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Today, I thought I would try to do something fun to cheer myself up. For a little over a month now, I’ve been looking forward to the opening of a new exhibition at the Museum of Natural History. They were having a members only preview starting at 4:00 today, with a little reception afterwards. Since I moved to New York, I’ve tried to join lots of little things partly in hopes of meeting people. Now, you sort of know that you might not, actually, you probably will not, meet anyone, and by anyone I mean platonic, romantic or otherwise, at any given event. However, you certainly won’t meet anyone sitting at home and if you keep putting yourself out there and you keep going to events, you might actually make a friend or two.

So, this is the first even that’s come up anywhere this year, and I was looking forward to it. At least, I had been looking forward to it until the depression got triggered again a day or two ago. I went to the gym and brought with me a change of clothes into something casual/nice. I didn’t do my full work out because was running late. The women’s locker room at the gym is very nice with big mirrors and lights. In the afternoon, when it’s not crowded, it’s better than my own bathroom. I showered and took my time getting dressed and putting on makeup. I walked over to the Museum and was probably there shortly before five.

I can’t say that I was feeling light-hearted, but I wasn’t aware of being especially depressed. Someone at the gym smiled at me and gave me a thumbs up for some reason I don’t understand, but it made me feel good. Little things can make a huge difference sometimes. So, I went, checked my bag and got my ticket at the reception desk. The exhibit was on the fourth floor and there was a long line for the elevator. They explained that there was a little bottleneck in the exhibition and we’d have to wait. We waited about twenty minutes, maybe a half-an-hour at most. It wasn’t really that long. One of my experiences of depression has been that I can act like a normal person in public as long as there is enough distraction. However, just standing in line left me with my thoughts. I noticed all the people with other people, in couples or in families and I started to feel incredibly lonely. Then I starting crying. I couldn’t help it. I just felt so sad. I had to leave to save myself from embarrassment. So, I never got to see the exhibit or go to the reception.

It’s very difficult when you get to the point that you don’t have the strength to do exactly the things you need to do to feel better.

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I’m a nearly fifty-year-old overweight depressed woman who, very literally, can’t get laid and… stop the presses… a good-looking young tv star doesn’t want to fuck me.

I don’t know where to take this. I tried writing a couple of people privately yesterday, but I haven’t gotten any replies. I put a post up on the depression subreddit, but the only reply I got made me feel worse. I know the internet is a rough place for anyone who is not on the top of their social hierarchy.

Anyway, I don’t know what I’m saying, really. I read some of Trevor Noah’s tweets about fat women and they made me feel really bad. Its been about twenty-four hours now and I haven’t been able to shake the bad feeling. Somehow, it’s really making me feel awful. The fact that all these people are defending him makes me feel worse.

I can’t help thinking about what I was saying the other day about stories. One of the things people always say about liberals is that they hate the United States and that they hate most Americans. The Daily Show is generally associated with liberals. Now, they’re going to have a good-looking rich foreigner telling jokes about stupid, fat Americans as the host? Thanks, Daily Show, for making the U.S. even more conservative. Really, I have to ask liberals if they have any fucking sense at all about how they sound to other people?

I’ve never liked the punching up/punching down phrasing because, as I’ve said before, it’s not so clear who is up and who is down. However, one thing is clear, Trevor Noah is “up.” There aren’t too many directions in which he can punch without punching down. He makes fun of atheists. He makes fun of women. He makes fun of gays. He makes fun of Jews. His humor reminds me of the popular good-looking kid in middle school who makes fun of all the freaks, nerds and the kids that can’t afford the latest sneakers.

I don’t know. I’m not going to do anything stupid right now. Although the fact that the last time I got laid the guy was drunk keeps circling around and around my head. Of course, he was a fifty-something overweight guy from England. We actually got together a second time, and I think it was my fault there wasn’t a third. It was probably my turn to text. I’m not good about texting. I was ambivalent about him anyway. So, I’m probably not really that desperate. Still, the joke cut a little too close to home. Yeah, when you’re overweight fewer men are interested in you. Thanks, Trevor. You’re so fucking funny.

I’ve been crying intermittently ever since I read about him. I’m not being the PC police. This isn’t manufactured outrage. It is genuine, and it isn’t outrage. It’s shame, embarrassment, depression, sadness, isolation, loneliness and sexual frustration.

‘Cause I’ve seen blue skies
Through the tears in my eyes
And I realize I’m going home.

