Fiction Round Up!

It’s been a while since I posted some fiction for y’all, so here’s what’s been coming out of my brain.

Sometimes I am afraid of my hunger. When I remember to feel hungry, there is no end. My stomach aches, a deep empty pit that will never be full. I contain too much, infinities between my head and my toes and they must be filled. It gnaws and pulls, and always asks for more. What will I do when I cannot satiate the lust for more reality? There is so much space within me, a hollowness of curiosity and rampant need. I can consume the whole universe and be left licking my fingers for the last crumbs, always wanting more. What would happen if I were to let the beast of my hunger free? Sometimes I fear that I might have started something unstoppable, my whole body flaming out as it consumes my beloved world. But I will never let it go free. I will control.

 

 

When I am on solid ground, I am a klutz. I injure myself. I run into things. I overbalance at anything. I am not coordinated, and I am not graceful. I have accepted this.  I will never be a ballerina or a runner or a tightrope walker.

But last night, I slipped into a pool and I was powerful. My body was sinuous, long, and elegant. I could stretch the length of myself through the water and arc myself into curls and and waves. My arms could hold the world as I pull myself forward and slide endlessly under, under the surface. I hold the water, cupping it against me, feeling myself grow. I can surpass anyone here. I am at home.

What You Know: Reading Fiction and Nonfiction

I was talking with a colleague the other day about loving to learn and about what kinds of things I like to learn. He mentioned that he can’t read novels because there are simply so many nonfiction topics to learn about that he can’t imagine wasting time on fiction. While I can understand the drive to learn as much about our world as possible, I can’t understand cutting fiction out of my life. Most of us understand what we learn or gain from nonfiction: straight facts or insight into phenomena or incidents in the world. However there’s a lot of people who appear to miss the real learning we can do when we read novels.

As a novel junkie, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain how I view fiction as a source of knowledge.

Many people see the arts as beneficial because they allow us to connect to each other, or to feel emotions. These are good things, but they aren’t direct lessons or sources of knowledge. In addition to catharsis or other emotional and/or spiritual (in the sense of connective) elements, there is a little more to fiction. In my mind, the most important thing we can learn from fiction is empathy. When we allow ourselves to enter into someone else’s mind and story, we learn about what it’s like to be another person. We learn about other experiences. We learn how to imagine what things might be like for someone else. This skill provides us with a great deal of straight information, and as we partake in this process in each novel, we gain facts about what it’s like to be each character in the novel. While no two people are exactly the same, these insights can help us connect with real human beings and understand their motivations, histories, and experiences.

In addition, we can also understand a bit of the human psyche by reading fiction. A good author will create characters who react realistically to their surroundings, who have understandable and realistic emotions and motivations, and who make sense as human beings. Spending time in someone else’s head can help you not just to understand a specific type of person, but to understand some basic human psychology. Again, this provides you with some additional empathy.

Depending upon the genre, you may also learn something about history, a certain place, a particular incident or phenomenon, or a group of people because of the setting. Again, many fiction authors spend a good deal of time researching and understanding the setting of their novels so that they can create something that is realistic and will teach you through the story.

But there are more difficult things you can learn by reading novels. Novels are made up of characters facing difficult situations. This means you as the reader are asked to contemplate those difficult situations, and you are left with a deeper understanding of ethics, as well as your own character. You can find new roles models (I learned feminist ideals from many of my childhood and teenage reading), learn what sort of person you don’t want to be, or imagine ideals in things like friendship and family. Literature often tackles deep philosophical questions, and while you may not directly discuss them while reading, you do still find yourself thinking about them and wondering what your own reactions might be.

Examples of these issues from books I’ve read:

1.What does it mean to lie?

2.When should you trust someone?

3.Should men and women be treated the same?

4.How should you treat a friend?

5.Are adults trustworthy?

6.What makes life worth living?

