Dear Diary

September 19, 2012

Being OK is hard work.

Katherine

Adults are weird and illogical. They wear fanny packs and ask you what you’re eating even when it’s really evident that you’re eating crackers or a grilled cheese sandwich. They always want to know if you’re dating anyone, and they act surprised when they got caught in rush hour traffic even if they’ve been driving for over half their lives. They think 2 AM is really late and say “you’re welcome” when you thank them for a compliment. They even iron their clothes!

They also tell you things like, “Someday, the things you’re worried about now will seem so silly.” The first time I remember being told that was in sixth grade. I was at the mall with my mom to shop for school clothes. As we were walking past the makeup counters, I asked my mom if she thought that kids would like me if I wore lip gloss. “I don’t know,” she said. Later that afternoon, she told me that the things that felt like a big deal now wouldn’t feel like a big deal later.

The lip gloss turned out to not be a big deal. I never wore makeup that year and was just fine. I spent my weeks studying and my weekends with my friends. We had giant sleepovers where we would eat Cheetos and ice cream for dinner and do karaoke to Hannah Montana songs, even though we always talked about how much we hated her at school.

Still, I don’t think that worrying about lip gloss at the mall was silly or stupid. I was always wondering how my life would be different if I looked like the pretty girls. They wore Nike Shocks, white thermal shirts under baby blue polos, ribbons in their hair, and lip gloss. They made a point to twist and turn their legs so that their calves caught the light just right. Nike Shocks were too expensive for me, and I never put a ribbon in my hair because I needed it to cover my hideous face, which at one point that year had fungus on it from ringworm. Like every other person ever, I felt like shit about how I looked and compared myself endlessly with these other girls. I felt that I was somehow less valuable than they were. Less special. It made me timid. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it didn’t feel good.

I felt like shit about every other thing about myself. I was too ugly, too stupid, too incompetent at theater and sports and math. I hated myself for never speaking in class, and hated myself if I spoke in class. I fought with my brother all the time and felt like shit about that, too. I thought my parents hated me. I sat in my room crying and reading all of the time.

Some of those things aren’t a big deal to me anymore. I’m glad I didn’t wear lip gloss, and I’m glad I wore my favorite chunky orange sweater every day instead of something that I wore just because the pretty girls did. And I know now that some of my concerns were extremely shallow. Many of them do seem silly now, but they weren’t to me then. And here’s the thing: I had to worry about them then in order to not care about them now. Having to overcome these things in order to learn and progress, and the incredible difficulty involved in overcoming them, makes those things a really big deal.

I keep on telling myself that everything that’s getting me down now will seem stupid in the future. But that thought doesn’t reassure or encourage me. I usually end up telling myself, This is going to seem stupid in a year, and yet you can’t get over it. You are stupid and worthless and incapable. And the fact that you think that means you are shallow, too, because the problems you have aren’t even that big.

Instead I’m gonna try to tell myself the truth: Everything feels like it has this incredible weight right now, and it does. If you’re going to get over any of it, you’re going to have to work very hard, or else get very lucky and have others help you. Everything you do right now is important, even if it seems dumb later. Getting to “dumb” is hard work.

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43 Comments

  • bawlingbrother September 19th, 2012 7:14 PM

    girl it’s never not hard. ur a tough piece of pizza tho.

    • Cutesycreator aka Monica September 29th, 2012 7:06 AM

      I LIKE YOUR COMMENT A LOT

      …that is all.

  • abigail September 19th, 2012 7:19 PM

    ruby, the ending to that journal entry is perfect. sometimes little kids know just what to say, and I’m sure you’ll think back to that whenever you miss your mum <3

  • Abby September 19th, 2012 7:20 PM

    Katherine… you are me. I seriously swear it. YOU. ARE. ME. I always hated it (and still do) when people tell me that. Sure, I’ll think it’s silly in five years, but that is no reason to think that it doesn’t matter to me now. A few weeks ago at the very start of college I was absolutely miserable. I was really depressed for a few days and although I didn’t actually think about wanting to kill myself, I wondered what would happen if I did. I felt like my life was over and I would never be happy again, because I had no friends or family near me and I had no friends at college, and I was alone and depressed all the time. I’m okay now. I made friends, and I’m okay. But just because I’m okay now or because I knew in the back of my mind then that I’d be okay now doesn’t mean that I wasn’t miserable as hell then. I probably did know in the back of my head that I’d be okay in a few weeks. But I was still miserable, because I wasn’t okay NOW. I just hate getting told that I shouldn’t worry about something because it won’t matter in five years or even five days. The point is that it matters now, and I’m going to worry about it.

