I’ve been trying to resist my depression ever since I wrote my column on disability, mental illness, and my inability to pretend that everything in my life is OK. When I say resist, though, I don’t mean that I’m ignoring it or denying it space. If anything, I’m doing the opposite. I’m acknowledging it. I’m letting it grow, take root. I’m letting it prune me, letting it hack off the parts of me that are dead. And there are so many dead parts, it seems, especially these days. Do you know what I mean?
I mentioned last week that when I’m depressed, it’s usually because I feel stagnant. This is in many ways my mom’s fault. She doesn’t stop. (Sometimes I compare her to one of those vibrant, fluttery creatures, wings a blurred menace.) And when she does stop — usually because my dad and I have forced her to — it’s only for a few minutes. A few hours at the most, which is incidentally the exact length of “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” (The extended edition, because naturally, I was born into a family of nerds.) So I blame my mother for a lot of my restlessness, whereas my dad is content to sit beside the small, man-made lake in our backyard for hours on end.
It’s my mom’s genes, so I’ve taken cues from her. I don’t stop. I always have something up my sleeve — whether it’s a poem, a short story, a literary magazine … or, yes, that book I’m writing. School usually manages to keep me sated, but I’ll be graduating soon. Then it’s grad school for another two or three years, and then it’s —nothing. A dark abyss. Or void, since that’s all anyone can talk about these days. So this week I’ve seriously been considering what I’ll do after school.
The plan, of course, is to get my M.A. in counseling, so I can actually, you know, counsel. But even then, assuming everything goes according to plan, I still have to pass the certification/licensure exam, start my own virtual clinic, figure out what it is I’m actually doing. It’s a lot, and I knew it would be.
Compared to my original plan, way back in high school, of a bachelor’s degree in English literature and writing, my current life direction is the stuff of nightmares, with the potential of being —really, really cool.
Still, though. It feels like I’m gambling. And since my undergraduate classes are completely online, I don’t get out much, especially during the school year. Which is why I’ve started looking into — yes — jobs.
I’ve never filled out a job application before. And I’ve never had to explain to someone that, yes, I know I’m in a wheelchair, I know I can’t work the cash register, but I’ve wanted to work at this bookstore for years and I know the place like the back of my hand so, like, call me maybe?
Most businesses claim to be “equal opportunity” these days, but I still struggle to believe that someone would take a chance on me. I don’t want to seem desperate, so I don’t mention that I’d, like, totally be down for minimum wage. I don’t need the money, which is a privilege in itself. All I want is something to do. And I’ve always wanted to help people find books in a labyrinthine, indie bookstore.
Someone on my timeline retweeted this thread today, and it hit me, hard. As proud as I am to be disabled, there’s still shame associated with the wheelchair and the amount of help I need. The softness of my small, chubby hands. I don’t often fall in love these days, but when I do, it always feels like a pathetic mixture of apologies and begging. And apparently that mindset has bled into my search for a job.
I haven’t even submitted the application, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m not optimistic, but I’m not fatalistic, either. Somewhere in the middle, like I always am.
The way I see it, I’m doing something. And that’s all that matters.
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