Lets talk about YOU – and the red flags YOU’re not seeing.

It is the new series that everyone has been talking about.

It is the show that I started watching around two weeks ago because one person suggested it – and now everyone else seems to be watching it too.

It is the TV series known simply as YOU  is about a simple normal dude who works in a bookstore and quickly becomes obsessed with a customer who happens to wander in – and that is putting it simply.

Very quickly while watching the show I found myself in a very confusing set of emotions. While Beck was digging through his “secret hiding spot”, I kept begging her silently to just stop –  and then I realized just what I was saying. Why was I rooting for a guy like Joe, after all he had done?

Joes character isn’t the stereotypical man in a trench coat walking down a dark alley way.

Joe is an average guy – attractive (but no body building sports model), educated (seemingly), works a normal job, isn’t attached to his cell phone or social media (but uses it in very different ways haha), and lives in a normal apartment. We see the entirety of the show through his eyes and through his voice – we grow with him, we see him struggle, and slowly see him lose his sanity.

Joe, while very obviously isn’t a good guy and we know this by the first episode, doesn’t immediately show his manipulative tactics to Beck. Then once he gets crazier, she refuses to take note or to leave him – permanently. These are the spirals that many women (and men) fall into. One where they do not realize they are being manipulated until it is too late or until long after the fact and they have time to reflect on the experience they went through.

It wasn’t until I had experienced many failed relationships (both friendships and romantic ones) that I escaped from that I noticed the exact same tactics that were once used on me are being used by Joe in YOU. These are the signs that sort of hit you and you can say “Yeah. I know what that feels like.” And it is the sad truth – a truth that is hard for me to admit.

What is important to note is that it doesn’t always have to be an abuser isolating their spouse from friends and family. In fact, it can be the exact opposite.

In the show we can see Joe even going out to lunch and meeting up with Becks friends, sometimes without Beck even there (so much so that it doesn’t seem unusual whenever he comes to them at the end of the season). He seemed obsessed in the first few episodes with getting close with them – “For you, Beck” he would say.

An abuser doesn’t need to tell you that you can’t talk to your friends and family for it to be isolation. In fact, they can get so close to the people you love most and they will be able to see no wrong in your abuser, or simply refuse to believe the idea that they could “ever be like that”. This is sometimes how an abuser works – isolating you to the point that you feel like no one would believe what you said, anyways.

One of the biggest red flags I can remember specifically hitting me in the gut was whenever Beck and Joe got into a big fight towards the end of the season.  After all was somewhat forgiven, Joe took Beck to meet the father figure in his life and to meet an important person to him – the bookstore owner. (He also brought her downstairs to the cage early in the season to give her the whole “this is who I am and this is my home monologue.

Of course, for those who haven’t been through similar experiences, it seems like a kind gesture. Maybe it was, but knowing Joe, it was a manipulative tactic – one that I have experienced way too many times.

Manipulators can use things like taking you to their “most special places”, gift giving, emotional apologies, etc to not only put you in a vulnerable position, but to also get you to sympathize with the person that is most dangerous to you – your manipulator. You not only feel special in the moment but whenever they play these cards you feel sorry for your manipulator and you sympathize with them. I mean, how can I leave him now if he just took you to his secret place? How can I leave them if they just bought me all these nice things?

Manipulation doesn’t always have to be your manipulator throwing a pity party for themselves so much that you don’t go out with your friends. Manipulation doesn’t always have to be withholding affection or money for the manipulator to get what they want.

Manipulation is shielded stealthily by “If you don’t do this then you don’t really love me.”, and “I’m not telling you what to do… but it would really mean a lot to me if you…”, and “Let me just take you to this place I’ve been wanting to take you since we met – it’s the most important place in the world to me. Then we can continue this discussion after I’ve taken you there.”

Manipulators are the most charming people out there – the people you least suspect. They don’t always have to be a dark and mysterious figure hiding under a hood. They don’t always have to be that kid in school that no one really talks to. They can be a plain Jane and average Joe. Just like anyone can be emotionally manipulated everyday – and you would never know.

