not being able to open my eyes and meet the morning; the chronic desperation for sleep mid afternoon; the heavy, aching bones and the profound disgust at my own body in a swimming costume.
I am so fearful that they’ll think I’m not thankful or that I’m not relieved beyond belief to be in the one place I feel close to that thing called happy.
I feel so guilty that I have these people and this holiday. I haven’t worked all year other than a few students who needed grinds (that’s extra tuition to the non-Irish). I’ve been soaking off my family since September: I haven’t worked for it. I haven’t earned it.
Which leads me on to the thing I once had called a career… I know everyone expects me to be back teaching in September, but what if I’m not ready? What if I can’t do it? What if I’m still a bubble-wrapped lump of withering cellulite failure by the time I’m supposed to be better?
I tweeted earlier that I don’t know if I’m cut out for this life thing (which DOES NOT mean that in in danger of doing away with myself so calm down Mammy!), it just means that maybe I’m just destined to waste the life I was given.
On that note, have a great Friday night!