Ugly, Sick, and Stupid

I’ve been dropping out lately. It could be staring at the monotonous white tile wall while in the shower or my keyboard prior to typing this or a green light at an intersection. Guess you could say I’ve been quite low – and never being one for asking help – so I mustered up the energy to draft this entry. Lord knows I’m not in the mood to change out of the clothes I’ve been wearing for the past four days, shower, or make food.

Depression

About half of my twenties have been filled with sickness, depression, and loneliness. Maybe that’s normal but according to what I see, it doesn’t appear that way.

I’m thoroughly convinced that without a vibrant social life or definitive purpose in life, one’s vitality is essential for well-being. Normally, I’m full of energy; run a few miles in the morning, yoga by lunchtime, work done by dinner, and a good book in the evening. It’s kept me in good shape most of my life and can be done without relying on anyone else, which is the best way to stay consistent, no? In my early twenties, I seldom considered what life would be like if I was no longer able to do any of these things. Which brings me here today.

Who knew that when I grew up I’d be a collector of incurable autoimmune diseases?

Eight months ago, I started flaring up again. It comes out of nowhere and I tend to be extremely reluctant to put my workouts on hold or drastically change my diet. I tell myself, “Who knows how long this one will last? No need to turn your world upside down. That’ll only stress you out and make matters worse!” But everything gets worse anyway.

I know the drill by now.

  • Chronic pain  Image result for check mark box
  • Fatigue  Image result for check mark box
  • Anemia  Image result for check mark box
  • Nausea  Image result for check mark box
  • Fever  Image result for check mark box
  • Depression  Image result for check mark box
  • Foggy head  Image result for check mark box
  • Anxiety  Image result for check mark box
  • Sleep loss  Image result for check mark box
  • Weight loss  Image result for check mark box
  • Mood swings Image result for check mark box

Besides rent, main expenditures switch from weekend events to pricey medical bills. (Gotta pay up for all the poking and prodding. Yay America.) It’s a sensible change since I never feel like going out anymore. Sure, some days are better than others but for the most part, socializing sucks up all my energy. In short, I become a diminutive shadow of my former self.

I feel ugly, sick, and stupid.

These are no easy feats to overcome. And it helps explain why I’ve been single for over 2 years now. And I should clarify what I mean by “single” because many people have adopted this word for other (more upbeat) means.

To me, it doesn’t mean serial dating. It doesn’t mean taking time to “find yourself.” It doesn’t mean that relationship you carry that’s not official or serious. It doesn’t mean a post-break up fling with a recent ex. And it doesn’t always mean a personal choice.

It does mean being in the market for a partner. It does mean crushing rejection. It does mean forgetting what holding someone’s hand feels like (let alone everything else). It does mean getting a look of unease from someone whenever they realize you seek love and intimacy like everyone else. It does mean feeling shame when you’re labelled as a cis white male who has supposedly benefited from the patriarchal subjugation of women. It does mean feeling a failure as a man for not being assertive enough. It does mean cursing yourself for wishing others would approach you for once. It does mean losing a sense of connection with others. It does mean forgetting how to communicate and deliver suave repartee that men are expected to know. And it can mean a lack of choice.

The way you navigate the world on a daily basis morphs as well. Stimuli that bring back memories of intimacy can be uplifting but they tend to be followed by a crippling crash. I don’t expect everyone to understand this but if our experiences were identical, I guarantee you would.

For example, on my morning subway commute, a woman’s scent may traverse the train car and get to me, causing a flood of feelings of how life was like when I had someone to call late at night, or someone to hold when the doctors found a tumor in my mom’s brain. Unintended touches from strangers yield similar effects. Maybe it’s the barista’s hand slightly grazing mine as she hands back my credit card, or someone brushing against my shoulder exiting the train. To be sure, I NEVER seek this out, as that would be a violation of personal space and vastly immoral. Regardless, I’m ashamed of these flooding memories and feelings from strangers, as it has nothing to do with them. Essentially, I’m triggered by these sensations since they are rare.

A note for all you happy-go-lucky extroverts that read this and think dude, you think waayyyyyyy too much. Live a little. 

I fully understand the power of getting out of one’s head. Believe you me. Granted, that’s all I need to do but what I’m expressing is a long-term, formless feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, and dejection stemming from physical ailments and other circumstances that are only partially in my control. Therefore, it’s less about therapy, improv classes, meditation, support groups, etc. and more about riding this shitty wave out, welcoming that bewildering shock that comes from crashing on the shore, dusting myself off, and beginning again.

In the interim, I occasionally write to remind myself I’ve been here before, will be here again (hopefully, not too soon), and survival is most probable. Rinse and repeat; just add water; set it and forget it.

Such is life.