While I am saying this – please note that I am NOT saying that if significant other is close to your friends and likes taking you to special places he is automatically an emotional manipulator. There is a lot of good in the world – but also a lot of bad and red flags in an already unhealthy relationship are always good to be mentioned.

While I think it is interesting that YOU has opened up a world of discussion about why we shouldn’t support characters like Joe, I think the most important thing that this show can do is open up a world of discussion.

Maybe the show, or this post, is the wake up call someone needs to realize they need to get out of the situation they are in. The quicker you realize the red flags, the quicker you can use your resources to get out and to escape.


If you or someone you know has experienced domestic violence or abuse, you can seek help by calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

 

Healthy Boundaries and Why They Are Important

bound·a·ry
noun
a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

Not every person in this world is out to take advantage of you. Very few people wake up in the morning with the intentions being to hurt us and to pass over our boundaries.

Boundaries.

When is enough, enough?

How do we know and understand the threshold of the line we set for ourselves and for others?

Deciding your boundaries is always a long process with a lot of blurred lines.

It is looking at a toxic relationship (friendship, romantic, or family), knowing that your boundaries were violated, and trying to decide where and when the line was crossed and how you will prevent it from happening to you again. Sometimes, you need to have your boundaries overstepped many times before you are fully capable of understanding just what your boundaries are and locating the exact feelings you experienced whenever someone crossed the line you had set for them.

Then whenever that line is crossed over, you know the familiar feeling of  being irritated, violated, and you know what you need to do from then on to either terminate the relationship or at the very least state how and why your boundaries were crossed – and what that person needs to do in order to avoid it from happening again.

It is hard for a person to know your boundaries if you do not verbally state them. Unfortunately, even if you set your boundaries early on and you continue to let small maneuvers over the boundary line pass, eventually you will only be left feeling violated but also feeling as though you have no control over what is okay and what isn’t.

Boundary setting is one of the most important lines to set in a relationship – no matter how major or minor that relationship may be.

It is not only important in a relationship – but an important movement to be made to ensure that we as humans remain happy and remain stable in what we stand for and what we don’t.

In many relationships I allowed people that were close to me to violate my boundaries. Most commonly, though, I was never clear about how much it upset me until way down the line. In their defense, it is impossible for them to know that they hurt me in that way if I never told them it upset me to begin with.

It is hard for those of us to set boundaries with other people. As long as they aren’t hurting us, it’s alright to let it slide, right?

That is when the vicious cycle begins.

We have mental boundaries set, someone crosses them, we keep silent about it, we have a build up of emotion, a fight breaks out and emotions are tense and feelings are hurt, and then the cycle continues whenever we let it pass again.

Maybe it is fear that keeps us quiet.

Maybe we think that the original line that was crossed was not that big of a deal.

Maybe those of us with anxiety just cannot speak up about their emotions.

No matter what the problem is – learning how to set boundaries, and doing it vocally (and meaning it), is an important building block to being happy.

So set your boundaries. And mean it.

Don’t let anyone cross them – no matter what the reasoning is.

If a person leaves you feeling violated, like no matter what you say – things will never change, leave you feeling upset, like you have no control – it is time to terminate the friendship, relationship, etc.

You are the most important person and keeping yourself healthy and happy is forever supposed to be your number one thing of importance.

Me Minus Anxiety – Who Am I, Really?

What I wouldn’t give to be normal. To live in that bubble, the reality of the naive.

What would my life look like without anxiety?

How much would be different?

What would change?

This is a question I have asked myself time and time again. However, I can never come to a real answer.

Maybe I would have more friends, maybe I would go out more, and maybe I wouldn’t be afraid to speak in public. Maybe my schedule would be filled with less appointments with different doctors for different reasons. Maybe my grades would be better, and I wouldn’t stress myself out before exams and maybe I wouldn’t pick my fingers until they are bloodied, gross, and running the risk of infection.  Maybe I wouldn’t sit in silence for hours on end – not knowing how to contribute to a conversation. Maybe the fear of making myself look dumb wouldn’t exist.

