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Eating Disorders, The Media, and Me: A Memoir

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

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I recently decided to start an ask.fm account.  Why?  I don’t know. I’m a social media addict or something.  It’s like Pokemon; I gotta catch them all.  And then potentially never use them and let them die a terrible, sad death, but whatever.  I wanted to try it.  If there’s one thing I can say about the human race, it’s that we LOVE answering questions.  It’s true.  Being asked a question shows that someone is interested in you, and when someone takes an interest in us?  We beam.  And answering questions is a good way to let people know who you are.  In my case it more than often triggers my introspective personality and I just end up brooding for hours, but eventually I’ll get an answer out there that I feel is worth listening to.  For those who don’t know me, I have a YouTube channel that pertains to gaming; mostly retro titles of my past, but sometimes a new title if I’m feelin’ modern.  I am also an online activist in regards to mental health.  I participate in campaigns and engage in activities that might inspire change and erase stigma surrounding mental illness, and I often write very candid and personal accounts of my own experiences with mental illness to give people people hope, and something to empathize with.  I’ve found that being a producer on YouTube helps me with my struggles and keeps my mind stimulated, while writing about my struggles helps me to help others; so while these two things I do online seem very separate, they are honestly more connected than you may think.  After putting a very graphic account of my experiences with suicide, BDD, and bulimia on my YouTube channel in the form of a Draw My Life, I started to get a lot of questions.  And I still get a lot of questions every day, ranging from “How are you doing?” to “I think my girlfriend has BDD, what should the first step in helping her be?” to “I think *I* have BDD, what do you think?”  I can’t answer every question, which is why I write as much as I can about my experience with the hope that it will give people a starting point for their own recovery, but I did receive a question the other day that I’ve been wanting to address for awhile now.  There’s never a better time than right now, so I figured I would put a ginormous blog together trying to answer it.  Frankly, there ain’t no possible way I can answer this in just a few paragraphs.  So if you’re ready to do a lot of reading, then awesome.  Let’s go.  If you’re not ready, then here: Go get pumped.  Then return when you’re done.

Question, asked anonymously:

Do you know what “caused” or “triggered” your eating disorder? You mention the media having a huge effect on you in your Draw My Life — can you expand on that? Do you feel how women are portrayed in entertainment affected your bulimia?  What do you think about the diet product industry?

Oh man.  Let me begin by saying: Fuck; any time people talk about the portrayal of women in the media and how entertainment affects people, it always turns into a shit storm.  Personally, I find what I am about to say extremely uncomplicated, but for some reason, discussing eating disorders and talking about the cultural significance tied to them leads to some of the most angry, insane arguments I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know if people are just very sensitive when it comes to openly discussing eating disorders and illnesses that pertain to self image or if people just want to play backseat psychologist on the internet for their own self serving reasons or what, but I can tell you right now; this is a dialogue worth having.  And I encourage everyone, no matter who you are or what your background is, whether you suffer from a mental illness or not, no matter what gender you identify as, to please consider what I have to say here.  It’s all I ask.  I’m asking you to listen with an open mind.  Eating disorders are extremely difficult to talk about because even though there is a lot of love out there, there’s also a lot of judgement and asinine people out there with extremely skewed views to slog through, and that can genuinely mar someone’s perception.

I like to think myself credible when it comes to this discussion; At least, I  consider myself an expert on my own mental illness and how it has affected me.  I’ve suffered BDD since 5th grade or so, meaning I’ve been struggling and getting treated on and off for about 19 years.  I became bulimic a little later in my life, around 17, and relapsed on and off as late as December of 2014.  (I am extremely proud to say that I have not relapsed since that date though.)  There were several suicide attempts, a few that nearly came to fruition, and a lot of my time was spent trying various forms of therapy, and my teenage years were filled with many, many medications.  I did it all; group therapy, individual therapy, weeks in inpatient facilities, weeks in outpatient facilities, psychiatrists, medical doctors, nutritionists, different hospitals, different units, plastic surgery (people who suffer from BDD frequently turn to a plastic surgeon, wanting to correct what they perceive as a flaw in their appearance.  It rarely, if ever, works.); trust me when I say it was intense.  I know that people are often confused by this; they see me on YouTube and think I am this confident personality who is able to just hop on camera and put out personable content without any issues.  People describe me happy, snarky, sassy, exuberant, and so forth.  Don’t misunderstand; I am capable of truly happy moments, but also know: it took a lot of fucking work to get to this point.  A LOT of work.  And I am still working, and I still struggle.  I can’t imagine having to never struggle with BDD ever again.  This is something I have accepted.  But I can, and do, work on and manage my symptoms so that life is better.  The entire reason I started YouTube is to do something I had previously convinced myself was impossible.  To prove that I could no matter HOW I perceived myself.  That I was still the one in control of my life.   I even studied psychology for a few years, wanting to further educate myself on not only my own form of depression, but others that were in a similar spectrum.  I have worked very, very hard to get to this point.  I don’t have all the answers in this blog post, but I can assure you that I wanted to take a very measured and balanced approach to writing this all out.

I know I am still rambling and have not technically answered the question at hand yet.  Please bear with me; I promise everything I am saying has a point.  Before I even answer, I want people to understand where I am coming from, and how these experiences have shaped who I am right now.  I believe that everyone’s beliefs have a base.  You know how people often describe people they don’t agree with as having baseless ideas?  I don’t really buy that.  There is always a base and whether you agree with it or not is a completely different thing.  This is mine.

Perception is huge.  It is an essential component in people with BDD and eating disorders.  But where does perception come from?  Does your perception of yourself come from within?  Does it come from how your parents raised you?  Environment?  Media?  It’s complicated.  Understanding any kind of human behavior is complicated because we are all so different.  We have our own unique brain that responds to different things; we have different tolerance levels, different experiences; that’s why we study behavior and why we continually analyze things that could  further explain how and why we do the things we do.  I think it’s fascinating.

To answer your question in a blunt manner:  Yes.  The media, along with how women have been portrayed in entertainment,  had a significant impact on me,  Though these things are not solely responsible, they have greatly contributed to how my eating disorder evolved.  Especially the diet/beauty industry.

