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First Post

Well, my name is Aaron. I'm in the chat quite often as, well, Aaron. I'm going to use this blog to take anyone who's interested on my journey. First, I'll introduce myself.

I was diagnosed with depression in 1998 - the year I turned 12 - and bi-polar disorder and social anxiety in 2009. I was born and live in Northwest Georgia, about 75 miles north of Atlanta. I am a diehard fan of NASCAR, with Tony Stewart being my favorite driver. I'm also a fan of Atlanta Braves baseball and have a strong interest in the superhero Batman.

As I said, I was diagnosed with depression when I was 11, going on 12. In hindsight, knowing what I know now about bi-polar disorder, I'm all but certain I was suffering from it then as well. I would feel so high, too high in fact which would annoy some of my classmates, and then I would crash. Hard. It became clear to folks at my school that I needed help when, near the end of a particularly rough day, I took a sheet of wide-ruled paper and wrote on all 27 lines, three times across, "I wish I were dead."

School was hell, in general. Particularly middle school. I was tormented throughout the sixth-eighth grades, even by so-called friends. My grades suffered as a result. See, I would come home emotionally drained from the misery of that day and, needing a diversion, forget about my homework as I played with toys or played a video game. That led to getting scolded in front of the whole class by the teacher, in turn leading to more torment from my classmates and lead me to need more diversions. It was a vicious cycle that dogged me all three years I went to middle school.

Finally, after being bullied a bit more in high school, I became a bit of a recluse. I would mostly keep to myself, not saying a word unless spoken to and only letting a handful of people in, so to speak. It was a bit amusing to overhear the same people who had bullied me two or three years earlier predicting that I would be the next kid to shoot up the school.

The trouble is, in withdrawing from social situations in school, I built my protective shell a bit thick. Breaking out of it has been, since I graduated in December 2005, a futile effort. My social anxiety is crippling, a condition not aided by my weight and poor oral health. As such, I've effectively been at home with my parents ever since the day I walked out of school, leaving only for necessary reasons like going to a grocery store or going to get  a haircut or something like that. There have also been a few pleasure trips, such as going to NASCAR races.

The best pleasure trip, and the time I was happiest with myself and with my life, was in July 2010. A girl from Arizona, whom I had met in March 2009 through my NASCAR cartooning site, came to visit me for five days. It was my first time alone with a female, but I was remarkably open. For the first time in my life, I sang out loud as she and I rode through the streets of Atlanta in our rented Chevrolet Impala. We went to see a stage production of The Phantom of the Opera - the realization of a dream for her - on July 4, which was her 26th birthday. That night we went to see the fireworks in Centennial Olympic Park. There were other experiences, like touring the Talladega Superspeedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, visiting Atlanta's World of Coca-Cola, and seeing Toy Story 3, that were fun, but above all the experience of laughing and holding hands with someone and feeling like she actually loved me, was what made it the greatest five-day stretch of my life. While she here in Georgia, I proposed, giving her my high school ring as a place-holder. She accepted, and we began talking about her moving here and us beginning our lives together.

By November, however, my issues had become too much. I still couldn't work a job because of my anxiety, and on November 16, she confirmed to me that she no longer felt any love for me. For the first time in my life, I seriously contemplated suicide. I planned to play a CD she had bought for me - John Mellencamp's newly-released "No Better Than This" - and take a pill at the conclusion of each of the 13 songs. Finally, my fear of going to Hell for killing myself got ahold of me and I abandoned the idea.

It still aches, however. It's like this: you spend 23+ years of your life being made to feel you're unlovable and convincing yourself that it's the truth. Then, along comes this girl - as though she were dropped from Heaven by God himself - that acts like you are lovable. Then, she decides you aren't. It's not the best thing for one's self-esteem, especially when that self-esteem is all but nonexistent to begin with.

Sometimes I do think I have potential. I know that I'm a good person at heart. A few girls on this site have looked at my photo in the gallery and referred to me as, and I quote, "a cutie." I think they're blind, but still. Maybe I'm not the fearsome -looking ogre I percieve myself as.

I'm a dreamer, a big-time dreamer, with a strong imagination and creativity and a desire to use it to touch people and make them smile. When I grow up, I want to be Walt Disney. I want to have that kind of an empire, making films, cartoons, toys, etc, for children of all ages. It is probably no coincidence that Disney and I share a birthday: I was born December 5, 1986, exactly 85 years after Uncle Walt.

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