Late Night Crowded Lonely

I’m taking a pause on the life story kick I’ve been on, just for a little bit. It’s too depressing to recount it all together. Hiatus time.

I’m too tired to proofread, so sorry for the errors.

Anyway, I got married five days ago. I’m in Orlando with my husband, and he’s asleep. I would love to say I’m happy. I would love to say everything is fine, now that I’ve met someone I enjoy being with.

But that pesky depression that has me wrapped around its finger. He’s inside, knocked the fuck out, and I’m out here in the dark, half a step away from a panic attack and on the cusp of the exact opposite of greatness.

Maybe it’s about time to tell him about the assault, about how it’s extremely difficult to sleep with anyone too close to me, because I feel trapped. I should tell him how hard it is to breathe when someone’s arm is around me, because I feel like I’m about to be dragged off somewhere. I should tell him what happened. It’s the right thing to do.

And I plan to. Every day I wake up planning to say something, but then I think about the aftermath. He would be afraid to come anywhere near me, because he doesn’t want to hurt me, and that’s just not fair. It’s not fair of me to make someone nervous about touching his wife. I should have told him before.

I should have told him before.

I had a panic attack in the middle of the night a few days ago, and he was so great with it. I know he’d be great about this, and that’s part of the problem. I almost wish he would be awful about it. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so bad. Maybe I wouldn’t freak out and panic. Maybe.

Sometimes I still can’t believe it happened. It hasn’t even been a year since Chicago, but it’s still almost dreamlike in a way. Like it was happening to me and I was watching it happen to me from the outside at the same time, if that makes sense.

I only told one person about it, and she just doesn’t count. We’re basically the same person. It also just doesn’t really affect mine and hers’ relationship. It’s different with him. It will change everything.

I need time to myself, but he’s always around. He’s always there. I don’t have a minute to be sad by myself and disengage from my life for a little while. I’m so used to being alone. I don’t know how to be with someone else. It’s turning out that I’m even worse at being in a relationship than I thought I was. What the fuck am I doing?

What the fuck am I doing?

Chronicles of the Lonely: Chapter Four–The Move pt. 2

A few days passed, and I still wasn’t very well-liked. I was the weird kid. I had always been the weird kid, but this was the first time it was so big a problem. I was only seven, and fitting in mattered more to me than anything else in the world, so I did the only thing I could think of: I lied.

I lied about my interests. I lied about my thoughts. I lied about crushes. Everything they talked about, I took part in, no matter how much it made me cringe. I told more lies than a seven year old should ever have to, and slowly, it worked. They became my friends–or rather, they became friends with the girl whose skin I was just renting.

This worked for a while, but it was starting to take a toll on me. Every passing day, I felt worse than before. It wasn’t even entirely working. I still said and did things that made people look at me like I had grown a second head. I didn’t realize that a lot of my character traits were out of the ordinary until someone pointed it out. They still called me weird, but not weird enough for me to become a pariah again.

Not a month later, the panic attacks returned with a vengeance. I woke up in the middle of the night on a random day of the week with my heart pounding in my chest. The extreme fear I hadn’t felt in a long time came crashing down on me. I started crying, and once again, I had no idea why. Tears just ran a race down my face, and I was shaking. I jumped out of bed and knocked on my parents’ door.

Now, we were only allowed to speak Arabic at home, but I was born and raised in America, and some sentences came out worded incorrectly. My language skills were even worse when I was upset.

I poked my dad and said what is translated to, “I have tears.”

My mother didn’t wake up, but my dad told me to go back to bed. He didn’t yell; he just didn’t take me seriously. I suppose he thought it was just a nightmare, and I could go right back to sleep if I turned my nightlight on.

I left and closed the door, and then I crept into my brother’s room. I knelt by his bed and shook him, but waking my brother up was harder than getting an agoraphobic old woman to go outside. He didn’t even stir.

Even though he couldn’t hear me, I started whispering through my tears. I sat there for some length of time, trying to be as quiet as possible, but it didn’t work. My father was an extremely light sleeper, and I had poked the bear. He came into my brother’s room and yelled at me. He told me I was making too much noise, and made me go right back to bed.

