... or maybe there are 2 stupid mistakes...or a ridiculous amount that you can no longer count. Either way, we have all been there! You know, that time in your life that makes you bow your head in shame when people bring it up. As painful as those times are to remember, they are the times where we truly developed into the strong person we are today. We have to admit that we just would not be quite the same without that experience, whether we enjoyed it or not.
Where we left off . . .
In my last post, I shared the story of how I discovered that I had Major Depressive Disorder (my formal diagnosis) and how I recovered by seeking help. I started taking antidepressants for the first time and quickly adjusted to this new routine. In less time than anyone could have predicted, I started to recover! I was full of freedom, joy, and light. I was starting my first year of university on the right foot!
You might also recall that my 2 year-long relationship with my high school boyfriend came to an end the night before my first day of school. This major change was definitely difficult at first, but I pushed past this pain too (probably too fast). I reconnected with my old friend, Erica (not her actual name). She was probably my CLOSEST friend in high school, but we had a silly fight in the beginning of senior year and decided to end our friendship. Well, now we were starting university together in the same program (English literature). Although we had not even spoken in months, our friendship took off almost instantly. Before long, we were closer friends than we were in high school! The excitement and busy bustle of new classes, new friends, and campus life were all the distractions I needed from my recent break-up. Also, let's not forget that I was depression-free for about a month now and damn, I felt good!
Big changes weren't just happening in school. Even when I came home, my suburban home was shook up (literally) by my brother's brand new band. This band was unusual; I cannot even really tell you what genre of music they were playing. It was really instrumental and intricate and unlike anything on my iPod to say the least! My brother was only 15, but the members of his band were much older than him (and me even)! The next youngest band member after my brother was my age (18 at this time). The rest of the members were in their 20's, which seemed so old to me.
However, these details are not the most unusual details about this band. These men came from a life immensely different from my own. They by no means lived the charmed life that my brother and I were accustomed to. Almost all of the band members had long, long hair (longer than mine). They were tough and rugged-looking, and they were loud, shamelessly bold, and slightly intimidating to 18-year-old me. When the band first started practicing in the basement, I definitely experienced some sort of culture shock. I did not know what to make of these boisterous, aggressive strangers storming into my family's life, cigarette smoke and all. At first, I decided to retreat from all band interaction. I stayed out of the way. No eye contact, no conversations, no thank-you! This was not because I thought that I was "better" than them but because I was terrified. However, as each day passed, I became desensitized to the band's presence at my house. I really had no choice. They practically lived at the house, and even my parents were growing to really like these strangers. In fact, my whole family was focused on this band because my parents wanted to support my brother's drumming. If I didn't get on board with this excitement, I would miss out on the most exciting thing to happen to the Downie family.
Slowly, I started to make my way down to the basement to watch band practices when my parents were down there. I was pleasantly surprised by how intrigued I was by this odd music. I also loved to watch my brother drum (he is pretty much a prodigy). However, I began to notice someone else too. One particular band member caught my attention in a way that confused me to the core. This man was not my type at all! He had long hair down to the small of his back, which he whipped in circles while he played the guitar. I am sure you can already see where this story is going...
Simultaneously, Erica was beginning to introduce me to the party life. I know it's hard to believe, but I honestly made it through high school without touching alcohol or anything really. I lived in an innocent suburban box my whole life, but I could feel a new "me" ready to break free. I made new friends through Erica, which was easy now that my social anxiety was history! In fact, I was confident in social situations, and I wanted to keep partying. The party life became more enticing, and I FINALLY drank for the first time! At age 18, I finally found out what drunk felt like. Well, if you remember the first time you got drunk with friends, you know how I felt! I was thrilled, and I could not get enough of this new kind of fun.
That first month of university was one jam-packed month! I had long days at school with intense assignments and a new school routine unlike anything I have ever experienced. At the same time, I was counting down the days until the weekend when I could party with my friends until the early hours of the morning. University had me in for quite a shock initially; I finished high school with a 92% average, but I was receiving 65% and 70% on my assignments. It probably did not help that Erica and I started to skip classes occasionally. We both never really skipped high school classes, so being able to miss a class without punishment was a new thrill. No worries though! By the end of September, I was pulling A's again and still having fun as often as I could.
Life was so thrilling at this point! The combination of a speedy depression recovery and an intense whirlwind of change made it impossible for me to approach any situation with caution. So let's go back to that guitar player . . .
The confusing feelings continued to develop week after week until I knew that I was in trouble! Before I knew it, I was hanging out with him and the rest of the band. Over the months of October and November, I was introduced to a way of life that I would have never imagined before. Good-bye old Quinn, hello crazy, wild Quinn! I started drinking heavily on weekends, taking impromptu bus rides to the city without telling anyone, hanging out in grungy apartments and alleyways, and sliding deeper and deeper into wonderland. Band Guy and I were now in an actual relationship to my parents' astonishment. I think this relationship astonished anyone who knew me. Even Erica was in disbelief, but she was on board with my new way of life. She was my side kick on this wild journey to the dark side. As my relationship with Band Guy became more and more serious, I spent more time in the grungiest places you can imagine! On the weekends, I lived for heavy drinking and joint smoking with Band Guy and his friends; I loved how his friends looked at me with bewilderment. I felt like a zoo animal on exhibit every time I met one of his friends; I was so clearly out of my element here, but I kept getting sucked into this mad life.
