Love and drugs.

I guess maybe it’s a good time to write about how I first started smoking crack. For me, it was all about a boy.

I had gone through a sort of rough year. I was smoking pot all day every day, and had recently quit my job due to sexual harassment. Two of my grandparents died. I think I was around 22 or 23.

I was living in Montreal at the time, and since it has a pretty progressive socialist-type of government, I was able to sign up for french classes while I was on unemployment. I could do this for a year instead of looking for a job, and still receive employment insurance.

When you go to free government-sponsored french school, it is inevitably a school full of new immigrants. I was one of maybe a handful of other Canadians whose french was sub-par enough to attend the school. The school also housed an alternative highschool, so along with the new immigrants was a large population of youths who didn’t quite fit into the regular education system. It was actually kind of great for me. I got to hang out with the french “bad kids” and smoke lots of weed, and also hang out with people from all over the world who were trying to learn french and get on their feet in a new country.

One of the new Canadians I met was the boy. He was from Central America, named Mateo. He had snuck into Canada somehow – his story involves jumping trains across tiny Central American countries, swimming to the US, staying with an aunt in Los Angeles, and finally sneaking into Canada. I’m not sure about all the details but I know it sounded like a terrifying and amazing journey. He even had a story about meeting a smoking monkey.

I liked Mateo. He was adorable – small, dark, long lashes, bad english. He was perfect. Due to our bad communication abilities, we ended up hooking up – I think I kissed him at school because I didn’t know what to say to him and it just seemed like the right thing to do.

The first time I took him to my apartment, Mateo thought I had been broken into. He had never been to a single woman’s apartment who was a heavy pot smoker and rarely cleaned up. I guess in his country you live at home until you’re married, and probably women living away from their parents have their shit together a bit better than I did.

I don’t know if it was that first visit or one soon after, but one day he pulled something out of his pocket and asked if I wanted to smoke crack. I said sure! Yes, I am a smart person, who knows better. But I guess I am also an insecure person, a person who was already smoking pot on an hourly basis, a person who did coke occasionally. So what did I have to lose?

I think it may have been a week later that I remember lying on my bed saying “oh fuck. I’m totally addicted to crack.” It turns out when Mateo offered it to me, he assumed I had already smoked it and had tons of experience. He actually felt bad that he introduced it to me.

So then began a several year relationship with a boy I was crazy about, a drug I couldn’t quit, and a life spiralling out of my control. Never once in that time did Mateo call me his girlfriend. I don’t think I was very important to him. When I had money, he would appear and we would buy drugs together. When he had money, he would sometimes reciprocate. He sold my dvd player (remember those?). He sold my camera. I sold my books and cds.

Eventually things all came crashing down and I had to stop doing crack (more about that another time). I even stayed with him after that. At that point he would always come over after coming down off crack, feeling miserable and sad. I became more of a caregiver than a girlfriend. It was around this time that he started saying he loved me, and the relationship stopped being quite as one-sided. I stayed with him until I moved away for a new job. It was the only way I could escape him. After that we continued talking on the phone. Then he was deported to the US.

Eventually I had a new boyfriend who didn’t like us talking. I told Mateo, and he said “it sounds like he loves you.” He never called me again after that. Sometime now I panic, not knowing where he is. It has been 8 years since I last heard from him. I have tried googling him, but he has a very popular spanish name and it’s hopeless. I found a person with his name who was arrested in the states, but I don’t know if it’s him. Sometimes it tortures me not knowing. Wondering if he’s alive. Wondering if I’ll run into him on the street.

*Mateo isn’t his real name.

Fitting in.

Ok, so I am still struggling to be motivated to write, but I am trying to force myself, because I know it makes me feel better.

This weekend I went to a concert. I don’t do things like that very often, because generally I don’t like people or being around them, especially drunk people, and I would just rather be at home or doing something completely different like being in nature or watching a movie. But in any case, I did go to the concert of an uber-hipster indie musician at an outdoor music festival, because my boyfriend got free tickets.