I also have read fiction books that tackled everything from mental retardation to pregnancy to life in poverty to being a rich socialite. You get insight into each of these worlds, you get to inhabit each of these worlds for a time and hopefully understand better the perspectives of individuals in these situations.

In addition, the conversations that arise out of novels and fiction are hugely important to informing our sense of self and our knowledge of the world around us. We see which things we react to and we can begin to understand why when we discuss novels and fiction with those around us. We may gain empathy for one of our friends or colleagues by hearing their interpretation or perspective on a book or movie. All of these things are real and true forms of knowledge: they’re knowledge about what it’s like to experience things, and that is something that you can’t gain from nonfiction.

Emotions: A Physical Exploration

What follows is something completely different from anything I think I’ve written before. It was partly an exercise in fictional writing, for description, and partly an exercise in getting in touch with the physicality of my emotions. All of our emotions come with physical manifestations, and much of the time we just completely forget about that or ignore it. Here I have portraits of a few emotions told as fully as possible in descriptions of a body. Enjoy 🙂

 

Sadness

I get sad when I’ve lost something, when I know it’s not coming back. He left last night, and I know he’s gone for good. It always starts with exhaustion, but there’s more. The sadness comes in waves. My mind will wander for a moment, and then suddenly my breath will catch and my throat will constrict and my eyes will burn with tears. I have to focus on my mouth to breathe evenly, and I’m left with my mouth hanging slackly open, growing dry. My face is numb, as if I have no control over it, except when the crying happens, and then it contorts crazily. The pain is dull, burning, aching in my chest. My muscles are tight and my throat won’t allow swallowing. But there are moments when it rips through me and it feels as if there are splinters through my sternum, holding the breath inside me, leaving me ragged and weak. I have no energy to move my limbs. My eyes won’t blink and they won’t focus. My head feels stuffed full of fuzz, blocking all clarity. And my poor stomach is left uncertain of which way to turn, running from growling hunger to boiling nausea in seconds. I forget when I’m sad that my body takes the brunt of it, but each moment of sadness comes with a plethora of physical surprises, aches and pains and breathlessness. I need to put my body back together.

 

Disgust

Disgust starts deep. It’s a roiling, sickening feeling. If I concentrate, I can feel my insides turning and rumbling. It builds quickly into a twitchiness, a dissatisfaction with my skin which suddenly crawls and pinches. It’s too tight, it prickles. My stomach feels like it’s bulging, like it’s grown, like it has expanded beyond all measure. I want to pick at things, rip my nails off, rip myself out of my body. My hands clench and scratch. I chew the insides of my mouth. I feel as if I cannot speak. My mouth has stopped working. Words bubble up, feeling like bile, and then dissipate before I can do anything with them. My face pulls downwards. My body has gone out of control, shutting down and boiling up, full of energy and heat and tenseness. My whole chest tightens, my jaw clenches. I can feel each set of muscles flinching in turn. My body feels as if it’s trying to expel something, but it can’t decide what. It’s an attack from within.

 

Pride

Pride is a rarity, and so I savor the few moments I realize what it is. It’s hard to identify the pieces that make it up though, as I am rarely exposed to them. The first sign is always the impossible curling up of my whole face. I try to hold it in. I try to keep myself from grinning, but I can’t. My face feels like it needs to take up more space, and who am I to deny it? My eyes crinkle and sparkle and dart and smile. Everything moves upwards, lighter, emptier and yet fuller: full of energy and full of strength and full of power, but empty of contamination and pain and weight. My body waits for someone to recognize, full of potential energy, ready to jump up, to bound at a moment’s notice. My chest feels almost in pain with too much space, my heart beats hard and strong, my blood flows quickly. My eyes dart, they can see too much, they can move too quickly. I bounce slightly. I cannot quite keep still.

