DATING WHILE DEPRESSED

Like many lonely people, I’ve bought into the fantasy that being a relationship will solve all my mental health issues. When put that way, it really does sound ridiculous, but we’re humans and we believe in all kinds of irrational shit.

When you’re single and unhappy, you ask yourself what you don’t have. What’s missing from your life? The popular media that surrounds us point out the supposed answer like a flashing neon sign: You need a life partner!

What I know about myself is I’m happiest when I’m busy. I’m happiest when I’m surrounded by a community where my skills are valued and I’m respected for my talents. It sounds like what I actually need to feel satisfied with my life is a job! But finding a job these days is hard, and dating around is easy.

It’s been about three weeks since I gave up my serial tindering and slipped into a warm bath of a relationship. I was unsure if this was the right choice. I’m leaving town in a month semi-permanently, and neither of us want a long distance relationship. On top of that, there are strange dating dynamics in the small town we spend our time in, partially due to personal histories and partially due to a culture I’m not familiar with. It felt too complicated to be worth a try, but my therapist supported my attempt at monogamy, and my family commented on how happy I was when I spent time with him. And I was happy. I am happy, every moment I spend with him, even when we argue, even when I’m bored, it’s all improved by his presence. I feel safe with him. He makes me feel good about myself. We have the most enjoyable and most mutually beneficial sex life that I’ve ever had. And he likes me as much as I like him? What the fuck?

Imagine my surprise to find myself having even more frequent breakdowns and depressive episodes than I was when single.

At first it seemed the relationship itself was the problem. My partner was alarmed by how he seemed to be hurting me constantly without realizing it. “Maybe we rushed into this,” he said after one particularly bad night, when I’d picked a fight with him just to get his attention. “Maybe a monogamous relationship isn’t what you need right now.”

I felt my stomach drop. I’d heard this speech before. Men like to tell the crazy bitches in their lives what’s best for them, selflessly breaking up with them for their health when the truth is that it’s overwhelming to be with someone with mental illness. It takes work, just like any other relationship, but the work is unfamiliar and unpredictable. It’s completely understandable that someone wouldn’t be up to the task of handling my shit, but absolutely maddening when people try to back out of the relationship looking like a hero.

I braced myself for a break up, but it didn’t come. Maybe there was uncertainty, maybe a break up was inevitable later, but when he said what he said, what he meant was This is up to you, Jamie.

Recently I had a conversation with my ex boyfriend who struggles with alcoholism and only recently began attempting sobriety. He messaged me in the middle of his own depressive episode, grilling me furiously on my motivations for “keeping him around”.

“Sobriety is such a con job. Every time I talk to people now, they ask me if I’ve fallen off the wagon yet, and when I say no, they congratulate me and go back to ignoring me and I’m left as alone and miserable as I’ve ever been, except I don’t get to drink myself into a goddamn coma.”

“Being sober was never going to solve all your problems,” I answered. “Drinking just kept you from dealing with those problems. It was a distraction. That’s why you feel worse now.”

“I just don’t get it. Why do people love being sober so much.”

“Nobody likes being sober.”

“Ha! I knew it!”

My excessive tindering was my distraction. Every time I started to feel lonely or sad or uncomfortable as an adult living under the same roof as my family, a house I’ve outgrown since college, I opened up Tinder and found myself a bed buddy for the night. I wasn’t handling my problems, I was forgetting them. Pushing them deep down while I got fucked by a stranger. It wasn’t quite an addiction, but it could have turned into one easily.

Now without my unhealthy coping mechanism, I’m not less happy, but I don’t have the room to pretend everything is fine. I am forced to deal with my mental health issues or they will destroy me.

I had a conversation today with my partner. I felt it coming. Things have been so rough lately that it only made sense. I thought breaking up with this guy would hurt worse than all the others. I thought it’d send me into another crying fit like one of our conflicts last night did. But instead, it all felt okay.

“I care about you, Jamie. I love spending time with you. I love our sex life and if things were less complicated, I think our romantic relationship could be something really special. But things are complicated and I want to focus on my friendship with you right now before we try and make a relationship work.”

It didn’t feel like a break up. It felt like another warm bath I was sinking into contentedly. Everything he said I felt. We were on the same page for once and it was beautiful.

I’ve only had a similar experience once in my life. My college ex girlfriend and I started dating after I rejected her advances. In fact, I fell in love with her because I rejected her advances, and mores specifically, because of how she handled that. I told her I was afraid of dating messing up our friendship. She was my safe haven at the time, and we spent most evenings ranting about people we knew and holding each other close. I was so afraid of losing that delicate dynamic that I couldn’t handle anything changing or turning romantic. She warmly accepted this, though she secretly spent the rest of that night listening to the Dixie Chicks, something she only did when times were particularly rough. The next day felt like nothing had changed at all, as if she was working very hard to make sure our friendship wasn’t in jeopardy. I was enchanted by her loyalty and commitment to our friendship. I realized even if we broke up, things would probably be okay. (Looking back knowing how our actual break up turned out, this seems very silly to assume a rejection pre-relationship would be the same as a rejection post, but what really matters isn’t the reality, but how I felt. Insert eye roll here.)

