I’ve been sick for about two weeks, but I’m finally getting well again. As one can imagine, being sick for that amount of time is not a fun experience. I was running back to the doctor each week trying different antibiotics until one round finally worked, which put a small strain on my money situation.
Also, if you hadn’t seen from the previous posts, I was a part of a comedy show, a Rocky Horror shadowcast performance, and went to a friend’s Halloween party. All of these things were fun, and I’m glad I’m kind of stretching my wings out into different things, creating new hobbies. All the same, also put a big strain on my financial situation.
In between all of this, my cell phone screen got cracked beyond saving. Due to it being shattered, I couldn’t upload anything to back-up. Why? Because the only way anyone can unlock their phones these days is through a touchscreen, and phone companies still haven’t figured out how to help you without unlocking your phone…which can’t happen if your screen is cracked. You get the idea. I spent a good 30,000 yen and then some to get it fixed, after trudging through a typhoon to get to the store over in Kawasaki.
All these problems, I realize, are first world and self-inflicted problems. I put all these responsibilities on myself, I didn’t say the magic word “No!” to any of these events, and I should’ve been more careful with my phone (although it just fell from my bed to the floor while encased, so…I dunno, accidents happen). Still, it’s all accumulated to the point where I found myself on the verge of tears throughout this whole week.
And as per usual with me, I haven’t told anyone about it. I was a part of an online peer support group not that long ago, but my problems seemed insignificant in comparison to other people’s so I just downplayed all my issues.
Then, my uncle died.
When I first received the news, I was with people. We were having a good ol’ time. So I found a dark and quiet place, sobbed long and hard into my hands. While everyone else was dancing, I was trying not to go into a full on breakdown. I managed to get myself out of that hole by bribing myself with, “When you get home, you can shut off. You can cry and stay in bed all day. You’ll do nothing but go numb. Go through the motions now, feel super awful later.” Amazingly, it worked.
I went back to my friends, smiled and joked around with them, not ruining a single thing. When I got home, I threw myself in bed and didn’t get out of it for twenty four hours, until I had to go back to work. My physical illness got worse. I’ve been told heartbreak can manifest in physical ways, and I get the feeling that’s what happened. The next few days I had fever spikes and a cough that wouldn’t quit.
See, my uncle was a good man, a bit gruff and rough around the edges, but a good man. I didn’t know him much when I was growing up, as he lived in California and I lived in Kentucky. This summer I went to visit my mother in Las Vegas, so I got to see him and my aunt. Both of them were interesting to meet with all of us being adults. We could have actual discussions, about things that mattered, about family here and there. My uncle bought us all beer, and I discovered his good tastes and mine aligned.
I remember hugging him before he left for California, thinking it was a great start. I would come back next year, and we’d, well…
The thing about mourning someone in Japan, or really any foreign country, is that you’re not with the family to grieve. You’re not there to share in the reminiscing, you’re just left with what you’ve got. I also didn’t and don’t know if I deserve to mourn like everyone else, having only met him a few times in my life, but I suppose having seen him so soon it hurts more than I expected. I wasn’t shocked, we all knew he had health problems, but it cuts in ways I don’t have words to really express.
With everything else going on, I now feel guilty. My guilt for daring to be alive and complaining internally about it, for being sick, for breaking something so expensive, for being stupid and piling on too many things on my shoulders. I keep thinking I should be better, I should do more, I should be in America, I should devote more to studying Japanese, and-.
Fraying apart at the edges here and there until I finally become slips of nothing.
Depression always starts of as a gradual thing for me. It begins with a pressure on my chest, and it just keeps pressing down over a period of hours or days. Then I breakdown, sometimes again for hours or days. I’m lucky in the sense that I can still pull myself together and fake it at work. I’ve been on time, doing all my worksheets, getting those projects and speeches done…All the while ignoring the desperate need to curl up into a ball and just stop existing for a while.
I tell myself that I should be working on those Stonewall Japan projects too, that people are counting on me far more than I need them. I’ve gotta be stronger than this thing weighing me down. I want to live, but I don’t want to live with people thinking I’m a slacker, that I’m good for nothing, because that’ll just confirm what I think of myself when I’m in the darkest hours.
If you’re expecting this post to end with sunshine and hope, well, sorry. I’m still raw, in pain, and not getting out of it anytime soon. I’m on day three of what I expect to be a possibly week or two long depression swing. At some point I’ll crawl my way out of this mess I’ve made, but for now I am this wreck of a person. One thing to note here is that I’m admitting I’m a wreck and that it is okay to be this way.
I tell this to other people all the time, but I don’t really tell myself this enough: All thoughts and emotions are valid. My guilt, my self-hatred, my sadness, my numbness, it’s all screwed up, but it’s all a part of me and what makes me who I am. I’ll miss my uncle, I’ll stretch money until payday, I’ll go to work, I’ll just have to keep going.
Even if it’s really fucking hard right now.