 

Happiness

Happiness is pure energy. My mouth can’t move fast enough to get the words out, my body can’t move fast enough to bounce everywhere I’d like to go. I grin wickedly. I dance. I cannot sit, I cannot lie, I need to move.  I feel as if I have expanded to encompass the universe, and yet I feel grounded, solid in my chair, my feet firmly against the ground. I can breathe deeply. My lungs have expanded. My shoulders spread outwards, making me larger than my normal hunched silhouette. I look up, confidently meeting eyes. Sometimes I need to bite my lip to keep from exploding in a grin. My foot bounces up and down, my fingers drum a rhythm on the tabletop in front of me. Everything is moving so fast, my whole body has been placed on caffeine pills, nothing will ever slow me down and my mind will never stop demolishing every problem before it. I am veritably humming with everything my body wants to do. There’s no way it could end.

Anger

Anger turns inwards. It’s deadly calm. Painfully so. Outwardly, anger is silence. A face that will not express. Terse words, sarcastic tones, refusal of eye contact. A bored fiddling with my rings or my fingers or the couch. My muscles have seized up, I have no control over them. With great effort I may be able to turn my head to look at someone, but otherwise I am trapped. My heart pounds painfully. My throat constricts. Tingles run down my arms. I feel fit to bursting. Everything in my body has gone crazy: my chest feels as though it might explode, blood pounds, my head aches, my eyes sting, everything has gone to chaos. And yet outwardly there is simply stone.

 

Anxiety

I am ripping. My heart goes upwards, my stomach down. My throat pulls in and out. My head is splitting with headache. My body cannot decide where to run. I must curl up to hold myself together, shaking, sniffling, clenching, rocking. My shoulders turn inwards as I become smaller, smaller, trying to contain myself. I bite my lip, hard. I grab at a blanket, balling my hands into fists. My body has turned against me and I feel a burning rage against it, the desire to cut my skin, to bruise myself, to burn myself. I can’t bear to look at my skin. I scrunch my eyes closed, rubbing my eyelids until light bursts form. I’m full of nervous energy, my legs want to run or bike, my arms want to lift. I flex to remind myself I still have muscles.  My breath comes in fits and bursts, and there is a pressure behind my ears. My body feels distant for all its chaos. My perception drifts, and my eyes go soft when I try to focus. I blink rapidly, wishing I could return. But the pain of my body keeps me away.

How To Read a Stream of Consciousness Book

joyce_ulyss

My boyfriend and I have very different reading styles. When he reads, he likes to understand every bit of the book. He’s more deliberate than I am: he tries to pick apart every piece of the syntax, understand every allusion, get every symbol. I on the other hand, read quickly. I don’t spend a lot of time while I’m reading doing analyzing. I let the book wash over me. I get engrossed in plots and characters and a different time or place. I escape into my books. When I emerge, I dust myself off and think about what just happened.

 

This means that we’re suited to different types of books. My boyfriend is stellar at reading straightforward books, books like The Great Gatsby that are full of symbols and meaning but that follow a relatively linear path. I on the other hand can feed on stream of consciousness novels, things that wend different perspectives together, things that don’t quite make sense until you experience them. And so for those individuals who tend to be more analytical about their reading, let me offer some advice for reading a stream of consciousness book.

 

1.Don’t try to make sense of it. Just let it happen to you.

This can be really hard for some people. They may want to go back over and over a section until they have understood what happened in it. I often find that it’s more useful to just get a feel of something that makes no sense and then read onwards. Things are explained later. Things come to light with more information. You can always come back later. But what’s important isn’t always the specific words: it’s the mood. When you come back to analyze later you can try to figure out what created the mood, but in the instant, you need to let your brain happen in synch with the book.

 

2.Don’t try too hard to focus. Let your mind wander.

This was especially true of James Joyce for me, which is not stream of consciousness but is certainly not linear. Oftentimes stream of consciousness or non linear books don’t have a clear one to one connection between their allusions or symbols and the meaning of those allusions or symbols. They cast a wide net. You have to let your mind be open to all of the associations you feel for the images and ideas that are presented. Again, there is a kind of resonance that can happen between your mind and the novel. You may not imagine or feel the same pictures and feelings that the book presents, but your mind might throw up your version of those pictures and feelings. For example when I was reading 13 Reasons Why, instead of seeing the events as Hannah described them, my mind threw up my own experiences of depression and the images that I associated with it. It allowed me to inhabit the character through my own experience. This is often true when you get allusions, as your associations might not be exactly the same as the author’s.

