Confessions

Jen: 1 Depression: 0

I had a great day today. I mean, a really great day. My sis and I were both off work so we went out for coffee and bagels and then did a little shopping. I wasn’t desperate to get back inside my house, and I didn’t spend my entire day off on the computer. I even had enough energy to do a giant load of dishes. I haven’t had a day this fantastic in ages.

It was like I got out of my own way long enough to resemble a functional human being. My sister has always been an incredibly supportive person, especially when I’m feeling down. Talking to her is easy — she never judges, she never takes any of my “no one cares about me” comments personally, and she listens and offers advice in a way that doesn’t annoy me. She just gets it. We’ve both been working insane hours lately so we haven’t been able to spend much time together so today was a real treat.

We even have plans to go visit the Casa Loma haunted house tour in Toronto next week while I’m on my vacation. And we’re having a Ginger Snaps movie marathon for Halloween. I always treasure it when I’m able to have a good day. I really haven’t had one of those in WAY too long. Most of the time, I can’t bear to be outside for more than five minutes unless I’m on my way to work. I’ve been doing the work-home-work-home routine for months now, with quick trips to the corner store as my only real trip outside. It was nice to actually be out and enjoy the sunshine for once.

So I’m taking a deep breath and reminding myself that I’m not always going to feel like shit. There are always going to be really great days, too. I know I’m not out of the woods yet, but I’ve enjoyed my time in this little mental clearing.

I hope you’re all having a great day, too.

Confessions

Fall Has Fallen And So Have I.

Holy man. Been a rough ride, hasn’t it? This blog has shifted and changed so much from what I had first anticipated. What began as a place to tell stories about my life working in coffee shops turned into a chronicle of my ups and downs and major life changes.

I’m still barely hanging on right now. I fill my days with whatever distractions I can so I don’t have to face the reality that I’m down. Way down. And I know I need help (which yes, I also know I’ve said before). There’s been a major change at work, though, so that help is closer than ever before.

Before, my employer only offered $500/year for mental health services. I didn’t see the point in seeking help because there’s no way in hell $500 would be enough and I certainly can’t afford a therapist on my own. Beginning Oct. 1, that coverage is increasing to $5000/year. You read that right. $5000. They have quite literally saved my life, because if I have to continue the way I have been, I don’t know that I would make it to my 29th birthday. Janelle died over a year ago but the ripple effect of her choice to end her life is still affecting me in a big way.

I still withdraw from people when I’m like this. I can’t bear to see pity in people’s eyes when they look at me. I can’t stand knowing I’m no fun to be around because all I can do is sit there staring into space. Most of us put on a show when we’re at work or out in public because we have to, but when I’m at home it’s a totally different story.

I had my first major panic attack a couple weeks ago. I was at work, everything was fine, and suddenly my hands started shaking hard. I felt like there were millions of bubbles inside my body and if I stopped moving they would all pop and kill me. I have plenty of tiny panic attacks at work and usually I just keep my head down and clean like a maniac until that bubble feeling passes. This time was VERY different.

I went to the back to pull some pastries from the freezer and started sobbing. I mean full-on sobbing to the point I couldn’t catch my breath. A coworker sat with me and tried to calm me down but I couldn’t get my breathing back to normal and I couldn’t stop the tears. I ended up being sent home, where I continued to be anxious for the next couple hours until I finally fell asleep. And since that day, I haven’t felt quite right. I’m angry. The slightest thing irritates me. That’s not the person I normally am, so this is weird.

I also found out some news that really upset me recently. There’s no reason it should’ve upset me, but it did. And I fixated on it. For some reason I felt like I was being cut out and fucked over but I knew if I said anything while I was feeling like that it would’ve come out completely wrong. So I’m still sitting here consumed by those emotions, because I don’t know how to articulate them without sounding like an asshole. I feel like the largest portions of my days are spent trying desperately to regulate my spiraling emotions but it’s a battle I’m beginning to lose.

