This is a general, somewhat disorganized outlet of my teenage (age ~12-16) feelings and thoughts as I remember them from over 14 years ago.
Feeling different, in general
As a teenager, for as far back as I can remember, I had always felt that I was different than nearly every other person I came into contact with. In a lot of ways, I could not relate to people – and therefore I felt like an outcast, even if people thought I was fun to be around. I felt that I was having to put on an act to ‘blend in’ with them. At times I was more concerned about them liking me, that I put more effort into impressing them than worrying about being myself and being happy. I felt so alone. I needed to be around people, and I needed them to accept me in order to feel better about myself. Yet regardless of those efforts, in my mind, I was still alone – and I hated myself.
Don’t get me wrong – I did have a few friends, which I hung out with at school, visited them at their homes and vice versa, met with them during outdoor activities such as ATV riding, swimming, playing sports such as soccer and basketball, among other things. I had some fun times, but for the most part I always had this feeling and the thought in my mind that I didn’t belong.
Why did I feel that way? At that time, I had no idea, other than that I felt something was wrong with me. I didn’t feel normal. I understand a lot of people say there is no “normal”, but that is how I felt at the time. No matter how many friends I had, I was always alone. People didn’t get me, and I didn’t get them. But I played along, because I didn’t know what was wrong, or what – if anything – I could do about it.
Nowadays, I’m rather sure that a lot of kids have doubts about themselves while growing up especially. So maybe, just maybe I was normal after-all, and everyone else felt the same! Or was I?
Feeling different, with a little detail
I had different morals and priorities; overall, a seemingly completely different outlook on life altogether. I wasn’t truly interested in most of popular, trending things of my teenage time such as movies, celebrities, music, material possessions (e.g. brand name shoes, clothing) — although once in a while, I did cave into some of those – in attempt to ‘fit in’ better. But I felt like there were much more important things in life to think and worry about than these insignificant things that other people called problems; their problems seemed materialistic, such as their parents not buying them something they didn’t actually need, but wanted and felt is important. They were also superficial, such as them not knowing what to wear to school, how to impress the opposite sex / wondering if someone liked them enough to date, what they were going to eat that night, and so on.
Sure, those are some of the usual issues to teenagers. But me? Sometimes my problem was figuring out how I was going to change the world, while other times it was more about how I’m going to last another day.
And here we go…
There were times felt like I was on top of the world. I had a ton of energy! Things were great. I felt that I was a genius and somehow “above others”; at times, I even thought I was a “God”, or part of an alien race in human form with a very important goal to achieve on this planet. I had flights of ideas that I couldn’t stop obsessing over, I came up with inventions that would change the world and help me become filthy rich. But that’s not right either. Are you starting to see a problem here? Things were not great at all, and that wasn’t realistic at all.
And then, a complete swap. Suddenly, I couldn’t bring myself to think or care about those things either. My concerns were more about how I felt very depressed sometimes to the point where I didn’t want to get out of bed all day and had to be yelled at or even forced up at times. I let my family down multiple times by making plans to go places, then refusing to go because my mood suddenly changed. I would wonder why I exist and if I’m only here to be tortured or taught a lesson, and make other people miserable by being a burden to them. Am I even human? Please ‘take me home, this place isn’t good enough for me’ – I used to pray. What was wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Why do people hate me? Do my parents regret having me? I’m worthless. Are people pretending to like me? Eventually, I also became paranoid that my “friends” were using me for the things I had access to as a child such as our 2 swimming pools, ATVs, volleyball court, ping-pong table, 167 acres of land to play on, and so on. I ended up cutting contact with almost all of my friends at that point, and became even more lonely than I had already been.
At that time in my life, I did go through a lot of upsetting family related issues as a child, such as my parents fighting a lot and eventually divorcing – which, as a child, you tend to blame yourself for, because you don’t know any better. I remember crying and having a fit over my mother not being in the house at certain times when I really felt that I needed her. But I also hated when they were both there and yelling at each other. So neither way was better. I just used to wish it would go back to the way it used to be, but I know now that it doesn’t work that way. Regardless, this did have a big impact on my emotional state, and made me feel that the problems of most other children were nothing; I actually remember it making me feel angry when they complained about their problems, even though I tried to be sympathetic. However, I cannot blame that situation for everything even if it may have agitated things and complicated my life more, and I have accepted the situation as well as I possibly can.
I spent a lot of time using my computer and the internet throughout my teenage years. I taught myself many things, including how to do basic programming in various languages, graphic and web design, morally and legally questionable activities such as “cracking”/”hacking”, gaming and other things. Chatting with people on the internet about all of those things was also an escape from reality – I simply wanted to fill my brain with these things, so that I could try to avoid the pain and (what I now look at as) delusions I was experiencing. I still didn’t feel normal, and I wanted nothing to do with what the majority of people were doing.
- At one point (at the age of 12-13), I got into trouble for creating and distributing a “spamming” program for AOL. They actually canceled our service and called my father to discuss that. Of course he was angry at the time, but has since changed his perspective and understanding.
I also spent time alone, just locked in my room listening to music while I imagined my (ex)friends having all kinds of outdoor fun, which I felt I didn’t belong to or deserve.
Although it’s not my fault, we ended up losing our rather large house with all that land due to financial issues. I won’t go into great detail about that, but I personally feel that part of the problem was the business we had was just too much for my father to handle alone, even though he tried very hard and did a wonderful job taking care of us despite all of that. He did the best he could make sure we had what we needed, and to make us happy. With that said, I feel guilty that I got into several needless arguments and caused additional stress for him.
At some point, I ended up staying with my mother for a while to try something different. For the most part, I was very depressed and just wanted to sleep, or sit at the computer and eat. I feel like I gave up on doing anything fun, I had no friends, and I had no motivation to change anything either. I was becoming more and more anti-social, even though something inside of me did want friends that I could actually relate to.
- I actually recall during the 9/11 tragedy when the towers came down, my mother’s boyfriend at the time woke me up and told me to turn on the TV. I was so depressed that I hardly cared to watch it, even though it was something very serious and I should have been at least a little emotional about, especially since I live in NY.
I became irrationally irritable over the simplest of things. Everything also had to be my way, there was no accepting anything else.
- I clearly remember throwing a chair straight up above me and the legs breaking off when it hit the ceiling, for example. I had a lot of anger and aggression inside of me that I vented through such methods, and yelling at people who didn’t deserve it.
Dangerous scenarios and self-harm
- Occasionally, I would drive my truck around blasting music loudly, speeding for an adrenaline rush, spinning the tires and doing other dangerous things because I felt like I was rebelling against something and I just had too much energy out of nowhere.
- When I still had my ATV, I remember playing “chicken” with someone (unknown to me) who was driving in a truck up a dirt road while I was speeding towards him — and I only veered out of the way, up to the side of a sandy, rocky bank at the last second before hitting him.
- In a similar note, I would do very daring ‘jumps’ with the ATV off the top of large sandpits when I couldn’t even see what was on the other side. I also always went near top speed on trails, around corners and so on with almost no regard for my safety.
- I used to cut myself with scalpels and knives – not for attention, but because I felt that it distracted my brain from the emotional pain at least temporarily.
- I also had thoughts of suicide multiple times, which I’ll cover in more detail in another post.
Bipolar Disorder, in hindsight
Although I didn’t know it at the time, during my teenage years, I was actually developing and experiencing a lot of the symptoms for Bipolar Disorder. I could probably actually copy and paste the symptoms from a web site and match almost all of them.
TODO: finish post and insert comparison list