That’s the short answer.  I feel like elaborating is required here, so I will do just that.

First of all;  I know I am not alone when I say the certain things in our media has affected me.  It has affected a lot of people. When you consider that the media is a machine that needs to make money to sustain itself, it’s not hard to believe that it juuuust miiiiight be sending people false messages in order to profit.  Marketers don’t give a shit about you.  They want to make money.  And thus, we get exposed to questionable things that influence us on a daily basis; some things for the good, and some things for the bad.

One person attempted to tell me that I MUST have become bulimic because my parents didn’t love me.  Thank you booboo, you have all the answers, don’t you?  That assessment must have taken years and years of talking to me and learning about my life, right?  Oh, wait.  My bad, you’re actually an idiot.

I know; that sounds harsh.  And yes, how people are raised can play a crucial role in how they behave as adults.  The people that raise you have a great influence on your personality; mine did.  My Dad inspired a lot of who I am today, and my Mom did everything she could to help me and understand my depression.  I loved my parents and they loved me;  not everyone who suffers from a mental illness falls victim to one because of a lack of love.  It does happen, but don’t always presume that’s the case, ESPECIALLY when I am telling you otherwise.  If my problems were the result of neglect or abuse from my family, that’s what I’d be writing about right now.

The people who raised you are not the only thing you’re going to be exposed to as you go through life; you grow up, and then there are other stimulants that create new influences and new ideas.  New perceptions.  To presume my parents didn’t care for me and that’s why I became bulimic is ignorant.

My parents loved me.  A lack of love was not the problem.  In fact, my father was always reminding me of how special and gifted I was.  I was overweight, but I thought nothing of it until I was a preteen.  As a young child, I was very happy.

One of the first memories I have as a kid questioning my own body was when I was over at a friends house playing Barbies.  I had always liked Barbie dolls and had a moderate collection of them along with some Ken dolls and a Power Ranger action figure that liked to date Midge.  My friend had a fake scale toy that you could put your Barbie doll on and it would “weigh” them.  Now, first of all… doesn’t that strike you as weird?  A toy SCALE?  Not a toy scale that weighs food or random objects, no.  This is a scale meant to tell you your weight.  I was just a kid so I didn’t really know how fucked up that was; from what I gathered, women were supposed to be weight conscious.  Always.  I mean, it says so in commercials, all of my friends favorite singers and actors were very slender, and if I wasn’t supposed to be thin, then why are there so many products that claim to make you such?  I bought into it hook, line, and sinker.  I put my Barbie on the fake scale, and it read 110 pounds.  110 pounds.  That must be the ideal weight.  SOMEONE thought so, right?  That moment stuck with me.  And I know what people want to say.  Here, I’ll say it for you: “But Roses, it’s just a doll.  She’s not real.  She can’t hurt you.”  First of all, do I fucking look like a dimwit to you?  You don’t think I know a plastic doll can’t “hurt me?”  I react the same way to “It’s just a game cartridge, it’s made of plastic, it can’t hurt you”, and “It’s just a book, it can’t hurt you,” and “It’s just a DVD, it’s can’t hurt you.”  …Are you fucking serious?  Are you seriously questioning my intelligence right now?  Because I truly find those arguments to be condescending as hell.

Angry and profane Roses aside now (she may come out every now and then whenever I’m feeling salty, but I will try to remain as eloquent as I possibly can),  yes.  I was (and am) aware that Barbie was just a doll, and I know that cartridges and books can’t physically hurt someone (unless I lobbed a reeeeally heavy novel at someone’s head, which is very tempting sometimes, I tell ya.  I’m told I have a wicked good pitch);  it’s not the doll, or the CD, or the book that hurts you.  It’s the ideas inside of those things that are harmful.  We all know that, right?  Ideas can be harmful as much as they can be beneficial.  It doesn’t matter that these things are real or not.  Barbie isn’t real, but it didn’t matter to me.  She is what the media says is beautiful.  And it’s not the doll’s fault of course.  Barbies have the right to exist, and people have the right to like and play with them.  The problem is the sheer volume of things similar to that that contribute to this very strange beauty ideal, and these ideals, whether you like it or not, leak into our entertainment, and do influence people.  I know it’s considered so uncool to even suggest that media may be causing harmful things in our lives, but it shouldn’t be.  And even if it is considered as such, I am so far beyond trying to be cool that I really don’t mind being candid with my experiences and being labeled uncool.  Being cool doesn’t benefit me, and it doesn’t help people anyone else either.  So I am just trying to be as honest and thoughtful as I can be with my accounts and experiences.

Let’s talk about the beauty and diet industry, shall we?  That one is always fun to talk about.  I’d like to preempt this by saying I wear a little bit of makeup;  I used to wear it because I felt extremely pressured to, but now I wear it because I actually find enjoyment in the experimentation of applying it and being artsy with it.  I am not against makeup.  Of course I’m not; you’re reading something written by a girl who has stabbed colorful, permanent designs all over her body, so I very, very much respect the right to do whatever you like with your body as long as it is healthy and something that makes you feel good.  The freedom to decorate my body any way I prefer is extremely important to me.  If you like makeup and body mod because it makes you happy and you’ve never felt pressured to wear it for any other reason than for yourself, then what I would like for you to do is just listen.  It is good that you have a healthy relationship with beauty.  I would like you to listen to someone who has not felt that way, even in the very recent past.   If you don’t enjoy makeup or hair dye and do it because you feel pressured to meet a certain criteria of beauty or sexiness, then this is something you will be able to relate to.

It is extremely hard to dodge the messages we get about beauty standards on a daily basis.  Especially if you use the internet, listen to the radio, watch TV, go outside (seriously, there are billboards freakin’ everywhere), go to the store…man.  The beauty and diet industries are MACHINES.  They are absolutely MASSIVE, and they are huge, huge money makers.

