If I Wrote An Honest Resume

If I wrote an honest resume, one where the sections of time without employment were filled in with the truth – no socially acceptable excuses for them – it would read like this:

July 2010

Saint Louis, MO

Hallelujah I’m Free

I move from Pittsburgh to Saint Louis for college. There is a not insignificant chance I get into the university because my uncle is the dean of the art school. I go there because it offers the best scholarship of the schools I’ve been accepted to. I do well for the first few semesters, taking more classes than necessary & mostly earning A’s. For my nineteenth birthday I get my first simple little camera as a joint birthday gift from my mother and grandmother. I’d been wanting to learn photography because a friend of mine in high school took photographs that made me feel things. I dreamt of making art that would make people feel things too. A longtime lover of books, I become obsessed with Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild and keep a bag packed and ready to run away with in the corner of my dorm room. The question of “where would I get insulin on the run?” keeps me from fleeing society but I feel Alexander Supertramp deep in my bones. His body was discovered in Alaska a year after I was born.

June 2011 – February 2013

Saint Louis, MO

Computer Lab Tech / Archivist

Most of my job entails unclogging the printer every half an hour or so and stints of reorganizing the microfiche no one ever seems to need but the university keeps a large collection of. I spend many work hours browsing through photographs of Iceland on my laptop, dreaming of visiting there. I get fired when I become too depressed to get out of bed and don’t show up to work for days. My brain can’t make my body follow its commands anymore – it feels like wading through sand up to my knees whenever I manage to walk.

December 2011

San Francisco, CA

Depression Vagabond

I hitchhike up the California coast during the university’s winter break to avoid returning to Pennsylvania. Back in Saint Louis, during the fall semester of my sophomore year, I experienced my first real suicidal thoughts – a feeling that I did not know how to exist anymore & desperately did not want to. A strong sense that I was not cut out to be a human in this world & agony in almost every moment I felt pass. I drove myself to the ER at the giant St Louis hospital many times, feeling as if I was going mad and knowing I was a danger to myself. I never made it out of my car and into the hospital – too afraid of being locked up, not knowing how long they would keep me there or what it would be like. Now, in San Francisco, I sit on the Golden Gate Bridge, the wind whipping my hair all around my head. I wonder how many people have ended their lives here, why they made that choice, what they felt and thought as they went down down down down crash.

April – July 2012

Saint Louis, MO

A Taste

I have my first hypomanic episode when I’m put on an anti-depressant by the university’s psychiatrist after a break-up. The moron I lost my virginity with had told me a week later, when he dumped me, that he “didn’t think he’d ever really liked me.” My apartment is spotless. I go vegan and begin baking my own bread. I don’t remember ever having this much energy and it’s wonderful. Only knowing about bipolar disorder from how I’ve seen it portrayed on TV, I do not know I’m hypomanic. I just think this is how normal, functional, non-depressed people feel. There is the hosting of potluck parties at my apartment for groups I’m not even a member of, the going to Washington  state (which I fell in love with the wildness of) and Oregon for a student training program with the Sierra Club. Afterwards, the hostels were full & I thought I was going to have to sleep under a bush. I wasn’t even that scared.

June – August 2012

Missouri Botanical Gardens

Photography Intern

Nothing interesting to report – I photograph flowers and trees then run back into the air-conditioned office to edit them.

February 2013

Greensburg, PA

Funny Farm

I go on the first of many medical leaves that I’ll take from the university after nearly flunking and then withdrawing from all of my classes. I spend a month sleeping for 21 or so hours a day in my mother’s farmhouse due to a depressive episode so intense I wouldn’t have believed it possible . I’d adopted a little dog, Lena, from a shelter event while living in St Louis. She seemed to need me as much as I needed someone. When we first met I picked her up & someone else walked over, interested. She growled at them. “This one wants me,” I thought. Lena and I fled Saint Louis – I needed to get out of there. I knew that city was making me sick. I left most of my belongings behind and never got them back. At my mother’s house, I only leave my room to eat at night. One evening I finally drive myself to the ER and check myself in, telling them I’m suicidal, just to get away from my screaming mother & her criticism. This is my first time in a psychiatric ward. The nurses do not believe I’m a type 1 diabetic and will not give me any insulin. I get a big shot of Ativan in my ass in front of some male orderlies instead because I cannot stop crying. By morning my blood sugar is very high and I’m very sick. I call my dad. I tell him what’s happened. My dad works as a private detective & looks up the head of the hospital’s phone number. He calls him & after that I’m given insulin.

