You Don’t Have Lived Experience Being a Serial Killer–So You Shouldn’t Write About One | Creativity Discussion

I’m feeling pretty agitated. Focused. Annoyed. Distraught. Forgiveless. Oh, I mean, of course: unforgiving. I just single-handedly obliterated my own therapy session from some BS online and so I’m just feeling at a loss. But I have a platform, like Agatha does as well, and I’m going to use that platform now because this comment has been bothering me for months (and it’s SUCH a good comeback, I think) that I’ll never get to properly utilize and all that jazz. So, I’m angry and I want to talk about this key point:

“If you haven’t lived through X, you cannot write creatively about it.”

So, Agatha isn’t their real name of course. And who they are will remain anonymous because it’s not even about them necessarily. I can have my own thoughts and some things don’t need to populate as they already do on the Internet.

Here’s what’s relevant:

Empathy exists but at the same time does not. At all.

And this notion that unless you’ve BEEN THROUGH something (let’s say, mental health struggles (as broad of a term as that is): substance use disorders, personality disorders, psychosis, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidality, homicidality, on and on–) you CANNOT or worse, SHOULD NOT (NEVER EVER) write about it because… well, I don’t know why you can’t.

But this really has been bothering me. Essentially we’re saying:

“You can’t write fictitiously about a serial killer unless you’ve BEEN a serial killer.”

“You can’t write about time travelers because TRUE time travelers would be offended and irked that you wrote about them so incorrectly.”

“You can’t write about completed suicides because you’ve NEVER BEEN a completed suicider (because how could you if you’re writing about it?)”

“You don’t KNOW because you haven’t LIVED through it!”

Do we see–can we ALL agree–that this notion, this concept, makes very, very little sense?

Can I not write about vampires and unicorns (hopefully separately, nudge nudge) because genuine vampires and unicorns may not agree with the way I convey them? Is this so inherently wrong–that writing about something you have not lived through, you don’t have actual experience in, things you could never (mermaids, fantasy, dragons, queens, kings, war, magic, creatures) and things you just haven’t (sickness, cancer, suicide, homicide, being an actual detective, being a medical doctor, historical fiction, being a prisoner of war, being a veteran, living through depression, and on and on) that that somehow means you could NEVER, SHOULD NEVER write about it?

That not educating yourself on the topic, to researching it, to finding that you could convey something so HUMAN, so natural, so beautiful and meaningful and hell, maybe even some form of relatable, is something you should not do, never do, because… because… because some people, and there will clearly be people, who can’t relate or don’t feel reflected in the categorization of your characters and your plot and your ideas?

That because one person, or five hundred, can’t relate and don’t feel adequately seen or heard, you should, as the writer, just never try to write about things that you may have never or just have not experienced firsthand?

What happened to empathy? What HAS happened to empathy? And why is that not enough?

 

I just don’t understand. I mean, yes, I understand that not everyone will feel represented so fully and wholly and completely based on just one person’s experiences. That’s true. That’s valid. I just… I can’t believe that because my experiences are my own (and not of those I write about) and no one will ever fully know what my experiences are (they are mine for a reason), that that is somehow an indication or warning sign that everyone else out in the world with imagination, empathy, understanding, willingness to be educated and bring forth more creativity and knowledge than I could even see in my situation because it is mine and I’m blinded to it–to even think of proposing to them “No, you can’t write about THIS because you have no experience with it.” Or, “because you haven’t experienced like THIS you can’t write about it. Because you’re THAT not THIS.” As if it were ever truly your choice.

 

No one on this earth will exactly experience the same event in the same exact way. That’s what makes us human. Our perception is everything but not everything. It shapes us and how we see things–and how WE CHOOSE to react back to it, that’s up to us. And some people are more aware of this than others. And some people will never get it. It’s true. But for those who are curious, who are willing, who are feeling–maybe we should do less judging of them and how they go about their research and their feelings to not cut them out from a full experience of life and the lives they can write about so flawlessly, so believably that we don’t have to question it, whether it’s true or not, whether it’s been lived through or not, maybe we can let those writers feel and experience and engage with the world in a form of art that other people, that maybe some people may not feel heard or seen, but others, maybe they will.

 

I think it’s naive and silly (and silly doesn’t have to be bad, inherently) to police what people can and cannot create and for not having lived it to be a huge indication of what can or cannot be written about. Will it reflect everyone’s experiences? No. There will be differences. Maybe accepting those flaws, those inherent cracks, those demented dimensions, maybe the fact that some people, maybe even a lot of people if you’re lucky, will understand, and will feel seen and heard and uplifted, maybe it’s for those and mainly only those that we write for. Because we have stories to tell. And stories to heal. And stories to begin.

Maybe that’s what it’s all for.

 

What are your thoughts? Where do you fall on this line? What determines something to have art and value and purpose? Or is it all just a waste of time to twiddle our thumbs and feel absurd connections to others that exist until we all become dust again and the world is obliterated into oblivion? Or is there something here? Something worth exploring? No matter how much time we have left?

 

As for Agatha: Please don’t make puppet accounts to come after me. Your identity is safe with me. And if we can agree to go our separate ways and do our separate things, that will be all I ask for. I hope you feel better one day. I hope that Life gives you more than it has.

 

As always, be safe, my friends. And be kind. And wonder and ponder and question. Question it all. Because maybe we’re bound to find some very interesting answers….

 

Until next time. xxx

💙💜💚💛

PS Do you like that I made this thumb on Canva JUST for this post? Ahaha. First time I have in months. Next posts will be book reviews, once I can finally get them done!! XX

The Night Before #TrueMentalHealthAdvocate Releases

Hi!

So, I STILL wanted to do that post I was originally going to do yesterday but as it’s turning out we’re not going to be doing that again either today. D: What we WILL do here is talk about my thoughts pre-release of my video scheduled for noon EST tomorrow and my thoughts and ideas and challenges and worries all about that and regarding that. And, assuming that work goes well and I’m in a good, upbeat mood, I will do the post originally destined for Thursday on Sat instead. AND if, for some reason work does NOT go well or it’s a tough day or I’m just too tired, I will try and do something like an award tag like Liebster and such from way back in the day and just do something light and fun or talk about shopping hauls or whatever it happens to be exactly. So, let’s jump in…

Trigger Warning: Allegations of grooming, mentions of suicidality/homicidality

With the situation:

A man by the name of Eric B. Zink back in 2019 (at the time Dr1ven Industries) became very popular on TikTok for his mental health awareness videos where he shared tips and tricks and ways to control anxiety and talking about his lived experiences with mental health conditions and his story with addiction. He had lost two individuals close to him from suicide himself and he made a YouTube channel where he continued to produce similar types of videos like from his TikTok.

I do remember him claiming, at the time, that he was saying he was a mental health advocate and he was giving out his personal phone number onto TikTok for people to reach out to HIM instead of the long wait line of the national suicide prevention lifelines as he was beginning to do research into creating his OWN nonprofit organization in regards to suicide prevention efforts.

He reached 1 million followers on TikTok and had a decent amount, I want to say like 100,000 subs on YouTube as well.