You needn’t search far to hear or see an ad or commercial telling you that you are broken.  Seriously, something about you is broken and needs fixing.  Chubby?  Well, let’s see.  We have pills, juicers, diet food that will make you wish you were dead, bunk exercise machines that cost a fortune, powdered something or others, cleansers, blahblahblah.  Too much body hair?  Well look no further because I have a product that is guaranteed NOT to work AND shrink your wallet, all because we’ve scared you into thinking body hair is bad.  Need to lose weight in a extremely unrealistic amount of time?  Here, try this junk.  Not only does it taste like ass, it will also make you FEEL like ass while simultaneously doing NOTHING.  Cellulite?  HOW EMBARRASSING.  HOW CAN YOU EVEN STAND TO GO OUTSIDE, YOUR MONSTER.  YOU’RE SCARING THE CHILDREN.

A lot of these products are targeted at women; there have been standards and products set for us for…what seems like forever, honestly.  Refer to the Dexatrim commercial I linked above; obviously targetted to women. I go to the pharmacy and the first thing I see are aisles and aisles of makeup being advertised by photoshopped airbrushed models, and aisles for other beauty products are just intense.  Waxing kits, cellulite creams, skin moisturizers, creams for dark circles, exfoliates, wrinkle plumpers, skin lighteners;  anything that needs to be fixed, you can find a product for.  The men’s department is a lot more sparse, but I’m not excluding the fact that men also get drawn into these “fixes.”  How many commercials have you seen depicting a balding man with statements like “you don’t need to be embarrassed by your thinning hair, we have a fix!  Here, just put this nasty shit on your noggin and now you’re a babe magnet”?  ( I may have paraphrased the end of that sentence.  But seriously, what the fuck is that shit she’s putting on his head?)  This industry will say anything and everything to make you feel like an ugly, broken sack of shit as long as it will drain your wallet.  There is no profit in saying, “Hey.  You’re great just the way you are!  Love yourself!”  That ain’t gonna sell products, my friends.  I have also had a number of significant others who have been insecure about having sex, expressing fear that their penis was too small and feeling utter shame.  And of course, there’s a huge industry dedicated to fixing the size of your penis.  The women I had been intimate with often felt terrible about their breast size and one partner could not remove her bra in front of me.  If you feel that bad about yourself, you WILL drop money to fix your perceived flaws.  I know I did.  I had a shameless amount of product and makeup and I found no enjoyment in it.  All I wanted was to be thin and beautiful.  The truth is, though…YOU ARE NOT BROKEN.  You don’t need to be fixed.  There is nothing wrong with you, you’re just a human being with your own individual appearance.  If you want to change your appearance or embellish something about yourself because you love yourself, that is fine.  That is absolutely fine.  But don’t fall into these things because you think you HAVE to.  You don’t HAVE to do anything.  You don’t owe anyone anything.  You don’t have to fit some standard of beauty because some money making machine says it’s the ideal way to be.  You need to do what’s healthy for you.  Mentally and physically.

These standards find their way into our entertainment mediums.  It’s not always malicious, but it does happen.  Here is an example of something from a video game affecting me that I don’t consider a malicious attempt to make me feel bad, but it did anyway:  I love, love, love adventure games.  I love video games in general; I always have.  A series I discovered in my early teens was Leisure Suit Larry.  Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail particularly intrigued me.  It was smoothly designed in this sexy, 2D cartoon look, and the characters were vibrant and buxom.  I liked it a lot.  At the risk of sounding extremely weird, for me, the game portrayed sex in a very enjoyable, pleasurable, not dirty way.  That sexual pleasure is not something to be ashamed of as a woman.  So I did take something very positive away from it.  But I recall responding to the character design very strangely.  The female characters in that game are very, very sexy.  They all have similar body shapes; very voluptuous.  Tiny waists, larger breasts, perfect faces.  I actually liked their design because it’s exactly what I wanted to look like.  I started drawing women who ONLY had that body type because I felt like this is what people were attracted to.  I go through my art from time I was really questioning my body, and it is very, very telling.

Keep in mind, I still love this game.  I even replay it from time to time (I would argue that it’s the best game in the entire series, but that’s a debate for another time, heh heh), and I am not saying Leisure Suit Larry is this horrible game that exists to make women feel bad.  Hell, it’s not even the game’s fault as an individual title;  the only reason I responded this way is because so many other characters in the entertainment industry are depicted that exact same way.  The game, along with many other forms of entertainment, is a product of what the media and it’s marketing feels is attractive and ultimately what will sell.  It’s not about the body type presented; in fact I draw a lot of pinup art in my spare time and identify as a sexually charged person who likes a bit of raunch every now and then. So games like this do have the right to exist and be enjoyed, and these female designs also have a right to exist and I would never expect them to be removed.  The problem is not the medium, and I in no way believe movies and video games are turning people into monsters and sexual deviants.  I believe the problem is diversity; and growing up, I didn’t see it and I didn’t feel it.  I genuinely didn’t.  I thought I had to look like Charlize Theron to be considered beautiful.  Who is absolutely lovely by the way.  I just wish I felt like it was acceptable to look like… well…how I looked.  Like myself. Not like someone else.  Not like the standard that so many entertainment industries have already set.  And to be quite honest, even though these ideals are more likely to affect people who are overweight, it still also affects slender women and models and actors and actresses; that is why you are always hearing about a celebrity falling victim to an eating disorder, and why models speak out about how unhealthy these industries are.  The pressure to look a certain way is so fucking ridiculous, anyone can give into them, no matter what you look.

