Dear Diary

December 19, 2012

Everyone needs a break.

Katherine

When I was young, truths were absolute, and there were angels above my bed. I knew I had angels watching over me because my mom’s friend had made a cross-stitch with a poem about how there were four angels above every child’s bed, and the picture showed a little bear-angel on each side. (Since my bed was pushed up against the wall, I thought that I only had three angels watching over me. It made me sort of sad.) Anyway, now it takes more than a cross-stitch to make me feel like I’m in good company.

A lot of girls in my hall at college watch Disney movies. I know because I can hear Aladdin or The Aristocats or Mulan through the walls. This was a big thing in high school, too. Kids would go through the hallways singing “A Whole New World” all the time. Friends went through a phase where they’d have Disney movie marathons at sleepovers. It always bugged me. I don’t feel the same magic when I watch The Swan Princess as I did when I truly wanted to be Odette. I don’t want to be watching the same things I did when I was a child. I want to feel grown up.

Sometimes I have these moments—they’re hard to describe, but it’s like suddenly there’s a yellow light around everyone, and for a moment I truly see how real everything is, and I panic. The yellow light disappears in an instant, and with it my awareness of total reality. I used to be able to forget about these flashes and move on, but then one day I wrote down what had happened, what I had seen and felt, right afterward, so I wouldn’t forget. I think maybe I usually live in a state of part reality, part illusion, and these moments are glimpses into a higher state of awareness. Maybe someday I will transition into that state permanently. Maybe then I will be able to understand everything better. Maybe it will drive me crazy, like Rimbaud’s drunken boat after it’s been out at sea for forever. I’d still want it. It seems unlikely, though. ♦

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34 Comments

  • Moxx December 19th, 2012 7:25 PM

    How do you apply for a diary position?

    • Anaheed December 19th, 2012 7:30 PM

      There’s no application process. We just pick people who have submitted writing that we’ve liked. But we have enough diarists for now.

  • laurenniee December 19th, 2012 7:26 PM

    The entry about self-harm has just really struck me and I think it’s such a difficult subject to tackle and think about. If you go on Tumblr and search self harm you get so many posts of people photographing their cutting and other self harming activities and it’s really hard to justify it, sometimes editing these pictures and so forth; I hate the way it sometimes seems to glorify or romanticise such a horrible and life-changing addiction, but then it makes me think, who am I to judge these people? Maybe their interpretation of self harm is different to mine? Maybe this is another facet of the way that they are expressing their pain? On the one hand I think it is attention seeking and reductive, but on the other, do I even have the right to think this about somebody else’s suffering? Even if it seems forced or adopted suffering, there still has to be suffering underneath for somebody to physically cut themselves.

    • purrr December 20th, 2012 7:22 AM

      tw:self harm, rape
      If someone is suffering, that doesn’t mean they get to get away with everything they do as a result of their pain. We all know that bullies usually have problems in their personal lives – this does not justify their harmful behaviour.

      Having cuts as a trophy is harmful. It’s shallow. It’s selfish.

      Yes, some people do cut because they’re in pain as a cry for help, but if they do it matter-of-factly in order to retain their position in a hih school clique – that’s disgusting. However, there isn’t a divider between black and white, between “suffering cuts” and “attention seeking cuts”. They’re usually part of the same problem.

      Also, seeking if attention is usually a form of suffering as well, and there’s nothing shallow about that.

      Cutting needs to stop being cool. I used to have a friend who thought cuts and scars were hot, and he also though rape was “hot”, and that is just fucked-up and scary. Each time I saw cuts on his arms, I would start yelling and crying, asking him to stop it and that it’s not “cool” and that he can talk to me if he feels bad, but he always brushed it off with a “whatever”. And then a month later I got raped and was almost proud of it. I’m not friends with that person anymore, because his thinking was toxic and I didn’t want to be influenced by it anymore – but I was powerless in front of him.

      And he’s still fucked up and he still posts his cuts on his tumblr and he’s still sad and suffering, and I can’t help him, but at least I can help myself by staying the fuck away from him and people who glorify self-harm.