Back whenever I feared going into gas stations and before whenever I was scared of leaving my home, I would ask myself the same question and come up with nearly the same possibilities. Maybe I would’ve been able to walk into the store later at night to get the ice cream I was craving. Maybe I would’ve been fine to walk into the bank and do a cash deposit instead of waiting in the way longer line at the atm in my car.

I have struggled with anxiety since I was a little girl. It only came to a dramatic point whenever I was in high school. At that point in time I knew anxiety was apart of my identity. It was a character trait. It was a character flaw. I related to the quote that said, “I am anxiety, fear, and panic”.

So, yes, anxiety has been in my life for a long time. I was an anxious seven-year-old, an even more anxious high school student, and expected it to sort of just disappear in college. If it was in my life for so long and apart of my identity for so long… who am I without it?

I have come to realize now – anxiety is not apart of my identity. Yes, I am a college student and yes I have severe anxiety.

Because, after all, my blog posts are mainly about anxiety. My very first blog post ever is titled “The A word”, where I then begin to describe what anxiety is and what an aberration is.

Who am I though?

I’m a full-time student and I work three jobs that I love. I am an avid concert goer. I am a movie guru. I am someone that has a small quantity of true friends – those that I don’t see often. I am a girl who has a lot of internet friends and spends too much time on YouTube. I love nerdy things and also love makeup. I love sitting and gaming. I am a hard worker – even with my anxiety flaring up. I am honest and compassionate – with the tendency to put everyone’s needs before my own. Sometimes I care too much about what others think and other times I care too little.

I am not anxiety and I am not panic. My life story is not going to go down as the girl with anxiety.

Anxiety does live within me and I have known her well. Anxiety can sometimes be an extension of my personality – but it will never describe me. At the end of the day I am still the busy, hard working, full time student, who also loves to dance, go to concerts, meet like minded people, and be free spirited.

 

Rejuvenated

My writing no longer feels as though it is being forced out of my hands and onto paper (or keyboards).

I am no longer feeling as though I wasted money on a writing platform that I am never going to use like I anticipated to.

I no longer feel as though my blog page is a cluster of bad writing that jumps from talking about anxiety all the way to writing random fiction pieces.

For the longest time I wanted to post my pieces to Facebook proudly, knowing that my best work was being shown to friends and family. I wanted to share my blog in writing groups, to try to get my writing out into the world. I, however, was held back by the never-ending sheet of fear that would wash over me on the daily.

I belong to several blogger pages on Facebook and all the time see people sharing links to their blogs for others to read. I have always wanted to do that but I kept holding myself back from doing so. I had the fear that they would click on the link and the first post they saw was going to be my most recent post, one that I wasn’t a fan of and didn’t feel proud of, hate it, and click off. I was obsessed with coming up with the most perfect “home page blog post” so that I could finally post in the groups about my blog and not feel embarrassed to do so.

I also found myself posting on my blog and not writing to Facebook about it. I felt pressured to put out content, even if it wasn’t any good, to at least get my money’s worth and to feel like I wasn’t wasting money that I used to put into the WordPress account and page I created. I wouldn’t tell family and friends about the posts I wrote because I felt like they weren’t any good and I didn’t want them to read it and silently laugh at me.

“I somehow missed the few posts before your most recent one!” people would tell me.

I hated how my blog post was looking, was sounding, and I hated not knowing what my next post would be about.

I felt embarrassed that I went through the trouble of not only buying a WordPress account and not getting any use out of it, but also felt embarrassed that I created an ‘aberrations’ Instagram page that for a long time felt as though it was going to just fade away into the background for someone to find and laugh at the failure of the account (You can definitely still follow that if you want to haha).

I have only been blogging since August, but it really has felt like way longer.

For the first several months I had no idea what direction I wanted to take, who my audience was, and what my plans for the future of the blog was.

My therapist even asked me at my last appointment “Who is your audience and what do you want them to look like?”

To be honest, I still have no idea what any of the answers are – but I am trying to find them and am willing to ride out the process and enjoy the journey.

I feel rejuvenated.