So it’s not the character.  It’s not the body type.  It’s not the actress or actor or pinup illustration.   It’s the expectation society has set for us.  The expectation to look perfect in accordance to how the media portrays it unfortunately flows into so many forms of entertainment, directly and indirectly. The reason people want diversity in entertainment and the reason so many public figures step forward to talk about how warped these industries are and how it has hurt them is so that we can ALL have something to relate to, and so we can adjust some of these ideals.  So we can ALL have our fantasies.  So things can get better.  So more people can be happy.  And so we can tell these industries that make money off of telling us we have to look a certain way to fucking piss off.   Speaking up is a good thing.  I’d like to reiterate: this doesn’t mean I want to erase all character designs that resemble the Leisure Suit Larry girls from the gaming and movie mediums.  I don’t want to replace a specific body type with another, or claim that one is better than the other.  Hating or dismissing a certain body type, EVEN if it’s the body type that already fits a societal standard of beauty, is not the answer.  In fact, isn’t dismissing a certain body type why I feel this way in the first place?  I felt like my body type was never accepted anywhere, and I would never want other women to feel completely ostracized or judged the way I did.  I want to keep all the Leisure Suit Larry characters, the Bayonettas, the Juliet Starlings, the Cammys, in our games.   But I would like to see them alongside so many other body types and character designs, knowing that despite them being real or not, a game character or a movie character or a comic book character, they are all okay to be.  I had to learn and retrain myself for years  to realize there exists more than one kind of sexy.  I’m not a Bayonetta.  She is very sexy, but I will never be a Bayonetta, and that is okay.  I’m sexy the way I am.   And seeing more diversity online and in entertainment has very honestly given me hope, and HAS helped me manage certain toxic thoughts that contributed to my eating disorder.  The more I see actors and actresses onscreen who don’t fit the Hollywood mold and the more diversity I see in gaming and in television and art makes me realize that it’s okay to have the body type that I do.  We’re all just people, and we’re all different, and those differences are what makes life interesting.  I am telling you flat out;  seeing diversity in our media is beneficial.  It DOES help. Calling out the diet industry as being harmful and unrealistic DOES help. These are not complex ideas; when we add variety to the things around us, it gives us more to think about, so what I am saying here isn’t exactly revolutionary.  And yet, despite this not being a difficult concept to understand, the mainstream media doesn’t change very quickly.  There has been some amazing progress, but for some, it’s still moving at a sloth’s pace.

That is why people are so critical of what they see media.  Because there’s a lot of garbage floating around, and because people genuinely do become influenced by what our brains are processing all day long.  Some more so than others, of course.  Here’s an example I found to be really interesting:  Have you ever seen Mad Men?  It’s one of my favorite series.  It’s on Netflix if you’re interested.  The main character, Don Draper, is known for having this drink:  The Old Fashioned.  Now, personally, I think Old Fashioneds are friggin gross.  Whiskey with sugar cubes in it?  The heck?  NO!  …anyway, he drinks these throughout the entire series.  It becomes a very well known thing for this character.  This drink was very popular in the 60s, the time the show takes place.  By the 2000s, mixologists noted that the drink had basically fallen off the radar.  It just wasn’t very popular anymore (is anyone surprised?  IT’S WHISKEY WITH SUGAR CUBES AHRHHGJJHJD), but that isn’t uncommon.  Things change, style changes, we move on, find different things.  Pretty normal.  But when Mad Men became popular, suddenly, everyone wanted a friggin Old Fashioned.  This disgusting drink was suddenly desired after losing its popularity for years.  Why?  Because we saw Don Draper drinking it.  It doesn’t matter that his character is fictional; he had a very real influence on real people’s behavior.  It seems innocuous, but you gotta think:  Wow.  That is the power of a fictional character from a television series.  It’s very common, and it happens for better or for worse. Geezus, why can’t we have a character that goes around town buying people new cars?  COME ON PEOPLE.  MAKE IT HAPPEN; MAMA NEEDS A NEW DODGE VIPER.

There’s a lot of stats out there, so I will not bog you down with a crap ton of numbers, but it is common that girls between the ages of 6 and 12 start becoming increasingly concerned about their weight.  It sounds so young, but that’s how old I was when I started to become aware of my appearance, and there was a reason for it.  It’s not a strange coincidence that I, and so many other girls, start to feel that way at a certain age.  Though studies commonly show that women are more likely to develop disorders and skewed thoughts about their image, it does affect men too.  About 10 million men in the US suffer from an eating disorder, and BDD is also relatively high among men.  Those who suffer often have a skewed image of their muscles, and suffer from muscle dysmorphia. I cannot identify as a male with this illness, but I do feel that it must be insanely difficult to step forward and tell someone if you feel this way, given the pressures to be rough and tough all the time.  All I can say is that if you do identify as a male, and you suffer from an eating disorder or BDD, you will get no judgement from me and others who suffer.  And I encourage you to speak up.

So, what am I trying to say here exactly?  That the media causes ALL of our societal ills and creates horrible behavior?  Well, no.  Obviously not.  I think the impact the media has on people is far more complicated than that.  It’s like I said earlier, there are SO many things that contribute to who we are.  So many factors. Media exposure is one thing.  Other things that frame how we think or that could contribute to disorders like this are sexual abuse, environment, a violent upbringing, and a pre-existing mental illness.  The way I see it is this:  I developed a mental illness at a young age.  That is one factor that led to having turned to bulimia.  I also bought into societal ideals of beauty; there’s another factor.  The women in my life also bought the societal ideals of beauty, and I grew up hearing my sister say “I’m on a diet” very frequently.  The first boy I dated when I was a young teen verbally abused me and called me fat; two more variables right there.  BDD and Eating disorders do not run in my family, but of course, there are genetic factors connected with mental illness as well.  There’s a lot of things that cause us to behave the way we do.   It’s not going to be one movie, or one show, or one magazine, or one video game, and I don’t believe it is the fault of those artistic mediums all by themselves.  It is going to be the ideas we as human beings put into them alongside these other conditions.  And we are responsible for what we put into the world, so it’s crucial to teach people, especially at a young age, to be critical of what we see around us.  It doesn’t mean we try to start banning movies, books, or video games.  It doesn’t mean we go all alarmist like our good friend Donald Trump; But we can teach resilience and strength through criticism, and being honest about the things that affect us.

It was not until I really learned to be critical and skeptical of what the media was feeding me that I realized I was destroying my body and health over something that should not dictating me.  When I was young, I used to look at beauty magazines and not realize the images were photoshopped.  Ads can be incredibly deceptive; anything to sell a product, right?  Now when I look at beauty magazines, I remind myself how many filters and airbrushing techniques were used to “fix” the model, and there does not exist a perfect person (with the exception of Dave Grohl).  I remind myself I never needed fixing in the fucking first place.  I wasn’t broken, but I did nearly break myself trying to become what I was taught was acceptable.  And I know how easy it is to overlook some of these problems, and just turn your head the other way.  My hope is that some of these issues return to your scope.

