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@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
I May Need Your Help
I may need your help.
Perhaps you, reading this right now. If you want to. Even if you do, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll let you. You may be family, a long time friend, someone who knew me before I am whatever I am today. Or a more recent addition to my life. A fellow comedian, perhaps. A person who’s empathy is a side effect of your own loneliness, with failed attempts to help yourself or save someone else. Maybe you’re a past lover, who quietly checks in from time to time, unsure of how we left off, though not undoing that we still care about each other and always will. Then there’s the invisible followers who may have developed some sort of a crush on me. Knowing damn well that I’m damaged. Knowing damn well that I’m distant. But most importantly, knowing damn well that I’m funny. And all of that is true, but it’s your fault, not mine, when you fill in all the blank spaces with what you want me to be.
Still. I may need your help.
It’s not that I haven’t known. I’ve known a long time. Time granted me permission to gather data. Meds gave me the ability to watch my thoughts instead of being tortured by them. A loving family gave me reason not to give up. Laughter with friends gets me out of the house. And they always say the same thing, they always say to call when I need it. They mean it. But they don’t understand. When you’re tripped up into the rabbit hole, to that ol’ familiar motel, where there are no windows, no colors, nothing soft– there is a phone. But you’ll never use it. Not when you’re there. You’ll never pick up the phone when you’re there. You’d rather hang yourself with the cord.
This is not such a sad essay. To be fair. If I were there now, I wouldn’t be writing this. I wouldn’t be telling you. I wouldn’t confess to needing some chaperoning. That’s how you know I’m alright. I’m okay.
There are things you need to understand. There are things you will never understand.
How can I explain. If I do it correctly, maybe then you can help me. When I need it.
There was a year in my mid-twenties where I kept a separate calendar and I rated every day based on my mood. Perhaps one of many infuriating things about being a young woman is, if you’re down or a little fucked up, people are quick to blame it on hormones and PMS. How insulting. How incredibly insensitive, and really, rather ignorant. Furthermore, dangerous. Almost as dangerous as telling someone in the throes of depression how great their life actually is. If you can’t see how dangerous that is, you can’t help me.
But there was something to that. No, no– not period related, but rather, pattern related. Is there a pattern? Gather data. The more data, the more I can help myself. That’s what I truly wanted. To help myself. To not ask for, lean on, or be needy or a chore.
That calendar I marked every day. Whether it was a good day or a bad day. Whether there was proper reason for it to be a good day or bad day. Days I felt confident. Which were heavily outweighed by the days I was depressed. By the end of that year, the calendar proved useful. It proved that there was no clear pattern. November and February were/are especially bad months, but save for that no real rhyme or reason to it. This calendar, a tracking device of sorts, shook me not necessarily because I didn’t know I had this darkness that edges everything, but rather knowing that one day this very well may consume me. There’s no future.
What would you do if you didn’t have a future? Would you spend your days, weekdays and weeknights, trying to be a comedian. An obvious pipe dream. Would you climb the edges of waterfalls? Swim in the ocean every chance you got? It’s something to consider. I’m not saying not to plan for, hope for, lay tracks down for, but I am saying, no matter who you are, the future is a wish. It’s a wish. Nothing more.
I may need your help. In the near future.
Here’s how it goes. Many nights I lay in bed, ready to be hugged by my mattress and blankets, some sort of sitcom cued up. And then I remember, ‘goddamnit, I didn’t take my stupid meds.’ A thought goes through my mind to forget it. To dump all that shit in the toilet bowl and flush. Then I remember November. November. What the fuck happens to me in November.
Productivity has taken a hit for me this year— a result of shaken confidence, shrapnel of a broken heart and continued existential questioning. For this, I hate myself. I hate myself for not being more productive. This is not to say I haven’t been working/writing. Lots of people would consider my work ethic better than most. But most people are relatively lazy, if you ask me. This is not an attack on them. Some of the laziest people I know are the happiest. So they might be onto something. Being a native New Yorker has given me neurosis, laminated in my upbringing, a blue collar family that worships hard work, often over quality of life.
By far, where I could use help is in the mornings. While I relish in living alone (and New Yorker’s consider anyone who lives without roommates “successful,” especially among artists), it’s not without side effects. For me, a hermit by nature, it’s a cycle of wanting to be alone to getting trapped in my own loops. There was a time I was wildly productive in my apartment, shutting the world out and just writing, writing, writing. Reading and learning and growing. Disciplined, determined. Headstrong Lori.
My morning routines are shot to hell. It’s a real struggle. Daily. By midday, I’m usually okay, if not tired, but sleep is it’s own issue. The morning— fuck the mornings. I’m tremendously, if not overwhelmingly, blue. Defeated, exhausted, unmotivated and sad. So, so sad.
Everything is all wrong. It’s all Topsy-turvy in the morning. And I know, I know, once the day is in motion it wears off and I joke and laugh and crave and yearn. But it’s been over a year since I’ve had a dreamless sleep, some of those dreams are fun, some are full of lust, but too many are stress dreams. Then I lay there. I lay there, not wanting, sometimes unable to move. There have been days where I texted a friend and tell them to call me in the morning and tell me to get out of bed. Yell at me. Call me a useless bitch (I’m very responsive to negative conditioning).
While I am married to privacy and do not exaggerate when it comes to my social anxiety, if I had some extra capital I would hire someone to just put a cup of tea and a bowl of fruit next to my bed in the morning with a notepad to write something, anything, down and not speak to me at all but just be there (I can already hear my mom’s voice suggesting a boyfriend). This, however, is not something I would actually do. But what might help, what may be a proper substitute, is some light communication in the morning. Perhaps a phone call, or even text exchanges. About what’s happening in the news. Your upcoming day or mine. Whatever dumbass dream I had that night. A little nudge. A little, “hey, you gotta get out of bed.”
And that’s it. That’s all you can really do, I think. As the days get darker, so will I. It will get harder and harder to get the day started. Still to come are the worst parts. And for a lack of a more eloquent way of putting it, I am scared of my own head. It’s sometimes wonderful in here. Other times it’s hell.
However. I think I can work a system. I think I can see several chess moves ahead against that toxic voice in my head that is bound to grip me. Perhaps I’m a fool to think I can outwit myself. And it’s not that I can’t do it all on my own— I have… but at what cost?
It feels like I have a narrow window to make something happen and slip ups are not something I can afford. Maybe. Just maybe. I can use your help.