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

The Woman Who Stabbed Me Got Married Last Month

It’s been a few years since I’ve contributed to this blog, so I should clarify that despite my absence, I’ve remained single, just low on the hustle. What brought me back is a little piece of information: my ex got married last month. She, along with my many rejections, was my muse that inspired this blog; that and strong bouts of depression, anxiety and insufferable lonliness. You know, the usual suspects.  🙂

I loved that woman. She’s the only person I’ve ever been with who had opened new doors of experience for me – expanding my bounds, and solidifing my love of the outdoors. There were growing pains that made both of us irritable at times and only if I had known what she was going through, maybe our relationship wouldn’t have ended the way it did. Shoving love at a problem doesn’t make it go away.

Her mental disturbances, especially the mood swings, lacked any predictable design. Regardless, I wouldn’t believe it and always thought there was something I could do to fix things. After all, when she was up, we would both relish in the euphoria. So, likewise, when she was down, we would both perish in the abyss. Things came to an ugly end when she took a steak knife to my throat on my 23rd birthday. The reason? She had burned a few slices of bacon. At least, that was the trigger – not very hard to find one when your headspace is a latent minefield. If you’re curious, I wrote about her in Girl Fail #21 (Part 1 and Part 2).

And so, we split up and I remained attached, kind of. She consumed my thoughts. Sure, I was heartbroken but never like this. My future had been altered by unseen hands and even though I wanted to move on and find someone else, I couldn’t. New York City is like that sometimes. It didn’t matter how many new faces I met, the ROI was zero. Over time, I realized that she never loved me; instead, needed someone like me in her life at the time. I fulfilled a need. That’s it. Period. It’s good to feel useful, don’t it?

Feeling lonely is a nightmareShe found another man a few weeks after we ended things. I was alone. Following that guy, she quickly found someone else. They started dating, he moved in, and last month, they got married. (It sounds like I kept tabs on her but I swear I did not – just providing a quick summary.)

It’s not the marriage per se that bugs me. It’s how easy everything was for her. To move on; find another job; another apartment; another man; another love. She had all these choices, and through no particular effort of her own. Begrudgingly, I witnessed this and heard about it. It’s clear that the purpose I served was temporary and small, and so, I, too, felt small.

This is a familiar cycle. I no longer remember what it feels like to hold someone’s hand, or to carress a lover’s back, or to run my fingers through their hair. Show me another blogger that knows this despair and laughs when friends bring up their 6-month dry spell – they are my equal. The gap between my ex and I is unbound. Similarly, so is the one between me and serial daters (the most common type of blogs about the single life).

But dear reader, this changes. Like all things in life, this too will come to pass. We must wait. Wait until we find a crooked neighbor to love with our crooked heart, reap the time, and dispel the morning sun and invtie the rain when it’s all done. Only to begin again. We must wait.

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

Friend Threshold

SeedAndThreshold_02.pngFriend Threshold: The maximal amount of friends or loved ones a person chooses to maintain. All other associations will either be discarded immediately or left underdeveloped.

What’s your number? Did you reach it? How old were you? Moreover, how did it feel?

I ponder this out of sheer ignorance. The idea of having a myriad of friends, a sweet social network, remains a foreign concept to me, and not by choice. Without my consent, I’ve become a loner, and given my haphazard track record, one might even conclude that it was purposeful and assiduously sought out.

After spending another birthday alone last week, I started digging into what this figurative “friend threshold” is. (Oddly enough, you could take it literally as well. Most notably, Facebook has a harsh 5,000 friend limit; consider yourself warned.) From all the blogs, forlorn songs, confessional websites, historical novels, etc., one would effortlessly conclude that you’re more likely to run into someone seeking friendship than someone not willing to squander any of their social time. And yet, each time I fail making that connection, it ironically connects me to that feeling that’s been sinking. I’m no stranger to Miss Misery. As I become mired in dialogue going nowhere, she pours the whiskey, listens silently, and never forgets to top me off.

In part, I blame the city. Active New Yorkers appear, at the very least, brimmed with companionship. Their ships have boarded and departed, and there I am in some makeshift “Cast Away”raft clumsily paddling towards their modern vessel. In all honestly, I’m not advocating to readily accept every human as your best friend. (We have dogs for that.) But there is plenty of middle ground that’s rarely granted to expatriates like myself.

I’ll give an example.

I organized a pizza party with my roommates and we all chipped in on spreading the word. As luck would have it, the apartment across from us is occupied by three women our age, so I knocked on their door to invite them. Within 10 seconds, my neighbor made it seem as though my presence was that of an intrusive gadfly, despite just standing in the hallway.

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“Hey! I’m Single Guy in NYC, I’m not sure if you remember me but I’m you’re neighbor.”

“Okay…” she sighed, hardening her grip on her door frame.

“Well, I just wanted to let you know that my roommates and I are having a party next week and, if you’re all free, you should come hang out.”

