In June, having returned to my childhood home in the arms of my mother, on the heels of a university approved medical leave; I wrote a blog post that led, ultimately, to my silence and the desire never to post again. I resisted, at the time, the rising desire to end this blog in its entirety – to remove it, excise it from my life. Instead I walked away. I abandoned my once omnipresent Twitter voice. I silenced my furiously tap-tap-tapping fingers on my laptop keyboard. And I withdrew in all senses of the term.
My silence had less to do with others than with myself, though, of course, this was discovered in hindsight. At the time I felt wounded, mortally, by a perceived tidal wave of animosity. The post of contention dealt with, in its final section, an event that had unfolded some time prior on Twitter. I had found myself acting seriously in the wake, in response, to a flippy and snarky quip executed off the cuff by a friend. I, not being in a humorous mood at the time, responded with what amounted to a defense of the quip’s target. What ensued in the aftermath of such quick and unconscious tweeting was one party feeling as though the other grossly over-reacted to a joke and the other party feeling distinctly unheard, unappreciated, and dismissed. Neither was entirely right and both proceeded to behave poorly.
For my part I internalized the tone, demeanor, and language of a friend, a confidant, as being deeply personal and dismissive. I objected to the hissing tone of anger and frustration without stopping to ask myself why I was engaging him at all, why I was making him angrier and more frustrated with a situation that needn’t be complicated at all. I could have, and should have, walked away. Chalked the whole mess up to crossed wires and different-strokes-for-different-folks. But no, I didn’t do that. I made the whole situation worse by caring too damn much about a silly misunderstanding and not realizing I should have just said “Hey, smart joke, good turn of phrase.” But hindsight is 20/20, yes? It’s always easier to Monday-Morning-Quarterback than to play the game. I played badly. I lost. And instead of saying “My bad, no worries,” and shaking it off, I sulked.
With that said, I stand behind the idea expressed in the last post. There has been a rising trend of sentiment amongst women that lends itself not to “feminism” in the Ms. Magazine or Gloria Steinham way, but to a new chimera of Third Wave that takes as much pleasure is regaling its members with support as it does in taking them done a peg, or four. As Margaret Thatcher once noted: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support women.” The post wasn’t perfect, few posts ever are. The ideas weren’t fully formed and the argument was underdeveloped, to say the least. But the broad strokes remain true, I believe, and for that I won’t apologize.
My summer in Texas, with my family away from Twitter and blogging et al, was less a vacation and more a summer of healing. I had, in the wake of more than a year of cancer treatment and surgeries, fallen slowly and then rapidly into a depression that I was ashamed to admit to and embarrassed to be experiencing. My life, as I knew it, came to a sudden and drastic halt. I hit a wall going 90. Not only was I incapable of picking up the pieces, I had no desire to. I withdrawn completely from my studies, my research, my academic pursuits, and I did not leave my apartment for days on end and had no desire to. I was in such a rapid state of declining mental health that I was sleeping hardly at all or for 12-16 hour intervals. My appetite nearly vanished. My desire to engage the world, to have anything to do with other people all but left me. I could not be happy if someone paid me to be. Without the assistance of a psychiatrist and regimen of medication, I don’t think I would still be here. Seriously. If it weren’t for a medical intervention, my inability to engage with other people would have taken me to take my own life.
Home in Texas, with the support and comfort of my parents, I was able to enter an outpatient program at a local hospital. To begin, slowly, to work my way back to life. It was a long, slow, arduous road frequently marked with debilitating panic attacks and fitful, body-wracking bouts of sobbing. I had to face not only the mechanisms of my depression but my intrinsic inability to handle myself in the wake of them – my lack of coping skills, my inability to address and deal with conflict in a healthy and beneficial way.
Now that I am back in Boston, my strength returning more and more each day, I am slowly engaging my Twitter voice more and more. The final step now that I am on my own in Boston again, is gaining my voice back, both scholarly and more colloquially on the blog. The blog may not be exactly the same as before. But then, of course, I am not the same as before, and thank whoever-there-is-to-thank that I am not the person I was six months ago. Hell, I’m happy not to be the person I was two months ago.
Though my depression isn’t gone – it will likely never be “gone” – it’s manageable. My life is once again manageable, after such a prolonged period of not being in control of my body and my emotional response to it. I am just happy to be in my skin again. To feel, in so many ways, like myself again.
And so, here I am, writing again. Having shed the weight of shame and embarrassment (for the most part) of a depression that had crippled me for so long, I am free to stand unwavering in my convictions, my intentions, and my desires. Gone is the desperate desire to be heard, validated and understood. Fuck thee who care not what I write, for he suffers from an unopened mind and an unwilling spirit.