Ask Me Anything: Shrooming Made Me Cry

The last time I took shrooms I started randomly crying for no reason and couldn’t tell if I had to throw up or cry and then curled up in a ball on my friend’s couch.

My friends: “are you okay?”
Me: “I don’t know…”
(this convo was repeated a million times)

Basically mushrooms are heavy and emotional and after doing them twice I still can’t decide how I feel about them, but I want to try them again.

Ask Me Anything: Female Degradation in the Bedroom

I feel like very soon after I became sexually active I knew I enjoyed having really rough sex. From the type of porn I enjoyed watching, to what I fantasized about and even the guys that I dated, I sensed that there was a pattern building. Now in my college years at the height of sexual exploration, I can say that I do really love having rough sex. I’m talking spanking, slapping, choking, dirty talk, spit, restraints, the whole nine yards.

The original question had asked why females enjoy being degraded in the bedroom and I’m guessing that the asker couldn’t possibly understand why a woman would want their sexual partner to address them by inappropriate names and strike them while having sex. But I think by qualifying someone’s sexual preferences as ‘degrading’ that we are placing a stigma around their choices. This is of course not an uncommon phenomenon in our society but still is it really degrading?

I see the issue from both sides. On one hand yes I see that my sexual desires of male domination stem from my traditional upbringing. My father, a stern and sometimes mean presence in my life, was always the breadwinner in my family. My mother though not always willingly was forced to play into the role of the submissive housewife. I grew up with expectations of what a man and a woman should be. I’m often indecisive and scared and like others to make decisions for me. My childhood created schemas for me that have manifested within, not only by creating my desire for the traditional American family life with the white picket fence, but also in my preference rough sex, where power is either entirely mine or not at all. Thus what I find attractive in bed is a direct result of the female oppression and limitation, which I witnessed in my upbringing.

On the other end of the spectrum though I don’t see why what I like to do in bed has to go any farther than that. It’s not like rough sex is the only type of sex that I’ve had and that my sex is always not so extreme. I could endlessly break down the psychological processes of why I like what I like. But at the end of the day, I see it much simpler than that. I feel like for many people sex can be an escape, a release. As an often shy, timid girl, when I make demands in bed for my partner to do certain things to me, I feel empowered and in control. Add to the fact that for me there is something undeniably sexy about a man that knows what he wants and gets it. I also enjoy having the dominant role in bed as well, so its not always like I am the subject of ‘degradation’.

So I guess to answer your question, there are many reasons. For me personally, I’ve never felt like I was being degraded while having sex and I’ve never felt disrespected by the person I was having sex with, as I often had a longstanding relationship with them, whether it be friendship or romantically, outside of the bedroom. Sexual preferences can come about for so many different reasons whether it be trauma, childhood upbringing, being born that way, etc. As humans we are all different and therefore all enjoy different things, especially when it comes to sex and attraction. What one may view as degrading to woman, another may view as a huge turn on. And that’s just really a matter of opinion.

Ask Me Anything: Growing Up Poor (and Sometimes Hungry)

I grew up poor. My parents would be horrified to hear me speak of our experiences this way because they worked very hard, tried their best to provide, and really exemplify what it means to be work work work but never ever see that pay off in our so-called meritocratic society.

My parents were divorced. Living with my mom meant dealing with her cycle of endless loser boyfriends she would have move in with us immediately to help her pay the bills. I’m pretty sure several of these assholes sexually abused my younger sister. She has suffered a lifetime of the ill effects of being abused by these men. Men whom, I have to assume, would not be invited into our home so readily if we were not devastated by poverty.

I recall one time my Mom ran off with one of the richer of these boyfriends. She left us with a stranger to take care of us, who promptly left the minute my Mom left town. She would stop by every day around dinner time and leave us with bags of chips. I remember appreciating that these were at least big bags of chips. I can’t help but think this “caretaker” thought of us as cats she just needed to scatter food to and pick up litter in her duties. My sister and I kept ourselves full by eating the bags of chips and having burping contests after drinking from gallon-jugs of water for hours. I was also impressed by my sister’s ability at a young age to cook. She had figured out how to boil the eggs left in the refrigerator and we ate those for a few days while we had them.

