I will get through this. They took me to many appointments and paid for so many medications. I appreciate all the kindness and love when I was in my darkest days. You guys learned all you could in a time before the Internet had the answers and before self-helps books were readily available. You were not bad parents just because you could not fix what was going on in me. I do the best I can. It has just gotten harder getting older. I have so many doubts. I feel worthless. I feel depressed, despaired, numb.
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I need someone to be there for me. I understand your feelings. But there are a lot of things you can help me with and be supportive. Sometimes practical things like going shopping for or with me can be great. Sometimes I just need someone to talk to. Or I need someone to hug me. Or I need someone to tell me that everything is going to be OK. You being supportive is really really important to me. Know that I loved you very, very much, even at my worst moments. And I will overcome this illness and be a productive member of society again one day. I just need time to let my body and soul heal.
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I love you more than you know for your love and support. When you worry about me so much, I get even more anxious and upset. My mom was wracked with guilt. I did tell her, yes, this has been a part of me all my life. This anxiety was why I never had friends, got into trouble or went to dances like others did. No, it was not your fault. None of this is the fault of anything.
It simply is what and who I am. It backfired.
The popular girls figured out that Amanda Williams had the same phone number listed on her MySpace as I did, and everyone found out that I had made her up. I went from being invisible to being totally shunned. It should've made me stop, but instead, it made me smarter about how to lie online. I made a second account—it was an identical Amanda Williams account, with the same photos—but I made sure to block everyone I went to school with.
I became paranoid and obsessed with the account. After ninth grade, my mom switched me from my high school into a vocational school because I was being bullied. But the new school gave me more free time, which meant I spent more time online. What should've been an opportunity to reclaim my social life became fuel for my catfishing.
I spent all my free time on social media, building Amanda Williams's life like an avatar on The Sims.
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I became meticulous about how I crafted the accounts: I scouted out pictures of pretty girls, but none that were too popular. If someone has over 1, followers on Instagram, there's a risk that someone could recognize that their photos are stolen. Once the account is created, I start by adding people from whatever city I decide she's from.
It doesn't matter who I add initially—those people are just "fillers. So you have to have enough "filler friends," who are from the city you say you're from, to make it look legit.
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After I have about of these fillers, I start adding the people I want. I don't upload all of the stolen photos at once: I trickle them in, just like a normal person would. I always find the girl I'm stealing photos from on Facebook, and I block every single person on her friends list. I've spent entire days doing this—actively blocking people who might catch on to the ruse—just to ensure that none of this person's friends will discover that I'm stealing her pictures for a fake account.
After that, I have to make subaccounts to convince people the account is real. If someone doesn't have any tagged photos, they're probably fake, right? So I make subaccounts—fake people who will pose as the fake friends of my fake profile. To do this, I choose videos from Instagram and post them on Facebook.
I've learned how to use Photoshop to fake "proof" signs, to show that the account is "real. It doesn't matter if somebody sends you a "proof" picture. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. When I was Amanda Williams, people cared about me. When I was the real me, I was invisible. Even though everything on the accounts were fake—the pictures, the backstories, the friends—they made me feel the most like myself. On the fake accounts, I could open up to people in a way that I couldn't in real life.
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Other girls my age had boyfriends and best friends, but I had my MySpace friends—people who cared about me, who let me vent, who asked me about my day. I've never asked for money from my profiles; just attention. It felt good to have someone call me "beautiful" or "sexy," even if I knew they weren't talking about me. I've never had someone call me that in real life—instead, people have called me a "land whale," because I've been overweight most of my life.
I'm too scared of the rejection, of the vulnerability that comes with being me. I'm too scared of someone telling me I'm ugly, I'm fat, I'm disgusting, and I'm not worthy of love. I had one relationship through the fake accounts that felt like love—or at least, as close to "love" as you can get on the internet.
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Eventually, I broke down and told him that I wasn't who I said I was, hoping that he would understand. He shut down and never spoke to me again. I've been tortured by that for years: Could I have had that relationship on my own? And where would I be now if I hadn't lied? There are people out there who make fake accounts because they are sociopaths—and maybe I am one—but I've felt heartbreak from these accounts, too.
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