I don’t think this guy is anything like my ex girlfriend, but I think there are some qualities shared between my partners who will stick around with me long term.

Long story short, I’m not in a monogamous relationship at this very moment, but I think I’m going to be okay. I get the chance to learn to be by myself, while still developing a friendship with someone who cares about me as much as I care about him. I don’t feel rejected. I feel embraced. I feel like someone wants me to get better for my sake, not just because it would be more convenient for them.

What have been your experiences dating as a person with mental health problems? Does it make it easier when your partner has similar issues, or worse? Let me know.

(Apologies for my sudden hiatus. Heartbreak plus depression is a messy bitch. I think it’s time I go back to updating this blog regularly.)

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DELETED SCENE

“You know why you’re not my number one?”

“Because I’m only 23, and the other guy’s 26?”

“Because you have no idea who I am.”

He scoffs. “Come on, Jamie.”

“Tell me who I am. Try it. Read me. I’m an open fucking book.”

He regurgitates facts about you and your family that you discussed recently. Embarrassingly recent. You shake your head and tell him to try harder. Go further.

He gets frustrated with your demands. You give him a cruel example.

“You are overwhelmingly sad. It shows through everything you say and do. Your friends, they pretend not to notice, but it’s so fucking obvious. You think you’re a good actor. You’re not. They just don’t want to deal with you. They don’t acknowledge it because you’d be too much work to help. They mind their own business. It’s easier that way.”

He’s quiet. You almost feel guilty, but you know he won’t remember any of this in the morning.

“You want me to be mean then, huh?” he says, soft like poison.

“Does knowing a person require being mean for you?”

“Apparently it does for you.”

You shrug. “Does that hurt?” you used to say to him when you were dating. “Feel it, Austin. Feel the pain for five seconds. Don’t shove it away like you do with everything else. Remember this moment. Learning is discomfort.”

You’re not his therapist. You don’t get paid enough to deal with him. You don’t get paid at all, except in hours of head and infinite “I love you”s. He never asked for you to play therapist, but you explained early on that this is what it’s like to date you. It’s all you’ve ever wanted in return and you thought maybe he could do it, but he can’t.

“You lack the ability to analyze and draw conclusions. You just take in the evidence and spit it back out like that means something. You will never know who I am, just the things I say and do. That’s why I don’t want you. That’s why you can’t impress me. You’ll never be good enough to be my number one boy.”

Long silence. He takes a drag on one of the tropical-flavored swishers you’ll always associate with him. You realized tonight you don’t care for the taste anymore.

“Second place in your harem of five or six guys isn’t so bad,” he hums.

You snort. “It’s not a harem.”

“You call them your ‘boys’. It’s pretty harem-like.”

“You wanna take a guess at why I call them ‘my boys’?”

He gives a couple of pathetic guesses that weren’t clever or entertaining enough to remember.

“I call them my boys,” insert theatrical pause here, “because I want them to know they’re not men.”

Another silence, accompanied by a thoughtful drag. “I’m not a man?”

“Ha. Of course not.”

“Why not?” A failed attempt to not sound whiny and defensive.

You suck on your bitch cigar and pretend to breathe in before blowing out the smoke, the only part you really like, other than holding something between your fingers like a furious harpy of a noir film star. “You haven’t–none of you have stepped up. Been a man to me. None of you have proved you’re anything more than boys. We’re just messing around, like kids. No commitment, no responsibilities. Just fun. Casual fun. And that’s fine. But you can’t expect me to see you as men.”

He doesn’t know how to reply to that. You can almost hear his brain stuttering to a halt, struggling to make sense of your logic. You’re surprised to find you could care less if you’ve hurt his feelings.

“You’re too young for me anyway,” you say.

“I’m two years older than you.”

You grind your cigar into the balcony railing and sigh through your nose. “It’s too bad that’s not enough.” 

CONSEQUENCES, IN THREE PARTS

FOREWORD

I’ve been gone for a while. My life has become a soap opera, or maybe an HBO special. Sex, drugs, and heartbreak. All incredibly marketable plot points. Tell me why I’m still broke and unemployed?

This is going to read like one of those memes where the joke is, “Surprise! Your actions have consequences!” and I am 100% aware of it. I had a couple bouts of unprotected sex and this is what happens. At this point, it’s not worse than it is. (Knock on wood.)

Why am I sharing this on a public forum with strangers? Partially because I need to talk about it or I’ll explode. But also because during the past three weeks, I found out I had a shit ton of preconceived notions about what it says about a person if they experience the very common and statistically inevitable consequences of living an exciting young person sex life, and let me tell you, none of those preconceived notions were fun or nice.

Me writing about this publicly is an attempt at exorcising some of those demons.