Living with my Dad was a slight improvement, if you could get over the physical abuse and the asshole stepmom. Here, you could eat. It was mostly canned foods and my Dad was great at mixing the canned foods together for all number of tasty, sodium-laden comfort foods. Also, there was meat. Fresh fruit was a delightful treat and I quickly gobbled it up, selfishly leaving very little for anyone else. I would steal grapefruits and oranges from people’s trees and on some days, I would only eat grapefruit and the french fries I’d gorge myself on at school. I will never ever forget the delightfulness of mixing ranch dressing and honey mustard together to eat platefuls of stolen french fries.

Growing up poor, you face stigma. I never had friends spend the night at my house, mortified by how small and ugly it was in comparison to my friends’ “lavish” middle-class homes. One friend whom I really liked had her my Mom drop me off at my house after some event at school. My new friend blurted out, “That’s your shitty house? The roof is shit-brown!” I was devastated, as if I needed another reminder of how poor we were.

It’s hard to tell if I lived a poor life because of the poverty or the neglect/abuse I faced as a child. These two certainly can co-occur and it’s not lost on me that poverty is a form of violence against poor people. Whether my parents didn’t have the money for things like new shoes (that didn’t smell awful because they were cheap, plastic, years old) or tampons for me (which left me to bleed on myself at school, much again to my horror and embarrassment), because they truly didn’t have the money or they didn’t want to spend the money on my sister and me, is not clear to me. Both serve as reminders that poverty is something we easily wear on ourselves, whether it was the stench of my shoes or the blood on my body, I was marked as poor. It was truly awful.

When I got to college, I was literally blown away by the money my friends had. I recall pulling up to one friend’s home, calling her to ask what house it was on the end of a cul-de-sac before realizing the entire cul-de-sac was her home. I dated someone else whose parents were millionaires many times over. I eventually broke it off with this person because I felt so out of place. I always felt like an outsider and was always too ashamed to bring my partners or friends home. I wanted to vomit any time one of them mentioned a private jet.

The long-term effects of having grown up poor like this will last a lifetime. While I have a comfortable existence now, I live under the constant fear of being homeless (something my sister and I both did on occasion as teenagers). I worry constantly that I will lose everything. I am racked with guilt that I am the only person in my family to have escaped that poverty. I have indebted myself trying to help my family but at the end of the day, they’re still poor and I’m still terrified.

 

Ask Me Anything: True Life, I Love Sex (A Lot)

I lost my virginity in high school and since then I have been attached to it as though it was something that always followed me no matter where I went. Maybe it had to do with how I lost my virginity, but I have never seen sex as something sacred or special and should only be shared between two people who are in love. I love sex and having to give it up would be something that I can’t ever see myself doing.

Throughout my high school I surrounded myself with lots of different types of people, but the ones that I loved being with most were my “slutty” friends. I will never forget the phone call that I received in 10th grade during a New Years celebration of my friend screaming that she just had sex with her boyfriend for the first time. She was the first one of our friends to lose it but she started this trend amongst us all as the next couple years progressed. She would rant and rave about how amazing it was and, obviously, we all wanted to try it. I decided to ask one of my good friends if he maybe wanted to casually hookup sometime. He was confused at first but did not fight it. The summer of junior year we called each other on the phone and we agreed to meet up in front of his house after I had finished babysitting. I was so nervous but was beyond excited to finally lose it. He was much more experienced than I was so I wasn’t worried about how everything would work out and where body parts would go. We had sex in his car. He did all the work. The whole process lasted about an hour. I was ecstatic.

