I am not depressed

Despite the fact that a couple of my close friends have suggested it in the last few weeks/months, I do not believe that I have depression currently. I am convinced that I would be able to tell if I did. I can recognise it now. I feel it in my body and I don’t feel it now. And one of them suggested that maybe my depression had changed but I can’t think that because I need to know that I will recognise it when it does come back again one day. So I think that all the crazy in my head at the moment is caused by anxiety/PTSD. Not depression.

I had a really bad episode at Easter. My doctor called it a ‘conviction’ but I think that’s just a nice way of saying that I was kind of delusional. I thought one of my best friends was going to die on Easter Saturday because I saw it happen in my head and I basically started believing that it was some sort of prophetic vision despite the fact that I have never shown any talent for prophecy before. Suffice to say it was stressful, I was a wreck and I think I did a good job of scaring one of my closest friends with the things I was saying.

Anyway, since then it’s just been up and down. Never as bad as Easter where I was actually believing the lies my head told me. But basically I have a few weeks off and then a couple of weeks where I see all these horrible things in my head all the time and the pressure just builds and builds with all these things that have already happened and that might happen until it suddenly passes. Then I have a few weeks off where it’s just occasional flashes of things and then it starts all over again. And I’m so over it.

And six weeks ago I started seeing my friend dying again and I got so scared about it getting really bad in my head again that I fell straight back into an old addiction because even though I knew it was bad, I also knew that it would work to drown out all the mess in my head. It’s four weeks today since I stopped again. Instead I’ve been watching TV. I’ve had a two month holiday almost and I’ve watched 6.5 TV series. And I was away for two weeks so basically that’s just over a TV series a week. Except this week where I think I finally got sick of sitting on the couch so I’ve been doing jigsaw puzzles because things in my head are pretty calm so I’m less worried about what would happen if I wasn’t distracted. I wish I could read but I don’t think I have the concentration for that at the moment.

The thing which keeps coming back to me though is wondering if this is just going to be what my life is like for ever? Because I don’t want it. But I am so scared that this will be the rest of my life. It’s been almost six years since I woke up with depression in year 9 and I’ve had one year off from mental health issues in that time. And I look at my mum and she’s been on medication since I was about 4-5 years old I think and I don’t know if she’s had depression that whole time but she hasn’t come off the meds and it’s been 15 years and surely she would have if she was able to, right? And that just scares me. I don’t want it. It’s exhausting.

I was trying to explain to one of my friends about this and she told me that I have to stop not wanting it in a way that exhausts me. That doesn’t even really make sense. Not wanting it doesn’t exhaust me. Living with it exhausts me. The idea that I could be living with it for the rest of my life exhausts me. And then she said that maybe it was just my ‘cross to bear’. And she’s my friend and all but her saying that just made me want to slap her. And maybe scream because what the frak am I even supposed to do with that? And on top of it all, she then suggested that I could want to get better.

It’s not the first time this has been suggested to me. I have another friend who’s mentioned it on more than one occasion. I think it is honestly the most frustrating thing that they could ever say. As if I like this! As if it’s something I want. And, yes, I get that I have a kind of screwed up relationship with my depression and anxiety/PTSD at times, that sometimes I think it has a weird protective purpose or that I need it for some reason but that DOESN’T mean that I like it or want it. And wanting to get better would not miraculously make me better no matter what some of my friends might think. I know that a lot of the time they think that I don’t try to stop the thoughts and images in my head but I have tried and I do try. I’m just not very successful and I already kind of hate myself for failing at that without them implying that if I wanted it more then I’d be better. Like it’s my fault I’m like this. I understand that a lot of this I do to myself but that doesn’t mean I do it on purpose. That’s just the way my brain works at the moment and changing the way your brain works isn’t as easy as wanting it.

I saw my doctor on Monday. I came off my meds about two months ago so I am officially medication-free for the first time in four years. It doesn’t feel any different to when I was on them which is also how I know that I don’t have depression at the moment. It’s gone for now. Originally she was thinking a different type of medication but after seeing her on Monday when I got quite worked up about it all we’re not doing that. I’m back to seeing her weekly and we’re going to be doing yoga and talking about stuff which happened. And, yes, I did just say yoga. That’s supposed to help and as my psychiatrist is also an almost-qualified yoga instructor, I have hesitantly agreed to give it a go even though in all likelihood I will feel incredibly stupid and I’m not allowed to wear jeans to our sessions. I made some comment about how we’ve never talked about anything which used to happen at home but my doctor said that we have talked about a lot of different things I just don’t remember talking about them which is apparently part of the problem. So now I have a regular appointment booked every week till the end of the year which is rather intimidating but kind of a relief because maybe it’ll work. Maybe.

