Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
Today I want to address something that isn’t talked about enough. I feel like a couple years ago there was an influx of suicides because of bullying and there was so much awareness. However, I feel like since then, bullying has been completely off the map. Sometimes it can even be worse now that people can hide behind a screen and attack. I remember when I was younger and watched Cyberbully on either Disney or Nick.. but I think it was Nickelodeon because I am pretty sure Disney wouldn’t have condoned that violent of a movie. But besides the point, I remember learning a lot about bullying and what it truly is and can be from that movie. I know I have dealt with so much bullying personally. I dealt with it in middle school ruthlessly and also high school. The hard thing is that we don’t really talk about it enough and how it can really impact someone’s mental health. We also don’t talk about how bullying can show up so differently. I think we all think back to those early 2000s movies where a kid was shoved in a locker or taped to a toilet. However, my experience with bullying was much different. I do think that is because of the times and social media developments. But, the way I was bullied was through hurtful words, actions, and mostly social media. I want to share my personal story with bullying since I was too embarrassed when I was younger to fully share. I will also explain how it really impacted my mental health in such a negative way. Since I have two times of my life where bullying was prominent, I just want to share my middle school experience first then tackle highschool in a second blog post that will be uploaded over the weekend!
I really think that my bullying started around 6-7th grade which was also the same time I was starting to first have my intrusive thoughts. So I am sure you can imagine how debilitating it was to not only have intrusive thoughts but also have those intrusive thoughts basically validated everyday when I was bullied. It started on competitive cheerleading for me. Mind you at this point in my life, I had an awful accident with a hairdresser, so my hair cut was pretty much a pixie-ish bob that was not a cute look. I also had braces and couldn’t yet quite figure out exactly how to get contacts in, meaning yes, I also had glasses. I am sure you can see that in middle school, this wasn’t a good look and was definitely going to bring me some negative attention. On this cheerleading team, I was pretty damn good if I am being honest. I loved cheerleading and I was a really good flyer. However, I wasn’t allowed to be the flyer because of how I looked. I even asked the coach one day why I couldn’t be on top (Because I lowkey knew at that point I was one of the best flyers on the team). And I remember vividly being told that I didn’t have the “right look” and so it went to another girl. I remember being so crushed to hear that. That comment made me doubt my worth, hate myself, and make me not want to go back (AKA bullying). This was just the beginning, however. The girls all started picking up on the fact that I clearly didn’t seem welcomed. It first started as “What happened to your hair? Did you mean to cut it like that? When are your braces coming off, you would probably look a little better without them?” to straight up mean comments and mean girls. As the days and practices went by, I was harassed for the way I looked. I was made fun of for my hair, braces, and glasses on a daily basis and was purposely hid in the back. One game, it was raining out and many of the girls decided they didn’t want to cheer. Which-hello- you can’t just up and leave! But they did because they didn’t want to in the rain. Our coach was super late that day so they thought they would get away with it. However, the coach came up to me and like 2 other girls that were the only ones that stayed and asked us where everyone else went. For those who know me know, I am the WORST liar ever. I didn’t say anything at first and just kind of shook my head like I don’t know. But she could tell I was hiding something. And these girls had tortured me for months so you know what, they deserved to get in trouble. She pressed me and I just said, “I think they’re sitting in the car because they don’t want to get wet”.
Apparently this led to me having a complete downfall with all of these girls. When the girls came back because of hearing that they were going to be in big trouble, all the anger and harassment was directed at me since I was the one who “told”. I had six girls form a circle around me and start asking me questions about why I told and who I thought I was to not defend them when they were the “most important parts of the team”. It eventually escalated to insults like “ You’re so ugly, no wonder you told on us. You’re mad you don’t look like us. Why are you even on this team? No one wants you here anyways. Maybe you should fix yourself up to not be so ugly then come back and cheer with us.” They called me braceface, four eyes, and a lot of other things I don’t want to share. This was my last day on that team. I came home bawling my eyes out and hating myself even more. That same night my mom and I called and quit the team. Enough was enough. It was a shame I let them take the fun out of something I loved so much and was good at. But hey-that’s what happens when you get bullied. This made my intrusive suicidal thoughts a million times worse. I was constantly having suicidal intrusive thoughts. I remember avoiding all the mirrors in my house and at school because of how embarrassed I was to look the way I had looked. I thought the girls were right, I wasn’t pretty or good enough to be on THEIR team. It was heartbreaking. I was lucky to have a parent that paid attention to me and my emotions because she knew something was up. I started seeing a counselor immediately after this. But I can honestly say, they made my quality of life much worse and my confidence was absolutely shattered, just by their words. I can still, to this day, name each girl that stood around me in that circle. I know them all and still to this day look at them and know they caused such deep wounds in my heart and soul during that season. I hope they have grown since then. I hope they are better people now. Because wow, that hurt.
I think bullying in middle school is such a common age where kids are trying to figure themselves out and learn how to develop and love themselves. I also did some research and learned that there are roughly 35 children who lose their lives to suicide every year in the U.S under the age of 12 years old (Childtrends.org). In Canada, in 2019, there were 584 hospital visits alone for attempted suicide from children ages 14 and younger (Center for Suicide Prevention CA). The second leading cause of death in people aged 10-24 is suicide (Akron Children’s Hospital). 1 in 5 adolescents contemplate suicide and suicidal thoughts EACH day (Akron Children’s Hospital). If these stats don’t absolutely shatter your heart, I don’t know what will. We have lost too many babies to the mean and hurtful actions of others. Bullying is not okay. Hurtful words or “jokes” are not okay. If someone rather die and lose their life than have to face a certain person or people, that is just gut wrenching. I hope that this post will help you realize that if you are a kid , you think about the things you say and if that can hurt someone. If you are a parent, I really encourage you to be in tune with your child’s life and pay attention to their actions. Check in on them and look for physical signs of bullying as well as emotional. If they are being withdrawn, have a conversation and try not to come off on the defense. If they are truly struggling with bullying, it may be hard for them to open up because they feel embarrassed. I am going to link some resources here as well if you or someone you know is being bullied.
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3
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