 

3.Read in long stretches.

When I read a stream of consciousness style book I usually read it all in one go. This is generally not by choice, as I usually forget who I am and what I was doing until I finish the book and mourn the loss of whoever I was for those hours. But for those who have a harder time with reading things straight through, at least make sure you dedicate fair chunks of time to a book that’s about mood and feeling. This isn’t the kind of book to have on your bedside table to read a few pages before bed. This is the kind of book you take to a coffee shop and immerse yourself in. Generally these books are in the first person, and it takes a little bit to let yourself fall into character; because that’s the idea: to become the character for a time.

 

4.Analyze afterwards.

Some people like to do a lot of analysis while they’re reading. They write notes in the margins, they try and pick apart the novel as they read it. They get a lot more out of their first read than I ever could. But when you’re trying to enter someone’s stream of consciousness, you can’t be analyzing at a meta level while also inhabiting the experience. You can always come back later and consider the symbols and the themes and the characters. You can underline or star or mark the pages that seem important to you as you’re going. But let yourself be the character while you’re reading instead of trying to be the observer who figures things out.

Untitled Beginning

This is the beginning of some kind of story which I may or may not continue. It’s been a long time since I’ve written fiction of any length so please be kind, but I would be interested in feedback. 🙂

 

 

 

The thank you card was more gaudy than I ever would have picked out, but she had always sparkled more than I: I was never sure if it was gilt or gold, but like some silly magpie I always found myself edging closer to her sheen. Sadly the metaphor stops there and turns into one about moths and flames: she could burn a girl up as fast as she said hello.

 

But these words were different. Cherie rarely took the time to say things like thank you, and sitting still long enough to write something when she could have picked up the phone and said it, or even when she simply could have appeared out of nowhere (as she was wont to do) and yelled it at you in person was not her natural mode of operation. But there it sat, pale blue and gold with floral designs and a short message inside:

 

“I was so glad to see you this weekend. It’s been too long. Call when you can, I have news. Thank you for the vase, it’s truly lovely.

~Cherie”

 

The vase had been a last minute gift, picked to the tastes of Cherie’s new wife. Generally Cherie did not bother with politeness for the sake of others. I had never before given her a gift without some critical remark on her part, and the note left me sitting in stunned silence for a long minute. What was she trying to say? Was this an apology? An attempt at reconciliation?

 

I couldn’t read this new Cherie, so I retreated to the only haven I knew: a book and a cup of tea, hoping the note would disappear and I could continue with my mundane life. I pointedly ignored my cell phone sitting next to me, refusing to call. I did not want the kind of excitement that Cherie brought. I didn’t want whatever reconciliation she offered. I had broken it off, and I was not about to start it up again.

 

It was raining on Wednesday. I had always felt that rain should not be allowed on Wednesdays for the obvious reason that the week feels endless on a Wednesday and the day feels endless when it’s raining, and this leads to an inevitable feeling of soul-crushing. But this Wednesday was the day after the thank you card, and despite the calming pit-pat on the roof, my nerves were edgy. I couldn’t sit still, and whenever I had a spare minute I found myself twitching and jumping. Thankfully I had a busy day, and barely noticed the anxiety until I found a pause for lunch at 2:30. I was nearly tingling with the anxiety, wondering when Cherie would come crashing back into my life. Would she call me if I never called her?

 

‘She’s married now, she can’t just tell you she wants to get back together’ I repeated to myself. My phone buzzed and I jumped. I picked it up. Mom. Deep breaths I reminded myself before answering.

