On Falling Out of Love with Yourself

It’s like an ink spill. A whole bottle of ink spills on some old white sheet and the optimist in you says, ‘wow, look at that new pattern.’ At some point later in the week or month or year, you realize your infatuation with the pattern isn’t a sign of its beauty. You put it in the wash, take it out, and realize that ink has in fact, fucked up the whole sheet. The sheet actually looks like shit now. You touch the sheet and it also feels like shit now. You think maybe bleach and a few more washes will get that ink stain out. But you know it won’t really. Your sheet will never look like it did before. Some days you convince yourself the ink is fine, you can live with it. You notice it, though. Constantly.

You used think of that ink as depression, but now you know your very own brand of blue is already in the fabric, bleeding into other colors of your brain, terrifyingly invisible. You used to envision a lease of sorts between your mental states and your mental home: anxiety would rent a spot in the cranium for a week, despondency booked in for the following. You now realize the tenants never leave. The blue is always with you. And every now and again some trigger—the color of experience, if you will—lets you see it.

And Dartmouth is full of ink.

This process of growing up, growing out, and becoming what had once been strange and unfamiliar, is so fucking inky. All kinds of ink spilling all over the place. You exist in a continuous cycle of upheaval and self-diagnosis. You exist to prove your right to exist. You realize how impossible this is to do on your own. You realize how necessary it is to let others refill you when you’re running empty. You realize just how important friends are. Community and love mean different things to you now. Because now you need these things to survive.

But your love isn’t always the ‘in’ kind and that becomes a problem, that the intensity of your emotion can exist outside the box the world allotted for it. There are ones you love deeply, friends who are soulmates, who love you similarly until they don’t, who eventually fall out of what was always integral for you. You broke off parts of yourself to let them in, but they do not need you in the same way. Their sheets are genuinely white. And so there is the inevitable switch in your brain, of love being replaced by loss. When the loss is colorful and permeating, mixing freely and deeply with your invisible blue, your live-in worth-denier, how do you not fall out of love with yourself?

No honestly, you want to know.

What do you do when your remedies turn out to be stains? Ink settling into the fabric of your mind and rendering your blue visible? Palpable even?

Maybe you look for ways to own your depression, ways that don’t involve the risk of ink spills. Even though you need the risk of ink spills. Maybe you Google meditation, 21-day challenges, gospel songs, yoga classes, bible verses. You seek solace in the contradictions your brain knows to allow. Google ways to appease the blue. The optimist in you still marvels at the patterns sometimes.