FINDING THE LIGHT

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I am not a professional in the field of mental health. All my post about mental illness come from what I learned through years of therapy and through research. Always confide in a professional first. My posts are only meant to give you suggestions, educate you and encourage you.

 

AN APOLOGY LETTER

Part of life is getting hurt by people. Sometimes they hurt us by accident, some don’t even realize they hurt us, and some hurt us because they are not nice. Getting an apology helps ease the pain, but not everyone apologizes. How do we mend our broken hearts if a person who hurt us never apologizes?

Since my book has been published, people have asked me, “Has any of your bullies read your book and apologized?”

Unfortunately, none of them has apologized and I don’t expect them to. I’m not even sure they would admit it was them in my book if they read it. My friend, Roberta, suggested I try writing an apology letter from one of my bullies to me. I thought about it and decided that would be a great idea. Below is an apology letter I have written from one of the bullies in my book, Donna. If you haven’t read my book, Escape to the Garage: Family Love Overcomes Bullying, reading my book would give you a better idea about what Donna did to me.

Dear Aimee,

  I’m so sorry I called you a retard and other names in school. I didn’t understand what a learning disability was. I was a fool to think you were stupid. Look at you. You went to college. You wrote a book. You were never stupid or retarded. My words were cruel and wrong. I wish I could take them back. Now I’ve read your book and I can see how much they hurt you. I’m sorry I caused you so much pain.

  In school I thought you weren’t smart enough to ever work a job and I told you that you would be on welfare. Boy was I wrong. My life turned out to be a mess, but you went on to college, you got a degree, and you have worked the same job for twenty-seven years. I’m sorry I said that about you. I was so wrong. I’m the one who failed to succeed, but you are a success.

  I’m sorry I took your friends away and turned them against you. I’m sorry I stopped other kids from making a friendship with you. I didn’t feel good about myself and I turned that on you. I made your life miserable. It wasn’t nice of me to tell others lies about you so they wouldn’t be your friend. In a way I was jealous of you. My family and home life weren’t as good as yours, so in turn I made your school days miserable. I’m sorry for that.

  Maybe if I took the time to really get to know you, we could have been good friends. Maybe you could have been someone I could have confided in instead of someone I tore apart. I’m glad to see you were able to rise above the abuse I put you through and are now able to help others.

  You are a smart wonderful person and I’m sorry I never took the chance to get to know you for who you are. I can never take back all the pain I put you through or heal the wounds I caused, but at least I can do is tell you how wrong I was and how sorry I am.

   I am truly sorry for being so awful to you in school. I hope you will forgive me.

Sincerely,

Donna

I’d be surprised if I ever got an apology from Donna, but writing this letter helped ease the pain in my soul. It helped me see Donna as a person who acted out of ignorance and as an imperfect person instead of a monster. I’ll never be able to tell her I forgive her, but I forgive her for my own benefit. I don’t want to talk to her or have her in my life, but she is no longer that evil monster that tore me apart in school. Now I see her as a broken person who used her own insecurities to hurt me.

Try writing a letter of apology from the person who hurt you deeply. It will help you in the healing process and help you to forgive that person. It will also help you let go of the grip that person has on you. Once you have written the letter whisper or yell it out loud, “I forgive you.” Then let the wounds in your heart heal.

Writing the letter to Donna helped me heal. Because I wrote the letter I bathe in the light of recovery.

BULLYING AFFECTS MENTAL HEALTH

Bullying is aggressive behavior towards another person whether it be verbal or physical. It is a form of abuse. Many people can remember a time when they were bullied by another kid or an adult. When the bullying is a prolonged problem that expands over weeks, months, and years, it takes a toll on the person’s mental health, causing problems that may require medication and therapy to treat.

Bullying has effects on a person’s mental well-being that can last a long time or go away in a short time. It took therapy and medication to help me deal with the scars that bullying left on my soul. People can already be predisposed to mental illness through genetics and chemical imbalance, and the bullying brings it out.

I found lists of short-term and long-term effects of bullying on WebMD The Effects of Bullying on Mental Health: Impact and What To Do (webmd.com).