Personally, I didn’t ever see his TikToks on the app because I don’t have that on my devices but I followed his Youtube channel and I followed him on Twitter and I actually did reach out to him and we shared phone numbers and texted a little bit over the Mar. 2019 time period. He started to make more videos specifically about substance use addiction and certain types of substances and his experiences with them which I found to personally be off-putting so I stopped interacting with his content as much. I had even done a collaboration with him, that I believe is still up on both of our channels (my channel has some out-takes and bloopers of it, his has the full on collab, ironically because I didn’t like him right away which aged gracefully) and I had promoted him on my own socials and things too and offered him as a resource while also making it clear to him that I didn’t think it was the wisest of decisions to release such personal information (like a phone number etc.)

Well, he faded into the background by the end of 2019 for me and everything was fine until about Sep. 2020.

I checked on him a couple times here and there when I thought of him but again we just drifted in different directions and I’d lost some interest. He began to become a face for the mental health community as his popularity grew and he became more prevalent as issues from people like the Rewired Soul were taking place.

And Eric was definitely not without criticism being met his way–there were other people within the mental health community that were offering their ideas, their thoughts and their criticisms to some of the things he was saying or doing (and still are). I’d also like to point out that some of the things he did, said or shared about his journey or the suicide prevention type stuff weren’t always what the guidelines suggested to do (so like, don’t share suicide notes from those who’ve passed on which he has violated in a few videos, even just putting triggering images in his thumbnails like depicting substance use/substances and cutting marks).

I obviously have no idea whether he was engaging with the people who were reaching out to him by getting other law enforcement and the proper authorities involved. And I don’t know what content or the depth of their messaging between each other was. Regardless of not knowing this, in Sep. 2020 I decided to see what he was up to, which he had rebranded himself to his name and I found his original videos of him admitting to being inappropriate with minors who were reaching out to him in suicidal crises. He showed text messages between himself and a child and how he had asked them if they had showered and if they smelled and if their butt smelled and other similarly odd statements and remarks. He admitted in his video that that was wrong of him and that he shouldn’t have been talking to a minor like that. (He’s deleted this video since.) I suggest, if you happen to want to learn more about the situation than what I’ve summarized here, there are plenty of videos about it on Youtube.

So.

Where do I come into play?

Honestly, I had seen some of the videos from reproachful content creators who had, like myself, believed him to be a good guy and a good thing for the mental health community until it became glaringly obvious that his ego had gotten the best of him and he’d engaged in some inappropriate and just distasteful behaviors, words and actions. At the time, I watched and engaged with these videos, and felt that I didn’t have much else I could add to the conversation so I let it go.

And I was letting it go until about this past… yeah, yesterday. When I came across a video, someone, Person A, who had called out Eric before on their channel and they had engaged with each other back and forth, I think he deleted this video too, I’m not sure, but it was just kinda sticky, gooey and messy. Well, in that video Person A in question rehashed the situation and admitted that Eric had doxxed them with their full name online in his response video and he had recently said, and admitted, that while he didn’t say he would beat the shit out of them, he said that “I did make a mention of a truck and running somebody over if I saw them” That’s a direct quote from his TikTok video that was included within the video that this main person, Person A, was talking about and updating their followers on the situation.

Cue me….

I was so frustrated, offended, triggered, anxious and fearful when I watched Person A’s video. I could NOT believe that this man, who had claimed to be and genuinely became the face towards some part of the mental health community, had abused that power and abused his place and fucked around with something so, so serious that isn’t often taken seriously (homicidal/suicidal remarks) and made it into this belittled, indirect jab. He made a threat, a physical threat, to someone else who was just calling him out on his bullshit and the fact that he had committed acts heinous and inappropriate. The hypocrisy, the ‘Rules for Thee and Not Me’ and just the fact that he so single-handedly dismantled the mental health advocates out there who are TRUE advocates that don’t say this type of shit, it’s just… and not only that, but it’s providing fuel for people to think of those with conditions as “dangerous” or “crazy” or any other stigmatizing crap that’s out there.

It’s just so anxiety provoking and triggering and offensive, for me. If Eric isn’t the person I thought he was, then who is he? That’s horrifying.

But my point is, in this whole sticky situation, and maybe I talked too much about him and what was going on before I spoke enough about my side of things–and maybe I’m just taking a break from having already said all my pieces in my video, but the video I am releasing tomorrow will go up at noon EST.

I’m quite terrified. My catastrophizing is in full force, I’m thinking I’ll either get ten views or I’ll get a hundred. And I’m afraid people are going to belittle the boundaries I have set or purposefully tell me to kill myself, mention specific ways in which to do so, throw hate at me, have valid criticisms, say nothing, say everything, defend Eric or be Eric himself or who knows what. I’m freaked out but I’m trying to remain calm.

I spoke my truth (sorry, I’ve gotten that new phrase from Demi Lovato I swear lol) and where I feel about the situation. I talked about my own lived experiences dealing with suicidality and gave reasons and examples (and there are trigger warnings in the video itself, too) as to why it is not okay to joke or make light of things like homicide and suicide. From how Person A took the comment, they were upset and they are valid in feeling that way. They should not have to get doxxed and threatened of their life. There’s only a select few that are the drudges of humanity that that should be reserved to. But Person A? Not at all. Not for speaking out publicly about something that happened online.

Jessie Paege is amazing and you should totally check her out. While this post isn’t about THAT kind of coming out, I do feel like I’m coming out from the shadows about something I had ties to, so, yes.

But, that’s where I’m at with things. I am not going to be reading any emails to any potential comments, if I even get them to be honest, about the video until Mon. 5/17/2021. I am also, if I do happen to get a lot of comments about it, if it doesn’t just fall into The Void and disappear, then I will call a hotline and look through the comments while I’m on the phone with them. Because again, I’m afraid and I don’t know what people will or won’t say and I can just seriously picture people trolling with things and such, and it might be too hard hitting to go through alone.

Also, I want to thank so many of you for showing love and support on my last post, yesterday!! I’m so grateful for you guys and if you happen to have any words of wisdom or grounding techniques, feel free to leave it down below in a comment!

My video is definitely only conveying my viewpoint on things and I do welcome other inputs and other ideas too. Maybe there are ways I’m looking at this that are problematic and so if you see that and you’re so kind enough to leave me your thoughts, I’d appreciate it! I will still be on my blog Sat and Sun so that should be fine here. I also will probably work on some fan fiction stuff, read a book, watch a movie and do some adult coloring. I am going to try and see if there are some people online who can support me with this transition from not knowing how things, if anything, will react to my video so, that’s … that’s okay.

I know that I’ll be okay.

And I am safe!! I am. So that is also good. I think any support you guys can lend would be amazing. Again, even just coping strategies or techniques to grounding.

Well, I have to go to sleep now but I’ll see you guys tomorrow once more. I apologize if I spent too much time talking about him rather than myself and such. I’ll try and work on this in the future, not that I intend to do this type of thing again, but yeah, I’ll have to work on this, it’s probably the OCD coming out to be honest haha. But yessss, thank you so much for reading and I will see you all soon.

