Certain of What I Do Not See

The good new is, I’m not numb anymore, and I can cry.

The bad new is, I can barely stop crying.

If nothing else, I’ve learned that sunglasses are good for far more than just shading my eyes from the sun. But I think I am also learning about what faith really is.

I used to be so sure. Sure that God existed and that he was good. I was sure that everything the Bible had to say was true. Now suddenly I don’t. For no particular reason. I don’t know. Maybe feeling like everything in the world has no point does this sort of thing to you. Part of it is I can’t remember things. I can hardly remember what my name is, how can I be expected to remember whether God loves me?

Faith is an odd Christian-y word that is often thought to mean “believing in something blindly and without any evidence.” In reality it means something closer to “trust.” The Bible says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). It has nothing to do with how you “feel.”

So I have facts and evidence for the existence of God even though I haven’t actually seen him. That is faith: believing without seeing the actually thing, instead seeing only the evidence.

And it is really hard. I don’t remember what that evidence was. I do remember that less than two weeks ago I was very sure that God was real, and I was even more sure that he was good. Now my faith in God is more like faith in my past self. I’m trusting that I was right in the past for believing that God was good.

It’s weird. For a long time, the idea that God loved me and had a plan for my life sustained me through really bad times of depression. And now what I have is trying not to give up on God all together. I have to remember that things will get better. I have to remember all of the times I was sure that God loved me and has told me things. I have to remember that there can be love without feeling love. And I have to remember that there is always hope.

Because God loves me.

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Letting It Get To You

At the moment, I don’t feel human. It’s a very odd feeling.

I would like to say that I feel like a Time Lord. Or at the very least somebody’s Ganger. But no. I feel like some sort of nondescript undead.

Yesterday I had the same problem. I woke up feeling mild annoyance that I was awake. (I’m not really sure what I was expecting.) I went through the motions of being alive. I don’t think my face changed expressions the entire morning. Eventually, when I was at the library, I picked up the book This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl. It is a biography about a girl dying of cancer told through her journal entries and blog posts. I read the introduction and cried. I felt human again.

Crying is generally one of my least favorite past times. It makes everything more difficult. Talking and crying is often almost impossible, eating and crying is gross, and reading and crying ruins more books than any other way I know. The worst part is if you are crying, everyone around you feels obligated to help. They want to show pity and fix things and they start feeling bad. This translates as more guilt for me. So instead of feeling guilty and miserable and making everyone else miserable as well, I hide out somewhere and feel lonely and miserable.

The point I’m trying to make is: crying sucks.

Yesterday I didn’t feel as hostile towards tears. It felt good to have emotions and reactions. I was getting worried that I would make a good assassin because of how little I cared or felt for anything.

So what makes us human? Because that is a philosophical question and there are gazillions of humans with different views on the world, there is no answer. But I think that emotions make us human a lot more than I would normally think. Human beings are the only things on earth who cry and laugh.

Normally, I do whatever it takes to not feel sad. I get very angry at books and authors that make me cry; it feels like some sort of betrayal. But what is stronger than my want to not cry and feel happy is my need to be human. I want to be a part of this grand, weird, and messy race and right now I can’t be. And I don’t think laughing is going to do much for me at this point.

I guess it’s about time I re-watched David Tennant’s Doctor. No one else knows how to be so sad.

Sad Doctor

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So Very Far From Fine

I feel like a deer caught in the headlights every time someone asks me, “How are you doing?”

The expected response is, “Fine,” so that’s usually what I give. But then there are people that I feel wrong lying to.

I mean, I could say:

Well, two weeks ago I had my best couple of days since before Christmas. I pretty much forgot that I had depression. During that time, I got a job at the community college newspaper and started doing karate again and made all sorts of goals and plans for the future. Then the next week I started feeling a little overwhelmed by all of this and got kind of depressed again. I’ve gotten progressively worst and then today I was so emotionless I probably could have murdered someone and felt no remorse. How have you been?

I face a dilemma every time I want to say something like this. I try really hard not to dwell on my problems and not let myself become my depression, but I still have a need to talk things out with other people and not feel alone in all of this. How do I strike the balance between not being a downer and being honest?

Enter Twenty One Pilots.

Twenty One Pilots is my most favorite band of all time. They are quirky and interesting and unique and different with every song. And all of their lyrics are about anxiety and depression. When I first heard their music, I didn’t think I was going to like them. The music was so energetic and upbeat, and the lyrics were so odd and kind of dark. It was sort of disarming. As they started to grow on me, I discovered something: this is how you remain honest but hopeful.

The feel of the music mixed with the message of the lyrics reminds me of conversations I’ve had with friends who share some of my problems. We will exchange stories of awful days when depression kept us from wanting to live life or anxiety made us do, seemingly, ridiculous things. And we will laugh the entire story.

It is a paradox. Or an oxymoron; I’m not sure.

The truth is we are all silly people living painful lives but striving for happiness. Horrible things are always happening everywhere we turn, but the human being is created to laugh. It’s what makes us human.

So instead of being embarrassed or angered by shortcomings or bad days, I try to embrace them with irony. Humor doesn’t necessarily discount horribleness, but it makes it a little more bearable, and, sometimes, a little more worth it.

So next time someone asks me how I’m doing, I know my answer.

…It’s complicated.

l-/

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Because Socrates

There was this one loud mouthed girl in one of my lit. classes. She was almost always wrong, and she contradicted everything I said in class. Everyone else believed her, though, because she was over-the-top confident and she prefaced every opinion she had with, “My dad says…” Whose going to argue with someone’s dad?  And what exactly do you think, anyway?

One day she said something that I found very amusing. We were reading The Last Days of Socrates by Plato. I enjoyed the book a lot. It’s a collection of conversations Socrates had with his students. They are split up in different sections: before, during, and after his trial. (He stops talking when he is executed.) I liked the simplicity of his arguments and the sarcastic way he gave them. I found out her opinion when the discussion started:

I don’t get what the big deal is with Socrates. I mean, everyone talks about how smart he is, but I know smart people and they’re just as smart as he is. I can do the same things he does.

At the time I didn’t respond. I was kind of taken by surprise. And then the teacher commended her for thinking for herself and not being influenced by what the rest of the world thinks. I just let it go after that; there was no reasoning with these people. What I wanted to say to my teacher was,

What?! Yeah, sure, thinking for yourself is great, but she’s like sixteen and has proven that she does not have the mental capacity to think for herself! Her dad has brainwashed her enough; use this opportunity to undo as much damage as you can!

Obviously, I wouldn’t really say that, and I don’t really think that either. In the heat of the moment I might have come close, though. Because Socrates, guys!

This was last year, so I think I have cooled down by now. I can reasonably and calmly explain my position. The problem is I haven’t seen any of these people for a year, which is why I am going to use my imagination. This is an open letter to people who do no understand Socrates. But it is specifically to you, Miss Overly Confident.

Dear You Know Who,

Hello. How have you been? Do you remember that class we were in? I think you hated me. Or I hated you. It was hard to tell because we were both fairly passive-aggressive. Anyway, I remember that you didn’t really “get” Socrates.

First off, that was very brave of you to stand up as a lone voice against the majority of western culture. See, Socrates is a big deal because he was the first. He was the first to ask, “why?” in that particular way of his. He discovered how to think. All of that rhetoric your smart friends know, they learned it from people who learned it from people who learned it from Socrates. We are all standing on the shoulders giants and Socrates is one of the first of those greats. You may say that other philosophers and geniuses were more clever and got more things right, but Socrates was their inspiration.

I think it was Socrates’ simplicity that confused you. Don’t worry, I understand. It’s so simple, it seems obvious. That’s the beauty of wisdom and truth. The book of Proverbs from the Bible is filled with advice you could have gotten from anyone over the age 35. Jesus’ Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, is found in some form in almost every culture. It seems so obvious, but it still had to be said. That’s the weird way human brains work. I think most of us know these things; we just need someone to get us started.

I hope you understand a little better. Oh, and sorry about being sort of a jerk; I have a big mouth, too. I’m feeling kind of guilty now. Sorry for coming across so harsh. I’m a nice person, I promise.

Cheers,

Shahrazad

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Words, words, words

I have a mildly serious problem.

My term paper is due tomorrow, the one for my Shakespeare class. It is worth 30% of my grade. And I can’t get myself to write it.

I say it is only mildly serious because I most likely will write it before it is necessary to turn it in. Also, I don’t care about anything right now. But it’s a not caring in the best of ways. Nothing is serious! I don’t care if I fail this class, and I don’t care about being responsible, and I just want to be happy and talk about Hamlet like Sherlock Holmes talks about crime.

Meaning on and on and on.

Hamlet is the most beautiful play I have ever read. I fell in love with the character of Hamlet. He wrestles with the ideas of death and injustice. He has a deep rooted anger against the entire world, and yet, he is funny. He keeps an insane sense of humor even as everyone he has ever known betrays him. Last night I stayed up much, much too late watching the BBC Hamlet starring David Tennant. I love the play even more than I did before.

