Part Two: The Kids Aren’t Alright
Without going all David Copperfield on you, let’s start at the beginning. I’ve always thought that looking sideways through a triangle made by your arm looks really cool. Maybe it’s a side-effect of too many Saturday mornings spent watching Video Hits — back when my best friend and I crunched on the Coco Pops my parents would never buy and applied sparkly foundation to our cheekbones. But the 90s aren’t on trial here.
Later, my triangular perspective shifted into negative gear. Instead of looking through the frame of my arm and focusing on the hypothetical hottie those sweet dance moves were designed to beckon, I felt alone at the discothèque. By now, my family had moved from the Latrobe Valley and a Catholic primary school to a very small beachside town where sex, instead of being something to wait for, was often borne of boredom.
At some point before depression hit proper my class at Very Small Town was constructing bridges out of matchsticks and glue. Whoever’s could bear the most weight won, and I soon learnt that triangles are the strongest shape — the most effective foundation, tough to break out of, nasty with corners. I can’t remember how successful I was in this early foray into micro-architecture. For the purpose of maintaining a cohesive metaphor let’s go with: not awesome. We could add that though construction is generally a collaborative adventure, I was often managing the project of not-falling-apart solo. Or, ditching the metaphor: young me didn’t really have many friends.
Even trying to be light-hearted about this is confessional. However, like many maladjusted boys and girls that came before, moderation has never really been my jam. Growing up in Very Small Town started the party particularly early. As a book nerd missing the security of a best friend or belief in God, tiny Kat flipped haphazardly between ‘please accept me’ and ‘fuck you’. It was not well received. Still, getting smashed was a way to spend time — lonely or otherwise.
A possible genetic pre-disposition, couple of traumatic sexual assaults and some other heavy shit later combined transformer-style to create the mechanoid that is depression. I was diagnosed at twelve. My GP at the time cried and hugged me after signing that first referral for the psychiatrist. I hadn’t said it aloud, but two of her daughters were involved in the bullying that followed my first sexual assault — because obviously this experience made me a slut. It being Very Small Town, I think she just knew. Or maybe she was simply sad. By this point I’d forgotten what ‘just sad’ felt like, but it sounded preferable to burning fingers over candles, swallowing essential oils because they were marked ‘poison’ or burning through packets of Panadol (because sometimes that sort of helped). Unsurprisingly, I was not allowed to manage my own medication, and hated that first counsellor who didn’t know her shit and wore too much brown. Eventually it became clear that Very Small Town and I were not going to work out, and my incredibly loving family moved from postcard-perfect location to cookie-cutter suburbia. At the time, my depression was labeled ‘environmental’ — a situation that I could be extracted from. That would have been pretty cool.