Monday, October 27, 2014

Crying in Public

Last week I was waiting at a bus stop after I left the hospital (I had another doctor's appointment). I saw a small bird on the street, and it was hardly moving, but I knew it was alive. I thought maybe its wing was broken, but I couldn't be sure. I stood there, watching the bird, not sure of whether I should go out and try to help it or what I could do to help it. Suddenly, to my horror, a car drove over the bird and killed it.

I screamed. Several people heard me scream and kept walking, their eyes averted from my face. One guy who had also seen the bird die tried to comfort me, but I couldn't help it; I just started crying.

I read somewhere that one of the things about living in a big city is that you can cry in public and no one will notice. I've found that that's true. I cried the whole bus ride home, and no one looked at me.

I hated myself for not saving that bird, for not running out to the road, scooping it up in my jacket, and bringing it to a vet or an animal hospital. If I had just done that, that poor bird might still be alive. That bird looked so small, and it must have felt so scared, lost, and alone out there on the road. I kept thinking of what I had seen, and I couldn't stop crying.

I wasn't just crying about the bird. I cried because the doctor told me she was "concerned" about what she saw after she examined me, and she significantly increased my medication (which means the painful and uncomfortable side effects have only gotten worse since then). I cried because that meant I wasn't getting better, and I wasn't sure if I was ever going to get better.

I cried because I was scared. I want this medication to work and to cure me, so that I don't have to get surgery. I don't want to get surgery, and I don't want to go permanently blind if the surgery doesn't work. And I only have student health insurance, which I don't think would cover the entire surgery anyway. I'm having enough trouble trying to get referrals from my primary doctor so that my insurance company will cover all these doctors' visits and medical procedures. The insurance company is trying to make it so that I have to pay for everything myself. I don't have the money to pay for everything, and I don't think it's fair that I should be denied surgery and go blind just because my insurance company is full of jerks.

I cried because of all the work I have to do. I have to give a huge presentation to the entire English department in less than three weeks, and I'm not ready. I haven't had time to work on it. I've been undergoing all these painful medical procedures, struggling to stay awake due to the drowsiness caused by the medication, and spending hours waiting in doctors' offices, clinics, and hospitals (they won't let me use my laptop in there). I also haven't had enough time to send out all my job applications and missed an important deadline for a school that I really wanted to work for.

I cried because I'm supposed to get a fellow graduate student to make an introduction for me at my presentation. I've been to the other grad students' presentations, and they usually get their friends to write introductions that are filled with praise for their work. I asked several people to do my introduction, and they all said no. I rarely socialize with the other grad students, because I don't like going to the bar that they all hang out in (I don't like bars, period. In hell there is no "closing time" at bars.). And it's not like any of them invite me most of the time, anyway. Anyway, I can't even drink alcohol or soda due to the medication I'm on, so I don't really feel like drinking a glass of water and watching everyone else get drunk. I'm dreading getting up in front of the entire department and having no one do my introduction (even my own advisor was unwilling to do it), which will make it painfully obvious that I am an outcast.

I cried because I was angry. I'm angry at the people who refused to do my introduction for me. I'm angry at the people who claim to be my friends and that I can talk to them, but they won't even return my calls or my texts, even though they know what I'm going through right now. I'm angry that even if I send out all my applications right now, my chances of getting hired are slim to none because the fact that I'm a good teacher means nothing compared to the fact that I am an average scholar.

Most of all, I'm angry that even though I don't look sick or act sick (though I'm thankful that I don't look or act sick), I really AM sick. I don't deserve any of this. No one does. I don't know why this is happening to me. I've always been relatively healthy, and I always feel frightened every time I go into the hospital. (This is why I'm glad that I never went to medical school. I doubt my patients would have been okay with the fact that their doctor was more terrified than they were.)

I thought I would be able to go off the medication soon and that it would work. I thought I would get better. But I'm not getting better, and it just makes me furious at the whole world.

I'm sorry that this post is pretty depressing. I try not to write about such dark topics, but sometimes writing about what I'm going through helps me deal with it, if only a little bit. But I'll try to write about something less depressing next time.

What about you? How do you deal with it when you feel mad at the whole world? Also, do you know what you're supposed to do when you find an injured bird?


  1. It's okay to write about how you feel. It's nothing to feel ashamed about. I would be angry too if I were you. I finally met someone who more bad things happen to than myself.

    I know you didn't ask, but do you know what I think? Screw everyone. Focus and only take care of yourself. Put your needs first. If nobody wants to do your introduction, so be it. You can do it yourself, because you are awesome. Being an outcast myself I sympathize with how hurt you must feel right now and we outcasts have to stick together.

    I wish I could be there to cheer you on and cheer you up when you feel down. Having health problems are the worst, especially if you have to go through it alone and I am so sorry for that. But don't lose hope. You can still beat whatever is ailing you. Just don't give up.

    As for the bird, I'm sorry. That is terrible. I have saved plenty through the years and most die due to shock or because of their condition. You already have so much going on in your life, do not add regret to them. Next time you can choose to act differently. Wishing you well and sending you plenty of virtual hugs.