 – I’m Going Home“, by Richard O’Brien from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

Several times, I’ve started this post and I keep stopping. Baltimore is something of an underdog city and I have enough of an instinctive sympathy for underdogs that I can’t help feeling almost guilty for hating it. To put it in the most neutral terms possible, I just haven’t been able to fit in here. Perhaps it’s my fault. New York is perhaps the last city to need one more booster, but there we go. I like New York.

Mensa having a preacher at their monthly meeting was certainly not the first time I felt alienated here, but it was the one that finally clinched it. It said to me, “No, you will never make friends here.” It’s been four years and there is probably no one here with whom I will keep in touch after I leave with the exception of my sister and brother-in-law. The cost of living is so much lower here than in New York City that I kept hoping that somehow I could make it work, by traveling more, by doing things that I was unable to do in New York like gardening, but it just wasn’t enough to make me happy. I suspect the isolation was making me a little bit nuts. It’s funny, because I’m introspective and just a touch introverted people think I should do well alone. It’s quite the opposite. Since I’m not especially gregarious I need many opportunities to make contact with other people in order to take advantage of the few occasions when I feel moved to reach out.

They say you take yourself with you wherever you go, but in my experience that just isn’t true. I’m not the same person in everyplace, or at least I don’t behave in the same way. Some people find New York too hectic. One friend left after 9/11 for that reason. I’m just the opposite. To me, everyone here in Baltimore looks like they are walking with the weight of the world on their shoulders. It makes me feel like everything is hopeless. Furthermore, the place is ugly. For better or worse, I’ve always felt very sensitive to my surroundings.

I know that the popular belief these days is that depression has a biological source, but I’ve always felt that living in Baltimore was a major contributing factor in my depression. I guess I’m going to put that to the test. Just the thought of moving back to New York has made me significantly more cheerful during the past week.

A few good things have come out of moving here. I feel closer to my sister than I have since we were teenagers. I had a chance to live in an architectural masterpiece. A former boyfriend from New York said that he heard that living in a place like this is not as enjoyable as it sounds. That is totally untrue. The building and the apartment are great. If I could bring it to New York with me I would. However, in New York I would never be able to afford it. I had a chance to learn programming and to learn more about plants.

People do choose to live in one place over another for a reason. Sometimes it’s a job or family, but many people go to New York for New York itself.

Well, I’m going to be pretty busy during the next couple of weeks. I have a new place to fix up and an old place to get ready to sell.

Get my sister Sandy
And my little brother Ray
Buy a big old wagon
Gonna haul us all away

….

Oh, Baltimore
Man, it’s hard just to live
Oh, Baltimore
Man, it’s hard just to live, just to live

from “Baltimore,” by Randy Newman

So, in my pathetic attempt to ease my social isolation, I joined a few organizations.

Now, I just got back from my “daily constitutional.” Because everyone insists exercise is the cure for depression, I exercise every day. Yesterday, I lifted weights at the gym, which is depressing but just barely bearable. Today is my day for a walk/jog. It’s really more of a power walk than a jog, but I try to keep up the pace. Shortly after starting out I started feeling those chest pains again, you know, the ones the doctors say are in my head. I guess they are. It’s probably anxiety. My route is about 2 and a half miles. In New York it used to be five, but due to the fact that Baltimore is a dangerous city it’s hard for me to find a route that’s more than two miles. And it’s really boring. I do the same route over and over and over. It it gives me a wonderful opportunity to reflect on how much I hate my life. How much I hate my body. How much I hate Baltimore. How difficult it is simply to not get fat. How futile this attempt to lose weight is. Then I tell myself that it should be for health, not appearance. Then I start to wonder why I want to prolong my life when I hate it so much. I don’t want extra years of being lonely and men don’t want healthy, they want anorexic. I start feeling like a caged rat on a wheel.

I arrive home feeling remarkably angry and wonder whether or not I should take an Ativan.

I sat down to write. My mind wanders when I walk and although most of the thoughts are how I hate myself a few aren’t. I’ve been working on a novel and few ideas were about that and I sat down to write those down. Then it seems that I had saved something else with the same title as the working title of my novel thus overwriting everything I’ve written over the past few months. Fuck.

I managed to find another copy elsewhere, so I didn’t lose everything, but my bad mood went to even worse.

Now, don’t ask me why, I started feeling really, really lonely. I just want some company. Is that too mush to ask?