September is almost over though. And then I can finally reach out and get some help. I can’t keep doing this. I’m so tired from the last couple of years. I should’ve known last October that it was getting worse because when I was hit by that car, I didn’t give a shit. I was honestly a little disappointed that I wasn’t hit harder. Because I want to be dead, but I’m too afraid to do it myself. It’s the same reason I still smoke and drink way too much caffeine. I’m a coward. It’s not bravery in the face of depression, it’s me being too chickenshit to do what Janelle did. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know I want to live. I just need help finding my way back to that path. I can’t wait to look back on this one day and barely be able to remember what it was like to feel so terrible. I want this to be a distant memory.

I was diagnosed when I was around 15-16. I stopped taking my meds shortly after I started them. I’m now nearly 29, which means I’ve been walking around in constant emotional pain for almost thirteen years, and I’m fucking tired of it. I have two solutions: death or therapy. Since the first option seems awfully permanent, I think I should go with the second option first.

So that’s my explanation as to why I abandoned this blog in July 2015. I just couldn’t do it anymore. The noise in my head got to be too much.

I’m back now. I don’t know what the future has in store for me, but I’m going to do my best to be around to see it.

Confessions

Got Some ‘Splainin’ To Do.

Uh… hello. Hi, there. Ahem… allow me to reintroduce myself.

I’m Jen, abandoner of blogs. It’s been over a year since I bothered to write anything here, and the reason is probably pretty obvious if you read my last post.

My friend had just died, and I wasn’t even remotely prepared to deal with that. I don’t think anyone is EVER remotely prepared to deal with a friend’s suicide, but you get my drift. I totally lost my shit in a very spectacular way. I’ve had some time to heal, and I’m ready to take baby steps back into the world I used to know.

That world includes writing.

So here I am, asking your forgiveness for leaving you hanging. I have so much I’d like to share with you, but it’s already really late and I have to be a functioning coffee wench in the morning.

So hello again. I’ve missed you.

Confessions

Relapse 2015

*TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide, depressive thoughts*


This post is difficult. So very difficult.

I’ve been scrolling through websites for the last two hours and can barely recall any of what I read.

I’m in the middle of a relapse right now. Everything got so noisy inside my head that my brain freaked out and shut off all my feelings. I don’t feel anything but emptiness, and I’m all too familiar with what that means for me.

I’m depressed. Again. And I have been for months. I haven’t told anyone yet, I just use my go-to “I’m old and having sleep issues” excuse for never wanting to do anything or being really quiet when my friends finally convince me to tag along. But that’s not it, not really. I’m not sleeping properly because I’m empty. What’s the point of sleeping? I’m only going to be disappointed to wake up again. Every morning when I wake up I have this moment when the thought of swinging my legs over the side of my bed and standing up seems like the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I think of closing my eyes and never having to open them again and I long for that. Not being a part of this world anymore is so alluring.

The chronic foot pain I’ve had for the last few years is getting increasingly worse. I know at this point I should really see a doctor but I let my health card expire and the steps I have to go through to make it valid again just seem like too much work. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

I can see what it would take to make me feel like a human being again but I can’t find the strength to do it. I just don’t give a shit. At the moment, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, there’s just more tunnel. I’m exhausted. I don’t want to sleep, I want to stop existing. And that pull is so strong these days that it’s prompted me to write this down. If I write it out, I won’t do it. I can’t do it.

My friend Janelle killed herself last month. It hit everyone hard, naturally, because she was amazing and we all loved her so fucking much. I knew she was depressed. I knew she had struggled like I had struggled because we sat in the back room at work many times and traded “Life Is Shit” battle stories. She had some tales that brought a tear to my eye. And now she’s gone. Her pain is over. I was hit with the full force of my emotions over her death and the switch flipped and my brain shut it down and now I can’t feel anything at all.

Why her? Why not me? Why can’t I?