Stay safe, my friends. 🖤🖤🖤🤍

This piece was written and begun around 7:30p on May 14th 2021, and then completed between 8:45p to 9:45p. EST

“Online Danger” (2018) | BES: Mar. 2021


CHOSEN BOOK:

“Online Danger” (2018) by Dr. Eric Cole

((Nonfiction.))

BES 4 - 2.19, 3.13


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

“Crazy”, “[encouraging] a healthy dose of paranoia”, suicide method joke, obsession/compulsion remark.


THEMES:

Cybersecurity, servers, technical but watered down jargon, online, virtual world vs real world, dangers, improvements, security, tips and tricks, advice, people “being stupid”, trust and mistrust, safety, threats, viruses, cyber criminals, lies, adversaries, hackers, identity theft, cyber crimes.


SUMMARY:

Hello, welcome to this next installment of a Book Exploration Station. This post focuses on the nonfiction book regarding cybersecurity and the very real threats and online dangers that exist in this world of cyberspace. The book is divided into about ten chapters self-titled on different matters involving cyber crime and staying as safe as possible online. Our guide is author Dr. Eric Cole, an expert in the field of cybersecurity who is using his expertise in the field, his public speaking to corporations and his academic work to dispel the myths behind cybersecurity and safety for all those involved online. He manages this hefty task through his reflection on the things he has learned, been taught and continues to teach to all. Cole translates large, technical language into an easy to understand identification through a usage of pre-determined sections within each chapter aided with hip ninja illustrations every now and then in the corner of a related paragraph or page. He ends each chapter with a breakdown of tips and tricks regarding the material of the chapter as well as the big takeaways, which I’ve listed out down below as some of my biggest ones too. If you’re looking for a book regarding how to keep private matters like personally identifiable information away from the hands and eyes of the adversary, i.e. the cyber criminal, this may be the book for you!! The book is simplified for the average digital user and provides some advice towards keeping teens and children safe online as well as the adults that made them, which is wonderful! It’s a pretty easy read and I’ve outlined the types of things I had issue with coming from a mental health advocate and recovery based persona as well as what I gleaned as most important from the book itself, having gone through the book page to page with my own mind and eyes.

Something I wanted to name right off the bat is that within the introduction chapter there is a lot of typography changes and size differences that really were abrupt and gave me quite the headache. Luckily they did not persistent heavily into the rest of the book and when implemented at other times it was only done so as to provide emphasis on certain matters. Other minor mistakes like deadpanning what seemed like a question or a misuse of quotations direction occurred but were pretty mild. As with anything else, the book has its faults, which I’ll describe for me down below. Overall it’s a decent read. It wasn’t exactly about what I thought going into it so I had to level these different expectations on my own as I gave the book a fair chance. Let’s begin!


BOOK LENGTH:

160 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

2/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES OR REMINDERS FOR YOU AND ME:

A really big theme in this book is to not trust links, URLs and email attachments or other embedded links.

The problem with this, particularly relating to the blogosphere, is how do we continue to exercise such caution? Blogging relentlessly involves other links whether spelled out completely or hyperlinked via related text. And this book was released along the timeline (2018) that blogging has been popular but never once goes about answering this very, very large question. So, what is the etiquette there? What is the rule of thumb? I guess it would be to never trust a link again but is that truly practical when it comes to books, reviews, movie reviews, regularly inspired accounts, artwork, music, mental health posts and the like? What do you guys think? Do you trust links in blog posts or even in comments and how do you exercise caution and mistrust regarding them? I’ve become now skeptical of links but I’m also not sure how to go about changing my entire worldview and believable nature about them. Do I change my thinking the best of the people behind creating them and merely adjust my perspective via exercising caution and suspicion that anyone out there may be working against me (which really, arguably, isn’t the best practice to be engaged with in the first place) or do I fall prey to a system that is corrupt and unjust? I’m not sure.

In addition, I think it’s natural to be more trusting within the mental health community, which is not to say there are no predators within because we’ve been shown this to be false repeatedly across different fan groups, but overall I think because we’re more authentic and candid, we can forget these intrinsic rules of the Internet and safety regarding it and that not everyone has our best interests at heart. I think it’s more likely that people will be open to other channels of communication (email, texting, phone calls) and trusting who is behind the screens, where maybe more skepticism should be common place and continuing to entrust that layer of protection between the self and others. Just to be safe. One minute someone could be an ally and the next an adversary. Maybe, maybe taking these small risks could prove to be disastrous. Maybe it’s best to continue to enforce a level of uncertainty in order to protect ourselves, one another and more. It’s definitely something to think about and mull over more.

Another thing I would have liked to see discussed more than it was in this book would be a Virtual Private Network (VPN). I’ve definitely seen a bunch of ads on Youtube videos where content creators have been sponsored by Nord VPN for the usage of watching different Netflix area shows per countries around the world and I’ve been somewhat interested here and there but have never fully looked into it. I think this book lightly touched on it without really exploring it more which I think could have been beneficial. The book does warn a lot about taking off tracking locations on devices so maybe that is something worth looking into and disabling from various functions of apps and such. Personally, that’s not something that bothers me a whole lot but it’s worth looking into for sure.

Another big theme in this book is the notion that we cannot prevent ALL cyber attacks but rather limit their destructive natures and the impact they leave behind: “Reducing exposure can be done; eliminating it totally is just not possible” — Cole, 2018, p. 40.

Personally, I view this along the same lines as preventing all suicide deaths or all cancer deaths–in reality, it’s unlikely to happen although the effort behind it is admirable and worthy of pursuing. By working to help evade even just one death from these conditions matters and can have a positive effect rippled out. The reality is that it won’t be possible for various reasons to postpone death from either of these conditions but maybe we can make it hurt a little less or be a little more bearable for those left behind, like with what can be managed after cyber attacks and cyber crimes. The book later goes on to say that it’s more likely that cyber attacks happen on smaller scales and the media doesn’t report on them. It takes up to 22 months before suspicious activity like on banks and credit cards are actually discovered so it’s even more likely that little bits of money are being used and exploited and the average person never notices it until that two year length of time, which is terrifying!!! (Cole, 2018).

“In cyberspace [this premise of wanting to trust human beings] no longer works. Your high-speed wireless connection does not provide a window into the soul of the user on the other end of your communication. Because verifying electronic information is next to impossible for the average user” — Cole, 2018, p. 44

This, I imagine for anyone else in my position with a blog and especially within the mental health community where so many of us feel compassion and empathy for ourselves and others, is a very, very difficult idea to swallow. It absolutely needs to be said and it’s also incredibly heartbreaking. We have to strive to be more careful online because there are those people online who exist to hurt, damage and destroy one another. It’s very hard and exercising more caution is definitely necessary. I’d say giving out like a less personal email address* (like a public one) if you do at all would probably be best. Offer a DM on the social media where it has that but keep online stuff to online. I know, this is hard, and I’ve not done this in the past myself, but from here forward I’m gonna try and implement it more, or at least just weigh out the pros and cons before I do so. We have to be careful for our own safety at the end of the day and anyone who pushes against that or tries to finagle it doesn’t deserve us and our trust. Be careful out there on the Internet, my friends. 🤍🤍🤍 We don’t necessarily know what threat lies behind the next typed word. 😥 (*We’ll talk again about email addresses later on.)

