I write this in a state of anxiety. Not quite a full-blown anxiety attack, but more of a well, low-key anxiety attack.
I’m a senior in high school. I’m ready to graduate and jet off to college. I’m over the rumors, the whispers in the hallway, the looks. I’m over the way I morphed myself into someone I didn’t recognize. As angry as I am at the way people looked at me my first day back to school, I know I did it to myself.
I never considered a myself a victim. I wanted to be — that was easier to come to terms with — the simple fact that I fell victim to a series of shitty occurrences in my life which were entirely to blame for the scars on my arms, slipping honor-student grades & a school that now labeled me as someone different.
I just want to leave.
I walk into the lobby my first day back. I clench my books close to my chest. Voices in the hallway are louder than usual. The stares linger. Tears start to stream down my face. I rush to the bathroom.
Wasn’t she tied down to a chair and put in a psych ward? Like in the movies?
I heard her mom’s a lesbian, that’s why she went crazy.
Is she going to have to stay back a grade?
I hear all of the rumors — even if no one thinks I do. I want to hate these people. They don’t understand. But I guess that’s why I never did hate them — they didn’t understand.
Maybe I’m not the talk of the senior class, but it sure feels like it.
My insides are crumbling.
I am holding the bottle of pills in my hand and locked the bathroom door of my house. My hand is shaking. There’s no practice drill for killing yourself.
My sister screams in the hallway as I drop the bottle in fear and watch the blue pills scatter on the floor.
The first time I was put into a mental hospital was the winter of my senior year of high school. I was depressed, suicidal & well, fucking miserable. To be honest, it’s like black hole for me at this point. I remember the events that led me to that state, but of course, we all have our shit. I just didn’t deal with mine particularly well.
I fought with my mom and counselor and begged them to let me stay at home. I knew I needed help, I knew there was something off that needed more attention but what would that look like? I felt the scratches on my inner arms and legs as the tears flooded down my face. By law, I had to go.
He visited me as much as he could. He’d drive on weekends, school nights. When I look back, he was probably the most supportive boyfriend I’ve ever had. I told I loved him, and I meant it. I just don’t think I was ready to love anyone…how could I? Never mind loving, I didn’t even like myself.
I have a post about him sitting in my drafts. I can’t publish it. Not yet.
With him, I was selfish. He loved me, took me in & was such an integral piece of my past who was unfortunately intertwined with perhaps the darkest part of my life thus far. I don’t know if I’ve ever properly thanked him. “Thank you,” doesn’t seem like enough. It’s not enough.
I didn’t deserve him.
I think about him a lot.
There were windows. An arts & crafts table. A bookshelf. No restraints. No one screaming. No padded walls. It was peaceful — in a fucked up, depressing kind of way — but it was an escape. One that I needed.
Go to all of the meetings and follow the schedule, that’s how you get of here.
So I did. I’m not sure how much healing I did, but it wasn’t enough.
A couple of months later, I find myself in the same spot. I don’t remember which time I was more miserable, all I remember was the nurse telling me to stop crying, that I was triggering to other patients.
I whimpered and went to sleep.
My OT hands me a piece of paper.
Write what you want to let go of.
I drop the magic paper in the water and watch it disintegrate along with the words written in black pen.
I grab another piece. And another.
My mom cried behind her sunglasses. My Jersey Shore poster hung surrounded by photos of friends and family. I was only a 2.5 hour drive away, but it felt longer. At least, I wanted it to feel that way. I’m convinced that this is a fresh start. A solution to all of my problems. I’m no longer depressed. I’m fine.
Two days in and I’m wearing a salmon sun dress. It’s a Thursday.
He told me I was pretty. And smart.
That was all I really needed. In a moment’s time I’m swept away.
He convinces me that I’m in love. I don’t need anyone else but him. Rather, I could never find anyone else better than him.
I’m too fat for him. We spend 1.5 hours in the gym 6 hours a week. I eat once a day and only eat foods approved by him. One “treat” a week. No yoga pants in front of other men. Am $8 box of black hair dye to hide my $120 highlights that didn’t look good. Well, I thought they looked ok.
I’m still sick. I come to terms with this moments after I slap him across the face after he insulted my mother. I forgive and take him back.
I love you too.
I’m not good enough.
Eventually, I am free. Free from him, but not from my sickness.
Girls are mean.
My sister was bullied in elementary school. I was too young to remember all of the details, I just remember that I never wanted to be bullied. I saw my sister’s tears and heard my mom and dad demand action.
Years later, I’m a senior in college living in a house with six other girls. Over the summer, I had felt distant from most of them, questioning my decision to sign the lease to live with them in a few short months. I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m anxious. I find relief in the fact that I had my best friend. My person, as we’d call each other.
After 20 years of avoiding what my sister went through, suddenly, I feel her pain.
There’s a bully in my house. I, the victim.
I cure my anxiety with continual weight loss. I track calories in a notebook that sits on my bed. For some reason, this adds fuel to the fire of young-adult bullying that I had been dealing with for several weeks at this point.
Did you see the notebook on her bed? She’s like a fat anorexic.
I hear whispers from down the hall. Name-calling, gossip & words that punched me right in the gut. This was my breaking point. I spend nights sleeping at my friend’s house and the front seat of my car, feeling unwelcome in my own home.
