Normal: Part Two

In my last post, “Normal: Part One”, I described my teenage lifestyle as a stubborn, gothic young woman with undiagnosed borderline personality disorder and, unsurprisingly, deep depression and anger problems. I explained my seething hatred for anything that could be considered “normal”, because my emotional experience of the world was so diseased and unusual that “average” things made absolutely no sense to me.

But that’s been changing. As I’ve discussed in recent blog posts, I started doing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) last month as a last-ditch effort to clear away my medicine-resistant depression, and to my absolutely delighted surprise, it’s been working. My anxiety, anger, depression, and dissociation attacks have subsided almost completely in the past few weeks. Obviously, it’s a wonderful thing: I’m capable of feeling happiness now, and excitement, and joy – all the sensations people experience that keep them from killing themselves.

There is, however, one odd effect from the ECT that teenage Zoe would have resented: as of last month, I feel normal.

I always thought I would resent the sensation of feeling “ordinary” if it ever afflicted me, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not too bothered by it. My very freshly normalized lifestyle comes with the benefit of not feeling depressed anymore, or having to timidly back out of social engagements because of my anxiety, or being afraid that I’m going to dissociate at any moment. Lately, I haven’t felt that familiar agitation when a stranger’s clothing is similar to mine, or when someone says they listen to the same music I do.

In short, I’ve been able to have something in common with another person and not feel distress over it.

I used to be in the habit of obsessively searching for anything in my appearance that might mark me as “average”. If I ever found something that did, I felt self-conscious until I could goth myself up a little more. Now, it just… doesn’t bother me. I’m not necessarily more comfortable with looking like other people; I just don’t notice it anymore.

I still feel like a very unusual person due to my severe experiences with mental illness at such an early age. I still wear Halloween socks every day and dress in black whenever I can. My bedroom is decorated with skulls, pumpkins, and posters from old TV shows that most people my age (twenty-two) have never heard of. I take pride in my oddness and I advertise my non-conformity. If we meet, I will make an effort to be different from you. But, thanks to ECT, I won’t get hung up if we have something in common. In fact, I might even celebrate it.

5 thoughts on “Normal: Part Two

  1. I am so glad you are feeling better; my youngest daughter (She is 13) has been diagnosed with Depression with suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and ADD, and I cannot stop worrying about her. She even tried cutting.

    I am fortunate that she, like you, is articulate and told me and her step mom that she was unhappy and did not know how to fix it; that was over a year ago.

    She is on two medications (Lexapro and Busporin (spelling?)) and seems to be dealing with the social bullies better.

    …I am a grown-ass man and cannot type this without blabbering like a baby…

    In short, your story gave me much needed hope, thank you!



    1. Thank you so much. I empathize a lot with your daughter; I was 12 when my symptoms started, too. It sounds like you have a good handle on the situation if she’s already getting medications and handling bullies. I can also highly recommend talk therapy.

      I’m pretty sure the only reason I suffered as long as I did is that I’m unusually resistant to medications. They just don’t work on me. Your daughter will likely respond much better than I did. Lexapro and BuSpar are both wonderful medications.

      If you ever need advice or want to know a depressed young woman’s perspective on something, please feel free to message me. I’m always happy to give advice.



  2. Zoe:
    Thank God for you! My daughter had borderline personality disorder, as well. She was the “push me/pull me” queen. I never really knew which she would be – please help me, love me, never leave me, or leave me alone, you b#*@h! It was a nightmare, especially for her. She died of a drug overdose in 2011. My family never tried to understand her; they just felt she was manipulating me.
    I still love her as much as I did the day she was born, maybe more. I miss her more than the air. I am raising her son, who will be 13 next month. So I’m terrified.


    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Susan. I can’t begin to imagine what it would feel like to be in your situation, but as someone who suffers from BPD, I can at least partially sympathize with the effect the disease has had on your life. As for your grandson: The best thing you can do for him is stay vigilant about anything in his life that might be a symptom, and encourage him to get help if it comes down to that. Lots of love. -Z


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