“Next time you share online, ask yourself two questions:
‘Am I comfortable sharing this with my friends?
‘Am I comfortable sharing this with strangers?” — Cole, 2018, p. 47

Personally, I gotta say, I think getting involved with advocacy for as long as I have now (since Mar. 2016), I’ve completely warped the way I think about this. Even before then, on deviantART and such I always used the journal features and descriptions of my artwork as like really public journal entries. I still do that heavily on Twitter and even just in the blogging world too. To me, I don’t really think about it when I hit send or publish–like once I do, it’s like it never happened even though I’m kinda aware that there’s a record of it somewhere. (By the way, does anyone have a good way to look back on original first tweets? You can’t really search through tweets, can you? I wouldn’t mind looking back on some of my tweets but they’ve just been so completely swallowed up by The Void that I just never look into it. Additionally, I am aware of some cringe from my past exists online but I kinda just avoid it and pretend like it didn’t happen, mmm, avoidance). I probably should think about this [the impact and the cataloguing that happens because I hit publish] more than I do, but I do treat what others might consider private and personal information as just super public information. Eh. *shrug* 🤷‍♀️🙋🏻‍♀️ Maybe one day I’ll look more into this but for now I’m comfortable in it and don’t see a super big problem with it.

It does make me think that for purposes of safety in my videos that I will refrain from specifying specific places or companies and the like and just ask in the description of the video to not reveal these things if people do happen to know. Just in hopes I can limit being doxxed and such. Also, this feels a little meta because if I didn’t treat blogging as personal and sharing myself and my thoughts, I probably wouldn’t be doing so even on here. Interesting, isn’t it?

I guess ultimately, my point here is that what other people may consider private information, I’ve always, in terms of my mental health, treated as public information and I’m really open about it and don’t see the ramifications of why I shouldn’t talk about it, if that makes sense? Like, it has opened up doors for me and new opportunities and I choose to think of it like that rather than be shamed and limited in what I can accomplish and do. It’s about perspective. And I knew getting into this that I might be treated differently or be shunned from things and that’s okay because I know my speaking out matters so much more than that. So, I’ve accepted it and move forwards without thinking too much about it. 🖤🖤🖤

DO NOT i.e. NEVER OPEN ATTACHMENTS IN EMAILS

Honnnnnnnestly, for work purposes, I don’t see this ever being truly feasible and the norm. Like, I’ll definitely look differently at email attachments from unknown sources for sure but like if it’s work related? Ehhh, I mean. Nah. Nah, bro. Especially if it’s an email from myself to myself, like should I not open that either? It’s tricky. Again, strangers hell no. But potential strangers posing as people I know and that it’s super convincing, I don’t know man, that doesn’t happen to me or hasn’t yet, as this author would like to caution everyone–it hasn’t happened YET. I still don’t see that being something I can manage all the time across my accounts. I definitely won’t do links in like comments for instance, like if there’s something you want me to see you can mention the title and I’ll look for it myself but like not opening email attachments, that’s a little much. Sorry. For me and for you and for everyone. 😕🙃😖😭

Also, don’t trust video links and playing videos either. Just when you thought the Internet was okay, it says not to do something else because people ruin a good thing!! I’m not sure how it works in any manner but it’s something to be cautious of as well. Trust little online!! Even this maybe? See, these are the conundrums I fell into, too.

Invest in a portable, physical back-up hard drive and Cloud-based backups for your various important information.

Be careful with storing things like personally identifiable information (credit cards, super secret numbers, license numbers, addresses) on Cloud based formats (leave Cloud based backups to things like family photos, creative writing documents, etc.) and utilize physical hard drive backups for things like those same personal documents, photos, videos and personally identifiable information such as taxes information, purchases, etc. Treat your computer like it could become ill and unusable at any moment and so keep things up to date on your hard drives with the photos and information you need there. Perform a careful balance between having too many copies of things and not enough copies of things. (Remember too that once it’s created it can potentially be brought back even if you ‘delete’ it!!! So make sure you get rid of your hard drives carefully when you’re done with them using things like magnets to break up the data.) Most backup drives can be encrypted or password protected and it’s important to keep them in less obvious places in the house like in a safe or secure place (something out of plain sight; don’t use it as a doorstop!). — Paraphrased; Cole, 2018.

Own multiple email address accounts (12’s a lot, 3-5 is better) designated for different, separate purposes only.

So, if you have things like banking information on one email, make a new one just for blog updates and another separate one for another area of your life. Right now, I have two: my public email address and my business email address. After reading this book, it’s best to try and scatter information in multiple places (kind of, some things shouldn’t be, again it’s that balance) so that if one thing goes down, not EVERYTHING goes down with it. (Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!) I’m not sure what I’ll name that email address (it should also change with providers so one Gmail, one Yahoo, etc.) though I have a couple of ideas. I’m not sure what I’d designate it as yet (types of content) so I have to think and consider this more. It may be something I definitely look into and establish soon.

If you want to file share with someone, try looking into file sharing platforms (think Dropbox) that are safer to engage with than simply email attachments that could carry viruses.

This is something I’m gonna have to look more into. It might be even easier if I make a Gmail account. Using things like the Cloud and sites similar to Dropbox might be a worthy investment. Speaking of investments:

Always update your software (virus protection; Windows/PC updates; browser updates) to the new, current models.

The reason for this, despite the hassle, is that new, updated software features patches to previous plot holes and instances where adversaries could take advantage/get past software protection and therefore means if you DON’T update, you’re more at risk to falling for a cyber attack from current loopholes and future continued ones that may appear. Software updates signal to cyber criminals that something was missing before and could be an opportunity for their next attack. Software updates will be lifelong because hackers are very smart and continuously find those holes and ways around a system. Software updates will keep you better protected than if you do nothing.

Shut your computer down for the night when you go to bed or are not using it. If you step away for a moment, lock it up to be password protected. If you’re going to sleep at night, shut it down.

The reason is because a shut down computer cannot be hacked or utilized in serving viruses and adversaries against you. If it’s not connected to the Internet, it cannot be accessed and even if it’s a hassle, it’s for your protection so it’s definitely something I’m allowing for myself more than I used to pre-reading this book–I have a bad habit of having too many documents or tabs open so I’d always avoid this notion of shutting down the computer, not realizing it was such a red flare!! (Phones and smaller devices it’ll be a work in progress for me).

Password vaulting programs may be something interesting, useful and safe to look into. They are programs that can remember various passwords of yours with a two factor authentication system to get into. They are a better alternative than having your browser remember your passwords because these are not as heavily guarded and are more susceptible to being found out. (Cole, 2018, p. 77).

If you’re in the USA like myself, you can (and should) use Annual Credit Report . com as the official government sanctioned website. (Without the spaces, of course.)

Airplane mode on your device can offer you some benefits more than just in-flight progress. It can help limit the location finding of your device when you’re say, going to sleep for the night. (Cole, 2018, p. 83)

I think I mentioned this somewhere else in this review, but I can’t remember now where (I know I mentioned it on Twitter too) but I am going to be shopping/looking for another tetrabyte related physical hardware back-up device to invest in. I’m pretty sure I have a 1TB one and that’s going to be getting full soon so I may line up a 2TB one from what I’ve found thus far via Best Buy. It’s a lot of money (it’s marked down for $60 from $110 but it’s important and will probably last me a long time). My current one has lasted since like 7 years or so. So, it’s worth the investment. I have to finagle between that and a new phone, not sure which one I’ll purchase first. But it’s on my mind and in one of my tabs now too.

