Bullying is a big problem in our society. It does a lot of damage to the victim of bullying. It leads to mental health problems, suicide, alcohol abuse, and much more. Bullying can be physical or mental abuse, and it happens in our schools, our communities, our workplaces, and even in churches. Many victims of bullying suffer in silence. They fear the consequences of telling others what is happening to them. The problem is their silence can be devastating. It’s important to communicate with someone you trust and to know you can’t fight and suffer alone.
When I was bullied in school, I told my parents about some of the things I was going through, but not everything. I kept a lot to myself and I hid from them my declining mental health. My mom went to my school a lot arguing with the teachers and principals who would not help me. She never knew how horrible some of the teachers treated me. She would have fought harder for me if she knew everything.
Each day I went through school being put down, and the bullying didn’t stop at school. Some kids called me names and threw rocks at me in my own yard. I struggled with self-defeating thoughts, tormenting nightmares, and inner anguish. I tried to deal with it on my own, but as the years went on it took its toll on me. In time my silence became deafening, but my inner thoughts became out of control. My thoughts were like voices in my head, one telling me how awful I was, and the other one telling me I was a good person. My thoughts fought until the negative ones won, and I slipped down that black hole.
Now that I’m an adult I look back at how much I kept to myself and I regret it. If only I had talked more to my parents, maybe they could have helped me fight the bullies and get me help for my mental health. Maybe if I hadn’t tried to deal with the bullying and mental illness on my own, I wouldn’t have suffered for so long. My parents could have gotten me help sooner. There is a lot of maybes, but the most important thing is what I have learned. I learned that communication is very important.
When I was being bullied and when my mental illness became overwhelming, I felt like I was all alone. It seemed like no one would ever like me or understand me. In school I just wanted to be accepted for who I was. I didn’t want to be popular, but liked. My classmates never took the time to get to know me and to see me for the person I was. Instead, they judged me for having a learning disability. I took their abuse day in and out without talking about it with my parents or others who cared about me. My mind became my jail.
Talking about my feelings has never been easy for me. It was in high school I discovered I had the ability to write. I would spend endless hours writing out a story in a notebook. My inner pain bled out through my pen. My stories were dark. I wrote about dying and tragedies. I poured my feelings into my stories. If only I would have just written about my feelings and what I was going through and let my parents read them.
I now know that communication about what is happening to me and inside me is very important. As an adult I went to a therapist who knew I am a writer. My homework for my therapy sessions was to write down my feelings and at our sessions we would discuss what I wrote. This worked well. By doing this she helped me find a way to deal with my illness, she taught me how to change my negative thinking, and she taught me coping techniques. I reached recovery because I was able to use this type of communication with my therapist.
If you’re being bullied or struggling with mental illness, don’t do it in silence. Communicate what is happening to you in the best way you know how. If you’re not good at talking, then put your feelings down on paper. Maybe you don’t have a close family or many friends who will listen, so you feel like there isn’t someone you can talk to. If this is the case then find someone you can trust like a teacher, a nice co-worker, a therapist, a manager, a pastor, a priest, and so on. Never suffer alone. Talk to someone you can trust or write it in a letter.
I have recently told the world what I went through in my memoir Escape to the Garage: Family Love Overcomes Bullying and it was healing. Now I have a support system that I talk, text, or write letters to when I’m struggling. I no longer suffer in silence. Because I now communicate what I feel and what I go through, I stand in the light of recovery stronger than ever.