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Note from Le Clown: This post uses fiction to deal with the author’s struggles. It may seem to some like self-promotion, but I had the chance of exchanging emails with the author, and we both agreed on a number of boundaries in which this post could find its place on Black Box Warnings. Her way of dealing with her pain might not be for all, but it is the voice she has chosen to let her message be heard. Thank you.
My name is Victoria Sawyer and I am an 18 year old college freshman and I am… crazy.
When you go through life with a stigma like that, a dark stain on your self-perception it’s hard to step away from it. It’s hard to escape, but I finally am, I’m coming clean, because I need to tell my story. I need you to understand me in every dark, demented thought and action, I need you to know the depth of my damage, because I’ve held this secret for too long, ten years, ten long years of misery. But now, I’m resigned and I will tell you, lay it all on the line and you will no doubt reject me, mock me, hate me and worst of all, judge me. At least that’s what I’ve always assumed.
It all started when I was 8 years old. We were on vacation in Florida and were headed to see a NASA shuttle lift off at Cape Canaveral. That’s when it slapped me, that’s when a door was opened that I can never close again. But the realization that I was crazy didn’t occur to me right away as I sat in that truck, heart throbbing, stomach twisted, unable to breathe, unable to stop the screaming thoughts, the irrational fear, the trembling, the sickness, nope, I didn’t know then that I was crazy. I knew something was wrong, but over the next day, it slowly occurred to me that something was off now, permanently.
It took looking at myself in the mirror, staring into my childish face, trying to reconcile the me I’d always seen in the mirror with the way my mind had changed. I started inventing new fears. I was honestly terrified, of everything. And that’s when that thought, the one that is my mantra now, fell into my head so quietly, like falling leaves. I am crazy, my new shameful truth.
So yea…I have a problem, something not normal. I react wrong to situations, I get panicked, scared, sick and the crazy worry, the fear thoughts strangle me until I can’t breathe, and I can’t escape it, not ever. I’ve lived this way for years and years, hiding it from everyone but my parents and brother. And I’ve never had a name for it. I’ve always assumed it’s a deep dark secret, that I should be ashamed, that no one will understand me and to this day, I will do anything, anything, to hide the truth from my friends, classmates, boyfriends, everyone. I mean what’s to get? I’m totally fucking insane.
Now I’m in college. I’m not gonna lie or sugar coat it, I’m a little wild, or shit, I’m a lot wild. I started drinking in high school but now in college things are getting way out of hand. The thing is, drinking makes me feel normal, like the way you feel every day. I can go to a party and be confident, maybe over confident but whatever, who’s keeping track? And I don’t give a shit because all I want is to live without that pit of dread in my stomach, without that glassy hazy surreal vision, without the fucking fear that dictates everything I do. So yea…drinking is my savior or pot, even a little coke. How low can I go? Fuck, I don’t care. Because when I’m wasted I don’t have to worry about anyone finding out I’m insane because the soul sucking fear, that sweaty tense nervous body is gone, deadened, murdered beneath 17 shots of vodka. It‘s like a freedom I’ve never known and I want it, like an addict. Oh sweet drugs and alcohol.
You can only imagine where this leads, right? Frat parties, and me, a really drunk girl who needs more and more all the time to stop the crazy, who eventually drinks just to get through day. Then there are the guys, the one night stand where I lose my virginity, drugs, dancing, scandal, kissing my best friend Hannah in front of a crowd of rowdy fratboys, my need for approval, to feel normal, wanted, sexy, not crazy. Soon enough I’m in way over my head with an STD, and a guy I want to be with desperately but who I can only manage to scream at whenever we’re together. And the final straw, those flashing blue lights that night I drive drunk that sends me into one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had.
I’m on my way down, down into the depths of self-hatred, into the realization that my life is over and I’m only holding on to my sanity by a thread. And when the thread snaps, when I can only leave the house for my part time job, simply to prove I haven’t lost control, not yet and even there every moment of my day is hell, pure hellish sickness, mind and body. Well that’s when I’m in the basement of my parents’ house, spread eagle on the cold cement floor, reveling in the cold like a punishment that I deserve, with a loaded handgun for company, its cold barrel kissing my hot tear streaked forehead. And my thoughts are dark, very dark, death seems like the only way to find peace and I long for that escape. I long for oblivion, the warm blackness of nothing.
I want to end it all, I want to die. And as I lay there, my phone rings and it’s him, the one person in all the world who knows the real me, my truth, and I open up even more than ever before, I spew it all over him like a goddamned fire hose of hot mess. Why not give myself even more of a reason for self-hatred? In the end though…it’s still my decision, my life, my problem and so I make a choice, a choice I’ll have to live with or die with.
So…will you let me take you down that road? Will you dance with me, drink with me, party with me, panic with me, die with me? I’ve hidden this for so long, I’ve been afraid, scared as shit and I’m tired of it. It’s bullshit! I want you to experience it with me. I challenge you, I dare you to live life with me. Ask yourself, do you feel like shit? Do you feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, depressed and anxious? Do you feel like I’m messing up? Do you see my goddamned mistakes? My stupidity? Do you see me trying to get through the day without losing my fucking mind? Do you feel the stigma, the way I do? Do you feel my throbbing heart, my tense sick stomach, the thundering irrational anxious thoughts? Do you feel the cold metal of that gun? And through it all, do you still root for me, care for me, hurt for me?
Good, now you’re living on my level. And you know what, I’m not sorry, fuck I am not sorry, I won’t apologize because guess what? I’ve realized, I’m not crazy. I’m honest and I’m human and being human has never been easy.
Angst is a novel by author Victoria Sawyer and is loosely based upon her own experience as a college freshman. Visit her here: Angst