I want it to because sometimes I feel that I don’t know myself anymore. Or maybe just that I’m not who I wish I was. Or that I just used to like myself more. Or maybe just that I used to be better at this living thing. I’m not sure. I just flicked back through some of my old blog posts, back to the beginning of last year, and I don’t even recognise myself in them. The girl writing them was positive and hopeful and she talked about God like he was actually a part of her life. I don’t even know where I’m at with God. I still believe in him and in what the Bible says but I’m not even trying anymore to talk to him or read my Bible. A couple of months ago, during semester, I was at least trying, if not very well, but now I just don’t see the point. I didn’t see it make any difference to my life and surely it’s supposed to have some kind of impact, right?? And it just wasn’t. I feel so apathetic to everything and it kills me because people expect emotion about important things and I just don’t have any to give. I want to feel emotion about God and what it says in the Bible and about all of that but I don’t. Maybe I should pray for some but I’m not sure if it would be answered because I don’t if I believe that it will be because my friend says I don’t believe prayers can be answered and I don’t know if she’s right or not. Yes, that’s very cyclical.

I should go to bed. I’m trying to have good sleeping patterns. I should also eat more consistently so I’m trying to do that too. I think my stomach has shrunk because I’ve only been eating two meals a day.

This was an essay. Props if you actually bothered reading it all. Bed time. For you too. Night.


Your Empty Space

For Liz

I

In another context it would be a funny story about the six degrees of separation. In any other context.

I am sitting cross-legged on my bed when the phone rings. She doesn’t know you. You’re a friend of a friend on Facebook. I suppose we all are now. I don’t know who she means at first. Yours is a common name and we were friends but not close enough to stay in contact. Still, it’s enough. My stomach drops out of my body when she says your surname. But I am calm. It’s a mistake, a joke, some sort of sick prank gone wrong.

I log on to Facebook and your wall is full. R.I.P. Taken too soon. Loved so much. Will be missed. I ring someone who will know. I need someone to tell me this isn’t real.

I hear it in her voice straight away. Resignation. She knows why I’m calling but I ask anyway. My voice shakes. It sounds small. I am waiting for everything to be okay.

And then she tells me about the car crash. She tells me about the dead kangaroo. She tells me how you swerved. You lost control. You hit a tree. She tells me that you are dead.

I’m choking, choking, choking on the air frozen inside my lungs can’t breathe need to scream but nothing comes someone tell me this isn’t real this isn’t happening please someone wake me up wake me up wake me up.

It escapes me on a heaving sob but I clamp back down on it, let the tears boil over my cheeks as I try to stay silent. Everything in me is tearing apart. I am breaking and I can’t understand, I can’t understand, someone make this make sense. How can you just not be anymore? The noises I make are pitched and messy, forced around the monster that’s clawing its way up my throat. She tells me to let it all out but I can’t; I’m scared of the noise I will make if I let it escape.

Then the trapdoor comes down and even though tears still leak out of me, it offers some semblance of control. You can’t possibly be dead. I say goodbye. I log back into Facebook. I click through photo after photo of you and try to understand.

II

I read your messages. There are hundreds of them over the next few days; perfect demonstrations of public grief. They say all the right things, talking about your smile and what you meant to them and what they’ll miss. I can’t do that. I don’t know how people can be writing such peaceful, touching messages when it’s all I can do not to scream. Everything is in pieces and all I want to say are the blunt things. You shouldn’t be dead. You shouldn’t be dead. You shouldn’t be dead. I cannot reconcile you with death. I can’t. You’re too full of energy and smiles, too funny and bubbly and enthusiastic and passionate and too everything to be dead. You’ve got too much life in you to no longer be a part of it.

And there are all these photos of you smiling and looking gorgeous and happy and it doesn’t make sense because you aren’t anymore. You are no longer. You’ve moved into the past tense forever. But I click through and these are not the photos of a dead girl. They’re the photos of someone who is so very alive.

