Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
For those of you that read my last blog, today will kind of be a continuation of the talk about bullying and mental health. I dealt with bullying in middle school and I would definitely say I dealt with some bullying in high school. As I mentioned in my last blog post, bullying isn’t always the mean girl stealing your lunch money or throwing you into a locker. Bullying can be so much more subtle and still do the same amount of damage. According to Oxford Dictionary, bullying is defined as, “seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce”. As you can see, bullying can be many different things. In today’s day in age, I think bullying presents itself more as cyberbullying or attacking someone on social media, the rumor mill (starting life-ruining rumors about someone that aren’t true), or just straight up making fun of others. Now listen here, I am not perfect. I made mistakes in high school. I am sure I wasn’t an angel and I know I made some decisions that may have hurt people. I would never intend to personally hurt anyone, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t still happen. I actually went through a LOT of turmoil in high school, so I will try to summarize this as best as I can. I think I will also make this into parts to make the reading easier.
Now, there were a lot of different reasons I felt I was targeted in my school. I know the three main bullies that I dealt with were somehow connected with me over their relationships or ex-relationships. So let’s just dive right in.
The first time I felt bullied was by this one girl who was upset with me. To kind of shorten the story, I will say this. We used to be friends. She got with the guy I had been madly in love with since like 6th grade. I was hurt but got over it and was still friends with her. Then Sophomore year, I was dating someone different. This same girl hung out with my then boyfriend in the middle of the night, without me. Like yes, hello red freaking flag! We actually broke up over this. We got back together and I was still trying to be friends with this girl. I had everyone over one Friday night to hangout. In the chaos of me cooking dinner for everyone, somehow those two managed to sneak away to my basement, just them two. I didn’t even notice because I was so busy entertaining. However, when they came back up, the girl looked me dead in the eyes and said (for context I will say the next line, but please know it is inappropriate) “We had a quickie”. They both then laughed and acted like nothing had happened at all. I knew that they were joking? But were they? Clearly I didn’t trust either of them enough. Long story long, I was no longer friends with her and eventually broke up with him. We were no longer in contact at all. Then one day one of my friends was hanging out with one of her guy friends and they stopped by my house. I also became quick friends with this guy and eventually it turned into a relationship (sort of). Turns out, this guy was that same girl that said “We had a quickie”’s ex. So clearly this now poses a problem because I knew she would think I was just into him to spite her, which was NOT the case. However, I could totally understand how she would think that. I tried to do what I thought was the best thing at the time, which was to tell her personally so she wouldn’t be blindsided when the news went around school. I was trying to do what I thought was best in the moment. I reached out to her and just let her know saying that even though we no longer are close, I wouldn’t want to hurt her and I just wanted her to hear it from me. Well lets just say that did NOT go over well AT ALL. She immediately started harassing me via text saying that, I had a black heart, I didn’t care about anyone, I was trying to get her back and was using him to do so, I didn’t deserve him, he was crazy for even wanting to date me, I was a sl*T, etc. I will let y’all use your imaginations of all the other things she said to me. She then had her friends also start attacking me. They would attack me on social media and through text. I was laughed at in the hallways and eventually, it got so mad that this girl started telling people she was going to beat me up when she saw me next. Now to just add a little context, this girl was an ATHLETE. Like she had D2 schools looking at her that year as a sophomore. So yes, I was genuinely scared at this threat. I also passed her in the hallway in between classes and was beyond scared she would do something.
This is where mental health comes into play. I started having extreme anxiety and panic attacks over this situation. It got so bad that I felt a lump in my throat. I was having a hard time swallowing, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I was in an insurmountable amount of pain. My parents ended up picking me up from school that day and took me right to the E.R. Once again for context, I did end up having tonsil issues which could have contributed to the sensation I was feeling. However, they didn’t find anything else and it became about stress. I remember feeling so uncomfortable and the doctors making my parents leave the room. The counselor asked if I was getting abused in a relationship, or at school. Or basically if there was anything that was triggering anxiety for me. Well in that moment, I completely lost it. I started sobbing inconsolably when they came to the question, “Are you being bullied at school?” I was so mad at myself that I couldn’t keep it together. I knew I felt heightened anxiety, but I didn’t really think that I was so unstable about the situation. In that moment, the counselor started asking even deeper and more upsetting questions about self-harm and suicidal thoughts and if the bullying was that bad that I needed more mental health assistance. I assured them that I was okay, just struggling handling everything. This and a culmination of other things was what landed me back in counseling at my school. I remember being so upset, though, that I had worked myself up so much I thought I had a tumor in my throat. It was just anxiety. Something that I think I may have touched on before is that many times anxiety can physically manifest based on your anxiety during that time. I had a hard time being vulnerable and opening up with people so when I was so anxious and didn’t know how to talk about it, I would quite literally get a lump in my throat because I couldn’t say how I felt. Any time I got this sensation, I would then try to open up and talk about what I was going through because it was the only thing that would make that feeling dissipate. In this short blog post, I wanted to just show you how bullying can become so bad that you have a physical manifestation of your emotional pain into physical pain. It is so scary to be wondering all day, everyday at school if someone is going to come up and hurt you. It is gut wrenching to walk down the hallway and have four girls staring and laughing- and you know they’re talking about you. That sinking feeling in your chest when you get another hurtful text message attacking your character and your physical appearance. THAT HAS AN IMPACT ON YOUNG PEOPLE AND CHILDREN. Like I mentioned above, I think I am going to make many sections on bullying in high school because the different types of bullying all impacted me differently with each situation and obviously all had a negative impact on my mental health. I also like to include stats when I talk about bullying to once again hammer home the importance of having open lines of communication with your children where they feel they can confide in you about bullying. Bullying can feel embarrassing to share with other people, however, if you don’t look for the warning signs in your child, you never know the extent to which a child will go to end their own suffering.
In 2019, one out of five U.S. students reported that they have been bullied (20.2%). -National Center for Educational Statistics
41% of students that reported bullying felt like the bullying would eventually happen again. -NCES
One in five teens have reported being cyberbullied. -NCES
69% of teens who have been bullied reported that they had long-term effects on their physical and mental health after the bullying took place. -NCES
Approximately 14% of students in high school consider suicide. Of that 14%, approximately 7% attempt. (That is ½ of the students thinking about actually attempting. That is a HUGE percentage, which is devastating.) -NCES
Bullied students are around 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide than non-victims. In Britain, a study showed that at least half of the suicides among children and teens were related to bullying. -ASPA
PLEASE, parents, talk to your children and let them know they can confide in you about bullying. We cannot tolerate bullying, as it does way too much damage to mental health. Stay tuned because later this week I will be sharing more stories about being bullied and how they impacted my mental health.
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3
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