Now, pause. I know how that sounds. It sounds like he was a horrible father, but he really wasn’t. I just don’t think depression has ever been a real possibility in my family’s eyes. I was just a kid who was acting out, and I needed to go to sleep.

So, I went into my bed and laid there until morning, hoping it would go away.

Of course, it did not. He remembered it all the next day, but he wasn’t angry. It turned into a joke. He told my mother, and she thought it was hysterical.

They reference that night on occasion to this very day. It is still a running joke, but it’s still not funny.

Chronicles of the Lonely: Chapter Three–The Move pt. 1

The situation with my family wasn’t ideal. My parents were starting to struggle with being apart for so long, and my brother and I complained every time we had to trek down to my dad’s house for the weekend. The strain was unbearable, at times. I was halfway through second grade, very much still enjoying school, when my dad came across a private school similar to the one they had us attending. This one was much closer to him, and we could all live together.

Much to my chagrin, halfway through the academic year, they pulled us out of our school and enrolled us in another. There was very little conversation with me or my brother about it. One day I was telling fantastic stories in a class full of people who weren’t really listening, and the next, I was saying goodbye and hopping in a car that would take me away from everything I found comforting. In a world without wifi, I would never talk to any of them again.

My first day of school was all kinds of awful. It was far worse than even my wild imagination could depict it to be. The school was tiny. I walked into a second-grade classroom that housed five students and a teacher wearing the brightest orange lipstick I had ever seen. In my terrified eyes, not one face seemed friendly.

I don’t remember every second of that day, two things are unforgettable: the spelling test and lunchtime.

During lunch, the other girls in my class were in the bathroom with me, putting on lip gloss from tiny tubs they had in their pockets. They asked me if I had one, and I said I didn’t like makeup. Two of them rolled their eyes and walked out of the bathroom. I followed them to lunch and sat with them, and one of them started talking amongst themselves. I couldn’t really hear them.

Finally, one of them looked at me and asked, “Are you a Blossom or a Bubbles?”
I didn’t immediately realize what they were talking about. Powerpuff Girls had just made its debut. They saw the blank look on my face and started laughing. A few seconds later, it clicked. I tried to tell them, but one of them held her hand up at me and told me it was too late. I let it go and fell silent for the rest of the break.

The other incident happened with the psycho with the orange lipstick. We came back to class after lunch, and she announced that we were having a spelling test. I didn’t know a single word. I hadn’t had time to study, and no one had informed my mom. I tried to explain that I couldn’t take it, but the teacher yelled at me and forced me to take it. Of course, I tanked harder the The Green Lantern did in the box office.

When our time was up, she snatched the paper off my desk and told me I needed to study, next time. She wrote a big red ‘F’ on the page, showed it to the whole class, and walked away. To a total nerd, this was the equivalent of someone telling me that I was getting a piece of coal for my birthday, and nothing more.

I went to the bathroom and cried until my mom came and got me.

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.

The Perfect Perception of Pride

Pride is an interesting social construct. It is an idea based on perception, not fact. Entire personalities can be fundamentally hated because of misconstrued words and idiosyncrasies. We write people off as proud or egotistical only by interpreting what we see.

A little known truth is that, people’s actions do not always point to their true selves. Humans often display a smoke screen that creates an illusion that we are what we are not. Sometimes, it is easier to put on a facade of complete detachment and apathy simply because allowing reality to shine through can only expose our vulnerability.

“This is me.”
“You don’t like it, I don’t care.”
“I am who I am.”
“I will change for no one.”
“Get over it.”

These statements are thought to be nothing more than a verbal manifestation of a person’s high sense of their own grandiosity. However, they are not expressions of extreme hubris. More often than not, they are the words we hide behind to distract people from our floor-level self-esteem. When people are kept safely at arm’s length, the pain that intensifies when we’re alone in the dark is invisible.

Pride isn’t palpable. It isn’t easily discerned. It is often a cover for depression, anxiety, and low self-worth.

It is better to be awful than weak. It is better to be pompous than broken.