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“Right, maybe. Thanks.”

The door closed immediately afterwards.

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You might think she’s just shy but she’s really not. On the contrary, from what I’ve gathered living on the same floor as her, she’s a lively person. Most likely your average beautiful urban 20-something year old just relishing in their prime. And probably comfortable with her friend threshold. Pizza party? Ha. What’s in it for me?

I guess I see her point. 

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

10 Tips For Dating Someone With Depression

This will be one of my most important posts and it’s something I’ve wanted to get out of my system for a while now. I’ve dated three people with depression; one relationship became quite serious. I ruefully admit that it took too long for me to channel my compounded confusion into some sense for the organized chaos I experienced. Here’s 10 things I wish someone had told me back then:

  1. Do your research. This point is difficult to overemphasis and, unfortunately, is often undermined. If your girlfriend or boyfriend discloses that they have depression, the first thing you should realize is how generalized that word is. There’s many types, a myriad of symptoms that can overlap into other medical illnesses, different causes (physiological, environmental, etc.) and treatment is different for everyone. Don’t be pedantic – not all knowledge comes from learning books. If possible, try to understand your partner’s personal history and pick up on anything that might be a trigger for them.
  2. Their illness is not to blame for everything. Everyone on this planet has good and bad days regardless of non-functional neurotransmitters, hormones, and other biological processes. Be mindful but don’t rush to conclusions.
  3. Man-built-of-PillsTherapy and medication is their choice. It’s true that these can help to abate symptoms but they are certainly not the only modes of treatment. In particular, therapy works best when the patient sees the need for it. Not everyone wants to open up to some stranger or down a handful of pills packed with side effects every morning. That being said, encourage other means of treatment that are good for everyone, e.g., exercising, challenging bad thoughts, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep.
  4. They cannot simply just “snap out of it.” Sure, not all forms of depression are chronic but if your partner is having an episode, it restricts their perspective of the world. Becoming confined to narrow walls where one’s life doesn’t seem to matter, or where one loses interest in everything around them, is petrifying and having the mindset that they will simply snap out of it is wrong. If your partner battles this one day at a time, you might have to as well.
  5. It can be misdiagnosed. Like many conditions, one can be misdiagnosed. Not to say that this is your particular circumstances, but doctors make mistakes and, as one can see, symptoms of one illness may be similar to symptoms of another.
  6. Know how to improv. This is an invaluable skill to have. Plans will change. You will get angry. There will be unpredictable, tumultuous fights. And there will be forlorn sadness. It doesn’t matter if it’s your wedding day or someone’s funeral. In either case, it’s best to know how to improvise for your loved one. Don’t expect a “thank you” for each selfless act you do. Sometimes, you just need faith that it’s helping them.
  7. Be empathetic but know when to put your foot down. It’s unhealthy for you to let someone else rule your life. Understand where they are coming from but remember to make your own decisions. Many people, including myself, may go through depressive episodes from caring for someone with depression. This is not fair for either of you.
  8. From my experience, expect one hell of an entertaining relationship but brace for a horrendous breakup. Sometimes, in hindsight, your relationship will feel like you strapped yourself into a brand new sports car loaded with mind-blowing sex and unparalleled adventure. As you gain speed, you naturally recline back into the comfy seats but as reality sits in, you realize that there are caveats all around you and, in some cases, no brakes. The law of inertia (Newton’s 1st law of motion) becomes a scary thought when there’s no metaphorical way to slow down. If this is the case, your sports car will crash and it’s going to hurt like hell for everyone on board.
  9. Don’t expect apologies for everything. Don’t expect an apology each time your partner is overly sensitive to your words or actions, or has mood swings,  or each time there’s an unresolved fight, or when something malicious is uttered. There should be reproach and apologies from time to time but bottom line, not always. Besides, it’s not like you apologize for every wrong you make.
  10. Talk to someone else about your relationship and give serious thought about what you want/need. If after research and extensive consideration, you feel as though this is something you can’t handle, you may not be right for one another. That’s the harsh truth. Everyone has a slightly different representation of what love entails and for this reason alone, I discredit Lennon when he sings, “all you need is love.” Relationships like these are a special breed. Your partner may say something that will rip your heart out and the next day say something that will bring you to a state of glorious euphoria you never imagined. Remember, you’re not here to save someone else. You help those who help themselves, period. You need to assess whether or not they are worth it, and if you are strong enough to sacrifice and support them when they need it.

I’ll close with another sobering thought. You know how in the movies, when the romantically involved protagonists have an insufferable altercation followed by some time apart, and then one person says something to the other person that acts as a relationship-elixir and they live happily ever after? Well, that’s nothing but a big crock of bull schnitzel. Be open-minded, yet realistic, and be well my friends.

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC