Deep Dark Shits
You’re probably not going to like this blog post. You shouldn’t, because it’s about depression and suicide and being left by the one person you thought you could count on. None of those topics are crowd pleasers and this will probably bum you out. I’ve always said that I’d go through any trying circumstance or situation if it would help someone else feel less pain down the line, so here’s an update on the non-glamorous life of what’s happening in my world and why I disappeared for a little bit into a place I’ve started referring to as “the deep dark shits” (DDS for carpal tunnels sake).
I have a disease called faith where I’m hardwired to believe the best in everyone. I used to think this was just general Christianity, but in 2017 general Christianity in America was more concerned about what people are doing with their genitalia behind closed doors or if they wear fabric to cover their hair than the things that Jesus actually stands for, so now that term makes me feel a little bit slimy. I believe that everyone is designed for compassion, growth and community and I physically break when I see people walking away from that. That’s where I’m at right now.
When I turned 25 I had a “quarter life crisis”. I looked around and was severely disappointed with what I’d accomplished with my 300 months of existence. Because, you know, living on three continents, starting a nonprofit, starting an online movement using yoga and brands to help children and honestly being a really good fucking friend just wasn’t enough. Six months prior to this, I reenlisted myself in therapy after a panic attack on the very day Donald Trump was inaugurated. When you realize that people you’d respected and expected to love and advocate for your rights as:
Someone with a disability
were so willing to vote blindly for a candidate that they’d put those very things in danger, the world becomes a very scary and lonely place.
The kids call this process of questioning everything you’ve ever blindly believed in in order to reassess what’s actually important being “woke” and it’s pretty terrifying to realize you’re a little bit racist and you’ve got to get off your tiny yoga toned ass and get dirty in the work of pursuing justice to live a life worth having.
I don’t have all of the right answers in how to best impact the world, but I also know that nobody does and the only way humanity has progressed as far as it has is through people who were brave enough to say “fuck it” to what other people think in exchange for a pursuit of justice, probably high on compassion and maybe some other drugs. Hippies are really nice and always go to protests, so when I think back on freedom fighters I admire I often wonder if they ever used illicit substances. I’ve never even done pot because I don’t like the smell, and also I’m a chicken, but the amount of joints I’ve been offered by friends who are secret weedheads in the last two weeks since belly flopping into a pool of darkness is quite funny. I think I like the hippies more than the Christians.
I’m a believer in loving people and I don’t always do it perfectly. When I landed in South Africa I was a very messed up eighteen year old little girl and it was through the unconditional love I received from my community there that I changed. Sometimes I think that I moved there for so long because I wanted to love the children at Tembaletu like Jesus loves them, but other times I think that He put that compassion in my heart so that I’d end up there and be loved like that in return. Fran often describes being my friend as being in a little gang because once you’re in, you’re in, and I’ll love you forever despite how shitty things get. When you love someone you stick it out, work through the hard stuff, and you both change and become better people. I believe learning people’s story and loving them need to be at the heart of every philanthropic endeavor.
Sometimes I think I’m hot shit because I have just shy of 27 thousand people who care what I have to say everyday. I don’t think I’m better than anyone because I know myself too intimately: I don’t shower as much as you do and I wash my hair even less, I have a little tongue on me when I get riled up and I will go until I only have multi colored yoga pants left from earlier this decade in my bin of workout clothes before I will do laundry. Occasionally, having a really large profile makes me think I’m indestructible, but the only two things I know to be true about the human race are that nobody is indestructible and everyone secretly loves fried chicken.
2017 was a steady decline of my hope in the world and it all came to a head while I was in Greece. I realized I had no hope in anything. I trusted almost nobody. Everything I believed in terms of international development fell to the ground. I heard leaders of organizations say that it really didn’t matter how much funding organizations even got at this point - the refugee crisis was so out of control that the country didn’t have the infrastructure to support all of these people and the thing that was really needed was asylum to be offered by other countries. I had spent a year of my life planning a project where I could try to capitalize on my platform and areas of expertise to help strengthen existing organizations to do what they do best, and I was being told it was kind of hopeless. I wasn’t sleeping. I went from exercising 3x a day to 3x throughout the duration of the entire trip and pressure to both deliver for the incredible brand sponsors while trying to make an impact was suffocating me.