Here is a list of short-term effects of bullying:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping

The long-term effects are:

  • Generalized anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Depression
  • Loneliness

Many of the short-term effects can go away in time, but sometimes they follow you into adulthood. I struggled from childhood to now as an adult with depression and anxiety. As a child I started self-harming by pulling my hair, pinching myself, and hitting myself. In my young adult years, I started cutting and burning myself.

 During my school, I struggled to sleep. I had nightmares about my bullies, my thoughts raced, and I was afraid to go to school the next day. I tried sleeping on the couch, snuggling with stuffed animals and I tried to fight my racing thoughts, but nothing helped. My sleeping problems continued into my adult years. I am currently on sleeping medication. Sometimes the medicine doesn’t even work. Instead of nightmares I struggle with obsessive worrying and racing thought.

I was also predisposed to psychological problems. Mental illness runs in my family and I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. These factors also made me more vulnerable to mental illness. The bullying was another factor that helped me slip down that dark hole. 

If you’re a parent or family member of a child or even an adult who is being bullied, look for the short and long-term effects of bullying. When you start to notice the short-term effects you should get the victim help. Also investigate your family history for mental illness. Know if it runs in your family, there is a chance you or your child may be predisposed to it. Tell your psychiatrist and therapist about your family history.

Any type of abuse takes a toll on a child’s or an adult’s well-being. We can save the victims of bullying by standing up for them, standing up against bullying, and helping the victims get help.

Speaking out against bullying and writing about it helps me stand proudly in the light of recovery.

LIVING MY DREAM

In high school I found out I had the talent to write. I daydreamed a lot in class as a way to escape the bullying I faced, and I started writing my daydreams in notebooks. The best part of writing was that I was in control of what happened to my characters and I could give them happy endings. It was in high school that I started dreaming of publishing my own book. I dreamed of doing book signings and giving speeches. I just never imagined that it would feel this good.

Since I started writing my book, I have been telling everyone about my memoir and my writing progress. Even my dentist. This past week my gums started hurting when I drank or ate cold beverages or food. I called my dentist’s office, and they had an appointment for me. I brought my book to show the dentist. She went around to the employees in the office and asked them if they would like a copy, and she was buying. Before I knew it, she wrote me a check and told me she needed seven books. On the way out the secretary told me she wanted a book too, but she was paying for her own. So, all together I sold eight books at the dentist’s office. Bad news: I have gum disease. Good news: I made money at my appointment.

I have learned to take a few books with me wherever I go. I sold a book to my doctor and several books at my breast cancer support group Christmas party. I never know who will want to buy a copy of my book. I keep a bag with four books in my SUV and when I go to parties, out with friends, or to appointments I bring a couple with me.

Saturday the fourteenth I did a book signing at a small bookstore called Werner Books. A reporter from a local news station came and interviewed me. The interview was aired Saturday at 6 P.M. and 11 P.M. I watched it at both times. I was so excited to be on TV. Then on Monday my customers told me the interview of me was aired again. Customers keep coming in my line, telling me they saw me on TV, congratulating me, and asking where they can buy my book. Some customers are waiting in my line to get their books signed. I feel like a celebrity. Thursday Werner books contacted me and said they sold out of my books, and they had a waiting list for more. I took ten books to them. click the link below to watch me on the news.

https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/local-author-teaches-children-about-overcoming-bullying-with-new-book/

I can’t explain how wonderful I feel. I feel like I am floating on a cloud. My dream came true, and it feels better than I could have ever imagined. One customer insists I should be on Good Morning America. That is a long shot, but who knows. God has plans for me and my book. I just know his plans are big. He gave me the talent to write and the ability to share my story with the world. I’m letting him guide me in my path to stand up against bullying with my book and speaking.

Monday the sixteenth I spoke to Lawrence Park (the area where I live) Historical Society. I only sold one book, but I sold several, “Stop Bullying” leather bracelets I had woodburned. It was a small group of around ten, but I just spoke from the heart. Many who were there already had my book and just wanted to hear me speak. The Historical Society paid me to speak for them. It was my first paying speaking engagement.