  • Abby September 19th, 2012 7:21 PM

    Also… Ruby…. I love you…. <3

  • Hannah September 19th, 2012 7:54 PM

    All of these diaries were perfection of my lord.

  • Kaleidoscopeeyes September 19th, 2012 7:57 PM

    Naomi, it’s so nice to know that I’m not alone in feeling lost after recovering from something. For me it was depression, and I felt and still kind of feel lost and boring and normal and so tragically ok. It’s like you get so used to using your problems to define yourself that once they’re gone you just realize you have this big empty space left behind where YOU (i.e. your personality and things) are supposed to be. I thought it was just some weird thing that only I was going through because no one ever talks about that feeling, and I’ve tried to talk to a few people about it but no one seems to get it. So, thanks. It’s nice to know it’s not just me.

    • vanguardinspace September 21st, 2012 10:04 PM

      I agree. I have problems with both depression and anxiety, and the lack of those things in my life feels creepy and weird sometimes because I thought of that as normal for so long, and being a regular person feels fake because I still see the shadow of how I used to think and feel and act, etc. It feels fake to go to school, and form non-intense friendships with people, to go to football games, and not cry, and turn in homework, and eat normal meals without freaking out about them. It feels like I’m playing the role of someone else, but that I’ll be stuck in it forever and I don’t know how to become comfortable with it.
      It is really nice to hear other people describe dealing with this.

  • actressgirl September 19th, 2012 8:25 PM

    So Ruby being a fan of theater are you ever tempted to call her MISS Siagon, haha.

  • angst September 19th, 2012 8:28 PM

    Ruby, I love babysitting, whomever the child, but when you get a great one, it is something wonderful. I love when the child is so pure but also so complicated and clever and smart. Enjoy.

    onmyroadtofindout.blogspot.com

  • cassiethetiger September 19th, 2012 8:45 PM

    Ruby – I have no idea what it’s like to lose a parent, and I am so, so sorry you have had to experience that so young.

    Naomi – I understand exactly what you mean. When I “recovered” from whateverthefuck they decided I had, it was so hard, because a huge part of me was based on feeling so shit. Even now, I panic because there isn’t a way to explain how afraid I am of being “better”, because if I’m well then I don’t have any excuse to feel this way. I think sickness or mental illness or whatever takes over so much of your life, and it takes so much to try and overcome it, that you sort of forget who you were before. I don’t think I’ll ever remember- but that’s OK, because I’m someone new now.

  • RainingMiceAndMen September 19th, 2012 9:29 PM

    When little kids say stuff, I always feel like I should find a way to respond, but sometimes it’s better to just let their words sink in. My friend has pink hair, and a little girl once said in passing, “That girl has tie-dyed hair! Cool!” and it was the most adorable thing ever. That was a bad example, but little kids explain things in a way that is so simple that it really makes you go, ‘Woah, I think that too.’ I like little kids for that reason.

    http://rainingmiceandmen.blogspot.com

  • Tyknos93 September 19th, 2012 9:31 PM

    Ruby your entry made me well up with tears. Saigon sounds super! Your story makes me feel like my job is a little less crummy and maybe some kids ARE ok.

  • friendlychuckle September 19th, 2012 9:47 PM

    This is literally my life…can we be best friends and figure this “normal” shit out together?

  • Ruby B. September 19th, 2012 9:53 PM

    Naomi: I’ve never even considered what life will be like for me once I’m “normal” and recovered from anxiety, depression, etc. Your diary really made me think about it. I’m a little scared and a little excited… I wonder how much of me comes from my problems and how much of me is just me.

  • rocioisdevil September 19th, 2012 9:54 PM

    Naomi-
    “Recovering” or getting “better” is indeed a weird feeling. When I was faced with the pangs of emptiness that depression used to fill, I didn’t know if being attached to my depression made me some kind of sick person or if it was a normal part of the process. I guess people who suffer from a mental illness for a long period of time really do become comfortable with it since for a while that is all they knew. That’s how it was for me at least.
    However, my way of coping with the change was embracing it and finding ways that my happiness could contribute to my craziness!! When I was depressed I would occupy my time sulking and sleeping and isolating (nothing productive.) Now, i have all of this new motivation and channel the positive feelings, that I’m still getting used to, into new projects and ideas. For example, I hadn’t picked up my guitar for years! And now there isn’t a day that I don’t play it. I even started writing my own songs. So basically try to take advantage of these new good feelings.
    I was also scared that being “happy” would make me like everyone else BUT it doesn’t! I was looking over the fact that I’ll NEVER be like those other normal girls, ever! And neither will you!(: Feeling good only allows you to enjoy the weirdness inside.
    I hope this helps. Thinking about my “recovery” in this way helped me cope. I hope it helps you.
    +++ <3

