When I was little, I was a rambunctious, headstrong child. I had no problem talking. I actually liked to talk to everyone who came around me at school, whether it be my teachers, classmates, or other kids. I had no cares about what people would think about me, because back then I was a kid, and kids don’t usually think about superficial things like that. And my thoughts were acceptable thoughts for a child; my biggest worries were about creating that perfect tanbark “cake” without having any of the boys stomping on it.
When I was in second grade, however, everything changed. There was a widely publicized murder– a girl was murdered by a woman who killed her, put her into a suitcase, and then threw it into a lake or something like that. That was when I learned about murder. This realization shook me to the core, maybe even farther, because it pulled something out. Up until then, I’d never thought about that. I knew that robberies happened, and that you shouldn’t talk to strangers, but I never thought about the evilness man could have. I never thought that someone could possibly feel in such a way as to end a fellow human being’s life. I just didn’t know.
When I found out about this, I went into a stupor the whole day trying to comprehend this new knowledge of evil and cruelty and brutality and hatred. And the girl murdered was just a child! She was eight years old, so close in age to me. I was utterly astounded, I was horrified to the utmost extent; I lack the vocabulary to describe precisely how I felt about this. My stupor gave way to sheer terror, and then to an unfathomable darkness. I often felt normal during the day, but when I came home, waves of incomprehensible sadness, deeply penetrating, rolled through my mind all afternoon and night. “It’s just a phase,” I remember calming myself, using a phrase that I learned from a book. “It’s just a phase, it’ll go away”. And it did go away.
About two years later.
Two years later, I was in the 4th grade. I knew that this unusual sadness wasn’t telling me the truth, and that despite it, I should try to remain happy. Although pockets of dark remained in my brain, everything was getting better.
About halfway through the 4th grade school year, I discovered Harry Potter. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was finally available in my school library. I hesitated to borrow it, because I wasn’t sure if it was considered school to be reading such a thick book about a kid with glasses, but I decided anyway. I loved that book. I read through the entire series, reading for hours straight at a time. This was binge-reading, the precursor of binge-watching. That book was such an escapism that I forgot all about the sadness, but I became so fixated upon this point of relief that I literally read it every free moment I got. If that book were a drug, I’d have to go to the most intensive rehab facility there is. I read it while brushing my teeth, right before and after doing my homework, and would do very little else. I read it while eating if I could. I read and read and read the series dozens of times over, and could recite portions of the books.
My parents eventually became so disturbed by my compulsion to read that they donated all of my books one day when I went to school.
I still read after that, but not to that extent. The sadness went away, and I just continued with my life, until I met social anxiety. But that’s another part of the story.
When I was 12, I had to get braces. (I recently FINALLY got them off. They sucked.) In the orthodontist’s office, I read a Time magazine article because I was bored. The first sentence of the article read something like, “I didn’t know that my fear of death in the 2nd grade meant that I had depression.” Depression?! I thought. How the hell can a seven year old have depression? I’d thought that depression was something that, you know, people who’d suffered something traumatizing, like the death of a partner, experienced. People with gray hair and sad lives and exes or whatever. Again, this was something that I’d never known before, and it was shocking.
I then left the topic alone for a few years, before meeting my depression again and social anxiety. How are they now? Fantastic, they’re in a relationship! Maybe this is being facetious, but humor has truly been the only way I’ve managed to avoid getting knocked out by life for too long.
Part 2 will come later. If you’ve read this far, thank you so much for listening. I am amazed that you would take the time to read through this lengthy article about a barely interesting girl. *Cough cough low self-esteem cough*. Seriously, thank you. If you are fighting too, I love you and am rooting for you. See you later!
Part 2 of My Story, social anxiety