Music is my only company and it is a cruel accomplice. We team up to destroy any remnant of faith in anything I might have been holding onto. When I fall here the only comfort I can find are in those songs that are most dangerous to the weak glue holding my soul together.

My life is limited, my days are numbered, and I’m laying on the floor
Listening to the music that washed the same shallow comfort over me 5 years ago, when I lay in my room, devastated by everything that existed.
This is a cycle. It is pitiful and dumb.
And I’m numb.

Where is my Creator? I can’t find him.

 

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The D Word

Depression.

How the hell does anyone function with this? I was laying outside yesterday with my husband in lovely sunny downtown Jackson on a big baptist church’s steps. Sounds romantic, but it wasn’t. I had to stop walking after I couldn’t get myself to go any father because a feeling beyond feeling was making it hard to do anything, including move or hold a conversation.

“What do you want to do?” he asks.

“Nothing,” my answer.

Which people say all the time but I meant, Nate, I literally don’t want to sleep or eat, or watch TV, or drink beer or walk around or have sex in a hot air balloon or fly to the moon. I don’t want to draw, play, write or read. I could possibly eat pizza, but that’s it, and I’d probably be worse afterwards anyway.

The moments that most devastatingly clarify my depression are ones like these.

Let me explain – when I was in my Senior year of high school I started feeling this feeling that I had never felt before – the familiar frienemy I now label “depression.” And of course, anyone who has struggled with depression knows that this thing – this monster – goes far beyond feeling. It’s heinous in it’s inability to be explained. It sneaks around at first and bugs your mind with little emotional traps – not enough for you to get a clue, but enough to break you down slowly. And by the time you’re broken down, you’re on Prozac and it’s all over.

Pictures and comparisons are almost always necessary to explain my depression, and even then most people don’t “get” it. So when I began to be sucked into the enduring silent vortex that is the deadlock of a word with no synonyms; the black gruesome monster who was simultaneously consuming more and more of my friends and family as he silently did  me; affecting my mind, body and soul, I questioned everything. I questioned what this was because it wasn’t sadness – Sadness is sadness. Depression is collapsing headfirst into a rabbit hole you never saw coming, looking around and realizing that you have landed in a different dimension that is the same as your own, except it has lost it’s flavor. It’s color. It is more distant than before, more gray, and less exciting. People act the same but are more exhausting and more terrifying. You grasp the fact that there is something off and wrong, but you’re never able to fully grab hold of the entirety of it. That’s depression.

That’s what I felt for the very first time sitting in Finance class, and realizing that I felt worse than I had in my entire life, but not knowing how to fix myself. Not knowing anything anymore. That was my depression.

Naturally, I got a therapist, and the therapist put me on Prozac. Great choice, therapist. After months of cutting, smoking myself silly, and absolutely draining the life out of everyone around me, the Prozac kicked in, yay! Does Prozac actually work for anyone? UGH.

So Prozac made me want to kill myself. I made this discovery when I went to go for a run. Running was the one thing I had that would without fail calm my mind and get some of my tired endorphins to move. That is, if I could get myself to actually go. I started, taking the usual path that I always took, and dead stopped after less than 400 meters.

Shit. I don’t want to run, I realized. I don’t want to run, and I should want to run. Running makes me happy, and it’s not.

And then for the first time ever I wanted to die. Because why live at that point, really.

So when I was laying next to Nate yesterday, feeling the sun on my face – the sun that I had begged God for for months, that I said I would be so much happier when I could feel – the sun that promised Summer and adventure and road-trips, the sun that warmed me all over, my favorite feeling in the world, I tried to choose to feel happy. I tried to convince myself that this was a great moment and I should just choose to feel happy about it.

But I couldn’t. Because I’m depressed. It’s like eating a donut, expecting to taste a donut, and instead tasting sand. But everyone around you tries it and is confused because it tastes like a donut, why don’t you just taste the donut, Sam? No matter how fabulous that moment was, it wasn’t going to break through the jail cell that is this icy cold prison where I, and so many others, live all the time.