      • purrr December 20th, 2012 7:28 AM

        That was a pretty honest comment, wow

        I think glamourizing mental illness and self harm is absolutely horrible, I remember that the last straw between me and that friend was when I asked him about his depression issues and why he took meds for it because I was afraid that I may have some kind of problem, too, and he just brushed me off with a “oh you’re too young to have depression, you’re just a drama queen, I understand that you think pills are hot, but they’re not for you”

        I was so disgusted I just stopped all communication immediately

        i’m sorry i just felt like getting this out, it’s just a sad story and i want other people to avoid having it happen to them, and i think that stopping the romantisation of any kind of trauma is the key

        • kolumbia December 20th, 2012 4:01 PM

          Glorifying self-harm and other mental illnesses is super dangerous, but it’s also really common. A few months after I started self-harming, I met someone who had been doing it longer than I had, and he would brag about how much more “hardcore” he was than me. It made me feel really bad, and like I wasn’t a good enough cutter. Eventually, I cut off contact with him, but a few years later, I still struggle. The way it’s glorified on Tumblr is scary, and not healthy for anyone involved. The same is true for the “pro-ana” material on there. I hope if you know someone who is encouraging people to self-harm, or treats it like it’s cool, you’ll tell someone who can get them help.

      • EnglishRose January 4th, 2013 6:16 PM

        Honey, that post was just so honest and summed up my mind completely! Cutting isn’t “hot” (I say this as a cutter myself) – I mean, you can be beautiful with or without scars, but the concept of cutting isnt supposed to be hot, thats just completely irrelevent to the point. Well done in getting away from a toxic influence! But don’t expect him just to be able to stop when you ask him to, cutting is an addiction (cutting releases endorphins that help you feel better which is why people do it when they are feeling really bad) so it will be hard to stop. Glamourising mental illness is wrong! Anxiety, depression, mental illlness, self-harm, eating dissorders are not “cool”, which is what these people would know if they actually suffered from them!

  • moonchild December 19th, 2012 7:43 PM

    NANDI you are perfect.

  • Alexx December 19th, 2012 7:48 PM

    Honestly I can relate so much to Naomi’s entry (even though my life’s not all that hectic yet..) . I’ve been having trouble with getting over some issues too where I feel better and then get worse again. I just want you to know that from all your diary entries you seem like such an incredible, relatable person that i wish you could get over any issues your having right now and are able live a happy, anxiety free life. And honestly, I think that it’s great that you have that mentality of knowing that you have to keep up with your life and goals, cause in a way it can prevent you from getting into even deeper, more time consuming depressions or whatever you like to call it :)

    And I can also understand Ruby’s annoyance with the “i’m an unfixable victim/cutting” trend that’s going on now. It’s really offensive to people who are actually having problems with these types of things because not only does it make their pain seem like less than what it is but it also makes it harder to recover from depressions and whatnot (trust me, with all the people, including myself, that glorify people’s issues, it’s hard to be sure that recovery is a good thing). But, I’ll have to admit that I’ve often glorified depression and cutting and other issues in my mind. I don’t want to, but I guess it’s a messed up part of human nature to want to have something unique to you. Even if that thing isn’t necessarily good or hurts. I’m actually really ashamed of having had that mentality, because it’s the only reason I’ve cut..I did it to validate my depression (which I actually did have). I was beginning

  • Alexx December 19th, 2012 7:57 PM

    to recover and since I had become so attached to the constant sense of anxiety and sadness, I felt as if cutting might help me remember, or in a sense, reclaim my feelings. Obviously that didn’t work. Despite the fact that I’m still struggling with my emotional issues now, I’ve realized that at least for me, cutting isn’t “addicting” and doesn’t help me deal with my emotions. It was more like a replacement for them. A “validator”. And I find that to be utterly and completely disgusting. Luckily cutting isn’t a trend in my school (even though I’ve heard of at least two people who do, but hopefully they’ve stopped). For me, at least, I found that cutting was just a validator for me, just as I’ve found my depression to be, so lately, I’ve been working on changing that too. It’s hard, but I feel so much better when I accept that maybe people do love me, maybe I actually really enjoy being around people, maybe I should talk, and that maybe I should just end all of this bullshit.
    Sorry I went off on a tangent there! I just had a lot to say about the subject. Oh, and just one last thing: Britney, I hope you have good luck talking to your crush! I’ve been dealing with the same kind of awkwardness around mine too haha

  • Tiger December 19th, 2012 7:59 PM

    Britney, I DO THE SAME THING. Seriously. I am the most awkward person I know. My advice is, though, don’t go out of your way to talk to him, but when he’s around, stay. Even if you don’t talk much, or at all, the more you spend time with him the less awkward it will be next time. :)

    Now only if I could listen to my own advice

  • i-skreeeeam December 19th, 2012 8:03 PM

    Katherine, i was having a similar deal a while back, then by chance i read this book ‘the power of now’ and reeeaaally changed the way i see things, like intensely. its hard to describe (so much that it totes solves the problem of describing it and sounding pretentious ;) ) I honestly wholeheartedly recommend reading it/checkin it out.