I feel like a little kid – excited and proud to have “scheduled” posts ready to go up in the future. It is funny how some of those things make you feel so organized and make you feel like professional.

My blog may not be perfect. I still use way too many tags and categories.

My posts may not be fluent.

My spelling may be horrible. My punctuation is awful as I still use too many commas and dashes.

I am however trying. A new breath of life has been breathed into me at the start of this year and I am excited to go through the learning process to see what the world has to offer me.

The Art of Losing Yourself

Who are we, really?

This is the existential question that I feel many of us put ourselves through and ask ourselves a lot of the time, especially now that it is a new year, and we are forced to live with the “new year, new me” mentality.

By the age of 18, you are generally supposed to know what is going on in your life. At that point, a large majority of us go to college, have somewhat of a steady job, know what we like, what we don’t like, what company we like to keep, and so on.  We at this point are solid enough in our foundations to know our core values and what we expect to give and receive in the relationships that surround us.

We are still vulnerable to losing ourselves at this point.

We are not expected to keep our friends that we had in high school and eventually we are expected to move on from our part time job that we worked at for so long. By the age of 18, most of us are graduated and headed off to college where we will meet new people and have a whole sea of new opportunities. Some of us find ourselves in our first serious relationships, and sometimes those relationships last forever or they abruptly come to an end. The people that you once considered your best friends are now strangers, and sometimes you look at the company that you are choosing to keep and know that something isn’t right.

You begin to feel as though you lost the person you once knew, that person being yourself.

It is as though you fell asleep and whenever you wake up – you are a completely different human in a foreign body that does not belong to you. You begin to ask yourself – Who am I really? What happened to the person that I used to be?

It is okay to lose yourself.

It is okay to forget who you are. It is okay to think about the personality you used to be in high school and forget what it feels like to be that person.

It is okay to look at yourself before you were in a relationship and forget what it feels like to be strong and independent – to not rely on anyone but yourself.

It is okay to look and not like the person you have become. Maybe you used to be a kind and respectful person, only to realize you lost those traits somewhere along the way.

The art of losing yourself is a beautiful one because once you find yourself again you feel more alive and empowered than you ever did before.

The art of losing yourself does not mean the person you once knew is gone forever, they just need to be found and awoken again from their distant slumber.

All things that are lost are eventually found again. You just have to fight to find it, and you will – with time.

“Feeling on the Verge”

A lot of times whenever I sit down and talk to my therapist I often at times can reflect and tell her about the moments where I had a breakdown, often telling her that I could “Just tell that I was on the verge”

But how does one explain these feelings?

On the verge is feeling as though you are standing on the edge of a cliff, half of your foot over the edge already – the arches and your heels remaining on stable cement while your toes hang right over. It is standing there and knowing that one simple gush of wind will send you over.

It is feeling the tears well up in the backs of your eyelids and constantly pushing them back – but also knowing that if one person says the wrong thing that it will release the tears.

It is a constant burden on your chest with an accelerated heart rate that beats almost too quickly against your chest wall.

It is sweaty palms – always.

It is feeling the quickened heart rate, the sweaty palms, and it is the burden on your chest – but you are also feeling numb and the constant switching between the two of them.

It is feeling the work you have to do physically piling on top of you – and you feeling as though that no amount of time in the world could get it done and knowing that one more paper is going to push you over the edge.

It is the feeling of begging something to happen, so you could just get over with it already.

Being on the verge means that you can feel yourself almost to the point of no return. On the verge it is the difference between crying and being okay. Being on the verge is knowing you just need one final push to send you spiraling. Sometimes it can feel as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Some of us live our daily lives on the verge – almost waiting for that straw or for that gush of wind to send us over.

While we can be on the verge, we also know how it feels to come back down and to recover from our falls. That is what is most important to try to remember.

Why it is Okay to be Selfish

The word selfish is typically one that is looked down upon and looked at in a negative light. Not one person likes to be described with the adjective of selfish, but ultimately, in the world of mental illness and health – it is an adjective that is one of the most important things to be.