I’d often refer to meeting Tony as though it was like “breathing.” It wasn’t this dynamic, passionate, all consuming love, and my roommates joked about how it was probably just a little fling because I wasn’t my usual 150% all in passionate self with this one.The first night that we met I felt like I was having a friend who I’d known for my entire life and felt entirely comfortable with. He wore a pink and white striped golf shirt and I didn’t feel any need to try to impress him. He pulled me off of my platform and reminded me of the things that I already knew really mattered in life: how you treat others when nobody is watching, the beauty in quiet confidence, and that sometimes being gentle shows more strength than being strong willed. It was like I’d been breathing toxic air from all of my other relationships and he had a filter on that helped me learn a new way of living and breathing and being.
From my earliest memories, I’ve been fighting for things that I believe in without even realizing it a lot of the time. Fighting is exhausting. It works your muscles and your cardio at the same time and no matter how many miles I run or spin classes I bike or burpees I execute I’ll always have asthma. The world is such an ugly place, that we need people who are willing to fight for things to make it better.
I never expected him to fix my problems, and one of the millions of things I loved about Tony was that he never tried to. He listened, he admitted he could never understand, but he was there. Just being there gave me strength to cope with things better on my own. I’d never respected anyone as much as I respected him - his kindness, his gentleness and his willingness to try to understand inspired me to try to be more like that too.
Tony was an angel, but his friends were not. He was surrounded by influences that would discourage him from making positive, healthy choices. I understand that things like waking up early to exercise and not drinking at 8 AM on Saturday mornings may be large things to ask in some circles, but I never forced him to leave the bachelor life ways. His supposed best friend would call him “Tony 2.0” once he started making decisions that wouldn’t perpetuate their outdated college lifestyles with no end goals and wouldn’t even acknowledge me in group settings. Tony watched me cry myself to sleep after trying all night to be friendly despite being in a group of 27 year old bullies and would regularly bring up how he wouldn’t even be friends with them if he hadn’t been preassigned to the friendship as a freshman in college.
Prior to me, he’d never had a girlfriend and had never said I love you in his life to anyone without the same last name as him, which left him without the relationship skills to send his controlling roommate packing or recognize that your parents telling you that you can’t spend Thanksgiving with your serious girlfriend at age 27 is not normal.
On the rare occasion I could get strong enough internet access while I was in Greece,Tony got crying Facetimes from me as day by day I slipped deeper into the deep dark shits. I thought about coming home on multiple occasions but he encouraged me to stay, reminding me that it was only a few weeks.
I didn’t understand why we’re forced to do this whole “life” thing and I was mad at a God I didn’t know if I believe in anymore for making us go through this whole ordeal. It seemed and seems like it’s a bunch of pain with little glimpses of hope followed by more pain. Sounds a bit like hope blue balls, if you ask me. I was honest with Tony and told him I didn’t want to live anymore in the heat of a blow out. I knew I wasn’t okay, because it’s not a good thing to feel like not waking up would be your #1 choice for a daily activity the next day, but I clutched onto the moment when I’d arrive at the airport and finally be with my best friend while speed dialing Nikki to get myself into the first counseling appointment I could schedule. I knew I wasn’t okay, and I wanted to be okay, and I was planning on doing everything I could to get there. I compromised on the Thanksgiving plans and despite not wanting to live, I wanted to want to live.
I got off the plane to a text message apologizing that his car had a flat tire and my friend/pastor who I get drunk with, Mark, would be picking me up. I heard from my American Bestie that she would be there too, which I thought nothing of, because we all kind of live at the Keelers sometimes.
I saw Tony get out of the car and started springing towards him, to hug him and he pushed me away. In less than two minutes he ended our relationship. I thought this was bad until I found out that this was sadly a protective measure of my saint pastor / drinking buddy, who got wind of Tony’s initial idea: he was going to come into the airport and break up with me with his friends. Three days prior we’d booked a trip to California together, and after a 37 hour commute home I was in a hospital because in the month prior everything I’d relied on and worked towards ate me alive and I didn’t want to be here anymore. This isn’t some fluffy romantic Romeo and Juliette type of story - I was hospitalized that night. Everything was black.