  • Tiger December 19th, 2012 8:07 PM

    And Ruby, yes yes yes. In the media, especially like “hipster blog” tumblrs it’s like cutting is this thing that people with complicated and REAL lives do. And people without scarred arms are ignorant and shallow. It’s so sad that people cut because they feel they need to for relief, but even worse that people do it because it makes them feel cool and important.

  • LeavesThatAreGreen December 19th, 2012 8:13 PM

    Oh, Ruby, I do recognise the problem. I find it really sad. Self-harm is a serious thing and it seems to infect other people and spread in the same way as the flu. It has become a complex, multifaceted problem. It’s the triggering, the gloryfying, the sympathising… and eventually their friends starts to self-harm too. Whatever your reason to self-harm is, you’re obviously not entirely happy at the moment. Something is wrong and you need help. It’s just super sad that it spreads so easily. I think that schools should be more aware of this problem, but it’s hard to inform people about it without triggering. Uh.

  • Octopus December 19th, 2012 11:52 PM

    As someone who self-harmed for over two years and went through ridiculous lengths to hide it, Ruby’s entry broke my heart. I can’t ever, ever imagine why anyone would rip their skin apart to fit in. I know that I was certainly not trying to fit in. I still feel crippling shame and guilt whenever I see my scars. It’s sickening to see self-injury and mental illness in general being glorified. I know that I never felt cool because of it. I wasn’t “the Queen of Cutters”, I was a scared girl with several mental illnesses who thought that I was the only one in the world who coped with the pain I felt with a pair of scissors or a knitting needle or a nail file.

  • ivoire December 20th, 2012 2:06 AM

    Especially on Tumblr, I notice that it’s like a competition of who has the worst mental illness or something. Mental illness is so glamourized, it’s terrible.

  • Bene December 20th, 2012 2:25 AM

    Naomi, your experiences of anxiety really resonate with me. Since I was 6 I’ve had thanatophobia – fear of dying – which has caused me to have severe panic attacks. Just recently, however, while talking to my friend about this feeling, I realised that it is actually a repressed feeling that came about due to the connection between my father leaving and his own father’s death. Basically, as a child I realised that my parents’ divorce and father’s physical and emotional detachment occurred after, and in many respects because, of my dad’s own father’s death. My 6 year old mind, as a way of dealing with this, seems to have transformed this particular feeling of panic and anxiety that I had after my father’s death into thanatophobia due to the connection between these two events (there is a longer explanation of why but I won’t go into it). Ever since I realised that my father’s absence, not death itself, is causing this fear, I have felt stronger, and like I can finally move on from this fear. I feel free and weightless with this realisation, and whenever I feel a panic attack coming on, I tell myself that it is not death that I fear, and I remind myself of the real reason for it, and I can battle the anxiety.
    I wanted to tell you this to show that you can overcome anxiety, however impossible it may seem, and I suppose because I have been thinking about this a lot recently and your diary made me need to say it to someone, even if just a computer screen. But good luck, and I hope that it gets better for you xxx

  • jill December 20th, 2012 2:50 AM

    I hate that that’s what it has to come to, cutting as a form of validation. For me, it was validation of my depression and anxiety… the first time I admitted to my mom that I cut i was like “mom sometimes I hurt myself can I please go see someone about this I think there’s something wrong with me because I get so so sad sometimes and I’m actually scared” and she got all worried but when I showed her she was just like “oh those are just little scratches!” and she patted me on the back and told me it would be alright everyone gets sad so the next time I cut I used a razor blade instead of just my geometry compass and I got sent to therapy and now I think I’m mostly better but it was almost like I was hurting myself *more* than I even needed to to feel better because I wanted to show people that my problem was *real* and I guess people don’t think your problems are real until there’s blood seeping through your sleeves which is so messed up in so many ways

    • purrr December 20th, 2012 7:37 AM

      gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh i hate the world

      it’s like they’re only gonna treat you if you’re near death

      honestly it’s like the middle ages except instead of physical healthcare it’s mental healthcare that is underdeveloped and it just makes me so angry

      i think problems like this need more publicity we need little brochures in school that talk about stuff like that

      i want to schedule a visit to my old school and ask to speak to the kids and woo them with my cool green hair and general “coolness” and then tell them why so many things that they do are screwed up and not cool

      i’m really happy we have rookiemag though, i’ve been a reader for about a year now and i’m terrified of what my life would be like right now if i wasn’t a reader because it’s helped me out so so much and i hope everyone associated with rookie knows that and feels good about themselves

