the caged bird sings.

written, designed, and edited by Bee Butler

Because I can't write about what I want to.

Bee ButlerComment

Something heavy is weighing me down, and my chest feels tight. My eyes are brimming with tears and if I sit and think for too long, I can't hold it back, so I'm going to write about something to keep my mind off of what's going on right now. Hopefully I'll never have to come back and write about what's going on in my head right now, because it will resolve itself. I doubt that so seriously that I almost just laughed, but here's hoping.


The first time I was really aware of the symptoms of my depression was my freshman year of high school. I'd been put on Effexor at age 11, because when I was in 6th grade I ceased being able to sleep or keep down my dinner, and the shrinks my parents begged to help me couldn't think of anything better to do than load me up on medication. How do you fix an 11-year-old who feels like she has no real friends? How do you convince her that she isn't fat, and she won't die if she eats? How do you explain to her that the awful pain in her stomach isn't real, it's psychosomatic, and the hours she spends with her head in the toilet every night are because she's crazy with anxiety, not because something is wrong with her insides? Apparently that's something so impossible that no doctor would dare to undertake it, because I walked out of my first appointment with my therapist with a prescription in my hand. All that to say that while I was aware of my depression, the only thing I'd ever seen physically manifested was my anxiety, and those are not the same thing.

I came home from school one day, walked into my room, put a CD in my disc player and selected a track on repeat, got in my bed, and went to sleep. I woke up the next morning to worried parents, and I was exhausted, but for some reason, I felt a little bit better. I continued to spend 14 hours a day curled up in my bed, sound asleep, until my parents demanded I stay up. They were terrified. You could see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices, why is my little girl locking herself away for more hours of the day than she's even awake? What is she doing to make herself sleep like that? (I can only imagine they thought I was taking an overdose of medication at first, because I've had severe insomnia since I was 11, and I had NEVER been able to sleep 14 hours straight before) What do we do? How can we help her? Why won't she just come out of her room?

On days like this I long for those afternoons, because while I was hurting and lonely, at least I was sleeping. My life was difficult, but nowhere near what it is now. I thought I was broken, and maybe I was, to an extent, but if the me of that time could see me now, she would literally vomit. Comparatively, I was the model child in high school. I slept too much and was outwardly exhibiting signs of depression and anxiety, but I'd never had a boyfriend or done anything Jesus disapproved of with a guy (or a girl, for that matter... thanks, college). I made straight A's, was in all honors/GT/AP classes, I never got in trouble with anyone except my mom and dad, and even they can admit that my infractions back then were so small in comparison to what I've done since that given the chance, they'd take back those punishments. By all accounts, I was an excellent kid. A fantastic 14-year-old.

I had no idea how doomed I was.

I miss that bed, that house, being in high school. I miss my parents living together, even if they were unhappy, because as selfish as it sounds, I was happier and better off when they were trying to make it work than I have ever been watching one of them excel, exceed, and remarry while watching the other one have every dream imaginable crumble in their hands. Their divorce skyrocketed my depression and anxiety problems, and I vividly remember every second of the day we moved out, the day they called to tell me they signed the papers, the day one of them moved to a different city, and so many more minuscule milestones that I can't even think straight when I conjure one of them up. It's like watching four years of my life on fast forward, and I can't hit stop or eject until it's over. Some part of me feels very guilty for disliking the way things are now, for the things I would be robbing one parent of if things were to go back to the way they were, and for putting my needs before others, but it was my absurd urge to shrink away, put everyone before myself, and cause no waves that I lost everything I cared about. Then I lost everything again by being selfish. 

It is shocking how much terrible shit can happen to a person in 25 years and 10 months. Most of the terrible shit happened in the last 14 years and 7 months, but there have been so many difficult moments that it starts to blend together.

When I think back to those afternoons freshman year when I went straight to bed, I remember thinking that God had forsaken me, that I would never get to be happy and would just have to struggle and fake my way through things for the rest of my life. I feel that way now, but there's an added sense of urgency and a deep fear that the faking and clawing is not enough. You can only get by on the skin of your teeth for so long.

This is one of those posts that my old therapist would refer to as a "warning sign". She would tell me I need to adjust my dosage, evaluate my problems, look for realistic solutions, reach out to someone who cared, and run to God. I know that all of those things will help.

Unfortunately, it's 1:51AM. I can't do a damn thing about my meds for at least a month, because my current doctor is a blithering idiot who ignores my requests and occasionally refuses to book my appointments, because he cannot be bothered. I know that sounds absurd, but it is very true. His office has the lowest satisfaction rating in Southern California, but it was the first place I could get in. I'm in the process of finding someone else, but my insurance runs out in less than two months, so I'm royally fucked. Since it's almost 2AM, evaluating my problems is a bad idea, because it's late and dark and lonely, and I am nearly incapable of thinking rationally or at least somewhat positively at times like this. The first person I want to reach out to is the biggest of my current problems, the second wouldn't answer, and the third is in too much pain and personal hell to do anything of use for me. God and I aren't on good terms, and that is my fault. Honestly, though, He could at least try and throw me a small bone at this point. Wouldn't hurt Him, would help me immensely, I clearly need to go to bed because I'm attempting to drop hints to God via a blog post less than ten people will ever read.

The first time I was really aware of the physical symptoms of my depression was my freshman year of high school. Eleven years later, and they're still staring me in the face.

I wish I could sleep.