My friends and I would spend weekends talking about our sexual ventures and compare and contrast our funniest, amazing, and most cringe worthy moments in the bedroom. We shared our numbers in secret vowing to never tell anyone else. I loved sex and saw it as a classroom for life. I learned so much about myself through sex and I never wanted to stop having it. Every time that I had sex with someone I loved spending waking moments going over every detail and longing for the next time for it to happen. I realized then that I was sort of (a lot of) obsessed with it. That summer was a shit show, to say the very least. My friends and I were ALWAYS safe about the whole act of sex and getting tested but we continued to find ourselves in semi shady situations.

When I came to college I was definitely taken aback by everything. I met my roommate and we did some girly bonding and we exchanged our bedroom numbers, thinking that she would be at least semi close to mine but I quickly found out that I was hugely mistaken. She had only had sex with one person in her whole life and that was with her boyfriend of an extensive amount of time. Going from a friend who had had sex with over thirty different people to someone who barely had one was shocking. She asked me my number and I most definitely subtracted a few digits. I just assumed that everyone felt the same way about sex as my friends and me. It took me a while to finally open up to her about my ventures but I try and hide just how much I feel an attachment to sex. Although Oxy is a very open place I do feel that there is a lot of slut shaming that goes around campus. The dating culture here is so prevalent that people do not really have room to go out and hookup with anyone they want without it having to be a big deal to others. Stepping on people’s toes is inevitable here and that part is so frustrating. I think that this time is so prime to figure out what we want in life sexually because in ten years it is going to become harder and harder to accomplish that. I am not planning on being the 35-year-old woman looking for twenty-something’s on Tinder – so might as well do it now when I have the chance!

Ask Me Anything: Growing Up Rich

I grew up very wealthy. Though I don’t know how much money my parents have, going off of the quality of life that I’ve been afforded and a few hints I’ve picked up over the years I imagine that it’s a lot. My dad majored in Computer Science at MIT and worked for a few startups before co-creating a piece of software that was sold to Microsoft. After the sale he went to work for Microsoft for about 8 years. After that he took a couple years off to decompress and look around for a new job. He ended up joining a start-up that was quite small but has since grown into a very large, successful company. Though my mom has been successful in her field of study as well, I focus primarily on my dad because I believe that’s where the majority of my parent’s money comes from.

As I said before, when I was growing up my parents never talked about money or made a show of spending on extravagant things. I grew up knowing that I was well off, but not thinking that my parent’s wealth made me better than anyone else, or that money could make up for deficiencies in my character. Both my parents grew up poor, so they also made sure that my siblings and I knew that we were very lucky and that most kids didn’t get to grow up in the same situation as we did. I also picked this up from my friends. I went to public school for K-12 and pretty much all of my friends were lower or middle class, so I knew that I was really lucky to have the quality of life that I had. In fact, for a long time I was embarrassed to have my friends come over to my house because I didn’t want them to think of me as different.

I’m grateful for the way my parents raised me, because I’ve had the benefit of total financial security while still being conscious of my privilege and down to earth. I’ve worked every year since I was old enough because I like having my own money. While I appreciate the fact that I will inherit money from my parents when they die, I don’t want to live off of my parents’ money at all. I know this is has not been the case (and will continue to not be the case while I’m still in school), since my parents have paid to raise me and have funded my education, but I want to make a living for myself. I want to study hard in school and make a lot of money for myself so that I can ensure a stable living for my family. Ideally, I’d like to just donate whatever money is left to me to charity.

My parents have never spent money on extravagant things. We live in a nice house with appliances that are of good quality (our TV is a good brand, as is the furniture, kitchen, etc.) but there isn’t anything really frivolous. We have two cars, which I guess is a sign of privilege in itself, but my dad drives the same Toyota he’s had since ’93 and my mom drives a minivan that she got in 2007 that she means to have for a while. I’d also like to think that this is justified, as both my parents have to be out in different places during the day, which would be restricted if they only had one vehicle. My mom told me once that some of the guys that worked with my dad when they sold their software to Microsoft went and bought crazy stuff afterwards. She said that many had bought Yachts and that one man had even had a bowling alley installed in his home. I’ve also seen the houses (mansions) of people he works with so all of that together has given me the idea that he’s made a large amount of money. Personally I can’t see the point in having such a large house, but to each their own. The only thing my parents really splurge on are books, our house is full of them.

