“If this is a life threatening emergency, hang up and call 911. For English, press 1.” 1. “To schedule an appointment, press 2.” 2. “Hi, my name is Kelly. How can I help you?” Hi Kelly. I need to schedule an appointment. “Okay! Can I get a name and a date of birth?” Angelique Peterson, 04/04/1997. “What is the reason for the visit?” Depression. “Do you have a psychiatrist you visit?” I have a psychologist. “So, what is the reason for the visit?” Depression. Specifically, medication. “Oh. Um, I can get you in on December 15th at 9 a.m. Would that work?” That’s over two weeks away. Is there any sooner time? “That’s our first available opening. Oh, and it looks like we don’t take your insurance.” Great.
Trying to get help while you still want to get help is half of the problem.
Tomorrow means waking up early if I haven’t taken a shower tonight. Class begins at 9:25 a.m. even though I always walk in around 9:31, because I know that specific professor doesn’t start until everyone is there. Tomorrow means class for six hours and feeling so completely drained afterward, because I spent the night before with my boyfriend, trying to give him the girl he used to know. Tomorrow means I have calculus and a general feeling of incompetence to look forward to. Tomorrow is Thursday. After tomorrow is the weekend. I work all weekend. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday remind me that I can still smile while refilling your diet coke for the third time in the past forty-five minutes. The weekend is for forgetting. On Monday, I go to the bank to deposit the tips that equate to my worth. I can’t remember if Tuesday is good or not. Usually, if you can’t remember something, it isn’t that bad. Wednesday is a toss up. Today is Wednesday, and today was hard. Today, he asked me what I was thinking about a lot. I couldn’t tell him, because it would hurt his feelings. When I finally told him, it hurt his feelings. The problem is that he’s the only one that knows how hard things have gotten for me, and the truth even frightened him.
The living room was always dark and warm and safe; mom kept the lights in the living room turned off. Thirty minutes before I woke up, she’d turn on the heating unit to “get the chill out” for me. She let me eat my breakfast on the couch with a tv tray. She didn’t let my siblings do that as children. My love for my mother knew no bounds. I remember crying, begging, pleading to stay home with her. Each morning, tears filled my eyes as the lump in my throat grew larger and larger until my cries turned into hoarse hiccups. Sometimes she’d hug me and laugh at my “big crocodile tears”. Sometimes, with a fist clenched around a whisk or a ladle, she’d threaten me to keep crying. Sometimes she’d humor me, roll her eyes, and let me stay. I know she thought I was faking, but the pain was excruciatingly real. Like clockwork, my stomach would twist into a mass of tangled knots every morning. I was expressing my emotional pain the only way I knew how. Physically.
I was always troubled, wound up tight, and confused. I thought it was normal to have achey muscles from the constant tension of dealing with not only life, but also the barrage of self doubt. I thought it was normal to think about what this place would be like without me. Is that what would finally show them that what I’m feeling is real? I don’t want to die. I never have. “It’ll get better” is stuck deep in my ribs and I want to see what better is like. But there’s a point when you’ve been so overlooked and so beaten down that you wonder, “When will someone notice on their own?”
I remember saying, rather exclaiming, how blue the sky was that day. It was one of those skies with light, almost clear edges and a deep, worn denim center. If you could close off the fringe of your peripheral vision, you could fall up and in. Not a single cloud could catch you as you fell into the absolute blue, the heavens, the end and the beginning.
Just as I felt a tug around my core from above, I was snatched back by something mocking. A laugh. “The sky is always blue,” she said. I laughed and stammered and agreed and pushed it down deep. This was the beginning and the end, the beginning of the end. I felt that familiar tug away. This was when I knew, for certain, that we were different.
We ate a full roll of Mentos. Well, I did. You ate two when I asked out of obligation, but I didn’t ask again. Maybe the peppermint got to me, or maybe it was the fact that I always feel like I don’t belong, but I started to cry. You patted my back and said all the right things.
Once I had dried off and wrung myself out, things were back to normal. We watched two episodes of a 44 minute tv show, which was exactly long enough for me to calm down, forget, and remember again. “Maybe you should see a doctor…” The six words no one wants to hear. My face contorted, softened, and then began looking for an escape route. I chuckled and said, “Probably”. I’ve never gotten past probably.
The hum of the ventilation fan kicks my muscle memory into overdrive. Turning the knob until my wrist faces directly up, I watch the water spill out and contemplate all the lackluster showers I’ve taken in the last year and a half. I step in and immediately jump out, dodging water that seems hotter than Hades. Scalded and confused, I bathe and exit with flushed skin that I no longer seem to enjoy.
Usually, I find solace in bed after a long day. Cotton sheets, which I no longer use, now seem more like a restraint. My back sinks into the pillow top and aches for a firmer surface. As I lay awake in the only home I’ve ever known, my mind wanders to a sad thought. When does home stop being home?
I grew up in this single story, middle class masterpiece. Before this, I was in the womb. I had never been on my own or even dreamt that I might flourish somewhere else. The funny thing is, I didn’t realize how well I was doing until I came back. I didn’t realize how much I had changed. I like cold showers, firm beds, and honest friends now. People don’t walk all over me anymore, and I’m beginning to learn to walk on my own. If I feel strong, loved, and there’s a Whole Foods down the street, I’m at home.
Rejection is unavoidable in life. It sucks, but it happens. Being told no is awkward for both parties involved. No one likes rejection. You do have to deal with it, though. The way you handle dismissal says a lot about your character. Usually, if you’re upset, the best thing to say is nothing at all. Recently, I dealt with a boy that could’ve taken a refresher course on that lesson.
I’ll tell you honestly what happened. We went on one date. He paid for our dinner and I paid for the movie. We texted quite frequently afterward. However, his opinions didn’t seem to match up with mine. After being repulsed a few too many times by what he said, I decided to break things off. We were not dating, but I wanted him to know I would not continue to text him. He reacted violently.
Read it a few times. Let those foul words sink in deep. I was shocked and stung but mostly scared. I instantly blocked him on all forms of social media. I hadn’t done anything wrong! I shouldn’t be worried if he would find out where I live or how to contact me again or if he would go after my parents. I simply told a boy no.
Prior to the abusive messages, he asked “Why’d you lead me along?” Let’s take a second and think about what that means. Where was I leading him? I hadn’t left a trail of breadcrumbs leading up my skirt. Did he think he’d one day await me at the end of the aisle? This phrase is very dangerous. It implies that if I give someone my attention at one time, they will always have access to me. I do not owe my affection or my body to anyone. I can decline an offer at any time. My yes can always be replaced with a no. Consent is a gift. Consent is fluid and tentative. No one has the right to bash you for the decisions you make. Never be afraid to say no.