PART I: CHLAMYDIA

When you get that awkward, heartracing call from the local Planned Parenthood, you have the closest thing to a mental breakdown you’ve had. No tears, just a thrumming panic. A couple of bitter laughs as you inform your friends of your unfortunate ailment.

Awkwardly defensive text messages thrown in the direction of all your recent hookups. Yes, all of them. A severe lapse in judgement and you’re pulling up in front of your ex boyfriend’s place. He greets you with a bottle of Bacardi and holds you tight for a couple of minutes. He smells your hair and tells you there’s no anger on his end.

“Sex is my religion,” he says. “This comes with the territory.”

“You might not even have it. I probably got it from a rebound hookup.”

He shrugs like that doesn’t bother him and pours you a drink.

Not even half an hour later, before the alcohol could be the flimsiest excuse, you’re pulling him down onto the bed next to you.

“You’re seeing someone, aren’t you?”

“Not really.”

“Oh, thank god,” he says, the same way he always does when you remind him he doesn’t have to pretend to be a good person around you. Somehow he always forgets.

Lips pressed against yours, hard, the way someone who’s been lost in the desert for a few days drinks a cold glass of water. Familiar hands on your tits, waist, ass, gravitating boldly towards the inner thighs. So this is what it feels like to fuck an ex.

“Wait a second.” You pull out of his grasp and his arms stay outstretched, pale, leafless vines with their support ripped away from them, mouth slightly agape, betrayed confusion is his giant fucking blue eyes. He looks like you. You’ll tell him that tonight. You’ll tell him he’s the big brother you never had but always wanted, right after he’s just helped you orgasm by licking your open mouth while you masturbate. You’ll think maybe you crossed a line there, but the next time you see him, he’ll call himself your brother again and smile like he’s so goddamned pleased with himself. “I came over here because I have chlamydia. If you don’t have it, I will give it to you.”

His face busts into a surreal grin. A pumpkin splitting open as it hits the pavement. “I don’t care,” he assures you lovingly, shaking his head.

When he fucks you raw, you realize 1) his dick is bigger than you remembered 2) he’s not your favorite anymore 3) the various bacterias in your vagina right now make sex significantly less fun.

He gets you drunk on that Bacardi from earlier mixed with generic root beer, and his friend comes over to work on a project and they both ignore you while you roll around in his bed and giggle and try not to throw up. You know his friend can see your underwear and you like it. You let your legs fall open (Venus flytrap) pretending you’re too fucking wasted to notice, getting off on how vulnerable you are right now. Come fuck me, you say with your body, your eyes, your breathy laughs—everything but your actual words. Come take advantage of my soft, pretty body. This hot cunt comes at the approximate price of $6.75, or $34.99 if you don’t have health insurance.

Neither of them touch you, but they talk about your body like it’s a prize, or at least an object to masturbate with, which is almost as good / scary / disgusting / hot. As his friend is leaving, happy with the unpaid editing work your ex has done for him, he gives him a pat on the back and says “Take a victory lap, buddy.” Strange euphemism.

This is who I am now, you think. It’s time to take up smoking. Get pimped out by your ex who likes to say he loves you while he pours booze down your throat and cuts white powder into neat lines in front of you. You could make so much money that way. Maybe it would be easier to give up here. Ride this rollercoaster for a while, even though the seat belts are broken. He says he’s got you. He says he’ll hold you down during the rough patches. You can already feel his arm pressing against your trachea.

PART II: FURTHER LAPSES IN JUDGEMENT

Third night with your ex. He’s the one who calls you now. It feels good to be wanted.

“Why are you so much sweeter now that we’ve broken up? Do you feel guilty or something? Are you trying to make up for hurting me?”

He shrugs. “This always happens. When they leave, I become the person they wanted me to be. You’re the only one who came back.”

You shake your head. “No. You’re not the person I want.”

A grimace. “Fair.”

“You still drink, for one thing.”

“I get it. You don’t have to go into detail.”

He admits his flaws so easily, except when you’re the one to point them out. He wants to guess what you think of him. He’s always off. You suppose that hurts less than really knowing.

“Do you remember what you said to me last night?”

“No. Don’t tell me.”

“Why not? You did it.”

“That wasn’t me.”

“Oh, really? Then who was it?”

“Someone else. Drunk me is a real bastard.”

How convenient memory loss is.

You spend the next few hours trying to sober up enough to drive home. He’s panicking, screaming into his pillow, tears come in sudden bursts and are punctuated by a stupid repetitive joke you’re sick of. You don’t have enough Lexapro in your blood stream to handle this. Neither does he.

You sit in the corner, downing water, pantomiming driving to get yourself back into your right mind. He thinks you’re being funny. Cute, even. You are trying to pretend you’re not terrified of what he’ll do when you tell him you want to leave. You hope he passes out soon and you can sneak out. You fall asleep waiting for his insomnia to break like a fever.

He calls you the night before you leave for Columbia to tell you he has constructed a functional noose and if he decides to kill himself it will definitely work this time. You are patient. You pull out the dusty ‘suicidal buddy’ resources you haven’t used since high school. He keeps laughing at your attempts to calm him down.

