If you knew me in high school, you knew that I was bullied. You knew that it was not a “phase” that every high school kid went through. You knew that it was not just an every now-and-then occurrence. It was a constant in my daily life. Every relationship and friendship that I ever tried to form was completely and utterly ruined due to rumors that were incessantly spread about me.
This harassment started to get to my head. When you hear something so many times, you start to believe it yourself. I was called a slut, fat, stupid, a bitch. There were plenty of nicknames created in my honor— all derogatory. Day in and day out, I was attacked and my self esteem got lower and lower.
Not only was I bullied at school, but I was also abused at home. School was a living hell, and so was my home life. Receiving the brunt of the force in both my home and school life brought me to my knees in distress. I couldn’t function anymore. I slept my days away. I stopped eating for several weeks at a time. Even so, at school I tried to keep my life as normal as possible and tried not to show my pain to others, which is why this is the first time I have ever written about any of this.
Not only was I fatigued and not eating, I also started to self-mutilate by cutting my stomach. I would sit on my bathroom floor and bleed for hours. My “friends” did not pay any mind, because all of them were turned against me by the lies and insults said about me. I sat there alone on the cold floor with “Goodbye My Lover” by James Blunt and “Broken” by Seether and Amy Lee blaring to drown out my crying.
To top it all off, when the abuse at home wasn’t ongoing, and I felt like I was safe from all of the bullying that occurred at school, I was forced to deal with the fabulous invention of social media— where people who can hide behind their computer screens can say 10x more negative things about you that they either didn’t have enough time to say about you during the day or didn’t have the courage to say out loud. I think the social media bullying might have been the worse, because it allowed up to (sometimes about) 50 people to attack you at once— and there isn’t a damn thing you can possibly do about it. Especially when your friends have all run the other direction and you are 50:1.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II, Anxiety Disorder with Panic, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder around my 18th birthday. It kills me to think that everyone who put me down in high school never stopped to think about who I am as a person. They might not have liked how I looked, what I said, or what I did. But there is so much more to a person than what shows on the outside. There’s their cognition, their emotions, their childhood, their personality… the list goes on and on. But nobody ever stopped to think about what was going on in my head. Nobody ever stopped to think that maybe I was going through enough as it was.
I am 3 years out of high school now, and living across the country with my handsome fiance, who is hands down the best thing that has ever happened to me. A lot of the bullying is blurred, but there are some memories that feel like they just happened yesterday; some days I think they will never go away. The memory that seems to stick the most is a text message I received from someone, which seemed to be the start of all of the bullying, that read “I promise I will destroy your life.”
I can still feel the cringe in my stomach when I read that text message. I even know where I was sitting and who I was with (Burger King with my grandmother). When did teenagers suddenly posses the power to transform themselves into God? When did people discover a reason that justifies controlling someone else’s life to the point that it is “destroyed”?
I was biologically predisposed for my illnesses. I cannot say that anyone caused me to be diagnosed with things that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. But my surroundings over my lifetime have triggered the onsets. I’m not quite sure if there is any possible way to explain how it feels to be bipolar. To have ups and downs that you have no control over. To sit in class thinking about everything that is wrong with you, and feel like everyone is staring at you. To be entirely convinced that your devoted significant other will leave you when there is no evidence saying that they will.
I will never be able to get back all those years in high school that I spent in misery. I will never be able to erase my scars. I will never be able to go to a high school reunion and not worry about what people are saying about me. I will never be able to go back to my hometown without having to worry about running into someone who will make sure to ruin my day. I have never gotten apologies from the people who put me through the worst in high school, and probably never will.
But I will be able to say that I am a survivor of bullying. I am a person living and dealing with Bipolar Disorder, and doing the best job that I can. I have found the love of my life, one who supports me day in and day out, and who accepts me— illnesses and all. I have helped numerous people with mental illness, and am well on my way to helping more.
This is my letter to the world, who has not been fair nor decent to me. Who seemingly has given me more obstacles than opportunities. Who has closed more doors than it has opened. This is me saying that you really do find your strength when strength is your opposition. Maybe the mentally ill are the mentally strong, because who else has a battle with their mind on a daily basis and still gets out alive? Maybe, just maybe, the bullying I endured was a blessing in disguise. I will never forget the hurt, nor the torment. But at the end of the day, I know who I am, and I will always stay true to that. So this is my thank you to all of the people who have put me down so tremendously over the years. Thank you for making me the headstrong person that I have become.