My bedtime thoughts: An Anxious Stream of Consciousness
Prologue: I wrote this stream of consciousness in November 2018. A lot of this no longer applies to my life or what I am currently anxious but I think it accurately portrays my anxiety and depression. More than that, I think it is very illustrative of what many people fear, ruminate, and believe.
Parks & Recreation is playing on my iPad mini. Season two or three. I am scrolling my Instagram feed. I look at the clock and decide it is time to go to sleep. I put down my phone and keep the Netflix playing. I turn on my side and close my eyes.
I notice that my sheets are covered in dog hair. And my irritation wakes me up. My apartment is disgusting. I clean the floors all of the time and my bed. But my dog gets hair everywhere. It’s because I need to bathe her. She also needs her nails cut. She needs to go to the groomer. Badly. I’m reminded that I have no money. I also have four laundry baskets full of dirty clothes and nothing clean to wear tomorrow but I can’t afford to do my laundry. Maybe sure, I would if I didn’t’ buy a pack of cigarettes every other day. Or drink every other day. But I’m so stressed that I have to have a release. I am consumed with stress and anxiety. My stomach is in knots all of the time. Especially in the morning. When I’m drinking coffee in the morning on an empty stomach, because food sounds gross, I start gagging. Sometimes I throw up a little bit. This could be because I have an espresso machine and not regular coffee, which makes me feel stressed because I can’t do anything about that now. I think about how I need to get breakfast food. But nothing sounds good in the morning. Especially healthy food. Only McDonalds sounds good when I wake up starving. But I need to go grocery shopping, but I don’t have the money. And I hate cooking.
I am nowhere closer to sleep. I go outside for a cigarette. I open my email.
Another message from a company saying that my credit card is declined. This stresses me out but reminds me that I have to get ahold of the unemployment office who is withholding $1,500 because I got a part time job a couple months ago. I’ve tried to get ahold of the office but every time I call it says they have a high volume of callers and hang up. Ugh. How am I going to figure this out? Then I start to think about my to-do list. I have so many other bills to pay. But have no way of paying. I have phone calls to make that I don’t want to deal with. I am a mess.
I go back to bed, lie on my side, and listen to the Parks & Rec. There’s a joke about Tom Haverford’s crushing debt. My stomach sinks.
I have crushing debt. For real. My finances are a mess. My stomach turns until it’s in knots. My problems could be fixed if I could just get a job. But I can’t seem to get a job. This has always been the case. I remember how long it took me to get a job after college. I start to fill with anger when I think about how I had the same internship for three years of college, amongst many other internships and student organization leadership positions, but it still took me six months and forty interviews to find a full-time job. This wasn’t a one-time thing. Three years ago, I tried to leave a job. I had 20 - 30 interviews but no offers. I would get far in the process but could not get the job. A job. Any job. I believe deep down I cannot get a job. This is why I started my own business. But I have no idea what I am doing.
I wish I had help. Financial of course, but even someone to help me start this business. But I don’t. I don’t have anyone. My dad won’t speak to me. I’ve lost touch with several friends this year. Some on accident. Some through a disagreement. No one likes me. Well some people do. But who? A friend or two? My brother? That’s fine. But it’s not enough. I am so lonely. But also no one wants me. Employers. Friends. Boyfriends. Makes sense. I am a huge fuck-up. I think about my crushing debt again. Why the fuck did I choose to go grad school? I thought I could get a job after that would pay me enough for the loans. But no. I lost my job and decided to not work for six months. I needed the time to relax but I also knew I couldn’t get a job. I never can. That’s why I started my business. I have so much to do for the business. I don’t even know where to start. It’s overwhelming. I’m exhausted. I can’t do it. Who am I to think I can start a business? I can’t even get a job.
I still can’t sleep.
I start to think about my last job. I was so excited to start. They give me a MacBook and allow me to work remotely. They have an omelet party for me on my fist day.. But my enthusiasm quickly fades; the feedback is relentless. From everyone: I’m not engaged enough. My hair looks messy. My bra strap was showing. I look stressed. I didn’t do enough small talk with the client. I seem junior.
I was never enough. When my boss would tell me I did a great job and tell me that she couldn’t think of anything negative, she would stop talking and search her brain. She has to tell me something I did wrong. She would mention something so small there was no reason to mention it, i.e. “You got up and left when we were talking in the lobby and no one knew where you went but then you came back”. I remind her that I did tell them I was going to the restroom. Remembering this makes me angry. There were times I really bombed too. I wasn’t that great at the job. The clients always hated me. Thinking about this makes me hate myself.