I believe I survived bullying and the damage it caused so that I could write my memoir and talk about bullying to help others. I want to make as many people as possible aware of the affects bullying has on a person. I urge people who come to my talks to buy my bracelets and to wear them to show the world we are standing up against bullying.

My next speaking and book signing event is February 25 at McCord Library, NorthEast, PA at 10:00 A.M. I have a customer who works at a local school looking into having me speak at the school.

We don’t struggle through hard times for nothing. Our struggles and what we learned from them can help others. I’ll never be able to stop all bullying, but if I can help a few people and bring more awareness to it, I have accomplished a lot.

These wonderful experiences of selling my book and speaking to groups of people have me dancing with joy in the light.

Take the pledge today to stand up with me against bullying by buying one of my leather bracelets for $5.00 and wearing it with pride. Leave a comment if you would like a bracelet or email me at aimeeeddy3@gmail.com.

BULLYING WARNING SIGNS

Bullying is a big problem affecting people all around us, especially our children. Children are acting out violently, going into depression, and are even taking their lives because they are abused daily at school by their peers. Many children feel alone and unable to turn to others for help. They often struggle in silence. If you’re a parent or family member, it’s important to know the warning signs of bullying.

Below is a list I found on StopBullying.gov  of the warning signs for the adults in a child’s life to look out for. You know that old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is true. Not only do the parents of children need to look out for the warning signs, but so do the other adults in their lives like aunts, uncles, grandparents, family friends, and so on.

Here is the list:

  • Lost or destroyed belongings such as electronics, clothing, jewelry, and others
  • Trouble sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social activities
  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or decreased self-esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away, self-harm, or talking about suicide

If you notice any of these signs in your children or children in your life, find them help. Talk to their teachers, guidance counselor, or principal, and if none of them listen to you, go to the school board. It’s important to encourage your children to talk to you, be willing to listen, and look into getting therapy for them. If you can’t afford a therapist, there are government funded programs that will get you help for a low price or for free.

When I was being bullied, the biggest mistake I made was to keep what was happening to myself. I suffered in silence and it led me down a dark road. If you’re being bullied, talk to someone you trust such as a parent, a family member, a teacher, a guidance counselor or other trusted adult. You can’t rise above bullying without help. Don’t suffer alone.

It’s important that we all spread the message that bullying is a form of abuse and it needs to stop. Since my book has been published, it has been my goal to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves. Spreading my message is helping me stand strong in the light of recovery.

Here’s the moment we all have been waiting for! I got five new followers through my contest to become a follower. I put all the usernames in a bowl and had my husband pick one. THE WINNER IS NEZIMM!!! Please email me with your choice of a “Stop Bullying,” woodburned bookmark or bracelet. My email is aimeeddy3@gmail.com.

REMEMBERING THE POSITIVES OF 2022

Facebook is full of posts about how bad 2022 was. We tend to leave the old year thinking about all that went wrong. We feel like we are shedding the hardships of a past year to start over in a new year. How about thinking about the positives that took place in the old year and using those positives to fuel a stronger and brighter new year? Every year we have trials and hardships, but we also have good things that take place in our lives.

As I prepared for 2023, I sat down and thought about 2022. I created a list of the positive things that took place in my life. Below is my list.

