I’m not sure why I feel compelled to share my story, but for whatever reason I’m not sure I can stop myself from typing these words. But I will try to keep to details to a minimum and will just cover the most important aspects to keep this short. In high school I was an introverted nerd, but the first year actually turned out to the best, and it was only downhill from there. I had large ears and a stutter, the latter of which would often limit the conversations and connections and I could have with other people. In grade eight I started to feel depressed and was put on anti-depressants, but the initial lift I got from my medication seemed to subside after the first few months. I also started to get painful under the skin acne, and for the first time in my life most of my concerns were fixated on my appearance as oppose to just my stutter or the general nervousness I felt around new people. In year ten I suddenly started to get head tremors that would cause me head to ‘twitch’ from side to side, which just made me even more of a prime target for teasing and ridicule. By that point it just felt life was kicking me when I was down, and girls in particular made fun of me a lot. And of course I never had the confidence to stand up for myself; without exaggeration I had no self-esteem to speak of. All the crushes and attractions I’d had to girls in my year level were unrequited, but it’s not something I’ve ever felt bitter about. Don’t get me wrong it deeply hurts to be lonely on a level which few people will have to experience, not to mention going through a life devoid of any kind of emotional or physical intimacy. But in my own head I never blamed the girl’s I liked for not reciprocating interest, I was hardly some great catch. That said, I did henceforth hold the view that women were the ones most likely to pick on me and use my vulnerability against me. But going back to the head tremors, that was the first time I’d experienced something akin to panic attacks. It felt like I was stuck in a nightmare when I’d try to sit still in class and I couldn’t stop my head from moving. I could hear the people sitting behind me and around me laughing at me, so I tried to skip as many classes as I could without raising too much concern with any school teachers. It just seemed so unfair that in a time when most of the people in my year level were working out who they were and what they wanted I was being beaten down with another ‘physical inadequacy’.
The head tremors did reduce by year eleven, but the damage was already done. I felt completely detached and alienated,Â but I was just trying me best to drag myself to the end even though I had little remaining energy or motivation to be there. But that point people were starting to consider who they wanted to see after high school, and I felt like as though I had no real place in anyone’s life. I’d only been to about three parties and I could feel the three friends I was close to begin to drift away from me. And all those casual friends and acquaintances just wouldn’t exist after graduation either. Going to the last exam and then walking home by myself was the loneliest I had felt at that point. Over the holidays I largely stayed inside my own house, leaving only if there was some essential family gathering and to do some part time work just before entering study. I didn’t get very high marks when graduating from school, so to get into my desired course I had to enroll at a University further than I would’ve liked. That was when it really hit me that thing’s had changed forever. It occurred to me that the only way I was able to get through school was by using my friends as a barrier for my lack of confidence and social incompetence. But I had no friends to shield my now, and although I tried not to draw attention to myself I began to realize that I was not able to fit in with normal people. I was experiencing new levels of anxiety and depression, and it was so overwhelming that after two weeks I transferred to the University at which my dad works. But it changed nothing, I still felt absolutely terrible around any of the students I would have to walk by or sit near in lectures. I could vaguely remember what it was like to be normal in my earlier life, and an entire year of that seemed like a breeze compared to a single day outside of my house. What I was experiencing seemed beyond comprehension, I mean how could I tell my parents that suddenly being around people felt like being punched in the stomach? It was much worse than the anxiety I had felt when the head tremors started or being expected to do a school presentation and expecting to stutter. My heart rate would suddenly start racing when I arrived at my University, and I started to develop new quirks like using my hand to block off anyone from seeing my from my profile.
I began looking into whatever mirror I could (bathroom mirror, car mirror, reflections etc.), and I began to notice how disgusting I found not just my acne but also my facial features. It went beyond just hating a handful of individual physical shot comings because now all I could see was this hideous monster staring back at me. My nose had never concerned me in the past but now I hated it’s bulbous tip and how far it projected from my face, which made me particular self-conscious about my profile. I hated how creepy and intense my eyes looked, even if they were completely relaxed, and my long, narrow face shape. Sometimes I would go to the opposite extreme of the scale and would manically avoid any mirrors or reflections. About four months into my University course it just became too much for me, it just felt like the whole world was against me. I would always get stared at and ignored by the students in my classes, I felt like an outsider to say the least. Other than my parents and sister it felt like there wasn’t a single other person I was important to, and for the first time in my life suicide had become a very possibility. It has crossed my mind a couple of times during high school, but now I began to think about methods and plan out the ideal dates. But nothing about me as a person wanted to die, it was merely that I didn’t want to deal with my circumstances. I found myself wanted to jump off one of the high story buildings at my University, but I couldn’t push myself into doing it. When I returned home I explained to my sister the frame of mind I was in and my suicidal thoughts which of course led to telling my parents. I was rushed to an emergency team who analyzed my situation, but because I hadn’t actually attempted suicide they didn’t feel it was necessary to put me into a psych ward. I started seeing a psychiatrist and went on different medication, but most importantly I dropped out of my study course. I told my parents that I had other plans, and to some extent I believed that myself, but really all it was just the beginning of my six year stretch as a shut-in.
