the Shadow People pt. 2

Tuesday, March 21, 2017. 12:00 Midnight.

I felt uneasy and stressed the whole night. The previous day, I had a disagreement with my dad. Finals were coming up, deadlines were coming up. It was dark outside. I got into my boyfriend’s car as he was driving me home, I was seated shotgun side, shut the door, placed my backpack on my lap and put my seat belt on. The car light went out. I felt something, like a presence and felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as if someone was breathing on it, and watching me. (My boyfriend told me after the fact that he noticed me breathing heavily and he was calling my name but I was unresponsive, staring straight ahead). He put his hand on my shoulder and loudly called my name. That is when I noticed his hand on my my shoulder, and turned my head to look at him. His hand felt foreign and to be honest, I didn’t recognize him at first or understand what he was saying. (I was told at this point I began hyperventilating).  Then I saw a shadowy human form lying down on the backseat of the car, it’s head on the driver’s seat side so I, on the shotgun side was able to see their whole upper body when I turned my head to look at my boyfriend. As I looked my boyfriend in the eye, in my peripheral vision, I saw the shadowy figure rise to a sitting position and begin to lean forward, reaching for me. I thought it was going to kill me.

(I was told at this point, that my scream and body language of fear was so genuine that my boyfriend actually believed that there was someone in the car. I fumbled and opened the car door, unlocked the seat belt, and jumped out of the car, throwing my backpack onto the wet pavement, and crouched with my back to the car. I was also apparently shaking, crying, and hyperventilating and looking like I was having trouble breathing as if having a panic attack). I do remember the asthmatic-like tightness in my chest as I tried to breathe while trying to look for a place to run away and hide to, and something to defend myself. My boyfriend came around to hold me to calm me down. Eventually I did.

I still had to get home. It was difficult for him to coax me back into the car (because I would starting crying and panicking once I walked towards the car) and we had to check all around the backseat of the car and the surroundings to make sure the shadow person was gone. Finally I entered the car because he turned on all the lights inside the car. It was unsafe, but he drove me home with all the lights on in the car and walked me to the door. I wasn’t planning to let my mom know, but as soon as I stepped into the house and saw her I broke down in tears and told her everything, with the help of my boyfriend over the phone.

It was a valuable lesson for me, despite the scary hallucination. Because I let everyone know of my fear, and they understood how real this fear was, my boyfriend replaced all the old light bulbs in the house, as well as install better lightening to light up all the dark spaces in the house, so it would reduce the possibility of the shadow people appearing. My mom now leaves a dim light on at night so the house isn’t completely dark, and keeps the night lights handy. She also takes extra precautions in case there is a power outage whenever the weather is bad. Dad installed blindingly bright motion detector lights so that the short walk from the car parking to the door is easier (it was previously usually pitch black). It has made everything drastically easier.

However, since that incident, I’ve had to sleep with the lights on in my room. It has caused a drastic change in my sleep schedule as I can’t sleep when it is dark outside despite my room being lit up. I am scared that when I close my eyes, I will feel something breathing on my face and neck again, and when I open my eyes I fear seeing the shadow people in their now more realistic form, hovering over my bed. I can’t sleep at night without fearing the shadow people popping up in my lit-up room because as far as I’m concerned, when I close my eyes and see the darkness behind my eyelids, it is enough fuel for the shadow people. I’m more vulnerable to panicking when I am in the dark since I’ve gotten a taste of how terrifying it is. My heart rate rises when I’m in the dark and I need to turn the lights on or they will come. I am afraid to see something so frightening and fear for my life-like that again. Now I stay away from anything scary, including: YouTube gaming videos of Resident Evil (which I used to watch), horror comics, being careful of ads (in case they are a trailer for horror movies…. which has happened and I almost peed my pants), many things involving supernatural things… ect. Also now I get scared at sudden movements even more, or break down crying when someone (unintentionally) scares me.