 

Four hours later on my way home from work my phone rang again. By now I had convinced myself that this whole day had been spent in simple paranoia: Cheri would not call. She had not reason to. I had worked myself up over nothing, and all I needed was a glass of wine and a hot bath. I picked up the phone. Cherie. I put the phone down and focused pointedly on driving.

~

“Ingrid, hi. I know you’re there, but I don’t care if you don’t pick up as long as you listen to the message. Look, I meant what I wrote in that card. I’ve missed you. I wish I had the time to just talk to you again, but I have to tell you…I’m not ok. Renee doesn’t understand, she thinks I’m crazy, but I know you’ll hear me out. Please call me back. I’d like to see you.”

 

That was the whole message. She hadn’t even bothered to identify herself: she knew my whole body was tingling from the first word she spoke. Renee was Cherie’s wife, their wedding was the occasion for the thank you card. I wasn’t sure what to think that my ex was calling me over her wife.

 

Cherie’s problems had always been different. When we were together I had tried to tolerate them, to ignore them, to pretend I didn’t see the insanity. They had been the cause of many breakups followed by tearful reunions, and I suspected they had lent a helping hand to the development of my eating disorder.

 

I didn’t want to go there again. My therapist had told me again and again to reside in the present. I could finally eat three square meals a day without anxiety. I didn’t count calories and food was not the first thing on my mind in the morning. I had to keep myself away from her. I needed to protect myself.

 

So why was I picking up the phone and dialing her number, still firmly engrained in my memory? Why was my breath catching? What was I getting into?

~

“Shoo-rah, shoo-rah oh I can hear you coming, shoo-rah, shoo-rah but you won’t catch me.”

I sighed, waiting for the energy of the music to hit me and telling myself over and over “You won’t catch me.” I had put the song on in the hope that it would give me some sort of strength, but it was a lie and I knew it. I looked down at the note in my hand. I had made the call, taken down a time and a place, and now I was waiting.

 

I wouldn’t let her draw me in again. Our last breakup had been vicious. She had been raving, yelling, “Can’t you see?” and pointing ferociously at her back. I had tried to listen, tried to understand, but when she had grabbed my hand and placed it not on but just above her back, I had felt something tickle my palm, something feathery and soft. I had panicked, run out the door, and not spoken to her again until I had received a wedding invitation to “A Midsummer Night’s Wedding”.

 

And now I was going to walk back towards that confusion. I didn’t know if I could trust my senses this time around, and I knew I couldn’t trust my emotions.

 

The clock flicked to 11:45. I paused my music, picked up my keys and walked to the door.

 

~

There she was, same as ever. She didn’t look a second older than the day I first met her, the only difference being that her long dreadlocks were now shaved. She was small, barely five feet, but all curves. Except her face. Her face was pointed, angular, pixie-ish. I walked into the coffee shop where she waited and ordered a mocha-my standard. I didn’t drink coffee unless it tasted like dessert. Hesitantly, I sat across from her and she looked up from her book: The Great Gatsby. Pretentious.

 

She saw me looking and explained: “I’m prepping for the movie. I’ve forgotten a lot.”

 

“Something about love and death,” I supplied, pulling a chair up across from her. She smiled almost wistfully and put the book down. For a long moment she just looked at me, her eyes roving over every part of my body. I tried to stare back, unfazed, but I found myself blushing. She had a talent for undressing you with her eyes.

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to talk to you at the wedding,” she said suddenly. “I was glad you were there though. You mean a lot to me.” My heart jumped at the words.

 

“It was a lovely ceremony,” I choked out, feigning coolness. Silence again. I waited for her to explain what we were doing here. I had no responsibility to break the awkwardness. She just looked at her hands, fidgeting and picking at her nails. I’d never seen her like this before, shy and nervous.

 

Finally I gave in to my impatience.

 

“Look Cherie, you asked me to come here. You said you needed my help. I don’t know why I’m here so you’ll have to start talking,” She looked up at me and for a moment the look on her face inundated me with guilt. Then she sighed.