There are a lot of people that suffer with a form of mental illness, whether it be anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, ptsd, or so on. Some people have it in the slightest forms while others suffer in a more extreme way.

Those that suffer are typically those that you do not expect as mental illness can affect anyone – it does not matter your age, race, or gender.

Most people, like myself, give and bend over backwards for everyone and anyone – often at times putting others peoples needs before their own. So much so that they wind up shoveling emotions and feelings underneath almost convincing themselves that the needs and wants of others are more important than their own. Often at times they will put their needs on the back burner, convincing themselves that the needs of someone like a friend is most important, more important than their own emotions and feelings.
This leads to the burial of emotions and stress that eventually boil up – ready to be set off by the most minuscule things.

Not only does the selflessness of mental health mask our own feelings, it also is extremely exhausting. Some of us will hold ourselves to an insane number ,of standards when it comes to being there for others. We are not catering to our needs but to the needs of others and ultimately draining the energy needed to keep ourselves afloat.
I read somewhere once that the development of mental illness can also contribute to a development of a selfish personality.

Do I consider myself selfish? At times. Am I open about my need to be selfish? Always.

For those of us that have mental illnesses we need to constantly be aware of our wants and needs as humans due to the smallest change causing what could be a downward spiral.

Not only do we need to be aware of our bodies, but our mood as well.

Sleeping and eating on a regular schedule are vital to keeping our mood as stable as possible whenever it comes to self care.

For example, in mental illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, tracking your mood is essential in staying up on it. It is noticing the most minute of changes in mood. It is essential to notice the changes so that those who are medicated can report it to a psychiatrist which may require change in medications as soon as possible.

You must be extremely aware, not only in your alone time, but when with other humans while being social.

Is my speech slurring due to talking too quickly? Are my conversations bouncing from place to place constantly due to my inability to focus on one topic? Are my responses appropriate? Is this how I act on the daily?

We must be in constant awareness of our mood and how we are feeling, why we are feeling, and to try to judge how long we will be in this state of feeling.

Mental health may also come with a selfish behavior, but that is okay.

I am not telling you to only look out for yourself and no one else, and to push people around for your own advantages – being selfish does not always have to be that negative.
So be selfish. For those that know you and love you – they will understand your need to be selfish and will be there to support you and will still be there whenever you come back.

A New Calendar Year and Expectations

The beginning of 2018 started with a strong mentality. I was convinced that a new calendar year equaled out to a new me. I told myself that it was going to be the best year yet and that this was my year, that this year would top everything else – and definitely not be like all the other ones.

Who doesn’t begin every new year with this mentality though?

2018 began great – I was involved in my first serious relationship and was happy in it, I was back into dancing, and I had started a new semester at college. A bad blow hit our family whenever my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and would have surgery and radiation to get rid of it.

Due to the stressors of life, I had slacked on getting my college loan situation figured out and before I knew it – I was getting emails essentially telling me I was taken off all rosters until I paid tuition or got a loan. Every place I attempted to get a loan from rejected me and my parents when they tried to co-sign. Within the week a professor told me that I could no longer sit in on their class, despite knowing my situation.

I wound up dropping my minor which was computer science shortly after those first few weeks at school due to the way that particular professor treated me.

That rattled my second semester quite terribly – after I got my loans figured out, I dropped the class with said professor and that wound up taking me down to just 12 credits, barely reaching the required amount of credits to remain full time.

It was also around this time that I became obsessed with the way I looked and began to overwork myself in an attempt to lose weight and have a better body. I pushed myself so hard that I wound up in the hospital – essentially pulling the muscles and enflaming the tissues within my chest wall. This ‘injury’ set me back not only in my workout journey but also affected my daily life for a long while.

Around this time my mental stability began to dip and I returned to therapy after not going for several months. It was the first time in a long time that I felt as though I really needed to return and talk to somebody and for a while it helped me.

My mother had her surgery which was successful, she began radiation, I performed in my performance at my old dance studio, I was still happily in a relationship, and eventually I scraped by in my second semester of college.