“This isn’t one of those emotionally manipulative calls from your ex boyfriend saying I’ll kill myself if you don’t give me three hours of your time. I swear.”

He says that, but you still spend three hours talking him out of killing himself. You finally get tired and distract him with phone sex, which works until he finishes and you tell him you have to go.

“Five more minutes, Jamie. Please? I just want to hear your voice.”

He tells you how grateful he is that you picked up the phone in the first place. You’re emotionally exhausted but you smile. It feels good to be appreciated. After all, your other boy has been dodging your texts, even though you’ll be in town tomorrow. You’ve felt insecure all day.

“Anytime you need me, James, I’ll be there. Just a call away.”

“Like the big brother I never had.”

He lets out a sheepish laugh and you bet that made his dick twitch. All you know is how to do is be the perfect partner. Observe, analyze the data, adapt. So why are you still so alone?

PART III: PLAN B

In Columbia.

i made it! when do you get off work?

Yay! I think I have a ride actually, so don’t worry about it.

oh. i wanna see you though

Tonight’s probably not a good night.

because you’re getting drinks with your friend?

Yeah, that.

…if youre not in the mood to see me can you just tell me so my paranoid bitch brain doesnt drive me insane making up all the other possibilities?

Okay. I’m not in the mood to see you.

or like if this friend youre getting drinks with is a date, thats fine too just tell me

I have a date tonight.

Oh. Oh. Shit.

You forgot what it felt like to be this furious and sad and heartbroken and suffocatingly jealous all at once. In fact you can’t recall the last time you felt this way. All you want is to stop feeling. Kill yourself? Too much commitment. Run away? Too many details, loose ends. Fake your death? Come on, that only works in movies. You’re no Amazing Amy and you know it. Besides, you’re rotten at planning.

You consider calling up your “big brother” and crying to him for hours about a boy he isn’t. Your friends do their best to dissuade you from bringing your toxic ex into the picture, as if you haven’t already dragged him into nearly every sick aspect of your life, let him rub his scent all over your private-most thoughts.

“You just need to get laid, Jim.”

“Yeah, he’s on a date, so you should go out and fuck someone too.”

“He’s not going to fuck anyone. I gave him chlamydia.”

“Well, that’s a silver lining!”

An hour later, you’ve got a dangerous buzz going and you’re driving twenty miles to see a dumb film geek you met up with once for dinner but quickly ditched for the boy who just ditched you for some new Tinder skank who probably, like you, fits into the “hetero dyke” aesthetic that seems get his dick so hard.

When the first condom breaks, you should have realized this wasn’t going to go well. The second bad omen of the night: the first was hitting that opossum on your way to his dinky little rental. Sometime around four in the morning he wakes you up to fuck again, and this time he only notices the broken condom after he’s ejaculated inside you.

His anxious apologies play on loop until they melt into background noise while you sit on the toilet, hoping it’ll all drain out if you just stay here long enough. Nothing comes out. You dig inside yourself with your fingers, trying to scoop out at least enough to see how clear his cum was. Nothing. Not that you can see anyway. You’d like to take comfort in that, but you know this is how it happens in the movies. A brief, jealous affair, late period, a few weeks later you find out you’re pregnant from a one night stand. The boy you’re trying to lock down finds out about your discrepancy and either leaves you to deal with it on your own or decides to stay and hold your hand in the abortion clinic.

Luck is not on your side tonight. Neither is the narrative. Take every precaution you can afford.

“I’ll buy you Plan B in the morning,” he says as he rushes around, searching for his anxiety medication. His cat attacks your foot while you try to get your clothes on.

You know your alcoholic is awake at this hour. He answers the phone with a slurred gruff greeting.

“Can you make this quick? I have company.”

No. You can’t.

“So what,” he asks. “You want me to find you somewhere you can get an abortion?”

“What the fuck? What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m just trying to solve the problem!”

“No, you’re being a major cunt.”

“What do you want from me?”

“I just—” voice cracks and the tears start. “I just want to talk to you.”

“Okay? This really isn’t a good time.”

You don’t remember the exact string of curses you wield at him. You hang up and it takes all of the small amount of restraint you have left to not throw your phone across the room. You sniffle pathetically and watch a kitten paw through your bag. She accepts a few of your shaky pets but is ultimately more interested in your shoestring than being your emotional support.

Having found his medication and knocked back a few pills, your potential future baby daddy hesitantly joins you on the couch. When you lean into him, he wraps his arms around you, runs his thin fingers through your hair. You close your eyes and wish he was someone else. Your imagination is specific and predictable.

I get so lonely, I forget what I’m worth.
We get so lonely, we pretend that this works.
I’m so ashamed of myself, think I need therapy.

“Drew Barrymore” by SZA from the album Ctrl, 2017.

