Eat, Pray, Take Your Meds Pt. 1

I was the shit at Italian "Guess Who"
This week 10 years ago, I was living in Italy, which was nothing short of every basic little white girl's dream - to just one day pick up, go to Italy on a whim, drink wine amongst rolling hills, and take many an Italian lover.  Just kidding. In my case, I was trying, and failing, to outrun an early-onset quarter life crisis, spoke little to no comprehensible Italian, and I probably had a place to live a few weeks after I got there? Needless to say, I'm not much of a "planner."

Not to discount the amazing times - I had plenty of fun, and wore cool clothes, and at some point could swear like a native in Italian.  I'm extremely grateful for everyone I met, everything I experienced, and everything I learned - cuz let's be clear, it was all one big, fat, snowball in your face thrown by two Italian gutter punk assholes cuz I didn't want to talk to them "learning experience" - but Elizabeth Gilbert and I had very. different. experiences. in Italy...

... I wouldn't actually know because I stopped listening to her stupid audiobook less than half way through bc at the time I thought it was bullshit, and NOTHING like what I was going through in Italy. Though I'm sure she's a very nice person and a talented writer. Good job Elizabeth!

Anyway, I moved to Milan in December of 2008. At 22, I was one and a half years out of college, had saved some money, and fuck it, I was young and free. Even though time gives everything a rosier tint, I still think there are a lot of things I would have done differently (read: pretty much everything...).

First off, if you're going to move to Italy to fulfill your, "Under The Tuscan Sun" fantasies, move to Tuscany. Don't move to Milan, the northernmost industrial city in Italy, in the middle of winter. More specifically, in the middle of their "worst winter in the last 20 years."

Because when the your plane gets rerouted mid-flight to another Italian airport you've never heard of, and your bags don't show up, and your phone doesn't work when you land despite AT&T wireless swearing to you pre trip that it would, and you somehow manage to make it to your hotel by getting in a van you hope is going to Milan and that night the broken shower in your room sprays OUT of the bathroom door directly. onto. your. laptop. immediately frying it and then the baggage handlers union goes on strike, so no luggage for you, and then it's Christmas, which in Italy means everything is closed until after Epiphany (Jan 6) so you can't buy any clothes, and you're freezing, and wearing dirty clothes, and you have to wear your mother's non-snowshoes in the snow, that are too small for you anyways... it sucks and you'll be like, Meg warned me against this exact situation.

Secondly, maybe would have been a good idea to come in knowing how to say anything in Italian. Before moving to Italy I DID enroll in an Italian class at my alma mater to learn the basics. Va bene! Unfortunately for me I was also bartending at the time and after a few classes, I started sleeping with this hot dude I met at my bar who was also, up until that point and long after, the best sex I'd ever had. Therefore when I was supposed to be on the train to class in the mornings, I was in his bed and not on the way to class.... Sorry, not sorry. But then very sorry come December 2008. Moral of the story... I don't know, do what you want. It was really fun, but not worth it? And also he ended up being a HUGE asshole, shocking I know. So definitely not worth it. But you live and you learn, amiright? Va bene.

Finally, in the brilliant gibberish of Margaret Atwood, Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum. I had a lot of shitty circumstantial things happen while I was in Italy. Many stories for another day, but the most fun was when I went in to a meeting with the modeling agency with which I was going to work. Yes, fun fact: I moved to Italy to be a moooodel. Another fun fact: when I got there, they told me that I needed to immediately lose 10-15 lbs. "Maybe you go to the gym, maybe you eat just a little. No more wine," one of the managers said to me at one point. I was already so skinny at the time, losing that weight would have taken me down to almost 100lbs on my 5'9" frame. Growing up, I had long hidden my lanky arms and legs under baggy clothes, self conscious about just how thin I was. More often people were concerned with my health, but not these people! I went home and cried pathetically as I made myself a salad, with the freshest produce I've ever eaten bc lets not forget I was in Italy.  I'll never be able to eat the fucking pasta which is literally what you fucking do in Italy, I thought. Never be able to go out and drink wine with my new friends... which is literally what you fucking do in Italy.

And then like one of Oprah's Ah Ha ™moments, I thought.. yeah fuck that. Something about your body is always going to be "wrong" to someone else, especially in an industry like that. So I told them I quit, and drank everything, and ate everything, including things that I had no clue what they were, which was amazing, and liberating, and only resulted in food poisoning once. I gained 10 lbs while I was there, and I haven't lost it since.

So no, they didn't get me down that day. However, it added to a long struggle where I was so low that I could barely get out of bed a lot of days, even though I was living in Italy, and even though I was beyond privileged, and even though I was living a life people think they dream of. Cuz unfortunately depression doesn't discriminate.

It took me eight more years to actually seek help for depression and anxiety in the form of therapy and medication, and today I woke up happier than a had been in a long time, and wanted to write about my time in Italy. But I can't help but wish that "self care" and attention to mental health had been a concept that was as buzzworthy back then as it is now, because maybe it would have changed things.

But I probably would have fucking known that it was if I'd finished Eat, Pray, Love.

Missing late night salsiccia from a truck
"No clue what this is ... somewhere in Rome" as captioned on Facebook





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