      • Sorcha M December 20th, 2012 9:06 AM

        it sucks that they generally have to see you as a threat to society’s balance or a potential dead person in order to help you it’s so frdhsjkxmgrhdfksjads
        and rookie pretty much saved my life by introducing me to feminism and then i got super into intersectionality and activism and proud 2 b me and i should mention
        THANK YOU TAVI THANK YOU ROOKIE WRITERS THANK YOU ALL because rookie has literally made me such a different and better person because i was a slut shaming asshole
        whew

    • rockwrenroll December 20th, 2012 6:46 PM

      My mom did that same exact thing to me when I was twelve, and I had that same exact reaction. And our mothers were very irresponsible for doing that, I think.
      I just relate to your comment so much, thank you. I didn’t think anyone had ever been through a similar situation.

    • lula December 23rd, 2012 8:03 PM

      the exact same thing happened to me, except my mom said that the only reason i was “scratching” myself was for attention. that if i really had a problem there would be, like you said, blood seeping through my sleeves. i still haven’t gone to a therapist and i’m still cutting from time to time.

  • Alienor December 20th, 2012 3:19 AM

    Oh my God, Naomi I’ve felt exactly the same for the past couple of weeks, and it doesn’t seem to stop :/

  • Sorcha M December 20th, 2012 4:57 AM

    i always feel bad for getting pissed off at people who obviously glorify mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, i’ve even seen someone glorifying manic episodes, because i feel like you can never know whether they’re just unashamed or faking, but it kind of pisses me off to see some people who to me at least wouldn’t talk about their illness like that if it was actually affecting their state of mind or health or normal life. i suppose you can never know what people are thinking, and i think some problems you know if you have them, but i get very angry when i see people talking about all the serious disorders they have that aren’t diagnosed. i’m not ashamed of the problems i have but i’m also honest about the fact they’re horrible to go through and do not make me tragic or artistic or a tortured genius or anything akin to that, all they make me is a shivering wreck of emotions who hasn’t eaten or showered in days and can’t leave her house or talk to human beings. i think many people on tumblr do have problems, but i think for a lot of them the problem isn’t some of the issues they claim to have. and yet i still feel guilty writing this but i feel strongly about these communities based on stopping people from recovering and even more about the bandwagon jumpers who claim to understand what these gruelling illnesses are like. in short, it’s ableist. rant over

  • tuntematon December 20th, 2012 8:57 AM

    The self harm one pisses me off too… I want to scream at those girls and tell them it’s serious and UNFUNNY. They’re mocking mental illness.

  • tturnthenoiseon December 20th, 2012 10:12 AM

    These are beautiful. I especially like the last one… It makes me feel calm

  • FlorenceEyre December 20th, 2012 10:51 AM

    I can absolutely identify myself with the Naomi´s one <3 You are reading my mind!

  • sleepyschoolgirl December 20th, 2012 2:37 PM

    i’m exactly the same britney, and I think it’s been made worse because I go to an all girls school and haven’t had any good friends who are boys. but now i’m in sixth form (year 12) boys have joined the school and I still get all nervous when talking to them, even if i’m not attracted to them! so don’t worry you’re not alone in your awkwardness :)

  • raftingstarlit December 21st, 2012 4:07 PM

    Ruby: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/17/magazine/17DEPRESSION.html I really recommend you this article.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about how big of a deal we make of mental illnesses. Like if you are depressed, or have an eating disorder you’ll instantly become a weirdo, alien, non-human being, altough these things are kinda common in teenager years. (and nowodays everybody wants to be unique…) But also, depression and cutting etc. is kind of a big deal. so it’s a really confusing question for me..

  • justsomeone December 21st, 2012 8:50 PM

    I experience that a lot. I feel trapped by my own mind and feel like only I understand what’s up but I am the one causing it all, so no one else can help. It’s weird and I wish it would stop.

    • justsomeone December 21st, 2012 8:52 PM

      …I was referring to Naomi’s diary, which was also really beautiful.

  • amazeedayzee December 23rd, 2012 1:58 AM

    Caitlin’s entry is basically me for a while now. Beautiful art, by the way.

    It’s jarring to me that some people would self-harm for the sake of fitting into a group. It’s people like that who give mental illness such a stigma–that self harm is immature, or that eating disorders are about vanity, or so on and so forth.

  • Miss Erin December 23rd, 2012 12:01 PM

    Naomi,

    It’s like you copied an entry out of my own unwritten diary this week.

  • Cutesycreator aka Monica May 10th, 2013 3:05 PM

    I love these diary entries.