Apparently, in Maryland, it is.

I mentioned having joined some groups to try to meet people. Okay, one thing is the sketching, but it’s early on Saturday morning and I woke up late today. I haven’t been able to get to it for two weeks running and I doubt I’ll get there tomorrow. I’ll try. But this is why I fucking hate Maryland and Baltimore. It’s Nowhereville. Could you imagine living in New York and having to wait for Saturday morning to roll around again in order to do something.

Okay, well, I also joined Mensa. Well, once a month they have a film night and tonight was the night, but I didn’t look at it until it was too late. Don’t you know, they go to an early show. I could have gotten to it if I had thought to look yesterday, but I didn’t. Now, I’ll have to wait a month.

So, do they have anything else on their agenda. Yeah – tomorrow – Saturday – Mensa is going to a GUN RANGE!!!! I’m suicidal, but I’m not fucking stupid. I know well enough that I should stay away from guns for the foreseeable future.

Now, what else is Mensa doing?

July’s speaker is Walter Jones, a graduate of Yale University and Howard University Divinity School, and his presentation is titled “We’ve Come this Far by Faith”.  Walter describes it as a brief gospel history lesson, portrait of a people, and folk sermon rolled into one.

Guns, God. What next? An anti-gay protest? Did I join Mensa or the Tea Party?

Man, I miss New York.

I’ve turned off comments on the last post because people don’t really get what’s useful to say and what’s not. I’ll probably turn off the comments on this as well.

I’m lonely. That’s it. That’s all. I want company. A psychiatrist can only do so much. We live in a society that values only beauty, money, youth, power. When you don’t have any of that, you wind up alone. You’d think that you’d be able to meet another broken person, but for some reason it doesn’t work that way. Men a couple of years older than I, with a slight pot belly and a balding head, are holding out for a young beauty. I don’t even have platonic friends these days. Once upon a time I did, but then I moved. Most of them had moved out of New York by that time anyway. You get past a certain age, and it’s not only hard to meet lovers, but it’s hard to meet platonic friends, too. Add to that having all the characteristics of a loser….

I have sought out professional help. In fact, two years ago, I put myself in the hospital because I was having a hard time getting the help I needed outside. It shouldn’t have come to that, but it’s harder to find help than you’d think. It has a lot to do with what insurance companies will offer. They’re geared up for emergency situations. Once you’re stabilized, then you’re sent back out, forty-eight hours and fare-thee-well.

Anyway, I do see a psychiatrist and I take medication. I think some talk therapy along with that would be useful, or could be, but finding a therapist to talk to you is tough, especially when all your talk is a perseverative, self-pitying mess.

A few years ago I tried online dating. In fact, I did it several times and did meet a several boyfriends that lasted about a year each. However, that was back before I moved to Baltimore and became depressed. Online dating is emotionally grueling. You have to be willing to subject yourself to massive amounts of negative comments in the hopes of meeting one person who isn’t a total jerk. There are plenty of nice people out there, but they’re hidden among people who range from neutral to mean. It was one thing to do that way back when, before I was depressed and when I had a reasonable level of self-esteem. Even then, the criticisms could have a temporary negative impact, but I was emotionally healthy enough to bounce back quickly. Now, I feel like it would be setting myself up for a potentially dangerous situation.

I’ve compiled a list of organizations and clubs to join, although so far I’ve only joined one. Meeting platonic friends can be even harder than meeting a boyfriend. How do you meet people? I just have to join a whole lot of things and hope for the best. I haven’t heard from my supposed best friend since January. He lives in another state. He never calls or writes anymore. I could email him, but why am I bothering? Why do I even still consider him a friend?

Complicating things a little bit is that I have a little social anxiety. That’s perhaps the only emotional problem I can remember having prior to going to college. It won’t keep me from going to any social events, but I find them very draining, so I won’t be able to load up a several week period with a whole lot of different things.

I feel like I have so many areas that need improvement, it’s like a juggling act and I’m trying to keep multiple balls in the air.

A boyfriend with whom I lived for a little while once observed that I don’t have a lot of “fun.” That was back when I was doing reasonably well. He was right, in a way. Everyone needs a little pleasure, enjoyment and fun in life. Back then, I was getting enough, at least for me even if it seemed paltry to him. But now, I really don’t have much enjoyment. Only part of that is the depression. A large part of that is reality. I really do live in a place where I know no one except my sister. These days, I wish I enjoyed television or movies, but I never really have. Just not a movie person.