 

“You’re right. I just don’t know how to start. Especially after the last time I saw you. But it’s not like I can ask anyone else.” She paused and her body slumped. “Ingrid. I’m in trouble. I know you remember all the things I tried to tell you before and you didn’t believe it, but I’m really, really in trouble and you have to believe me now. My mother is dead. I need to go home,” she stopped and looked meaningfully at me.

 

“I’m sorry Cherie. That’s horrible. I still don’t understand how I can help though…do you need help with a plane ticket?”

 

“Oh Ingrid. Not home to Portland! I told you before that’s not really home. Home to…the other place. The one you wouldn’t hear about. And I need you to come with. I need someone from here with me, otherwise I’m not sure I can find my way back,” she was leaning forward now, reaching for my hand. “Please say you’ll help, please. Renee tried to send me to a therapist, she thinks I’m crazy. I need you. No one else can help,”

 

I was afraid. Absolutely afraid that she was pulling me in again, that Renee was 100% right and I was sitting in front of a crazy person. But the most beautiful woman I knew was sitting before me begging for help. I was lost before I began.

 

“Where are we going?” I asked reluctantly.

 

~

 

The next day at 11 PM we drove up to an abandoned warehouse.

 

“This is it?” I asked, my voice dripping cynicism. “This is the super secret special entrance to your Other home?”

 

She threw me a look that left me shrinking in my seat and sauntered out of the car, leaving me to remember how many times I’d seen that look before. Reluctantly I followed her, taking a flashlight out of the bag she had told me to pack.

 

She was standing at a rusted door, tapping it gently and listening to the tink-tink it made in return. I was about to open my mouth and make a quip about a secret knock when the door creaked open, seemingly of its own volition. With a smile, she led the way inside.

 

There was a low thumping, almost a rumble coming from deep inside the building. I hesitated, but Cherie stepped forward unafraid and I had no choice but to follow. The noise grew and grew until I realized it was the repetitive “wub wub” of dubstep.

 

“Cherie, what-” I cut off my query as we rounded a final corner and came upon a seething wall of people. My question was answered: we were at a rave. I looked again, and stopped to reassess my initial impressions. Not people. Bizarre costumes were everywhere: gas masks, neon tutus, steampunk goggles, but mixed in were things a bit too realistic to be costume. A woman slid past with cat eyes glinting in the darkness, another gave me a salacious smile that showed his flickering snake-tongue, while a third held up a hand in greeting that was not properly flesh colored. But everyone was moving, relentlessly dancing. I was overwhelmed, with colors and sounds and a lingering smell of pot.

 

“You can’t be serious,” I screamed over the noise. “You brought me to a rave? I can’t believe I almost bought your story!” Cherie grinned at me, raising her arms in an innocent looking shrug before diving forwards into the crowd. With a yelp I threw myself after her into a chaos of sweaty, moving bodies, bizarre smells, and kaleidoscope colors.

Poems and Pieces

I’m going to do another bout of fiction/poetry. Brace yourselves:

 

This morning I woke up

Or rather my eyes opened.

I tried to leave my bed, but the world was cold

And my mind would not open

However brightly the sun shone.

I put one foot in front of the other until I reached reality

But when I stopped moving I began to drift backwards

There is nothing to hold on to here

The walls are smooth

And the sky is empty.

Backwards feels like falling

But my weight is not enough for gravity to take effect

And so I float untethered

Away from the room where I sat

Where I walked with my eyes open and my mind closed

Where I tried to remind myself that this was real

And I was alive

And I am moving

Backwards.

I hope that tonight I will reach my bed again

And tomorrow morning I will wake up

Or rather open my eyes.

 

 

Solitude:

Everyone told her that she was an introvert. She knew that being alone was a necessity. Too many people made her feel overwhelmed and frustrated and confused. Her senses began to shut down.