Jesus Christ, her funeral was hard. Seeing her family and close friends all gathered to say goodbye, watching the slideshow of photos from her life. Being at the spot where she was being laid to rest. It’s not fucking fair. She was 21. And like the self-absorbed asshole I am, all I could think was, “I wonder if they would say similar things at my funeral.” It was eerie, being there. It honestly felt like I was crashing my own funeral with the added pain of knowing I would never get to see my friend again. Not in this life, anyway. And it all feels so pointless. We’re all slowly rotting inside our bodies until the meat breaks down and we stop breathing. Why wait? Why prolong the inevitable? It feels like I’ve already seen where my life is going and with all due respect I’m ready to hit the stop button. I’ve seen enough.

But this is a mood. I know my own mind enough to know when it’s being crazy. I know I shouldn’t do anything when my thoughts are cluttered and scattered and broken like this. I know I could wake up tomorrow in a great mood and have a fantastic day. Life’s like a book and you’re supposed to keep reading until the very end.

Can I tell you a secret though?

I’ve been planning to kill myself since I was 12 years old. My dad died and the world got dark. Now Janelle is gone and the world is even darker. I don’t want to get old and watch as my body fails me. I don’t want to get out of bed every day for the next forty years and experience excruciating pain as it shoots up both my legs, as it has for the last two years. I don’t want to go to the doctor, or pay taxes, shower, brush my teeth, or anything. I just want everything to stop.

I don’t want to be here anymore. I just want to go to sleep and never wake up again.

But I also don’t want anyone to feel the way I felt standing at Janelle’s grave.

Confessions, Life

I’m Sorry.

One of my favorite things about the location where I sling coffee every day is the part where we make plans to go drinking on weekdays. Every now and then the stars align and we’ll be able to get a group together to meet up with the closing crew and head out for cheap beer and good stories. More often than not we end up at The Imperial, crowding together on the couches or pushing tables together on the patio when we get too hot to live.

We ended up there last Wednesday. As the night was winding down and there were only a handful of us left sitting outside, a man came up and asked if he could sit at the end of our table. His friend was smoking nearby and I suppose he wanted to sit next to him.

Everything was fine until he started talking.

I’m not about to sit here and say there’s no such thing as psychics. I’m open to a lot of things in this life, and I certainly don’t think I know everything about the world around me, but believe me when I say this man was fishing for information and I didn’t realize it until it was too late to back out. He started by telling us he could see energy. I reacted by being a dick, mostly because I was a little drunk but also because I couldn’t figure out why he was interrupting in the first place.

He asked us all a lot of questions and then proceeded to make his predictions.

He asked me where my family was. I told him Newfoundland.

He asked me where my father was. I said, “In a hole in the ground.”

He told me my father is sorry, and suddenly I was not OK.

Not at all.

It’s not that I believed this stranger. It’s not that I put any faith at all in his ability to interpret my “hole in the ground” response as some sort of bad blood family drama indicator. It’s not even that he dared to make assumptions and offer fake sage advice on a subject he couldn’t possibly know anything about.

What upset me more than anything was how guilty I felt when he said that.

I had spent the previous weekend with my sister at my mom’s and we ended up drinking a little too much wine and having ourselves a long overdue heart-to-heart/confession cry-fest. I said some things about my relationship with my father that I would never say sober. I share a lot here, probably more than I should, but even I would never publish the things I had to say that weekend. So when I got back home and thought about what I’d shared, I began to feel guilty. When Fake Psychic told me my dad is sorry, it made me feel guiltier, as if somehow he’d heard what I’d said to my mom and sis and was apologizing for it.

When somebody dies unexpectedly, sometimes they leave a lot of emotional loose ends. When it comes to my relationship with my mother, I have an opportunity to talk over some of the actions she took when I was a kid and analyze them from an adult perspective to try to figure out why I’ve been having difficulties in certain areas of my life. Essentially, if you have living parents you have the option of yelling at them for fucking you up in your formative years. When your parent is dead, and died when you were still too young to understand anything about lasting impacts or psychological ricochets, it can be incredibly difficult to work out your feelings.