  • I published my first book. It has been my dream since I was a teenager to have my very own book published. I will always remember 2022 as the year I made my dream come true.
  • I found that I can speak passionately about something I feel strongly about. Since my book was published, I have been giving speeches about the damages of bullying. Without writing out a speech, I have spoken from the heart and it came out powerfully.
  • An article was published in a local paper about me and my book. Since the article came out, people have complimented me, told me their stories about being bullied, and have praised me for my hard work.
  • I went a whole year without surgery. After going through several surgeries, one after another, I am proud to have made it through 2022 without any surgeries or major health problems.
  • My husband and I took a long trip to my best friend Cheryl’s. I had not seen Cheryl in six years, and the trip to see her was priceless. We even got to spend time with her daughter Brianna. Lou, Esther (our dog), and I had a wonderful time at Cheryl’s house.
  • I spent a day with my niece from North Carolina. My niece came to visit family on her fathers’ side, and I took her out to lunch, shopping, to my house, and to Dairy Queen. We had so much fun together.
  • My niece, Kayla who lives in Tennessee, gave birth to her third child, an adorable boy, my great nephew. I got to meet and hold Decaln for the first time on Thanksgiving.
  • I threw my husband a big sixtieth birthday party. His birthday was in February, but in July I threw him an outdoor party. Despite the rain, it was a wonderful party and I enjoyed seeing him so happy.
  • Esther, our dog, healed well from surgery. She had a large stone in her bladder caused by an infection and had surgery to remove it. She is doing great.

My list of positive helps me look back at 2022 with a smile, and it allows me to look forward to more joy in 2023. I’m ready to continue to grow and succeed in the new year. I face the new year like a shining star shooting into a year with bigger dreams.

Sit down and write about your positive events of 2022. Don’t dwell on all the bad things that happened. Let the good guide you into a new year. As you go through 2023 remember to face the hardships with strength and hold the positives close to your heart.

2022 did have some hardships, but the good outweighed the bad. I ended 2022 with a heart filled with joy and I face the new year with even bigger hopes and plans. Keeping track of the positive helps me stand brightly in the light of recovery.

This is the last week for the contest. Become a follower now so you can be entered to win a prize. If you are a follower encourage your friends to become followers.

NO POST THIS WEEK

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and kept warm. Working in a grocery store at Christmas is very busy and tiring. After work all I wanted to do was collapse on the couch. I was too tired to write a post this week. I hope to sit down and write one for next week.

Don’t forget about my contest. Follow and you’ll be entered to win a prize. I’ll pick the winner after new years. See you in the new year.

CHRISTMAS AND PREPARING FOR THE NEW YEARS

Christmas is only a few days away. Everyone is rushing around getting their last-minute gifts and meal fixings and wrapping presents. Stockings are being hung and people are traveling to spend the holiday with their family. Families are getting ready to practice their holiday traditions. After Christmas we prepare to welcome in the New Year.

In elementary school I dreaded Christmas. For me it was the most depressing holiday. Every year we picked a classmate’s name to buy a gift for. For my classmates it seemed like a contest to see who could outdo the gag gift given by the person who got me the year before. I was the joke of my class. When I opened the gift, they laughed and pointed at me. All I wanted was a nice present like everyone else, but instead I got a can with a snake popping out of it or a whoopie cushion or some other gag gift. I swallowed my tears and became a miserable person for my family to be around.

Now as an adult I can’t wait until Christmas. My husband makes it a point to spoil me with gifts, love, and acceptance. I love gifts just like everyone else, but the love and acceptance means so much more. I’m no longer the joke of the class. I’m now the sparkle in my husband’s eyes. I can see his eyes glow as I open the gifts he buys me. I enjoy giving him thank you kisses and snuggles. No one laughs at me anymore. No longer the reject, I’m the queen of my husband’s heart.

I can’t wait until Christmas morning to see what he got me this year and to snuggle with him.

I’m also preparing for the new year. My book has been doing quite well. I have sold one hundred and twelve books on Amazon and one hundred and twenty-two books myself. I will always remember 2022 as the year my dream to publish a book came true.

When I was in school, I barely talked and when I had to talk in front of people, I got extremely nervous and made mistakes. As an adult I’ve been too shy to even read my writing in progress to the Pennwriters group. Since I have had my book published, I had a book launch party and two speaking events. For all three I never planned my speeches. I calmly stood before people and spoke from the heart. Fighting against bullying is very important and means a lot to me. I’m proud of how far I have come and I’m proud to stand up before people and to speak up to fight against bullying.

I have lots of plans and up and coming events for the new year. On January 14 from 1-3 p.m., I will be signing books at Werner books in Liberty Plaza, Erie. One of my regular customers is the head of Lawrence Park Historical Society and he asked me to speak to the society on January 16. Lawrence Park is the small township I live in. On February 25, I will be speaking and signing books at MCcord Library in North East at 10 a.m. I plan on contacting some schools to set up more speaking events. I also would like to talk to youth groups at churches.