She had always imagined that her ideal job was one in which she didn’t have to deal with people, because people were always ruining things. Words and computers and papers didn’t make mistakes: they did as they were told. They were predictable.

But as she sat for 90th day in a row in her small out of the way corner office, she began to hate the solitude.

13 Reasons Why: Having Sympathy

13REASONSWHY

ALERT: this post will have spoilers.

 

Last week I read the book 13 Reasons Why, which is a book that is made up of 13 tapes recorded by a girl who commits suicide and leaves these tapes to explain why she did. Each tape is a person, and she sends the tapes to the people on them so that they can understand what happened. After finishing this book I found myself frustrated at the portrayal of Hannah, the suicidal girl the story centers around. She was portrayed as selfish, dramatic and bratty. She blamed her suicide on others. She never asked for help or accepted help when it was offered. And some of her reasons for committing suicide seemed a little ridiculous, like being teased about having a nice ass. I found this frustrating because it seemed to infantilize how serious many people’s problems are, and how hard they fight to get help and are often denied it.

 

At the same time, I did find the book powerful in that Hannah clearly pointed out how other people’s actions affected her and particularly pointed to the sexual harassment that was heaped on her. I thought that it was powerful that the effects of this were taken seriously in the book, and that it was made clear that it was not ok for someone to smack her ass or try to cop a feel. So I was conflicted. I didn’t want a book to circulate that treated people who are suicidal like they’re attention seekers or stupid or selfish. But I also felt that there were some good messages.

 

And then I read this review. This shitty, shitty review.  It basically straight out said some of the things that I was thinking. And when I saw them baldly there before me I realize how much of a shitface I was for my reaction. Because here’s the thing: even if Hannah’s reasons WERE trite or overdramatic or whatever, there are people out there who feel suicidal for those same reasons. There are people out there who do feel that their suicidal impulses were at least in part created by others. And those people have EVERY RIGHT to EVERY SINGLE ONE of their feelings. There is no right or wrong way to be depressed. There is no justified depression and unjustified depression. If someone feels so desperate that they will take their own life, you don’t get to judge whether or not the reasons were good enough. You sit your ass down and you feel sorry and you listen if they left you some way to make sense of it. They had no obligation to explain their feelings to you, and they had no obligation to have feelings that you felt were acceptable. People get to feel depressed in whatever fucking way it happens to them.

 

This is one of the reasons that I get frustrated with the concept of “tumblr depression” or “tumblr eating disorder”. You know the person. The blog that posts all black and white pictures and melancholy quotes. The girl that seems to take everything personally and dramatizes everything and sort of passive aggressively refuses help while asking everyone to pay attention to her. And a lot of people get pissed at these sorts of blogs and individuals, because they say that’s not real depression. That’s just someone looking for attention. That gives people with real mental illness a bad name. She just cuts for attention. She just starves herself because she thinks anorexia is cool. Now on some level this is understandable: it can be really frickin’ hard to talk to someone when they’re acting like this. But I hate to break it to you, it can be hard to talk to someone with mental illness. And if someone is cutting themselves in order to get attention, THEN YOU SHOULD GIVE THEM SOME FUCKING ATTENTION BECAUSE HUMAN BEINGS DESERVE AND NEED ATTENTION.

 

I went through this kind of phase, and while it may look trite and stupid from the outside, it hurts just as much as “real” depression when you’re on the inside. You don’t get to judge someone else’s feelings and tell them that they’re not actually depressed or unhappy, or that the reasons they’re hurting themselves aren’t valid. If someone says they’re hurting then you damn well better believe them. Even if they are using passive aggressive techniques to try to get attention, that means that they’re hurting. They’re lonely. They feel pointless or useless or unwanted. Asking for attention is not a crime and being sad about stupid things is not a crime. If someone is unhappy it’s not our place to judge why. It’s our place to offer sympathy and try to help. Because no matter how silly something might seem to us, it’s real to the individual, and blowing off someone’s unhappiness as trivial is simply being inhumane and unfeeling.