So I bury them. Not far enough that I can’t reach them, just far enough that they don’t cripple my normal routine. When I sat in my mom’s living room and talked about the truth of what hurts me, I ended up feeling guilty for having given voice to my inner dialogue.

So that’s why Fake Psychic pissed me off. That’s why I growled in frustration in the streets and punched a brick wall as a way to vent. That’s why I ended up in a playground in the middle of the night with some of my closest friends until I felt okay enough (and tired enough) to go home.

It’s nice to know I don’t have to face the dark alone anymore.

If my dad’s still out there, I hope he knows I’m sorry too.

Confessions

“The Wild Bunch” – Wait(er) Magazine

The Wait(er) magazine website is going through some changes and a couple of my articles have been taken down. In the interest of keeping them out there and getting as many people as possible to read them, I’m reposting them here. This one was originally published in November 2013.


Much like the ensemble cast of your favorite 90s sitcom, every cafe has a collection of well-known and well-loved characters. The folks you see behind the counter — expertly folding steamed milk into heart and leaf shapes, pouring coffee into your cup with one hand while magically brewing and grinding with the other, even changing the 500lb grinds garbage — are all real people with real lives outside the tiny world in which you see them. But after nearly seven years of coffee wench life, I’ve noticed a trend in the types of people generally attracted to working in cafes. Let’s have a closer look at the barista in its natural habitat.

READ MORE!

Confessions, Life

The Wanderer II

READ PART ONE HERE.

I could not let it go, this obsession with the butterfly I lifted from the sidewalk and placed inside the flowers. Should I have taken him home? Was he still alive? Did he freeze to death in the unforgiving frost of the night?

My lovely friend Brenda suggested that I return to the place I left him to see if he was still there. If he wasn’t, she reasoned, then it might mean he was able to fly away. If he was, then I could stop feeling guilty about not having done more for him.

The place I left him was the planter outside swanky Financial District restaurant Far Niente. I approached the steps where I had initially nearly stepped on him and sprinted to the planter. I held my breath as I parted the branches and felt immediate disappointment when I didn’t see him where I’d left him. But the slow flap of broken wings drew my attention and the butterfly had managed to crawl up higher into a twig during the night.

He was still there, still alive. I almost cried.

I gently nudged him into a plastic Starbucks cup and snapped the lid on, making sure the hole was open enough to allow him to breathe. I wrapped my freezing palms around the cup and cradled it close to my body, hoping to warm him up. It was so cold and the wind was brutal. I was due for a shift at work, so I brought the butterfly with me. As I neared my cafe, I passed by some folks soliciting donations for World Wildlife Fund. One of them asked me, “What’s your favorite animal?” I responded by holding up the cup and saying, “Butterflies!” I stopped to talk to him, asking his advice on what to do with my new friend. I didn’t want to keep him in a cup for the entire eight-hour duration of my shift, it seemed needlessly cruel. Inside the cup, my butterfly had warmed up enough to attempt flight — I suppose his wings weren’t broken, but cold.

I bargained with the little creature in the cup. “If I put you down in this planter, and you’re still here when I finish work, I’ll take you home with me. If you’re gone, then I’ll know you’re fine and you made your way south.” My new WWF friend agreed that this seemed like the best course of action.

Kneeling into the dirt, I opened the lid and tipped the cup onto a bright yellow flower. The butterfly stepped out and I removed the cup. For a moment, it seemed like he might be content to stay there, but as I stood up, he spread his wings and lifted up into the sky. A small crowd gathered to watch him fly away and I could hardly stop myself from crying.

Twice in my life I’ve been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and be able to help out a creature smaller than myself. Twice I’ve been reminded that life is so much bigger than any of us can comprehend. Twice I’ve been reminded that the smallest actions can have the biggest impact and there are signs all around us that we aren’t alone.

Twice I’ve been able to save a butterfly. Maybe that means I can save myself.