Saturday, July 29, 2017

Stalker

My Freshman year was the year a seed of mistrust was planted towards the male species.

At this point, I was old enough to recognize odd things about some men in my church and other men I knew through my parents. Mom never specifically said to avoid them, but I never got a good feeling in my stomach when I was around them. She even had to sit me down and warn me away from some of my cousins who were known child molesters, but my extended family members were too cowardly and afraid of offending each other to actually turn these disgusting male cousins in.

All my life, my mom has had a mistrust of men (the reason behind this mistrust I didn’t learn until I was a senior in high school). The only men she trusted in her life were Dad, Grandpa, and some of her brothers. I don’t blame Mom for my mistrust in men, but it definitely attributed to my own development. However, the real reason behind my mistrust of males in general is hardly ever—outside of my family—has A) men noticed me and B) treated me with respect and C) been genuinely kind toward me. I’ve had most guys consider me an inconvenience, and said I wasn’t worth their time. Two guys I thought I trusted even straight out told my best friend these very things. I will certainly say I do not mistrust men as a whole. I am merely VERY cautious about them. And honestly, to this day I’m still majorly surprised—even flabbergasted—when a man treats me with kindness (this does NOT include my Dad and Grandpa and some of my uncles—they are gentlemen, I’ll have you know).

This doesn’t mean to say I stopped crushing on boys. Oh no, I was just as boy crazy as any other girl my age. It was mostly older guys I began to mistrust.

Reason being?

I had a stalker.

Me, being stupid and naïve, was originally super excited that a boy was actually paying attention to me. I even talked to him once before things got really weird. Thank goodness I have a gut radar warning me away from creeps.

I still remember when he first noticed me.

He was a Junior and although we didn’t have the same computer class, ours was combined that day for a visiting presenter. She talked about the psychology of attraction. Gag, right? I was late to class for some reason, and everyone saw me walk in and sit by myself.

The presenter talked about how when people are attracted to each other, they start to sit in similar positions, and their pupils dilate.

The minute she said this, a shot of fire began burning on the side of my cheek. I slowly turned and saw my stalker staring at me. (Let’s call him Huff).

Of course, this was the first time I had ever seen him, and like I mentioned before, was excited an attractive boy was actually paying attention to me.

After this lesson, he started following me around at school. His friends started sitting close to me and my friends at lunch. When I got too stressed about my honors biology class and started studying in the library with a friend after we ate, he and sometimes his friends would come to the library too.

Our computer classes were right next to each other, and I finally had to hold my need to use the restroom during that class, because he would time when I would leave and he would go too. He would always smile and wave at me in the hallway, and I would get a gross feeling in my stomach. As it went a little longer, he started muttering stuff under his breath as I walked by. Again, I don’t remember what he said and I often didn’t hear him, but when I did, it was never good and often sexual.

Huff even had the gall to come and sit right in front of me when I was in the library. There were four seats at the table. It was just me and my friend (we’ll call her Amanda), until Huff showed up. His beautiful blue eyes just watched me the whole time. He never said a word to me, but Huff’s friends started talking about some raunchy stuff and cussing up a storm. Huff’s second hand man turned to me and said, “Hey you with the hair, why aren’t you talking?”

I was paralyzed with fear, because not only was Huff—who had been following me around for weeks (and I made sure it was actually me and not a friend he was following. I would be with one friend, then pause and go in the opposite direction back to someone else I knew I was safe around. And low and behold, no matter who I was with, Huff was there)—staring at me, but so were all his friends.

Amanda, thank goodness, was brave enough and aware of this kid’s stalking that she told them all to shove off.

Then Huff became best friends with my neighbor who was still an eighth grader.

Soon, his jet black truck with the bright blue Arizona license plate was commonly parked in my cul-de-sac. I knew what his car looked like because I had early morning Seminary, and he would watch me and my friends walk back to campus while he was still sitting in his car.