I will mention now that my boyfriend isn’t weird like me; he has friends, he likes doing social things, he can consume alcohol in moderation, he knows that doing cocaine is a bad idea, etc. etc. He also works in the music industry, so he is surrounded by people who like drinking and partying and who are generally not the types of people I like to be around. Not that there are many people I like to be around, but these people exemplify those that I especially do not want to spend time with. Which I think is fair, all things considered.

Sometimes I wonder, is it ok that I don’t want to hang out with my boyfriend’s friends, ever, ever, ever? And I should mention, he isn’t a 6 month boyfriend or a couple of years boyfriend, he is an 8 year-long relationship, living common-law.

So anyways, I went to this concert. And of course, his friends were there, and they were drunk and annoying. And one of them called me a ghost and said they never see me and I should hang out more. Which only makes me feel worse. And another one just completely ignored me, which was also great. Basically I felt like some awkward intruder standing in strange positions fiddling endlessly with my necklace while the normal people had fun.

But I came to a realization recently. The only time I felt like I DID fit in was when I was consuming substances. I was an awesome drinker, partier, drug doer. I was tons of fun to be around. But if I look back further than that, to when I was even younger, like maybe 13 – 15, before I was really partying too much, I didn’t fit in either. I felt lonely and alienated. And now I feel the same way. It did bring me some comfort to realize this. Like “hey! I’m still that girl!” I may not have anyone else, but at least I have 13-year-old me to keep me company.

So I guess the thing is, I probably won’t ever fit in. I will always prefer my own company. I will never enjoy spending time around drunk people. I’m still not sure about how that works with my relationship. It makes me feel like my boyfriend has 2 separate lives, the one with me and the one away from me, and they cannot ever merge. And this seems possibly unhealthy. But then I think there is no right or wrong, and if it’s working ok then I shouldn’t worry about it. But it still makes me feel like a weirdo. Especially when I have to be around his friends.

Annoying things people say.

I am in a bit of a slump again now. Feeling a bit hopeless about my job and my life.Here are some things that other people say that really annoy me when I’m dealing with depression.

  1. People with more friends are healthier.
    • First of all, thanks a lot for this! Now, not only am I depressed, but I am starting to worry about all the other health implications not having many friends will give me. Apparently there are medical studies linking having lots of friends to being in good health. I think that’s crap. Ok, so I guess it’s probably somewhat true, but the way people interpret it is the thing that bugs me. Like “just get a bunch of friends and then you’ll be healthy!” The way I see it, friends don’t bring health. Friends are a sign of good health. So if a person is already healthy, they might have lots of friends. Likewise, if a person does not have a lot of friends, this probably hasn’t pushed them into poor health. Their poor health (mental health) has pushed them into not having many friends. Basically what I’m saying is that I think having less social contacts is a symptom, not a cause. Like, I don’t have a lot of friends because there are long periods where I don’t want to see anyone. I physically can’t force myself to have more friends, because I am depressed.
  2. “You aren’t doing the things you love, that’s why you’re depressed.”
    • I have been getting this one since I was 18 and first started seeing a therapist for depression. My first therapist said to me “what I have learned about you is that you are an artist and a musician, and these are the things that make you YOU, so the fact that you aren’t doing them of course makes you depressed!” The thing is, once again this is a symptom, not a cause. I CAN’T do the things I love. Physically. It makes my body hurt to think about it. It also makes my body hurt to think about the things I love and how I’m NOT doing them. But this simple cure for depression, this “just do the things you love!” is not working for me.

I know that the relationship between depression and its symptoms is more complicated than this – I KNOW that if I could just force myself to do art, I would feel better, or if I dragged myself into hanging out with friends, I would be happy – but the thing is, the depression makes me unable to do these things.

I will say, with some chagrin, that writing these things down has made me feel a bit better.

Summer jobs.

I’d like to tell you about one summer job I had during university. It had its flaws, and may have helped to veer my life towards a darker path, but it was still pretty awesome.