I hated my life yesterday. I questioned God extensively yesterday. And I remembered that familiar feeling of not being able to run yesterday. I wished I didn’t have to exist anymore yesterday. And I had no resolution yesterday. It only got worse and bled into today.

I love how the Psalms are so honest, and always end with a bit of hope about God. Even if the whole thing is a cry of total despair, the writer always chooses to end with hope.

As much as I like that, I don’t have a whole lot of hope or faith right now. So maybe, hopefully, this isn’t the end of the story. But right now I’m in a prison and God has the key. And for some reason He won’t hand it over, which really pisses me off.

The needy soul.

I want to please you. I want to please the fuck out of you.

I want to give you everything you want and be everything you want me to be.

I want the sheer essence of who I am to seep into the depths of your very being. I want to startle your soul into a place of deep enamor. Write poems about me. Photograph me. Craft music with me as the main theme. Show me I’m important. Show me I can move you; be a muse to you, make you think; I want songs preformed about the way I move. The way I speak. The lovely way my lips move and the way my hair falls.

I want a single glance to captivate you.

Call me beautiful. Call me gorgeous. Call me perfect. Call me all the beautiful adjectives you can find in a dictionary and then try other languages.

I’ll make it worth your effort. I want to please you. I want to do all the things you want me to do. I want something as quiet and light as my morning routine to draw out simple, inspired attraction. I want my particular musical tastes to grip you and make you wonder about me, all about me, and love me, love me. Breathe for me. I want my unplanned words to sound like poetry, poetry that you recite under your breath when you need to feel inspired to create something. Let me be your muse. Your role model, even. Your best friend. Your fantasy. Your object of envy.

I want my hobbies to cause you to be interested in me, my style to enchant you, my journaling, drawings, baking to make you smile. Because of me. Because I am special and worth something. I want my body to be your ideal and I want you to compliment me. I want my physique to inspire. Inspire jealousy. Inspire lust. Because I mean something. I matter. I’m good enough. I’m important. I’m sexy. I’m beautiful.

Right?

Approval. I need it. Tell me I’m beautiful. Tell me I matter. Use the most sophisticated words you can conjure. Use adjectives that I’ve never even heard. Forge balladry. Dream up beautiful lymericks, sonnets and quatrains. All about me. 

Then I will know I matter. In fact, I think I will die if you don’t follow through. I want this all so much. So I will be anything you want me to be. I will change for you. If my body is not what you desire, then I shall change it. If you do not like my hair, then my hair will be cut, grown or dyed. If my activities seem sub-par, then they will certainly change. If my speech does not spark fascination, then I will learn new words and mannerisms.

Please tell me you love me and tell me I matter. I will be whoever you want me to be.

I’ll be whoever you want me to be.

I’ll be whoever anyone wants me to be.

All I ask in return is your love and acceptance.

I have become a pish-posh of unrecognizable pieces of flesh and fashion – interest and activity – personality and practices – soul and game. I know not who I am anymore. And I am still unsure if anyone really loves me for me.

I can’t think about this too much because it freaks me out – because those who do love me do not truly love me, but love what I have created. My mismatched demeanor. My cut-to-pieces soul. I have sparked ruthless jealousy in some, as I have been ruthlessly jealous of others. I have slowly and skillfully adopted shaped myself into what I have believed would make me the most wanted. Given me the most adoration, attention, respect, approval.

And now I am not myself and I am not loved for myself.

Probably all the love in the world could not fill the ravenous hole in my heart that begs for evermore attention and praise. And the people’s praises that do seem to momentarily fill are so shaky, changing their affections based on the culture and age and personality.

I am left shaken, broken, older than I should be and unlike who I really am. I am too far away from reality to know who I really am. My heart cries out for love in a vacuum. I operate out of the same old mantra: “please let me please you, and accept my desperate attempts with praise.”

I am empty. And alone. With no ballads or photographs that even begin to touch the true longing of my soul.

I cry, scream, distraught – exhausted – from extracting everything I possibly could from every other option I could have sought after with my needy heart.

Already feeling the guilt and shame of the knowledge of what I should have done all along, I cry out, “I’ve tried everything now! I’m done! I need perfect love!”

He answers in grace.

