Awhile back I hosted a very conflicted teen as one of my Anonymous Teen Readers. At the time, one of my favorite bloggers, Cat, stepped in completely without prompting and offered some truly moving words of encouragement. Cat and I spoke about it, and she was generous enough to agree to write a guest blog post to my readers.
As most of you know, I don’t usually have other people guest blog here. This place is sacred to me. A place for you and me to connect for real – and most importantly a place for me to connect with the teens who read my books. I never want to turn it into a promotional machine.
But as a once-conflicted teen herself, I think Cat has so much insight to offer. Not only to teens who are going through it, but to those of us adults who might be in a position to offer encouragement and love. It takes guts to open up like this on such a public venue, and I adore Cat even more for being willing to do so.
This is from Cat. From her heart to yours.
When I wake up in the morning I feel like the 14 year old girl I once was. When I look in the mirror confusion sets in as the face staring back at me is 20 years older than the girl I feel I am.
Here are the things you need to know about me: I was bullied incessantly from the ages of 9 to 12. My first suicide attempt was in the fifth grade to try and escape the torture of going to school every day. My depression got worse in high school and I didn’t fit in. I had a group of friends, but nothing they were interested in interested me in anyway. Boys made fun of me, girls bullied me. I had my first boyfriend at the age of 19 but was so shy and anxious about my lack of experience I hardly did anything other than hold his hand. I had a long-term relationship with a girl from the age of 21 to 26. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder when I was 20. I have more than a comfortable number of suicide attempts to my name. I was diagnosed with dyslexia and synaesthesia during my second attempt at University while I was still undiagnosed with depression.
I have had a major mental breakdown where my boss at the time found me on the floor in the stockroom and it freaked her out and almost ruined our friendship. I have been sedated, hospitalized and medicated.
I never thought I would live to see 25 let alone 34.
I never fit in in high school. I didn’t trust anyone due to the bullying from my elementary days. I thought I was abnormal with my fits of rage, cutting and liking things that others didn’t. I didn’t care about clothes or makeup or boys. I loved reading. I was going to be a Rock Star. I didn’t like school – except English class and I was an excellent creative writer.
I never thought I’d have real friends. Ones that I could trust. I never thought I’d amount to anything and in fact one of my elementary school teachers told me just that when I got a bad mark on a composition I’d written.
I thought life would be better if I was dead. I tried more than once, but never more than sleeping pills because I was too chicken to cut myself enough to bleed out. I knew that no one would care that I was gone because no one had even noticed how I was drowning and suffocating right in front of them. No one cared. I was so sure.
When I was 14/15 years old and someone in their 30s told me it would all get better, I scoffed. What the hell do 30-year olds know, I’d think. They don’t understand.
And it’s true. Many do not understand. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe it is because they didn’t have a tough time growing up. They didn’t suffer the same way that others do with bullying and depression and sexual orientation. Maybe for them high school was that blissful time you used to see depicted on television, in books, in the movies. Maybe they were the Head Cheerleader or Teacher’s Pet.
Why people think high school is the greatest time of a person’s life is far beyond me. High school is the most stressful, passionate, depressing, Biggest Thing In The Whole World That Sucks time of your life. You don’t think you’ll survive, and lately too many people do not. But you will and one thing you’ll learn, especially if you’ve had as miserable a childhood as I did, is that high school doesn’t matter in the future – except to make you the person you will become as an adult. Choices you will make in the future will be based on what you experienced as a teen. You might not realize this until you’re almost 30 like I did, but those people? The ones who pick on you and don’t get you and tell you that being different is wrong? They do not matter. They will stick with you. Things said to you that really upset or scared you will stay with you and come back to you one day while you decide how to treat another person or what kind of job you might like. But those people, unless you’ve stayed friends with them all those years? They’ll fall off the grid.
It’s so much harder now than when I was younger. Hell, I was bullied by rotary phone for God’s sake. I don’t think I would have made it to my 30s had the internet been around back then. There is so much to navigate through and so many more land mines to avoid. I wish I knew back then that admitting I much preferred to read at home (rather than go hang out at the mall for no reason other than to gossip or wait for a particular boy to pass by) would just be better for my health.
In my late 20s I officially stopped caring what people thought because I had given up on people. I didn’t trust anyone. I knew people would just stab me in the back and not care a thing for me. When I stopped looking for people to befriend – they started to find me. I have a husband who loves me (whom I met while in the other long-term relationship and almost lost him in the process); I have some of the best friends a person can ask for in my life right now. These are people who came to me when I gave up on the world and brought me back from the edge. It took a long time, almost too long, and I had refused to believe in it when it happened but like a wounded dog I came around.
My parents have even started to understand that depression is an actual illness and not just laziness on my part. However with all the work I did myself and with the help of doctors, who finally listened to me, I have been medication-free for 7 years and the depression that I had from the age of 3 until 7 years ago has been under control. This isn’t to say that I don’t have the manic episodes I used to have because the manic part has stuck with me but the fall from that high is nowhere near as steep as it was. I’m also rather OCD about things but the people who love me accept that. They know that I will not go out to a bar with them because I do not like it and rather than shun me for that, they tease and call me the Old Granny who needs her soup and Matlock before tucking into bed at 8PM (in all honesty I do stay up until at least 9PM most nights!) and then they find other things do to with me during my “waking hours” as they put it. Why? Because they love me and want to spend time with me. They are fine with the fact that I don’t like crowded bars and late nights and drinking. They do other stuff with me because that’s what friends do – they accept you for who you are and want to be with you because they like you.