P. 84 is where the author talks about “splitting” your personality, i.e. making multiple purposed email address accounts. I honestly couldn’t fathom this at first and like I said earlier or later than this point in time, I’m still trying to figure out what name I’d use, what account where (Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) and what for but I’m definitely warming up to the idea and thinking of what it’d be in relation to. It’s definitely now on my mind when before it never was. Definitely something I’m taking away from this book!!

There’s never a clear identification system or protocol to tell fake adversaries links, hyperlinks, Twitter posts, videos, and the like from legitimate, real accounts which is too bad and blogging is never addressed either so I’m still wondering about these things myself now. Maybe having the virus protection software would help with this? Being able to see which websites are ‘green’ for being safe rather than being iffy? I’m not sure. We’re left to figure this one out of on our own.

“We live in a world where no one can make a mistake, because if you do, it will be recorded, monitored and tracked” — Cole, 2018, p. 90

This section where this quote ends from talks about how we have to do a mental pros and cons when posting onto social media EVERY time and that yes, this is the culture of the Internet: it does not forget and it does not forgive. It’s a wild one and it has its benefits and its imaginative parts and it can get very nasty, very quickly. Mistakes online are forever. It’s frightening and the reality for many. Myself included, I’ve definitely fucked up here and there. It serves as a reminder. It’s tough. Be careful, peeps!!

“The Internet does not forgive, does not forget and it punishes those that do not remember this” — Cole, 2018, p. 98

See, he even says so himself right here!!! Let this be a reminder for all who come across this review. Oooof, it’s got me biting my nails in anticipation and fear! And yes, maybe I’m trying to get this review done and over with, too!! I’m so close to finishing and it’s now 7p as I’m writing this paragraph right here. It’s been a while and I cannot wait until I’m free and have returned this book along with five others!! 🤩🥰🤗🥳🥺

“If you need a camera or microphone on your devices, disable those features when you are not using them. Be sure to investigate security settings and limit the applications that can access audio-visual accessories” — Cole, 2018, p. 104

This is a HUGE reminder and important thing for me to notate. We’re always hearing horror stories about these things and for years on my old laptop I covered up the webcam with a sticker. I wound up taking it off as I started to film on my laptop and for my new laptop, which is where I’m typing this now, I haven’t done that because I do use the camera for videos and for Zoom support groups and presentations. But I definitely have to look into disabling it when it’s not in use just to get into better practices about that and stay safe for my own sanity, if nothing else!! I suggest you guys do the same or at least consider doing so!! We cannot control many things in life but this may just be one of the few!!! 💚💚💚

“Consider email a permanent record. You cannot control what a recipient will do with your emails. The same holds true for social media posts” — Cole, 2018, p. 107

Dammmmmmn that be true. I have to be more careful with my emails and who I trust. I remember one email I got from someone from Youtube and we spoke briefly about someone we were concerned about (actually, there’s probably a couple more of these that exist with other people that I can think of on the top of my head) but yeah, we only emailed like a couple of times and I never heard from them again but I think I may have over-shared a little and it’s been on the back of my mind ever since then, but I try to just let it go and maybe I can follow-up with my friend to see how they are, they haven’t posted lately either, maybe I’ll do that tonight, as a little check-in (I did manage to do this and they are doing pretty well, hooray!! Yay interpersonal effectiveness and managing odd attachments). I always think of these types of check-ins and I love myself for thinking and imagining them but then I forget to actually do them or I’m busy and put it off and then I forget completely. Anyone else have this issue?? The struggle, man. 💔😱😭


THOUGHTS I HAD WHILE READING:

flight-of-ideas-bes-thumb-2.19.21

Another question I had reading this book is whether or not there are viruses and malware that can effect things like files of documents, or photos and videos. If nothing else, I’m very likely going to be backing up my files again onto my Passport and also investing in another one because mine is almost full. Videos especially are big so I think I’m getting to the point where I’ll need to upgrade, and so I’m starting to look around for that a little bit.

The biggest thing I’m afraid of online these days is that my FFN and AO3 (fanfic sites) will be hacked or I’ll lose the passwords or be otherwise locked out and unable to update all my stories and such. That would suuuuuuck. And then just getting hacked in other social media accounts too. I’m pretty scared about that. Luckily it hasn’t happened yet. I do need to update some passwords and change some things around and I’m likely, though I’m not sure how or when or where exactly, going to create an additional email address, for what purposes I’m not certain of yet, but you’ll probably have read about this already in the previous section. I’m doing these very out of order ahahaha (It’s about 5p on Mar. 15th as noted here.)

On p. 65 I was reading about how modern day Trojan horses come across as seemingly legitimate virtual programs or people when really they’re big tricks in deception and it made me think of “Frozen” (having just watched it) and Loki particularly in my fic “Distorted & Disordered” but also just in general. It made me think of the Silvertongue he is and how he gets away with his mischievous deceit. 😁😅

I liked the concept on p. 74 about (responsible) parents explaining to their children where they’re coming from with their concerns about their child’s Internet usage and safety, and how this explanation can better guide the child in addressing their problematic behaviors or changing them for the better. There’s something about explaining things in an understandable way to children that helps in so many ways, and really is important in my work at Amaryllis so far, too.

On p. 75 is when the author officially backs up his claims towards an end of chapter footnote, which was what I was expecting from him since the beginning and luckily for him and myself, he did include something of this at some point in the book (though before would have lent him far more credibility and understanding from me and maybe I’d have given him more of a pass for his arrogant ass).

My next nonfic books I want to look into taking out include: home decorating, interior design, hobbies, gardening, cooking and online safety/social media (p. 87 thoughts).

On the discussion of never checking-in online: Hah! Jokes on you, ’cause I have no routine!! I also try to post after the fact or am careful with SOME things I say or don’t say. Look at me being productive and somewhat a responsible adult. 😜😝😲

p. 115: Reminded me, it was a paragraph regarding limiting screen time for kiddos an hour before bed because of the blue light effects, of when, as a teenager, I’d be on my bed, reading House MD fan fiction until like 2a or 3a and even pulling all-nighters and reading them for hours at a time. Ahahah Good memories, for sure. I’ve done it a small handful of times since I was a teen, usually until 1a or 2a but I remember even in 2014 I was reading fan fiction for days on end because I found such a compelling, great multi-chaptered one, like a perfect 50 chapter one ahaha. Those were great times. I should really read more than what I do nowadays. Something to improve on!!


