Who Let Me Have A License, Anyway?

In order to break up the monotony of sleeping, napping, and overdosing on Xanax, I decided it would be in my best interests to join my friends for One Night In Atlantic City for Declan's birthday. The whole gang took the bus down, but since I was in New Jersey being disabled, I drove down.

We stayed at the Tropicana and I ended up having the typical AC experience: I lost money, dignity, Ross' T-shirt, and got kicked out of a nightclub for taking off my shoes and trying to lay down. (I AM NOT MEANT TO WEAR HEELS. I still can't bend one of my toes and my calves are in constant spasm.)

After a long night out (for everyone else...I was asleep by 1:38, according to my last ill-advised text message), we woke up early because checkout was at the ungodly hour of eleven AM.

Bleary-eyed and beyond exhausted from this change of pace, I got my car from the valet (I don't know how to park) and set about driving home alone.

But first, I needed McDonald's. Because, you know, I was hungover. And a Happy Meal cures that.


I pulled up to the window and ordered the usual: Big Kids Meal with Orange Hi-C and a side of ranch dressing. I paid and received my order. Looking into the bag, I realized that they gave me a fucking BOYS toy and not a girls! Um, I may not have the most feminine of voices, BUT I AM A FEMALE ADULT BABY WHO DESERVES A GIRL TOY.

Overcome with anger, I hit the gas pedal without paying attention to any signs and ended up driving down the wrong way of a one-way street.

"FUCK!!" I screamed and jerked the car in a retarded U-Turn, while simultaneously trying to shove a fry into the ranch dressing and then into my mouth. Because what's more important? Not killing others with my likely elevated BAL and idiocy. Clearly, it's French fries!

I got in the right direction and set about opening my McNuggets while the light turned green and fellow road rage sufferers beeped at me. Startled, I jammed my foot onto the gas pedal and turned onto Atlantic Ave, on the hunt for the Atlantic City expressway. But I was still distracted, so I missed my turn (again) and ended up on some shady street, the name of which I never saw in a game of Monopoly. I pulled over to regain my composure and to open my McNuggets and STUPID action figure (I wanted to make it dance to Rihanna). I checked Google maps, looked at myself in the mirror and said "You can do this."

I got onto the expressway and was cruising at 80 when suddenly, I was cut off. I panicked and swerved into the next lane, mid-fry dip. In the wake of my speedy turn, my beloved Ranch dressing was expelled from its container and drenched me, my awesome denim shirt, and the steering wheel.

"MOTHER OF ALL HELL, YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME." Still driving at dangerous speeds, I attempted to clean myself off while steering the car and flipping the bird at the Granny who cut me off.

Finally, I hit the Parkway at the exact moment my hangover decided to really kick in. Forty minutes of bumper to bumper traffic later, I pulled off at the Forked River rest stop and slumped over the steering wheel, near tears and cursing the beers I drank the night before.

Then, the nausea hit. So I ran into the rest stop, flecks of fries falling out of my lap and onto the dirty asphalt.The freaks at the stop (attracted by that machine that turns pennies into NJ landmarks and reading glasses, obviously) stared at me and my dressing-filled hair as I flew into the ladies room and puked in the first stall.

I came out of the stall, to the judgmental looks of the populace, splashed some water on my face and went to Sbarro. I bought myself a breadstick and some dipping sauce and got back into the car.

An hour later, I was home. I spent the rest of the day laying in bed and singing the song I made up in the car. Entitled "Blame Ronald", lyrics include "Kill yourself, Kelly/but kill Ronald McDonald first/When that is done/Shoot yourself in the face with a gun". (Note: I may have self-esteem issues.)

Lessons from this hellacious experience? Don't drive if you might be still drunk and/or mentally unstable. Signs of this may include--dancing with your Happy Meal toy, cackling with laughter at a sign that said 'poop' instead of 'pop', calling a breadstick a "crust thing" to the cashier, and using said "crust thing" to wipe the dipping sauce off your face while half-alive at a rest stop in Southern New Jersey.

And also, don't drive when your main focus in life is trying to dip a fry into a ranch dressing packet.

And also:



Life on Disability Leave

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Kelly Bergin on disability leave.

Not sleeping. Watching 50 hours of Six Feet Under in one week. Eating only sourdough pretzels and Gatorade. Listening to all the songs listed on Entertainment Weekly's 50 Most Depressing Songs. Developing a harrowing addiction to Xanax. Rereading Babysitter Club books to remind you of a simpler time. Being forced to shower by Mother.
It's not pretty.

Can you tell I majored in English?

I don't want to take this trip alone (September 2010.

It has been over two weeks since I stepped foot into my office, sat at the desk and pretended to keep it together.

In that time, I had my armpit blow up, then I waited in the ER for it to be drained. There's a slit where the abscess was and I like it. It looks cool.

I watched Moe get married. I danced, went for it with the bouquet toss, walked down the aisle without tripping, cried through an entire Mass, got in a car at 2 am and headed back into the city.

The wedding was beautiful and amazing and one of the better nights of my life. At one point, I sneaked into the bathroom and cried because I was in such pain. But still, I danced. And I was high on it for three days because I had proved to myself that I could ignore the pain. For two or so days, I tried really hard and then I called my parents and begged them to pick me up because I could not take the pain anymore. Last week, I did not leave my bed for four days.

I am on disability leave. I sleep all day and stay up all night. I take Xanax. I stare at empty glasses of water, lost in depression. I almost laugh because I am a cliche, but I do not laugh. I just keep staring. The water moves and changes, my vision blurs, but I am still.

I can't write. I think I used to be funny, once. But not right now.