I think about how work and success has always been my identity. I don’t have a cultural, ethnic, religious, or any other group I belong to. I don’t have a people. I’m not a mother or a wife. I don’t have any roles I identify with. Until I started writing, it’s always been just work for me. It’s all I’ve had. This belief is reinforced by my parents. My dad and I always struggled to talk about stuff growing up. Until I was a junior or senior in high school and we could talk about where I was going to college. And then in college, we talked about my internships. He would give me unsolicited advice. When I entered the professional realm, that’s most of what we talk about – my work. Or his work. Or my job searches. Despite getting me a Cartier pen for my graduate school graduation, he’s never expressed any support for my writing.
I remember this time when my mom and I were fighting four years ago. I ask why she doesn’t like me. She replies that she does like me, she loves me. I ask what she likes about me. She replies, “Your drive, your career, your success”. It makes sense that my career holds all of my self-worth. I can’t stop thinking how my parents love for me is wrapped up in my professional identity and I don’t have a successful career. Anger boils inside of me as I think about my parents but my anger turns into sadness and self-loathing because I am not lovable.
I still can’t sleep.
Yes, I’ve found more identity and worth since writing. But I can’t figure out how to monetize my writing. It’s been great to receive compliments from friends, family, and strangers. But does that matter if I am in crushing debt and I can’t figure out how to make money? Why is it so easy for everyone else? It’s not. I know that. But there is something wrong with me. I don’t have the skills. I don’t have the grit. I want to give up all of the time.
My head is filled with toxic thoughts that I can’t control and I realize there is no way I am falling asleep anytime soon. I don’t even hear the Parks and Rec episode playing in the background anymore. I’m wide awake and fully in my thoughts.
I think about taking something to help me sleep; Nyquil, which I know will not do anything. I’ve tried Nyquil or Tylenol PM to sleep in the past, not a lot, but enough of a sample size to know that it never works for me. Same for Xanax and Klonopin. Never works for me.
More evidence that I am a broken person.
I pick up my phone and google “Why doesn’t Xanax work for me?”. Nothing interesting comes up. Just a bunch of forums littered with different variations of “everyone’s different and some stuff doesn’t help certain people”. I go back to Instagram. I see the lifestyle blogger who launched a dress line this year. This week, she is celebrating her 28th birthday. This shocks me. She’s married. Built a gorgeous custom home in Charleston. Has 2 million followers. Since the spring, her dress line has grown a lot. She splits her time between Charleston and NYC. I am so jealous. Angry. Sad. How did she get all of that? She didn’t just get all of this, she’s been working on it for years. How did she get all of this in her early 20s? Why can’t I?
Because I am a fuck up. I drink too much. I am filled with shame. I eat fast food all of the time because I hate to cook. I’m fat. And since losing my job, I’ve been chain smoking. I’m a mess. I have too many ideas. I don’t execute most of them. I don’t finish any of them. I’m all over the place.
My shame is backed up by data points. I’m not just making it up. I am a mess. It’s why when I look at my recent text messages, I get one or two friends reaching out a day. It’s why my friend is mad at me right now. It’s why I can’t get a job. It’s why the charming, handsome, successful guy who I spent two months courting, suddenly dropped off; he saw the real me. The real me that all my friends who have left me see. The real me that everyone sees and is why they’re always mad at me. The real me that potential employers see and why they never hire me. The real me that my parents see and why they can’t love me unconditionally.
That’s not true. My relationship with my parents has nothing to do with me. It’s their fault. They were bad at parenting. I fill with rage. My heart races and I can’t stop thinking how unfair it is. Why didn’t I get parents who loved me so unconditionally that I rejected shame? Why didn’t I get parents who believed in me so much that I believed I could do anything? This is their fault. They are why I am not a successful lifestyle blogger with a dress line and custom built home. I know it’s not their fault, and I know they said nice things and they did the best they can but I am angry with them. I have a lot of anger.
My anger has released so much adrenaline that I am wide awake now.
I’m not the only one who was born into adversity. I have so much privilege. Certainly, many people have been born into circumstances that are far more difficult than mine and have risen above it. I can be like them. I can do it. I was born to do this. I will summon al of the energy I have and work tirelessly to launch this business and write an award-wining book – all without the parents I wish I had. The parents I feel entitled to.
Tomorrow I will make it all happen. I just have to sleep tonight.