THINGS I DISLIKED OR DISAGREED WITH THROUGHOUT THIS BOOK:

Another thing I noticed featured throughout this book are the little ninja related illustrations and how much the author, to me, came across as trying to be hip and in the “in crowd” with younger audiences via these ninja references. It seemed a little forced at times to me. He also was blatant with being snarky and I think he had a different definition of ‘stupidity’ than me because he would insult the average human repeatedly in the book and even blame the victim for their own ‘stupidity’ for doing something nonsensical online, which, granted while it’s somewhat reasonable it also probably isn’t the best thing when you’re catering to an audience and expecting them to be fair, respectful and give you a chance for a book of yours they’ve either bought or loaned from a library. It might not be the BEST monetary evolution relationship. Regardless, sometimes his attitude was refreshing and he did refer to his expertise only at the very END of the book (p. 159), which I think would have been more beneficial at the beginning because his calling out the average Internet user with truths and hard realities was difficult to face and that combined with his snark definitely made me tune out and off for a bit and I could have easily stepped away from this book without looking back. His questioning of the validity of my Internet friendships made me question the validity behind why I should be taking HIS word and changing my relationship with the Internet based solely on his own opinion. Essentially, a classic ‘why should I listen to you if you’re the one telling me not to trust people?’ If he’d been more up front early on and using references to studies and resources, it would have been more understandable rather than my having to have faith that he meant what he was saying regarding wanting the best for people and also for me to better understand his point of view and why I should give him a chance to speak. You know?

Again, I wished he had made references to other studies and media earlier in the book rather than only on just page 75. If it had been earlier, I think I could have been more fair towards him and would have better understood that he’s an academic and coming from that type of perspective rather than the equivalent of a “Jilly Juice” author. But his attitude was already off-putting and I was pissed off by page 13. Having read the full book I can see where he could have improved on certain areas and what he managed all right.

I think with the “being hip” kind of thing he was trying to appeal to a younger audience even though the content of his book is more so geared towards a young adult, average adult age group so I think knowing his audience better and tailoring to that would have been more appropriate. It was a little odd of a predicament.

Sometimes the author also sounded patronizing to me and like ‘better’ than others and when he would call people’s mistakes stupid he would never fully explain it or say how things could have gone about differently which I felt was stupid in and of itself. Like, if he could explain why it was wrong I think that’d be super helpful and teach the Reader at the same time. Later in the book he would even say not to blame the victim whereas his previous standpoints were to blame them for their own stupidity. So, this was frustrating.

As I already alluded to, by page 12 I was definitely disliking this “healthy paranoia” painting towards the Readers by this author. Yes, exercising caution towards trusting individuals online is important and definitely necessary. However, there’s a way to go about that and I don’t think the way this author did it is right. I think he’s trying to encourage skepticism but saying it like ‘paranoia is a natural thing every human possesses (yes) in a healthy way (not necessarily)’ and that simply isn’t always the case. Yes, paranoia as a feeling is something any human can experience. But as a symptom and a byproduct of a severe mental health condition it is not and I think he was getting confused between this line drawn in the sand. I think his efforts in emphasizing no one can be trusted could be dangerous for someone already susceptible to this level of thought and altered mental status and therefore is not something I agreed with in this book. Also, it just made me question why I should trust himself myself. At this point, there was only the brief introduction and his genuine credentials are only told on page 159 of the book, and he had no references to established studies and media until page 75, and because anyone can write and publish a book (think “Jilly Juice”) than that made me feel even more mistrusting and wondering why I should care about his opinion to start with. It made me defensive, basically. And that’s probably not the way he would want the Reader to feel if he wants them to read his book. Just saying.

Something else I disliked about this book was that it focused the most on opportunistic attacks from adversaries and cyber criminals (so think big corporations) rather than even exploring a little bit on the targeted assaults (like stalkers, doxxing). I think I thought reading this book would be focused more on social media (which it did cover a bit!!), Internet safety and how to combat against doxxing and people treating you unfairly (or fairly but in a repetitive and obsessive manner) when it was primarily focused on cybersecurity and keeping documents and personally identifiable information safe (super secret numbers, banking information, medical records etc). Like, it covered a little bit of what I wanted to read but it was more focused elsewhere than what I was expecting, which was a bit of a letdown. I would have liked to read about what protocol or advice can be taken after a doxxing for instance. But if he were the one giving me this advice, he’d probably call me stupid first and then explain what could be done, let’s be honest.

Dr. Cole does show synonyms for “paranoia” later in the book like when he uses the term ‘skepticism’ so it’s not like he doesn’t know that there are better and more fitting words to use. I just have a problem with him normalizing paranoia the feeling from paranoia the symptom of a mental health condition. He expresses at one point that we should treat “paranoia as a friend” and that could be really disastrous for a mentally unwell person who lands across this book. Like, a healthy dose of skepticism is better worded than paranoia. I don’t know if it’s just me on this train or not but it didn’t sit right with me and because he used a different word later that means a similar thing made me think he may have been being intentionally dense or just ignorant, ironically.

It definitely felt to me like Dr. Cole would insult me, the Reader, every twenty pages or so and his lack of defining what HE deemed as stupidity was super aggravating, stupid in itself and then also made him just increasingly unlikable. Luckily for him I can’t stop reading books no matter how much I may want to, I’m in them for the long haul (ride or die) so I kept giving him chances and it was a decent read altogether. Didn’t mean I liked it any better though. 😉🤔

It’s kind of impressive because in one instance of this book, Dr. Cole makes the giant leap from saying how sharing a soup recipe online then corresponds, somehow, to having that social media account hacked and your identity stolen. It’s SUCH a leap and is never fully explained and was soooo mind boggling to me. (Happened on p. 47)

“Obsession. Compulsion. Abduction. Even vengeance” — Cole, 2018, p. 67

IIIIIIIIIII just really hate the potential insinuation that this is a jab at OCD or similar mental health conditions and I can’t stand by it. Like, we’ve got two big factors seemingly involved with OCD (the OC parts) but they’re not used appropriately if they are being said to begin with. “Obsession” in regards to OCD isn’t the same definition in common place use. An obsession for OCD is an intrusive thought, word or image that a person doesn’t want to act on and is not aligned with their values and causes the person distress. Obsession in terms of Hollywood and more commonly thrown around is when someone is fixated on a particular thing, subject or person. And then compulsions, like in OCD, are things (behaviors, thoughts) that a person does to minimize or discredit the obsession. So, for instance if I had an intrusive thought that I was going to stab someone with a pencil, my compulsion might be something like checking I have all my pencils, moving the pencils away from someone so I don’t lose track of it, checking my memories for any intention or evidence that I did it, asking for reassurance that I haven’t hurt them with a pencil, etc. I just don’t like how he’s edging close to maybe saying something he doesn’t mean or doesn’t intend to mess around with.

I know even with like the “To Catch a Predator” show with Chris Hansen they sometimes implied the predator’s actions as compulsions which is not what like OCD is like. I hate that brain illnesses like those of people who abuse and destroy other people’s minds are lumped together with the most kind-hearted, compassionate and empathetic people. It sucks. And it makes mental health conditions more taboo and implies that they’re “dangerous” towards others and such. And that’s awful stigma. 😫🤕

“Never mistake cyberspace as a beautiful and simple place, where unicorns drift through fields of daisies, while spreading fairy dust and rainbows in their wake. The Internet is not a safe place to work, live, and do business–evil is lurking behind every email and website, waiting to turn you into a victim. Cyberspace is complex and filled with disease” — Cole, 2018, p. 68

IIIIIIIIIIIIIII don’t know, man, I think it can be both.