I’m finally glad that none of those suicide attempts actually worked. I would not be the person I am today without the bullies and the high school silent treatment because I didn’t own a pair of Levi’s jeans. Giving up on the world helped me discover a new world where people care and can be trusted.
I survived when I thought I wouldn’t. I survived because I did actually have people around me who cared but I didn’t know it. I survived because I knew I was stronger than that, I knew that being myself had to be the right answer but I was too frightened to show it at the time.
I am not perfect. My halo’s tarnished and my wings are moulting. But that’s ok. That’s why people love me and care about me. They don’t mind the discarded feathers and they help polish the halo. Once I stopped pretending everything was just the way I thought people said it should be and let the real me shine through it made a huge difference.
Be yourself. It sounds cliché but it’s not. It’s harder to do than to say, yes. But I can assure you that when you are yourself like-minded people will find you. They will seek you out and you’ll discover that the world isn’t that bad a place and you can stick around for a while longer.
But don’t be surprised if it takes a while to find out who you are. That’s what being a teenager is all about.
I’m baaaack! And I missed you guysssss!
We had a wonderful vacation (even if I did end up working) and I’m ready to celebrate next week’s release of Guardian of the Gate with all of you. I’ll be giving away more gorgeous bookplates (stay tuned for more info), but in the meantime, you can enter to win more incredible Prophecy swag at the Mundie Moms.
Tomorrow night my new website goes live at www.michellezink.com. This blog, all the other site information, and some awesome new features will be unveiled, so check back and take a look. It’s GORGEOUS!
Interview Code Name (you choose!); Little Mango
Current country of residence; Malaysia (it’s above Singapore, South of Thailand and wedged between Indonesia and Borneo)
Male or female? definitely female
ABOUT THE BOOKS
How many books, on average, do you read a month?
Favorite kind of book and why;
Name the single most important factor in your decision to purchase a book;
What makes you feel like you’re reading or have read a truly amazing book?
How important is a friend’s recommendation in your decision to purchase a book?
Thing you’d like to see more or less of in the YA genre;
What’s your biggest pet peeve in a book?
Paperback or hardcover?
Series or stand-alone?
ALL ABOUT YOU
What music do you most often listen to?A wide genre. The songs in my Ipod range from Hard Metal to R&B/Pop stuff. I listen to music according to my mood and the type of piece i have to write at that time, just so i get a better feel of the mood that I am writing.
Name your favorite band;
Best movie of all time?
Without naming names, tell us a little about your group of friends;
Just like the books and music i listen to, I kinda, you can put it in a way, I have a wide range of friends. I don’t really choose my friends and I mix with different types of people but if they are bad influence, i’ll avoid them.
What’s your biggest concern about the world right now and/or the people in it?
Someone gives you a million dollars, no strings attached. What do you do with it?
You can live for one year in any place in the world. Where do you go and why?
Have you ever “Hidden” someone on your Facebook feed? If so, why?
Do you get along with your family? Either way,tell us why.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
Name your biggest secret fear.
Name something you like about yourself.
What one thing would you like to know about other teens?
And guess what? It’s called Stupendously Alice!
Just taking a moment to share this gown with you in all it’s lusciousness. It’s custom made by the obviously brilliant designer/seamstress at Curiously Alice. She has tons more stunning gowns to drool over, I mean, look at. Go check it out!
I know I’ve been on a big Eminem kick lately, but I hope you guys will forgive me one more. This is like my theme song right now.
P.S. LOADS of cursing. If you don’t like it, don’t listen. I’ve always been of the mind that music has to be authentic to be true. And sometimes authenticity is raw and makes us uncomfortable. In that context, I think it’s necessary here, but I totally get it if you don’t want to listen. <3
So everybody who knows me knows that I am DYING to see Christopher Nolan’s new film, Inception. This is in part because it looks like an incredible story with a talented cast (including Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, and Joeseph Gordon-Levitt). But I have to be honest, the biggest reason is Nolan himself. With films like Memento and The Dark Knight under his belt, I just can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve next.
And not to tip the scales too far in his favor, but since it’s Friday and I KNOW we’re going to see Inception on opening night (tonight!) while we’re on vacation, I HAVE to post the trailer again;
And now for the Friday Poll. I won’t hold it against you if you choose something else, I promise!
Same rules apply; post your writing excerpt of 300 words or less for comment. It can be a piece of anything – a letter, a poem, a novel or short story.
Remember to ask for constructive criticism if you want it, because a lot of people (including me!) won’t offer it unless it’s solicited. And if you’d rather not, that’s fine, too! We all have weeks with our writing when we’re just not up to criticism and need simple encouragement instead.
Don’t forget to comment at least one other post if you leave on of your own, this way we can continue to foster the incredibly supportive, encouraging writing community we have here.