I take another Art History course and sign up for a class on Christianity–the general survey of Religions course was filled up, so I take what I already kind of know.
Every day is long. Every day is repetitive. Every weekend feels the same.
My friends are finishing college and completing internships and doing All The Things I want to be doing.
I’m empty most days.
If I had never dropped out of college, I would be graduating this month.
Mom and I plan a trip to Chicago and Minneapolis to take my mind off of things.
We stay with the Flosis in Chicago and Uncle Malcolm and Aunt Vicki in Minnesota. We’re gone for two weeks, and when I’m away and distracted, I feel normal.
I try to stay off of social media but I’m still inundated with pictures of friends in caps and gowns and the jealousy overtakes my body and the pain is real and the pain is physical and all I can think is, it should be me.
Jukebox the Ghost is opening for Ingrid Michaelson at Wolf Trap. Even though it’s June, it’s freezing cold, and Aashna and I are shivering all night. It’s perfect though, because Jukebox the Ghost is the only band I’ll dance for.
Things are getting better though. Since getting back from the trip, I’m happier and more optimistic. This all swells up when Ingrid starts singing “Afterlife.” A year ago, I heard this song for the first time and cried thinking “will I ever feel this way? Will I ever have hope?”
Now, I’m hearing this song live, and I do have hope.
It’s my first DysConf as a member of the Patient Advisory Board. I don’t stay at the hotel this year, but I stay at the conference for as long as possible every day. After months of daily isolation, I finally feel like I’m a part of something and I have real purpose.
The conference is like summer camp. You meet strangers on Day One and by the end of camp/conference, they’re your family, and you can’t imagine how you’re going to go back home because they’re your everything now.
Elyse and Amanda and Jenny and Kyla and Katie and Katherine and Daniel are only some of the people I love and cling on to–
Throughout the conference they take care of me and when they notice my pupils getting huge they tell me to sit down and drink water and how do I go back to The Real World after existing in this bubble where everyone understands me so perfectly?
Katie, Katherine, and I eat lunch with Alex Agro who is a speaker at the conference and was a contestant on America’s Next Top Model. As far as we’re concerned, we’re high status now.
I get tickets for Mom, Dad, Mike, and me to attend a test taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Mom manages to humiliate the entire family when she’s pulled on stage to chat with the warm up comic.
Being back in New York City is electrifying, even if it’s just to see the taping.
It’s check up time again. My psychiatrist mentions transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
He’s talked about it in the past, but that almost no insurances cover it and that it’s $15,000 out of pocket.
I do not have $15,000. My parents do not have $15,000. We are not a family that just has $15,000.
TMS is the leading alternative to ECT. MRI strength magnets stimulate parts of your brain that have been inactive and then the depression… goes away.
He tells my parents they need to see if our insurance covers it. And then everything starts happening.
My psychiatrist writes a letter to my insurance company saying I need it. We look for doctors in the area who provide it. I do research. There’s one doctor I can’t find ratings of, but my therapist says “how about him?” for no particular reason. The doctor without ratings is our literal answer to prayer.
We meet with him and the questions he asks make me break down crying and as I apologize for each tear I cry and then he validates all of my pain–
He’s a military doctor. He sees the worst of the worst on a daily basis. And he’s telling me that everything I have experienced, for all of these years–
Is real, is valid, is complex. Is difficult. Is going to be a challenge to treat. But we can do it, and TMS is the answer.
Insurance approves it. And I’m scheduled to begin treatment right after the new year.
Jose’s little sister Sara moves back to Virginia after living in Boston for years.
I’ve always wanted to be friends with her. We met a few times growing up, and I’ve known she would be a cool person to be around, a good person to be around.
And so naturally, Jose, Mike, Sara, and I become a group. Jose and Sara are the perfect complement to Mike and me. We name our Group Chat “Pizza Party” and that ends up being the name for our friend group. We’re Pizza Party.
It’s ridiculous, and I love it.
New Year’s Eve.
The Reid clan descends on Washington. Nate and Leah are finally getting married. I have a bunch of cousins in town but it’s never enough–I want more of my family around. However it also brings up the awkward, horrible questions.
“What’s new with you, Shan?” “How are you?” “Oh, you’re not in school?” “What’s next?”
I’m a master of dodging these questions. This time I lean in to them. I make them awkward.
“I’m depressed. Still living at home. We’re going to zap my brain with magnets. It’s called TMS.”
My relatives are intrigued, confused, and supportive.