Why does it have to be this extreme all or nothing thinking? Why can’t BOTH be just as true and valid?

The surface level Internet is safe-ish, kind of, most of the time. Going lower, some sites, yeah, it’s not good. But like, I don’t think it can be so easily defined as idolization and demonization, you know? I think there are certain approaches to the Internet world people get wrong or don’t always anticipate and I think part of that is forgetting where we’re at and becoming very comfortable in what you’re doing and treating everything really too seriously. Like, knowing people are going to post memes or be a little cruel here and there is understandable. Yes, some people have a lot more time on their hands and may enter levels of intense fixation that are damaging to their health, their minds and for others around them, and the person they’re fixated on. Still, there’s good people out there and people trying to better the world of this giant Internet place. I think both can be true. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like you and that’s okay. And being civil and having a conversation about that is respectable and awesome and if they’re not ready for that, handle it and put up some blockers or something and go from there. A lot of this lashing back out isn’t good and also it’s so huge to understand the difference between criticism and genuine hate.

There are definitely people out there who genuinely hate and we have to watch out for them for sure (safety issues for instance) but offering constructive criticism or just misguided wordings of criticism shouldn’t be lumped together as ALL hate. I see that happen a lot more these days and it’s infuriating and sad. I hope I never get to that point. Holding someone accountable is not the same as wishing them death, you know? It’s complicated for sure. But I think there have been some improvements made on the Internet since the early 2000s. Some people are just gonna shit post and use the Internet as their break from their real life and we just gotta roll with it a bit, find the humor in things, and go from there. That’s how I look at it, at least.


MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING; THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME; WHAT I’LL BE DOING DIFFERENTLY:

book-prints-thumb-2.19.21

Honestly, by the time I’ve made it to the end of this post, having finished off about 45 mins of editing, I’m sooo exhausted and ready to just fall over and fall asleep. Overall, I think you guys have already read what I got out of this review, this book and the whole process of it. I’m probably gonna have a new, additional email address; I’m going to change my passwords around; I’m disabling my camera feed on my laptop; I’m shutting down my computer; I’m backing up my files and looking into getting a new TB; I’m being more careful online and suspicious of links and posts and I’m just exercising more caution and a healthy level of ‘hmm, I don’t think so.’

From the book itself, I kept reading because I always want to give them a chance and the opportunity to redeem themselves. I’m glad I read it and stuck with it. I probably wouldn’t read it again but I’m ready for the next book and I’m grateful and happy that I was able to return it and 5 other books to the library (I didn’t read the other 5 though). But for now, that’s all I got. I’m exhausted. This is the end. I’m done and free.

See you next time. It’ll probably be another review–whether an MCU film or a book review, we’ll just have to see. I’m challenging myself to another novel and that will be very interesting (it’s been months).

Thank youuuuuu so much for tagging along and reading!! What books have caught your attention lately and which ones have you consumed in a record amount of time? Sending you all the best. xxx


TRACKING DATES I READ THIS BOOK:

2.19.21, 2.21, 2.26, 2.27, 3.4, 3.5, 3.8, 3.13.2021

TRACKING DATES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

3.13.21, 3.14, 3.15.2021


This review is brought to you by music featuring Billie Eilish, Dan + Shay, and a fabulous jamming inclusion of Fall Out Boy occurred as well. 😍🥰😅

Goodbye, Athena: My Grieving Process.

this isn’t easy, I don’t know how and what to feel. Keeping busy: it does the job but it doesn’t heal.

It’s getting harder to feel. And they all say: “You need to take care of yourself, my darling.” but they don’t know how it feels to be broken. I can’t help it, I feel numb. I’ll wait for the waves to leave and come. I think I’m breaking… I’m a mess in the making.

I’m getting tired of the same old feeling in my chest. I’m not a liar, but I’ve got secrets I can’t confess.

Don’t say you love me: ’cause I don’t understand those words.

And they all say: “You need to take care of your health, my darling.”

I’m holding on a tightrope and know I’m not coming home. Hurting, searching–you know I’m not coming home.”

lyrics from Marina Lin’s “this is what self-destruction feels like”


Dear Athena,

….but also dear any other eating disorder or mental health condition survivor Reader out there:

Hi. You don’t know me. You maybe never would. We interacted a couple of times online but I was a fan for a while. I started following your story and your YouNow’s and your Youtube videos back in 2017 when there was one of the first large pickups of your story and the speculation that you were living with an eating disorder. I even made a blog post here about you and what you might have been going through.

Over time I watched more and more of your videos. Just as every other person in the world was, I was slowly watching you kill yourself. Anorexia, eating disorders in general, are those slow, gradual killers–sometimes. I saw you waste away video by video. I cared about you deeply. …I still do.

And then there was that all time low in the beginning of 2019, where Jaclyn Glenn and her friends forced you into treatment for your disorder(s) because you were, you are, a danger to yourself. Your own hand, or maybe even multiple hands behind all the screens, smoke and mirrors, are your ultimate demise.

So you went away for a while. A month in treatment and 4-5 months off the Internet.

You returned with an improvement in your physical health in about May or so 2019, helped along by Shane Dawson’s documentary on you and your story. You didn’t get into specifics, you did admit to an eating disorder, but you didn’t want to label it yet. You said you were better. You said things were getting to be okay.

And we believed you. We always saw the best in you, we saw you for your amazing kindness, compassion, positivity and endless amounts of potential.

It seemed to help for a while. It seemed like things were looking up for you, finally.

And then, then time passed. And you started to have similar behaviors visible to the human eye: placing your fingers around your wrists in a body-checking maneuver, standing up for long periods of time, watching yourself in the image of your camera rather than in the lens, wearing more revealing clothing, streaming on Twitch for 6-8 hours at a time with no breaks, no bathroom runs, no eating and no drinking.

And as it went on like this most people were still saying praise and supportive (enabling) comments. On videos, in streams, everywhere. Except the place you sometimes lurk on, sometimes read about yourself on and definitely a place of honesty and reality that I’ve found myself on many, many times now: Reddit.

People there were more honest, more bold, more informative, more witnessing and putting out their thoughts, their feelings and their fears about the winding road you, Athena, were traveling down towards.

And as the days rolled on, the less and less life shone in your smiles, in your green eyes, in the way you carried yourself. The less Recovery Athena existed the more the hope faded from us passerby’s witnessing you slowly fade away.

And I’m so…annoyed. I wanted you to do better. I wanted you to be more. I wanted you to live.

but you didn’t.

And I have to accept the hard reality that if you stay in the environment that made you sick, if you continue with these eating disorder behaviors, if you continue to restrict or purge or all of the above, if you continue like this, Athena:

you are going to die.

you ARE already dying.