I have talked to my psychiatrist about this issue. I have the option of taking some anxiety medications (due to the panic attacks and anxiety symptoms I get, but I don’t have anxiety), or I also have the option of taking sleeping pills to, y’unno, help me get rid of my beautiful dark circles and help me fall asleep before the ungodly hours of 5AM (I’m typing this right now at 2AM). I chose neither. Why? Because I’m a stubborn asshole that thinks she can handle everything by sheer will alone even though my mental state is a fucking mess…. Also I don’t want to deal with the side effects. The lithium side effects are barely manageable for me. I can’t deal with the anxiety ones or the sleeping pills. The negatives outweigh the benefit of the drugs. I am also tired of taking so many medications all the time. I just want to go back to “normal” even though I will never go back to that state of medicine and mental illness free bliss.

My psychiatrist suggested one last treatment option which I am not ready to start yet. It is forcing myself to be exposed to my fears in frequent short periods that increase in length as I get better, and treating myself after each session. Basically I’m making myself into Pavlov’s dog and conditioning myself to get over my fear. Except I’m both Pavlov and Pavlov’s dog…. so does that make me Schrodinger’s cat?

 

P.S. I’ve put this off for a while because I have shitty habit of delaying anything related to my mental health and in writing and in reality. (I mean really, I delayed asking for help last year with my mental health until I literally needed to go to emergency. Go figure.)

 

the Shadow People pt.1

Whatever you do, don’t Google that. I did once in an attempt to understand myself, and it scared the shit outta me, which made everything worse! Whoohooo 🙂

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while, but I just didn’t know how to approach it. I mean, how do you summarize your life experiences and condense it so it is understandable, even though you, yourself doesn’t understand it?

Basically whenever I am in a low/depressed /stressed/tired mood, and I walk past a dark room/ dark area, I feel like there is someone or something watching me standing in that dark spot. I’m too scared to analyze it like a protagonist in a horror movie. My reaction is to GTFO or casually  speed walk away as if everything is normal (but my heart is pounding and the hairs on my body are standing).

They look like faceless black mannequins with no defined body features. Like an androgynous bald shadow. They’re usually standing with legs and arms slightly apart. What would be the face is staring at me, and the head rotates to follow my direction.  I don’t know if it’s the same one each time. But I know if I turn the lights on in that room where it appeared in or shine a flashlight on it, it will vanish/ teleport away to haunt in another lightless place.

Power outages are my weakness. I used to cry and panic as a 10-13 year old. Parents didn’t know why though…. just thought the shock of sudden blackness. As I grew older I managed to hide it and not panic, but my heart would be racing as I tried to find a source of light. (Side note: thank god for cell phone flashlights!)

It’s embarrassing because I’m not afraid of the dark… I’m afraid of the things in the dark. I feel pathetic if I tell someone about this because I don’t want to seem like a coward or be judged. I absolutely hate being called a coward (possibly more than being called short, because height is a fact, and I’ve gotten used to the teasing/ developed ways to calm myself whe pissed at short jokes). It is disappointing because I can public speak, I can kill spiders, I can scream profanities at catcallers, I can do so much, but when I’m sad at night and I turn the lights off to sleep, I am afraid of that thing that appears over my bed. I don’t even know what it wants!! To kill me? Strangle me? Just watch and stare at me all night? Knowing what it wants would help because I could think “What’s the worse that can happen….. (_______) me”? I just want to get things over with… but apparently my agenda doesn’t coincide with that of the shadow people.

Fun fact, when I was 13 or so, I had a dream where I woke up and was still in my bed. A shadowy figure that was shaped like me was standing at the foot of my bed. It jumped up and landed on me…. and I actually felt it. It strangled me and I felt like I couldn’t breathe (sleep paralysis hooray). Finally it took a knife out and stabbed me and I “died” (aka fell back asleep). It has stuck with me ever since as it has been one of the most vivid sleep paralysis incidents with shadow people involved. There has been more than one incident unfortunately.

Seeing the shadow people also gets worse when there is “fuel” for my imagination. Eg. if I watch a scary movie or see a goddamned Facebook Ad for a scary movie trailer that was COMPLETELY uncalled for nor had any warnings *cough*. I’ve tried getting over my fear by using the Resident Evil video game series. But (1) I start shaking the moment I start the game (2) the zombie jumpscares and the creatures the creep up behind scare the fuck outta me (3) watching game plays of it on YouTube help but the gruesome images are stuck in my head (4) scientifically the gruesome creatures are fascinating but not when the lights are out and my imagination goes berserk.