I used to like dancing and I used to like going to hear live music, usually in a bar type of setting, not a big “rock concert” type of thing. However, those are past times for young people. I could probably go out and listen to music, but the sociable part of it might not be there because after a certain age you just become invisible. I don’t mean even flirting or picking up men, just interacting with people.

Humanity is brutal. When you’re weak, no one wants to know you.

The past few days I was actually feeling something close to normal. Now tonight, it’s not quite ten in the evening and I’ve been quietly crying for about an hour. Ten is the hour when I stop playing music and dial the noise down significantly and right now, I feel like I’m looking at a very long strange night.

It’s so strange what can trigger a depressive episode. It seems so trivial. If I were to tell you what the trigger is you’d think I was nuttier than you do already. I can see that this is going someplace not good and I don’t know how to stop it.

All I wanted to do was sit outside alone, have something to eat and read a book. I’d been cleaning my apartment and doing my laundry. I hadn’t eaten anything all day and in the late afternoon I had this idea that I would go take a break at a little Asian noodle shop that has some seats outside. Aesthetics matter a lot to me and I wanted to just spend an hour someplace attractive and pleasant. The shop itself is hideous, but they have some tables outside in an area that’s very pleasant. Of course, the place was closed.

It’s a little hard to explain why this upset me so much. Earlier this week, I was feeling like I just don’t want to be a basket case anymore. I hate exercising, but I exercised everyday this week except Friday, and that was because my mother had some problems with her email, so I went over there to help her. I’ve been good about cooking reasonably healthy meals at home and, most importantly, I’ve tried to be productive in a work related sense. I know that for a mentally healthy person, this is just normal behavior, but it took quite a lot of discipline and forcing myself to follow through. I just kept telling myself that I want to get better, I don’t want to be an emotional mess.

Two weeks ago, I cleaned my bedroom for what must have been the first time in over a year. My sister helped me and we cleaned out a small part of my closet. Or maybe that was last week. I’m not sure. Anyway, today, I tried to do the “routine” cleaning. It has to be understood that I’ve fallen behind on my cleaning by about two years, maybe longer. That doesn’t mean I haven’t cleaned anything at all, but I feel that each week I don’t do quite as much as is necessary to keep up on things and slowly, week by week, I’ve fallen behind and I could spend a full week, everyday, all day cleaning and not get my apartment, apartment not house mind you, to the level of tidiness of the average person. I don’t aspire to be a model of tidiness, just average.

So, my idea was, more or less, that I would do my routine cleaning, take a break in the late afternoon, have something to eat in a pleasant spot outdoors, taking advantage of the good weather, and read a book. It was a beautiful day today and the idea of a break kept me going. I didn’t want to cook because I didn’t want to dirty dishes. Also, I wanted to get outside as a sort of necessary “mood enhancer.” I’m not overly fond of the food at this noodle place, but it struck me as good enough and I really liked the idea of taking a break with a book.

So, of course, it’s closed. I began walking to another place that’s about a half a mile away. At the end of the block I paused. That place is very unattractive. I started feeling depressed just thinking about it. There was another place that’s much closer, but that’s even more unattractive, plus they have televisions. I stood at the corner not knowing if I should turn right, turn left and go back home or turn around and go to the other place. It was the idea of spending my break not only indoors, but in truly ugly surroundings, that had me stumped. It wouldn’t be much of a respite. If couldn’t have a respite, I might as well go back to my place, so I started walking back. I didn’t want to make myself some eggs because I’d have to dirty a pan and I was trying to tidy my place. I thought about ordering in, but the easiest thing would be pizza and I was trying to eat a little bit more healthily.

I got back home and I found I was crying, not hysterical, just crying. I just felt so defeated. It’s hard to explain.

I did eventually get myself some dinner, but it was in a really ugly environment. Worse yet, next door there is a sports bar and I had to listen to the sports news blaring throughout my entire meal.