You would think that this would make it easy to write a term paper. My problem is I have to discuss a shared theme between two tragedies that I read this term. Because of this I chose a fairly awful topic: suicide.

Have you noticed how much suicide is in Shakespearean plays? Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, etc. I decided on that topic because Hamlet talks about suicide in a fascinating way. But I also have to write about the suicides in Julius Caesar, which are not as fascinating. (Side note: What is interesting is, if you look it up, most sites will tell you that there are three suicides in Julius Caesar: Brutus, Cassius, and Portia, Brutus’ wife. There are actually four: Titinius kills himself once he sees that Cassius is dead.)

But I don’t want to write or think about the suicides in either play! I want to write about madness.

Hamlet is all about madness. For the majority of the play, Hamlet fakes being crazy for various reasons. (I think the main one was getting away with insulting his relatives as often as he felt like.) But I would like to debate that he actually does go completely insane at one point in the story.

Here’s why. In the beginning of the play, Hamlet meets the ghost of his father. He is not the only one to see it. His friend Horatio was the one who told him about it, and several guards also witnessed the ghost. I will assume that it was actually there, and that it actually spoke to Hamlet. Hamlet reacts by faking madness.

Fast forward several acts, and the ghost appears once more. But this time is different. It shows up in the middle of a heated discussion between Hamlet and his mother. Hamlet is terrified and speaks to it, but his mother does not see it. What is the meaning of this? Assuming the ghost was real, why would he show himself to a couple of random guards and not his own wife? Perhaps Hamlet was imagining this ghost. He had just killed a man. Perhaps this is what drives him over the edge. Afterwards, he acts completely uncharacteristic of himself; he behaves more like a legitimate crazy person.

There’s my theory, but I cannot write about it because there is no insanity in any of the other tragedies we read this year. I can write about Ophelia’s insanity because she ends up committing suicide, but I don’t have the same zeal for her. (Sorry Ophelia. You really deserve better

Anyway, I was hoping that this post would motivate me to write my paper. Instead I am further convinced of the injustice of term papers. I’m not sure what the injustice is, but I am convinced it’s there. I can only imagine what my teacher will think of this paper.

words words words

Words, words, words

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Lazy Samurai

Here is a disclaimer before I even begin writing: I have not been sleeping well for the past two nights, and it is finally catching up with me. I have actually been feeling a lot better and my depression has improved, but right now I feel fairly awful and obsessive-compulsive and like I have developed ADD and a number of other mental disorders in one day (this is a feeling that I get from time to time).

Anyway, I feel totally guilty and paranoid and angry with myself. And I cannot stop thinking about karate. I have not done any karate at all for two weeks straight. I was thinking that maybe I ought to just quit because every time I enter the dojo I feel really, really guilty. Unexplained guilt is a big depression symptom for me. I feel guilty about acting overly excited and happy, acting depressed, talking too much, not joining in conversations, and generally being alive. So feeling guilty isn’t abnormal, I just feel an extra surge when I enter the dojo.

Ironically, karate was the one thing I still enjoyed for awhile. Deep down inside, it is still one of my favorite things, which is why I probably won’t quit. In a perfect world, all I would ever do is karate, yoga, read, write, and take long walks by a cheerful brook listening to birdsong.

Karate hasn’t necessarily become less fun, it’s just that a lot of things get in the way of it really being worth it. I often don’t have the mental endurance to understand the spoken word, work with other people, and be coordinated all at the same time. Karate is all of that plus a workout at the end. You would think, “Really, how hard is it to just pay attention and follow instructions?” It’s pretty. darn. hard. My tired brain does not need that. It can barely follow a tv storyline. It wants a break.

Also, exercise and/or spending time with large amounts of people will sometimes trigger depressive episodes. Why risk it? It might be fun now, but do I really want to be holed up in my house for the next couple of days with nothing but YouTube and breakfast cereal to comfort me? No. I do not.

The final reason is the most embarrassing. It is the reason why I would be embarrassed by any of this at all. I have lost my confidence. It’s shot. I am pretty much convinced that everything I have to say is stupid. I feel self-conscious a lot, particularly when I am doing something physical. I don’t know why; it’s just the way it is. At this point, I have probably forgotten a ton of karate and am not in as good of shape as I was, so starting up again is going to be even more embarrassing. I will make so many stupid mistakes I won’t be able to show my face for another week. Maybe I’ll put it off a little longer…

And the fact that I would be that self-conscious and embarrassed by something like that makes me annoyed with myself. This in turn makes me self-pity, which makes me hate myself. Then I tell myself that I need to be nicer to myself, and if I’m not, it’s my own fault that I feel as bad as I do. This makes me cry. By the time I am through with all of this, I am totally worn out and have decided that I have bigger problems than whether I do karate or not.

