A birthday on the other side / by padhia hutton

Here’s something you might not know about me. Because really I don’t fucking want anyone to know. Because I would much rather paint a giant pretty canvas full of kittens and rainbows pooping butterflies and distract you with that while I cower behind it in a tight little ball in my secret reality. Someone who knows all the things I used to spend way too much energy hiding recently told me, “I love your humanness”. And that is it… you can only lay yourself out as a giant buffet of flaws, mistakes, secrets, shame, quirks, and imperfections, and hope that the people who attend your feast find their way to the sweet sauces and toppings and pile on enough to make the bitter and sour bites seem tasty. Because in the end, they make up their own experience of you.

When I went out into the world on my own for the first time, I sunk into a depression so deep that it became all there was to me. I know now that this made sense as I had never learned healthy ways of processing the world, had no social skills and no constructive means of dealing with anything. I was completely dysfunctional and overwhelmed merely by existing. It got to the point that all I thought about was death, every moment of the day. Yet part of me was so grateful to finally be out in the world, finally in the world beyond the mimosa tree with the big bright sky and the soaring birds that I used to look at with wonder standing on my tippy toes in the cage of my childhood. More than anything I wanted to experience it the way I dreamed it would be, the way I felt it in my heart when I was little and hadn’t yet learned to discredit intangible things.

Proud of myself for admitting I had a serious problem and wanting to be a better person, I went to a doctor and got put on medication. The kind that makes the whole world turn pretty colors in the commercials. Followed by more and more and more. Ten years passed. Ten years of flat lining between peaks of pain and loneliness that I won’t even try to describe. Ten years of staring into the face of my creator and begging for mercy that never came. Ten years of being told by countless doctors that I will never be off the meds. I will never feel better. That I need to settle peacefully into my straight jacket and accept the fact that depression isn’t about being cured it’s about learning to cope.

The last chapter in that part of my journey concluded when the latest new doctor told me I not only would never recover, but I probably also had a rare form of bipolar where instead of cycling from high to low, I cycle from low to lower. Right now, he explained I was feeling slightly better because I was on an “upswing towards down”. He wanted to put me on anti-psychotics, in addition to all the other medications. I had absolutely no interest in knowing what that life would be like. None.

And so it was almost 5 years ago that I decided not to travel any further down this sewer tunnel that was my life. I decided I deserved freedom, and there was clearly only one way for that to happen. I had lived my best, fought my hardest and was now accepting defeat. I began making my peace with this decision mentally. I loosened my grasp and watched my dreams float away, off into space. I let go of the love I had for the few people I was actually close to. I let go of my curiosities, my desires, the things I wanted to explore. I let all of it go in exchange for the comfort of knowing that soon I would no longer suffer.

There was just a few little shards of curiosity that remained in my freshly emptied hands, a few tiny questions I couldn’t let go of. Was the tremendous joy I felt in my heart before all the stuff happened that dimmed my fuken shine… was the person I believed I was born as… that I somehow never let go of… the life I believed implicitly I could somehow have no matter what had happened… was all of that nothing more than the delusion of a broken, sick mind? Was whatever created me so merciless that no matter what I did I could not lift the sentence of endless suffering? Did laws of nature just not apply to me… where if you plant a seed upside down it will figure out which way to grow towards the sun, yet my mind could never seem to right itself?

And so that was the last day I took a pill, the last day I let others define me. The last day I ignored my heart which somehow managed to still be whispering to me after all that time.

Every year on my birthday I used to look at old pictures and just fall to pieces, confronting the reality of my life in contrast to who I felt I really was and unable to reconcile the difference. But this year, I sit with the sun streaming through the windows looking out into the endless blue sky reflecting back on all of this. I’m finally out in that world I used to see in the distance. All of the furious vibrations of my suffering and all of the static that drowned out my peace have been gone permanently for so long now. I finally have my answers.