Dear Diary

September 19, 2012

Being OK is hard work.

Ruby

I babysit for a little girl named Saigon. She is three, has a pixie cut, and is really great. I usually feel like kids her age are annoying and hard to deal with, but I love Saigon. She is a lot of fun.

When I go over, she pretends not to notice me for a few minutes and then demands that we go up to her room RIGHT THIS SECOND because the sick baby animals NEED us! It always begins with sick animals.

Saigon is the doctor and I am her assistant. Soon, she forgets about her animals and climbs into the large trunk in the middle of the room, shutting the top. I tell her that’s dangerous and cover the top with a blanket instead. She sits there silently, very still, for a few minutes before bursting out with a new idea for a game. We are now two queens who rule over Closetopia.

Queen Saigon yanks open the stuck door of her closet, and goes inside. When I was three I was far too afraid of the dark to do something like that. In fact, I’m still a little hesitant when Saigon ushers me inside.

“So, is this Closetopia?” I ask.

“No. Now this is where the Queens hide when bad people look for them.”

“Bad people?”

“Witches.”

She tells me to be quiet so the witches don’t hear us, and to hold her hand to make sure I’m still there in the dark.

Out of nowhere, Saigon bursts through the closet door. I follow her, blinking at the light. “We have to be witches now! They know where we are!” Digging through the mounds of toys and clothes and stuffed animals, Saigon eventually finds what she is looking for. She puts a witch hat on her head and a pink tutu on mine. Now we are evil witches.

We brew up a potion in the backyard made of juice from the fridge and twigs from the ground. Then Saigon throws an imaginary person inside it. She runs upstairs to her trunk and throws the blanket over herself.

Five minutes later she comes out as a giant, smashing villages with her giant feet, scaring even the witches. She goes back to her trunk and comes out a bride. Into the trunk again, now a superhero. She pulls out an issue of People from a drawer and asks me to read to her. She sits on my lap in her cape and witch hat.

I read her a story about a celebrity wedding.

“Your mommy was a princess, right?” she asks me. She doesn’t wait for an answer. “I wish she wasn’t killed by the witches. Then she could marry your daddy again and live happily ever after, right?” I don’t say anything, and for a moment neither does she. “Can I watch Dora now?”♦

Page

1 2 3 4

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?~~**~*~*