Curiously, I am completely okay with haunted houses. During and after haunted houses I do not get scared. Nor do they provide fuel for my overreative imagination. But I am not okay when I get scared on purpose or accidentally in broad daylight or indoors at home. I do not get scared at school or public places both with or without lights. Public washrooms are an exception… they are public and have lots of people using them BUT if the lights are off/ there is a power outage and there are mirrors in the washroom, I’d rather pee in a bush. All the scares happen in secluded, usually private settings with few to no people other than myself. And of course, without lights. I also cannot look in a mirror in a dark setting. I feel scared of reflections in a mirror and sometimes don’t recognize myself, or fear seeing a shadow person standing behind me in the mirror.

To be honest, I’ve learned to adapt to this. Lights, lights, never enough lights. The price for this is a high electricity bill but hey, it’s better than hallucinating! This hasn’t been much of a handicap until last month, which will be explained in detail in my next post.

Why did I write this at 4AM? I can’t sleep anymore thanks to all those visuals. Ugh

4:41 AM

I can’t sleep. I’m worried about my turtle, Popcorn. I’ve got 5 (yes, FIVE) turtles: Watermelon, Big Mac, Cheeseburger, Pizza, and Popcorn. The biggest is Watermelon (HUGE AND HEAVY, weighs god-knows-how-much, and requires two strong hands to hold, and picking her up involves the whole body) is the biggest followed by Big Mac, Cheeseburger, Pizza, and Popcorn is the smallest (slightly larger than a closed fist). Aggressive Pizza and flirty Popcorn are brothers. Always hungry Big Mac and cowardly Cheeseburger are a pair; gal pal BFFs. Watermelon… well I posted on here about her a year ago about how I found her. Fun fact, Popcorn likes to flirt with Watermelon…. whom is quite literally at least 10X (ten times) his weight and size. Popcorn is always rejected. Turtle interactions are entertaining. 

Popcorn hasn’t been eating for the past few days and spends all his time curled up out of water on his sunbathing rocks. As of yesterday, he has a bit of a runny nose on top of all that. He is quite sick. 

Today he has been transferred to his own isolated aquarium where the water is warmer and he has a warm UV light concentrated on him during the day. I really hope the warmth allows his immune system to get rid of his sickness. There are no turtle specialist animal hospitals nearby and I don’t want to travel far away to one with a distressed and sick turtle. The trip might do more harm than good. 

Also I feel very bad because I was entrusted by the first caretakers of Popcorn and Pizza to take care of them, twoish years ago. I don’t want to let them down. In addition, all my turtles are a big, happy family together and it wouldn’t feel right or happy if one passed away. I would look at Pizza every time and apologize that his brother passed away because of my incompetence. I don’t want that to happen. But I don’t know what else to do. I feel helpless, useless, and worried. All that has been done has been done. I hate this waiting and hoping. I love each and every one of them and I feel terrible because Popcorn is so sick and I don’t know what more to do. I wish I could help. I expected all my babies to outlive me, not die young. 

One of my life goals is to have an outdoor all-season garden greenhouse and build a large pond in that greenhouse. All my 5 turtles will swim and be free and warm and safe in the locked greenhouse. The greenhouse floor will be filled with edible greens, the pond will be gigantic, sparkling clean and filled with fish to hunt, and food to eat. There will be lots of rocks everywhere for them to climb. It will be called “Amanda’s Turtle Sanctuary”. Popcorn needs to hang on until I can build it. 

