"Yeah, I’m just tired.” My dad has asked for the third time today if I’m okay, and for the third time this is my answer. It’s the truth, well, kind of. Last night I was out late with a friend, driving aimlessly around our hometown. After, I sat with my car on in the closed garage of my home.
“Yeah, just didn’t have a good time over break.” I say to a friend. We’re drunk on a bus, going to some on-campus magic show neither of us really cared about. He puts the pressure on, but years of silence have trained me for this. I turn away so he doesn’t see the tears that are beginning in my eyes and tell him I’m fine.
“I just don’t think you need it,” my mom tells me after I ask to go to a therapist. I know, mom, I know that sometimes people have bad days, I get that. But it’s not just that. I don’t have the courage to tell her I think about harming myself. She tells me she’ll look into it.
“Well, I think you’re becoming an alcoholic,” my first therapist tells me. After weeks of asking my mom, I’m at my first appointment. He is a short bald man who is a spitting image of Benjamin Franklin. But unlike the Water-American, he offers me no grand philosophy. I tell him that I drink to get drunk with friends, that there isn’t some hidden addiction within me. He tells me to drink less and get over it. This is my last time seeing him.
“You need help,” my girlfriend tells me after I have a breakdown in her apartment. My lungs can’t seem to hold air, and she holds me, saying, “Breath in, slowly. Now, out, slowly.” It seems endless. We haven’t been dating two months, and I’m crying into her shoulder. The next day I call my parents and ask for a therapist. My dad is heartbroken.
“And how are you today?” my therapist asks me. This is her usual greeting. She is an older woman, kind. It is our weekly Monday appointment, and again, I have nothing to say. I talk about a few minor things, but never open up that much to her. I don’t know why. We end the session early, like we do every week, and I leave.
“So you’re feeling better then?” my dad asks. I tell him yes, and I mean it. After a while in therapy, I feel like my head is finally clear. I didn’t resolve any of my “deeper” issues, but it was nice to just talk to someone. I don’t freak out anymore; I don’t go without eating anymore. I feel in control.
“I would like to remain on the waiting list,” I reply to my college’s counseling center. It is a year and a half later, and I have regressed. I’m ashamed, and don’t want to tell my parents again, I can’t have that conversation. I don’t enjoy things the way I used to, and it’s beginning to affect others. In my relationships, I am selfish and uncaring, and I am beginning to loathe myself for it. I struggle to get out of bed every morning and skip assignments.
“I’m not the guy you fell in love with anymore,” I say to my girlfriend. She cries, and I say I’m sorry over and over again. She begs me to reconsider, to get help; we can go on a break so I can figure myself out. I agree, reluctantly. I tell her that if I can’t pull myself together, we should go our separate ways. Not because I don’t love her, but because I can’t stand by and see our relationship turning more and more one-sided. She deserves everything, and I give her nearly nothing.
“I’m skipping class,” I tell my friend. I had been debating it all day yesterday, and now have made it official. I pack my laptop into my backpack and head to the bar across from campus. I order two beers and a shot. I’m a lightweight, and I haven’t eaten yet, so I stumble home from the bar at five in the afternoon, kind of drunk. I go home and smoke, and everything goes hazy. I go to bed at 6 PM and sleep until 6 AM.
Still, I am exhausted.