Cunt. Bitch. Fat anorexic.
I don’t expect my best friend to fight my battles. Well, I guess I sort of do. I try to justify it. Well, I wouldn’t wish her wrath upon anyone else. So maybe that’s why she doesn’t say anything to her.
In a moments time, I feel my relationship crumbling with one of the most important people in my life. I cry myself to sleep, counting down the days to the inevitable break up with my best friend. I wonder if she hears me from the other end of the room.
I lose her. My person.
This is just a little tiff, you guys will be fine.
I know we won’t be.
He told me he loved me. That I was beautiful and smart and everything you want to hear.
The toxicity tainted every word, yet I held onto them to give myself some sort of validity.
I didn’t want to tell you this, but he said your body wasn’t his type.
Did you say that? I ask him.
No, she’s trying to get into your head.
He picks her. My white shirt is stained with my black mascara.
I knew he was interested the moment he announced he’s “back on the market” loud enough for me to hear.
He sits next to me and puts the brown bottle of lager up to his lips. My drunk eyes are fixated on his tattoo sleeve. I want to ask about them, but I’m not sure if it’s too soon.
He tells me about his trip to Burning Man. I tell him about my time in South Africa. Our conversations are interesting and engaging. It’s refreshing.
Hours pass and it’s suddenly 4am. My watered down whiskey sits on his coffee table as we leave the couch and head up to his bedroom.
My alarm sounds. It’s 9am.
I slip out of bed and my hand reaches for his naked shoulder to say goodbye. I hesitate, pull my sweater over my head and quietly close the door behind me.
Are you going to see him again?
I don’t know, I never got his number. I tell my friend.
I’d like to see him again, but I then ask myself. What’s the point?
I’ve taught myself to expect disappointment.
I hit my three year anniversary of living in a new city.
I have so many amazing things to be proud of. I’m not where I want to be, but are we ever?
I make a list of things that make me happy. The list is extensive. I’m proud of myself and the the life I’ve created. It’s not hard for me to be thankful for these people and things in my life.
Most of the time, I am fine. I am fine until I think about the toxic relationships I’ve engaged in. The people I’ve let define me and the decisions I’ve made that challenge my moral compass.
I grow angry at myself.
I look down and stare at the fat rolls that hang over my jeans. i envision myself as a much happier
skinnier human. Oftentimes I replace happier for skinnier. By accident.
While it hasn’t always been the forefront of my anxiety, it’s remained a constant the past 10+ years of my life.
I wish I could bring you into my brain. I recount my “happiness” list, mentally written in black Sharpie. I’m calm for a moment.
It’s like graffiti. Red paint wipes across the black marker making it difficult to read.
The red paint is all I see.
Am I making sense? I’m not sure.
My brain grows tired of continually trying to scrub it away, so I give up and let it be.
I accept who I don’t want to be and spiral into a fucked up mix of anxiety, anger & sadness.
I then find myself here. Starting from the beginning and trying to figure out a way to push through.
I take a deep breath.
Over the years, I have learned how to curb my anxiety far better than when I was 17. At times I wish I could go back and figure out how I moved past the challenges I once thought would never go away.
I find myself pondering if the stories listed above are a result or reason for my anxiety. Maybe both. I don’t know.
Part of me is almost positive my challenge with body image will go away, too. I have hope, but it really sucks. Then the other part of me firmly believes that it will never go away.
I’m not writing this post for sympathy or from the view point as someone who is a “victim.” Mental health is harder to combat than most things in life. Maintaining work, life, love, money, etc., all while maintaining a healthy brain is fucking hard. We all have a different story to tell, my experience is no better/worse than the other guy. It’s just my story.
I have accepted the fact that I can say thousands of positive affirmations in the mirror, read every self-help book on the shelf & meditate fifty times a day and STILL have my bad days. It’s just the way it is.
The way I manage these bad days has vastly improved over the years, but in no way shape or form am I “cured.”
How do I know? What used to be crying myself to sleep every night has now been replaced with other toxic habits: aka falling for narcissists.
One toxic behavior has replaced the other and at times I hate myself for it. What’s different this time around? I know I deserve better.
Like, you’d be so lucky to date me!!! Jk…but not really. But yet, I still find myself seeking for validation in men which leaves me vulnerable to falling for the wrong ones. This, in turn, certainly does not help with the whole body image/self-love thing I’m tryna work on.
Life comes and goes as it does. You can still love your life while being anxious all the damn time. You can be confident in your abilities, career decisions & overall self-worth and still feel like the world is out to get you. It’s a stressful dynamic at times, but it can happen.
I’ve been trying reaaalllyy hard to pinpoint my triggers and figure out what leads me to think the way I think which in turn may help me ameliorate my internal struggles. You may have to track back years and years to figure out where it all began, but as I always say, words are cool and super therapeutic.
I would tell you to love yourself and know your worth but I also understand that’s hard as fuck. But I will say this…
Write about it. Talk about it. Acknowledge it. Oh, and dealing with mental health issues in high school fucking BLOWS.
This goes without saying, but I, obviously, am in no way shape or form a licensed professional. If you are in crisis, or feeling suicidal, you should get in contact with a crisis line such as the Samaritans, your doctor, therapist or a hospital immediately. You may also try searching our database for contact details in your Local Area or, use a search engine to find emergency phone numbers.