So what else helped me overcome bulimia?  Well, besides being trained to think more critically about my body, I also worked extremely hard to restore my physical health in the way of exercise and eating right.  Exercise and eating right, however, became a much easier task after I started correcting the weird way I idealized specific body types.  I do still suffer from BDD, and the causes of that are varied.  Some studies show that there is something wrong in the way people with it visually process things, particular faces and their expressions.  So…what does that mean?  Well, it means that I cannot see my own face correctly.  My brain doesn’t process it accurately, and thus I am seeing something that other people are not.  This is sometimes mapped to seratonin levels, and could be aided by psychiatric medicine.   Even though I believe video games can always be improved (I like video games, so I am always nitpicking about them.  We jab at the things we love the most, aye?), they have helped me a lot, and I play a lot of games to help me escape my own thought process.  It’s not a cure, but it is a temporary way for me to find contentment.  I also find that music is an amazing healer when my thoughts are getting out of control.

Finding diverse things through the internet has also helped me.  I am 30 years old now, and growing up, it was harder to find like minded people and dodge these mixed messages on TV; but on the internet, I am able to always find a group of people who either understand, or at least want to understand, the struggles I am going to.  It’s one of the best parts about the internet, and also one of the worst because now idiots also have a place to congregate, but yanno.  With the good comes the bad.  And I find having a online community and seeing diverse things from all kinds of artists and creators to be an incredibly positive thing for me.

It is truly strange having an illness like this, because overall, I am a confident person.  I know what I want in life, I know I am very intelligent, I know I am creative, and I am very good with people.  It sucks when your own confidence is at war with an illness that just wants to take it all away.  I am a confident person with BDD.

Maybe you don’t care.  Maybe you were not affected the way I was by ANY of these things, and you don’t care if things ever change.  I’m not asking you to understand everything I said here and suddenly hop on the Roses boat of dedicating your life to combating BDD or Bulimia or Depression.  We all have our own problems to take care of; our own lives.  I’m not asking you to drop everything and join me on a mission to take down the diet industry; but what I am asking, and what I would like, is that you just hear me, and take what I say into consideration.  You may not be able to relate to anything I said here, but I’d like it if you respect my experiences as they are, because it is insanely difficult expressing thoughts like this without being judged.  There’s always going to be someone who thinks saying “Just get over it” or “Grow a thicker skin” is the miraculous answer to all of life’s issues, and that’s just not the way people work. It’s not how brains work. The way I see it is that I am an incredibly strong person for overcoming an addictive eating disorder, and turning my habits around to where they are healthy.  That takes a strong person.  And remember: you can’t just automatically grow a thick skin; it takes time and experience to build up that kind of resilience, so don’t let people make you feel like you are weak.  It’s just not realistic.  And like I said before, we ALL have our own issues and things we want to dedicate time making better.  I understand that.  Maybe you’re saying: “Screw this, there are worse things happening in the world.”  There are always bad things happening in the world, but to me, these issues are bad things that I can help with.  I care about other things that are happening in the world, but I also want to put my efforts to good use and do what I can with my own knowledge, and when I can help in other areas and other people who also have it bad; I do.  I help where I can and when I can.  For example, my Father passed away of brain cancer when I was young, so every year I donate to the American Cancer Society.  That is another thing I care about alongside mental health.

Maybe your mission is to volunteer at an animal shelter and stop animal abuse.  Maybe your mission is to hold charities to benefit the research of cancer.  Maybe you want to inspire change to our social issues like racism, or discrimination towards the LGBT community.  It’s all okay.  We all have things we are passionate about and there is enough people in the world to fulfill so many causes.   Doesn’t mean you can’t care about other things, though; so no matter what your cause is, no matter what you care about in your life, I hope you find some merit in this blog.  And if you are in the same boat as I am, then I really, really hope reading my experience has helped you in some way.  And at the very least, I hope you find it insightful.  This is my experience.  What’s yours?

Twenty Fourteen

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

It is January 1st, which means HAPPY NEW YEAR, BITCHES.

GoldenGirls

 

Aww yeah;  The Golden Girls are so fucking metal.

2012.  Oh, 2012.  What a perfectly shitty year 2012 was.  It was probably one of the worst years I have ever had in my entire life.  Besides going completely crackers, I lost a lot of good friends [which in retrospect, were not good friends at all.  Or even good people.], had to take a hiatus from the internet and just from life in general, and I was just feeling very unhappy and alienated.  In the middle of 2012, I decided I had enough bull crap and focused all of my energy on bettering myself.  The end of 2012 began a new life for me, and that was the tone I set for 2013.

2013 was an amazing year.  There were some things that hurt, sure.  There were a few disappointments, sure.  But overall, I can’t even believe how many things turned around.  But I really shouldn’t say they turned around – things don’t just happen on their own.  And I am not one to believe in luck;  I believe in making things happen, no matter what the cost.  So things didn’t turn around;  I *turned* them around with a lot of hard work.  I don’t like waiting around for things to improve.  That’s what lead to such a shitty 2012 in the first place.  For the longest time, I was my own saboteur, and as much as I want to point fingers at other things and people that irritated my sanity, I was the one holding me back the most for even allowing those things to get to me.  Some things can’t be controlled, and THAT’S the truth.  But I needed to be the one to control my reactions.  So I learned to.   Some things still aren’t easy, but honestly, that’s just me.   Here are some things I’ve learned in 2013:  Adult life is a lot more complex than we would like it to be, and people become more complicated and hard to deal with as we get older.  Some people like to look at people who are experiencing drama in their lives, point a finger at them, and say, “God, this isn’t high school.”  Folks, don’t you let anyone say that bullshit to you. Drama, sadness, problems in your life… those are ongoing things that don’t begin nor do they end in high school.  And just because you are having problems doesn’t mean you are acting like a teenager, as the phrase would imply.  Accusing someone that is obviously struggling with internal problems of being dramatic isn’t benefiting anyone and isn’t a productive way to converse.  What I’ve learned over the year that has made me strong is when to recognize buzz words and buzz phrases that are only said to make the person on the other end of the conversation feel better or superior.  But realistically, sadness spans throughout our life, and nobody in their right mind should ever make anyone feel bad for simply being human.  For me, finding people that love and support me no matter what is what made 2013 a wonderful year.