My parents are also involved in a lot of philanthropic organizations. I know they’ve donated large sums to various charities and museums in the city we live in. Both my parents are also involved in a program that MIT runs that lets underprivileged high school students come to MIT and study during the summers. It allows them to see what higher education can offer and also gives them a serious leg up should they choose to apply to MIT for college. I don’t know the exact features of my parents’ financial matters, but I know they spend a lot on charity. I want to make a lot of money for myself as well so that I can do the same thing when I’m older. Currently though I do charity work regularly and make small monthly donations to a couple charities. Come to think of it, my mom’s made sure I’ve done community service with some regularity since I was around 9 or 10. And every Christmas when I was a kid they made me and my siblings donate some of our allowance to some charity.

I feel like there is a stigma that is (often rightly) attached to the wealthy or those that inherit wealth especially. That they don’t know the value of a dollar, that they have no work ethic, that they are unattached from and can in no way relate to people in “normal” financial situations. I try really hard to not be like that type of person. Not to say that I have to suppress the urge to be lazy and live off of my parents money, but I want people to know that I work hard and don’t have any plans to fall back on the my parents’ money.

I really hope I don’t sound like a deluded asshole in all of this. I know that for all the good my parents did raising me I was still very privileged and there are probably things I’m still ignorant about. I don’t know, I do my best. This feels weird because this is the first time I’ve ever talked about money like this. I don’t know. I don’t think that money makes anyone better than other people (in a lot of ways it makes people worse), and I don’t like to think or talk about it really.

Ask Me Anything: High on Meth

The first time I smoked meth was last summer. I’ve smoked it about three times. I hardly think about it, but now that I’m writing about it I feel bad. Don’t get me wrong, I felt bad during the times I smoked it and the first two days after, but a couple days later I would act like nothing happened. My cousin, who is three years older than me, first introduced my sister and I do it. He did not pressure us to do it, we wanted to try it. I was curious and wanted a boost of energy.

There were rules when smoking. He informed us of the effects, and what to do and what not to do. You have to drink tons of water because meth impedes the flow of saliva. When people do not drink enough water, bacteria and natural acids accumulates and eat away at enamel and gums. This is why you see meth addicts with decayed teeth or no teeth at all. Unlike weed, you have to immediately blow out the smoke or else this layer of white stuff stays in your mouth although you cannot see it. The way you can tell is because when you smoke it out of a glass pipe, the smoke creates this thin layer of white stuff. The more you smoke it, the thicker and whiter it becomes. You also have to brush your teeth a lot. I’m sure a lot of people have seen before and after pictures of people who smoke meth. They look like the living dead.

I knew some of the effects of meth. On documentaries and the media you hear about tweakers going crazy, stabbing people, overdosing, seeing bugs crawling under their skin and picking at them, etc. For some reason this did not scare me. The times I did smoke I did not experience any hallucinations. I did not hear anything, see anything, or start to get aggressive. What I did feel was a high endurance. I felt like I could do anything. I constantly felt like I needed to do something so I would clean my house like crazy. I would water and feed all the animals. I was talking a lot and faster than normal. I stayed up for hours and days. The longest I stayed up was three days. That entire time my cousin, sister and I were listening to music, talking nonstop, cleaning, and went running/walking. I also lost my appetite. I was thirsty more than I was hungry. I ate very little. When I made dinner I’d make an effort to eat because I knew my parents would notice my lack of appetite but for some reason I couldn’t eat. When I took a bite, the top of my mouth felt weird. It felt dry and it hurt a little. I took smaller bites so the food wouldn’t touch the top and that help.

