Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two Threads

I feel like my life has two independent threads—both running simultaneously but almost never touching. There is the "real" life, in which I am a 24-year-old student finishing my Master's, jetting around the country doing PhD interviews. This is the life in which I work three jobs, ace my classes, teach myself to write code in three different softwares, charm my professors, bounce ideas back and forth with my advisor, then ooh and ahh over photos of his kiddos, exchange witty texts with my parents and my brother, invite my friends over to open a bottle of wine, provide running commentary via text with my college roommate as we watch The Bachelor together from afar ("Does Chris know he doesn't have to kiss EVERY girl?" "sluttiest 'virgin' I've ever seen!"), chat with the sweet old lady who makes my coffee at the school cafe, and pretty much do it all with a smile.

And then there is my other life. This is the one in which I have a relentless, inescapable tally in my head counting calories, carbs, fat grams, minutes exercised (was that moderate or vigorous?), distance walked, stairs climbed, weights lifted. The one in which I use Google Chrome's Incognito setting to search for things like BMR and low-carb diets and eating disorder blogs. The one in which I drag myself out of bed every morning to go running before breakfast, and make myself wait X hours between meals even if my stomach is growling, and make myself walk the X miles to campus no matter the weather because burning any any calories is better than nothing. The one in which sometimes, I hate myself. I hate how I look, I hate how I feel, I hate that this had to be me. And then I hate myself for being so shallow. So ungrateful. This is the life in which sometimes, I am so deeply unhappy that nothing seems worth it. That I am sometimes in such profound pain I don't think I can do it anymore.

And sometimes, fleetingly, these threads collide. Periodically I withdraw, and it becomes quietly apparent that something isn't right. When my friends don't quite know what's up, but Has anyone heard from Kaylee lately? Or when I crack, and can't keep my lives apart, and call my mom in wrecking sobs.

I don't know what other people's inner experiences are like, I only know what it is for me. That it seems desperately important to keep my "real" life normal and intact and pristine, even when everything inside is crumbling apart.

This post sounds terribly sad, I realize, but I'm really okay. I've pulled out of that dark space I was in for a few days last week, and am becoming more and more convinced these cyclical depressive periods are PMS-related, but that's a topic for another day. The past couple days, I took some real steps toward feeling better, not just waiting around for it to happen: I reconnected with an old dietitian, and feel majorly better about things. Then after a traumatizing experience in a mall dressing room over the weekend and swearing NEVER EVER EVER to go back because I am TOO FAT FOR CLOTHES, I went back to the damn mall today and found an outfit I love for my interviews.

I'm doing okay, I really am. It's just been an up and down several days—nay, weeks‚—and I'm still figuring it all out. Stay with me.


  1. Ooof, you nailed how I felt too. It takes me an eternity to warm up enough to not feel the need to be pristine to others, and I still retrospectively cringe when I think about times my inner-wreck may have punctured the surface.
    I think the plan was to squelch the inner crazy and just be left with the very polished outer self. I am only just beginning to be able to be open about those inner-things with people who I don't pay to help me (or internet strangers). Instead, I'm still working on tethering myself down into the really-here, letting slips of imperfection and neurosis percolate up and be dealt with and not some hideous guilt I carry around.Good for you for pulling through with the profesh clothes + mall situation-- what'd you end deciding to wear?

    Good luck being a rockstar interviewee.

  2. Yeah, this is definitely a thing, and it sucks. That feeling of having to put on the act of the person one wants to project to the world is so tiring and frustrating. I have thought in the past that if I keep putting up that pristine, polished act, maybe I would someday fully become that person. It didn't happen. I'm also finding ways to be a little tiny bit more open about these things in the professional sense--not looking unprofessional, but letting the dark humor that's wrapped up in my "crazy" out. I'm so sorry you're feeling this way. It sucks. It's hard. It's tiring.

    Great that you were able to push through the feelz and get a new outfit! Exciting! You're going to nail your interviews! :)

    PS. In unrelated news, I think my punctate/filamentary keratitis has returned. I know you understand the frustration there.

  3. I truly understand what do you mean. I feel the same, and I'm so scared for this two worlds to meet. I hope nobody will figure out how crazy my thoughts can be when I'm left alone. I don't want them to wonder how this funny girl can drown into darkness in the middle of the night. Maybe everyone has a dark side?