Even though I left TGWTG, I still maintained a lot of friendships I had made from it.  And I am going to be completely candid;  leaving TGWTG and starting videos up again elsewhere was one of the hardest transitions I’ve ever had to make.  It is NOT easy to build up an audience again, and I have been challenged over and over again when it came to producing content and holding on to my audience.  Thankfully, I was able to grow substantially as a producer, and I am so happy to have met some really cool YouTube producers who made my transition a little bit more comfortable.  What viewers may not realize is how contained the viewership is when you are on TGWTG.  It’s a very small community when you think about how vast the internet really is, and leaving such a popular site where you are basically guaranteed hits, for YouTube, where there is absolutely no guarantee you will get anything at all, is extremely hard.  Hopefully, I will expand my viewership even more in 2014.

As I step into the new year and leave a year of healing, recovering, and learning new things about myself behind, I enter a year that has already started with a new job that I love and am appreciated at, a new parrot companion, new ideas for videos and better Let’s Plays, collaborations with well-known YouTube producers (and of course, old friends and colleagues as well), brand new tattoos, and a better grasp on my health.  I’ve made new best friends, reconnected with people I never thought I would, and continually overcome new obstacles.  And what makes things even brighter are the E-mails and comments I get from viewers and readers whom I’ve helped.  The reason I can be so candid online and be honest with some of my darker thoughts, videos, and artwork, is because I know that there will at least be one person that will be inspired by it.  And really, one person is enough.  The more the better, but if I can help one person in a really significant way, then I would say that that is a success.  I find myself to be a fairly dark person with a quirky sense of humor;  I am drawn to things like death (due partially to the death of my father), extreme body mods, and really depressing media.  But the way I contrast these things is by helping other people in any way I can.  Even if it just means saying something like, “Hey, you like weird, bloody artwork?  So do I.  Let’s hang and have a [insert beverage of your choice here.]”  Or, “Hey – let’s get septum piercings together.”

Success is not determined by how many academic degrees you have, or how many friends you have, or how much money your job pays.  Success is when you feel fulfilled by what you’ve done, even if those accomplishments are small.  So go out there and do great things.  Better your life.  Make up with your enemies (or kick them in the balls.  That works too), and tell your friends you love them.  Life is way too fucking short to take anything for granted.  Be open minded and kind to people, because if you don’t, I will kick you in the balls (again).

Now, let’s start this year right.  With PIZZA and MURDER, SHE WROTE.  Goddamn, I am so hardcore.

 

Living Dead Girl

Monday, June 10th, 2013

It’s about five o’clock in the morning, and outside all I hear are annoying, chirping birds.  When I was young, I used to be a very heavy sleeper;  just give me a flat pillow and a blanket and I could sleep through any natural disaster (and my noisy, sex crazed neighbors).  But over the years I seem to have lost my ability to go into a sleep coma, and now everything from happily chirping birds to a creaky misstep on the hardwood floor keeps my eyes pried open.  Have you seen A Clockwork Orange?  Yeah.  You know what I’m talking about.

So I find myself awake here in my bed, posting a blog, listening to birds.  It’s becoming really incessant now.  You know those robotic birds in Mary Poppins?  You know, during the “Spoonful of Sugar” scene?  I’m beginning to think it’s a robotic bird that will never stop its tinny chirping.  This is why people go crazy early in the morning.  Insane, robotic bird beasties.

Sorry, TANGENT.

I’m not sure how long this post will be, or how long it will take me to finish it.  I had tinkered with the idea of posting it when I returned to the internet after a long stint of health problems, but ultimately ended up waiting until now.  I wanted to make sure I was doing, overall, much better before I even attempted to put any words down.  It’s difficult when you have a lot of critical “eyes” watching you;  you almost feel like you can’t even discuss certain topics without causing a shit storm, sometimes.  But I don’t think anything should be off limits in the world of blogging or writing, and as someone who majored in fiction writing in college and was directed to write about what I know, I intend to give you just that.  A blog entry about BIRDS.

…just kidding.  See?  I haven’t even truly started this blog and I’m already trying to diffuse it with humor.

When I was very young, my parents sent me to a therapist for writing horrific things on my homework in Jr. High combined with artwork that made my poor conservative mom question, “Where did I go wrong with her?”  Since then, I’ve been diagnosed with a variety of mental disorders.  I was never really happy in school, and like most of my viewers who have felt the sting of rejection by their peers, I felt like a misfit.   I tried to fit in earlier on;  I begged my mom to buy me designer clothes (and I know how absurd this will sound, but my Jr. High peers wore Tommy Hilfigwhatever and Adidas everything, so I thought it was cool).  The biggest issue with that was I was too overweight to wear the clothes I wanted to, to fit in;  so I went the Sharon Needles route and used her brilliantly dark theory when I hit Jr. High:  “When in doubt, freak them out.”  Oh yes.  Yellow cat eye contacts, baby.  Mascara for days.  Black clothes.  Black black black and you BETTER NOT LOOK AT ME or you will get one helluva poisonous death stare.  (I wish I had pictures. ….Actually, no.  I don’t.  At all.)

It didn’t really work.  I attempted suicide at age 12.

That obviously didn’t work either.  As much as I would like to go into the things that happened between my teenage years and now, I’d rather not get a cramp by the amount of typing it would require to really elaborate.  That particular time span was filled with ugliness.  Some good, some bad, but a lot of ugliness, self doubt, and a gaping lack of motivation.  When my Dad passed away of brain cancer, a very gruesome death I witnessed in my house when I was fourteen, things took a turn for the hopeless, and I found myself messed up in a world of delusional thoughts, pills, eating disorders, and jeezus christ, whatever else you can possibly think of.  It’d be silly to say there were not good things that happened from then until now, but the good parts didn’t seem to over write the broken bits of my brain.  During college, I remember my psychiatrist wanting to put me on heavy anti-psychotics to tame my terrifying delusions.  I had a very loving boyfriend at the time who would have done just about anything for me, but unfortunately, the heavy drugs I was on left me creatively empty, exhausted, and nearly emotionless.  Feeling useless, I broke up with him after college.  The drugs did help quell the scary things I was feeling at the time, but it also left me feeling like a zombie, and I couldn’t do anything creative or worthwhile without seeing life through a thick fog.  So I stopped taking them, and never looked back.

