The Dark Year
Somewhere in my Sophomore year in high school, a started falling into a deep depression. I didn’t sleep much, ate terribly and generally didn’t understand what has happening with me, the world and the interaction thereof.
It started, as all dark high school stories, with a girl who I was crushing on in a mad and unhealthy way. She was smart and nerdy and broken and similarly didn’t understand what she was and what she meant to the world. On alternating days she would lament that her boyfriends were terrible and they should be more like me and then demand I stop talking to her and then take her to lunch.
I didn’t know what to make of it. My mind latched onto two things like alligator jaws:
- I was nicer to her than many
- I wasn’t good enough for her
I’m not the sort of person to consider anything in the worlds is wrong for acts of other people – I am the maintainer if my own reality, ill moments or otherwise. The dichotomy that I was both better than but not good enough beyond a ride to the diner was debilitating. These thoughts would circle and circle and circle in a dervish a self-mutilation. If this person, whom I was so blinded by as to believe she was Perfect, thought this about me I clearly wasn’t good enough for anything or anyone
It sucked. And then I cried a lot. And then I stopped feeling anything.
I hit the nadir around my birthday the summer between my Junior and Senior year. I stopped eating and became vaguely emaciated – I was still overweight but hollow around my face. I spent most days blindly playing frisbee golf and the nights watching weird Tv on IFC and not much else. I literally played frisbee golf every day for hours not thinking, not feeling. Disc automaton.
I remember the day I finally broke out of it. It’s the dumbest things that do it. I was sleepless, again, one night and caught the last half of The City of Lost Children starting where Miette us crying and her tears destroy half the city. I remember being spell bound by the visuals, identifying with her pain and the destructing need to affect something in the world. I tore my room apart. I tore off my clothes. I thrashed and cried and stopped when I caught myself in the mirror.
I realized how hollow I looked, realized I couldn’t remember the last time I are. I sat in front of the mirror for a few minutes before I fell asleep. The next day, I was with my friends watching movies in a basement. At so,e point the conversation turned to weightless when. My best friend at the time turned to me and gruffly said this to me,
“I’m unhappy because I’m no longer the skinnier one in the group. Now I’m fat because you lost all this weight this summer.”
The room went quiet. I was shocked. I think everyone else was too.
I got up. “It’s because I’ve been too depressed to eat and you guys haven’t cared.” And left.
You’re told about toxic people, that people manipulate you in sometimes subtle and sometimes overt ways. I learned then some if the shitty reasons my friends kept me around and realized the little ways they tore me down when I did something well. Like if I threw the disc farther, got a better grade on a test, got praise for something, they were never happy. They just complained that I made them look bad.
I essentially cut ties with them the next year. It was tough because we had so many classes together but I would bolster myself the little positive things I found during the days. And, inch by inch, I found some self worth and rebuilt myself.
I don’t want to say that my mood issues were entirely their fault – they absolutely weren’t. I didn’t help myself by acting out in inappropriate ways with them or being the domineering ass in theater (I was lead light tech fir 3 years, the first sophomore to get the job). I used them fir rides before I had my license and didn’t support their successes.
And with the girl, I was pretty terrible. I feel squarely into the “nice guy” camp (I… Even had a fedora…) in that I did all these things for her hoping (not expecting, let me assure[i never had enough self confidence to believe I deserved ANYTHING]) she’d fall for me. That was terrible for both of us – I made her uncomfortable with all the misplaced affection and ignored social queues and she took advantage of me knowing I’d bend over backwards for her.
There were a lot if good things that year too, of course. I discovered chemistry. I was the student tech director for two plays. I got into Beloit (oddly because of the girl). And the like.
It was a shitty two years but they make me who I am today.
And they totally ruined me for blondes.
A fun side note to lighten this kind of heavy entry:
All that disc golf built up my arm strength to inhuman but wildly specific abilities. The first day we played softball, I hit three home runs and caught two fly balls (one handed), something I’d never, ever done before.