Let’s preface this to say I was living in Montreal, as an anglophone, and so getting a job was not the easiest thing to do. My first attempt led me to a “massage” parlour, where I didn’t really clue in to what was going on until an elderly man asked the receptionist if he could have an Asian masseuse and it kind of dawned on me. I ran away from that one. Then I did get a job as a receptionist at a boutique hotel, but on my first day as I approached I noticed ashes and debris scattered on the sidewalk, and realized that the hotel had burned down. They didn’t need me after that. Then there was one where they wouldn’t actually tell me what the job was until I took a bus out to some far corner of the city with my last $5 only to learn that it was the old “sell this set of knives to your friends and family” pyramid scheme.

So while looking through the classified section of the paper, I saw “Gardeners Wanted” and called the number on the add. “HIIII!” said the man’s loud voice on the other end. “Hello, er, I’m calling about the gardening job?” I mumbled. “Oh great! My name is Jim Cummings*. Do you smoke weed?”  “Err…yes? Sometimes?” (In fact, quite a lot!)

And the rest was history. Jim Cummings was a child of the 60’s who never quite grew up. Every day, I took the bus for about an hour to the outskirts of Montreal, where I did some gardening for local wealthy people, and smoked A LOT of weed. Jim grew it, but didn’t sell it. He gave it away. I had margarine containers filled with it. I had A, B, and C grades in different containers. He had a 20 x 20 tinfoil wrapped room with many enormous plants growing in garbage cans. His house was filthy. Sometimes, instead of going with the crew to garden, I stayed behind at his house and cleaned and smoked even more weed. He had a large number of cats, who he loved dearly. All the surfaces of his home were covered with dirt and junk and papers. It was horrifying and delightful all at once!

Jim wasn’t very easy to work for. I think that the sheer quantity of what he had smoked had rendered him pretty insane. He didn’t have conversations, he more just talked at people non-stop. He didn’t keep clients very easily either because of this, and most of his employees left for more normal jobs. But I stuck it out! There was a period where his car died and we had to ride bicycles, carrying ladders and gardening equipment around the suburb to various homes. The whole summer seems surreal, covered in a thick haze of pot smoke.

After I went through rehab and needed a job, I called Jim up again and went out to work for him. But it wasn’t the same. Being sober and around that kind of manic, crazed lifestyle sadly isn’t that fun anymore. And he said weird things to me too. One time, he asked me how much I would cost if he wanted to buy me for his birthday. Another time, he asked me what my parents would think if him and I became a couple. There was a 30-year age gap between us, he was a bald, toothless, lunatic, and pretty quickly I had had enough.

I didn’t maintain a friendship with Jim after that summer. I guess it was pretty much impossible. I had gone on a new path and I couldn’t look past his craziness and pervertedness. But I do think about him from time to time. Is he still alive? Is he even crazier? Is he ok? Despite everything, he was a good man who was lost in life, in a way that I can relate to. But he’s not the type to be on social media, so there’s not much chance in finding him.

There’s so much more I want to tell you about him. He’s the kind of character that someone should make a documentary about. Like, he played the guitar and wrote songs and sang, and his songs were beautiful and profound and nothing like the Jim Cummings that was on the surface. It made me see what he had probably been like when he was young, before he fried his brain and became inaccessible to regular relationships.

As a sober person, I hate to admit it, but it was probably one of my best jobs ever.

*Jim Cummings isn’t his real name.


There’s something I haven’t mentioned yet that’s probably pretty relevant in regards to my most recent plunge into depression.

My grandma died. About a month ago. She was my last grandparent.

I can still picture the way she used to hold my face in her hands, how she used to smell, how her skin felt. I feel so alone without her. I have a small handful of people who I am connected to unconditionally, and the number feels as though it’s dwindling. I am jealous of those people who think of their friends as family, who have a large pool of people to pull from and rely on. I don’t have that. I have 3 actual friends, and I don’t feel like they are indispensable. They are more people that I can kind of tolerate on an irregular basis. When my grandma died, I received one card, from work. It’s like the death of my grandparent somehow put a magnifying glass on the fact that I am alone and don’t have anyone.

One thing I keep remembering is when this grandma came to my other grandma’s funeral. I started crying as soon as I saw her. She was a comfort to me. It makes me sad that she isn’t here to comfort me now.