One night, I was hanging out with (we’ll call her Layla—she’s the friend I’ve had since elementary school I mentioned in Junior Hell) Layla who lived about six houses down from me. I normally just walk to and from her house, no matter how late it was. However, when I was getting ready to leave, Layla said she got a really bad feeling in her stomach about letting me walk. I shrugged—because at this point I didn’t know Huff was friends with my neighbor—and said she was being silly. She kept insisting and I finally let her drive me.

Thank the heavens I did. My neighbor’s parents were gone, so naturally, there was this huge party outside. Red solo cups, stereotypical, alcohol filled party.

Layla pulled as close into my driveway as she could without hitting my Mom’s van. The minute I got out of my car—because somehow Huff also knew I often rode in this car, how else would he know to watch for and not my siblings—he started walking toward me. I ran into the house, heart pounding. My parents asked what was wrong, but I thought I was making something out of nothing, so I shrugged and went to bed.

One day, when Mom was driving us to Grandma’s, he was sitting out in his truck. I screamed and ducked my head near the glove compartment. It was then she demanded I tell her what was going on.

She told me if he ever touched me, I needed to tell her and call the police.

Thankfully it never came to that. He started following me less and less my sophomore year—his senior year. My guess is because I also told my neighbor about him and what I would do if he kept stalking me. Thank goodness he also turned out to be a coward. I can’t even explain how relived I was when he finally left school. I don’t think he even graduated.

The reason I was so excited when he first started noticing me is because boys never do. Now I’m an adult, they still don’t, but I react far better when they do. I rather not have another stalker. My friends would always tell me how surprised they were I actually talked to a boy—yeah, that helped my self-esteem—but maybe that’s why Huff started to really stalk me. Maybe my talking to him encouraged him? I don’t know. I’m just thankful to this very day things didn’t get worse.


Always and Forever,
Natalie Carroll

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Freshman Bullies

Gag me. Freshman year of freaking high school.

Worst year of school in my entire life.

Okay, that’s a lie. It’s the second worst. My worst occurred within college, but I’ll tell you about that later.

Remember how I said my friend group started branching out and making more friends? Well, it continued. And again, I only really liked my original group. The new coming members didn’t really acknowledge my existence, and I only got invited to things because I was a part of the “originals.” (Yes, that is what my original friend group started referring themselves as).

If people thought I was quiet in junior high, they had no idea what they were getting this freshman year. A brick wall, a thousand feet thick, and guarded with knights in shining armor.

I made some acquaintances who were kind to me, and there was this one girl in my orchestra class who started becoming my friend. We knew each other in junior high orchestra, but we didn’t talk much. She started sitting next to me in class and throughout high school, she became my closest friend. I seriously love that girl. She saved my life in so many ways.

Pause.

I know I’m talking a lot about the negative things that have happened to me, but I want you to understand I am genuinely a happy person. I did my best to remain positive through all the crap that happened, but the defensive and coping mechanisms only enhanced my anxiety. I don’t hate anyone. I don’t blame anyone. I, for the most part, have forgiven everyone who has hurt me, and am working harder than ever to forgive the ones I haven’t yet.

Again, this blog is an exploration of why I have anxiety and a mild form of PTSD, and how it came about. Which means, I do have to tell you a lot about the negative.

I love my life. I wouldn’t change anything that happened. I love the person I am now, and without these experiences, I wouldn’t be as strong.

Continue.

This year was the first time I ever experienced bullying. It happened in gym class—cliché right? At this point in my life, I was NOT fit. Like, at all. As I mentioned last post, I was the DUFF. I weigh less now (and am still healthy, thank you) than I did all throughout Junior High and High School. So, gym class was not my favorite and exercising with others watching humiliated me.

And these girls caught on.

I started hanging out with a girl in gym who I knew from junior high and who had always been kind to me. Yet, in this class she got into the clique of well…not so nice girls.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if my acquaintance defended and stood up for me, but…standing up against bullies was a direct path to becoming a social pariah.