  • CC-and-FG September 19th, 2012 9:56 PM

    I find myself looking forward to Ruby’s diary entry every Wednesday <3

    http://www.meltedmarsbars.blogspot.com

  • Yellie September 19th, 2012 10:00 PM

    Naomi, ya it totally gets at we people try to reassure me “you’re not defined by your disorder, it’s chemical! it’s social!….ect.” but how can i not when everything i do is dependent on it? I am more than than a disorder and more complicated but my mental health is a huge part of me, even in “recovery”.

  • pinnedtothepage September 19th, 2012 10:12 PM

    saigon sounds awesome! babysitting is rough and kind of depressing when all kids want to do is watch tv or play video games. hurray for the saigons of the world and for imagination! :D

    this “getting to dumb is hard work” business makes me think of my ballet classes. there was a long, hard stretch between being completely terrible and now just mediocre, but it sure feels good to be mediocre now. a step up!

  • TheNarcissisticGinger September 19th, 2012 10:22 PM

    This was beautiful. Hang in there, Ruby!

  • Caryatid September 20th, 2012 12:23 AM

    I love all of this, every single one of these is wonderful and sweet. Saigon reminds me of a little girl I babysit for. She asked me why I was sad after my friend Austin died. I said it was because I couldn’t see him anymore. I told her I wanted to talk to him, and she said “I like to talk to my mormor (Grandma) when she isn’t here. I talk to her on my phone, and I know she gets to hear me”. She then handed me the phone and left the room, leaving me to talk to Austin. I found her outside, paging through a book, pretending to read. She looked up and said, “did you talk?” I said yes. She said “did he answer?” and I began crying and said no. She climbed in my lap and just let me cry. There’s something about children.

    • giov September 20th, 2012 9:17 AM

      woah, man, that kid did something really special right there.

  • BritishFish September 20th, 2012 12:34 AM

    @Naomi
    This is all completely how I feel. I never really saw myself overcoming it and now that kind of terrifies me even more. Is there any end? That sounds a little dramatic but this seems like the only place where I can ask these questions. Does anyone else feel like you’re the only one who sees the world in a certain way? What’s it like to have that change?

  • Squidwardian September 20th, 2012 12:44 AM

    Naomi-

    I understand where you are coming from. I had longed for normalcy or a break from my anxiety and now I feel I am in a good place. Being normal or healthy was really strange at first and i did feel a loss of identity, but in time i began to realize how much of myself I have developed after becoming more ‘normal.’ Not worrying all the time has opened up so many more doors and opportunities to develop/express the not so normal parts of me. Instead of working about the grade, I take risks on my essays and enjoy learning. Instead of avoiding people, I make connections. Instead of staying inside, I go to house shows. Instead of worrying about being too weird, I wear face jewels and fake ponytails haha. There are so many abnormal aspects of me that developed after I became ‘normal’. I don’t know exactly what you are going through, but i think you’ll realize in time, that being ‘normal’ or as i like to call ‘healthy’ will ultimately lead to you finding so much more about yourself because some of that energy can be put somewhere else. How that helps :) you are amazing by the way :)

  • Miss Erin September 20th, 2012 12:49 AM

    Naomi: I absolutely totally completely know what you mean. I’ve been dealing with the same thing. The most helpful thing I’ve figured out so far is that it doesn’t really MATTER that I find out the answer to that question rightthissecond (who am I?). What matters a lot more is asking instead: who do I WANT to be? and then try and focus on that. It’s hard, though, I know, and weird. Hugs.

    Katherine: That last paragraph was so precisely what I needed to read tonight. Thank you.

  • Mads September 20th, 2012 1:34 AM

    Naomi- I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’m finally (after years) getting help with my depression and sometimes I feel so lost without it. I thought that was just me and absurd and flat out WRONG. Thank you so much. :)

  • ivoire September 20th, 2012 1:57 AM

    Dylan, I understand where you are coming from. But I don’t think that you should let your anxiety define you. Just from reading your diary entries, I know that you are not just another uni student taking a course who happened to have anxiety! You are a talented writer with her unique perpective of the world. As cliche as it sounds, I really think it’s true!