III

I slide down the wall till I can collapse on the floor. I am hollow. So hollow that I float on the air and I need to cling to the ground for support. I shouldn’t be out but I can’t be alone. And now the facade is breaking while people chat and laugh over finger food. And I keep imagining you in the car, driving down a country road at dusk with a friend’s headlights in the rear view mirror.

Did you know? In those precious few seconds did you see the tree coming towards you and know that you were about to die? Were you scared or was there no time for fear? Did it hurt or were you gone too quickly to notice?

I am there with you, driving down that road again and again, drawing ever closer to a dead kangaroo and a tree. I see it over and over and the image which hurts the most is the one right before when you don’t know how few moments you have left. When the curve is coming up and you’re just seconds from an ending that you still think is decades away.

It makes me ache. It desolates my insides and leaves me a raw shell. And I bob above myself like a red balloon on a string tied around my wrist. I want someone to take my hand and squeeze it tight and not let go. ‘Don’t leave me,’ I’d say. Because the floor won’t keep me anchored and I think I might float away with you.

IV

Your funeral is overflowing. Tears and people. There are so many girls I haven’t seen since graduation that it’s like some kind of perverted reunion. Except you’re missing. Not even eighteen months out of high school and one of us is already gone.

It’s a rainbow to look at. We all wear bright colours and there are purple ribbons to tie round our wrists. I never knew purple was your favourite colour. It’s mine too and somehow, today, the connection is made all the more poignant.

Everyone says the right thing. Another angel in heaven. Another star in the sky. Living on in our memories. They talk about your smile and how you loved life. All the things which make me want to scream because they feel so plastic compared to the harsh reality of your lifeless body in a coffin we’re all staring at. I hold my breath to keep the noise inside. The tears drip off my chin.

You know those moments when you’re at the beach and a wave knocks you under? And then before you have a chance to take a gulp of air, another’s on top of you and another after that. You’re pin-wheeling below the water and the burn in your lungs is unbearable and you’re trying to find the surface but the sea is pushing you down. That’s what this feels like. Like a set of waves has just flattened me and I’m trying to move against the weight of the ocean. I’m waiting for it to release me so I can take that first, sharp breath of oxygen that makes everything clearer and lighter. I’m waiting for the moment when I stop drowning and all this makes sense.

V

What if you hadn’t swerved? What if you’d just hit the roo? What if someone had moved it earlier? What if you hadn’t been on a curve? What if you hadn’t been the car in front? Would someone else’s instincts have helped them survive this?

I keep thinking of your friend who was driving behind you. Of what it must have been like to see your car jerk and then careen wildly into a tree. And then swearing and hitting the brakes and grabbing for her phone and dialling 000 even as she’s trying to get her seatbelt off and out of the car to run over and she’s calling your name but there’s no answer and maybe she can see you and maybe she can’t tell or maybe she knows immediately. And maybe she can reach in and touch you but you don’t respond and there are tears already and she’s getting hysterical because there’s no way this is actually happening, this can’t be happening, it’s not happening, please, this isn’t happening.

But it is.

I wish it was something else. Drugs, alcohol, speeding, suicide. Any of the myriad of normal reasons that people our age die. That might sound cruel to you but this just isn’t fair. I want more. An actual reason. Not just that you swerved and hit a tree and died. I want more than a freak accident. You made all the right choices and look what happened. I want something which we could have stopped. A way for us to say ‘if only she hadn’t…’ or ‘if only we had…’ Instead there is just inevitability surrounding you. The straight line of a highway with no exit signs.

VI

It’s been one month and one week and if you were still here it would be a month since your birthday. Except we’re no longer counting the years of your life. Now we keep track of the moments since your heart stopped.

If this is what I feel like then I can’t understand what your family must feel. Your parents have lived to see you die. What did they do when the police called to tell them that you were dead? That you hit a tree and were gone. What did they say to that? Did your mother answer the phone? Did she hand it to your father, unable to speak? I wonder if he was afraid to take it, already scared of what he would hear.

How does your brother cope with the fact that he will never see you again? Knowing that he will grow older than you and graduate and maybe get married. Perhaps one day you will have nieces and nephews who will only ever know you as a nineteen-year-old captured briefly in a twenty-year-old photograph.

There will be weddings and new birthdays to remember; a growing number of celebrations that you’ve missed. And your anniversary sitting amongst them on the calendar, maybe never written down but always drawing their eyes. For you are defined forever by just two dates, one week and not enough years apart.

And it’s not so much that life goes by too quickly, but that it kept going when I expected it to stop.