He binds up my wounds.

He tells me I’m loved.

This is the answer.

But I’ll do it again.

When You Were Young

I was strumming the few chords I know on my guitar and it made me want to write. Zoning out guitaring turned into getting all nostalgic turned into wanting to write. That’s all I want out of life really.

C-D-G, C-D-C… C. D… probably C again… I know how to make my guitar make sounds that make me feel happy (as happy as I’m able anyway) and sad. This is a breakthrough in my life. Slow happy and sad switches are nostalgia noises. Really some quality contemplating music.

A scene at a bar, about 15 people. Old friends who sat at the same lunch table in high school but barely talk anymore. Beer. So many old faces with slightly new lines, slightly older faces and different hair; some with tattoos and jewelry. Everyone looked the same but different. Older.

It made me want to step into a time machine and revel in the glorious carefree oasis that is High School. I kind of wanted them to all look the same so I could really sink into that history. But it was good enough.

There was lots of catching up and one of my old and quite familiar classmates perfectly responded to my informing him that I was learning the guitar:

“That one’s a long time comin!”

“I know!”

“You just gotta learn those chords.”

“Right, the chords.”

Short, sweet, so simple. But for a quick, confusing second, I was really happy that he responded that way. I wasn’t quite sure why his statement took me back a moment. But now I understand: this guy knew that I had wanted to learn the guitar since I was 14. Because he knew me when I was 14. A little piece of the history of Samantha Anne Blount Panicacci remembered randomly in a bar. I felt special and somehow more real.

It is really very precious to have someone know who you were when you were young. It makes my heart ache. To have the little old quirks about you remembered. It’s like you get to see a forgotten piece of yourself when you’re around them.

How precious to keep friends around that you had when you were young. But how seldom it happens. How vacant a feeling. Maybe not everyone feels this way. But how could you not?

And I just keep strumming. Happy and sad chords.

And I know this is not something people usually admit, but I’m just wishing I still knew my old friends from high school. I wish we could all get together and hang out and get along and have 12 year old pool parties again. But I’ve cut so many ties and have broken so many things. And I wish so many things. I didn’t know what I was doing in High School as I ruthlessly thrashed around through drama and other petty things. I wish I wouldn’t have done what I did. I wish I could still know those that I have “moved on” from. How can you move on, when you’ve spent K-12 with someone? Replace them? No one can replace the memories created when I was young!

These people hold a special place in my heart, and I miss them. I love all the people in my life now, but they will never know the 11 year old Sam who beat up boys, 12 year old tomboy Sam, 13 year old Sam who sat on her Gamecube all day, 14 year old sexually confused perfectionist Sam, the 15 year old just-getting-into-boys Sam, 16 year old rebellious Sam, 17 year old track star Sam who really loved pot, the 18 year old Sam who had just started cutting. Among other Sams.

I don’t like the idea that “you’ll lose your friends you had in high school.” It might be true, but I don’t like it. I don’t think the mentality is very good. Because if you can keep those people around, it’s so valuable, and I don’t think we were designed to be okay with so many broken relationships. And my heart feels like it’s missing a place where some of those people should be. And I’m so thankful for those people that I do still keep in contact with.

As Baz Luhrmann says in one of my favorite “songs?” of all time, Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), “Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”

C-D-G, C-D-C… blah. Sad.

Flowers

Women are flowers. Stupid people crush flowers.

Nate and I have been having a lot of conversations about women and beauty. And through them, and through God, I’m unequivocally convinced that beautiful women-kind are the best cherry you’ve ever had on the cupcake that is the earth. Or maybe, like, the frosting. Because what’s a cupcake without frosting? Yes, we have flowers, trees, the sky. But can you imagine the earth without women? Without little girls, pretty hair, glowing skin, make-up, fashion – the charm, expressions, grace, and overall encapsulating beauty that is womankind?