  • Sorcha M September 20th, 2012 6:00 AM

    Omg Naomi that is so me. I keep feeling WEIRD because this big cynical part of myself is just shrivelling up since I’ve started recovering from this bout of depression and I thought it meant I would have no personality. But don’t worry. I find I know who I really am a lot more now, almost like I have the foundation of my personality built. It gets easier.

  • lylsoy September 20th, 2012 6:37 AM

    Ruby- I am looking after 2 kids once a week and the girl is obsessed with playing doctor/hospital or pretending that her parents died- which really hurts me, because I lost my mother and hate hospitals.. She asks me questions like: “What happens if mumma and dadda die?” And I say: “It won’t happen” And she says: “But it happened in that movie” And my response is: “Movies are not always real, sweetie. You know how Elmo has a TV with legs? Real TVs don’t have legs, do they?”

  • La La Land September 20th, 2012 9:32 AM

    Naomi- coming from a longer period of recovery, i can promise you that whatever you had will always be part of you. Not in the sense that you’ll still have anxiety (although that might happen again too), but more that it will always be what allowed you to become who you are. You will always have a certain insight and perspective on things that people who never had anxiety etc. will never be able to get (although obviously they will have faced their own things).
    And on the long term, anxiety and panic attacks have given me two very precious gifts: one is the ability/necessity to take care of myself, the other one is courage.
    To keep my mind at bay i had to learn how to eat well, get enough sleep, do physical activity, no alcohol, watch for signs of bad turns in my mood and stuff like that.
    And about courage, here is what I realised at some point: you are only capable of a certain amount of fear. You have already felt the most intense fear possible because of your anxiety, it doesn’t get more intense than that. For me that has meant that I have been able to do things that other people are way too scared to do (travel across india alone, move to countries of which i didn’t know the language and where i didn’t know anybody, etc), because DUDE, I USED TO HAVE PANIC ATTACKS AND KNOW I WAS ABOUT TO DIE! Walking through my school’s courtyard in the morning was like walking blindfolded along the side of a huge canyon with no one to hold my hand!! In comparison, the normal and healthy kind of anxiety that you feel when you are about to do something objectively scary, is nothing!

  • Emmie September 20th, 2012 11:53 AM

    Ruby, I love your writing. Each entry has such good structure; each one like a little vignette. Keep it up! I’m so glad you became a diarist for rookie:)

  • kolumbia September 20th, 2012 1:17 PM

    Naomi, this is just what I needed to hear. I have always struggled with feeling like my diagnosis defines me, and I am starting to see now that it doesn’t! This is so beautiful and true. Thank you!

  • Naomi September 20th, 2012 1:56 PM

    THANK YOU EVERYBODY FOR YOUR COMMENTS. it’s really reassuring and comforting and inspiring and you’ve all made me feel a lot better <3

  • Isabelle97 September 20th, 2012 2:56 PM

    Naomi- Hi, I’ve just started going to a “normal” school as well, and sometimes I feel totally bland and washed out from all the social interactions and my own weirdnesses. It’s kind of a three steps forward, one step back thing, so it’s so nice reading your diary (and all the comments!) and finding out that there are so many other people getting over depression in the world. I think parents/doctors think the worst is over when you’re back in education. This is pretty true but I have never been so tired in my life… Anyway, you’re totally awesome and good luck!

  • mokgadi September 20th, 2012 4:32 PM

    Naomi, I loved your diary this week… And from my goingthroughstuff experience everything else seems different, but it’s awesome to get into new things or stuff which goingthroughstuff held you back from doing but I’m really glad you wrote this piece, it’s awesome, and as Isabelle said: so’re you, x

  • SarahCat September 20th, 2012 6:32 PM

    Are we the same person, Katherine? I love all of the diaries, but I can identify with yours the most. I don’t feel so alone when I read them. <3

  • isadora September 21st, 2012 4:36 PM

    Naomi, I’ve been on a slow recovery from depression for about 6 months and I know exactly what you feel.

  • kellbell September 21st, 2012 9:07 PM

    I’m in love with the diary entries! I wish I could write mine so effortlessly/flawlessly

  • amazeedayzee September 22nd, 2012 1:42 AM

    Ruby, that was beautiful.

  • cleobea September 22nd, 2012 4:10 PM

    ohmygod! Saigon is the cutest thing in the world!!!!!! I wan tot babysit for her

  • 3LL3NH September 23rd, 2012 11:44 AM

    Saigon sounds like Jillian Jiggs…

  • oriana October 3rd, 2012 2:01 AM

    Yup yup yup! I totally feel ya. This is how I feel when I go through periods without anxiety or depression. I’m like, ~*~*who am i?~~**~*~*