yesterday i had a break down.
a full-blown, non-stop crying for five hours, turn my eyes into puffy pieces of fruit from the hysteria of it all, break down.
and im going to tell you about it because i kind of think that maybe other people break down too sometimes, it’s just that nobody talks about it. either that, or im just crazy by myself, which really should make this whole story that much more interesting.
everything started to fall apart around 5:30 that night. i was so stressed about making even the tiniest mistake at my job that i was sick to my stomach. i live in constant fear that i will transpose a phone number digit or accidentally call “John Smyth” “Jon Smith” and one of them will be the nice priest at the local catholic church, while the other will be the nice convicted child molester at our local park. and then my paper will be sued for libel and i will die.
and that kind of stress over something that’s bound to happen (a mistake, not a libel suit) eats away at your core. it messes with your head. i’d like to think im pretty used to it at this point in my career, but i don’t think its the kind of stress anybody really gets used to.
and last night i realized that i was giving a piece of my soul to this stress and i had exactly $2.30 in my bank account to show for it.
and i had been living on that alone for the past week. and for a week before that i had just $5.47.
so i was going on basically two weeks with nothing while facing a possible third week in the same situation.
and i was out toilet paper.
i had to constantly play this game in my head to plan out the next place i was going to use the bathroom where i could use free toilet paper. and how pathetic is that? im a grown-up contemplating stealing toilet paper from mcdonalds.
on this fateful night, i had already promised work folk from another office that i would meet them for a drink. so i went.
i shouldn’t have went.
i was too stressed out and broke and exhausted. but i went and i ordered a water.
and, like normal people, they all ordered food.
sitting at a table with seven other people who are all eating, while I couldn’t afford anything other than a water with a lemon was one of the saddest moments of my entire adult life.
i was sitting there, still hearing that gawd awful swishing sound in my right ear, thinking about how much of a failure i must be because, for real, what is wrong with me that i never have any money? and i was thinking about how i hate that feeling you get when you know that there is no money, anywhere, and if something happens that requires money to fix, there would be no way to fix it.
it’s a feeling i remember well from childhood, because i grew up pretty poor. and i always promised myself i’d never get feeling as an adult.
but there i was, broke at a table with people who could afford to eat when i couldn’t, wondering what will happen to my car when the gas runs out before i get paid, and i was the most depressed i’ve been in months.
i was thinking that my life is so awful right now. and that i have student loans im pretty much just ignoring because there’s literally no money left to pay them each month. and how i have no toilet paper and i can’t afford to buy any more for at least a week. and how my ear is swishing. and how i hate that stupid commenter on my blog who goes by “fyi” and is too lame to even say his real name here but has no problem writing nasty judgmental comments whenever the mood strikes. and how i couldn’t understand why i seemed to be the only one at the table unable to make my finances work. and why wasn’t everyone around me just as pissed as i was that we don’t make enough money to live on?
the most damaging thought of all though was that i was thinking they all must consider me the biggest idiot ever, because obviously this whole situation just meant that i was bad with budgeting and therefore an idiot.
just so you can fully understand my psyche at this point, im going to share something else that was floating around in my head. i went back and forth about including this, because it could easily be misinterpreted. and you can choose to relate to me, you can choose to pity me or you can just judge me. but so you can fully understand, you need to know that at this table last night i was thinking about suicide. not like, “for real” killing myself. (don’t go calling any sort of hotline, im fine). i was just like, thinking it through. feeling like i was trapped in life that i couldn’t fix.
but i was trying to keep up an act. i was trying to laugh at jokes and contribute to gossip. it was an act that couldn’t possibly have worked with the level of depression i felt coming on.
then finally, i saw my out. and i walked toward the exit with another girl.
i made it half-way to my car before i lost it.
i just started crying hysterically. i was gasping for air trying to hold it together, but i couldn’t stop. i felt so defeated. there were too many problems and no way to fix them. and how the h*ll could i possible make it to Friday with $2.30 in my bank account?
so i started calling people i knew could talk me out of this.
but none of them answered. and the hysterics just grew worse.
i ended up driving to a parking lot near a local school with the intention of calming myself down. instead, i just worked myself up more.
depressive thoughts have this way of repeating over and over and over and over and over until you get to a point where you’re so inside your own head that the real world is no longer what matters and all you can feel is defeat. and you know, in your brain, that it could be worse, because it could ALWAYS be worse. but in your soul, you can’t feel anything but the sadness.
finally i got ahold of someone.
someone in my circle.
someone who wouldn’t judge me or yell at me or think i was weird for crying in my car in a dark parking lot on a thursday night.
and she started talking me down.
but i was so far gone, that she could only do so much.
then i talked to my mom, who did her best and told me she would help me. but i was still gasping for breath as i tried to stop crying.
and then i got ahold of another friend. a girl who im pretty sure used to make even less than me as a journalist.
and this friend reached through her cell phone, pulled on my right arm and yanked me off the ledge i was on.
she got me back where i could breathe again.
where i could start to see the world in focus again.
and it was enough to get me home. and into bed.
but i was still crying. i was still feeling defeated and trapped. and i talked to one more friend in my circle before crying myself to sleep.
i woke up to a pair of eyes that look like someone had filled them with cherry jello and then painted dark red circles underneath. eyes so swollen i was actually thinking of wearing sunglasses to work.
i took a deep breath in, let it out, and then walked into a new day.
i mostly didn’t cry at work. i mostly didn’t let those depressing thoughts run through my mind. and i mostly tried not to think about my bank account.
and i got through things.
but i was still a zombie when i drove to meet my mom so she could give me some money so i could get toliet paper and eat. and she took me to dinner along with my sister, my step-niece and my grandma.
then they headed home while i headed to a gas station.
where i locked my freaking keys in my freaking car.
for real God?
for freaking real?
believe you me, if i didn’t know people from church read this blog, i would totally be using words much stronger than ‘freaking’
i called my family back to help me at the gas station.
after asking approximately 18 strange people if they either a. had a wire hanger on them or b. knew how to break into a car, and receiving little help, my mom went to a nearby wal-greens to buy some wire hangers. let’s all take a second to thank the Lord above that some company somewhere still goes through the effort of making and distributing wire hangers.
we then spent the next 45 minutes trying to figure out how exactly people actually use said wire hangers to open locked cars. eventually my step-niece and i realized we should twist two together end-to-end and then try to hook it around the door handle to open the car.
by this point onlookers were involved and all of us were shouting to each other as we guided the hanger through the window and around the door hook, saying things like “A LITTLE TO THE LEFT. SLOW.LY. SLOW.LY. NOW TWIST IT. GOOD. GOOD. NOW PULL!”
THANK YOU LORD! is what each of shouted and as i got access to my precious car again.
and for the first time in about 48 hours i was actually happy. the stupid car and the stupid keys hadn’t managed to defeat me.
i had achieved a victory, however small.
and at the same time i knew it was not my victory to own. that my family and random strangers were there to help.
and i relaxed for a second. i finally saw what i needed to see from the beginning — that there were plenty of people around to pull me back from the ledge and help me conquer world.
and maybe, well, maybe i was going to be ok afterall.