I wrote this when I was 40. The only things that have changed since are that I’ve gotten older (I’ll be 42 this summer), I’m more actively suicidal, and more disorders have been identified.
I’ve been clinically depressed since I was a child. I just didn’t have a name for it then.
I was raised by people from the old country who still believe it’s possible to be successful as part of the machine. They’re too softhearted to be asshole enough to achieve that success in what they’re trying to be successful at. They tell me with one breath how smart I am, then tell me with the next I don’t know what I’m talking about. They tell me to tell them of things I’m interested in, only for me to watch their attention fade while I’m in mid-sentence and begin talking about something else entirely to someone else, usually each other, and all of a sudden I’m reminded I’m important to them only when it’s convenient.
I got my mom’s Asperger’s and inattentive type ADD, which she vehemently denies. I got my dad’s systemic lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, which he not only does not deny, but regrets. The other congenital disorders and comorbids teem about these four, topped with a huge whack of major depressive disorder with anxiety. It’s been a peculiar and lonely kind of hell.
I saw when I was six years old that doing whatever other people wanted wasn’t going to make me happy. I still tried to make everyone else happy in the ways that I knew how and failed miserably. I finally said fuck it in my twenties and stuck to doing whatever I wanted. I was told — am still told — that I’m a failure because I don’t fit in the machine anywhere. I don’t benefit the machine. I chugged on stubbornly anyway because I wanted to be happy for myself. If all this misshapen cog is going to do is roll down a hill, at least I’m free to do so and not stuck believing I have to have a set place.
Now I’m forty, and the other night I said fuck it again — except this time it was the resigned kind of fuck it. I realised I will not be successful as I define it in the things I did that made me happy. I realised that my parents still want to define my worth by how well I fit in some other machine. I realised that the hill I’ve been rolling down is made of gravel, and all the nicks, dents and pockmarks are adding up on top of what’s already made me useless (hello, brand new liver damage). I realised that I have very few friends and very few small comforts, and that these now comprise the entirety of how I pass my days in my peculiar little hell. And I realised that I was less okay and more resigned to that being the case until the day the gravel catches up and I stop rolling.
Everything — every machine the system proudly touts — I tried to believe in has failed me, including the one I tried to make of myself. I can only hope now to outlive my cats.