I am a vampire.
I have said those words to only two people in my life, and when faced with telling my parents, I was fully unable. What am I supposed to say? There’s enough fear here to be shared around. The first thing that comes to mind is the gothic look, the pale skin, the tendencies toward video games and other things that will convince my parents, those people who “always know me best”, that this is another phase I will pass through. So most likely I’ll get one of two responses. Firstly, they’ll look right into my eyes as if they’re trying to determine whether or not I’m telling the truth. They’ll think and come to the conclusion that I’m either stupid, insane, or making it up.
As a nineteen-year-old vampire things are hard to cope with. I’ve been living with my girlfriend for a number of months now, so it was more out of mutual understanding I told her. She was very understanding, and even now will help me out when I start getting blood cravings. The other person I told was my best friend, and I think that was a mistake. We’ve known each other for a long time, and back when we were tiny kids we always used to play games of make-believe, like any kids with imaginations. The look he threw me after I told him was a look of “okay, we’re playing again”. He nodded and pretended to be cool with it, but I think even today I’m unable to talk with him about it, because he doesn’t understand that this is a real, credible need.
The most important thing to remember is that we’re human – we’re kids, elders, teachers, parents, daughters, sons, and being a vampire doesn’t mean we can’t be those things as well. Vampirism is just another part of WHO we are, not WHAT we are. So if you’re reading this as an awakening vampire, a sibling of a vampire, or the parent of a vampire, the most important thing to remember is that your child, sibling or friend is no different, vampire or otherwise. Blood consumption is a stupid taboo, one that keeps us in constant fear and in some cases, not a single person will know. I’ve had to lie directly to my friends and family, and being someone who prizes honesty, I hate doing it, but I understand why I have to.
From the point of realising you have a need for blood, the obvious part is to discount all other theories and possibilities before you deal with it as a vampire. There are myriad things that make you crave blood (trust me – I’ve had most of these excuses thrown at me by doctors for the past year), and it’s important that you make sure it’s not something else. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Blood acid misbalance, Renfield’s Syndrome, even some types of schizophrenia mean you will end up with a blood craving. These things all have predictable stages and symptoms, along with solutions.
Ending up with one of the aforementioned conditions after you think you are a vampire should be a relief. These things have a solution, and sometimes it means you will lose your blood craving over the course of your life. There is no “cure” for vampirism, and this means the blood cravings we feel are pretty much constant. They get better and worse, and there are substitutions we can use to delay the hunger we have for blood, but in the end we must have blood, or else. I’ve done some stupid things when the hunger takes over, and it’s never pretty.
Most people after their awakening go a fairly long time before they genuinely need blood, as in they either have blood or they’ll find it. They can live off animal blood, use substitutions, or in some cases, simply feed off pranic energy. It’s a bad feeling to come to the end of your rope with your thirst, and I’ll never forget my first encounter with it. I tried biting people, which is always a no-no, no matter what the circumstance. Thankfully, I was pretty crazed at the time, and it must have been the look in my eyes when I walked toward people that made them run from me. I went home and sat on my bedroom floor for about twelve hours twitching, and when the sun came up through my thick curtains I could see my own exposed veins and arteries and after that, there was no going back. I bit a large hole in my forearm and fed.
Most vampires will tell you never ever to feed from yourself, and it’s a good idea not to. No matter what the cause of vampirism, there’s obviously something in other people’s blood that isn’t in ours, and we need to ingest it. However as long as I don’t fully depend upon my own blood, I have no hesitations in using it as a last resort.
Given my grisly story there’s something that I feel has to be said here. I’m not a danger to you, nor is any other vampire. I went a very, very long time without blood, and it was my own fault for ignoring my body. It hasn’t happened since, and it will never happen again, especially now that I’m living with somebody.
So that part was my (very general) past, and here’s my present. I live in a darkened apartment fairly close to my university. During university semesters I do go outside during the day, but I’m always wearing a lot of clothes (no matter what the temperature), and it pretty much consists of running down the road to avoid getting burned. Light sensitivity is something most vampires tend to get, and I was given that in spades. It might be a side-effect of drinking blood, but my heritage is mostly English, and English people burn in about twenty minutes in summer. I burn in six. I was chagrined to discover on a walk to the corner store and back I had gotten burned – the trip had taken me six minutes, and I spent two weeks indoors afterwards for my sunburn to heal.
Another thing some people tend to believe is that vampires have heightened senses. This seems to be somewhat true, but not to the extent that some people will have you believe. I can’t hear a spider crawling in the apartment next to me. However when I listen to music, I’ll be annoyed at every passing car (which my ears follow halfway down the road) and every movement my poor girlfriend makes. This is because I can hear the depths of most sounds at a very low volume, so I’ll put my music on a comfortable volume and have the natural sounds overwhelm it quite easily. Just to give you an example, my computer is making a whirring noise that covers my music right now, and typing has to be done in time with the beat, or it just overtakes the music.
Another thing I’ll mention is my tendency to play vampiric video games, watch vampire movies and even sometimes wear a set of fake fangs and run around in a black cape – it’s because it’s fun. I don’t consider that being a “real” vampire, and I don’t take it seriously – and neither should you. I play video games and watch movies like that not because I think it’s finding my “true place” or anything like that, I’m just interested in the vampire fiction genre, and this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with actually being a vampire. They’re two different traits, like having blonde hair and blue eyes. They often go together, but to say one means the other is just silly.
And believe it or not, there has been a point to all this. One thing every vampire can never really have is true understanding from everyone else. There are one or two people you’ll ever meet that will truly understand and accept real vampires (yes real, we can’t turn into fog or bats, and we’re not superhuman), and I’ve had the amazingly good fortune of living with one of them. I might end up telling my parents in twenty years or so, when they’re much more likely to listen, when society has developed enough for vampirism to be considered somewhat normal, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for that one to happen. Most likely I’ll sit in my dark unit and go to university, then get some night job for the rest of my life. From what I gather so far, this is what most other vampires do, and if you’re the parent of an awakening vamp, this is what your child will most likely do, and the one thing they need from you is the one thing they won’t find anywhere else – understanding. Drag their ass to the doctor, make sure it’s not something else, but in the end, if it is, give them a big hug and tell them it’s okay, because it really is. Realising you are a vampire is not the end of your life – in fact in a way, it’s only the beginning.