I came back to the city Friday. I came back because I couldn't be at home, staring at nothing and regressing. I am so deeply embedded in the Sickness Zone. I eat only sourdough pretzels and drink icy Gatorade. I try to go out, to drink and dance with my friends. But I only make myself sicker.

They say: treat with prednisone. Take the prednisone, even though it makes you sick and fat and depressed. Take it, and we'll figure it out. We have a working diagnosis! We can figure this is out and it will all be better.

Everyone has been kind. Thank you. I mean this. My friends make me laugh. My parents take care of me, my cousins call, and even work sent over a care package full of fun stuff. I am so appreciative.

But I am stuck. I'm fucking bored. I know this scenario. I am finding it so hard to be positive, and I don't know why.

So I delude myself because there is is nothing else to do.

I think:

It will all be better. One day, I will look back and say: That was a bad year, but it got better, and look at you now...look at you now. You are living the life you wanted to live, and not the one chosen for you.

One day. One day. One day.



I have these thoughts often.

What if I moved away? Out of New York City and the tri-state area? Away from my parents, cousins, friends, family and the doctors I’ve known since I was a kid.

What if I moved away and got better?

It doesn’t make any sense. I know this.

But…what if?

Because I want to. I love my life in New York but I know that this city is where I will be in ten years. I would like to travel, and live somewhere else, and not have men spit on me on the subway. I would just like to feel like I am an adult, doing it all by myself.

But I just filed for disability leave and I’m fucking miserable and dependent. I’m in no place to do anything.

My lease ends in 11 months. Sick leave ends whenever.

Maybe things will change. I will use this time off to get better because I am going to believe it works like that.

Maybe it does.

And then I'll go, go, go.


Congratulations, Moe and Gus!

Gus and Moe got married on Friday afternoon.

It was a fantastic wedding, for an awesome couple who have survived six years of a long, long, loooooong distance relationship to make it to this place. No wonder we all cried during the ceremony. It just felt right. The whole church radiated warmth and love for these two people whom we love so much. And the reception? Well, let's just say my aunt knows how to throw a party and those Aussies know how to get down. (And apparently do the Irish jig.)

And I couldn't have asked for a better three weeks with my out of town cousins (minus the whole sick thing). I will miss Moe and Gus when they head back to Australia and Liz and Cece as they head back to Seattle in the next few days.

Also: the hot groomsmen have me thinking of Australia as a nice place to settle for awhile. Do they have lupus down there?

I love you, mate(s)!


Immerse Yourself, But Do Not Drown

This summer I learned how to be alone.

I live in New York City with two roommates. I lived on the weekends in Interlaken with four or five or six family members, depending on which cousins were visiting and which siblings were present. Now everyone is gone, their rooms empty, the sheets changed. When I visit, I visit alone.

I got sad thinking about this today, how the hallways won't echo with Cheech and Chong fighting; how the porch won't stink of college boy cologne and sweat. There will be no more beer cans littering the balcony and no more sandy towels, draped alongside surfboards on the fence. I will miss Greg, Roarke, Kristie, Audrey, Steven, Sam, Colleen and Anna, and I will miss this summer, even though it has been the sickest and loneliest of all my summers.

And even though the house was constantly full, I isolated myself. I spent many days in bed, sun-drenched days under the covers, long blank afternoons that stretched into evening.

Shut the door! I yelled at all those who entered my room, looked at me, looked at me looking at my computer, talked to me, and left. Shut the door, please! I said this when someone brought me a drink, or pretzels. I said this and disappeared.

I have spent hours and hours in bed this summer. Hours that I once considered to be completely lost to the Diseases.

And some were. Some were buried under four milligrams of Xanax and shots of Nyquil. But many were spent communicating, Tweeting, writing, reading, reaching out.

It is safer to be myself within the confines of my sheets. It is easier to be my Sick Self on the Internet, where I connect with strangers, strangers who can care and understand without the burdens of emotional and physical bonds.

*   *   *
In August, I fell deeply into this isolation. I wanted to be alone. I needed to be alone. I was physically sick and so there were many, many days where I did not go into work. I lived in my bed in the East Village. Constantly logged onto Delivery.com. Emailing work and apologizing and falling and falling and failing. Drinking alone because I thought it would take the edge of this razor sharp pain.

Sickness is blurry. Even a cold can throw you off, mess with your senses, screw with your equilibrium. Lupus + Other Random Diseases + depression is disorienting like nothing I have ever experienced. A long, long summer.

I wrote and I did not cry until I was so drunk that there was nothing else to do.

I avoided others, friends, peers. They don't understand, no one understands, blah blah.

My dad said: "You are drowning yourself." My mom begged me to see a therapist, or to come home.

I stayed in New York, though. I stayed indoors and shut my door. I burrowed myself so deep that I left everything, every part of me underneath my sheets. I avoided looking at people in the eye when they asked how I was feeling. I dodged calls and well-wishes and sunk further into the mattress.

Please, shut the door.

I thought: this experience is not to be shared.

I thought: I belong here in bed.

I thought: Outside is overrated.

I thought this until one day when I realized that it was enough. Until I realized so sharply and clearly the repercussions of illness and sadness and isolation. How it can wreck your career, social life, body.

I stayed in bed a long time.

And then?

I opened up the door and walked outside.

*   *   *

But as is often the case when I push myself, I only got sicker. I write now, this Wednesday morning, with tear-stained cheeks from a new infection and chest pain so severe I debate calling my mother, or the hospital, or sending an e-mail to my doctor at 2 am.

I want to go outside tomorrow. Make it to work. Feel air on my cheeks. I want to fulfill my potential at work and in life.

But my head spins with words that hung in the air at this morning's appointments. Words that will remain suspended there until I grasp what may be a new reality. 

But I am still trying. And I will keep trying. Because there's life outside these windows and I intend to live it.

As much as I can.