April 2013

Saint Louis, MO

Crashing

Lena and I spend a month or so living in my ex-fiance, San’s, apartment with him because we literally have nowhere else to go. I couldn’t be in my mother’s house anymore – it was making my depression worse. He is kind but it’s a very awkward situation and his roommates absolutely despise me.

May 2013

Bellingham, WA

I Was Trying To Start Over Somewhere Beautiful

I have nowhere to live in St Louis anymore – the acquaintance I’m crashing with will be graduating and moving out in two weeks and I have no money, no job & am not enrolled in any classes. My diet is entirely Taco Bell burritos my friend, Joel, buys for me. I don’t have any of the things a person my age should have – a class schedule, a degree, a rented apartment or a job. Knowing I need to start over from scratch either way, I decide I want to start over someplace beautiful, somewhere I actually want to be. After a long hypomanic drive from Saint Louis to Bellingham, WA made in record time, Lena and I spend a while living in my car and subsisting on doughnuts stolen from the grocery store because my bank account is overdrawn. We were supposed to rent an attic bedroom from a friend, but the room turned out to be a garage crawl space5 about 5’ in any direction. I was unable to stand up in it. The front of the space was open, a 15 foot ladder leading up to it & I worried about Lena falling to the garage floor below. There were no electrical outlets in the “room.” 

June – July 2013

Bellingham WA

A Fair Amount of Failures

I find a flyer and get hired as a live-in caregiver for a passive aggressive old woman whose favorite form of communication is Post-It notes. At least I’m not living in my car anymore. Twice a week, I go to the local food bank, arrive early in the morning and wait in line for hours. I flee Bellingham with Lena when the old woman becomes too much for me. Again, I leave most of my belongings behind. My car wouldn’t make the drive back to Pennsylvania, the engine turns itself off at stoplights now, so it’s sold for $200 as scrap metal. It’s kind of traumatizing to keep having to flee, my collection of clothing and books continually shrinking with each abrupt move. I take Lena and only what will fit in one checked suitcase and one carry-on. My dad pays for my plane ticket back to the farmhouse – he’s living in a studio apartment now & has no room for me. The farmhouse is my only safety net & I have very little security in the world, very little to call my own. I do not take one photograph the whole time I’m in Washington state despite its beauty.

July 2013

Greensburg, PA

“I’ve never seen you like this.”

After my failed attempt to start over in Bellingham, I’m back in the hellhole that is my mother’s farmhouse. My attempt to start over, to create a new life, has failed. I’m 22 and feel like my life is already irrevocably broken, hopelessness follows me like a fog. I’m the failure –  I don’t know how to be a person or survive in the world. I should be graduating from the fancy university but I’m not. Instead I’m depressed as fuck and showering is impossible. “I’ve never seen you like this,” my dad says in a voice I’ve never heard him use before when we go out for breakfast at one of the local Eat’N’Park diners.

July 2013

Greensburg, PA

Who else was I supposed to talk to?

My mother kicks me out of the farmhouse for talking to the neighbors she doesn’t like. My dad buys me a plane ticket back to Saint Louis. My mother said she wants me out of her house by the time she gets home from work. She’s convinced I’ve been “talking shit” about her with the neighbors. She thinks this is why someone has keyed her horse trailer. I can’t disprove any of these accusations, but none of them are true. I just liked hanging out at the neighbors’ because they were fellow smokers and didn’t look at me with disgust when I had a cigarette. You can’t walk anywhere, even to a gas station, from the farmhouse. Who else was I supposed to spend time with?

August – November 2013

Saint Louis, MO

I don’t look at them but they look at me.

Lena and I move back to Saint Louis, we rent a large turquoise bedroom in an arrogant acquaintance’s house his dad bought for him. He loves telling anyone who comes over that he owns the house. I become a “webcam” girl on the internet because I have no car and the house is a dangerous walk from anywhere I could apply for a job. I hate it. To this day I cannot stand seeing the letters “bb” (short for “baby”) used to refer to a person because of those chatrooms or listen to the band, The XX, because I associate their sound with camming. I hear gunshots in the neighborhood every night. I stop reporting them to the police. They’re aware.