UNSOLICITED ADVICE THURSDAY: BREAKUPS

(♥ Coming at you a day late, but only because I worked so hard on this for you, babes. ♥)

After two earth-shattering breakups that left me depressed and not sure who I was or what to do with myself. The weird thing is the first one was mutual, and the second, I was the one to call it off. But I’d sunk so much time and energy into these relationships (mostly just energy in the second one) and had invented a heavily detailed future with both of these people before realizing we weren’t good together. Not to mention the first relationship involved trashing a lot of my original, independent future plans for the sake of the new ones we were creating together.

Why do break ups hurt so much? Other than the rejection, which in my case was absent, we made a future with these people, and it hurts to watch those possibilities go down the drain all at once. Deeper than that, when we fall in love with a person, we fall in love with the person we become when we’re with them.

With both my exes, I was a radically different person than I was before them and than I am now. With one, I was the sweet, goofy queer kid who made the Dean’s List every semester and was president of my college’s GSA. I was a feminist dad in the making, with Pinterest boards for the braids I’d learn to do in the hair of our future daughters, and the healthy meals I’d make for them while my wife was busy putting together homeschooling curriculums or working towards her PhD. I had a playlist of the songs that would play at our wedding that I added to regularly. I had set aside a budget for how I’d propose to her: her dream truck, in retro baby blue, and the diamond ring (a hint of traditional, what she’d asked for) dangling on silver ribbon from the rearview window. I was the artsy, quirky boi any intellectual femme lesbian could want. I practically begged her to mold me into the perfect partner for her, then convinced myself that was who I was, and that she had been the first to see my real potential. When she expressed her polite, motherly disapproval at my interest in going to parties and doing hard drugs, I buried that shit deep down and sipped my coffee as Rachel Maddow played in the background.

With the second, a month-long affair that lapped at the heals of my two year relationship like a furious terrier, all of the taboos I’d buried deep down and capped tightly with a vague cry of think of the children! exploded out of me so suddenly I scared myself. Secrets that I’d kept in for two whole years spilled from my lips between feverish kisses. I shed my sweaters and oxford heels for hot pants and oversized t-shirts tied up to my natural waist. No bra. Not for the sake of comfort or feminism, but because I knew we’d be naked soon, and any extra clothing would just get in the way. I learned to sleep comfortably without underwear because he’d often wake up just before dawn with a hard on. I learned how to smoke in the way that gives you a little buzz. I tried to match his alcoholic pace but he was always at least two beers drunker than me, even if we started at the same time. We talked movies and music and art on a level I’d been aching for all through my liberal arts college experience. We talked to each other like we were protagonists in a poorly written, highly stylized indie existential romance with a cult following. We said ‘I love you’ purely for the aesthetic. I was ready at any moment to grab my shit and run away with him, somewhere up north where we could scrape together enough cash to buy a couple plane tickets to Europe, where we’d join a commune and do nothing but make pretentious art films and get high out of our minds. I loved it. I loved being dramatic and pretending there were no consequences to our actions. For once I felt like I could act my age. I barely spoke to my friends and family. I spent almost every night at his house, and only went home to keep up appearances.

His violent fits of anger over the smallest things finally shook me from the fantasy, and after a nasty argument, I went home and spilled it all to the friends and family I’d ignored and worried for so long. I used positive peer pressure to keep myself from going back to him. It worked pretty well too. The few days I wanted to die if I didn’t see him, my friends would call me a fucking idiot and my parents would sigh at me in a concerned manner, and that was enough to keep me from getting in my car and breaking my heart again.

But I didn’t just make this post to talk about how fucked my past relationships were. This is about healing and finding yourself again after your relationship selves are trashed and you’re left with, what? Nothing? A pale imprint of a personality that stuck around like a coffee stain? Optimistically, a blank canvas. But finding yourself again is a later step. Let’s start by putting ice on the wounded area, to keep the swelling down.

MUSIC

When I was in college, I’d get caught up in my busy schedule, maybe misplace my headphones, and I’d start to feel dull and bored and emotionally repressed. Then I’d be in the passenger seat of my friend’s car and they’d blast the radio and I’d feel amazing all of a sudden and realize I forgot to get my daily dose of musical therapy in.

Nowadays, as an unemployed, single, depressed young person living with my parents, I pretty much only take my noise-canceling headphones off when I shower or during family dinners. I’ve graduated to occasional podcasts, which helps with my exhausting need for social interaction, but music is the only thing that can lift my mood or at least make me feel like a human being long enough to process my emotions in a healthy way.

After a particularly upsetting argument with my train wreck of a rebound (the artsy boy previously mentioned), I spent the day listening to Harry Style’s self-titled album on a loop. I cried every time “Ever Since New York” came on. I felt dumb for feeling so much for an awful boy I’d just met and already fallen in love with. He’d pretty much given me a wheelbarrow of red flags, and I’d just nodded my head thoughtfully as I went through them, thinking, “I can work with this.” When the relationships was officially over, Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” and Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” were the only things keeping me from losing my fucking mind. When I had the rare luxury of being home alone, I’d blast those songs and sing along as loud and angrily as I could, badly imitating some of the dance moves the women did in the music videos. With those playing, I could actually take care of myself for five minutes without it feeling like a laborious task.