Most notably, with my depression and anxiety, I do not get seasonal depression in the winter months like a large majority of people do. I have noticed that I get my most depressed come summer months and I have never been able to figure out why. I cannot seem to grasp if it is the large quantities of ‘free time’ which gives me too much time to think or if it is because I work so much that I push my mental and physical strengths too far.

My summer began with a lot of concerts and a lot of work. I had seen the big names such as Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Weezer, and The Pixies. Come July I had met my favorite Youtubers, Dan and Phil, and began to gear up for the last year of Warped Tour – and many more concerts to follow that.

This was around the time that my anxiety began to come back and the things that were not big worries for me began to return. I found myself not wanting to go into convenience stores and I found myself retracting and not wanting to leave my home. I stopped going to my boyfriends’ house and generally stopped socializing. I began to work more and more and was working two jobs at the time. On top of going to concerts near weekly, juggling a relationship, and two jobs, I quickly overworked myself to the point of exhaustion and wound up missing work due to overworking myself into exhaustion.

The months of July and August have mainly been repressed. I was still working and enjoying life, but my mental state was at the worst it had ever been. I can remember going to concerts – laughing, smiling, having a great time, just to get home and cry myself to sleep for reasons that I did not understand or comprehend.

What started off as weekly therapy appointments turned into considering going twice a week which eventually turned into several visits to the psychiatrist – along with several shifts in medications.

After an extremely life changing week or so, I began to change near the end of August. I returned to both of my jobs, began to consider teaching dance at my old studio (and getting hired), and I got to start up my third semester with a schedule where I only went on Tuesday and Thursday.

In September I had turned twenty surrounded by my family. I spent a nice day shopping and at lunch with my mother, came home, and then had a nice dinner with my entire family. The following Friday my best friends and I got to enjoy a nice night out. A night where I was no longer stressed, I was carefree, and this was the night where tings took a dramatic turn – and even though I didn’t know it at the time, it was for the better.

October was whenever I began a true transformation. I was attending therapy by the weekly. I began to talk to those I hadn’t in a long time. I began to stabilize the relationships I had neglected for many months and essentially returned to a form of normalcy and general happiness.

I was dancing like I used to in high school and was doing another performance. I now not only had my family, but my dance family as well. I began to teach at my dance studio – falling in love with my little children more and more every day.

After our performance in November, I made it through midterms, and I got to enjoy Thanksgiving in Maryland with my family. I got to go back home and work Black Friday with my favorite retail team. November was filled with family and friends – all that I could have ever asked for.

December began preparations for Christmas. By December 14th I had finished my third semester of college – with perfect attendance for my 8AM class. I finished with all A’s and B’s – a new accomplishment. By the end of finals I had started at a new job, my third job, and already loved it.

In December I got to build relationships with unexpected people and got to spend time with those people. I began to feel myself opening up more and becoming less guarded and less anxious as time went by.

Now, it is the end of December.

I am ready to move on from my worst year, 2018, but I am also grateful for all that it taught me and all the things and relationships that came out of it.

2018 was by far my most heartbreaking year filled with confusion, sadness, anxiety, and stress.  It, of course, was filled with heartbreak and loss as well.

I sometimes choose to look at the negatives of 2018 and how horrible it was – breakups, my mothers diagnosis, psychiatrist appointments, therapist appointments, hospital visits, etc.

Instead I can focus on the two most important lessons that 2018 has taught me.

In this year I have ultimately learned how I will allow myself to be treated (and when to recognize if and when someone oversteps my boundaries), and I have learned that even in the most heartbreaking of moments – so much more can come out of it.

I am leaving 2018 with stable relationships. I am leaving 2018 healthy and smiling.

In the year of 2019 I would like to continue the relationships I have made with others and build on them. I would like to stay positive and truly happy – not just to front it for social media and family. I expect to continue to know and understand my self worth – and to realize whenever people cross my boundaries. I expect to recognize red flags and to not brush past them continuously in hopes that people will change.

Most importantly, I expect myself to remain strong and to remind myself of who deserves to be in my life – and to be okay with letting go of those who no longer aid in my happiness.

