While I was writing my memoir, a fellow writer told me that I was going to become an advocate. She was right. Since my book came out, I have become very passionate about speaking out against bullying and sharing my experience with the world. My book is a testimony of the bad effects bullying has on a child, and the effects are the same for an adult. I am proof a person can rise from that bullying to help others. I believe God helped me write my book so I can help others.

Saturday, I gave a talk at McCord Memorial Library in North East, PA. Twenty-four people attended. So far that is the biggest audience I have had for my talks. Most of those who came were older people. One lady whom I had met through Facebook brought her teenage son who was facing bullying. I spoke from the heart and received a big applause at the end. Many told me how inspirational my talk was, some shared experiences with bullying, and many told me I am an excellent advocate for those who have been bullied. It was great, but I realized something. I need to find a way to speak to younger adults and children of all ages.

I’m working with a lady from my church speak to the youth group. I need to also find ways to speak at schools. I have a customer who works at a local school who hopes to have me speak there, but I haven’t heard anything from her yet. If you have suggestions on how I can bring my messages to schools and parents of children, please leave a comment.

A common question I have been getting from my readers is “How do you become an advocate?”

There are different kinds of advocates. My friend Alexander Kovarovic gave me some advice on this topic.  This is what he told me: Advocates are people who want to step up to make the world a better place for a certain reason like suicide prevention, bullying, domestic violence and more. This can be as simple as people sharing things on social media, going to events etc. Advocates are also people work on creating laws, people who run nonprofits and people who run charity events. To become an advocate, it’s good to start by volunteering for a nonprofit.

For me I became part of a nonprofit organization called National Internet Safety and Cyberbullying Taskforce (which is now called The One Life Project). First, I wrote blog posts for them and then I helped them set up events and interview volunteers. Then my book came out and I began to set up speaking and book signing events. Then being an advocate fell into place. I found myself able to stand up in front of people and speak from the heart without even planning my speech.

I think the biggest part of becoming an advocate is to find a topic you may have lived through and rise above or something you passionately want to change and speak out about it. Find a nonprofit that deals with your topic and volunteer. Learn as much as you can about your cause and how you can help others. Be willing to speak at events in front of crowds of people. If you have experience with your topic then share your story. Your story can help many.

I believe my talks and my book is helping many. I received a email from a reader who said by reading my book she learned more about bullying and the affects it has on people. I hope that many more are learning from my book too.

By speaking out against bullying I am growing stronger each day and I stand proudly in the light of recovery.


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.


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.


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.


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.


    In this blog I have concentrated on depression, anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Those are the illnesses that I deal with daily. There are many other different types of mental illnesses. These illnesses are serious, but recovery still is possible. In this week’s interview, Marc Stewart gives us insight into a different type of mental illness. His story is inspiring.

What type of mental illness do you have and what are the symptoms?

My main diagnosis for over the last 30 years has been paranoid schizophrenia, later diagnosed as delusional disorder. It mostly manifests by my overestimating the hostility of other people–even so far as to once believe the FBI and university faculty were conspiring to drive me crazy. This notion was ludicrous, of course, because I am such a good guy. To this day, however, I tend to misanthropy based on my experiences with paranoia.

During a routine blood test, doctors discovered a blood anomaly that they thought might be due to my antipsychotic medication. The blood anomaly turned out to be leukemia. Ironically, my delusions then largely disappeared when the doctors discontinued the medication, but I developed mania associated with bipolar disorder. I became exuberant. My wife would say I was “Marc, only more so.”

What type of help or therapy did you get for your illness?

Fortunately, for most of the course of my illnesses, medication was able to relieve the utmost severity of the symptoms. While delusional, I was still largely able to function in the world. The medication for mania has practically cured my mania. Luckily, I never had the urge to harm anyone other than myself—suicidal ideation being a constant reminder that things aren’t peachy keen. I never seriously tried suicide, but don’t know why not.

Over the years, I have had several therapists who have been helpful for the most part—although I can barely remember what we talked about. My last therapist would listen to me talk for 45 minutes, then would take 15 minutes to tell me that I am fine. Indeed, I was.

When did you realize you had a illness and what did you do when you discovered it?

I first realized that I had paranoid schizophrenia about three weeks after I had been admitted to a big university hospital. I thought I had died and gone to a Sartrean No-Exit hell. I even tried to call the police to report my kidnapping. Accordingly, I quit trying to escape from the psychiatric unit and began to seriously comply with treatment—therapy groups and medication. 

What advice do you give to others struggling with mental illness? 

My advice to others struggling with mental illness is to understand as best they can exactly what their mental illness is. This involves consulting psychiatrists, therapists, other patients with similar and not so similar diagnoses, and relevant books. I have found philosophy and poetry particularly helpful. 

If in recovery, what steps do you take to stay in recovery?