FOOD

This can be a slippery slope, especially if you’re indulging in junk. But learning new recipes and just looking up how to make the things you’re craving at home can make you feel so much better. The process of cooking and learning something new can make you feel accomplished, and sharing your successful culinary adventures with others can make you feel good at something. I love all kinds of pasta and anything with cheese in it, but that’s very heavy food and it sometimes it’s better that Depressed Jamie™ eat light to make up for all the lazing around I do. I make myself smoothies and quick caprese salads to get through a meal I don’t feel like working for, but if I want to distract myself with a kind of intense recipe, I make these amazing sriracha teriyaki meatballs. These have never failed me, and they taste even better reheated, so I usually make more than I need so Depressed Jamie™ just has to heat something up in the microwave for a minute or two to experience the ecstasy of eating these spicy little bitches. Friends and family always love them, but I prefer to hoard them away in an inconspicuous tupperware in the back of the fridge.

Take some fucking joy in the little things! We live in a world where we have almost infinite access to whatever exotic flavor we want (thanks European colonialism) and we can make stuff taste good! And goddamn, does food taste good. It blows my mind sometimes how good stuff tastes. Enjoy that. Treasure it. What else is there to enjoy? Right now, not much.

TV & FILMS

Nothing works quicker than distraction. I personally prefer watching gory horror movies when I’m sad. Fear is a pretty powerful feeling and, as I’m sure Jigsaw from the infamous Saw movies would agree, does the best job of reminding you you’re alive. If you’re not feeling that, some trashy drama or reality show has always done it for me before. Try Pretty Little Liars or Scream Queens (sorry, I’m a horror buff, so even my trash is scary trash). Ru-Paul’s Drag Race and America’s Next Top Model are both fun and full of distracting drama. Worst Cooks In America was my drug all last summer. If you want some feelingsy shit disguised as lighthearted comedy, you could try Bojack Horseman or Bo Burnham’s what. or Make Happy, but be warned, you may cry. It’ll feel good and cathartic if you do though. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is another wonderful option, and if you’re leaning towards romance, but Love Actually repulses you, try You’re The Worst. Want something gayer? Check out anything by Brian Jordan Alvarez (he does great short sketches, but if you want something lengthy, I suggest The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo). Want an innocent cartoon to get lost in? Over the Garden WallGravity Falls, and Steven Universe are all great and suck you into their worlds and forget your real life for a while. It also helps to relate to a character to remind you who you are.

FRIEND DATES

Once you’ve cried it all out, done some self care, and then distracted yourself from calling up your ex out of loneliness or boredom, it’s probably a good idea to get out of the house. Retail therapy, social drinking, dancing, etc. There are so many good things to do post-breakup that make you feel good and are good for you! Dress up and do something. Or if that’s not really your thing, go to a quiet coffee shop and vent to your buddies. You could even pick up some face masks at the grocery store and have an at home spa day! Burn some incense, play early 2000’s music, watch some more of that mindless television, and indulge in some tasty junk. Don’t drink alone, don’t binge on garbage alone. But with friends? No worries!

That should help you out for the time being. It’s not like I’ve said anything no one has before, but hope my specific recommendations come as some comfort. The most important thing to remember is that this won’t last forever. Some day you’ll find the right person, even though that feels impossible right now. Give yourself some time to grieve. Feel your feelings. One day you’re gonna wake up and you’ll realize you’re okay.

How do you deal with breakups? Let me know in the comments, or if you just want to vent, I’m willing to listen. 🙂 Who knows where I’d be right now if I didn’t have people to vent to, especially strangers online.

I’M TIRED OF WRITING POEMS ABOUT MY DEPRESSION. GOOD THING THIS ISN’T A POEM.

What do you do when you want to kill yourself every time you get bored? Don’t get bored.

I realized I was depressed during my second year of college. I would lay in bed at night for hours, completely paralyzed, but unable to sleep. My brain felt like someone had soaked it in gasoline and then put out their cigarette in my ear.

I’d glare up at the cieling, knowing this wasn’t supposed to be happening. I wasn’t supposed to be so tired all the time. I wasn’t supposed to hate my friends and family. I wasn’t supposed to want to beat the shit out of everyone who minorly inconvenienced me. I wasn’t supposed to dread being seen in the hallways of my dorm, on my way to do laundry or get a quick drink from the water fountain, just because then I’d have to figure out in half a second whether I should acknowledge the invader’s presence or just ignore them and scurry back to my room.

My mom told me she knew she was depressed when she was on the verge of tears all the time, but I couldn’t cry at all, no matter how sad I was. She described her depression as feeling “blue.” I felt gray until I felt white hot with rage. She would sleep all day during a bad episode. I couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t bring myself to shower, get dressed for meals. I would flake on friends just because I’d already worn the same hoodie and jeans too many days in a row and couldn’t muster up enough energy to find something else to wear.