I feel icky writing this. I feel like I’m writing a horrible, 2017 version of a novel whose plot is somewhere between Mean Girls: St Thomas Bullies Edition mixed with a Disney Channel original movie where the star is chasing other people’s dreams and can’t stand up for themselves, and that after the commercial break Hillary Duff is going to wave the magic Disney wand and I wake up and its a dream and everything is fine. I want the ending to change not just for me, but for Tony. I want Tony to be happy, healthy, and an independent thinker. The person I fell madly in love with would not hurt a fly, let alone break someone’s heart who he knew was dealing with some pretty traumatic things after days on end of commuting, no sleep and while his buddies watched without a conversation. That’s not the way I want anyone to treat people, and I love him more than anyone else, so I aggressively don’t want that for him.
I want to tell you that I understand the situation, that despite being sad it makes sense, and that I still highly respect him. I can’t. I can tell you that while we were together he was the most genuine human being I’ve met, and that I cannot believe the words pouring out of my eight finger tips.
No resolution, no explanation.
Hard shit is hard always, right? Like any of these things on their own would be really not super and would justify a lot of wine. But when compounded with each other and shaken/stirred with confusion it makes the darkness so overpowering that you think it’s never going to end. I couldn’t deal with the things that were actually at the root my depression because in the three weeks I was gone my main support system’s spine dissolved and he was hijacked from me.
Relationships are easy when they’re easy. It’s easy to love someone when you just have to workout together, watch Netflix, and eat gyros. They’re not easy when you face adversity. They’re not easy when the worst happens. They’re not easy when your partner is in the deep dark shits and you don’t know how to best help them. They’re not easy when they require you to use character.
Everyone likes the idea of altruism. They’ll like your photos. They’ll say how inspiring you are for trying to help people. They’ll remind you how great your ideas are. We like trendy altruism: buy one give one campaigns, donating 10% of sales to charities or bragging about our socially conscious coffee/sweater/what have you.
Mark and I got together for lunch yesterday because I’m trying to not hit the sauce to cope, and he told me of all of the people he’s seen get fired up about justice also get burned, much like I’m feeling now. They start off strong and passionate until when they realize what it’s going to cost them: sleep, money, time, energy, comfortability and in this case, a relationship. Not everyone is going to get it, even fewer are going to be there to support you, and even less would be there during the deep dark shits. We need to be there for each other in the deep dark shits.
The things that have kept me alive haven’t been emotionally charged conversations about how to change the world and how depressed I am. In fact, I actually am struggling to verbally communicate a lot of that.
The things that have kept me going in the deep dark shits have been invitations to church with people who barely know me, but want to help.
It’s been hugs and donuts from friends who say “I’d ask you how you’re doing, but I already know, so I just want you to know I love you.”
It’s when my spin teacher Brad reached out without knowing ANY of this the day I got back to check in and see if I would be in class and it reminded me that not everyone on earth had forgotten about me.
It’s when my high school mentor Erin messaged me after not hearing my voice for two years when she saw the angel fall on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and knew it was God telling her something wasn’t okay with me, and that I’d fallen (I always said I want to be a split between a VS angel and Mother Teresa).
It’s when my friend invites me over and shows me where the blow up mattress is located in case I ever just need to not be at home alone, and explains I’m always welcome as she hands me a glass of bulk but not boxed wine.
It’s when my roommates don’t judge me for living in a bathrobe and beanie simultaneously and literally curling up with a heating pad I got simultaneously with my IUD because I’m chronically cold and ask me if I want to watch a Holocaust movie (my favorite genre because it reminds me of the atrocities humans are capable of and the importance of tolerance).
It’s when my friend offers to get in my car despite some really special sounds its making and my incredibly poor driving record and continuously drive past the Taco Bell that Tony used to take me to when I was lit and wanted munchies so that I can drive past it without crying anymore.