VII

Sometimes I see you when I’m at the shopping centre or in the city or on a train. Except it’s not you, obviously. It’s just someone who, when I look closer, never looks anything like you.

I found you in my phone today. I was scrolling through, deleting old contacts when your name came up. I wanted to ring. Just once to see if your voice was still there at the other end. But I didn’t because I was scared of what it might do to your family. I don’t even know if it’s still your number or if you had a new one. I kept it anyway.

VIII

There’s a horrible, selfish part of me that hates you for this. A part of me which says, How could you? How could you do this to me when I was going so well?

Before you I was getting up each day and coping and living and getting on with life and then this. This and now I’m a wreck on the floor and you’re gone. And I hate you. I hate you for it. Even though it doesn’t make sense. And then I hate myself for the tiny, little part of me that even dares to think it.

IX

Two days ago it was the four month anniversary.

Today it is one week before my 20th birthday and I am the exact same age that you were when you died.

That hurts a lot. The difference between our ages is supposed to always stay the same. Never getting closer, never getting further apart. Like parallel lines moving in the same direction but never crossing. I’m not meant to catch up to you. I’m not meant to overtake you. Certainly not at nineteen.

Except I don’t have a choice. Whether I like it or not, tomorrow you will still be dead and I will be in a place you never got to be. And it seems so stupid, feeling this way about one day and the numbers when none of it makes any difference to the fact that life keeps going and it’s been doing exactly that for the last four months.

But, still, it feels like when tomorrow comes there’ll be no going back. For the first time I’ll be something which I’ve never been before. Older than you.

X

When your five month anniversary passes me by I realise that I’ve adjusted. Is that how long it takes? Five months to come to terms with a new reality? It terrifies me, makes me think that I might be forgetting you and you’re worth more than that. What kind of person can I be if it takes me less than half a year to move on? Shouldn’t the whole world have stopped?

Didn’t it?

I remember you. I write the date and know that it’s been five months. But you are no longer the only thing I think of all day. The knowledge that you are not out there, in the world, doesn’t knock me off balance anymore. I don’t spend a week in drawn out agony marking every day closer to another tally of your absence. I’m no longer counting every day.

I hate myself a little bit for letting go so easily, without even noticing. Does the depth of a relationship directly relate to the time it takes to adapt? Or is it a reflection of character?

I think about your family. You’ve left an empty room behind you and I wonder how many times they forget and think they’re four when now they’re three. I wonder if they will always circle your empty space, keeping a hold on you forever.

XI

Your Facebook profile is still up. After your death, a page you ‘liked’ came up in my newsfeed and my heart jumped and then crashed immediately. I suppose when we grieve online we cannot expect a computer to be sensitive.

Your wall has become a virtual memorial. I go on it sometimes and read the messages that other people post. Sometimes they tell you what is happening in their lives. Most of the time they say how much they miss you. I never write anything. I can’t shake the sense that if I did then I wouldn’t be writing to you but for everyone else.

Will they deactivate your profile eventually? Or will you grow up with us? Perpetually nineteen except when Facebook tells me every year that it’s your birthday.

Will you shadow our lives forever?

Copyright Captain Amanda


One last letter

Dear Ms Smith,

My third day of Year 9 and you made me do one of the bravest things I’d done in all my almost 14 and a half years of life.  The topic was Grits, Guts and Determination and you had asked us to write down ‘the hardest thing I’d ever done’ and hand it in to you.  I very nearly didn’t do it.  I’m not one for lying so if I wasn’t going to tell you a truth then I wouldn’t do it at all.  But there was something about you that made me want to trust you – to edge warily onto that tree limb because maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t snap beneath me.  So I wrote something for you.  It felt short and inadequate.  I wanted to say something about my father but everything felt too much.  Instead I wrote about my brother and very little at that.  I told you that the hardest thing I had ever done was something ongoing and that was living with my brother.

If you can believe it, I had never told anyone about my brother and his problems with mental health.  That’s the difficulty with illnesses in the mind – no one can see them.  When the problem first started arising, it was the cause of much embarrassment for me.  I remember sitting in the car with a friend while my brother raged beside us and how later she told me what she thought of him.  All people ever saw when they looked at my brother was a really bad kid who wouldn’t obey a single command.  They couldn’t understand the full extent.  At some point in primary school I just stopped inviting friends over to my house because it was just too risky.  If I complained about him my friends would complain about their brothers and I didn’t know how to explain that mine was different.  So somehow it became this whole section of my life that I never spoke of and as I grew up and made new friends who never came near my house, I was given a blank slate.  I never said a word to anyone.  Until you, Ms Smith.