My parents were getting more and more concerned. My mom was initially excited when she found out that I was dating someone from the band, but as my parents learned more about how these men lived, they were becoming certain that they did not want their daughter living that way. The warnings were becoming more frequent, but I would not heed them! I played my life by all the rules until now. It was my time to break all of the rules that I set for myself in the past. I thought that I knew what I was doing. I thought that I could free-fall into the abyss and someone would catch me. The problem is, I didn't want to be caught; I wanted to drunkenly float in this strange world. There was no going back to the conservative life of my past. That girl was powerless, but I believed that this girl was bold, strong, and fearless. This girl would never feel numb again. I kept seeking the next thrill, placing myself willingly in increasingly more dangerous situations. Every time that I crossed a new limit, I was already looking for the next line to cross.
Somehow between all of this, my grades remained high. I also fell in love with my psychology classes and made the decision to change my major to psychology. My experience with mental illness inspired an interest and drive toward the psychology field; I wanted to learn as much as possible about my illness so that it could never catch me again! I also wanted to learn how to help others with the same illness, especially now that I knew how scary illness of the mind could truly be.
Little did I know that, the more I tried to run from my depression, the more I ran into its clutches. I was falling in love with the euphoria that came with being drunk and high in the roughest areas of the city. Not to mention that being in a relationship with someone who went against all of my parents' (and my own) standards gave me a rush.
The novelty of this relationship brought excitement. I was warned by multiple people that Band Guy could be womanizing and abusive to past girlfriends, but I believed that I would be different. I believed that I could "change" this man because I already brought out his softer side. I thought that Band Guy was misunderstood and that I was the one who understood him.
Does this sound familiar? I am sure that you can see the danger here. It did not take long for dream land to fade. Reality hit me like a boulder to the face. My "misunderstood" melancholic brooder was becoming the shape of my worst nightmares. The fights started slowly, but picked up momentum quickly. We yelled like I have never known anyone to yell. The words in our fights spat out of my mouth with a hatred I have never known. This was when I learned what hatred actually was and that I have never truly hated anyone before. When I was alone after a fight, I cried until my stomach wanted to explode, I was punching walls and pulling my own hair with uncontrollable frustration.
When things were good, I felt like I was flying. He excited me in ways that scared me, but the thrill kept me holding on. The fights were just as thrilling. The heat between us could light the city on fire. I yelled until I was hoarse. He yelled and clenched his fists. Do you know how much power words truly have? I didn't know until now; his words cut through me like knives, and I slashed back shamelessly. I stooped to lows that kept getting lower; I was losing myself, but I would not fight for myself. Instead, I would fight for him. I would fight to keep him and to be what he wanted me to be. I knew that we were going through a tough patch; things would get better.
Things did not get better. Things got worse until they were so bad that I knew they could not get worse. And then they got worse. The thrill of the fall faded by the end of the winter. My friends were concerned, and my family was scared shitless. No one was as scared as I was, but I would never admit it. I kept insisting that I was okay and that no one understood him like I did. This was LOVE . . . or so I thought. Erica stayed up with me countless more nights as I cried my eyes dry and then cried more. She watched me scream into my phone at my boyfriend, spitting hurtful words with venom.
I have never seen this side of you, Quinn, and I don't ever want to again
These were the words that I heard from my best friend as she stared at me in bewilderment. I had just hung up the phone after what I thought to be "just a fight." This relationship was bringing out sides of me that I hated. I kept sliding lower, and I kept saying such hurtful things. I kept hearing such hurtful things. My heart was trapped in a cycle of shatter and repair, shatter and repair, shatter and repair . . . and I did not know how to break the cycle. I didn't want to break the cycle . . . at least not enough.
And so it went. More venom, more screams, and the most intense crying sessions you can possibly imagine. Everyone knew that we needed to be apart. Everyone but us. We kept holding onto this glowing coal, allowing the heat to eat away at our skin until there was nothing left.
I kept drinking, and I kept smoking. I numbed my pain with whatever distraction I could find. My first year of school came to a close with a spot on the dean's list. Somehow through this helter skelter of a year, I managed to secure a spot in the top 15% of my class. I knew that I was made for more than this dead-end life of drugs, alcohol, and poisonous "love." Still, I would not let go. I would not prove to my friends and family that they were right! I would show them that Band Guy was changeable and that we had a love that only we understood.
My parents were terrified, and they knew that they were losing me . . . possibly forever. They decided that it was time to intervene. It was time to fish me out of the black water, even if I came out kicking and screaming.
to be continued . . .
Did you like this post?
Stay tuned for chapter 3!! I can't wait to share the rest of my story with you. If you want to stay up-to-date with all of my blog posts, join my mail list
Lots and lots of love!
Ps Next week, I will be sharing how my parents suggested the best possible intervention for me; this intervention changed my life and planted the seed of my own salvation. I will also be sharing how I experienced relapse for the first time. My depression finally caught up to me; in fact, I was about to learn how dark my mind could truly go. This is only the beginning my friends!