My parents tried to encourage me to go out regularly, but the only thing that made sense to my was how I felt emotionally. And being outside and around people felt worse than a nightmare, it made me feel lower than low. But staying inside and playing a new video game or watching a new movie was euphoric, and to immerse myself further and further into escapism became my only goal. It was my only pleasure in life, the only thing that gave me something to look forward to. Although I was broke over the years I’d try to buy as many budget games and download as many movies as I could. After a couple of months as a recluse I had to acknowledge to myself that this was not some short-term problem that would vanish at the snap of a finger, nor was it something I had the strength or willpower to try and overcome. Although I have matured over time given that I was something of a man child back then, I am and have always been a weak person. I have always been much more emotional than the majority of guys out there, and extremely sensitive to any kind of criticism our ridicule. It’s not that I wanted to live life as a loser and a freak, It just didn’t seem like there were any other options. My depression and anxiety left me just enough energy to get up in the morning. I became entirely reliant on escapism, and although I’ve never suffered from hallucinations I became so involved with my own fantasies that I’d forget just how little was actually happening in my real life. So for the first four years of being a shut-in I almost subconsciously believed that I would saved in some magical way, that I was too nice as a person to be stuck with the cards I had been dealt. My life just seemed unfair beyond words and often I’ve tried to console myself by speculating that anybody would do just as poorly at life if they were in my shoes. There was just no way that I could accept that my daily existence was my life, and to get somewhat ahead of myself after years of deliberating and making plans for suicide it’s actually going to happen.
A number of other significant things happened in those first four years, but rather than go into any great detail I will just skim over them… Such as my initial loss of my sex drive because I just didn’t want to think about women. Or the tug of war match between my overbearing parents and my stubborn refusal to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Or all the different dermatologists recommendations and home remedies I tried in the futile hope of improving my skin. Or the suicide attempt via overdose that just resulted in uncontrollable puking and a tedious nine days spent in a psych ward. Or the plastic surgery I had done on my ears, but was severelyÂ disappointed given that I also had planned for surgery on my nose, chin and jaw but didn’t have the money necessary. Or my return to thinking about girls and getting stuck into compulsive masturbation and continuing to faun over pictures of pretty actresses. Or how on top of acne I developed a skin disorder called seb dermatitis in which my face is constantly dry and flaking. Or the stream of psychologists, psychiatrists and medications that I’ve been through only to eventually come to the same conclusion; that the problem was not my attitude, my perception. I could even go into more detail just how awful I feel when I see people stare at me with pity, laugh at me behind my back and treat me as though I’m so pathetic and tragic that I am so much lower than them and every other ‘normal’ person.Â Or the pure hatred and spite I felt for towards all people for being so judgmental towards me and not allowing me into their normality and society. For a long stretch of time I was fixated on the fantasy of showing people what I have to deal with on a daily basis and how much normal people just perpetuate my own anxieties and concerns. But mostly the fantasy that stuck with me was the one of looking the way I want to look, usually like a certain actor (most notably a young Val Kilmer). I would obsess over pictures of faces, and I’d dream of having perfect skin, no stutter or head tremors, chiseled masculine features and beautiful eyes. Without exaggeration there hasn’t been a single day in the last six years that I haven’t wallowed in my own self-hatred and indulged in the fantasy of looking like my ‘ideal self’. And whilst years three and four of being a recluse were difficult given that It became harder and harder to ignore the reality of my situation, years five and six (six counting as the first half of this year of course) have just been brutal.
