I’ve never had a lot of friends or really clicked with anyone. I’ve always been awkward, shy, and highly avoidant and suspicious of people. I remember feeling so weird about life in seventh grade. But i couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong, and figured it was just some childhood angst and one day I’d find my place.
I also remember the moment in ninth grade when I built my mask. My teacher casually stopped and asked how I was. I made the mistake of telling the truth, and rambled for a little bit, and then could tell by her face she wanted nothing to do with it. I realized most people don’t want to know you, or care about you, or want the truth. At the time, my thought was everyone else had a happy life, so caring beyond that was hard. Why bother, when things are perfect for you? Now, I think maybe people want to blend in. Or maybe I am still the odd one out and I just dwell on things too long. But that day, I put on my normal person mask and hid from the world. I could stab myself in the leg in the bathroom and come out with a smile and nod to my teacher and polite hellos. I was the quiet studious student who would probably go far academically. I did go far academically, and I have a great job, and I’m grateful.
But as the mask was born, my inner turmoil only worsened and my poker face got better. I would tell my mom and my doctor something was wrong with me for years and no one would believe me. So I shoved my worries to the back of my mind. Nothing was wrong with me. Except that I was just wrong. I couldnt keep up on a social level. I graduated a year early, thinking I could get away from everyone and start over at school where no one knew me. I wasn’t the frail scared girl to bully and shove in lockers. To throw food at in the cafeteria. To stomp on her art portfolio in the hall. I could be someone new. With friends. But i can’t change me, and I felt no better. In fact, my self mutilation got worse. I began to have panic attacks and paranoia about being followed. I would hide in my room for days and not come out. My academics took a flip, and I struggled my way through. I didn’t care anymore. If I couldn’t change, what was the point of doing any of it.
I had my first suicide attempt. It was poorly thought out. I drank a bottle of nyquil and ate whatever over the counter pills I had, and ended up just throwing up and feeling awful for awhile. And lived on. I tried to date some people, but I was always distant and it caused so many issues. Even when I do care, I don’t know how to take off my mask and show it.
I joined a sorority, trying to force myself into friendships and somehow make myself feel less empty. These people only made me more unhappy.
Honestly college became a big miserable blur of failure at this point.
The next memorable event happened when I said some goodbyes, shut off my phone, and left in the middle of winter. I was going to jump off a parking garage. I had researched how many floors you needed to possibly die, how to try and plant your body for maximum impact. I was ready. I walked out with a pack of cigarettes and watched everyone for one last time. But i noticed more police on campus than usual, and started to fret about being seen. I hid and ran around campus for a long time until they found me. I was immediately dropped into an ambulance and taken to an er where I spent the next few days. I just remember sleeping. I tried to talk my way out of being admitted but they saw through me.
So I spent some time in a psych ward. It was more like the movies than I expected. I learned about how bad I could get if I continued the way I was. When you want to jump off a parking garage, you don’t think it can get much worse. But being there, I saw it could. It was just a sentence I had to serve until I could get out and put some semblance of a human back together, graduate, and try to start over yet again.
And here I am. Graduated. And trying to find my way, feel a little less empty, less lonely, and maybe make a friend. Or get a hobby. So far my hobby is crazy cat lady and trying to keep a schizophrenic herding dog occupied. Go me