Now, I’m home alone and I’m crying again. I’m not even sure why. It just feels like everything in my life is ugly and lonely. The worst part of it is that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Two years ago, a doctor in an emergency room officially diagnosed me with depression. For me, it was hard to say at what point the usual negative feelings we feel all at times slid into what could fairly be characterized as clinically depressed. I was in my mid-forties and I had long before been diagnosed with anxiety, although I didn’t take that too seriously. I had seen psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals for what had been, for most of my life, mild symptoms. I was an underachiever, easy to anger, low self-esteem… these things were comparatively mild, but I did feel that they were enough beyond average imperfections to hamper me in life. There were days when I wondered if there was really nothing wrong with me but living in an environment where an individual’s self-worth was almost entirely based on achievement. Then again, I had difficulty maintaining relationships. So, I sought professional help. We explored various possibilities, all of which were eventually eliminated except for anxiety and episodes of anhedonia. Although the possibility of clinical depression was raised on several occasions, my symptoms always seem to fall short of being diagnosed with that.

Flash forward a few years…

As some point that’s hard to identify, I began sliding into a depression. Now, I wonder whether or not I have always had a proclivity, but I can confidently state that my recent depression is qualitatively different that previous times when I felt unmotivated. In the past, when I’ve felt myself sliding into a funk, I’d kick myself in the ass, as people like to say. I’d exert my willpower to eat better and exercise more and make sure that I got good quality sleep, some time out in the sun during the day, I would do some meditating, and in general engage in all those good, healthy habits intended to make you feel better. Since I already had a lifestyle most people would consider healthy, during a period like this I’d be a veritable model of clean living. Usually, after a few day, my funk would lift. Was it what I did or just the passage of time? I don’t know.

This time it was different. No amount of kicking myself in the ass was making me feel better. This time, seeking professional help, I knew something was seriously wrong. However, since I had moved, I had to seek out a new therapist. I had a hard time finding one. Once I did, I found I had a hard time convincing him just how serious my problem was. I felt like I wanted to die. I didn’t have a plan to kill myself, but I really, really wanted to somehow just fade from existence. I could barely do the dishes. Always an untidy person, my apartment became shockingly messy and disorganized to the point that I had more and more problems just functioning. I continued to apply my usually de-funking habits, especially the dieting and exercise because now I was beginning to put on weight. I exercised for an hour and a half a day instead of my usual hour. I kept a diary of everything I ate with a goal of twelve hundred calories a day, which I most succeeded in doing, and I never broke down and “binged.” That just isn’t a habit of mine. I was using the same nutrition reference I had used for a number of years. My weight stayed stubborn, my lack of motivation continued, and I still felt like I wanted to lie down and be swallowed by the earth never to be seen again.

If I can judge by what other people have told me about themselves, my normal diet is a bit healthier than the average. Since I was not athletic as a teenager, I started exercising for health at a young age and as an adult I continued, and added to, that routine. In terms of drug use, I tried cocaine once and didn’t like it. I’ve probably smoked pot a good twenty or thirty times. I didn’t drink in high school, nor did I drink regularly in college, but I do recall getting drunk at parties a few times, falling-down drunk only once, usually just thoroughly tipsy. In my twenties, I was something of a weekend drinker, having several beers while listening to bands. Around the time of my depression, I had long since settled into a habit of drinking wine with dinner a couple of nights a week and my social life no longer contained weekends with lots of alcohol. In short, I think my use of mind altering substances has been rather minimal. Alcohol would be the only one I’ve used regularly, and that was never out of control and have never even briefly wondered if I had a problem. If I feel that I’ve been drinking too much, usually due to the calories not the inebriation, I just cut back. It’s never even felt like an effort.

For much of my life, I’ve had people compliment me for my willpower, for my ability to say no to unhealthy foods that taste good, for the regularity with which I exercised, for the fact that I was self-employed and could arrange my own schedule and stick to it without anyone reminding me. So, when I first started seeking help for my depression, which wasn’t yet diagnosed, when I found therapists telling me to exercise, eat well and try to work harder, I was flabbergasted at first. Then I became frustrated when I realized that that was about all the help that was on offer.

What I was feeling was that I had done all the “right” things my whole life, and there I was in my mid-forties, single, back in school for the fourth or fifth time trying to make myself employable, with no social life, and just finding little to enjoy in life. I had already experienced in my attempts at online dating that a failure like me is examined for what I’ve done “wrong.” Now, obviously I’ve made mistakes or I wouldn’t be in this situation, but I haven’t made any of the big, obvious mistakes. Suddenly, I found that I was under suspicion of possible drug use, excessive drinking, loafing, a lack of self-discipline and so on. After all, we live in a meritocracy so I must somehow have been lacking in merit. Throughout my late thirties and early forties, I’d been in a cycle of trying harder and continuing to fail. As I expressed it at the time, “I feel like my wheels are spinning and I’m going nowhere.”

