juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Two nights of sleep made up of horrible, violent, terrifying nightmares, and I slept just fine. I was chased and abused and stalked and humiliated and ignored but for whatever reason—Devon posits that I knew I was dreaming, and that's possible; somehow I felt enough distance, enough remove, that even though the dream was happening to me, even thought I was objectively horrified, I could just shrug it off. I slept long and hard, and woke well-rested.

Last night began without dreams but I was up, uncomfortable, restless, and depressed, every hour or three. Eventually I just got up and watched a movie; when I went back to bed I had a dream about going back to school which was so stressful that my heart was pounding when Dev woke me up when he got up. He was able to calm me down a bit, but when I got to sleep again I had another stressful dream about going to a three-day political rally that mirrored a speech and debate event or a con—until I finally stopped attending events, went back to my dorm, and ended up adopting the animals that I found there—a kitten, an adolescent cat, a ferret, a small rodent, and two guinea pigs. Dink was one of them, although his fur was spotted black and white (but I knew it was him) and I woke up miserable and missing him.

Things with the other pigs just haven't been the same since Dink died.

I just don't get it, really—what circumstances and content it is that makes dreams into nightmares for me. Or perhaps I do. I think all of the bad stuff used to get to me, but I've grown inured to some of it by now. Desensitized by repetition. Being stalked and humiliated by an abusive ex-boyfriend? No big deal! It doesn't target my own personal fears and memories and experiences. Objectively, I know it's awful; personally, I have some distance. But man, send me back to school and I turn into a shaking mass of anxiety, because in dreams and out of dreams that is my nightmare. I toss around the idea of finishing my degree one credit at a time at a public school, because the one class I took at PSU actually did me a world of good, it got me out and working but it wasn't stressful—either by being a difficult course, or by immersing me in the college atmosphere—and so, all good things forfend, I was actually able to complete the damn thing. Doing more of that tempts me, under similar circumstances. But college—the people, the culture, the schedules, getting myself on campus, being on campus, doing homework, receiving assignments, trying to complete assignments that require me to work with others and/or come on campus even more, every bit of it adds up, it even seems to multiply, exponential growth that builds a stress greater than I can completely imagine or hope to bear.

And I dream of it, I fear it, all the damn time. I wish that I'd discovered Reed earlier, before Whitman crushed me, I wish I had completed my degree, but I wouldn't be a fulltime student again for my life. I can't.

I have more to say about why I'm thinking about college again, about the death of a Rutgers freshman and how much of all of this anxiety comes from Whitman, not just started there but was born and bred there. But I'm only just starting to realize that I'm not looking objectively at that suicide. I'm taking too personal an angle on it—this happens, I hate it, it's useless. High school for me wasn't fun but it was no big deal, socially, and I still don't understand what made it into living hell for so many people; but college, the social abandonment and ostracization in a society so isolated that when pushed out of it you had nowhere to be, and mine was only a case of that, of rejection rather than ridicule, and I can't even imagine how much worse the latter would be. But I know it happens. I want to warn people that it doesn't get better, like some magical turning point—that depending on person and circumstance it may get quickly, remarkably worse. And what do you do that when they promise you that the day after you leave high school it will all magically improve—and then you get to college and they humiliate you?

And I think those are fair concerns—and then at the same time I know I'm being so negative and hopeless that instead of encouraging a little good I'm denying even that effort. Well done, me. I don't want to think it's hopeless, that there is nothing that can be said or done to make things "get better." Awareness and dialog helps, but wearing purple ain't gonna do a goddamn thing and that breaks my heart because I understand the impulse, I do. But we're looking at a beast that a purple t-shirt can't change: a combination of the social acceptance of bullying and the prevalence of anti-queer sentiment. Just one of those by itself is a monster; together they do horrible things to kids and to promising college students but I can barely even see it, barely even fully understand it, and the size of the problem scares me.

Into nightmares, and inaction.

I do this. I hate it. I hear about someone's rape and it leaves me incapacitated by my fear of rape culture, I hear about a suicide and and it gets me stuck on my own memories and fears of the hell that can be college, and that's selfish and it does no goddamned good. It arises from sympathy and love, it is how I try to understand how I feel about others, but it all comes back to me. How self-indulgent, how privileged, that I can complain about how these big things make me feel so small and curl up into my little ball and hide. I understand the want to wear purple because I can do that, I can wash a purple shirt and put it on, that's easily within my abilities, it's concrete and it's safe. It's also largely useless, and because it is so easy and so satisfying it's all we do do: we make ourselves feel better with a t-shirt, and then go on to ignore that huge and terrifying problem that it's supposed to represent. Awareness matters. Talking about, sharing, realizing, attempting to publicize the existence of these events matters. Symbols for them can matter, too. But that's not all it takes—it just feels like all that we know how to do.

I actually haven't been that depressed, lately. I've been okay. But I interpret this all too personally. I always do. I feel hopeless and I panic and make myself sick with nightmares. It shouldn't be about me. I'm not sure, though, how to wrap my head around the rest.


juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

September 2017

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