That’s all I have to say for tonight. I just miss her. It’s weird, because really she hasn’t been herself for a few years, slowly forgetting herself. But still, the fact that she is gone just makes me ache.

The job conundrum.

I have an ongoing conundrum about jobs. That is, my dislike of all the jobs I have had, the feeling that I am too good for what I do, and the lack of knowing what I really want to do.

Recently, I came to the sad conclusion that because of my ongoing fight with depression, I am unable to survive as a freelancer. I am good at art, building furniture, and illustration, but most of the time I am too frozen in my depression to do anything with it. I also recently got a certificate in graphic design to compliment my degree in fine arts (painting and drawing), so that I could stop being an administrative assistant and maybe do something more artsy. Sadly, the position I took was a 4 – midnight shift at a financial institution as a desktop publisher. This was a bad move. I am not a bank person. I am more of a public sector, non-profit type person. And I am definitely not a night person.

Now I am thinking, should I apply for admin jobs instead? I don’t even think I want to be a graphic designer anymore – to me it is basically creating collages, and I have always hated making collages. Not that my certificate can actually get me a job in graphic design – the best I think I can hope for is a crappy desktop publishing shift which involves making everything the same font and putting it all in boxes of one colour.

Now looking at job boards just feels so hopeless and depressing. What do I apply for? What do I do? Is it worth becoming an admin assistant just to get out of my current shitty job and work normal hours? At least I could try to get a job that has benefits or vacation time, unlike my current position.

And then there is the whole what do I want to do when I grow up issue. This issue is getting old, since I’m now 36. I feel embarrassed that I don’t think I want to be a graphic designer. People know I went to school at night to get the certificate in graphic design, and I quit my fairly cushy job in a hospital for a more “design-related” job. Now I want to throw that all away and revert back to what I used to do. Which I hated, by the way.

So that is my conundrum. Looking at job boards is soul-sucking, especially when all the jobs either sound terrible or I am unqualified for them.

Going off antidepressants: a pros and cons list.

Here I am at work on a Sunday. I am happy to report that there is exactly NO work for me to do. I suppose I should be happy that my employers are dumb enough to pay for someone to sit and do nothing for 8 hours. The good news is I am the only person at work, so I don’t have to talk to anyone!

But I digress…

I have been thinking a lot about going off antidepressants. It has been a year now since I have been off them completely. Before that, I was on them for about 17 years (OMG!), minus one summer where I tried to taper off of them and ended up a weepy mess who went back on them within a couple of months. I started them at around the age of 18, to give you some context.

This time I took a looong time to go off them…probably about a year and a half of tapering. For those of you who are curious, I was on 150 mg of venlafaxine (no-name Effexor xr).

So here is my list:


  • Lost about 10 pounds (although I also stopped taking birth control, which may have contributed to this. I stopped the birth control because I was feeling so terrible, and I read that it could have an effect on mood. So now, unfortunately, I’m not sure what symptoms are a side effect of going off effexor or going off birth control (sorry).)
  • I don’t sleep 14 hours a day anymore. (Ok, so I didn’t always do this, but I honestly think I could have).


  • D.E.P.R.E.S.S.I.O.N. Major, heart-wrenching, soul-destroying, why am I alive depression.
  • Insomnia. This goes hand-in-hand with the above pro of not sleeping 14 hours a day. I honestly think this is worse. I do think this may sort of be getting slightly better now. It doesn’t help that I got a job working 4:00 pm to midnight, which really messed with my sleep rhythms.
  • Crying at really inopportune times.
  • I got weird zits. (this is mostly over now, but thought I would mention it. The same thing happened when I quit doing drugs).
  • The whole withdrawal process. It’s really bad!!! There is the weird dizzy vision shifting thing. I call it train tracks, although I have heard it called other things..basically, when I moved my eyes I got a “chucka chucka” kind of sound (picture the train “wheels” moving (sorry for my terrible train terminology)) and my vision kind of teetered. And there is some pretty bad nausea that comes along with it. I am happy to report this is over now. For those of you who might be going off antidepressants now, it takes time but it does end.