I didn’t understand what was going on at first. I honestly thought these girls were just being stupid. One of them was in another class of mine, and always asked to cheat off me. She would praise me for how intelligent I was, but I still never let her copy. She would mutter something under her breath, but then leave it alone until the next assignment. It wasn’t until they really started directing their hostility towards me, and began locking me out of various rooms during our group activities I got the hint.

People called me naïve, in fact, they still do. But I promise I’m not. Despite knowing what’s going on, I still look for the best in people and hope for the best, and only after it starts becoming detrimental to my mental health and stability do I finally leave the relationship. (This is strictly speaking of these bullies and abusive relationships I have been in—all which will be explained).

It was when they locked me out of a room in front of the rest of my class, I finally had enough. Doing my best not to cry from the humiliation wrenching my heart, I asked a girl who I knew was unconditionally nice to everyone if I could join her group.

Why I hadn’t joined her group from the beginning? I was afraid. I didn’t know her as well as I knew the girl who turned out to be a coward. I made the easy choice, which turned out to be the WORST choice.

I stayed with her and those girls in gym for the rest of that year. Again, I was taught not everyone was as unkind as those girls, and people had hearts. I don’t remember a lot of what those bullies said to me—I think I’ve repressed most of it, but I still get suck a sick, humiliated feeling when I recall about the way they treated me.

From the moment I first offended someone, my mother has always taught me, “Be nice, and no one will have anything bad to say about you.”

This is only sort of true. Those bullies said a lot of crap about me, but…at least they could never honestly say I was unkind back.

Always and Forever,
Natalie Carroll

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Junior Hell

Another awful aspect of Junior High that contributed to my anxiety was lovely self-esteem issues. In elementary school—at least, when I was in elementary—we didn’t care what we looked like. Sure we would complement each other when we looked nice, but no one cared if you were fat, skinny, dumb, smart, athletic, or nerdy. For the most part, we were all really nice to each other.

Then Junior Hell hit, and suddenly cliques began to form, and if you didn’t fit, you were a social outcast.

My friends from elementary were social hits and butterflies, so I survived there. But I didn’t really make a whole lot of friends outside of my original group. I made a few, but they always ended up moving.

Also, puberty began. And I had AWFUL acne. Like, embarrassingly awful. My mother—the saint she is—got me into a dermatologist immediately. But, due to my awful skin, it wasn’t until High School my face decided to actually battle away the plague.

So here I am, anxiety ridden twelve to thirteen year old me, who is only acknowledged by others outside my friend group when others realize I’m smart and get good grades…or when they wanted to make fun of my acne.

Yeah, this really made me a fan of people.

This was the time in our lives when if you had something yummy for lunch, people would ask you for it. When you had gum, kids swarmed and begged you for even a bitten off, miniscule piece.

Honestly, I have forgiven this kid, but what he said to me will never leave my mind. Ever.

That saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Is one of the biggest lies anyone ever told. I rather be physically beaten then manipulated and hurt by words. Physical wounds heal quickly, but emotional and mental wounds remain forever—even if their power diminishes, they never disappear.

One day, I opened a new pack of Orbit Winter Mint gum (my favorite minty gum) in Second Hour Social Studies. The plastic caught, and when I tugged, the packet flew open and little individually wrapped gum pieces scattered around my desk. This kid, who was never kind to me in the first place decided this would be a wonderful time to send another barb into my weakened heart.

Clearly, getting a piece of gum was far more important than treating others with kindness.

He said, “Hey Natalie, can I have a piece of gum? You know if you chew less gum, your acne will go away.”

Forever seared into my brain. Which is so stupid right? Well…it is. It doesn’t bother me anymore, but as a thirteen-year-old eighth grader, it stung. I’m proud to say that even though I didn’t answer him, I didn’t give him gum ever again.

Eighth grade was also the year I had a really good time with my close friends. It was definitely the best year I had with hanging out with them outside of school, but the end of eighth grade also marked the beginning of me becoming invisible.

From this point on, no one expect for my family, even knew who I truly was. They stopped seeing me. They stopped caring. No longer was I an interesting person. I was simply a tag-a-long, or as that one novel defines it: the DUFF.