September 2013

Saint Louis, MO

It feels like more money than I’ve ever heard of.

I get commissioned by the university to do a shoot for them after they see some old images I took of the campus on a photo sharing website I no longer use. The job pays $500.

November 2013 – April 2014

Saint Louis, MO

Sugar Baby

My roommate tells me about sugar daddies and I need money. I make a profile on a website. I do not want to sleep with the married old men so I only go on first “dates” because nothing physical is expected on the first date. I get free meals and an envelope of cash at the beginning of each dinner. It works for a while but I hate it. It feels incredibly icky.

August 2013 – April 2014

Saint Louis, MO

Crushed Hard

I get a job as a dispatcher for an appliance repair company. I have this job until I go on a vacation that changes things. I go to a college in North Carolina to visit an old friend I have a crush on. We do LSD together, sleep in the woods, drive around the Blue Ridge Mountains. I become rather obsessed with him, completely infatuated. After driving back to Saint Louis and being alone again for a few days, I leave for Pennsylvania in the middle of the night to surprise him while he’s there on winter break. There will be no staying at the farmhouse this time. I tell my boss there is a family emergency. There is no family emergency. The boy, his friends and I go to New York City. Then he comes to visit me in Saint Louis. When he leaves, something breaks. I beg him not to leave me alone with myself. We stop talking. When I fall into a horrible depression, suicidal again, I stop showing up for work but somehow do not get fired, then I come out the other side of it with the mind that I have no time to waste. I quit the dispatcher job to “live my dreams & start my real life.” I am hypomanic again but still do not know what that is.

April 2014

Endangered Wolf Center

Volunteer Photographer

I ask them if I can have free admission to the center – I’m in love with watching the wolves behind their two boundaries of high chain-link fence – in exchange for sharing the photographs I take with them for uses in Facebook posts, fund-raising emails, etc. They agree. The wolves are mostly there to be rehabilitated before being released back into the wild where they belong. They have large enclosures and the center intentionally keeps them as undomesticated as possible. I’m absolutely enchanted by these wild creatures. My favorites are the Maned Wolves, they are nicknamed “foxes on stilts” and have long beautiful legs, and the red wolves who used to roam Pennsylvania before they were chased out too.

June 2014 – December 2014

Saint Louis, MO

Totally Unqualified

I get a job nannying for a no-nonsense widowed lawyer with a sweet 15-year-old daughter, who mostly just studies in her room, and an autistic 18-year-old son who is large and throws tantrums. He speaks only in lyrics from Frozen and I absolutely do not know how to care for him. When he is upset he scares me. The job pays enough that I can stop going to the dinners with the old men. I drive the kids to tutors and swim practice and cook them dinner. The lawyer pays me less for overtime than for normal hours but I’m desperate for work. Most of the job is overtime. She can never give me any idea of when she is going to be home and I’m going to be let off duty, though I formally am done with my scheduled hours at 6:00. I get fired when I fall into a depression and call in sick three days in a row.

January 2015

Saint Louis, MO

600 Units of Humalog

I survive my suicide attempt and am finally locked up in the big hospital in Saint Louis I’d driven to so many times in years past.

January – May 2016

Saint Louis, MO

Let It Never Be Said She Didn’t Try

I’m eight credits short of a bachelor’s degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies from the fancy university but I can not attend classes anymore. I’ve developed severe anxiety around being on campus – all of the other students I see on my way to class look so young, wealthy and like they are having such an easy time while I should have graduated a year ago, can’t understand most of the assigned readings and feel completely beaten down and lost in life. The campus is so beautiful and landscaped, I don’t feel I belong there. I’m too much of a mess with my greasy, unwashed hair, my oversized thrift store sweaters and my completely chaotic anxiously depressed mind. I feel unsafe, like I stick out. Being on campus puts me into fight or flight mode. The feeling of being a misfit, a fraud. I am terrified of being asked my opinion in class. I think almost constantly that a shooter could appear on campus at any moment. It makes the hairs on my arms stand on end. The classroom discussions spin around me like I’m standing in the center of a carousel. To get myself to campus at all takes so many of my little blue Klonopin pills that by evening I can’t remember what was discussed in class that afternoon, not even the general topic.

(photograph by me)

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