2018 Review – In Spotify Playlists

Music has forever been my time capsule to take me back into time in terms of memories and moments that are most important to me.

Certain music can take me back to things like a car ride home with friends while others can take me back to making it through my senior year of high school as an outcast.

One morning when I woke up and began to get ready for my commute to school, I saw that Spotify had created a brand new playlist for me that was being recommended on my homepage.

Your Top Songs 2018

Instantly I was intrigued. I wanted to know what songs I listened to the most this year, seeing as my rotation was constantly changing with my music tastes for several months now. I was interested to see if Spotify could pick up on the songs that always made it back into my commute playlists and if they knew what songs seemed to be my favorites.

I found myself laughing at a few song titles such as those that belonged to Youtubers like Tana Mongeau and Gabbie Hanna, songs that I listened to ironically (enough to end up on the Spotify list haha).

I was enjoying the laughter and memories that came along with artists and songs by Rick Astley, Stacked Like Pancakes, Queen, and music from movies like Moana and Beauty and the Beast. I was taken back to all the good and pure moments of 2018. Songs that reminded me of singing in the dressing rooms before a performance and songs that took me back to car rides and singing with my sister.

That was whenever I heard the low whistles of “Asleep” by The Smiths that took me back to my lowest moments.

Immediately I was taken back to sitting in my bathtub – listening to that song during a depressive episode. I knew that the song would make me feel worse and more upset – but I hit the loop button so that it could play repeatedly without me needing to hit the back button.

There was a large chunk of me that wanted to hit the next button in that moment, maybe move onto a happy song from Moana to make me sing and dance in my seat as I drove to class.

I felt as though I was taken back in time and like I was back to sitting in lukewarm water, uncertain as to why exactly I felt so down.

Then there was “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron.

That song already had an emotional place in my heart due to the appearance of the song in 13 Reasons Why. It was introduced to me my senior year of high school and I can remember listening to it to get through it to the best of my ability.

The song followed me through high school, summer, my first year of college, and through my relationships.

It was a song that was forgotten about until the month of June and July where it was played, sang, and danced to on repeat. After July it fell back out of my cycle and had completely been forgotten about – it hurt too much to listen to and carried too many memories of my mental states and relationships beginning to take a major decline for the worst.

The vastly different types of music on my Spotify playlist was a great wrap up an example of how the year of 2018 went for me.

Some moments were pure and filled with laughter and smiles. Music such as Teenagers (My Chemical Romance), 21st century Liability (Yungblud), and You’re Welcome (Moana) come to mind for these songs. Songs that played as I sang to my nephew as I visited him and my sister in Maryland,  songs that were performed in the hot warped tour heat, and songs that I could jam out to in my car while driving to work and school.

The other moments were better suited for songs like “Asleep” (The Smiths), “The Night We Met” (Lord Huron), and Pictures of You (The Cure).

A large portion of 2018 can be explained by my sadder songs, where lyrics such as “Sing me to sleep, I’m tired and I want to go to bed”, and “Crying for the death of your heart” seem to fit better in my narrative than other ‘happier’ lyrics.

2018 was the worst year of my life thus far.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I struggled with major depressive disorder, I went spiraling backwards in all the steps I took towards getting better in the world of anxiety, my grades suffered, I was overworking myself in an attempt to distract myself from the amount of depression I was dealing with, I went through a horrible breakup, and I felt as though I lost a lot of myself for several months.

2018 was also my best year.

It was a year of self-discovery, a year of meeting new people that were like me and accepted me (and didn’t judge me for my short comings), I stood my ground and stood up for myself many times, I fell down ( a lot )  and got up each time, and I learned what I will and will not tolerate in terms of my self-worth.

2018 had been filled with way more downs than it was filled with ups, but I managed to get through it. Some moments and months I was down longer than others – but here I stand.

-N;KK;

Normality

Authors note – This is the beginning to the story of Emerson who is featured in the previews I posted titled “Submerged in Paranoia” and “Alone”. Let me know if you are interested in hearing the entirety of his story.

