Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Very Special Post

I didn't take the traditional ways into my debt dungeon. I didn't buy plasma televisions and take vacations to Maui or take out tons of student loans. Before I went into debt I was actually quite financially responsible. What happened? Oh, nothing much. I just went completely batshit crazy.

I remember the exact day I knew I was in some serious mental trouble. I was in my parents' basement, alone, having gone there to let out their dog since they were on vacation. I was standing there, in the middle of the room, and I just felt the bottom go out from under my mind. I realized, "Oh, boy. I'm depressed. Seriously, take-no-prisoners depressed." There wasn't any horror (which there should have been, there should have been abject terror), just a detached, clinical assesment of the situation. As anyone who has been clinically depressed knows, there is no emotion. Just a numbness that seems to go on forever.

And thus began a hellish several years. I began failing in every part of my life, taking worse and worse jobs. The worst was working as a courier. Not a courier that had a company van. No, I drove my own car, and put well over 300 miles a day on it. Soon I was paying to have $1,400 repairs done on it, sometimes twice a month. There was no way out. Telemarketing is actually one career level above courier. Below courier? Pigeon-covered homeless man wearing dirt for pants.

I knew things were really, really, really bad when I began the moaning. Here's what would happen: I would pick up a package, get in my pieced-together piece of crap and begin driving. And from somewhere inside me would begin to eminate a low, toneless moan. It would rise in pitch, completely outside of my control, and fill the cab. Just a lone wail that I didn't even have the ability to stop, until I reached the destination. I would have the person sign for the package, smile, but then once back in the car the moans would start again. Whew, boy. Like I said. Batshit crazy.

The courier job's low pay, combined with the car repairs, made making rent impossible. So what did I do? I began using credit card checks to pay rent. Buy groceries. Pay for the 4.5 tons of General Tso's Chicken I consumed during this period (I mean, if you're going to go on a depression-fueled binge, if eating is the only thing in your wasteland of a life that gives you one scrap of uplift, why not eat the unhealthiest food you can find? It was like eating sugared balls of pure fat). When my credit card statement would come, I would not even look at what was going on below the "pay this amount" line. I just paid that amount.

All this time, with my mind deadened to the world around me, my absolute and total misery manifesting itself in banal banshee screams, there was a tiny little voice that would speak occasionally. It would say, "I'll help you. Just get through this and I will make things right." And the weird thing was is that I knew that it was the "future me." I would speak back and say, "I'm sorry. I wish I could stop this but I'm going to need your help. I'm afraid I'm running up quite a tab here." "I'll shoulder the burden," the voice would say. I know it's really quite insane, but I remember that it would say that. "I'll shoulder the burden."

But it wasn't the future me that helped me get through that unspeakably horrific chapter of my life. It was my parents, and my brothers and most of all Bianca.

Every once in a while, when I've had some real debt destroying victories, I'll take a moment and think, "It's okay. I'm shouldering the burden."

I probably should see a shrink. But it's not in the budget.

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