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Posts Tagged ‘bullying’

I have spent a lot of time over the past couple of years considering writing this and due to the realities of our world I don’t. I feel the fear that comes with the stigmatization of mental health. I started fighting that fear a few years ago. I finally accepted my own anxiety issues and began admitting them not only to the outside world but more importantly to myself.
You see for a large part of my life as I was growing up my dad tried to get me to admit and seek help. This always caused a battle between us, as my words often offended him as his offended and scared me. He’d label me as depressed, or manic, or he didn’t know what but he saw the struggles. He saw his child who hid from people in a large setting, saw his child who was up and down emotionally, who had a temper that was explosive and got her in trouble. I don’t think he saw the child who was just hurting because of the words she heard from the people in her world.
He didn’t see the child who was effected negatively by always being the new kid. By being the one who didn’t fit in and who was teased mercilessly by the other kids. Whose own friends occasionally got in on the action because that’s the life of a teenager. 
As I was growing I heard, accepted, and internalized the wicked and hurtful things that were said to and about me. Those voices, those words became my internal voice. Nearly a two decade after those evil words have mostly stopped I still hear them. I hear them in every unanswered text or message. I hear them in the seemingly ignored posts. I hear them when spending time with friends…thinking thinking thinking, second guessing everything I say and do. Wondering if they really want me around or if they’re just pitying me.
Even when being told that I am amazing, that I am loved…I hear the voices telling me this can’t be true. That those saying that just want something from me. A part knows that’s not true but the voices from the past can be so much louder than the ones in the present. 
Those voice cause me to be anxious in a crowd. They cause me to be anxious whenever doing anything new. They make me afraid of new people, and old friends, afraid of what they are truly thinking.
They cause issues of depression. They cause me to think that I am worthless and unloved. They cause me to feel like everyone would be better off with out me (a piece of my brain always kicks in right here screaming that the voices lie, it’s quiet a battle between the heart and the head). When I make mistakes it’s like I’ve ruined everything and made things 100 times worse than even humanly possible. 
I am learning to love myself, I am learning to ignore the voices of my past, the voices that LIE to me. I know that in the moments that the voices are screaming myself doubt becomes trying, but know that I am trying. I am fighting it with all that I have and am and I will win.

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This is a topic I’ve thought a great deal about over the last few years. It’s interesting how this term has seemed to change since I was in school. I was wicked picked on but at the time would never have considered myself bullied because bullying was only seen as physical when I was in school. Looking back today I would apply it and would say that how we treat people has a lifelong, lasting effect on how a person grows and who they become.
Growing up I was perpetually the new kid. I went to five elementary schools from kindergarten through 5th grade moving mid-year in first and third grade. I was lucky to attend only one junior high but went to five high schools. Again moving midyear in my freshman, sophomore, and senior years. As a kid and teen I was heavy, wore glasses, had braces for a number of years and was just as much an introvert then as now. I also had a temper and wore my heart on my sleeve so I was fun to pick on. It was easy to get me to react and even when I tried not to it only lasted so long before the explosion was even more glorious than before. I went home many a night feeling like I was useless, stupid, and hated by all. Like there was no point in my existing in the world if my only purpose was to be a punching bag. I learned to slink into the shadows and do everything in my power to be as invisible as possible. I was angry and distrustful of people’s actions. I could go into details of friends mooing at me, people saying things just cause they knew it would hurt me or piss me off, of the teasing and tears but that’s not the point. So what is?
A few months ago I saw a meme, sadly I can’t seem to find it again, talking about how we all need to just pull up our big kid pants and realize that bullying was just part of life and not that big a deal. I’ve been unable to get this idea and how wrong it is out of my mind.
A few weeks ago I was at a company event and at the end all my co-workers were dancing and having a grand old time I sat back smiling and enjoying watching. Wanting to join in but also fighting the terror of what people would think if I did, fighting the terror of drawing attention to myself. One of my coworkers came over and pulled me out, I made numerous excuses and fought against that tugging hand. At the same time I appreciated it. I appreciated being allowed to be part of the group and realizing that it was ok.
As I thought about this and my reaction I wondered if I would be the socially anxious and scared person I am.  Always afraid of what people will think, saying the wrong thing, and what will happen if I’m brought to others attention.  I am fighting to break out of the protective box I created for myself but it’s hard work.  I don’t want any child, any human being to feel the way I felt growing up.  To struggle to find their own self worth.

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I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few days about the nature of words, the nature of friendship, and how things can so easily fall apart.

I’ve had the line “Careful the things you say Children will listen. Careful the things you do Children will see, and learn” from an Into the Woods song going through my head the past few days.  This doesn’t just apply to children it applies to all people. We hear what is said to and about us. We see your actions and it affects us and you.

I’ve watched as friendships have exploded over words throughout the past few days.  I watched as one friend had the cruelest of comments made to her…someone she thought she knew and cared about searched their knowledge of whom she was for the meanest things he could say. I watched as a friend told lies about me, maybe a small lie but a lie none the less. I watched as myself and friends were attacked and bullied for trying to keep people safe. For trying to honor and respect all needs. For not thinking that it’s ok to tell people with mental health issues to ‘suck it up buttercup’ or ‘pull up their big girl pants and deal’ with something that could push them over the edge in their depression or what not.

I watched as I tried to understand all sides of the issue and I was attacked for not automatic agreement and told I was harassing as I sought clarity and understanding, as I tried to save a friendship not worth saving.

I understand being hurt; I understand being angry…it’s ok to feel it is part of being human. It is not ok to be cruel. It is not ok to attack someone for not blindly following you and agreeing with you. It is not ok to tell people that their feelings don’t matter, that only your thoughts and feelings do.  It is not ok to lie about people to get your way. People listen and hear your words. People apply those words and ideas to themselves and learn from them.

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