    1. Hi Murees,
      Good for you for saving those birds; next time I'll try to bring the bird to a vet or an animal hospital. I really hated myself for letting that bird die.
      And thank you again for your support. It's been really hard not to get support from most of the people in my life; the fact that I couldn't get anyone to do my introduction made me realize how alone I am in graduate school, despite all the years I've spent here. I'll be glad when I finally get my degree and can leave graduate school and all the cliques I never fit in with behind.
      I hope that I do beat this illness. I hope that the increased dosage pays off, even though I hate the side effects (and I really miss drinking soda).

    2. This is good advice, I approve.

      And it's ok to cry stuff out when you need to!

    3. Hi Gia,
      Thanks! I normally don't cry in public, but I couldn't help myself that time; I think I'd just kept it all bottled up for too long.

  2. Sometimes a good cry helps, and it takes a random, unrelated thing to start the tears flowing. I sure do hope things get better for you. I'm sorry to hear you've been ill. All the stress you've been dealing with lately can't be helping either. Whatever you can possibly do to take better care of yourself is good, although with the increased pressure of your grad program, it must seem like an impossible situation.

    1. Hi Karen,
      I've cried a few times since I was first diagnosed; normally I try to control my emotions, but it's tough to bottle everything up all the time and like you said, a good cry helps sometimes.
      I feel like I've been stressed out since the first day I started graduate school. I always wanted to be a teacher, but sometimes I think about how much more peaceful my life would have been if I had chosen a different career.

  3. I almost cried reading this.

    About the bird, there was probably nothing you could do. My cat hurt a bird in my house 2 years ago. I called places to see if I could get help for it, but nobody wanted to do anything. I think your fragile state of mind was embodied in that bird.

    I'm sorry I've lost touch. I'm going to go through and see what I missed. I'm also sorry you're going through this. The one thing I know about you is that your strong. Actually two things--you tend to find the humor in your situations. Looks like it's too hard to do that now.

    I can't wait for you to be done with this presentation.

    1. Hi Theresa,
      You're right about the bird. I think I identified with it, because I've been feeling helpless too. It's so difficult because I want to be in control of this situation, but I can't control any of it and I don't know what's going to happen.
      I appreciate your support. I don't feel so strong right now, honestly, but that might be because the medication makes me feel tired all the time. I do try to find humor in things; I think it's partly due to the influence of writers like Dave Barry, who showed me how to look at everyday life in a different, more humorous way.

  4. One day at a time. =) I know what it's like to struggle health wise and hope that it's going to clear up, only to be disappointed. I've often reflected on my dad's statement after he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer--about how it was strange he couldn't anticipate ever getting better.

    Hang in there woman. Hugs and prayers. One day at a time.

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

    1. Hi Crystal,
      Thank you for your support and your prayers. I'm sorry about your dad; I can't even imagine how difficult that must have been.
      I will try to take things one day at a time; I've always been the type to worry about what will happen in the future, so it's tough.

  5. We found a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest, a couple of months ago while on our way to the hospital (I know how you feel about scary medical stuff. I'm not sure how we deal with it. I sort of keep thinking that the only way out is through, and where there's life there's hope, and that there's joy to be found in small moments throughout each day, but those things sound so trite when put in plain words like that). He was kind of floundering towards the road so we put him on a grassy patch nearby. Hope his mother found him.
    Nothing wrong with crying in public! I've done that. If anyone had noticed I would've blamed my contacts, or the wind. You can always blame the wind in Chicago :-)

    1. Hi Deniz,
      It's times like those that I wish I was a vet so that I would know how to take care of animals; it was good of you to move the bird to a safer place.
      I think that one reason that other people didn't say anything about me crying is they didn't want to get involved; here in Chicago, commuters have seen a lot of bad stuff (unfortunately), and sometimes it's safer not to get involved.

  6. When I was in the hospital, my mom found out that crying in public is a great way to make people get out of your way/not ask you for spare change.

    As for being sorry about going to a dark place... These blogs are about our lives, about our (I hate the word but) journeys. If you're having a bad time, it can be helpful to vent. Especially because sometimes readers will rally in support. Even anonymous screen names can be comforting.

    I've ranted about so many dark things on my blog, your post is but a blip. (Multiple miscarriages, depression, etc etc.)

    I'm so sorry that you have to go through this. I'm well aware of how much invisible illness sucks. Even though you don't actually want to have physical impairments that are obviously screaming, "I'M NOT WELL!" -- having everyone assume you're healthy when you're struggling is just incredibly upsetting. You feel like, when the illness does slow you down, people just think you're lazy. Or I did/do anyway.

    As for people actually turning down your request, WTF? I'm sorry people suck. I'm sorry that they make your life harder. And I'm sorry that your meds haven't made much progress.

    For what it's worth, you're in my thoughts.

    1. Hi Abigail,
      I'm sorry about what you went through; your situation is even more difficult than mine. I hope that things get better for you soon.
      I guess they turned down my request because they weren't really my friends. And it would've been quite clear to the entire department that I didn't have any friends there when no one did my introduction for me.
      I have this feeling that if I tell people I cancelled my presentation because I'm sick, at least one or two will say, "You don't LOOK sick." And then I just might scream again. I know I shouldn't, though.