Diary 17
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November 29, 2009

Diary 17 / 28-years-old / NYC
“I’ll take my first pill tomorrow. And I feel a bit like I’m tying my hope to a shape-shifting cloud, but I suppose sometimes the intangible is the closest to grounding available.”

The discussion around mental health has come a long way, and likely has a long way to go. Taking an antidepressant terrified me–and through years of chronic depression I tried most everything else. But the stress of my health became too much for Giovanni to bear, and he began accusing me of using depression as a way to not take care of myself, or of us. One should never have to encounter the threat of losing the support of a Most Important Person, but in my case it was the threat that made me take action. It seemed like a last-ditch effort, and probably was. But the year I spent taking a silly pill absolutely saved my life. Share this with anyone–on either side of the relationship–going through the same thing. Throwback Diary is for *these stories* more than anything. As the conversation continues to become more nuanced, I hope fewer and few people feel abandonment along their path.

November 29, 2009
November 29, 2009

pills
It was still a really hard decision, even as I agreed to begin. I used photography a lot during that year.

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Diary 17
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October 28, 2008

Diary 17 / 27-years-old / NYC
“Messages of infidelity and broken heart seem to bombard me from all directions.” It’s our first time living together after discovering Giovanni’s affair, and we’re having particularly difficult time connecting. Unknown at the time, it’s a bit of calm-before-storm; next up: the HVP/ cervical cancer diagnosis that makes all of our problems raw again.
Watch February 12, 2010: the cancer diagnosis

October 28, 2008 pg1
October 28, 2008 pg1
October 28, 2008 pg2
October 28, 2008 pg2
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Diary 17
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August 11, 2010

Diary 17 / 29-years-old / NYC
I return to my gyno-oncologist for my first post-surgery appointment, alone. She ends up cutting out scar tissue right there during the check. The terrific pain and vulnerability of going through that alone, and the idea that the health threat isn’t even over, brings back all the anger over Giovanni’s affair (see July 9, 2008.)

August 11, 2010 pg1
August 11, 2010 pg1
August 11, 2010 pg2
August 11, 2010 pg2

I say I get better love from the kittens… look at that fluff!

kittens
My little guys, approximately 3 months old.

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Diary 17
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June 25, 2010

Diary 17 / 29-years-old / Turin, Italy
At the end of a rough month visiting Giovanni in Turn, Italy, we start to go a little crazy. I spend too much time wandering the city alone in the wee hours of the morning. My anti-depressant doesn’t seem to be saving my life anymore, and the fallout from the cervical cancer scare is still present. But a little girl’s witty observation on bread sticks makes my day.
Also, Giovanni and I are tremendous friends, and he’s a huge supporter of this project. 🙂

Turin
Turin, Italy : June 2010

crossini
Crossini. Get it now…? Brilliant.

June 25, 2010 pg1
June 25, 2010 pg1

June 25, 2010 pg2
June 25, 2010 pg2

June 25, 2010 pg3
June 25, 2010 pg3

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Diary 17
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June 16, 2010

Diary 17 / 29-years-old / New York City
Throwback Diary is possible because it only reveals my past; my present I have kept safe and close to my own heart. This week is different. This is perhaps one of the more intimate things I can be sharing… but believing in my impetus for this project– that we can help each other by sharing–makes it seem safe.
Six years ago I had a nightmare about a paralysis that worked up my body, until I would no longer be able to breathe, and then I would die. Right now, my father is about to be diagnosed with either ALS or PLS. It’s absurd, and uncanny, that I should dream the exact diagnosis that is currently affecting my family. Finding this entry at this stage in my life was nothing short of shocking. I want to extend my gratitude to anyone who participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge (currently very personal, and beneficial to my family), and extend my compassion to anyone currently dealing with this disease. I always ask for your stories, but please–if you also have resources to share for coping in this time, they would be just as greatly appreciated. Let’s keep talking.
[mic feedback and crazy hair…apologies…]

Resources that have helped me:
Cleveland Clinic
Patients Like Me

June 16, 2010 pg1
June 16, 2010 pg1

June 16, 2010 pg2
June 16, 2010 pg2

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Diary 17
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March 21, 2010

Diary 17 / 28-years-old / New York City.
If you’ve been watching Throwback Diary, you’ll notice by the photo that this entry is written immediately after the February 12, 2010 entry. (scroll back to February to view.) Giovanni is still visiting, and we’re dealing with the after-affects of the cancer scare on our relationship—including a completely lack of sexual intimacy, because he’s afraid I’ll get sick again. This on top of the strain of continuing a long-distance relationshp.
And, I’ve started taking an anti-depressant. This is the first time I write about it. It was a huge and scary decision, but it saved my life. Depression has been a recurring issue not only in my adult writing, but in diaries from my childhood as well. There are many, many resources for those in need, and http://www.dbsalliance.org and patientslikeme.com are some cool ones. Also, this is a great TED talk by Andrew Solomon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eBUcBfkVCo.

antidepressant
Nightstand. Deciding to take an antidepressant had been a very difficult decision for me. As with many hard things, I explored it with photography.
March 21, 2010 pg1
March 21, 2010 pg1
To the left you see the Feb 12 entry.
March 21, 2010 pg2
March 21, 2010 pg2
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February 12, 2010

Diary 17 / 28-years-old / NYC
Entries like this are why this project exists: this is my honest, uncensored, and “inappropriate” (or so I feared at the time) response to cervical cancer. You’ll hear it again in the video—but we *do not* know how we’re going to respond when the Big Life Moments hit. Shit gets scary—and what I hope I’m sharing through this entry, is that it’s never, ever inappropriate to go through your motions. Recognizing your given circumstances is important (in my case: depression.) Hindsight is important. But the road to recognition and hindsight can be long and seemingly treacherous. Sometimes you’re strong enough to barrel through on your own; sometimes you aren’t. Don’t be embarrassed, share your story, and get the support you need. Share this with people who are afraid they’re not coping “correctly.” There’s no such thing. There’s always more to the story.

2010 was the year I took my first photography class, and began to put words and imagery together. This self-portrait became one of my ways of expressing the experience.

my body's potential
“I feel people’s eyes on me, and wonder if they sense my shortcut into womanhood. My body’s potential realized, and threatened, in the course of an afternoon.”
February 12, 2010 pg1
February 12, 2010 pg1
February 12, 2010 pg2
February 12, 2010 pg2
February 12, 2010 pg3
February 12, 2010 pg3

My experience with the NYU Langone Cancer Center ultimately lasted five years. There were many more hard appointments to come after the surgery, but I cannot speak highly enough of the kindness I experienced there. If you need any first-hand information, contact me by commenting. They have great resources, too: http://nyulangone.org/locations/perlmutter-cancer-center/health-education-resource-center

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