I cannot smile properly in photos. I don’t even know what my smile looks like. I tried to smile for the camera to take a photo. But it was so hard, it is incredibly difficult to smile authentically for me. I don’t know why. You’ll notice in the above photos and also any selfies you may see on my Instagram account, that I make funny faces or my smile is “cute” but not sincere.
And don’t even talk to me about the “smiling with your eyes”, I love you Tyra but I just can’t!
I wish I was able to be okay with myself. I wish I was able to take a photo, for no reason other than because I am happy and want to share that positivity with others. I have been told I have a lovely smile, I hate smiling with my teeth because they are yellow and it’s not from coffee or cigarettes (I don’t smoke) but just a curse of my genes.
I am trying to be my “authentic self”, yes that’s horribly tacky wording, but I am trying to re-learn who I am.
I lost who I was when I was 14yo. From then on, life was hell. My mental illness (whether you want to go via diagnoses and words, or just a general “brain-ness”) kicked it into high gear when I was 14yo:
I was in Grade 8. I was a year older than my entire class (I started school a year older than everyone else). I had no friends. There were the ‘friends’ who had moved with me from my Primary School to the High School, all three of us with the same, horribly common, surname but not even remotely related, not exactly “friends”, but the word “frenemy” had not been invented yet so we existed in this strange limbo between loving and hating each other.
The other two girls disappeared into the mass of High School, they joined two different cliques and we never saw each other, for any more amount of time than for them to call me names (“frog face” was the favoured term) and corner me and make me fear for my physical safety.
And I drifted into a mass of people who knew all my older siblings, and thus I became a “sister”. “Oh! You’re so-and-so’s sister!”. I then had a level to which I had to meet. And meet it, I did not.
I became a very lonely person. I had two friends, we shared no classes and they were in the “outcast” movie too, but we had no Wilson. We would meet up for meals and then for a few minutes before and after school.
It was from one of these girls, that I caught “the bug” from.
I am referring to, the Self Harm Bug.
Self harm is vastly misunderstood. There is a lot of opinion that children/teens who engage in the “phase of self harm” – um yeah, “phase” my foot – are imitating someone else. There is a large school of thought that self harm is passed from one person to another. And, in a way, it is.
It’s like a virus. And like any virus, it cannot exist on it’s own outside the body and must latch on to a host.
This friend, we long lost contact, showed me a scar from where she told me she had used a butcher’s knife to hurt herself. I don’t remember the exact conversation and I don’t remember exactly my thought process, but I do remember it feeling something like a lightbulb going off in my head. I had discovered The Answer.
And from there, my infection with self harm began.
I will not go into further detail as to my methods or what I did to hurt myself. But I will say, the longer I went on holding this horrible secret in, the longer I was ashamed and the longer I hid from everyone, the more it grew.
My mental illness became more apparent and more and more impossible to deal with.
I didn’t understand what was happening. I was depressed. A lot. I would also experience – what I now understand to be “rapid cycling mood swings” – these different feelings. I had this gut feeling, I just knew it to be true: I knew I had Bipolar Disorder. But I didn’t understand how that could be, because my “moods” did not match that of the definition of a person with Bipolar. I did not know that there are a whole spectrum of mood disorders. That there are more than one form of Bipolar disorders, and that it’s not as “clean cut” as the movies and media make it out to be.
My person, my being, my “self”, it was swallowed up by the black sticky tar of depression and the confusion of my multiple mood swings. I was no longer a person. I was .. well I don’t even know what I was, what I am.
The self harming virus burned for a further 13yrs. I have not been in it’s grips for over a year now, I have managed to somehow put that “thing” aside. I know, it’s not forever. I will not ever be cured of it, I will never be free from it’s grasps completely. But, I have over a year now. And that cannot be taken away from me. Even if I pick up that sharp again, and the virus surges forward, I will still have made it over a year. And that is something that cannot be changed.
I think I will leave this here. I am tired, the story is tiring me. Life is tiring me. I cannot think at the moment. I am tired. I started this post about my smile and some selfies, and now nearly a thousand words later, I don’t know why I even started or how I got on the track of my early career in hurting myself.
I’m sorry. I need to go .. I don’t even know.