I remember the day I had to had it in and I was so nervous that I was still in two minds about whether I would even give it to you.  My friend had written about skiing down a mountain slope but I refused to let her read mine and all the while the tension was building until suddenly it was done and out of my hands and into yours.  And then you gave them back in a few days and thanked people for their honesty and that was it.  No big moment but for me it was huge.  Someone in the world knew – knew very little, just a handful of paragraphs, really, but knew all the same.  And they hadn’t dismissed me or walked away and left.

Six months later something happened which made all the things I never spoke about start building up and demanding to be spoken.  In an effort to release the pressure I started writing letters.  The first one I wrote to you.  For all of the reasons listed above.  I wrote fifteen in total, to a variety of people.  I never intended to send them, I just needed a place to spill all my secrets.

Eventually, those letters led to me actually speaking to someone in person.  Now there’s practically a whole world of people who know the things I used to never speak about.  Well, more like two handfuls though that’s a lot in comparison.  But you were the first and I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to tell the others if it weren’t for you.  So thank you, a thousand times thank you, and I wish I could have told you this in person.

Except you died on Sunday in a freak motorcycle accident the day after your son’s wedding.  And none of that is fair.

I don’t know how but you always seemed to have an idea of what was going on for me and every time you patted my shoulder or told me to ‘keep going’ it was slightly more bearable knowing someone else in the world cared about me.  And there’s still so many girls who need that from you.

But you’re no longer here to give it.  So here’s one last letter for you.  You were a fantastic English teacher.  You made us all laugh.  Your writing was absolutely shocking.  There was not enough chocolate in the world for you.  You had that spark people talk about.  You made sure we knew that you cared about us.  Thank you.

Love Amanda

Ms Smith


Waking Nightmares

Last night was the first time in about two weeks that I went to bed and didn’t have nightmares.  I suppose that the strangest part of that is that my nightmares happen when I’m awake, not when I’m asleep.  I suppose what I see in my head and what I imagine when I’m awake has always been so much worse than anything my brain could come up with asleep.  It’s always been like that, ever since I was a kid.  And technically I think most of my nightmares are actually called flashbacks and are part of the whole PTSD thing.

Having nightmares every time you go to bed for two weeks is not nice.  It’s stressful and unpleasant and horrible and means that for the last fortnight I’ve been doing an excessive amount of yawning.  And I feel like a little girl if I say it to anyone but I’ve always called them nightmares from before I knew about the whole flashback thing and that’s what they feel like.  Like your brain is stuck in this place with these thoughts and you can’t control it, just watch it play out in excruciating detail.  And I hate it but I can’t seem to stop it.

And I want to be able to tell someone, to be able to explain all the horrible things I see but the people I want to tell don’t seem interested – not that they need to be very interested but they do need to make some sort of indication that it’s okay for me to keep talking if I bring it up.  Maybe they don’t know how bad it is because during the day I’m fine.  It’s just the in between moments – before I fall asleep, driving, catching the train, walking to work or the station.  And I’m worried that they’ll think it’s silly, that they won’t understand what it feels like to watch these things in my head, to imagine what will happen next and see it all and not be able to make it stop.  I mean obviously they probably won’t understand exactly but I don’t want them to think I’m just worrying about stupid things when I’m not.  These are legitimate concerns of mine.  I live waiting for my world to fall apart because at any second it might and I have to be prepared for that.

I hate myself for the things I see in my head but at the same time I need to see them because they remind me what can happen and what will eventually happen.  They ready me for the next time everything falls apart.  They remind me not to ever let people break me like that again.  Except at the same time I feel so reliant on people.

I am so scared that people will leave me.  Not all people.  Most people I could live without but some people are my lifeboats and they mean so much to me and I need them so much.  More than they ever need me.  I’m so scared that they’ll leave and I’ll be alone even though I know God is there but I don’t know how to feel that God is there.  And so I monitor every single word I say and everything I ever do so that I am never a burden and they never have any reason to leave.  That happened once and it was my fault and it broke me and I drowned.  So I am caught in this terrible balancing act between relying on people enough that I don’t drown but never too much in case they leave and I drown anyway.  It’s exhausting and I always feel like everything could be pulled out from beneath me at any second, like everyone has one foot out the door and the second I become too much for them they’ll leave just like the last person did.