This is what it looks like to be with someone in the deep dark shits. This is what has saved my life. This happened because not because I was indestructible, but because I experienced the worst pain and was brave enough to be honest about my feelings instead of hiding them and actually committing the things that the deep dark shits tries to convince you to do. But the amount of hurtful, painful, and awful things that were said or done in this same timeframe were too many.
“He’s just a guy, fuck him.” - right, because that’s how quickly we can turn off trust and love, right?
“You’re not healthy/normal.” - yeah totally agree, which is why I see a therapist right now. Anything else you’d like to throw at me?
“Just be happy” - GOOD IDEA. Haven’t tried that yet.
“Just go get help” - I mean, I’m not going to sit in a hospital for two weeks straight and not doing anything else. I’m depressed, I need to fill my life with things and people that love me which is apparently not you.
“That seems like a stupid reason to want to kill yourself” - sweet, well having no intense feelings about one let alone all of this would make me borderline sociopathic so I guess this is a pick your poison situation?
They were cancelling out the goodshit and replacing it with bullshit. You can’t cocktail bullshit with deep dark shit. You just can’t.
So I deactivated everything. I felt like I was invisible and it was incredible. I realized things I already knew were true like “you don’t need 27 thousand people to like you, live your life for God and do your best with what you have” and I got to do things that were good for me without feeling the need to proclaim how good of care I was taking of myself. I drowned out anything that wasn’t an aggressively healthy and loving voice in my life and I survived the deep dark shits.
My friend Nathan told me to stop saying how fucked up I am right now. He said “you responded badly to a traumatic situation, but appropriately. Who wouldn’t respond similarly under the circumstances? You’re doing everything you can to get healthy and taking responsibility for it. Own it. You have nothing to be ashamed of.” I think he’s right. To not have such a visceral reaction would be so not like me: this is the girl whose favorite Christmas song growing up as a small child was “Grown Up Christmas List” by Amy Grant. I would also listen to Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and cry on her bedroom floor without any personal connection to everybody’s favorite French Canadian’s words, but just hated that someone had had that experience so painful that they could write a song so beautiful and broken at the same time. I think every pinterest quote about how feeling things deeply is “beautiful but painful” was written as some sort of artist bio for myself. Of course I’m feeling like this.
So, now I’m here. Because of the people that were just freaking decent human beings to me in my darkest hour, I’m alive and on the mend. I’m about 107 lbs which is three more than I weighed last week due to my high caloric protein shakes I’ve been drinking to try to gain weight back. This is good, I missed having a butt. I go to therapy twice a week. I’m chronically cold and I really, really miss making dinner for my best guy and am always worried about his arthritis acting up. I cry myself to sleep every night because there are children around the world that don’t have parents that love them and all I want to do is make them mac’n’cheese with hot dogs and let them know how loved and special they are. Sometimes I can’t think straight because there are women that have to work as sex slaves and there are people in America who never think about any of these things and that tension destroys me. I showered today, which is a win, and I also perfectly roasted marshmallows yesterday in our fireplace which was double a win because there were two of them.
I don’t know how to end this blog post. Tony has good bones but no spine and unfortunately we can’t blame that one on his arthritis. I’m not allowed to say I’m fucked up anymore, but I’m currently and regularly being destroyed by how fucked up the world is and it’s really difficult to live like this. Life is hard but I survived being hit by two semi trucks within ten seconds of each other, and also I can do a 7 minute plank despite missing half of my left arm, and so, if there’s anything that I’ve proven to myself in my now 305 months it’s that I can do hard things even when I don’t really want to. And I’m going to be here tomorrow.
Lots of people have asked what they can do to be supportive in this time and the answer is pretty simple - be the person who’s there for someone else during their DDS. We all have mini versions, and if we’re forced to face the DDS alone that’s when we get to the state that I was in. I personally believe if we could be a community more focused on helping each other through the DDS than glorifying being “fine” and pretending like the DDS doesn’t happen, we’d have far more citizens standing up for justice because they’d know they’re not alone. That’s what I want. That’s what I need.