A few years ago, after a long stint of doing very well (I restarted college, figured out what I wanted to do, and also found video making to be a good thing for me) I found myself back in a dark place.  Possibly the darkest I had ever been in.  I was suffering from almost constant delusions, night terrors, and physical pain due to other pre-existing medical conditions that I had given up on bettering, and that feeling of hopelessness slowly started to creep back in, despite being successful in school and at my new job of teaching aiding.  Even though I would never blame other people directly for the root of my issues, there were people in my life that made things difficult for me, and made me feel worthless.  People who who hurt me, but didn’t want to admit that;  so instead, put me at fault for being hurt.  For being “dramatic.”  Too emotional.  I find that I spent more time trying to repair broken bridges that people would have rather kept demolished, and all I can really say to that is:  Shame on you.  And though I can remain bitter, I realize that true friends, and genuine people will forgive you anything and stick by your side, and people who blame you for being dramatic, fucked up, or unworthy are things a poisonous, self loathing person would say in attempt to quell their own insecurities.  And I will have none of it anymore.  If someone can’t look past your scars and see a hardworking, (but obviously suffering) person, then let the bridge stay demolished, and do not look back.  People will make any excuse they can to put you in a bad light to make themselves took superior.  No matter how polished these people appear on the outside, they are grisly and ugly on the inside.

I overdosed.  I had literally snapped like a twig, and consumed so many pills that I shouldn’t have even woke up.  The only reason I did wake up, and was found, was because I was vomiting so violently everywhere.  It is said that people who go tell someone they want to end their lives do not truly wish to die;  they are reaching out for help.  For someone to stop them.  This wasn’t how I felt.  I wanted to die, and I wanted nobody to stop me, so I told nobody.  Because if I did, I risked being stopped, and I am the type of person to fixate on an idea so intently that I will not give up until it has come to fruition.  What followed the OD are some of the most painful, graphic things I have ever been through in a hospital emergency room, and I don’t care to relive them.  Let’s just say I had people working hard on me to keep me alive, and I was semi-conscious for many of their procedures.

I know that some people can’t even fathom how one can seriously consider going through a self termination attempt.  And I’m not sure if I can really explain it, and have it make sense.  I was done with everything.  I felt people hated me.  I felt I had proof that they did.  I felt I would be doing people a favor.  People can claim selfishness all they want to.  Even I am not prone to disagree with that statement;  it *is* selfish.  But when you are in such a dark, uncontrollable state, you don’t feel that way.  You genuinely feel like you are doing people a favor by ridding them of your worthless, fucked up being.  You feel like you are being thoughtful, as warped as it sounds.  I know it doesn’t make any sense, but it my mind, it was clear as crystal, and I just wanted everything to stop so I had a chance to be normal.  I physically recovered, and was put into therapy for a long time.

For a while, I was completely bitter.  I felt like someone had taken my choice away from me, and I felt trapped in a life I didn’t even want.  I was a snot to people.  I told people to fuck off.  I told nurses to blow me.  I told doctors they couldn’t fix my goddamn life and make people like me, so “leave me alone.”  You know… months of feeling that way REALLY SUCKS.

Goddamn, I look back at how I really felt and I can’t even imagine telling someone to fuck off.  Well, I mean…I COULD, but not because they were just trying to be helpful.  Christ, I was such a bitch.  And to anyone I was severely toxic to because of my own self loathing and anger:  I am so deeply sorry.

I can’t really determine the exact moment that things got better.  Here I was thinking I was going to explain some grand, epiphany moment with angels singing and birds chirping, but nope!  I got nothing.  This is highly disappointing, actually.  I’d make something up, but that’s not very genuine at all.  All I know is that after I had been suffering the consequences from those dark times, there was a point when I wanted to correct myself.  I wanted to work for it.  This may sound exceedingly silly, but while I was recovering, I was watching a LOT of RuPaul, and as campy and entertaining as he is, he is also extremely wise and inspirational.  I wouldn’t say I took all of my inspiration from him, but it accounted for a lot of it.  “You can transform yourself into anyone you want to be.”  You’re on, RuPaul.

So I took an entire summer off of school and work in hopes of getting my health back in check.  Every day, I did a new work out.  I discovered kickboxing, which I still practice.  I lost 20 pounds, my heart seemed to be beating more regularly, my skin cleared up as I introduced healthy foods into my diet, and without any friends to talk to during that entire summer, I focused very, very intently on *myself.*  Some of it was lonely, and that’s okay.  I rediscovered art, and GASP.  OUTSIDE.  Yep, I went outside sometimes.  I wore all black and dark ass sunglasses, but come on, it’s a start, right?  I also started to convince myself not to rely on others to consistently be happy.  And I am not saying that is a bad thing anyway, because let’s be realistic;  it’s far easier to feel good about yourself when you have the reassurance and support of others, versus you trying to convince you that you’re awesome.  That’s just how it is, and don’t let anyone tell you that depending on other people is wrong.  The most important thing you will do in life is create awesome, fulfilling relationships and friends.  Do not let anyone make you feel guilty for reaching out to them.  And if you reach out to a friend and they are cruel and not receptive, then they are not your friend.  The bridge.  Burn it.

But in that particular span of time, I truly needed to be alone to prove to myself that I could do it.  I could get better, I could take care of my medical conditions, and I could live a lot happier.  And when I fixate on something, I see it through until it comes to fruition.  And I did get better, and I did slowly let my good friends back into my life.  I forgave many.  Not because they necessarily deserved forgiveness, but for my own sanity.  Sometimes forgiving someone else is a good way to heal, even if you forgive them mentally, and end up never saying a word to them.

I graduated with high honors, and excelled in the business world.  And when I felt comfortable, I brought the videos back, which seem to bring me more happiness than they ever had.  I had to leave TGWTG behind (as you most know) because there was a huge mental block there, and I felt that in order to truly start over, I needed to start over with everything.  This isn’t to say I didn’t keep some of the friendships and acquaintances I met through the site.  People are more important to me than just BEING on a popular site.  But I did leave behind the mental block, and the memories associated with that time period.  I’ve made some new friends since, and have found some truly caring people in my life, and I’ve found that they have benefited me and have made me feel special.  We all need to feel special, sometimes.

