1. You withdraw from your community. Because you don’t think your community will understand. This problem, this situation, it’s too complex. It’s better to deal with it alone than to drag more people into it.
2. You binge drink. You are not an alcoholic, you are not partying just because that is what people your age do. What you’re trying to do is quiet the voice in your head that’s perpetually reminding you of all of the shit that’s not right in your life. You know that it’s not right, but for just a few minutes you want to forget about that. You just want to push that aside for however long the buzz lasts and try to be happy or at least numb to it.
3. You entertain toxic relationships. They are broken just like you and they aren’t pushing you to “be better” or “fight through it.” Self-destructive as they are, they’re letting you be.
4. You sleep all day. When you’re asleep, you don’t have to think about whatever situation is going on. For that time, you can escape to your dreams where your mind paints you all kind of pictures that don’t involve what’s currently going on.
5. You watch TV and movies for hours on end. When life sucks, it’s easier to watch someone else’s life. Even if it is fake, we know it will be alright in the end, for them at least. Everything will wrap up nicely and they will have their happily ever after. And for that time, you don’t have to think about the fact that you have no fucking idea how it will end for you.
6. You are promiscuous. It’s just another escape or at least a distraction. It’s validation that maybe you are not as screwed up as you think. Maybe you are just chasing the euphoria that sex brings. For however long the sex lasts, you are in a different place, separated from the things you don’t want to deal with.
7. Your eating habits drastically change. Whether over or under eating, there is a significant difference in your eating patterns. For over eaters, it’s for comfort. It’s just a little junk food, but it starts happening more and more often until it’s a habit. For under eaters, you just don’t have the motivation. You have no appetite and don’t feel like forcing food down because what’s the point?
8. You work out excessively. This one is hard to see because exercise is viewed as such a universally healthy thing. For some people, they are chasing the endorphins that come from working out without any thought of self-care. They aren’t hydrating properly, they aren’t replenishing nutrients, and it’s all about pushing themselves or losing themselves during the workout. Or it’s a way of having some control. You can’t control what’s happening in your life, but you can control what you bench or how much you can squat. And all the while those endorphins are pumping, giving you an addictive high, not unlike heroine or morphine, which use the same receptors in the brain.
9. You do ridiculous things for attention. You are the one that will do anything on a dare or always comes up with the craziest stunt because any attention is good attention, right? Maybe if you keep them watching you someone will notice that there is something terribly wrong.