The first doctor I went to asked how I was doing in school. “Fine,” I said. “I made the Dean’s List again.” He shook his head and told me it sounded like I was just a little bummed out, and then felt my tits for breast cancer.

I told my best friend I fantasized about killing the classmates that continuously got under my skin. I imagined over and over again what their faces would look like, twisted in pain, shock, and betrayal. She told me that was fucked and asked me to keep those impulses to myself. I don’t know what reaction I was expecting, but for some reason it wasn’t that.

I would go to the gym late at night to work off all my pent up aggression. It was all I could do to keep from snapping in class.

The summer was the worst, and I’d miss classes on hot days because all I could stand to wear was a sweater or be naked, and those wasn’t exactly appropriate attire for the weather or going out in public.

Don’t worry. This story comes with a happy ending.

The second doctor I went to didn’t ask about school. I told her about the violent intrusive thoughts I was having, and she just nodded and typed that up into my file.

She prescribed me a daily dose of 10mm of Lexapro, which I later got booted up to 15mm.

Maybe it was a bit of a placebo effect, but immediately my mood changed. I started taking care of myself again. Getting out of bed wasn’t an impossible task anymore. I was experimenting with cooking and going on walks and I even reconnected with high school friends who I hadn’t spoken to in ages. I threw a fucking dinner party.

School started again and classes were as good as they’d always been but my social life bloomed. I went out. I got out of my comfort zone every once in a while. I started dressing better. I had people vying for my affections. Strangers knew my name. I dated my best friend. I told the jokes out loud that I’d always just kept in my head, afraid no one would laugh.

I’m still depressed. That never ends. One time I forgot to get my prescription refilled on time and went a couple of days without my pills and all the anger flooded back and I’d neglected to exercise my coping mechanisms and so I couldn’t cope and it was worse than any other depressive episode I’d had before. I learned that my antidepressants don’t work when I’m on my period and I can only guess it has something to do with my hormones. I’ll lay in bed and feel on fire and want to die for three days and then suddenly my flow lightens up and so does my mood and I’m back to being the lovely, charismatic Jamie I was always meant to be.

Then, boom. Two break ups back to back. No time to process. Just make the pain stop. Fuck a couple of strangers. Wish I’d remembered condoms. Get a yeast infection. Hope I caught nothing else. Dip my toes back into the dating pool. Attempt to make a commitment. Run away screaming at the first sign of any trouble. Realize I’m only twenty-one years old. I’m allowed to be single for a second. I’m allowed to make mistakes. I’m allowed to go out every night. I’m allowed to drink excessively for a couple of years. I’m allowed to wake up with a pounding headache. I’m allowed to flip through friends and hookups like a rolodex when deciding how I’m going to spend my evening. I’m allowed to go dancing, even by myself. Especially by myself.

I spent a two hour drive singing along loudly to songs I barely knew playing on the radio, which turned quickly into just screaming at the top of my longs, which transitioned into talking to myself, yelling at everyone I felt hurt by, tears streaming down my cheeks as I tore down the highway on a sunny Monday afternoon. Other than “FUCK YOU, *insert any name here*” the one thing I kept repeating was, “I JUST WANT TO FEEL NOT TERRIBLE ALL THE TIME. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?”

I finally shut up when my throat was raw and my stomach hurt.

And then I felt okay.

And sometimes when you’re on, you’re really fucking on,
and your friends, they sing along and they love you.
But the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap,
and it teases you for weeks in its absence.

“A Better Son/Daughter” by Rilo Kiley, from the album, The Execution of All Things, 2002.

HEAV’N HAS NO RAGE, NOR HELL A FURY

Oh baby, baby, don’t be sad, you’ve had a long night.
It’s all your fault and you know why, so stop lying.
I’m sure it’s hard to sleep at night when you know I’m right.
Bougie ass bitch, you are not that fine so stop crying, stop crying!

“Heartbreaker” by Cherub, from the EP 100 Bottles, 2013.

I do this thing where I find people like me. People who just want to be special and interesting. People who just want to matter. And I make them feel like they’re special and that they matter and we become main characters together and maybe I even play their sidekick for a while if that’s what they want.

And then they fuck me over and instead of continuing the drama and having the Hollywood-style breakup they’re expecting, with lots of tears and poetry and ‘maybe someday’s, I cut them out of the narrative.

That’s their punishment. That I don’t find them interesting anymore.

They no longer matter to me. They don’t get to matter to me. They’re not special, and they never really were. They don’t deserve room in my brain. They become an uncredited role.

You broke my goddamn heart, kid. You are no longer a main character in my story.

I didn’t kill you off. Yet. I’ve only recast the lead. You still have a part but you have been reduced to a single thread of plot, a barely developed character. The script could run just fine without you. The only reason you’re still playing a role is because you were a good fuck, and it’d be a shame to leave my sexual awakening out of my biopic. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious as to what you plan on doing with the bit of narrative slack I’ve given you. But if you want to keep your name in the title credits next season, you’d better watch your fucking step.