Be careful what you say, because your words are worse than sticks and stones. Broken bones heal. Broken hearts don’t. A simple sentence said can run races in someone’s mind until they fall apart completely.

And there’s no coming back from that.

Points of pride be damned.

To Whom It May Concern

To Whom it May Concern:

I have written many a post about depression and anxiety; I have explained it, described it, and defended it extensively in cyber space and real life. It seems, however, that despite all of this people still are unable to recognize it when they see it. This isn’t about me. This is about all of those around me that are subjected to labels by people who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

The girl who stays up all night and sleeps all day isn’t just lazy. The guy who’s always on a screen of some kind, be it a computer, video games, or any other gadget that prevents social interaction, isn’t just addicted to technology. The people who keep to themselves for the most part do not think they’re better than others. Often, it is the exact opposite, and nothing is more terrifying than seeking help.

The girl who’s up all night is anxious. She can’t sleep, because all of the things that she thinks are wrong with her are running around in circles in her head. She is analyzing everything that she has ever done and is torturing herself over all of it, because she is simply incapable of moving on. Her mole hills are mountains she can’t climb, and when the sun comes up and she can see more than darkness, her mind finally lets her sleep.

The boy who is always staring at a screen is terrified of socializing. Crowds make him nervous, people make him anxious, and the real world is far more intimidating than the virtual reality he has created.

The girl who keeps to herself has low self-esteem. She compares herself to others and seems to always fall short. She looks down on herself and wonders why she couldn’t be as talented, smart, or beautiful as the people around her. It is easier for her to be alone, than to find herself in a position where her thoughts turn into self-deprecating beliefs that stick with her for life.

Just getting closer to God isn’t going to fix it. Being told that nothing is wrong with their lives, isn’t going to fix it. Telling someone that things are going to be okay isn’t going to fix it. Inserting our opinions and getting angry when the other person doesn’t get better isn’t going to fix it.

Telling people that it’s all in their head isn’t going fix it, because it is all in their head.

That’s kind of the point.

Sincerely,
The Guy Who Can’t Stand Your Type

Of Sleepless Nights and Anxious Messes

It’s four in the morning. I have been in bed for four hours, now. I can’t sleep. My anxiety is approaching an all-time high, and it feels like there’s a hole inside me that’s sucking up all the air I am trying to breathe before it gets to my lungs.

I’m exhausted, but not sleepy. I want to rest and forget everything, but my brain is buzzing. The only things contaminating my mind are the memories that remind me of all the reasons my life is so hard. And unfair. And just painful.

And I realize how juvenile it sounds. It’s as if I am a fifteen-year-old drama queen. I have so much to be thankful for–I know that. I know that I have so much to be thankful for, but that doesn’t make all the terrible things more bearable, and if you don’t believe me, I will list them for you. I will let you form your own opinion, as you read on.

I have Type 1 diabetes. I am epileptic. I wear flats in the dead winter, because shoes induce seizures. My memory is slowly wasting away because of my medications. I am fat. I am not pretty. I am not particularly smart. I am aromantic and asexual in a world that does not accept asexuality as a reality. I’m being dragged in the direction of marriage, and I am too deep inside the closet to protest it at all. I am alone in this, because not one person in my life has any of these problems. Not one. It’s just me, myself, and anxiety, and I’m struggling more than I can possibly explain.

I can’t breathe. I’m losing my mind. Even the things I’ve been told my entire life that I am good at have just led me to fall flat on my face. I’m a student at NYU. I’ve got that going for me. Hurrah for plan C, since A and B failed so tremendously. I don’t really want to be a therapist. I just failed at being a journalist, tanked my chances at becoming a writer, and needed something to do with my life.

And the worst part of all of this is, I am alone in a way that I can’t possibly explain. I am an anxious, depressed mess who covers it poorly with humor and sarcasm.

And for once, I’m not just being melodramatic. I’m quite literally seizing my days away.

And to fix this, I wrote a book loosely based on these experiences in a fictional story-line. Of course, my self-esteem is far too low for me to try to publish it.

I didn’t want to keep whining on here, but I can’t seem to stop.

Hend Salah–fucking up everything since 1991.