I'M BAACKKKKKK: Some Words on My Return to xoJane

Warning: They are very serious words, for I am a very serious dope fiend.
Publish date:
October 7, 2016
healthy, drugs, memories, rehab, Cat Marnell, apology, reminisce

Dear xoJaners,

Hi! Remember me? A refresher:

Uh huh.

It’s hard to believe that it's been FIVE years since I started at this site! As a founding editor. I was one of only two, you know — Emily McCombs was the other — and then, of course, there was Jane. Here, look at this photo from the launch party:

Courtney Love was there, and Michael Stipe was there, and those two were sitting with Jane by a fire place throwing cigarettes into it. I spied on them literally from behind a potted plant. I couldn't believe I was suddenly in…Jane World!

…Especially considering where I’d been just a few weeks before, the condition I’d been in in the years prior to being hired at this website. I’m not sure if I ever talked about this, but at the time I started writing health stories — freelance — for what was then going to be called, I was at the lowest point of my life. I was 27 years old and living in my grandma Mimi's basement in Charlottesville, Virginia, two weeks out of every month and working for her — packing up boxes in a house she wanted to sell and walking her dog. You know — grandma work!

Anyway, I was doing this to earn rent money for my apartment back in the city, which I couldn’t afford anymore because my fucking addiction had cost me my dreamy career. Earlier the previous year, I’d left my incredible beauty editor job, where I’d worked for three and a half years. After interning in beauty at NYLON, Teen Vogue, and then TWO YEARS at Glamour (it paid $10/hour; I was there Monday through Thursday), I’d finally landed a coveted staff beauty position (this was at Condé Nast Publications: home to the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Allure, GQ, etc.) when I was 24. I was on loads of Adderall and full-throttle bulimic back then; I also partied a lot: coke, alcohol. I was also an addict, though I didn’t really understand that yet.

But I would soon enough. Addiction is a progressive disease; it gets worse over time as it changes your brain and you get deeper into the obsession. Over the next three and a half years, I became so sick — physically, psychologically, spiritually. I tried to keep my illness a secret, but it was impossible. Two years in, I had a big breakdown and was put on disability for six weeks. I went to rehab, but it didn’t help. I just got worse, and a year later I was put on disability again. This time I went to the mental hospital, then another rehab. It wasn’t wild or glamorous or funny. It was humiliating — I wasn't "Cat Marnell" back then, if you know what I mean — and it destroyed my self-esteem.

Condé Nast and Lucky did everything they could, but a few months after my 27th birthday, I just gave up and quit. I went to bed for several months and fell into the deepest depression and downward spiral of self-loathing, like, ever. A few months later, I was being taken out of my apartment on a gurney after a suicide attempt. A few months after that, I was living in my grandma's basement.

Since my magazine career was over, I never wanted to think about publishing again, but eight months later, when I read a tweet looking for a "health editor that wasn't healthy" for Jane Pratt’s new site, I sent in a few clips and got the freelance gig. When I was in the city, I’d pop in and out of the office for fun meetings, but that was it. This was pre-launch. Then one afternoon, Jane — whom I barely knew — offered me one of two full-time staff positions! With a salary and benefits and everything. I was stunned. I also knew I wasn’t fit to work full-time. But didn’t tell Jane this. I took the job anyway. Why? For the health insurance. (It's a pillhead’s best friend.)

Why the hell am I telling you all this? Because I exploited an opportunity to be employed even though I knew I wasn’t employable, and a year later, when xoJane put my druggy ass on disability, it became a big media thing and I talked shit very publicly about Jane, the content of the site, the parent company — blaming everything and everyone but myself and my addiction.

Case in point: old interviews like this one (“On our site we run stuff like, 'Can you wear white pants when you have your period?' and I flip out," [Marnell] says. "It’s like, Shoot me in the fucking mouth."). Ugh! I want to reach into the computer and strangle my ungrateful, bratty, former self with my own stupid rosary. The bitterness! The arrogance! The ego. And don’t get me started on how I treated people in the office.

That shit wasn't cool, but I tried to make it look cool.

So while I was being praised over and over again in the press for my "unflinching honesty," the truth was, I was controlling my image the whole time. I was an abusive, manipulative, entitled asshole who worked one thousand times less than everyone else, collected a salary without coming into the office, was high on PCP constantly…and yet got hugely and wildly rewarded for it because I was good at making myself look like a cool rebel in the press. I did it again when I inevitably "lost" my job at xoJane (I’d been put on disability and sent to rehab, only to see me return and get worse). And I got a ton of attention for that:

Denial much? It was like an alcoholic leaving a job claiming he just wants to go to more cocktail parties. #SMH, as they say.

Anyway, where am I going with all this?! I’m the worst; I gotta wrap this up. SO: Now it’s four years later, I’ve finally finished my book — and I’m back! And let me tell you: It’s mainly because I wanted to work with Jane Pratt again. I fucking LOVE Jane. She changed my life! She let me write anything I wanted to write; for better or for worse, she encouraged me to tell the truth about myself — about my crazy life, about my illness, and all the other stuff I was always hiding during my fancy magazine career. And now I’ve got a book coming out! My memoir How To Murder Your Life is out sometime soonish from Simon & Schuster in the U.S. — you guys will be first to know when I get the release date. I am really happy with it, which one should be when someone works for three years on something.

Also! I am so grateful for YOU GUYS, the readers, who have said so many absolutely kind things to me when I wrote for this site (are any of you O.G. readers here today?) and over the past few years — online, on the street, in my psychiatrist's waiting room. I am humbled and amazed that anyone is into me and my work like that. I can’t tell you how incredible it makes me feel — especially after so many years of feeling so bad.

So that's it for my first post back! I had no idea that it was going to be so…serious. Grim! But I had to address the past before I started writing all of this. So the fun will start next week when I give you some very saucy exclusive information (including a cover reveal — all with Simon & Schuster's permission, of course) about my upcoming memoir HOW TO MURDER YOUR LIFE; we’ll talk more about what I’m doing at xoJane then, too — besides my usual bimbo-y mascara-Riff Raff-and-Gold Bar posts or whatever. xoJane doesn't really know what I’m doing at xoJane yet, quite frankly — besides tons of TRAVEL, which I have demanded as I have been cooped up for THREE YEARS. Maybe I will be travel editor! Dreamy.

Anyway, we — you guys and me — will decide for them in a future post, and make lists of demands and all that. (Yes, demands. What?! As nobody but me ever likes to say, nobody ever gives you special just have to take it.)

Do you have any particular stories of mine from the past that were your favorites? I’d love to know.

Leave me comments. I love you guys! More soon!

xoxoxoxoxoxox CAT

P.S. Don’t worry: We’re gonna get weird. SOON. Stay tuned. ;)