I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas with my husband and my family, and I can’t wait for an exciting 2023. Speaking of Christmas, a book is an excellent gift. Just a suggestion for a last minute present. I’m proud to say my book is available on Amazon, at Werner Books in Liberty Plaza in Erie, at Pressed Books on West 8th street in Erie, and at Steve Krauza Chiropractor, on East Lake road Erie PA.

This Christmas give a special gift to someone who may not get one. When I was a kid, my mom made fruit baskets for people in our hometown who didn’t have much. She or one of us kids would knock on the door, leave the basket, and run away. Is there someone you know who could use a surprise gift? Make someone’s Christmas special by sharing the love deep in your heart. Make a sad soul sparkle.

Plan the new year with lots of fun and exciting adventures. Plan to try new things and reach to make your dreams come true.

Merry Christmas!!!

CONTEST!!!

Don’t forget about the contest!! Don’t forget to follow this blog to win a prize. If you’re a follower share this post with your friends and family and encourage them to follow. So far, I have five new followers.

FIGHTING FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T

Many of my readers have asked me why I didn’t fight back against my bullies. It’s the same question a woman is asked when she is being abused by her spouse. Since my book has come out, people have told me their stories of being bullied. A few have told me how they stood up to their bully and the bully never bugged them again. One lady told me how her husband beat up a kid who was harassing him. She said he couldn’t just take it and do nothing. But not everyone is able to fight back.

I couldn’t fight back. I was called a retard by a teacher in first grade. Teachers are supposed to support, encourage, and protect their students not put them down. By her calling me that name, I was instantly labeled for the rest of my school years by my classmates. I thought my first-grade teacher would be helpful and kind, but she was mean. Her words tore me apart inside and humiliated me in front of my peers.

Each day I went to school I was put down and called names such as retard, dummy, and stupid. Teachers assigned students to give me answers on tests. My parents told me I was smart, but after hearing I was dumb daily, I began to believe I was. I lost my self-esteem. All my classmates said I was stupid, and even the teachers were saying I wasn’t intelligent, and if an adult was saying it, then it had to be true.

We are all taught the saying, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” but it is untrue. Words do hurt. They cause wounds no one can see, wounds that can’t be healed with a band aid and antibiotic. It isn’t as simple as fighting back when you lose who you are. Bullying is abuse. Unkind words tear apart self-esteem, cause mental health problems, leads to suicide, instill fear, and much worse.

A woman doesn’t fight back when her abusive husband puts her down daily because his words rip apart her strength, her self-esteem, her courage, and her mental wellbeing. It’s the same with a person being bullied. My classmates and teachers nearly destroyed me. I couldn’t fight back. I was beaten down like a wild animal. In time I learned that the less I talked, the safer I was. I hid inside myself, inside an imaginary world I created to protect myself.

It was like I was beaten until I lay on the ground bleeding. I was bleeding inside, and my strength seeped from each of the wounds on my soul and heart. I slowly slipped into mental illness and began to imagine my death. I wasn’t a wimp, but a battered child. Each word spoken to me was like fists pounding me until I couldn’t move or speak. I struggled to sleep at night because I had nightmares about the abuse and because I was afraid to go to school.

The wounds of the heart and soul take years to heal, but even though you are healed, you still have the scars that remind you of the abuse. I fear talking to people of authority like managers, I’m afraid to confront people, it takes me time to trust people, and I am protective of myself.

Kelly Clarkson’s song, “Because of you,” describes it well, “Because of you I learned to play on the safe side, so I don’t get hurt. Because of you I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me. Because of you, I am afraid.”

It’s our job to speak up for those who can’t fight back. Let’s fight against bullying for those who are so beaten down they can’t stand up, let’s fight to keep another child from taking his or her life, and let’s fight to save a person from living in fear from this kind of abuse.