I stay in recovery by religiously taking my medication and applying myself to the business of understanding life. Mental illness can be seen, for example, as a rational response to an irrational world, rather than an irrational response to a sensical world.

How has your family reacted to your illness?

Because I did not have flagrant symptoms, my family largely downplayed my mental illness. I was just “depressed”—depression being less stigma-oriented than psychosis.

     My wife of twelve years is a nurse and has been very supportive of me and a big help in my dealing with mania. We have no children. My parents are dead, but my brother and sister have largely written me off as “crazy” Uncle Marc. Nevertheless, we treat each other civilly.

How does your illness affect your ability to work?

I am retired now but managed to work part-time throughout my mental health problems. I did not live well, but adequately. I spent over twenty years doing peer support in mental health.

What is it like to function in society while struggling with your illness?

I find myself largely able to function in society. Continually, though, I must remind myself of the likelihood of my overestimating the hostility of others and that I am still not normal, whatever normal is. 

What encouraging words do you have for those struggling with mental illness?

Encouraging words for others with mental illness: Mental illness is a long-term disease that is in no way your fault. You will need to accept a certain amount of suffering on account of your illness, but there are a few things you can change. Some of your attempts at adjustment will work, but many will fail. Recovery is a lifelong experiment, but in the end you will probably prevail.

Marc Stewart’s Bio:

Marc Stewart was born and raised in western Pennsylvania. He attended Penn State University and the University of Minnesota where he was active in the Scum of the Earth Club, an artsy organization. He and his wife, both retired, live now in western Pennsylvania.

Give Marc your support by commenting and sharing this post. Please let me know if you would like to be interviewed for my blog post. Your story is important and can help and educate others.



   We all have heroes in our lives. They can be movie stars, parents, or people who performed a courageous act. Heroes are people we cherish deeply and look up to. Then there are people who try to play hero. They go out of their way to get a pat on the back and praise. When you’re struggling with mental illness, you tend to lean on others for support, but what you don’t need them to do is play hero.

   When I was with my ex-boyfriend, he made it a point to tell his friends and family about my mental illness and how helpless I was. The worse my illness became, the more he bragged about how well he was taking care of me. Everyone praised him on what a good person he was for taking care of such a helpless wreck. He even told my therapist about all he was doing for me and how I was ungrateful.

   He took care of everything for me and wouldn’t let me help out. He wouldn’t let me be his partner; instead he wanted to be my hero. He wanted everyone to believe he was my hero. He controlled me like an animal, causing my illness to worsen. He told people I abused him, when in fact, he abused me. All I wanted was him to work with me through my illness, but instead he told me he was going to take care of me on his own.

   I didn’t want him to be my hero. I wanted him to be my partner. It angered me each time he bragged about what he was doing for me. I hated how his family felt sorry for him and told him how wonderful he was. I cringed each time they told me how grateful I should be. He made me feel small, useless, and helpless.

   When I met my husband, he stood at my side and agreed to go to couple therapy to learn how to handle my illness. He comforted me, supported me, and told no one what he did for me. He never asked for a pat on the back; he just did it because he cared. He also allowed me to do things for him. I taught him how to drive and he taught me how to love again. He showed me he needed me as much as I needed him. He never played hero and refused to be called my hero. Instead, he became my partner.

   Together, as a team, we took on my illness and we still do. He allows me to do stuff for myself and for him. We figure out challenges together. We do almost everything together. We are partners.

   Just because somebody is mentally ill doesn’t mean he or she is incapable of doing anything. He or she does not need a hero. Allow him or her to do things for him or herself and you. Show him or her that you will work with him or her to get better. Don’t ask for praise from others. Just be at the person’s side because you love him or her. Don’t play hero; be a partner, a friend, and a supporter.

   I might need a little extra attention and support than my husband does, but I do take care of him, also. We face the complication of my illness,and we take care of our home and other responsibilities together. I also take care of some things on my own with his support. Because he doesn’t try to be my hero, we share our lives with happiness and I dance within the light.



   Often when you’re struggling with a mental illness, you develop many bad coping methods. You come up with the best way you can think of to handle the pain within you. Without guidance, you don’t know of any other ways to handle your inner agony. You might not even realize that your coping technique is hurting you, not helping you. You find yourself using your bad coping method so often that it becomes an instinct. You automatically turn to it during rough times.

   My school years were like a living nightmare. Each day I was put down and tormented by my peers, while I was also dealing with an undiagnosed mental illness. I found going to school unbearable. I didn’t know how to deal with the powerful emotions and the fear of going to school each day. I started imagining bad things happening to me, like getting hit by a car and being unconscious for a month, or falling down and breaking my leg. If I got hurt then I wouldn’t have to go to school.

