We Need to Talk

When I started this blog, I thought I’d be funny. I thought I’d be my usual snide self, and create a running commentary on the craziness of my daily life, just to make myself laugh. But I wound up timing this thing with my falling into one of the darkest periods of my life, and certainly the one I’ve had to face in the loneliest fashion.

I feel so often that depression and anxiety have robbed me of the ability to really live so many chapters of my life, to be present for them in any meaningful way at all.. my time at the University of Chicago was one- I nearly had a breakdown there because I was putting -so- much pressure on myself, and things weren’t right with J… my time at Middlebury was the same because I stopped sleeping and quickly reached the limits of my capacity to cope. Here, it’s hard to blame myself, because of all of the genuinely bad things that have happened to me. I suppose in none of these cases should I blame myself per se… that line of thought isn’t very useful, is it?

It is really hard for me to talk to J. I almost always become hysterical these days, asking why he doesn’t want me anymore. When I learned that he wasn’t coming with me to Tokyo, I remember how horrified I was… on my own I almost always fall apart. How am I supposed to live on my own in the future then? I’ve had the support of this one person my entire adult life…

When you’re waiting for people to reach out to you, I’ve learned, you can wait forever… the more depressed I get, the more I withdraw. And my own family isn’t really writing to me.. my mailbox seems mostly to be spam these days. I load it from the train and look sadly down at my phone… feeling like a ghost. I often these days feel as though I’ve died and don’t know it.

I was in the hospital this week, and am still recovering… on strong antibiotics and other assorted pain medications that made me groggy.

While walking today (slowly, as I am still not well), I was listening to This American Life and thinking how much I loathe stories a) about animals and especially b) from the perspective of animals. To me it’s all shitty art, and TAL is best when it’s doing a kind of anthropological life-storytelling… not using content from “Planet Money” or letting fiction authors read their moose stories. Another kind of writing I loathe- “origin of mankind/evolution of the world” fiction pieces… so yeah, that’s for you Radiolab. Someday I’ll write more fiction. That’s what I had intended to do before I got distracted by academia and non-fiction writing, big egos, and endless unproductive competition.

God, I want so badly to talk to people, especially J, but I don’t feel like I have the words right now.

A tangent: In case you were curious, scrunchies and fanny packs are both still totally acceptable in Tokyo. This city gets a rep for being so very fashionable, and indeed people are generally immaculate in their dress… buuuuut the scrunchies run rampant and so do the packs de los fannies (I don’t know what language that was) in prices ranging from cheapo to designer.

I got a haircut to make myself feel better, but my haircuts do nothing but confirm everyone’s impressions of me as a lesbian- not necessarily a problem, except someday I suppose I’ll want to start attracting men again?? If I’m ever less traumatized and manage to get home without offing myself (not being flippant there).

I feel like the loneliest person in the world most of the time, and really have on and off since I came here. Why I thought anthropology was the field for me is occasionally a mystery, although I’m sure other anthropologists hate fieldwork too.

Haven’t even finished the big arm tattoo and already am fantasizing about a forearm tattoo… except I told myself I wouldn’t get anything that I couldn’t easily conceal during the summer in Tokyo without dying of heatstroke (i.e. short sleeves)


7 thoughts on “We Need to Talk

  1. Tracie


    If you want to email me, I’ll be your pen pal. You can message me on FB for my email addy.

    For the record, I have *never* recovered from a deep depression without SSRI antidepressant therapy. I think it’s absolutely crucial to get your brain chemistry up to normal if you want to have a fighting chance at kicking this thing, or even of having a coherent conversation with J (or anyone). People think depression is weakness, but it’s not. It’s a messed up chemical balance in the brain. I liken it to turning down the voltage – when there’s a brownout, the light bulbs dim until replacement transfer stations kick in and restore the flow of power through the grid. In the modern electrical grid, this takes seconds. In actual human biology, it can take weeks to balance the brain chemistry so that the neurons can actually receive the electro-chemical messages they are sending to each other.

    It’s an actual medical condition – if it weren’t, the medications wouldn’t work so well. Trouble is, each person is slightly different chemically, so it’s hit and miss until your doctor finds the right one.


    1. matchaproblem Post author

      Sigh, part of the problem right now has been monkeying with my medications…. I’ve been on meds since I was 16, and the ones I have been on for the past few years were largely working, except since I came to Japan I’ve really needed something stronger, and the meds I’m on are not available here… mental health treatment here is really behind the U.S., so the meds that are available here are only those that I’ve tried and had bad experiences with.

  2. C

    I know I can’t offer much — just more Japan (though perhaps some distance from fieldwork and Tokyo’s intensity) but if I can do anything to help I will. Just let me know

  3. Leslie

    Grad school is really hard. Being depressed in grad school is even harder. Being depressed after a divorce in grad school is EVEN HARDER. I know because I was there once too. Now, I’m going to write a paragraph of advice below this, but I know that when a person is depressed, sometimes the last thing they want is advice, so feel free to *not* read that if you aren’t up to it or just don’t want advice from some random blogger who doesn’t know you.

    One semester, I was so depressed, I woke up one morning and wanted to roll straight out of bed and onto the floor, and just stay there, curled up in a ball, forever. But when you want to withdraw, or lie on the floor, that’s the time to reach out, even though it’s so hard (because you think no one wants to hear about you being sad, because you think no one cares, because you don’t want to be a burden, hundreds of other things). Maybe send a little email to your family rather than waiting for them to email you. And if you want to lie on the floor, spend time in places where the carpet is so nasty you wouldn’t dare walk on it without shoes or socks on. 🙂 Metaphorically, of course. I think your blogging is probably a step in the right direction.


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