Ok, I am done writing pros and cons now. I think I probably have more cons, but it is too depressing to go on. Looking at my list, it looks pretty bad, and you might wonder why I wouldn’t go back on them again. At the moment, it kind of reminds me of quitting cigarettes…I remember HOW TERRIBLE it was to quit smoking, and that is the one thing that keeps me from ever touching a cigarette again. And it’s kind of the same with antidepressants. Stopping them is a bitch. So I would prefer not to do that again. And I am hoping that things will get better? Maybe?

Also, I want to mention one of the most annoying things about the whole stopping process. After a few months of being completely off the pills, I went to the doctor. I was kind of weepy, and depressed, and told her I was having a hard time. And guess what? She wrote me a prescription for antidepressants! She knew I had been coming off the drugs for a year and a half, and her only solution for it being difficult was to put me on new different anti-depressants. And this was after a 10 minute appointment. Our health care system is messed up. That was actually when I decided to stop taking birth control pills – because I decided I was going to have to figure this out on my own.

Back to work now! Only 6 hours and 13 minutes left of me sitting here doing nothing.

A second post.

I’m not quite sure how this blog stuff works. I figured I should write another post, but I don’t know if I need to have these planned out, or know what I want to say, or any of that. I figured I would just write again because I did before and, my depressed self hates to admit it, but it didn’t feel that bad.

Guess what? Tomorrow I have to go to work again. On a Sunday. No idea why they need a person working on a Sunday, but the only good thing is that instead of my usual 4 – midnight hours, it will be 10 – 6 pm. I guess that’s more normal. Except that then I will have to continue going to work all the following week, in my normal awful hours. Poor me.

I hate to admit it, but the cloud over me has slightly lifted. Not sure if anyone gets that – the resistance of leaving a period of depression? Like, I’m scared of letting my boyfriend see me smile, because then he’ll know. I don’t know what it is. Don’t get me wrong though, I still feel depressed. Just slightly less so.

I am preparing on going for a long run right now. Did you know that Eminem started running after battling addiction? Me too. Well, it was because about a year after quitting smoking crack, I quit smoking cigarettes as well, and then I started getting fat, so I started running. It was pure vanity.

I also want to mention another thing that’s on my mind – recently my counselor announced the impending ending of our sessions. It has been really hard on me. Partly, because I don’t talk to many people besides her so it makes me feel lonely. Partly, because I feel worse than ever, so what the hell am I supposed to do? It just doesn’t feel fair. Eventually she told me that she doesn’t think she is helping me. Which makes things feel REALLY bad. Like, I’m incurable or something.

So that is what’s on my mind.

The beautiful struggle.

“Life is a beautiful struggle” is a mantra I try to repeat to myself when I’m really struggling. It doesn’t really work, but I like the words. Good ol’ Talib Kweli. I’m sure he wrote that song for a mid-thirties middle class white woman from Canada.

Right now I’m having a hard time. I hate my job to the point where I don’t know how I am going to go every day. I work from 4:00 pm – midnight, so the rest of my day is spent worrying about going to work.

Let me tell you a little about myself. I have struggled with depression since high school. I am now 36. I also battled addiction problems. I have been sober for 10 years now. A year ago, I stopped taking antidepressants after about 15 years. This has been tough. I’m not sure it was a good decision, but I hate how tired and unmotivated they make me. Now I am not tired, but still unmotivated.

Now, back to work and life and me. I have a job that I consider beneath me. I know, all jobs are valuable and great and I’m lucky to have one, and blah blah blah, but going in every day and being a robot and being around people I don’t like is really taking its toll. Another thing that takes its toll is being awake past midnight. It gives me a bad feeling. So I am living with a constant bad feeling. Also, I will mention that I am a talented person. I do art. I build things. But the thing is, I can’t really do that stuff now. I just can’t. So I feel like I have to have a job in order to survive, because I can’t rely on the things I’m actually good at to support myself.

So now, here I am, today. It’s 2:32 and I need to start preparing to go to work. I have been having mini panic attacks since around 12:00 today. The same as every day.