There was only one friend I had, at this point, who I knew without a doubt actually cared about me. Sure there were times when I was afraid I annoyed her, or was too clingy, but she seriously was the reason I survived school throughout elementary to high school graduation. We aren’t close anymore, but we are also different people. To this day she remains one of the kindness humans that have ever walked this earth. I thank God for people who understand what it means to truly be kind.

It’s not that I didn’t care about my other friends. In some cases I probably cared too much, but she was the only one who made me feel welcome and wanted every time I was around.

Always and Forever,
Natalie Carroll

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My Origin Story

Every strong, lead character has an origin story, right? A past which has molded and shaped them into the brave hero/heroine, and makes them loveable and relatable?

Once I discovered I had an anxiety disorder, and therefore understood I wasn’t legitimately crazy and with a LOT of help from my counselor, I was able to identify my origin story.

Way back when, in the monstrous hell of junior high, is where my anxiety began to seed itself into my psyche.

Elementary school was fine, I didn’t care about grades, and I had awesome friends. But the minute those hormones hit, the changing of a girl into a woman, definitely sent things into a frenzy. Granted, every tween and early teen deals with an identity crisis and who they are meant to be.

Funny thing is, I didn’t suffer from an identity crisis…or at least, not in a traditional way. I still had my amazing friends from elementary—so that was nice—but I was also incredibly shy. I would walk around campus, head down, walking a million miles per hour, clutching my violin case until my knuckles were white.

Yeah, I was shy.

But, I was also smart and a hard worker.

Part of my anxiety disorder includes perfectionism. All which originated in these tremulous years of junior high. My friends were nice to me, but they began to make more friends—ones I didn’t particularly like at first (and even then it grew to more of a tolerance and will to survive socially in high school).

It came to a point where people only started noticing me because of the good grades I received. People labeled me as the smart one. They knew they could ask me for answers and I would know them. Kids often asked to cheat off me, but my parents taught me well, and I also felt too guilty—the whole gut clenching, clammy feeling—after I let just one kid do it.

Part of this is my fault, had I reached out and talked more, people might have noticed me differently, but that’s not what happened. And honestly, at that time, that’s not who I was.

My perfectionism—my anxiety—all began when people outside of my family (my family is awesome, they are not the reason for my anxiety) only saw me for how well I did academically. My value, for years to come, would be tied only to my academic success.

When you’re twelve, you never realize how that might affect you as a college student.

Here’s my origin story. I can’t even explain how discovering this has helped me realize and overcome a lot of my anxiety issues. It’s a hard and grueling process. Mine included many heartbreaking sobs and times of darkness, but knowing where my anxiety all started has brought light into my life.

Find your origin story. It’s not easy, but I promise it’s worth it. Nothing that’s easy is worth much.


Always and Forever,
Natalie Carroll

A Little Explanation

All right, here goes. I’ve been book blogging for several years now, but the other day I felt the inspiration to elaborate on my story.

My name is Natalie Carroll, and I suffer from Anxiety and a mild form of PTSD.

This blog will simply be about how I handle life. The reason I call it, “My Story, My Crazy,” is because before I knew I had an anxiety disorder, I thought I was going insane. There was no reason why I should be panicking over such dumb things or getting ridiculously stressed over the smallest task.

I don’t have any other hope for this blog other than maybe giving someone comfort that they’re not alone, and someone else knows exactly what they’re going through. (And, I think this will be therapeutic for me).

I will try to keep each entry short, because who wants to read a novel blog post? But, the formatting will go as well, as I write. I will also attempt to post once a week, but I’m still a senior college student, so forgive me if I miss a week or two.

In all honesty, I hope this helps you. Or, if you don’t struggle from these things, at least it will give you a better understanding so you can help those around you who do suffer.


Always and Forever,
Natalie Carroll





An Ode To Page

Once upon a time, awkward twelve-year-old Natalie got into seventh grade orchestra with very few of the people she had been in orchestra wit...