Catfish Depression

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Catfish Depression

by Isabelle Marsh
Online Dating Depression Relationships Family Heartbreak Love

I was 15 when I spoke like a sailor to a man on the internet I had never seen before.

His pictures were gorgeous, in my eyes. His loyalty seemed perfect. I didn’t know. I was vulnerable.

I fell into something I did not want to admit to my parents. In fact, when I had the guts to tell my parents what I was up to, I was ashamed. I told them I had met a guy and he was real. I hadn’t met him at all. I had seen him in an online chat room and was intrigued by his masculine stature.

My parents' reaction to my news was total oblivion. I told them I would stop talking to him, but I did just the opposite. Each morning was a reminder that I had found the man I wanted to spend my life with. At least - these were the lies I was telling myself.

One day, my German teacher told me to report to the office. My mom had supposedly come to take me to a doctor’s appointment. That was odd since my mother didn’t believe in traditional medicine. When I made my way to the front desk, my mom was standing there. We went straight home and got on the phone with my dad. Mind you - my dad traveled frequently and was halfway across the continent when he had learned I had not stopped.

She had logged onto my computer and noticed I had not ceased my conversation with him. She took immediate action. It was not a calm assurance we would overcome his wrath together.

The next day, my parents brought me to see a therapist. Truthfully, I had no idea what I doing wrong. My idea of normal was sexually exposing myself to a man who I knew nothing about. I was willing to open up to him, show him the most intimate parts of myself and never ask to see his face. Not even once.

My depression was diagnosed after a few sessions with a therapist. You could say I was facing the five stages of grief when the therapist convinced me I was losing the man who I felt was present in reality.

I could not be without him. I spent days laying in my bed with the laptop warming my legs, waiting for him to message me. My mom joked that I appeared bedridden.

In school, I failed a class because I waited every class period for him to message me. I took frequent trips to the bathroom to check my phone and ensure that I didn’t miss a word from him. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about what I was learning. My mind was not capable of seeing past his seduction.

I went straight to my room each day, closed the door and continued subjecting myself to his every request. Even with the persistence of a therapist playing the angel on my shoulder, I found ways to talk to him. I never smiled. My face was a permanent sigh.

I’ll spare you the details that led to our eventual meeting. After meeting with him, I soon learned he was not who he said he was.

My mental illness lifted (in a way) to alleviate the pain I was feeling. When I learned his identity, my confidence shattered, my trust shattered and the mental wall I’d built, broke down into fine pieces of gravel. The truth shall set you free. What I was searching for was truth. As I developed a relationship with my therapist, I began to understand my loneliness trumped my depression. I began to triumph in the moments when I’d breathe fresh air and sit with my newspaper teacher at lunch.  

In the end, 7 years later, I struggle with bouts of depression. In hindsight, I would not be as mentally tough as I am if I did not overcome the deception I faced and the depression that accompanied the man on the internet.

As of the man on the internet, he is no longer a part of society.

 

Social worker to-be, Isabelle, is pursuing her Master's in Social Work. She aims to educate on the importance of wellness through written word. She is also the founder and editor of HEAL(er) Mag - an online publication dedicated to sharing stories of healing. You can follow her on Twitter at @OrganicIz and Instagram @healermag_.