Letter #121

Content Warning: depression, manic episode, suicidal ideation, insomnia


When I was 15, I had an appointment with a psychiatrist. I remember my dad driving me there, taking our family truck with four-wheel drive so that we could wade through the snow of the Minnesota winter. I had a long history of oppositional defiance and irritability, and I had been skipping school for a while, dropping assignments and bombing tests because I just couldn’t be bothered. My parents didn’t know what to do with me, so off to the psychiatrist I went.


He was a nice guy all in all, the psychiatrist, but he seemed to be in a rush. We had a conversation, or rather he had a conversation with my dad with some input on my part, and I was diagnosed with depression and insomnia. He prescribed me medication, the name of which I can’t remember anymore. Something to help with mood. I started taking it, and pretty soon I felt like a zombie. I felt nothing. No sadness, no anger, no libido, just a whole bunch of nothing. I decided I wasn’t going to take it anymore, and my parents didn’t fight me on it. That left a question hanging over my head, though: what the h*** was I going to do with myself? I never stopped skipping class or dropping assignments whenever I didn’t feel like doing them (which was just about every assignment). Eventually I went to court for being truant, and I was ordered to attend at least two sessions of therapy.


My first therapist was a complicated guy. He only really talked about himself, and I got the impression that he was a bit pretentious, but in all fairness, I went in with the unshakable conviction that this guy wasn’t gonna get a damn thing out of me. There’s not much else to be said about it, but I requested a different therapist after the fact. My second therapist was this older lady who was pretty nice but, same deal, she wasn’t getting a damn thing out of me. I wasn’t going to let these m*th**f*ck**s tell me what to do. Every one of those rat-s*** therapists with a soft speaking voice and a sweater vest (and they both had ‘em) could go to H***. I wasn’t a patient. Everyone else was wrong, not me.


When I was 17, I dropped out of high school. My parents never said anything; I just stopped going, and they didn’t fight me on it. My dad started pushing my two younger sisters pretty hard to do well in school. Honestly, I’m not sure what he was trying to accomplish. They were doing fine already. Looking back on it, I guess he felt like he had failed. I didn’t digest that for a while. Was I a failure? Nah, f*** ‘em.


After dropping out, I spent about 15 hours a day lying on the couch and watching TV shows or YouTube videos or something. If I didn’t have something to fill the space, you can be sure my mind would go in one of two directions: a manic episode where I’d imagine all the amazing things I’d do and how stupid all of the people who treated me like I was broken would feel, or a comprehensive catalog of all the ways that I could kill myself. The hatred of others, of the self, of the world. The sadness and anger. I would lay on the floor of my room for hours, writhing around and wishing for something to kill me so that I wouldn’t have to do it myself. 


Eventually I got a job as a server at a local cafe. My manager was a pain in the a**. I mean a real pain in the a**. She’d tell me one thing, then I’d do it, and she’d tell me that I was supposed to do another thing, and I’d get in trouble. The kind of thing that drives you insane. I would cry in the bathroom. I started feeling cynical, like I’d get chewed out for something regardless of what I did. I stopped giving a s***. I quit. It had been a month and a half.


Around this time, I started thinking that I really did have to change something. I started reading every day and setting aside time to be away from screens. I went online and found some YouTube videos from a therapist, the run-of-the-mill psychoeducation stuff. How to set boundaries and goals, how to follow up on them, how to think about my own thinking. I started putting my feet back on the ground. Figuring stuff out. I had cut myself off from the friends I’d made in high school by then, but I started to develop some friends online. They helped me out a lot. Over the next couple of years, I received a GED and enrolled in college. I do alright for myself now, but looking back on it, it always feels like I had taken a long hike through H***. I appreciate what I have more, and where I’m at now. Being functional on a daily basis is a gift in itself, so anything else is just the cherry on top.

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