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It is normality that gets us through our day to day life. You could tell me your form of normal is sitting and watching an episode of Friends every night before bed. You could tell me it is normal for a couple to hold hands as they walk together along the sidewalk. All of these things seem like a normal occurrence.

What if I told you my normal was to question my sanity? To question everything I see and touch? I could tell you the stupid details of my life but the reality is that I don’t know them. I don’t even know why I am talking to you.

Maybe it is because I have given into my version of normality that I have tried too many times to change. Maybe I have given into the loop of insanity that tosses me from one side of the room to the other. I must have truly gone insane, you see.

True insanity comes whenever you are speaking to the voices on the insides of your skull like they are a real person. I suppose when you have no one to talk to these are the things you resort to.

I wish that I could change into a normal human that easily. I wish that I could be a mindless drone that wakes up, goes to the gym, goes to work or school, maybe sees a friend or girlfriend, builds relationships, makes small victories on the daily, a brand new accomplishment here and there, and goes back to sleep…but that simply isn’t my normal.

“Emerson.” It feels as though whoever said that was yelling my name through a long tunnel, my own name echoing a hundred times over before it reaches me. I am brought back to earth again. I come to see Taylor sitting across from me as her little boy, Dalton, crawls all over her. His tiny hands tug and pull at the tank top that covers her chest just barely. A half eaten Wendy’s Hamburger sits on a table in front of me.

I stare at the hamburger like it is a foreign object. I don’t remember how I got here. I don’t remember ordering…sitting…eating.

I remember now that Taylor had said my name.

“Hmmm?” I finally hum out to Taylor

“Penny for your thoughts?” she asks me as Dalton slams his sweaty baby fist down on a package of saltine crackers, crumbs spewing from the package and skidding across the table. Some go as far as to slide underneath my tray of half eaten food.

It dawns on me now that Taylor wants to know what I am thinking and where my thoughts lie. What I want to tell her? That I want to die, that the voices are more intense now more than ever, that I haven’t taken my medications in over a week now, and how I was supposed to go to my doctor today but I rescheduled for the third time.

I couldn’t tell her these things.

“I have no thoughts to give.” I reply to her. A simple response – one that she doesn’t like and I can see this visibly. Her mouth presses into a fine line and her thinly filled in eyebrows press in towards one another. She sucks in a long breath and her free hand, the one that isn’t holding her son in place to prevent him from flipping over her shoulders, swirls around the small bowl of chili that she has sitting in front of her.

Dalton is now slapping his hands on the table, more saltines flying up and falling back on the table as he screeches loudly. Few people turn to look over at us.

Screaming children must be their normal.

“You know you can’t expect to get better when you can’t ask for help.” She says to me lowly. “I don’t know how many times I need to tell you this.” She says in a near whisper. I roll my eyes at her and lean back further in my chair, feeling the cheap plastic press into the middle of my back as I look at her.

“I’m not asking you to lecture me. It’s the last thing I want, actually.” I say to her. This wasn’t our normal. I know you’ve lived in the crevices of my head somewhere for a long time and you should know this but I feel the need to reiterate that most of our conversations, from what I can remember, are good ones.

This is where I am supposed to inform you (and whoever is listening to me ramble) where Taylor and I met. Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you. I suppose that being mentally insane can give you a pass on those sorts of things.

She never brings it up or uses it against me when I forget her birthday.

I can barely remember how I got to Wendys let alone what has been happening the past few hours.

All I can remember about Taylor is that she cares far too much, that she has a son, and married her high school sweetheart. Normal is how I would describe her life story.

In attempt to change conversation, I clear my throat and look at her. “How is Cameron doing?” I ask her. This seems to make her angrier and she stands up in a huff, scooping Daltons mess of saltines into her hand.

“I’ll see you later, Emerson.” She says as she grabbed the tray in one hand and held Dalton on her hip as she walks away from me. Dalton squealed out into the shitty fast food dining room and attempted to wave at me as they moved through the exit.

Like that I was alone with just the voices on the inside of my head.

Let me ask you this… are you my normal?