A large number of children in our schools are being bullied. Some of the children, after years of being put down, pushed around, and teased, decline into mental illness and even commit suicide. Bullying is a form of abuse that not only affects children in their younger years, but also follows them into their adulthood. Mental illness can be a combination of an imbalance in the brain, genetics, or an unhealthy family life along with the continuous belittling happening at school and online. We look up to our teachers for protection, but they can also be bullies.
When I was in school, hardly anyone had computers at home. We went to the computer lab in school to learn how to use them and how to surf the internet. There were no laptops, tablets, or cellphones that connect you to social media. There were also no anti-bullying rules or movements to bring awareness to bullying. It was a big problem in and out of school.
The bullying began for me as early as first grade. A teacher called me a retard in front of my classmates when I couldn’t learn like the rest. The name retard stuck to me like fly paper. That’s when the sadness slowly began to creep in. Year by year the bullying by my classmates and teachers continued. Slowly the self-hate, sadness, and hopelessness increased.
By the time I was in high school, I had sunk into a world of deep sadness and silence. I coped with the pain of the bullying in school by imagining awful things happening to me, like being hit by a car and going into a coma. I even imagined my own death. I day-dreamed of any way possible I could avoid school and the constant taunting, but the teasing didn’t just happen in school.
I was harassed on the bus and even while playing in my own yard. One day a group of kids threw rocks at me while I was playing. They called me dummy, stupid, and retard while the stones flew through the air hitting me. My mom had to chase them away. I didn’t feel safe even at home. I even became sensitive to my younger brother’s, brotherly teasing. One little comment and I burst into a violent fit. I hit my brother, screamed, and threw things. It didn’t take much to send me into an angry fit. After I calmed down, I fell to my knees cried and pulled my hair.
By the time I graduated from high school, I was slipping down into the darkest hole of depression. I struggled with mental illness throughout college. I began cutting and attempting suicide. In college I was diagnosed with major depression and had to take a year off.
The mental illness continued into my adult years. After a bad relationship, I was told I had depression, anxiety disorder, and borderline personality disorder (BPD). There was a history of mental illness in my family, but according to everything I read, BPD usually happen when a child suffered from some form of abuse. The only problem with that theory was I had very loving parents who would have never laid a hand on me. They were always supportive, loving, and encouraging. So what abuse could have triggered BPD? When I told my therapist about what I faced in school, she concluded my borderline was brought on by the bullying.
It was believed that my mental illness was a combination of genetics and the abuse I faced by my classmates and teachers. It took me several years to undo what they did to me. They tore away my self-confidence and self-esteem. I had to rebuild it. The bullying from my childhood led to bad relationships in my adult years and struggles with my inner anguish. I struggled for years to learn to love myself and to realize I deserved to be treated well by others.
“Childhood Bullying Can Have Lasting Effects on Mental Health,” an article by Cari Nierenberg, states, “Bullying can have a lasting effect on a person’s mental health: A new study finds that children who were bullied frequently when they were 8 years old were more likely to develop a psychiatric disorder that needed treatment as an adult, compared with kids who were not bullied.” You can find this article on Live science at https://www.livescience.com/53034-childhood-bullying-lasting-mental-health-effects.html.
Bullying is a form of abuse. It can lead to mental illness and suicide. It’s up to us to bring awareness to bullying and to push schools to enact stronger anti-bullying rules. We can save children from years of mental turmoil. If a child is being bullied, it’s important to get her or him help before he or she falls into the dark hole of mental illness or before he or she takes his or her life. Bullying is not a joke. It is a very real problem. Let’s save our children from struggling with the wounds bullying causes, not only in their childhood, but also into their adulthood.
I struggled for years to overcome the damage bullying did to me, but I am now in recovery from mental illness. I work with the National Youth Internet Safety and Cyberbullying Taskforce to bring awareness to bullying. If I can help just one child avoid years of struggling like I did, I am making a difference. Let’s make a difference together so children and adults can stand in the light of recovery from mental illness brought on by bullying.
I overcame the damages caused by bullying I am standing in the light of recovery telling my story and speaking up for those who can’t.