The inherent unfairness in life is not great, but I could live with it and alone it wouldn’t make me depressed. However, the general attitude that if you’re not a success it’s because there’s something wrong with you and the chilling effect that had on my social life was a problem. I began dreading social situations that involved meeting new people because of the question, “What do you do for a living?” It’s a bit old-fashioned these days, but growing up I was told that that was an impolite question. I can understand why it was once seen as rude. Worse yet, I started feeling that I didn’t know what to do. You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results… Well, that was the place I was at. I wanted to improve my social life, my work life, my love life, but I didn’t know how. All the recommendations from other people were things I’d been doing my whole life and which had failed to get results. This is when my lack of motivation started. I had gone back to school, yet again, in hopes of getting something of a career going while I still had enough years left in my life to enjoy it. I found that I no longer had any confidence that this would yield any results. I was doing more of the same and I started to ask myself why I was expecting different results this time.

So when I started to see a therapist and he suggested that I exercise, diet and get myself back in school, it felt like a slap in the face. It felt like an insult to my entire life as a good, clean-living, disciplined person who had done all the right things. Worse yet, I felt as if he wasn’t listening to me. I felt as if I had wasted my entire life doing things I hated in order to please other people, in order to be seen as worthy in this society.

A few months later I would ask some police to take me to the hospital, which they did and where my symptoms were finally taken seriously. (Much thanks to all the helpful people in the emergency room at Bergen Pines.)

Well, all that is the necessary preface to understand what I have to say. A few days ago, in the wake of my more recent crisis, I found myself saying to someone that I hadn’t learned coping skills for living with depression. After I wrote that in an email, I started searching for information on the internet. What I found reminded me that I had done this search two years ago after I got out of the hospital with my diagnosis and I remembered why I abandoned the effort. The advice was mostly diet, exercise, meditate, don’t drink too much, don’t take drugs, get out and socialize, do some creative work, all the damn things I’ve spent my entire life doing from adolescence onwards, and most of which I fucking hate. I’m going on fucking fifty and I feel like I’ve spent my entire life doing what other people have told me I should do. I hate exercising, truly hate it. For much of my adult life I’ve exercised an hour daily, assuming the occasional missed day, realistically that’s about five hours a week or two hundred and sixty hours a year. I spend two hundred and sixty hours a year doing something I truly hate. One of the bit of evidence contributing to my “anhedonia” was when my doctor asked if I enjoy food. Of course I don’t enjoy my food. I’m on a fucking diet. I’ve been on a diet since I was twelve. I could enjoy food, but I don’t eat anything that’s enjoyable to eat. I’ve never not enjoyed a pile of quality french fries, but I almost never ate them. They’re fattening. I don’t actually enjoy meditating either. I can’t say I hate it, but I’ve only ever done it out of a sense of obligation, the idea that meditating might make me a better person. Maybe, but then again who knows. Remember that anxiety I mentioned earlier, well a lot of that is social anxiety. I find socializing with strangers to be very draining. It’s difficult and not enjoyable. As far as the creative work, what can I say, may I laugh in the face of people of the good people who make that suggestion. Not only was I doing all these things during my slide into a depression, I swear that these were the behaviors that made me depressed. When I hear these suggestions, I get a crazy thought in my head I that I want to take an exacto knife and carve into my flesh little hatch marks for each day I spend living someone else’s idea of a good life, like a prisoner in a medieval dungeon. Then I remember that the only person I would be hurting would be myself.

I wish all those well-intentioned people with their good advice would just acknowledge that they don’t have a fucking clue. One thing that irks me is realizing that I could diet and exercise and get thin, find a guy who I don’t really like that much but would be willing to play the role of boyfriend, find a job that still wasn’t a career but at least satisfied other people that I was “trying,” and be not one iota happier, still be wishing that I could die, but if I did all those things no matter what kind of internal pain I was in a therapist would think we were making progress.

Anyway, I’m going to publish this and then put on my sneakers and go for a jog, not because I like jogging but because I desperately don’t want to feel depressed anymore and despite the fact that I believe it doesn’t work I can’t quite bring myself to stop doing it because who am I to disagree with all the supposed experts. That will be about an hour and twenty minutes wasted doing something I hate on the off-chance it will help.