The Legend of Korra: Book 1

I’ve watched the sequel to “Avatar: the Last Airbender” in my first year of university when my mental turmoil began and really related to the messages in the series. Recently, I’ve introduced my boyfriend to “Avatar: The Legend of Korra” so he is watching for the first time, while I watch it for the second time. Watching it again allows me to analyze it instead of bawling my eyes out like I did when I first watched it. Hey, it gets pretty emotional okay? Unpopular opinion but, I like “The Legend of Korra” more than “The Last Avatar”. I feel as if the 17-19 year old Korra is more relatable than a 10-year old fun-loving kid. Sure I watched “The Last Airbender” when I was around Aang’s age, but I didn’t understand the complex plot, and focused on the funny stuff. After re-watching Aang’s story, I found that it lacked depth and was more about the shits and giggles. It was kid-audience oriented. I enjoy watching Korra more as it is relatable.

Korra is a sheltered young adult nearing her twenties and has somewhat literally the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her parents sheltered her and provided from her, and she has no idea what the real world is like and is trying to learn about society while gaining independence. I feel that the children who outgrew Aang and now come back to the series with Korra, a protagonist the same age as them, can relate to her. As a more adult oriented series, the series has become darker and contains hidden messages while maintaining the family oriented exterior.

I’d like to share some relatable quotes that stuck with me and may or may not have made me cry the first time I watched it. That being said from here on it is SPOILER ALERT FOR SEASON 1.

“You’re the smartest, funniest, toughest, buffest, talentedest, incrediblest girl in the world!” – Bolin

I was like: YES!!! When this was said. Bolin, a young male friend of Korra’s, was trying to win her over romantically. But instead of calling her beautiful and reducing her to appearance (which often happens in reality when a guy tries to win over a woman by using her appearance or falling in love based on appearance) he pointed out her other amazing traits. This wonderful make role model gave so many flattering compliments… none about appearance!!! It is so important for a TV show that has a child and family orientated audience to include that to demonstrate the need to look beyond appearance!!!

“Admitting your fears is the first and most difficult step in overcoming them.” – Tenzin

I cried when first seeing this scene. Korra was keeping her fears to herself all bottled up and struggling by herself. Until, at this scene, she finally broke down and spilled the truth to her mentor. She admitted her fears (which occurred through several episodes as we watched her suffer) and truely cried for the first time shown to the audience. Keep in mind she prided herself in being fearless and believed she was invincible because she is the Avatar, but at that moment she realized that being physically strong and appearing tough isn’t the way to go. She realizes mental fears must be discussed with others because bottling it up inside and fighting fears all alone will eventually weaken the physical state too as we can only bottle up so much.

I really related to that scene. And yes I cried the first time watching it. Because Korra had the same coping strategies as I did, and I knew how it felt to finally spillover and breakdown after pretending I was tough for so long. The scene felt so realistic and I couldn’t believe it is a family oriented show with amazing life messages. Korra finally opened up about her fears and got support and guidance. This is important. Opening up, admitting your issues and talking to people is the first step in recovery. For my mental issues too, talking to friends, writing about them, ect. helps me understand myself and receive help when needed. And yes, it is the most difficult step, as Tenzin said. Because I had to get over my pride and get rid of my self-image, and admit the shameful feeling of being weak. After admitting it (never again denying it or running away), one accepts the fact, and can work to get over it.

“When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change.” – Avatar Aang

Korra, stripped of her bending, is implied to be contemplating suicide (of course it wasn’t too obvious due to the family orientation, but it was hidden). She runs away from her loved ones and stood at the edge of a high clif as her teardrop falls over the edge. Then sits and cries. If she jumped and died, then the avatar cycle would allow the next avatar to be reincarnated with their full powers back. She feels worthless because her identity was removed. An avatar that can’t bend is no avatar. Then Aang appears (in spiritual form), says the above quote, and restored her powers.

When watching this scene for the second time yesterday, I was reminded of myself last year. I felt like shit during my lowest depression episode and didn’t want myself to do anything drastic (like hurt myself of contemplate the same as Korra) after a close call a few weeks ago. You could say I was at my lowest. I was desperate and reached out to a friend and admitted to them that I needed help. I just didn’t care anymore and was desperate to not feel like shit. An hour later I was safe in the Emergency and got connections to the help I needed and the medications I’m currently taking. Rewatching Korra at that scene really made me remember and relate to that quote that I was, in fact, most open to change when I was at my lowest.

“The morning is evil” – Korra

Need I say more? Let’s end on a happy, humorous quote.