Here’s one of the many poems I’ve written about you since we met. Don’t call me anymore.

i wake up to the taste of garlic salt and tropical flavored swishers and i only realized your apartment smells like cats when i hadn’t been there in a month

i still dream about you.

last night you watched me throw back a shot of whiskey and light a cigarette

you plucked the cig from my fingers and told me,

“slow down”

i still dream about you. but i also dream about cutting off my own fingers and drowning in milk

so you tell me if that means anything.

The water is too deep to stand, so you’re stuck on land.
I’m floating further from you, yeah, off to somewhere brand new.

“Do I (Where We Are)” by Cherub, from the EP 100 Bottles, 2013.

LATE BLOOMER

Recently I have found myself eager to dive back into femininity.

As a very fucking queer person who experiences gender in a way I have yet to find words to describe, other than the vague, all encompassing “genderfluid,” it took me a long time to find clothes and hair that made me feel comfortable and attractive. I lean towards mostly androgynous fem-fitting attire, with semi-ironic overuse of prints, bright colors and kitsch imagery or inspirational nonsense quotes. I like button downs. I lot. Especially when they make my chest look flat. I also like high waisted pants and short shorts, especially when they make my waist look small and my thighs look thick. I don’t wear makeup. Not because I have anything against it but because I never learned how to do it and I don’t have the time or energy to learn now. I like to hide behind thick glasses and my bleached Tegan and Sara bangs. (The only reason they’re not dyed an absurd color right now is because Ion discontinued my beloved chartreuse color, and I’m still grieving.) I only recently figured out how to take care of my skin. I feel most feminine when I’m completely naked.

In spite of my very gay appearance and fluctuating gender, I’ve been dating a lot of straight guys lately. And of course, they prefer it when I go a little fem, and on occasion I like to indulge them.

I went to a women’s college. Four years with little to no male interaction. Men frightened and disgusted me. I also wasn’t myself around them. I became a lot more giggly and my voice rose a couple octaves every time they were near. It didn’t matter if it was a friend’s boyfriend or brother or a handsome adjunct professor. I was obsessed with gaining their approval, and I had to look cute when they saw me or else I felt out of control and my confidence would take a nosedive.

I’d like to tell you that sometime in between then and now I learned boys were people and stopped caring so much about what they thought of me, but this entire blog is about nothing but men fucking me up. What did you expect?

I vividly remember my women studies professor asking our 101 class when we felt like women. I  raised my hand and said dating boys made me feel aware of how female I was, “but like, in a bad way.” Everyone was silent, staring at me. My professor asked me to elaborate. I was a little caught off guard. I assumed that would be a feeling that most of my peers could relate to and that my comment wouldn’t warrant any further explanation.
“I can tell boys don’t see me as a person, they see me as a girl. I’m a girl before I’m anything else.” Before I’m a name or a face or a human being, I’m a girl they may or may not want to sink their dick into. I didn’t say that part outloud. “It makes me feel ashamed of my gender, because I can’t just be me. I have to be a girl who does the things I do.”

That feeling alone was enough to keep me away from cishet boys for a long time (almost four years… Hmm). Yet here I am, feeling like high school all over again, trying to take and break boys’ heart for the sake of my self esteem. And man! I feel like a woman!

I guess when you boil it down to its bones, like everyone else, and like every popular movie, book, TV show, song, and poem will tell you, I just want to be loved. I don’t need a soulmate or whatever bullshit Hollywood continues to try and feed lonely young women about intimate human connection. I just want someone to come with me on my adventures. I want a life collaborator. I want to someone else to have the keys to my apartment. I want to have another opinion on the table when I try to decide what to eat. I want to fall asleep to the sound of someone else’s deep breathing, and wake up next to them in the morning, in a bed warmed by our combined body heat. I want to come home after work to a shared apartment, where we can cook and clean together and work as a team.
And that’s a powerful, intoxicating feeling. I find myself willing to compromise a lot of what who I am to have that feeling satisfied. It becomes dangerous.

So when I find myself sighing at my closet because I don’t own any dresses, because I have never had interest in wearing them until now, I wonder if that’s me giving up a piece of myself for the attentions of a boy or if my tastes are just evolving.

I have spent a lot of time learning about myself. I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far, but since human beings are ever-changing, there will always be more to learn. These past couple months have been the first time I’ve ever felt sexy. Like actually unresistable, drop-dead gorgeous sexy. Like ‘give a guy a boner just by batting my eyelashes’ sexy. Like ‘convince a dude to drive two hours to fuck me a couple of times’ sexy. That’s a powerful fucking feeling. I don’t know if I should embrace it or be scared of what it could do to me. I feel like I was a mess for a while, letting anyone who would answer my texts long enough to give me their address fuck the shit out of me without any protection. But I’ve come out on the other side not pregnant, hopefully STD-free (heading up to my gynecologist for a check up in a couple of days so I’ll keep y’all posted), and a little less sad than before. I think I’m gonna be okay.

The jury is still out on this new dress obsession though. Any thoughts?