Also, I would like to kindly ask that no one comment unless you feel that you can relate to where I’m coming from, as they used to say back in the seventies.

In the vain hope of getting out of my shell, I went to the Women in Secularism conference this weekend. I signed up before having a fight with my mother. Now I’m here and feeling so lonely. It’s so clubby and awful. Everyone knows everyone. They’re all friends. No one talks to me. This is terrible. I feel like I’m having a total breakdown.

No one wants to know an old woman. I’m fat and ugly and I want to die.

What does someone do when you get to my age and everything’s not okay. I’m divorced, unemployed. Too old to start again but too young and healthy to die any time soon, unless I kill myself, which is a thought.

I need help so badly but I’m so alone in this world. No one is there to help me. I feel like I want to cry for help but there’s no one to hear me.

It would be an exaggeration to say my mother and I nearly came to blows over dinner tonight, but we definitely exchanged harsh words. At the end of the meal, I said that I was still hungry and that we hadn’t eaten nearly enough. She balked. Now, we’re not “counting calories,” but I do find looking at the calories can be something of a reality check. So far today, we’ve had yoghurt with berries, an omelette with some peppers and a green salad with some crabmeat. At one fifty for the yoghurt, another one fifty for the eggs and eighty for the crabmeat, I’d be surprised if we topped eight hundred calories today. She nearly went ballistic when I helped myself to half a matzoh and a handful of nuts. I had to remind her that she asked me to help her, not the other way around. I told her that this is exactly her problem. She’s been bellyaching all day about how she hasn’t lost any weight yet, although we’ve only been on the damn diet for a week. I explained that what she does is deprive herself and then binge. I find myself saying stupid motivational things like, “This is a marathon, not a sprint.” We went to the gym earlier today and I increased the weight I’ve been using. I don’t think three balanced meals is excessive.

I’ve made references several times to my “beauty strike” which I gave up last fall but had lasted a couple of years. People in general, but especially women get really fucked up notions about their bodies, food, weight, beauty. I find that every so often I literally have to deprogram myself. These things start seeping into your mind whether you want them to or not. While I know that I am no longer what people would call “thin” I also know that what I see when I look in the mirror is not realistic. More accurately, I should say that what I think a normal, healthy person looks like is not realistic.

My mother, who considers herself a feminist, is and has always been obsessed with other women’s appearances. She would say constantly when I was growing up, “You look so much better with make-up on.” Despite being a die-hard feminist myself, I wore make-up every day of my life from the age of thirteen until about three or four years ago, with the exception of the years I was in college. I started shaving my legs at ten. I went on a diet for the first time at eleven or twelve. I’ve been working really hard for the past few years to divorce my self-esteem from my appearance, above all my weight. Intellectually, I know this is bad, but it’s so deeply embedded in my subconscious.

The other day, we were standing in the grocery store aisle. She took out one of those celebrity rags. It had pictures of movie stars in their bathing suits on the cover. She quickly thumbed to the article. “Look at that! Oh, my! Who’s that? She looks awful.” And so on. A long monologue critiquing other women’s bodies. Even if she didn’t say anything about me directly, I would still get the message.

All my mother wants to talk about is how other women look. Barbara, a woman with whom my mother used to work, has “legs like a racehorse,” the sort of legs my mother tells me she wishes she had. I have better legs than she does and my sister had better legs than either of us. I don’t, as she observed earlier today, have a “fat back.” Her former boss has a flat ass. “That’s terrible. I hate flat asses.” “Did you see the really fat women at the gym?”

Anyway, I just needed to look at this in a conscious fashion because if I don’t it is more likely to seep into my subconscious and simply start making me feel bad about myself. Actually, I should say worse. I’ve never felt good about myself. I’ve always felt ugly and since the only value I feel I have is in my appearance… ech, well it all just goes around in a circle. I’ve come to realize I’ll never be happy. Every day of my life is misery. I’m just garbage taking up space. I wish no one would look at me. I just want to go in my room and hide.

Damn. I hoped writing about this would make me feel better. It seems to have made me feel worse.

In some of my memories, I’ve mentioned a friend I call “Luscious.” When we first met, I was like my mother. I didn’t even realize it, but I also often critiqued women’s bodies. She would point it out to me and sometimes she’d get mad. She really broke me of the habit of judging other women by their appearances. Unfortunately, it never had a rebound effect on myself. I’ve tried to talk to therapsists about this, but they’re just not interested.