I have generated a list (inspired by Matt Haig) of things that have happened to me that have generated more sympathy than my widowhood, PTSD, and depression. (NOTE- these all happened after Jacob died and is in no way an exhaustive list.) This is not hyperbole either – it is all true. Which makes it funny. I used to get angry but now I just giggle. There is this phrase that goes something like -“I am in therapy to deal with the people in my life that refuse to get therapy.” I mean – I have said it time and time again – if anyone (his family, my family, my siblings, his siblings, etc) wants to do something that Jacob would be proud of, it would be therapy! For fucks sake. A highly skilled therapist is more worthy of praise than any doctor – and I tried to convince Jacob of this despite the opposite being forced into his mind from a young age – but come on, med school? Seriously? I got A’s in organic chemistry, 4.0 undergraduate biology degree and a 33 on the MCAT because I took it for fun (the average score for admission to a state university is MCAT 27, whereas Stanford/Harvard average is 31.) Being a doctor is just memorization. I am not intelligent – maybe average or above average intelligence, but the only thing that made me “do well” in school was my work ethic. That is all. But a skilled therapist? With empathy and the ability to push you? – to not let you run from yourself? A skilled listener? A skilled and trained guidance to help you time travel through your past and how it influences your future. That it rare. Much like Jacob’s talent. Jacob is the type of person who could have been an amazing therapist (he even said that before.) It is not something you can memorize. There is a wisdom and observation of the human condition necessary to be successful in one’s practice. Blagh. I digress – here is the list. I hope this makes you feel better! Or not alone. Or maybe just send it to the people in your life that are woefully ignorant – idk. It is pretty pathetic. And sad. And hilarious. I can definitely see myself laughing with Monika or Élise at these mutual lists. And it is also freeing – like, dang – these people have such a small perspective on life, they are wasting so much of it with these trivial thoughts and this myopic perspective.
OK – here we go.
Things that have happened to me that have generated more sympathy than my widowhood, PTSD, and depression:
Gaining 50 pounds due to medicine for my night terrors
Corrupt hard drive
Losing my phone in a foreign country
Losing my laptop in that same foreign country
Losing my wallet and passport in a taxi in a rural village in Nepal
Fracturing my ankle
Punching a hole in the wall
Clothes not fitting
Having the heater broken in Boston for 3 days
Getting my first B (at Harvard. 89.999)
Being in debt.
Falling down the stairs in my Boston apartment 5 times leading to severe knee pain
Knee pain when sitting down or standing up
Vertigo due to forgetting to take my Effexor medicine
Losing 90 lbs due to medicine
High blood pressure due to medicine
Breaking a ceramic dish I had since high school
What is the point of this list? Well, I think it identifies a big problem. A huge problem. The pain inside is invisible, therefore it does not exist. There are days where I am so exhausted from waking up screaming or waking up on the floor from a night terror OR avoiding sleep for 4-5 days on end, that I cannot function. I feel so abnormal. A fucking freak. Why am I so weird? Why can’t I just be normal? I cannot work. I cannot move. I cannot force myself to do anything like I used to when Jacob was alive. But then… to add fuel to the fire, I am called “selfish” for not calling someone back for a week, month, or even six months. Like my brother who plays this very passive aggressive game with me now because he thinks I have “mourned enough” so I should call him and all this silliness. Which I don’t have emotional space for.
Sigh sigh sigh.I had never in my life known the feeling of FEARING to go to sleep. Think about that for just one second. Genuine fear – fear like I have never had – like someone knocking at your door in the middle of the night and shouting they have a gun. When you have PTSD your life span shortens and a lot of biochemical issues arise because your levels of adrenaline are very high (constantly- which is very abnormal.) So, imagine having that as the status quo for almost 4 years and then pushing it more near bed time. I take 15 mg of Adderall daily to avoid sleep. Because in sleep there is no rest. It is just pain, horror, and violence. This is a big difference between people with chronic depression vs PTSD/ grief related depression – in the former, sleep is often used as an unhealthy escapism. You sleep as much as possible because it is the closest thing to death. I have been in a place where I cannot get out of bed – but I am not sleeping. I am just paralyzed by my own mind.
I feel like I have taken 8000 steps back this year. When I was in Boston I had some sort of semblance of a life – developing into a new Kaitlin / some functioning being. Now with COVID quarantine, this May will mark a year since I moved home with my parents after I graduated Harvard (the plan was initially for only two months). There is no community for me here – there is no job – friends – nothing to foster connection – and it is not the location that makes someone “better” but, to be in my childhood bedroom in the town Jacob and I grew up in surrounded by the trauma of two years – is just a place I don’t want to be. Especially not after making a lot of progress in 2019-2020. In Boston there was the development of those things. Strangers you could strike up a conversation two blocks from your house, places you could get lost. People you could get lost with. Weird interactions. Sexual interactions. Hilarious Interactions. Interesting perspectives or being cynical and connecting with another human. Being kind and connecting with another human being. Making a deep friendship. And friendship is the most important thing. Here there is endless suburbs… nowhere you can walk to. I haven’t left the house in so long – and it is unhealthy – but there is no where to go, and no where to find myself. This is not “woe is me” this is – seriously? Like… man, the world really does not give a shit about anyone. Some of us just get dealt a shitty card. I somehow was back “starting” to live – after two years in bed and barely functioning with so much medicine and procedures. And what happens? Boom. Back to your childhood bedroom. The place that reminds you of those two years. The ghosts of our belongings. The daily mail with Jacob’s name on it (which I like keeping – I like to see his name) but it is all so familiar. In a way that brings despair. Gloom.
Read this for a second, friends:
You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life ! People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.
So what is the reason for this? You are living as if destined to live for ever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply – though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last. You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire. You will hear many people saying: ‘When I am fifty I shall retire into leisure; when I am sixty I shall give up public duties.’ And what guarantee do you have of a longer life? Who will allow your course to proceed as you arrange it? Aren’t you ashamed to keep for yourself just the remnants of your life, and to devote to wisdom only that time which cannot be spent on any business? How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end! How stupid to forget our mortality, and put off sensible plans to our fiftieth and sixtieth years, aiming to begin life from a point at which few have arrived!