   I began daydreaming about it during school, in the morning, and before going to bed at night. It got to the point that I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I started wishing my daydreams would come true. My imaginary accidents provided an escape from reality. Getting hurt was the only way I could think of to avoid facing day after day of teasing and internal turmoil. If I got hurt, then everyone would pay special attention to me and maybe some of my classmates would be sorry for what they had done to me.

   I coped with rough times this way so often that this became a habit to me. I couldn’t stop it, even in my adult years. When college and work became stressful, I would automatically imagine getting hurt. When things got rough and I felt like disappearing, I would drift off into my dream world.

   When I told my therapist at that time about my daydreams of getting hurt, she laughed at me. I was confused. Why did she think my daydreams were a joke? Weren’t they serious? I couldn’t stop them. Wasn’t that a problem?

   I left that therapist and found one who took me seriously. She told me I had developed an unhealthy coping technique, and I had done it so long I didn’t know any other way. She told me my daydreams were like self-injury. I cut to relieve my pain and I imagined injuries to escape my inner pain. In a way I was self-injuring my soul. I wanted and dreamed of something bad happening to me, causing inner turmoil. It kept me awake at night, it made me anxious, it became hard to focus on reality, I started making mistakes, and I also started hating myself for wanting to be hurt.

   My therapist told me when the stressful and rough times faced me, to try to picture something happy, like walking on the beach or lying in a field staring up at the sky. She told me when I started to daydream about injury, to tell myself to stop and try to clear my mind. She taught me healthy ways to deal with stress like using relaxation techniques, listing the positive things in my life, and doing hobbies to keep my mind busy.

   Think about the bad coping techniques you have developed. Is there a better coping method? Are your unhealthy ways actually hurting you in the long run? How can you change something you have done for so long? Talk to a therapist who will help you find better ways to deal with your pain and darkness.

   I still struggle with my bad coping methods, but they don’t happen as often and I have learned how to fight them. I have also learned to cope with stressors and life struggles healthily. When I start imagining the worst I stop myself and start focusing on the positive. Because I am able to do this, I dance within the light.



   Many people suffer with mental illness without even knowing it because some symptoms are things all people face from time to time. Many of us have sad days, feel lonely, have negative thoughts, feel hopeless, struggle with expressing feelings, and more. How do we tell if it’s just a natural feeling or mental illness? Sometimes people with mental illness have lived their lives for so long in the hole that they think their darkness is natural.

   For a big part of my childhood and all my teen years, I felt a deep darkness within my soul. I didn’t know how to describe my feelings and thoughts, so I kept them deep within me. This led to breakdowns and angry fits. I thought I was just different and what I was dealing with was who I was. I saw myself as an angry, sad, and lonely person. My mom always told me I saw the glass half empty. I thought it was part of my personality.

   When my cousin died, the hole became deeper. My feelings were out of control. I dipped further into sadness. The feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and lack of energy increased. I had always struggled with sleep, but it suddenly became impossible. I sat up all night drowning in my thoughts. I knew something was wrong with me, but I didn’t know what. I told my family I was fine when I was dying inside. How could I tell them something wasn’t right with me when I didn’t know what it was?

   One day, at college, I went to a table set up with information on mental illness. I knew my grandmother on my mom’s side had mental illness, but I knew very little about it. I picked up a pamphlet on depression. In it I found that I had most of the symptoms. Suddenly everything made sense. I knew at that moment I had been suffering with a mental illness and I needed help. I looked back at my younger years and realized I had been sick for a while.

   I learned that a lot of the symptoms I felt were feelings people have dealt with at one point or another in their lives. The difference is I felt them on a daily basis and all at once. Nothing seemed to ease them. I also learned that for people who have mental illness the darkness, the feelings of worthlessness, and other symptoms were more powerful than what healthy people feel.

   In other words, when you fall down into the hole of darkness and no matter how hard you try you can’t climb up, when sadness blankets your soul, smothering you, when your negative thoughts flood your mind relentlessly and emotions stab your insides over and over again until you’re drained of energy, you have a mental illness. This doesn’t happen once in a while; it happens daily. When nothing can shine the light within your soul, then you know you need help.

   There are many different mental illnesses, but if you notice you have feelings, thoughts, actions that you struggle with on a daily basis and you find it hard or impossible to function, tell someone and find help. Mental illness is treatable, but you must first recognize and accept you have a problem.

   When I learned I have mental illness and recognized the symptoms, I worked hard to reach for recovery. It was a long and difficult path, but it was worth it. Now that I know that I have an illness, I work hard daily to stand tall within the light.



   Many people cry during a dramatic movie. Who didn’t cry when Bambi’s mother or Lassie died? For some, all they have to do is see a person in tears on a T.V. show or movie and they are crying, too.

