Chronicles of the Lonely: Chapter Two–1997 pt. 2

For a while after that first panic attack, things were quiet. I had trouble falling asleep, but I didn’t break out into overwhelming terror. I just lay in bed for hours, staring at my ceiling, until my mind finally let me find its off switch. I pretended to be alright during the day and bristled whenever they wanted to send me off to bed, but nothing substantial happened.

This brings us to the second pivotal event of 1997: my brother’s carrot accident.

My brother was just two years older than me. He had always been far smarter, but his poor decisions–though farther and fewer in between–have always been worse than mine. He decided he was hungry and went to the fridge and pulled out a bag of carrots. To be clear–these were not baby carrots. They were long horse-feed carrots, which were simply inedible to him. He needed his carrots chopped onto smaller pieces, or he would not eat them. So he went in a drawer and grabbed the biggest knife my mother kept in there.

Now, this may not have had disastrous results if he had just cut it like a normal person–carrot on its side and chopped into little circles. Instead, he held the carrot straight up and attempted to slice it in half. I stood behind him silently, just watching. My mom was in the bathroom.

And so, down went the knife, through the carrot, and into his finger. He had pushed it extremely hard, and blood was pouring out of the cut. It fell all over his clothes and the floor. He screamed and dropped the knife, but I didn’t do anything. I just watched him cry. I didn’t say one word.

My mom came bolting into the kitchen, and he was eventually fine, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it that night. I couldn’t let it go. I blamed myself entirely for not helping him or stopping him. I should have done something, somehow. I fell asleep, but I woke up in the middle of the night yet again. It was the weekend, and my dad was there with us, but I didn’t go wake them. They wouldn’t do anything. I didn’t help my brother, so why should they help me?

This attack was longer than the first. The tears ran out, but I was still struggling to breathe or calm down. The sun came up, and I still hadn’t managed to shake it.

I heard noise coming from outside the plastic sliding door. My parents were awake. I immediately closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep just seconds before my dad opened the door. I laid there perfectly still, and after a few minutes I opened my eyes to see if he was gone, but he wasn’t. He was standing in the doorway quietly, and when he saw me open my eyes, he laughed.

He said he knew I was faking sleep. He told me to get up for breakfast, and then walked away.

This was the day I learned how to pretend I was okay. At six years old. Of course, it was impossible to do this successfully every time, but that first time worked out just fine, and I saved my tears for the next time they were all poking around in their own dreams.

I didn’t have another panic attack that year, but my problems with falling asleep would continue on almost every night without fail, forever.

This was the most significant year of my entire life. It was the year I became who I am today. It was the year I developed a mental illness that I didn’t understand. It was the year the word “bedtime” had begun to make me more anxious than anything else. It was the year depression lured me into a trap, swallowed me whole, and never let me go.

Circa 1997–It had me at goodnight.

Chronicles of the Lonely: 1997 pt. 1

My first depressive episode happened in 1997, just after I turned six years old. My parents were living apart, because they wanted my brother and I to attend a private school that was far away from where my father worked. My brother, mother, and I lived in an apartment by ourselves, and dad showed up on weekends. There are two incidents that happened this year that laid the groundwork for how the rest of my life would go.

I’ll begin with my first midnight dreary panic attack. I remember this night down to every minute detail. The apartment we were in had only one room, and my mom usually slept on the couch with the television on. I was asleep, and just as we entered the witching hour, my eyes opened. I hadn’t woken up from a nightmare. I had been sound asleep. I just couldn’t drift off again, and a feeling of extreme fear washed over me. I was terrified, and I didn’t know why. There were no monsters in my closet, no boogeymen hiding under my bed. I didn’t know what was making it hard for me to breathe. Before the tears settled in, I got out of bed and went out to my mother, hoping she would make it stop. The Brady Bunch had taken over Nick at Nite, and the amused laughter emitting from the television sounded sinister to me.

I gently tapped my mother, but she didn’t wake up. She was a heavy sleeper. I tried again a few more times, until her eyes opened and she looked at me groggily. Trouble was, my mother always took several minutes to come out of her sleep coma enough to understand what was actually going on, but I didn’t understand that, then. My panic amplified everything going on around me, and it sounded like she was yelling at me to go back to bed. She turned away from me and closed her eyes again, leaving me to kneel by her on the floor alone.

I sat there for a few minutes, just a six year old confused and terrified of everything and nothing. I went back the bedroom, closed the door, hugged my knees and cried, making sure I made no noise. Silent tears were just cascading down my face. I was alone, drowning in the noise bursting through the door from the television set.

I cried until I managed to fall asleep. She didn’t remember it in the morning, and I didn’t speak of it.

It was the first of a series of terrible childhood nights, but more on that later.

The Evolution of Emptiness: Chronicles of the Lonely

For a long time, I’ve wanted to open up about what happened throughout my childhood and young adult life, about the things I haven’t been able to let go, about the things I can’t stop resenting people for. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve put all my effort into forgetting and moving on, but I’m constantly suffocated by memories that I’ve never been able to verbalize wholly. I’ve told some things here and there to close friends, but not everything. Everything would be too heavy–too abnormal. It would be an embarrassing burden.

But this is my website, and this is where I’m going to say it all; chapter by chapter, the things that have caused irreparable damage that I have struggled with my whole life will have to be exposed. None of you know me, anyway.

I’m sorry, mom and dad, but 27 years of silence have just culminated into true desire to end it all right here, even with my wedding three weeks away. Even with my wedding three weeks away, the loneliness is endless.

And away we go.