I hate myself for needing people so much.  I hate myself for being so much of a burden to them.  I wish my head would shut up.  Sometimes I wish I was unconscious.


The Darkest Minds / Never Fade

The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed.  Something frightening enough to have her sent to Thurmond, a government ‘rehabilitation camp’.  Ruby might have survived the mysterious disease that killed most of America’s children, but she and the others had emerged with something far worse: terrifying abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

Having barely escaped Thurmond with her life, Ruby is desperate to find East River, the only safe haven left for kids like her.  She joins a group of other runaways who have escaped their own camps.  Liam, their brave leader, is falling for Ruby, but she can’t risk getting close.  Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all Liam.  But there are also other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government.

Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice – and one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

The thing I like most about this book is that Alexandra Bracken made her main character believable.  So often in the recent post-apocalyptic book trend, the characters are brave teens with mad skills who adapt really well to whatever nightmarish reality they’re thrown into.  And there’s nothing wrong with that because those kinds of people also make great characters.  But it was nice to have a bit of a change with Ruby in The Darkest Minds.

Ruby isn’t the hero type – she’s the terrified girl who doesn’t say anything.  Her best friend was the hero but the story isn’t about her.  It’s about Ruby who’s scared of herself and what she can do.  Ruby who’s just trying to survive by not drawing attention to herself.  And I think that’s what makes this series all the more real.  Because reality is, if something like this happened to our world then yeah, there’d the be the few heroes, but most of us would be just like Ruby – scared out of our mind and running to hide.

Never Fade - Alexandra Bracken

Never Fade – Alexandra Bracken

I really enjoyed the first book in this series which I actually read quite awhile ago.  Just last month I read the second book so you lucky folks are actually getting a ‘two for the price of one’ review here.  Without spoilers.

The second book, Never Fade, is quite different to the first in some aspects because we’re dealing with a different Ruby.  She’s tougher, stronger.  She’s learnt to survive.  Almost too tough because, as a side note, I think that more could developed in terms of the PTSD I assume she has because of her experiences in Thurmond but I suppose there can’t be everything and overall I think the character change is good.  And the story is still great and I’m liking where it’s going so what this comes down to is me saying, yes, this is a trilogy which would be worth investing your valuable reading time into so go out and borrow/buy it!

The Darkest Minds 4.5/5

Never Fade 4/5

The U.S. covers (I think)

The U.S. covers (I think)


If only my emotions weren’t so conflicting…

What does it feel like to forgive someone?  We always talk about forgiveness and what it feels like to be forgiven – the sense of relief, the easing of shame, and the like.  But what about the other person?  How do you know when you’ve forgiven someone?  Because I can’t tell.  I’m not sure.  And sometimes it drives me crazy living in my head the way I do.

Is forgiving the same as forgetting?  Because I can’t forget.  I relive it all in my head and it’s excruciating.  And I’m torn in two because even though a part of me longs to forget, an equally desperate part is determined to remember so that I never let myself be that hurt and broken again.  So if that’s what forgiving is then I haven’t done it.

Except if I look at my life then surely I must have forgiven them at least partially.  What about the relationship we have?  The one where I talk to them and go back for dinner each week and spend Christmas and birthdays with them.  Doesn’t that mean something?  Because compared to where I was four and a half years ago, surely there’s some forgiveness there.  Because when someone asked if I still saw my family after moving out, I was able to say yes and does that mean forgiveness?

Or does forgiving mean that the memory no longer hurts?  Does forgiving mean that you’re healed?  Because some days being in the same room with my brother makes me so angry I want to smash his face into a wall.  Some days the wrong tone of voice from my father makes me panic and run out the door.  Some days I’m still broken apart and I don’t know how to stop those days from happening.

How do I know if I’ve forgiven you?


Why can’t I just smile and bear it?

You know those moments when you say way too much but wish that you had said more?  Or maybe you don’t.  I suppose that was a slightly hypocritical sentence.

For the record, it feels kind of crap.  Like you should be crying but you’re not because you’re angry and still thinking clearly which means having a cry and being overly emotional won’t make you feel better.  It won’t have the detoxing feel, the coming new after your insides have been scrubbed clean feel that it usually has because you’re not in that place.

Sometimes I hate myself.

