Why Should I Feel This Way?

Copyright, Rick

Well, right now is one of those times I want to be heard. I don’t know if it’s my need not to feel invisible or a search for some kind of understanding where I once thought I had understanding.

Compared to the various harrowing stories scattered about the world, my story isn’t really worth mentioning.

At this point in time, I’m twenty, in college, prospering by many standards. By some, I’m not: I have no social life. If I didn’t live at home with several people, I would be considered a hermit. The only “world” I’m exposed to is the Internet where I have some of my only friends. Just a week ago, however, I was pretty happy. I had (and still have) a job. I was starting classes and excited about having a full load of classes for the first time in a while.

Time warp to around September of 2002. I was starting college as a naive high school graduate. I had graduated 6th in my class (at a magnet school no less) with a 4.02 GPA despite suffering from serious depression for almost my entire teenage life.

Being on my own was a shock. I was about 120 miles away from my parents, so they weren’t there to wake me up. I was away from my dad who wasn’t what you’d call horribly abusive, but we had our run-ins, but the foundation for all my discipline was gone.

So, for the first of the year, I was undisciplined and right from the beginning, I feel behind.

Fast forward to about October/November. I was in class. I remember vaguely that I’d tripped over a desk somehow and knocked it over embarassingly. It seemed a culmination of all my dorkiness and all the anger carried itself to my dorm room. There, without realizing it, I started self injury. I used a burn method an Internet friend had found “interesting” and put it to an extreme and found myself with a chemical burn. Then, when I realized what I’d done, I was in complete despair. I nearly ran to the student health center, darting glances to and fro thinking the world noticed my stupidity.

At the student health center, I thought I could hide it. I’m a horrible liar, so, eventually, I burst into tears and they sent me to see the school counselor.

I remember not injuring myself for a while, but then, I found myself taking my dorm key and raking it down my arm, using the pain as a sort of sedative. I was relentlessly procrastinating and during the first semester, I got a B in Calculus, and good grades in my computer science classes, but the other classes, I received an incomplete.

Second semester started and it was set up for disaster from the start.

Backstory: During first semest, I met someone in the dorm elevator. For one of the few times in my life, I actually said hi to someone. She had a Green Day shirt on and, immediately, I was attracted. Green Day as anyone should admit is the best band in the entire world. At the end of the elevator-long conversation, I told her my room number.

To my surprise, she visited me. And for some reason on that same visit, I explained my entire life to her. It was absolutely stupid in retrospect because rushing into a friendship headfirst is a recipe for disaster. But I placed my heart on the cutting board.

So I began trying to ravel her into my tortured life. My pity party fantasy. I became helplessly obsessed, and being the immature, shy, socially uneducated person I am, I tried to make her into this crutch. Sort of like forcing a twig to support a falling oak.

And my descent into cutting coincided somewhat with that. I remember actually asking her for an X-Acto knife. When she said no (later I’d find out that she suspected) I ended up walking to the local drug store (Walgreens or Rite-Aid, don’t remember) and bought razor blades for the first time.

I don’t know whether all this was attention-getting or not, but I remember starting a journal on some website during second semester in which I was rather graphic.

To make a long story short, it got worse and worse and I basically documented an overdose. In a stupid mistake, I had told my college counselor (a different one from the first) the website for it.

He read it. And that was the end of my career at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

They staged an intervention with my parents and forcibly removed me from my classes.

It was the most horrifying day of my life.

This made my relationship with my parents even more weird. I was an enigma to them. How the hell could I do this? Was I stupid?

Flash forward to April 2003. For some reason my dad complains about something. And somehow, that sets me off.

Beforehand, I had already systematically been overdosing on OTC sleeping pills taking sometimes four or eight at a time. This would cause me to sleep four or eight hours during the day.

Now, let’s venture on a little side quest. What medication was I taking at the time?

Zoloft — for depression. Duh. 100 mg per day.

Zyprexa — I don’t know exactly what this was for. During second semester at UAH, I had felt excessively numb and strange and had asked to be taken to the hospital. I think they thought I was exhibiting psychotic symptoms, so they prescribed me an anti-psychotic. I’m not so sure it was a good decision.

Anyways, the purpose of that was to illustrate what I did next. I went to my room and took the rest of my prescription medication. Probably after fifteen minutes, waiting to die or at least sleep, I, for some reason, decided to go out to the kitchen to get some food. I was shambling like a drunk, and my dad saw it. And when he asked me a question, I slurred. Eventually, he forced me to sit down on the couch and the rest is history.

I was shuttled to the hospital where I drank the charcoal they shoved in my hand.

And eventually, I ended up at the University of Alabama in Birminham’s psychiatric hospital under suicide watch.

What was most embarassing was that I couldn’t be afforded the luxury of shoelaces. And I couldn’t have my headphones nor my MP3 player but for one hour at night. That was only during the first couple of days.

Even with my MP3 player, though, it was torture. Looking out the window. Sitting in the day room. Taking those few minutes outside that we were allowed. Eating the disgusting food. Seeing the McDonalds across the street from my room.

Exercise therapy was probably the only redeeming quality.

I was begging to get out of there, so after about six days, I was signed out of inpatient.

Flash forward to September 2003. I had recovered somewhat. I was starting class at Auburn University Montgomery. I was excited. I was cutting, but somehow during the next few months, I prospered.

Turning point: I was taking psychology that semester. It was around October/November. The thoughts in my head were buzzing around like little kiddies knocking over pots. Bang. I realized I had a goal.

I wanted to keep people from ending up at rock bottom.

And I didn’t want to do it from the detached perspective of scientist, e.g. clinical psychologist (my own doctrinal observation, not an indictment of the personality of clinical psychologist. My therapist is more of a doctor than a lot of doctors I know) but from that of a doctor.

Psychiatry, not psychology.

Next semester. I was happy. I had gotten straight A’s during the fall semester. I started writing for the school paper, my interest in writing sparked by my English Comp class. I found my passion in politics, philosophy, and writing for that semester.

End of semester. Straight A’s again. Deans list. And my GPA was bumped up to a 3.64. I was officially majoring in psychology and was now ready to be focused on a pre-med curriculum.

Summer. I finished my biology sequence, getting an A in lecture and lab. I also got a job — a landmark achievement. I worked at Office Depot and during my second month on the job, I was employee of the month.

I was validated. For the first time in my life, I felt spectacular.

Now, it’s Fall 2004. What happened? I don’t know. I now have a full load of classes (15 credit-hours) and a part-time job that’s sometimes nearly full time.

All of the sudden, I snapped again and the old feelings are returning. The butterfly feeling in my stomach wracks me during quiet moments. The creeping nervousness attacks at random times. And a sort of paranoia is coming over me again. It’s like my success is degenerating into a negative of itself, almost ready to implode at a moment’s notice when a stressor comes again.

And I’m cutting again. Even during my periods of happiness, I had slips, but this time, it’s been going on for a week/week and a half. And the accompanying feelings are there. Not just stress.

Why should I feel this way? I haven’t been raped. I haven’t been beaten up. Why the hell should me, a supposedly smart guy end up with all these feelings bursting out into a language incomprehensible to most?

I have no right to feel this way.


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