I decided to get a bigger tattoo piece on my arm after I started feeling physically well again.  It’s a very spacious, colorful piece, that has gears and wires and mechanical flowers in it.  It was supposed to represent a stronger, working body.  Actual, living flowers can wilt and die away in a short period of time, but these mechanical flowers have more staying power. (But now that I think about it, techy things CAN malfunction.  Oops.)  Pretty cheesy, eh?  Regardless, I feel more beautiful than I ever had with this tattoo on my arm, and over time it will also serve as a time piece and reminder of how I proved to myself that I could pick up the pieces, and how I learned to accept the fact that I am not perfect.  I still go through dark times, I still get sad, and scared.  But everybody does.  EVERYBODY is fucked up in some way.  But it’s not our jobs to judge other people or tell other people how screwed up they are.  Worry about your damn self, because in the end, you are all you have.  People will come and go in your life.  I thought that the people I met on AOL while role playing back in the day were going to be my friends forever.  But they came and went, and I know that people I associate with now will also come and go.  But I (and my tattoos) will still be with me.  So dammit, I better take care of me.  (I know, cheesy cheese cheese. Mmm.)

Progress

My huge freakin’ tattoo.

It’s tricky to write about subjects like this.  You never know which middle aged mom will E-mail you about what a bad influence you are, after all!  Haha.  (Hah…I’m…not joking.  A middle aged mom E-mailed me and asked me to remove my Web site from the internet because I am terrible.  Ahem).  But if I could help, inspire, or give at least ONE person some hope, then this long ass blog entry was absolutely worth it.  Some entries like this end on the “woe is me” route, and “I don’t know if I’ll ever get better” route.   Not this one.  Survival of the mind is incredibly challenging, but you can get through it.  You can find something to make you feel worth while, and I believe that no mind is so broken that it cannot be fixed.  Or at least patched up.  And I don’t regret anything of the actions I have taken in the past.  I don’t even regret the fact that I may have burned bridges or offended people, because that brought me here and it all makes me this person.   And perhaps I am a little bit crazy, but if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be me.  So you can either take that and embrace that, or leave it, and I’ll continue on with tweeting about pizza and bad computer games.  And my brain doesn’t like to believe it sometimes, but I’m a strong willed person, and no matter how many people I want to kick in the head and mouth out to, my heart remains in the right place.

Next to my lungs.

 <3

 

Let’s Play: Maniac Mansion (pt 1) Featuring Roo

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

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My [lack thereof] Game Collection

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Oak Lawn, IL, 1989.  I had just turned four.  The golden year.

One fateful evening, my parents took me to my beloved Aunt Carol’s house for a routine pizza dinner and some idle chit-chat between the family.  After I delicately scraped off the melted block of cheese from my pizza and scarfed down the sauce saturated crust, I politely asked my Aunt for an ice cream sandwich as my dessert.  My splattered in sauce self didn’t miss a beat as  I flashed her the Bambi eyes, and she caved.  As usual.

As we went downstairs, my four year old mind racing with the thoughts of ice cream sandwiches (Maybe she’d let me have TWO! :D), I noticed something different.  Hrm.  There was a boxy thing in the corner, on my Aunt’s desk.  What is that thing?  Looks like a TV!  Sweet!

“Can we watch cartoons?” I tugged on my Aunt’s shirt and pointed to the monitor.  She smirked and told me, “That isn’t a television, sweetheart.  It’s a computer.  We can play games on it.”

Something snapped in my four year old brain at that precise moment.  It as probably something important, which explains my current on-going psychosis in the present time, but back then, it was pure excitement.  Games?  I like games.  I like winning.  Games!  Winning!  I can win all the games?!?!?

My Aunt Carol sat me down, and we played King’s Quest 3.  You should have seen how excited I would get just by getting 1 out of 250 points in the game.  That game was my introduction to PC gaming, and from there, I developed a deep love for it.  My aunt bought me many computer games for my birthday, and even supplied my very first computer.  As I got older, I wanted more and more games that were age appropriate.  Sorry EA Kids, but I really shouldn’t be playing Eagle Eye Mysteries at age 12.

The only problem was that my parents didn’t make a lot of money.  So I couldn’t afford computer games.  I had to save up for years to buy King’s Quest 7, which was 50 dollars when it came out.  50 dollars!  Only to buy it on GOG.com years later at a significantly lower price.  *PLUG*

Being a reclusive goth teenager angsty type, I spent a lot of time in my room.  My dark, dank room.  With my lonely, lonely being.  And in my dungeon, I would spend many hours on the internet, researching games.  Because I couldn’t afford games, I would go through any means necessary to play them.  This included finding games on…some less reputable sites,  borrowing games from my friends, saving up money for years, whoring myself.  …Okay, not the latter.  But I may as well have.  My parents did their best, though.  Instead of buying the individual games, they bought me less expensive game collections that game out.  For example, I obtained the King’s Quest,  Space Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry games all on a few CDs.

No matter how I came to playing the games, I was a complete info junkie, and needed to know everything about them.   So I’ve played, and know more about computer games than your average person, but I don’t have any tangible boxes to show for it.  My digital collection is insane, but deep down, I long for boxes.  So.  Many.  Boxes.

I started collecting rare PC game boxes just a few years ago, because I really didn’t have any.  I adore them.  The Neverhood box is maybe one of my most coveted, since it’s a more rare game.

So if you see me squeeing over a boxed game, even if it’s considered a mediocre boxed game, it’s because I could never afford to collect.  When somebody gives me a PC game as a gift, I nearly flip a shit;  it’s like Christmas all over again, sans weird drunk uncle!

Maybe someday, when I am rich from…doing…something that will ultimately make me rich, I’ll buy all of the boxes for my digital games.  And then…I can take over the world!  Or at least build a fort with my boxes.  A sweet, sweet fort.  A dark, dank fort.  For my gothy, angsty being.