Meth is highly addictive. I run a lot, especially during the summer so the three times I did smoke I went running afterwards. I had so much energy and I kept telling my cousin, “okay give me one more hit” and I would go running. Even though I was already energized I felt like I needed to take more to improve my running, hence the first stage of addiction. The times I did smoke was not back to back. There was about a two week gap between each one and my reasons for it was because I knew that day was going to be busy so I needed energy to last me all day. I never experienced withdrawal but with any drug people react differently. One example is my cousin and sister would get paranoid. You can’t smell the smoke because it doesn’t have a stench unless you smoke it in a small sealed room. We would smoke it in the room with the windows open and every now and then they would say, “What was that?” and I would always reassure them and say it’s nothing.

Of course my actions are deviant. I’ve never met any other person who smoked meth. When people ask what’s the hardest drug you’ve tried I don’t tell them because I know they’d judge me, and think that since meth is highly addictive they’d assumed at some point I was addicted and think of me differently. I feel that if I told someone they would forget about my personality and solely remember me as that person who smokes meth. I do not smoke it anymore because I feel guilty and thought about the damage it did to my health, even though it was not visible. I even feel guilty smoking weed so I stopped. I feel that my family and relatives have high expectation of me and I think to myself “Instead of reading a book or studying, I’m smoking and wasting my parent’s money and all my hard work.”

Ask Me Anything: Minority at Oxy

Although Occidental prides itself on diversity, I have only met one other Native American throughout my two years here. I come from the largest reservation in the U.S and it’s remarkable that she was from the same town I was from. The sad part is that she graduated last year and now I feel alone. Coming here was a culture shock because at home it’s uniformed. All there is are Navajos. The only Caucasians are doctors/nurses and teachers. I went to a private Catholic school where there was 200 students (k-12th) and out of those 200 there were two white students who were brother and sister, and one black student. There are no Asians, blacks, Chinese, Korean, Mexican, Latinos, etc. in my hometown. My grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins all live within a 15 second walk from my house so I’m used seeing them every day and having cookouts, dinners and ceremonies together.

Here, I feel alone and detached from my culture. When people look at me they assume I’m a different race. I often I find myself thinking that the only reason I was accepted into Oxy was because of my ethnicity and this triggers me to think that I don’t belong here. This is deviant to me because I’m used to being within walking distance of family, it was uniformed in terms of race, my hometown mostly consist of dirt roads, there are no large buildings, and it’s extremely small that there are only two grocery stores.

My experience here may seem deviant to others. One example is I have this tradition where every morning I would wake up before the sun (I’ve been slacking due to sleep deprivation) and sprinkle corn pollen four times in front of me from left to right while praying towards the east. The early birds who get up to take a walk or walk their dogs glance towards my way and stare or give me strange/confused looks.

Ask Me Anything: A Dot in a Sea of White

As a minority at Occidental, I find it challenging to attend a college that is majority white. Occidental pushes the diversity card super hard claiming a “commitment to diversity” and while I cannot deny the effort, coming from a minority perspective, it all seems inauthentic and forced. It all began before I even got my acceptance letter. Oxy hosts this program called MVP which stands for Multicultural Visiting Program where students from all over the country are flown out and get to stay on campus for a few days. For me, this was a chance to see if I could really see myself at Oxy. During MVP, you stay in the Multicultural dorm and hang out with mostly minority students who go here or are other prospective students who are also mostly minority. This program is problematic, because while it is a great opportunity for students to have a chance to understand Oxy better, it gives an illusion that Oxy is full of diversity.

Part two of this push for diversity is when you are extended an invitation during MVP to attend MSI. MSI stands for Multicultural Summer Institute and is a rigorous summer program again dedicated to diversity and social justice. While MSI is helpful, it again reinforces this idea that Oxy is diverse. Having a group of about 50 multicultural students really gave hope that Oxy was in fact super diverse. In addition to diversity that MSI alluded to, we also spent about 3 hours each weekday discussing social justice problems with new concepts every night. Again another point in which the idea of diversity seems as though it was a priority of this school. I remember how specifically a recent alum explained in a panel how not to take pictures for diversity just so Oxy can look good. We were all confused, but now that I attend Occidental, I see more clearly the bullshit that I and many other minorities were spoon-fed.