The aforementioned seb dermatitis skin disorder has only gotten worse and worse, which only made me even more self-conscious than I had ever been and increased the frequency of people’s stares. I really grew to hate the way someone can communicate so much disgust and rejection just with their eyes. Sometimes prior to the fifth years my skin would improve temporarily and I would doubt that it was my worst short coming, but without a doubt it is the sole focus on my anxiety now. People look at me and immediately their own faces, which I suppose is some sort of non-verbal way of communicating their confusion and repulsion to flaky look of my skin. I put on cover-up to hide the red marks, but that only makes the dryness look worse. As with my acne I’ve tried everything I could think might help but to little avail. My head tremors would often be there in full force, so all in all it feels impossible to walk by another human being without standing out like a sore thumb. But perhaps even harder than that was realizing how much games, films and the internet just weren’t enough. Sure, I continued to immerse myself in these things compulsively but the euphoria had died down. And even though enough enjoyment still remained experiencing these things no longer felt fulfilling in the absurd way that they used to. And although I had been painfully lonely in the past it would usually last for a few days or a week. This year and the last loneliness has been like my default state of mind. I hit me just how much I wanted more then escapism, which in retrospect is a realization I probably want to bury into my subconscious. Escapism just wasn’t enough, it had merely been an adequate distraction for a few years. What I wanted was to look like my ideal self not just for my own peace of mind, but to have a real, proper life. I want friends to hang-out with, a girlfriend to experience romance with, travel and adventure, independence and organization and most importantly to be able to connect with people. The other revelation I’ve had is that in these last six years I probably haven’t connected with anybody no matter how much I wanted to? How many people in real life are going to empathize and be able to relate to my situation? How could I ever get past my own anxiety to actually look people in the eye when they are talking or through my body language and voice feign any kind of normality?
I haven’t merely been isolated in the physical sense, but I’ve been cut-off from emotional connection to anybody. I live inside my own head that is full of fantasies and daydreams and the only joy I get comes from things that aren’t real. The level that I’m on is so much lower than anybody else I could walk by or talk to, and in retrospect it seems like no matter what I could’ve tried in my first year as a hermit I would’ve eventually reached this conclusion. During this year and last I’ve had so many days where I just can’t stop myself crying, I’ve had so many empty nights wondering what it would be like to hangout with mates, to experience physical intimacy with a girl or to feel like you have real opportunities and goals at your disposal. A lot of anger I had for people subsided too, which only left me to further remind myself of my own loneliness and to mull over the embarrassments and disappointments of my past. So many times I considered killing myself from the loneliness but as usual my fear of death and complacency kept me going for a bit longer. I honed down on watching as many movies as I could and tried to use them as replacements for real life experiences. If I wanted to get a basic idea of love and intimacy was like I’d watch an indie romance drama, or to have friends I’d watch I hangout movie or a comedy/dramedy with a hangout aspect to it. Even films that were stylized I would try to use in place of actual experiences, but usually it would just remind me how much more I really wanted to go through these things myself and not through the detached state of looking at a television or computer screen. I wished that I could just experience the meaty parts of anybody’s life, anyone who has ever lived. And that I could experience a film not as though I was actually a specific character but as though I was really there as this passive observer. The disconnect between myself and the escapism I had on hand only reminded me that it could never stand-up to the real deal. And whenever I go outside and see everyday people I get jealous beyond words because they have been given what I feel a deserve just as much as they do. I don’t have a strong desire for fame, riches or excelling academically, athletically or creatively. What I want, and what most people have been given, is the chance to live a real, normal life.
I tried so hard to latch onto the next movie or game that might prolong my life a bit longer, but I’ve delayed my suicide plans for too long. I haven’t been able to deal with my life for six years now, and finally it’s going to be over. I won’t have to wake up and look in the mirror, only to see red marks from acne, dry skin from my skin disorder and a face so hideous that I want to cry. No longer will I have to walk out in public and see those awful, pitying looks and stares normal people give me. No longer will I have to deal with this anxiety and depression. So now that I am going to end my life on this very day I will say that the main thing I feel is disappointment. I guess I’m too tired and empty to feel angry at mankind, and although I look back fondly on some of my moments with movies and video games, escapism just isn’t enough to give me motivation to live for even another week.Â I do feel guilty for doing this to my family, the only people still a part of my life, but I just don’t see how I could be expected to deal with this any longer. I’m not scared of death, for I believe there is something better after it. But there’s nothing that shake this feeling of disappointment at the forefront of my mind. I really did want to have a proper life, and even if it took me a while to recognize it I really want to be around and connect with people. I wanted the chance to show the world I could make something of myself, not to to fulfill the expectations or society or the people in it, but to work at my own goals and to live a life I could be happy with. I wouldn’t reject the chance at having a care-free luxurious life, but ultimately what I desired was to have as much as the average person not more. Anyway, I guess this is goodbye from a stranger to a stranger. I hope you have a life worth living, and if you do by all means treasure it and make the most of it. Goodbye.