With my book and speaking events, I am speaking up and fighting against bullying for those who can’t. I struggled so I can use my story to help others and to bring awareness. Fighting against bullying helps me stand tall in the light of recovery.

Don’t forget about my contest!! So far, I have four new followers who are entered to win a woodburning. Remember to share with your friends and family and encourage them to follow. If you’re not a follower click, “follow.” In the new year I will pick a winner.

SHARING MY MESSAGE

Wednesday was my speaking event and book signing at Blasco Library in Erie. For the several weeks before my talk, I printed out the flier the event coordinator emailed me and handed them out to my customers. I have worked for Giant Eagle grocery store for twenty-seven years and have a lot of regular customers who are very excited about my book. I also created an event online and invited a lot of my Facebook friends. I wanted my event to go well, and I wanted to make sure my message about bullying would be shared with many.

The night before my event I put my bookmarks, money box, business cards, and blog signup sheet in a bag. I watched the weather report. Winters in Erie can be tricky. The weather can change in a second. The weatherman predicted one to three inches of snow and gusting winds. I feared the worst. One to three inches is nothing for us, but what if the weather became worse and people couldn’t make my speaking event? Before bed I prayed for decent weather and a good turnout.

The next day there were a few snowflakes in the air, high winds, and cold temperatures. I was confident the weather would hold out for my event. We arrived at the library at 6 PM, a half hour early. A little before 6:30 people started arriving.

This man and woman came up to me. He handed me an angel ornament and an envelope. “I’m Ruth’s son. To her you were her angel. In the envelope is a picture of Ruth.”

When I started at Giant Eagle I worked in the bakery and then moved to the front end as a bagger. I bagged Ruth’s groceries. She was a sweet elder lady who requested I help her out to her car with her groceries. As I loaded her car we talked and became close. Each time she came to the store she requested me. When I became a cashier, she stood in my line no matter how long to talk to me as I rang up her food. We became very close. She brought me gifts at Christmas time, and I gave her cards with special messages I wrote.

When Ruth’s health declined, she moved into a nursing home. I visited her and brought my wedding pictures. She was thrilled. When she passed, I made it a point to go to her viewing to let her family know how special she was to me. It’s been several years since her passing and I hadn’t thought about her in a while. I have her gifts she gave me on a special shelf in my home. Seeing her son touched me deeply. He bought three books and had me sign “Mom’s angel” inside them. I was in tears.

Ruth will always have a special place in my heart. She was my angel to me also because when I met her, I was recovering for the first time from my mental illness. I didn’t talk a lot and having her to talk to meant the world to me. Her kindness spread a light into my soul and helped mend my wounds.

That night I delivered a speech on the effects of bullying with the memory of Ruth glowing inside me. I spoke from my heart. Afterwards I signed books and received many hugs. Many of the people who came were customers of mine. I sold eleven books and seven leather woodburned bracelets that say, “Stop Bullying.” One lady, who is a customer of mine, told me to contact Harborcreek School to do a talk. She said they are always looking for people like me who have a powerful story to share. In the new year I plan to contact the school and hopefully other schools.

I have a customer who said he will set up a speaking event for me at Lawrence Park Historical Society in the new year. A teacher from the school attended to as a kid is also working to set me up with North East Library to do another speaking event. I will keep you all posted of any other events going on.

If you go to the home page of this site, you can click on the picture of my book and it will take you to Amazon to order it. My book is in two bookstores in Erie: Werner Books, Liberty Plaza and Press Books on West 8th street. My chiropractor, Steve Krauza has my books for sale in his office. I’m looking for more places to make my book available to the public.

I went from a child people labeled “stupid” to a woman with a published book giving speeches against bullying. I don’t know if any of my bullies will ever apologize, but I know I have risen above them and forgiven them for myself. I’m proud of how far I have came and the book I wrote. I dreamed of this moment since I was a teenager, but I didn’t know how wonderful it would feel.

Don’t forget about the contest. Share this blog with your friends and encourage them to follow. If you’re not a follower, click follow and be entered into a contest to win a woodburned bookmark or bracelet. I’ll pick a winner in January.