I feel so much better now that I have written this out! I hadn’t been allowing myself to put my thoughts into words. I have no idea if it will make me able to do karate more often. It probably won’t. Whatever.

But I am going to keep telling myself that eventually I will be back to doing karate five times a week. That I will be making goals and actually keeping them. That I won’t have to flinch when someone asks me why I’m not taking class, because, well, I’ll be taking class. Those will be good days.

For now, I am going to focus on sleeping through a night.

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Batman Beats Shakespeare

Last month I made two goals for my Shakespeare class. The first one is obvious: pass the class. The second was to lay low, be inconspicuous, and try not to be too memorable.

There are several reasons for this. The first is it makes the whole community college experience much more interesting. I can entertain myself by pretending that I am part of a witness protection program or live in a graveyard like Nobody Owens from The Graveyard Book.

Another reason is that, lately, I have been trying to lay low in general. That way I don’t have to have long conversations about how I have been doing, which might blow my cover. That could lead to people figuring out that I’m not normal, and that would be disastrous.

I started out pretty well at the beginning of this term. I have a corner seat that I like very much. From there I can count how many students show up (there are fewer with every class) and fall asleep if absolutely necessary. I just lean my head on the wall or drop it on the desk and (I think) no one can see me.

After I got my perfect seat, I refrained from correcting the teacher when she made historically inaccurate statements, and I didn’t point out that the actor playing King Richard II was David Tennant. Also, I didn’t tell anyone that I thought our teacher looked like a modern-day Queen Elizabeth.

She wears a little less jewelry

She wears a little less jewelry

All of my hard work was shattered on the day I totally lost track of time.

My watch, apparently, had stopped the day before at about 30 minutes after my class was supposed to start. I ran up the many flight of stairs from the Student Center to the hall my class was in. I got there red, out of breath, and completely early. Once of my classmates happened to be outside of the classroom sitting on the floor.

Hey! Has our class started yet?

I said pointing to the incorrect classroom.

Um, no. And our class is in this room.

Oh, good! I have time to fix my hair!

Once I got into the bathroom I realized what a mess I looked and what an odd impression I probably had just made. I decided to play it cool and go make sure that my fellow student thought I was normal.

Sooo, it’s two syllables right?

What?

Yeah, your name. Two syllables. It’s M- Meghan. Your name is Meghan! I’m Shahrazad in case you didn’t remember because of what an inconspicuous person I am.

Nailed it!

After Meghan backed away slowly into the classroom, it was all downhill from there. Queen Elizabeth started out the class by asking about Greek mythology, which is something I know quite a bit about.

My teacher has the habit of asking the class questions like, “What was the date of King James’ coronation” and “Who knows how many sea captains were in the Spanish Armada?” I think everyone was assuming that, once again, no one would answer her question when she asked, “Does anyone remember how Saturn got rid of his children so they wouldn’t usurp his throne?” Since I was still flustered from thinking I was late and I had sort of given up on the “normal” thing, I raised my hand.

He ate them!

Everyone turned around to look at the strange person they hadn’t noticed before who seemed to relish cannibalism. I then told the history of the gods and how Zeus chopped up Saturn (or as I like to call him, Kronos) and because of that Aphrodite was born in the ocean (gross). A lot of people were very confused and I didn’t blame them. But I was having too much fun giving the gory details.

Now I have embraced my abnormality and decided that, even if everyone thinks I am a freak, at least they think I am on their side. My most proud moment was when I single-handedly directed the discussion to Batman supervillains. Queen Elizabeth made the statement that many of Shakespeare’s villains are evil to the core and are only evil because they want to be. She then said that people don’t make characters like that anymore. I calmly disagreed that the Joker had no reason to be evil and he was for the pure fun of it. Elizabeth was about to disagree but about five Batman geeks jumped on the statement and compared just about every lunatic Arkham Asylum before they officially announced that the Joker has no sad back story that made him evil. I sat back and admired my handiwork.

Tomorrow is the midterm. I may have absolutely failed on my second goal, but hopefully not on the first. I was probably able to soak up the literature I was supposed to read. But I have a feeling that I was too busy writing jokes in the margins. At least I am having way more fun than I thought I would.

I wonder what my goals for the next term should be.

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