   But What happens when you’re not watching a movie and the tears come? Like when you’re just talking about something important in your life, or just having a simple conversation with a friend. When you have depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, anxiety or other mental illnesses, the tears come on suddenly. You’re not necessarily crying because you’re sad, but just because of overflowing emotions.

   I probably cry more than most people and most of the time it’s not because I’m sad, but because emotions flood my body. While at work I was telling a customer about my writing and suddenly the tears started falling. I fought to hold them back, but I couldn’t.

   My customer looked at me. “Why are you crying?”

   I wiped my tears. “It’s just allergies.” I couldn’t explain to my customer how powerful my emotions are and how simple things stir them up.

   It’s embarrassing being overwhelmed so much that I cry and it is very difficult to explain. How do I explain I just feel things more strongly than others to the point my eyes water? How do I explain crying when I’m not sad? How do I explain that I’m suddenly hit by powerful emotions and I have no control or that I feel things more intensely than others?

   I went to my doctor’s office one day and I told her about my future appointment with an allergist. My eyes started flooding with tears. My doctor looked at me, “You poor thing. Your eyes are watering badly. I hope they find out what allergies you are suffering with.” I just agreed with her. I couldn’t tell her the truth. It was just easier to let her believe it was allergies. I couldn’t tell her suddenly a waterfall of feelings filled me and I wasn’t sure why.

   Many people become overwhelmed when something really good happens to them. Like when a long lost son returns home, when a new baby is born or when a friend throws you a surprise party, but what about out of the blue when you’re having a simple conversation. The simplest thing can bring tears for me. Why? Because I feel things more deeply and much stronger than others.

   There is no cure to the sudden tears and emotions that overwhelm you. It’s a part of your life and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Feeling things deeply can make you more sensitive to others’ needs and help you to be more compassionate. It doesn’t make you weak; it only strengthens you. Use the tears to reach out to others and show them the true you.

   I’m still learning to stop hiding why I suddenly cry. I’m finding that admitting the truth is helping me reach even further into the light.



   People in our lives have a big influence on us and on our pattern of thinking. We are especially influenced as children. Things said to us by our parents, teachers, peers, and family members can either strengthen us or hurt us. If a parent pushes his or her child to be an over achiever, the child begins to believe if he or she falls short, he or she is a failure. If a kid is told daily by their classmates he or she is a failure, he or she begins to believe he or she is not worth anything. Constant belittling becomes ingrained in the mind and can lead to poor self-esteem and mental illness.

   Throughout my childhood, my classmates and teachers put me down. They called me stupid, retarded, loser, and dummy. My teachers and classmates told me I would never become anything. I’d never be able to hold a job. I started to hate myself. I began to believe what they were saying about me was true. In my mind, I was a loser and stupid. I stopped trying. I didn’t do my homework or study for tests. Why did I need to, anyway? Teachers assigned a student to give me answers on the tests.

   Then I went to high school and the teachers no longer asked students to give me answers on tests. My grades suddenly counted. I was no longer going to be pushed on from grade to grade. I became convinced I had to prove myself to everyone. A low grade meant I was a failure. I spent endless hours studying. I had to find out if what everyone told me through grade school was right. I became obsessed with succeeding. I gave up fun for hours with my head in my books. I criticized myself when I got a low grade and ripped myself apart when I didn’t understand something while doing homework.

   Years of being put down by my peers and teachers haunted me for the rest of my life. I struggled with my self-esteem. I hated how I looked, I thought I wasn’t as smart as everyone else, and I felt worthless. Most of all, I felt like everything I did I had to succeed at or else I was a failure. Even in college, and in the work force, I felt like I had to prove to the world and myself I was not stupid. In college, if I got a low grade, I degraded myself and when I started working and I made a mistake, I put myself down.

   I still struggle with the need to prove myself. I would start writing a book and when I felt it wasn’t good enough I would quit. This time with the help of my husband I have stuck to writing my memoir, but I keep thinking what if I can’t get it published, what if I get it published and I can’t sell it to readers. Then I would be a failure just like they told me I would be throughout school.

   My mental illness increased my negative thoughts. Through therapy I had to learn how to like myself and change my pattern of thinking. I had to work hard to undo the damage my classmates and teachers did to me. My therapist told me to make a list of the things I liked about myself and then make a list of my successes. It took me a long time to fill my lists, but after some hard work I found some good things about myself and I came to the realization I am successful.

   Look back at the bad things you were told as a child and see how it affected your thinking. Find a therapist who can show you a healthier way of thinking. Change your negative thinking to positive and learn to love yourself inside out. Put the past behind you and start over with a new view on life.

   I remind myself daily, I have nothing to prove. I am a success. I want my future book to do well because I want to touch the world with my writing, instead of trying to prove that I am not a failure. I no longer have to prove myself. I have learned to love myself and measure even the small accomplishments in life as an achievement. Because of my new view of myself and my life, I bathe in the light.