I’ve been avoiding writing this for a long time — I don’t know why. I’ve written very soul-bearing posts before, and this one isn’t like that. I suppose being on vacation has made me quite lazy. I don’t want to think very much or very deeply, and I certainly don’t want to debate life’s questions with myself. This post has some level of deep thinking, so I guess it is fit that I am writing it at 5 in the morning (because when you can’t sleep is when you second guess your life choices).
Last year, January of 2013, I bought two baby beta fish. I had recently gone through the crushing break up I have written about so many times (refer to my very pathetic posts that started this blog) and was going through the stages almost every girl goes through following a break-up; I cut off all my hair and colored it, I went on a very serious drinking spree, I went to parties, etc. I needed something to take care of, but since I couldn’t have a real pet in a dorm room I opted for fish. I can’t begin to describe how excited I was for these little things. They were the first pets that were actually mine. No sharing with siblings. I ran into Petco with my best friend one night and made a bee-line straight for the fish section. There were rows and rows of different types of betas floating in these little round see-through plastic containers with a white lid secured on top and a little hole in the center of the lid for air and food to go through. For some reason it was one of the most depressing sights I had ever seen. Some betas were vibrant, but some betas were a dull grey meaning they were sick. I thought of what happened to fish who got sick or those who are never bought. I knew the answer, but asked the BFFL anyway in hopes of receiving a different answer. Alas, she answered back and said they probably just threw them out. Funny how we value certain animals more so than others.
Anyway, I spent about an hour trying to choose which ones to bring home. I had the strongest urge to buy them all and save them from their impending doom, but I am a college student and even fish are super expensive to buy. My eyes wandered over the brilliant betas with large, colorful fins and settled on the baby beta section. Somehow the idea of raising fish from infancy and not knowing what kind of beta they were was appealing to me. They were all so small I could hardly see them, and none of them had their colors yet. However, if I looked closely enough I could see some hues of blues and greens and reds, suggesting what color they might be. I picked two baby beta fish — one with red hues and one with blue/green hues. I spent another 20 minutes picking out their habitat and fish bowl decorations. We checked out at the register and I was holding my two baby beta fish as if they were the most rare and fragile things in the world.
Skip to a few days later. My baby fish were happily adjusting to their new life, and I was a very content owner. I know people don’t think very highly of fish (as shown by the lack of empathy when they die), but I found myself saying good morning and goodnight to them everyday, and even talking to them as if they were a dog or cat. One night I was piddling around on my computer and I looked up at my fish to see how they were doing. They were both lazily swimming around to no where in particular, and the scene depressed me. All of the sudden I began thinking about how sad a fish’s life must be; there are no ups and downs, no friends, no connection to family, no love, no hobbies, etc. Before I knew it, tears sprang into my eyes. I was having an emotional roller coaster for fish. The idea that fish probably don’t have any measurable degree of emotion saddened me because I love feeling.
When I was on my anti-depressant medication I didn’t feel a damn thing. I was numb to the world around me. My mother was interviewing for jobs, and each time she came home in tears because of a rejection I felt nothing for her. A great aunt I used to be close to passed away, and I felt nothing. At that point I was convinced that if any one of my siblings or parents were to die, I wouldn’t care. My mind was frustrated by the lack of feeling, but it was so blurred by the medication that it couldn’t process that one emotion. One day I forgot to take my meds, and these emotions that had been repressed for so long began to burst through like a dam just broke. I didn’t go to school that day; instead I barricaded my door with all of my furniture so I could be alone to sort through my jumbled up mess of feelings. It wasn’t until later that night that I decided I wouldn’t take my medication anymore. As the song from Next to Normal goes, “I miss the mountains/ I miss the dizzy heights/ all the manic, magic days/ and the dark depressing nights”. I actually missed being depressed in some sick, twisted way. Somewhere, through all of the mess, was the thought that I can’t be happy without the sad or else how do I know what happy is if I have nothing to compare it to?
Back to the fish. I still have one of them (one of them passed away and I cried for days), and I love him to death, but it still hurts a little when I see him. I know he is probably missing out on all of these great feelings. Yes, I realize I am probably crazy for having these feelings towards fish. Most of you are probably saying, “Oh my god, they are just fish”. And I totally get that. But I have a tendency to latch onto little things like a picture or a decoration or a fish. Besides, what is wrong for showing emotions for something I love?
Now that I am off my medication I can feel things, and I relish every moment of it. Even when I am going through an episode, somewhere in the back of my mind I have one little thought that I am thankful for these feelings I am having, even pain, and to me being thankful for feelings is the best thing a person can do.