I look at Instagram one more time. I scroll. Skinny women in bikinis litter my feed. Some are on vacation. Some are selling me vitamins. They all make me feel my protruding stomach suddenly. I feel fat. I remember that I am the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m 235 pounds. My stretch marks are growing all of the time. I think about the handsome charming guy, who I was so sure I would have a monumental relationship with. I bet he would have stuck around if I was thin. I am sure of it.
I yearn for thinness. I crave the feeling of being thin. I start calculating a plan to get there. How much weight would I have to lose to feel that great? I don’t know how much I weighed in high school or college because I never weighed myself. I remember that recently I applied to be an egg donor and I was rejected for my BMI being too high. I would have to lose sixty pounds to be eligible to sell my eggs. That makes sense. I am such a fucking mess that I can’t even sell my eggs.
I need to lose sixty pounds to possibly get $7,000 for my eggs. I could also probably get a boyfriend that way too. My Instagram following would grow a lot too. People love following thin women. That exposure would be great for my blog too. I have a plan now. I just have to lose sixty pounds. How do I do that? I hate cooking. So, I think about smoothies. I don’t have any money to go grocery shopping. I start to think about my finances again and I forget about my weight loss plan until the next time I try to fit into my jeans or go on Instagram.
I think about my financial situation. Then my career. Then my entrepreneurial aspirations. Then my dad. Then my lack of friends. Then my inability to get a boyfriend. Then my weight. Then my lifestyle that leads to my weight gain and perpetual finance issues.
Money. Job. Business. Family. Friends. Boys. Weight. Lifestyle. Repeat.
I think about this list on repeat. In every area I am a fuck up. I am not winning anywhere. I think about quitting drinking and how that might help. But I would be so bored. I am already so bored and lonely. Drinking at the bar across the street is the only thing that eases my loneliness.
I think about the list again. I think about the common denominator. It’s me. I am the common denominator. I feel worthless and unlovable. I start to think about ending my life. Thoughts of dying have been creeping in since May. After Kate Spade’s death and after some really difficult conversations/fights with my parents. I start to think about how it doesn’t matter if I live. How I don’t bring anything into the world. I don’t see a point in my life anymore. I’m not always in pain, but I don’t have anything to live for.
Then I remember my brother. I can’t do that to him. All I love in this world is Ryan and all I want is for his life to be amazing. I know how much he loves me. It’s as much as I love him. I know that if I ended my life, I am ensuring that his life would not be as great as he deserves. He would break. I cannot do that to him. I won’t end my life. I don’t want to. I know this deep down. But I also know that my feelings of unworthiness are exhausting.
I accept how exhausting everything is and this brings some peace, but more importantly it brings some drowsiness. I am finally allowed to sleep. Now that I know that I have thought through everything that’s fucked in my life and decided that I will wake up for another day to fight.
I finally fall asleep.
Epilogue: I mentioned above that I wrote this almost six months ago. I saved the document as “Portrait of anxiety as a young bitch”. It was something I forgot about as soon as I closed the word doc. At the time, I think, I just needed to get these words out. I needed to process my thought cycle. I have been going through a lot of my old writing lately, the stuff I’ve never shared, and I came across this and realized it was actually not just a weird ranting journal entry. When I started reading it, I immediately felt like I wanted to post it. But I didn’t want to share the finance stuff. Or how I weight 235 pounds. Or when I got to the end and read my thoughts on ending my life, I really hesitated. I know I’ve mentioned stuff like this before on here. But this felt way too personal. Too intimate. Too sad. Too vulnerable. I didn’t want people to know exactly how “broken” or “fucked up” I was. But here’s the thing, while those thoughts are not healthy and anyone thinking about suicide should 100% know that they are loved, there is help, and they will get better, I am not “broken” for having those thoughts. Nor am I “fucked up”. I am just a deeply feeling person. I think about this line from Glennon Doyle’s book, Love Warrior:
I'm not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, 'For the same reason I laugh so often--because I'm paying attention.' I tell them that we can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved. We must decide.
So yeah, I do think what I shared is too much. I didn’t want to tell you all of that. But I know that what I have to say is very powerful and it’s very true for so many of us. And if just one person needs to read this to feel a little less alone, then I think it’s worth it. I am okay today. I don’t have any desire to end my life. I am well aware that I will have bad days again. When they come, I am prepared to deal with it and share with you.
If you are having thoughts of ending your life or suicide, please know that you are loved. Please know it will get better. And know that there is help. Please call 1-800-273-8255. You are loved.