Your skin is so pale but not just from lack of light but because it’s tinged with grey. Your hands and your legs are red, sometimes at the knuckles, sometimes just the back of your hands. You’ve had rings of red around your mouth. Your chest has been red before, too. You stutter more, and maybe that’s nerves, maybe that’s from the weight of the world that you’re holding trying to present yourself as “so much better now” and “fully recovered” and “I really am okay and everything; that was a long time ago and stuff”. But you’re not. You’re not, Athena. You are struggling. You are dying. And you’re doing it in front of the entire planet. You’re doing it for reasons we’ll probably never know, not, not unless some health scare happens and you’re able to get out of your household and away from the people who are so likely hurting you–because it’s NOT normal for a mother or a father or a family to watch you waste away hour by hour and not do a THING to stop it. That’s not love. At worst it’s abuse, at least it’s neglect.

And if anything does happen to you, if you lose your fight in this that I so very much wish would never have to happen, then I hope proper justice is brought to your case. I hope that the millions of people you’ve influenced will see that you were NOT immune to the disastrous and tragic consequences of an eating disorder so severe, so crippling, that you were lying about your recovery and your journey and wanting to be better, that you were struggling and in pain and unhealthy and DYING–I hope they see that this is a real and serious disorder and issue, and I hope that if nothing else, it destroys the illusion you’ve been painting for years that “everything is fine” and you’re “really okay and everything” and that eating disorders, mental health conditions, kill. And they will kill. Anorexia is the number one leading condition that kills its participants. And you will be one too if you don’t change your behaviors, your thoughts, your emotions, your actions.

And maybe as unfortunate and not worthy of a trade it is, maybe the laws and legislation in the United States will decide another life lost–one so public, so out there in the world, so resonating and so deliberate–was enough to finally change how eating disorders are treated; how wellness checks are necessary, how to not have the law and the people in power see someone so ill and believe whatever bullshit falls from themselves because of the fact that eating disorders just aren’t seen as the real and dangerous disorders they are–they’re not seen as IMMINENT danger to the self or others and so they’re allowed, time and time again, to slip through the cracks and failed over and over again by a system that refuses to change its citizens and make their lives whole again. Something has to change in these cases, these lives, something has to be DONE on the matter, like in other countries, in other places, in other situations. There HAS to be something. There has to be.

I don’t know how many people we have to lose in life before the world takes it seriously. Before the state does. The family. The country. The psychiatric system. The educational system. The healthcare system.

I hope that when you go on to the next life, Athena, that you will find peace. And that we’ll remember you. God, I’m crying. I hope that people will remember you for how kind you were. How much life you had in you. How compassionate you were. I hope they remember you for everything that you could have been. That you had so much potential to make a positive impact in the world, and in some ways you did, and in many others you didn’t. People see you as an inspiration–whether that’s from when you started a recovery process (for healthy reasons) or because of how frail and damaged your body allowed you to become (unhealthy). You impacted so many people, whether you realize it or not. And you had a responsibility to teach others, a platform you could have used to teach others, about the dangers of these disorders, about the REALITY of these disorders, but most of all you had a responsibility for YOURSELF.

To get better. To become well. To be happy. To be YOU.

You had this responsibility and it never clicked in your head. You kept up all the old body-checks you’d done in videos and photos, you kept up controversial videos, you apologized for everything that didn’t matter and nothing at all for everything that did, you let yourself go when the world just wanted to hold you close. You denied your influence on others and turned a blind eye to predators and lurkers who meant you harm and who meant others harm.

But at the end of the day, you never took on that accountability. At the end of the day, you went on, down the shadowy path. You didn’t want help. You got comfortable in your disorder and you didn’t want to change. We can’t save everyone. And sometimes, sometimes people don’t want to be saved. And you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves.

So all of this is to say, all of these tears and words and ideas, all of it is to say that I have to say goodbye now.

I know how this story ends. That if you don’t get help, that if you don’t enter into recovery, that you die. And I… I can’t be waiting for that to happen anymore. I have to walk away. I have to get out all my thoughts and just never look back. And it won’t mean that I’ll never think of you again. Far from it, hun. But I can’t do this. I can’t consume your content when it fills the void of my hunger pains. I can’t keep seeing you shrink and shrink away and for my mind to play its own tricks on me. I can’t go on Reddit for hours to see how you’ve gotten worse, to see the comparisons, to read the truths there, to see what new way you’re using to distract yourself (usually makeup) from the reality of your situation, the way the mods in your streams try to protect you in the name of “care” but is really just veiled attempts at getting your attention and winning over your praise in the same breath that you struggle to take. I can’t do it anymore.

I’m walking away. So even when it kills me inside that I won’t know what you’re doing, HOW you’re really doing (did anyone ever anyways?), if you’re getting better, if you’re getting worse, that I won’t see you until I hear the news of your death and wonder why and how and everything… I still will stay away. Because I have to. I have to protect myself because I can’t protect you, only you can.

I won’t be checking in on you anymore. I’m not going to click on any Youtube videos about you (maybe save for Jaclynn here and there), certainly not any you make and minimize any about you, I’m not going to go to Reddit until I hear that awful, awful news one day, I’m not going to look at comments or tweets from you (I’ve muted, blocked and everything). And I’m not going to write another blog post, not, not until we hear the news. Because I’ll probably have to process then and this has helped already to process it.

If I want to read about anorexia and the dangers of it, I’ll do so by finding some blogs, some other advocates, hell even Jessie Paege or books on the matter. I’ll finish my own story about it (by that I mean a fictional fanfic) and I’ll move forwards.

With or without you, Athena, I will move forwards. Because that’s all we can ever really do.

So, I’m gonna wipe away my tears and set this into motion.

You’ll never see this, Athena but I really do wish you the best. I wish you could be whole again. I wish your life mattered as much to you as it does to so, so, so many people out there. I’m not sure if it would be a curse or a blessing for you to one day realize how severe your condition is and the legacy that you’ve tarnished and left behind because of some bullshit in your brain that you weren’t able to overcome for some reason that we’ll never ever truly know.

I wish you were stronger. I wish you had more time. I wish we could have seen you grow and evolve and become more than everything else. I wish you didn’t have to suffer. I don’t know why some people do more than others, but I’ll have to believe in the Universe and know that it works in mysterious and often unfair ways.

Most of all, I’m going to remember you like this:

Athena.

I’ll remember you smiling. I’ll remember your killer makeup looks. I’ll remember those green eyes and long hair. That hopefulness and life there within you. The idea, the promise, that things were really getting better. I’ll remember you like this. Because I can’t remember you like how you are now. I’m so sorry, Athena. I wish this wasn’t how you left.

Goodbye.


This post got a lot more emotional than I could have ever imagined. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or some other mental heath condition: know that you are NEVER alone, that you CAN get through this, that there is HOPE and HELP available and that you’re so strong, you’re so amazing and you DESERVE to be here and take up space. I wish you all the best. xxx


There’s strength and a certain amount of courage to write so publicly about your life, to share the journey is a blessing and a beacon for others who may be struggling, because it says, ‘hey, I’ve been where you are and you can get to this stable place, too.’ And that, above all, is what really matters.” — “My Hopes for My Legacy” by Me back in 2018 (article)


Resources: 
NEDA , National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) , Healthy Place .
thank you for reading and if you have any thoughts on this matter or about Athena or want to encourage her or share your story, please feel free to do so down below. if not, that's okay too. i believe in you and i always will. i want the best for her, i do, it's just hard. it's just hard. thank you for stopping by. sending you light, love and hugs. xxx <3 <3 <3