I come from a diverse community. Diversity to me means mixture of many different people. I grew up with a mixture of races and never had just one dominant race. Coming to Oxy was complete culture shock for me. Growing up, I felt as though I never really noticed race as much as I would have liked. Everyone was their own race and that was it, it was not until attending Oxy did I realize how big race was and how the rest of the world was not as diverse. I was very oblivious to how important race was in larger society. First, race is literally one of the first things you notice about a person. Being a minority at Oxy I feel as though that is exactly how I am perceived. I am not just a student I am a minority student. When I am in class and I am the only person of color there, I then become the representation of all people of color. Since I am one of the few people of color at Oxy, I represent all color people to all the white people who did not grow up with many minorities. Being a minority at Occidental I feel as though it is hard to be seen as just another student, but instead I literally personify my race. Do you have any idea how many times I have been confused for another student of my race? Too many.

On top of representing entire racial groups, as a minority student I feel distant from many white students. While I am sure we are alike considering we are all college students with some of the same struggles, there is a divide between races that is hard to ignore. We all just self-segregate ourselves and create an even further gap in between students. I mostly only hang out with more minority students because I feel less stigmatized around them and we can better mange our stigma together. We still stick out but instead of staring at the one minority student, you seen us as a unit which helps empower us. This is not our intention but it might not come off as we are separating ourselves from whites. As minorities, we can relate to each other and we understand the stigma that we have to go through everyday at a majority white school.

It was important that I answer this question because it’s something that I have to deal with everyday, not just at Oxy, but for the rest of my life. I am glad I choose this question because I never thought this in depth about my identity as a minority here Oxy and I just hope that I enlightened someone deeper about our situation of diversity. GOOOO OXY!

Ask Me Anything: My One Night Stand(s)

I have experienced the one night stand. In fact, I’ve experienced it multiple times. Now let’s keep in mind that I am a girl, so according to our patriarchal society this isn’t okay. I would viewed as being “too easy” or “slutty.” Whereas if I was a boy, my actions would probably be praised and seen as an achievement. I, however, view my actions on an individual event basis. Sometimes my one night stands have made me feel great, twistedly validating for me to ensure that I actually have “game.” And admittedly at times, I have left one night stands feeling like shit wondering if I really needed to do that in the first place.

My first one night stand happened the night that I lost my virginity. I was 16 years old. I was a sophomore in high school and I hung out with mostly seniors on the weekends. We went out to a party on a Friday night and got sufficiently drunk. This was a pretty usual routine. I loved partying with them because I almost always met new people when we went out; I wasn’t stuck in the sophomore private school circle. I met this guy there standing next to the beer pong table rallying with his friends. I fearlessly joined him and before I knew it we were talking (of course I could not tell you about what, I was overcome with how handsome he was). The cops busted in. Everybody fled into the kitchen and huddled there. This guy was the only person I recognized around me so I stayed with him. By the time the cops left my friends were nowhere to be seen. I really didn’t care. Words really didn’t need to be exchanged, as we both knew what each other wanted. We went to the guest room and did our thing. It wasn’t too awkward. That was a surprise for me.

The next morning of course I have like 5 voicemails from my mother asking where I am. I make up some extravagant lie. She believes it. I get the boy’s phone number and while I’m asking for it I don’t even actually know if I want it. He doesn’t drive so his friend drives me home.

I know the reasons for why I chose that night and that guy although I had met him that night. He was two grades above me and went to public school. I knew that the chances of me ever having to run into him again were extremely slim. In my town, private and public school kids rarely ever mix. There’s this awful notion from private school kids that public school kids aren’t worth the time getting to know. Whereas public school kids usually mock the private school kids when they’re in the same social situations (parties), implying that this area isn’t nice enough for the private school kids. My lack of reservation on this one night stand was also fueled by the fact that I merely wanted experience. I wanted to know how to do it right. I figured it would serve me well for a time when I really liked a guy and wanted it to be flawless (hah, yeah right).

