March 2000

so you’re having a breakdown
so you’re losing the fight
so you’re having a breakdown
and I’m driving and crying
unravelled and flying
I’m coming to your breakdown tonight

Melissa Etheridge, Breakdown

So I had a breakdown. Not one of my finest moments, but a breakdown nonetheless.

Some time a few weeks ago, probably late January as exams were finishing, I just started to get into a really down mood. I feel like over the past four or five months since the summer, I have been constantly redefining myself, changing to suit situations that arise, and basically losing a sense of myself. Whoever that person is, that is me, I can no longer tell.

It all came together over the span of one weekend. I broke down crying in front of two of my best friends, one straight (let’s call him Rane), and one gay (I’ll call him Patrick). The straight one, well that was the Friday night, when I was over at his house along with two other friends. We were all sitting around playing board games, and generally having a decent time, when I just lost it and didn’t want to talk anymore.

I got up suddenly and left his house. I started on the drive home, and I could feel tears streaming down my eyes. I knew it would be useless to try and get all the way home, as the 20-minute drive was too much for me in that state, so I turned right around and came back. I patiently waited until everyone else left, until I finally just completely lost it and told Rane everything that felt wrong with my life.

I have lost a lot of self-confidence over the span of a year. Some time last spring, I met a wonderful guy that I had a little crush on. The saga continued well into the summer, when I actually did date him, and a series of events occurred that ultimately left me with a broken heart, and an ex-boyfriend who didn’t want to talk to me anymore. I got into this whole kick about trying to become a more forgiving person, and less judgmental. In fact, every time something happened since then that made me feel bad, I tried to solve it, not by addressing the problem, but by changing myself to suit it.

I woke up one morning in the dead wintertime and it all dawned on me. Because of whatever I went through, I have been having trouble coming to terms with who I am, and in the midst of this whole identity crisis, I have become selfish, difficult to be around, and just not a very likeable person. That is, to anyone who doesn’t know me too well.

As for Patrick, the gay one, well that’s another story altogether. I saw him the same weekend, the next day. We met up in mid-afternoon and were together until the evening; we shared a lot of secrets, advice, and he just generally made me feel better. That was until later in the night when some of his other friends showed up out of the blue. We all wound up suddenly hanging out, and I began to lose myself a little, because I didn’t come out expecting to be with half a dozen people; I came to talk with my friend and nothing more. But he managed to cheer me up, and I got on with my evening and had fun.

Still, the breakdown is far from over. It keeps coming back to haunt me. And after getting to know Patrick better, I started to develop a little crush on him. Which brings me to last night. You see, there are other complicating circumstances between me and Patrick, and to reveal them would make it much too obvious who his identity is, for anyone reading this who knows me. So I can’t really say. But I knew that if anyone really knew that I liked him I would be made to feel ridiculous.

Well, I was at a dance last night (called the Homo Hop — a dance run by the U of T for gay youth, anyone who wants info, e-mail me), and as the hours passed I kind of got depressed by the whole Valentine’s theme, and I started thinking a lot about Patrick. He didn’t really notice for a while that I was starting to act antisocial, until he saw me from the dance floor and I just walked away bitterly. So fortunately, he got up and chased me around until he found me. I looked at him in the eyes, and I had to look away, because every time I saw him, I got too nervous to talk. But, in that wonderful Patrick kind of way, he cheered me up anyway and I managed to tell him exactly what was on my mind.

He wasn’t very surprised, but as one could expect, he couldn’t really express any interest in return, because of the Complicating Circumstance. He was quick to tell me how much of a good friend I had become, and so forth, but alas, on the front of actual affection, he had none to show in return. Rejected, as usual.

So a night that began fun slowly went downhill. And right now, I’m sitting writing this the day before Valentine’s Day, possibly on the verge of tears. I always wonder if my whole situation is just a cruel trick of someone’s.

I guess I have an obligation to mention something cheerful so that you, my reader, does not get totally and completely depressed. Whatever stress I poured into my late-January final exams, they paid off, because I finished with a 98 in Physics and Chemistry, and 100 in Computers. At least it feels like a little compensation for the rest of my life being so tentative lately.

Have a good month of March.


Charles is a Grade 12 student in the area of Toronto. He is academic, sings bass in a choir, and enjoys thoughtful conversations. He also really likes hearing from anyone who might have read his column.

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