There is a beautiful and exciting atmosphere I love experiencing at events where women are present and have dressed themselves up. I think a lot of this is because of the way we feel at these events – confident and caught up in the romance of the night – and how this feeling makes you shine. All the different ways we reveal the essences of femininity is facinating. We glitter, we lipstick and powder  – we do twirly, or lacy, feathers or leather. We lengthen and cover and reveal and shine. The different perfumes – fruity, bold, sweet, flirty, or the nostalgic grandmotherly fragrance that I always breathe deeply when it covers the air. We express, we reveal, we dance. We are badasses.

We are different and varied as flowers, but not even. Flowers do not have the choice of fluidity, which is beautiful in and of itself – to dress themselves by how they are feeling a certain day; to express their personalities with whichever color or style they choose.

Only one other breed of being has this option, and this breed is the man. And while men can be all-around fabulous and expressive, and I would never want to take away from that, there is just something different about a roomful of girls than a roomful of guys.

Men have so much to offer. But I want to focus on the ladies, because so often the ladies are just, not focused on. At least, not because of their God-given beauty. Often the talk about women takes on a darker flavor.

And why wouldn’t it? Think of the most beautiful things on this earth. The environment, for example? We’ve absolutely trampled it. Great beautiful bodies of water have become polluted. Trees chopped. Air poisoned. Furthermore, churches are burned down, animals are force fed hormones, caged and cruelly slaughtered, young puppies and kittens put into mills. We are sick. Really sick.

Buildings are struck down. People are murdered. Schools are filled with bullies who crush confidence before talent can bring forth beautiful art. This world hates beauty – kills it. At the first sight of something beautiful, we love to critique and destroy before anyone gets too cocky.

Look at magazines, filled with the world’s so-called loveliest people, right? These people are more scrutinized than anyone else! If these are the ones that society has chosen as the elite and beautiful, why is society not praising their beauty? It is true that sometimes, they do – but often only for a time, until the next body type is deemed more attractive, or they gain an ounce of weight, or they walk out the door without make-up.

We are hardwired, it seems, to crush what is beautiful. We may love Jessica Simpson one day, but call her ugly soon after. And even though we might bless her with the loving title of “HOT,” (right) we qualify with, but she’s stupid, untalented, a slut… And if she gains weight, we scrutinize her until we are sure our egos are filled and her, and many others, confidence is destroyed.

Here’s my point. It is so obvious to me that women are beautiful. Not just outwardly – no. Personally, I think that a women’s beauty comes from deep within. It is planted there by a loving Creator and is lived out through a lovely and precious exterior. (Of course, we all know 1 Peter 3:4, and I like this version – “But be adorned in the secret person of the heart and in a humble spirit which is uncorrupted, an excellent ornament before God.” But try to think outside the box. See bottom of page for biblical basis.) And I see this shine practically intoxicatingly at parties, where women are confident and feel beautiful and lovely caught up in excitement and adventure.

But there is a dark side. While a woman may feel confident and lovely, she also may feel jealous. Angry. Protective. Insecure. Unconfident. Ashamed. Embarassed. And she may be putting every other woman down in her head to make herself feel better. It just might be a confusing swirl of emotion, good and bad intentions, feelings and motives.

Even worse, men have learned to absolutely pulverize the beauty that is so natural in a woman, by critiquing her body parts or her hair color or whatever he wants. It’s his body to judge, he thinks. Her style to approve or disapprove. He has been trained not to see what is beautiful, but what is hot – and everything that he does not consider hot, he violently condemns. It is practically car shopping.

The problem is that women are walking around, believing that they are not beautiful. Not able to express themselves the way they’d want to because they are ashamed. Not able to not wear make-up if that’s her thing because she does not believe that she has natural beauty to offer. Not able to wear glittery, fun make-up because she is afraid the world will see her as pretentious or superficial. No winners here. We’re all in a box.

This is a hateful crime we have enacted on the modern women. I am guilty as anyone. Instead of crushing what is obviously beautiful, I suggest we begin to celebrate beautiful womenkind in all its glory. Because we are not only crushing each other with all the hatred and jealousy, but we are crushing ourselves.

Stop crushing flowers.

Extra: this is a link to a video by Larry Crabb, a leading Christian Therapist and one of my favorite authors. It’s a kind of corny 2 minute video, but it addresses the core fear of a woman concerning beauty, and I think it’s very valuable.