Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Explanation

The title of this blog, You Might As Well Live, comes from the poem "Resume" by Dorothy Parker, which I like quite a lot. Since it's short, I'll quote it in full here:

Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

But since that URL was taken, I chose some lyrics from the song "The Quitter" by Rasputina for that instead. The first couple verses:

I have worked out every small detail
In this plan I've made.
This thing which cannot fail.
I dare myself to do this one thing.
You can have my car
Go on, take everything.

All that's good is gone, it's gone.
I have tried too long.

You can see where this is going.

A decade ago, I was in my final year of high school. I was also in the middle of the longest, most crushing period of depression I have ever had to live through. It started in eleventh grade, when I was sixteen, and didn't let up in any significant way until the summer after I graduated. Before that happened, I thought very seriously about suicide, and more than once I came close to making an attempt--though thankfully, in the end I never did.

By the beginning of eleventh grade, the group of friends I'd had in junior high had broken apart. This was difficult for me to deal with. I was painfully shy and terrible at fitting in--pretty much a deal-breaker in high school. I was also going through some family issues at the time, which didn't help matters. What started out as feeling a little lonely all too quickly turned to debilitating loneliness, and the conviction that if I couldn't find people to be friends with, it had to be because there was something so fundamentally wrong with me no one could stand to be around me.

From there, I slid into a state of near-constant despair, self-loathing and, of course, deep loneliness that seemed like it would never end. Sometime near the beginning of grade twelve, I told myself that I would wait three more months to see if things got any better, and if they didn't, I had permission to kill myself.

Writing is the one thing I've always felt like I'm reasonably good at, and since I had no one to talk to about what I was going through, I kept extensive journals through all of this. It was the only reasonably healthy way I knew to release some of the pain and, however temporarily, enable myself to stop dwelling on it.

And that's what this blog will primarily consist of: entries from my journals at that time, chronicling, in as close to chronological order as I can manage, my descent into depression and suicidal thoughts, and my gradual rise back to something more like balance. I did have an unrequited crush at the time, so I may gloss over entries about that when they feel unrelated to my main intent for this; but the entries I do post will appear pretty much verbatim, and any present-day commentary I make on them will be clearly marked. The only things I plan to change are--for my privacy and that of anyone else I mention--the names of people and places. Myself, I'll be going by Valerie, or Vale. It's an old, anonymous username I've brought out of retirement for this blog.

I've read through enough of my old journal entries to know there are some disturbing moments, and I have enough triggers of my own to respect others people's. So if you are someone who can be triggered by reading about self-hatred, self-injury, the contemplation of suicide, or body image issues, please be warned that those will all be touched on in the course of this blog. It won't usually be terribly graphic, but I know that's not always necessary to be triggered, and I don't want to blindside anybody.

And as for the why of this... It helped a lot, when I was so depressed, to have the Internet available to me. It gave me the chance to look for other people who felt like I did, even if I was too shy and scared to make myself known to them. It still helped to know that I wasn't alone, wasn't the only one going through this. When I hit a particularly difficult moment in my life, it still helps to be able to see that. It makes me feel like less of a freak, and like those people might even give a crap about how I feel and not judge me for it, because they know what it's like to feel that way.

So while I don't deny that there is a narcissistic element to anyone openly posting their old journal entries online--I hope that's trumped by a sincere desire to help in whatever little way I can. If a single person reads this and feels a little less alone, or like maybe they can keep going for another week, or day, or hour... if this helps anyone, then I'm so glad. I'm not a counselor, or a psychologist or a trained professional of any kind--I'm just someone who's been there, and knows how much it sucks, and wants to lessen that pain for someone else, even if just for a moment. Because I do care. And I won't judge. I just want to help you know--for whatever it's worth--that you're not the only one.

My plan at the moment is to update this with an entry a minimum of once a week, probably on Thursday or Friday. If I decide to change that schedule at any point, I'll mention it.