We hear people saying "It gets better" or "hang in there" and I have to put in my two cents on why telling people it will get better simply is not enough.
I have attempted suicide.
I have harmed myself.
I have been deeply impacted by bullying.
From the time I was young I was bullied. I was never the popular kid. I was loud and dramatic and sang all the time. I was also "the fat girl". Funny enough I wasn't that big in school but thats another story. Kids have an uncanny ability to feel out insecurities and play on them. Being the biggest girl in the class as a kid made me different and insecure. I knew it, my classmates knew it, my bullies knew it.
I had numerous people that were unkind or mean. Baby bullies, they wern't as direct or harsh but they had words that cut me none the less. My bullys name was David, I can still hear his voice and picture his face 20 years later. A time I should have been playing and having fun, I was begging to spend recesses indoors or walking around with the teacher on recess duty.
"No one likes you"
I was terrified to sit on the school benches, I had been convinced I would break them.
I hated gym class, I swore I could feel eyes watching me jiggle.
I refused to eat at school, afraid I was being watched and judged.
As the years passed I lost friends, I avoided the usual life lessons of young love and friendship. Group projects were done solo and I spent all my spare time hiding in my basement.
The Basement. My personal prison.
During junior high I gave up. I lived in my basement, coming up for food and very little else. My mother tried to push me to go to school and I would leave the house and then return as soon as everyone was gone. The thought of going to school made me physically ill. I slowly retreated more and more until full fledged agoraphobia kicked in. I would hide in the dark basement away from people and sunlight and the world and scrape at my skin. I would get an itch and scratch it until it bled. My arms and legs held scars hidden by long sleeves and pants. My family tried everything to get me out of the house. Threats, demands, the police were at our house numerous times as we fought tooth and nail.
All because I didn't want to go to school.
Because I hated myself.
Because I was being bullied.
I tried everything I could to stop the bullying. I told my teachers, I stood up for myself, I stole from family and stores so I would have the coolest new thing or so I would have money to buy things for other people and look popular. It didn't work. Nothing worked. The insults would continue to fly and I would lash out verbally at my bullies and end up in trouble myself. This just aggravated the problems. No one was on my side. In trouble at home, in trouble at school and hated on the playground. I had no where to turn.
The more depressed I got the more I ate my emotions. The insecurity I was fighting so hard against was my one comfort. Food. I was ashamed. I would hide food, empty packages, dishes so no one would know I was eating. I wasn't fooling anyone. I was hiding in baggy clothes and behind long bushy hair. The weight I continued to put on did not go un-noticed. I was disgusted with myself, so I would stop eating for days and then binge. Cartons of ice cream, full packages of lunch meat, cookies, cheese, crackers, chips, hot dogs, kraft dinner... anything I could get my hands on. And then the shame, the self hatred, the hiding evidence and myself.
The emotions and mental distress of bullying was clearly visible in every aspect of my life.
The self hatred, the shame, the feeling that I had no one to turn to... I gave up.
Pills were my method of choice.
No one was home.
I didn't care what it was as long as there was a lot of them.
I swallowed handfuls of pills until there were none left.
Then I laid down and waited to die.
I'm fairly sure I left a note apologizing for being a horrible person but everything is a blur for awhile. I know someone found me. I know I ended up at the hospital. I know I was forced to drink charcoal until I threw up. I know I had my stomach pumped.
I know I didn't die.
I know nothing changed.
I know I tried again.
Until at 14 I was admitted to a juvenile psychiatric facility for suicidal tendencies. Such a nice way to say I wanted to be dead and wouldn't give up. Most people chase their dreams, I think I was chasing my mothers nightmare. I spent 6 months locked away. Group therapy, one on one therapy, art therapy, music therapy, medical tests, medications. I came home numb. Heavily medicated and numb. I no longer knew how to feel. I couldn't sing, I couldn't write and I couldn't think.
I knew one thing. School was where I was hated and ridiculed and terrorized. I knew I wouldn't go back. I wouldn't give my bullies more ammunition by having them find out that they broke me. That they had won.
I muddled through in independent learning until I was 16 and I dropped out. I was done. I felt exactly the same in independent learning that I did at school, I was an outcast. I was different and people were watching me and waiting for me to fail. I took a minimum wage job and moved out. My mother and I were at each others throats and I hated everyone and everything.
The years since then have been hard. I'm not going to lie, suicide has been an option many times. Luckily I have learned better coping, kind of. I've had problems with drugs, problems with alcohol, I am a hoarder, I have horrible anxiety, and some days, I still hate myself.
I have done a lot of work over the years to slowly improve and better my life. I still have to work very hard every day not to swirl into a black pit and just say "To Hell With It" to everyone and everything. I am a work in progress. I am bent but not broken.
Bullying did this to me.
Bullying destroyed my mental health.
If I close my eyes I can still see and hear my bully as clear as if they were standing beside me. The words they spewed still cut me inside. Their hatred so thick in front of me still that I can taste it.
If your child is being bullied or suddenly has a major personality change, please, I'm begging you, get them help. Be on their side. It will be the hardest thing you may ever do in your life, but it can save their life. Give them hugs. Give them understanding. Give them time. Give them love.
No one should ever grow up to be me. It is preventable. We can't change other peoples kids. We can't fix bullies. They will always exist in some form, what we can do is save our own children through educating them, empowering them and being open to giving them any help they may need. Therapy is not bad. Medications are not bad. Reaching out is not bad. We seem to think that we need to be super human and capable of dealing with everything on our own as parents. That to ask for help is a sign of weakness and a failure of parenting.
Asking for help will save your childs life.