Sometimes I think that maybe I want things to be bad because otherwise why would I go around thinking the things, saying the things and screwing up the things I do?

Do I only want horrible things in my life?

Am I looking at the good and wishing it would go away because I don’t know what to do with it?

My family are incredibly good at sweeping things under the carpet and pretending that they never happened.  We were having a sweep-free Christmas.  Still are, I suppose.  Quite an achievement considering some of the shockers we’ve had – no physical injuries, no one walking out, no going home early, no psychotic episodes.  Yes, sweep free and we were doing such a good job at smoothing out any wrinkles in the rug we did happen to come across.  No tripping over those old things either.  Just like they never exist.

Except the older I get, the worse I am at that.

It grates.  The little things.  I’m not used to them like I used to be when I lived with my family.  So living with them for a week in a rented apartment in Melbourne over Christmas is big.  And I suppose all the little things with my brother used to be so overshadowed by the big things like violence and psycho stuff.  Everyone keeps focussing on how much better he is because that stuff isn’t happening anymore and I see that, I really do and it’s great and all but he’s still not easy and I wish people would remember that.

And so there’s all these little things which seem bigger and I’m angry at my parents because from where I’m sitting it seems like they’re letting them all slide but he’s 18 and that can’t keep happening.  And I hate the way he acts and quite possibly it’s petty of me but he’s so unbelievably greedy and selfish.  And we all are at times but so often he doesn’t ever think outside his own bubble.  Like complaining over some of the presents he got.  I just want to slap him and tell him to shut up because how dare he?

But the worst is the way he speaks to my mum.  It kills me.  I hate it so much, the way he talks to her.  So often too.  And she just takes it because by now she’s kind of used to it and that’s the worst.  Because on Christmas Eve when we went to the cathedral for the carols service and I was internally freaking out a bit because last time we went to the cathedral a few years back things went…badly, so I was a bit sharp with my mum and then she apologised and got all worried looking like she was in trouble even though she’d done nothing wrong and it was my fault.  It was easy to make right again and I did that but she shouldn’t look like that.  And it’s my brother and my father too, a bit, that’s done that to her and I hate it.  So much.  Because no one should speak to my mum that way.  And hearing it so often from my brother and her not doing anything because she doesn’t want to start something, she doesn’t want things to explode because she’s trying to keep things nice and calm, it kills me.

And I’m no good at pretending like things are nice.

But if things are never going to be nice, is it worth relearning?

I look at my brother and he is so far from self-sufficient.  He’s at the stage where he can go out in society and not get himself arrested or piss off the wrong person.  I look at him and I’m scared that my parents will die and I’ll be left dealing with him.  I look at him and I’m scared to have kids.  I look at him and I see all the proof that my parents have spent my life picking him over my other brother and me.  And even if he’s so much better than he was, a large part of me doesn’t think it’s worth it.

So I said crap.  Because I couldn’t help it.  And I never even said the real draw card.  Because if I was brave enough I would have looked at my parents and told them that I have PTSD.  That I have flashbacks and that my anxiety has me imagining all sorts of horrible things.  That yeah, I wanted to leave but maybe I never wanted to have to make that choice.  I would have said to them that my youngest brother is too scared to even go in a swimming pool.  And then I would have told them that it’s all very well for them to say that they’ve given my brother the ultimatum: act a certain way or you leave, but excuse me if I don’t believe them because they’ve been choosing to keep my brother since they brought him back from the psych ward when he was 10.

Except I just skipped to that last part.  Because I’m a wimp.  And part of me still wants to protect my parents from feeling guilty.  Because, really, I know they’ve tried and if they hadn’t done what they did then my brother would be nowhere near as good as he is now.  Just I can’t help feeling like it was always going to be a trade off.  Get to keep him and try and make him better but there’s going to be fall out on your other two children.  And part of me is a horrible, selfish brat because I hate that they chose him and I’m living with the fall out.

That’s not how it is, I know.

But in a way it is.

I said one thing which I regretted.  Dad asked me what I wanted him to do and I said I wanted him to slap my brother around a bit.  It just burst out of my mouth without me thinking and as soon as I said it I… I don’t know.  I hate myself for even thinking it because he used to do that and it was horrible and I know my brother doesn’t deserve it and I don’t really want that but what if I do?  I never know what I feel towards my brother.  So much of the time even his presence can make me so unbelievably angry.

I hate what kind of person I might be if that’s what I want.


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