Since this experience I have had several one night stands. Each one goes through the same(ish) routine of the usual encounter, hints whether through sly bodily contact or spoken word and then the leaving of one location to go to either my place or his. Each one is different in character, some feeling sleazier than others and some feeling light and stress-free. As I have matured through the years since my first one night stand, I have drastically altered the way I act, as one night stands became less and less pleasurable.

The lack of emotion sort of exhausted me because I sort of wanted to experience the stomach butterfly excitement. In a way, these one night stands have been a way for me to teach myself what I obviously physically enjoy, but also enabled me to explore my emotional boundaries and how to respect myself. Perhaps this independent learning experience has come from the fact that the boys I have had one night stands with don’t interject themselves into my lives through mutual friends. It would have to be me or him to make the move to ever make contact again. It has also taken strong pride and accountability of my actions to disregard the judgmental remarks my friends have made in the past. Overall, my one night stands have ultimately taken me through a roller-coaster of emotions while I explore my sexuality but made me understand now what I do and do not tolerate emotionally and physically.

Ask Me Anything: On Depression and Other Fun Things

I was first “officially” diagnosed with depression when I was eight years old. I had always been generally unhappy, introverted, unable to socialize with my peers, and emotionally intense. I frequently got in very explosive and emotional fights with my parents. They tried desperately to find something that I could be excited about, whether it be friends, a musical instrument, or a sport. The tipping point came when I started alluding to my desire to take my life. I remember during one fight with my parents I took a large butcher knife and held it to my wrists, overwhelmed. At that point, my parents decided to put me in therapy. Since my mother and her family have a history of mental illness, the decision was pretty easy for them, I think. They knew I had a serious problem, and wanted me to get help (think about the intense ableism and pathological thinking here).

Early in my life, my depression was marked by a complete inability to control my emotions, which were extreme. I was never sad; I was suicidally overwhelmed. I was never happy; I was intensely giddy. The emotions ruled my body. Most importantly, I was always thinking, feeling. I often describe my consciousness as a snowball. I start at the top of a hill and am pushed down. I can’t stop myself, nor can I really think about where I am; all I can do is try to hold on while I pick up speed and get ever wilder. Most of the time as a child I felt pretty hopeless about life. I am a deeply empathetic person, so when I saw the misery in my parents’ marriage and lives in general, I felt their unhappiness, too. Life felt really fucked up and pointless. As a child, I had no way to cope with this intense hopelessness.

I no longer think about taking my life. For me, the “solution” to my depression isn’t emotional control or drugs (I tried taking meds once, it was the worst). The only thing that helps me keep going is my ability to intellectualize my depression. Through the development of my own philosophy (for lack of a better term) on life, I have learned to cope with my depression. Books helped me get here. As a child, it was The Burn Journals, a wonderful book about a kid who attempted to commit suicide. That’s the book that really saved my life and helped me begin thinking critically about my emotions (late elementary school, early middle). In high school, I was exposed to existentialist thinking; Emerson especially has helped me grow stronger.

While the snowball analogy still applies to my emotional state today, the slope of the hill is much less extreme. I still struggle with social anxiety and with feeling positive about the future, but I am generally more comfortable than I used to be. I have also gotten much better at blending in with “the normals.” I can emulate normal emotional states and can pass easily as a mentally healthy person (for better or worse).

I have actually never felt stigmatized because of my “depression” (I struggle with the label). When I was younger, I never told anyone that I’m depressed. Partly, this is because I was still really struggling with it, and wasn’t able to communicate what I was going through. I was also probably more embarrassed about it back then; I wanted to be normal, to be happy, to be popular and well adjusted. While I was aware of the stigma attached to being abnormal, that part of my identity was not directly stigmatized because it was secret. Once I started telling people, they were nothing but supportive. Normally people just stay quiet, which is good. They don’t offer advice (because they can’t) and they don’t try to understand (because they can’t). I have never lost a friend after confiding in them, and I don’t think friends ever saw me as weaker after disclosing. My generally positive experience with “the normal” can probably be attributed to successful advertising and education campaigns in schools regarding mental health issues. Okay, thanks for reading.