Monday, 2 October 2017

My Experience with... Bullying

My Experience with Bullying

*Sensitive issues warning/trigger warning*

Bullying is something that I have experienced from a very young age. Back when I was in Primary School, up until the age of 10, it didn’t bother me to the extent that it eventually would.  I was so used to being called names, of being made fun of and only having one friend at a time that it became the norm. That, as far as I was aware, was how all people were; unkind and intent on causing me as much emotional and physical harm as humanly possible. These days it’s hard not to still feel that way as from the age of 5 to 18, it was all I knew and it really stuck in my brain that this was how people like me were/are supposed to be treated. In fact, I’m so used to being treated this way that anytime someone says something positive about me or is even the tiniest bit kind towards me, the alarm bells start ringing in my head as, when childhood bullies were nice to me, it was because they were trying to pull some sort of prank on me or were trying to get me to believe that they had changed so I would let down my defenses so that they could hurt me all over again.

When I was about 10, something inside me changed and every single thing that happened to me seemed to cut deeper than it had before. The comments about me would ring out over and over again in my mind until I got so angry that I started taking it out on my parents when they would ask me a question or try to talk to me.  I wasn’t just being teased about being fat anymore; I was being subjected to bullies coming up to my front door and yelling their insults through it. They were no longer just aimed towards me; they would pick apart the way my parents looked, things that they did etc. They literally brought the bullying to my door, as if going through it at school and on the way home (thankfully I lived - and still do – just across the road from my old Primary School) wasn’t quite enough. It certainly wasn’t enough for them either to yell obscene things at my parents as they walked our dog or to tell my dad that at 10 I was “shagging” people (I wasn’t and that remark has stuck with me and effects my relationships  - or lack thereof). I became afraid to go outside and to even try to connect with my peers as nothing good ever came out of it. This has led me to being diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression. I suffer from agoraphobia and even the thought of going downstairs or going outside makes me so upset to the point where I will go only go downstairs to get something to eat if no one else is home.
During this period in my life, as I walked to friend’s house with her one day after school, some girls that I didn’t even go to school with but who still had it against me for looking the way that I did, threw broken glass at us. It was traumatising to say the least and further cemented why I shouldn’t go outside.
I got called things like “sumo wrestler” because of how awful I looked in an old bridesmaids dress of my mum’s that I wore one Halloween. People in my class would tell their younger siblings (I helped out in their playground to avoid my own) to avoid me because they couldn’t stand them liking me more than them. I was nice to their siblings when they weren’t and even that pissed them off to have someone who was willing to make sure said children were OK if they were having a tough time of things.
When I got to be a bit older, at around 11, I begged my parents to stop making me go to before and after school clubs and to also let me start going home for lunch just so that I could eat in peace without people taking my food away because I didn’t “need to get any fatter”. I wasn’t eating anything different to the kids at school. In fact; my lunches were healthier than most of theirs but apparently I wasn’t deserving of any kind of food whatsoever because I was fat. Is it any wonder, when kids are that cruel that their victims and those that witness their behaviour end up with eating disorders? That’s something else I will cover at a later date.

High school wasn’t any better. As I was constantly shamed if I ate lunch in front of people in Primary School, I took to going home at lunch as it was only a 15 minute walk away. This did leave me only 15 minutes to eat and another 15 to get back to school but I didn’t care. I was free for a whole 15 minutes. It didn’t mean I escaped the cruel taunts going to and from school during lunch, though. People would throw bits of their food at me as if I were a wild animal and one girl even went as far to jog beside me yelling “knees up fatty! You need to lose weight!” as I walked home. Needless to say, I refused to go back that day and protested going back to school for the rest of that week.
This is when I started to skip school more frequently and would just flat out call up the school myself and tell them that I either wasn’t going back after lunch or that I wasn’t going in at all. I honestly didn’t see the point in going if I had to be let out of classes anyway because people kept putting gum in my hair and was constantly being made fun of because I liked to learn and wanted to. I really did want to go to school because I wanted to get an education – hence why I didn’t leave as soon as I turned 16 but opted to stay until the end of 6th year- but it was really hard to get the motivation to do so as my time there was always filled with bullies making it known that I wasn’t welcome and feeling so bad to the point where I seriously questioned my existence. I only became worried about not going to school when there became talk that if kids skipped school then their parents would be fined or even jailed if they didn’t send their kids in. I still didn’t want to be there but it wasn’t my parents’ fault that I wasn’t going; it was down to me not wanting to spend yet another day in hell. I didn’t know it at the time but I was suffering from severe anxiety (something I wouldn’t discover until I was 23) and (formally) undiagnosed depression.
It was then that I also became suicidal. I didn’t go down the self-harm root of cutting myself but if I had a spot or a scab, as gross at it is, I would keep picking at it until it bled or hurt. I would also think about dying a lot (still do but in a different, more anxiety-filled way), specifically my want to die, but I wasn’t suicidal in the “I’m going to kill myself” way that the world has become accustomed to. It made me careless. I started to not pay attention when crossing the road. I didn’t care if I got hit by a car because it physically would’ve hurt less than the internal pain I was feeling. I didn’t care if I were to suddenly get really ill to the point of hospitalisation because it meant that I wouldn’t have to go to school. I didn’t care about how I looked as, even if I tried, I would still get taunted for being “ugly” or “too fat to wear human clothing” and I didn’t care if something bad were to happen to me.
If I questioned why they treated me that way or had the audacity to let it be known that it bothered me and that it made me want to hurt them (something I never did or would’ve acted upon) then I would be subjugated to rumours going around about how I was “weird” and wanted “to kill” them. Rumours were another form of bullying that I had to put up with. I was off school for 3 weeks once due to multiple infections in my throat, chest, sinuses etc and when I came back I was met with “Oh. So you don’t have cancer.” Turns out people were thrilled to learned of this new rumour and were even more so of the fact that, if it were true, then I was probably going to die. Unfortunately for them I wasn’t sick and that somehow made them hate me even more.

My biggest downfall – and it’s not my weight, how I look or my passion for learning – is that throughout it all I was still kind and forgiving towards every single one of them. I would still offer them a smile in the hopes that they would see that I wasn’t as bad as they made me out to be (not that any of them really knew me) and I would let them play with the toys that I brought for “Golden Time” to the point where they were really just taking advantage of me. One Christmas I even gave a candy cane to a girl who had not only made my life hell but had made me want to kill myself as a bid to get her to stop. Did it work? Did it fuck. She was nice to me for all of 24 hours after one of the deputy heads called both of us into his office so that he could try to shock her into leaving me alone by telling her (and what he told her was absolutely true) that my parents were worried that I was going to kill myself. The only time I ever fought back against a bully was when one of them and her cronies cornered me at the bottom of a secluded staircase. My fight or flight instincts kicked in and this time it told me to fight. I did try to walk away but she kicked my back really hard. I lost it. I didn’t know who it was that had kicked me but I was going to make sure that it never happened again. My eyes locked on one who had dared to keep insulting me and I grabbed her by the collar, hoisting her upwards. I didn’t have to do much else other tell her to stay away as the rest of them backed off me and promised to never even look my way again. Maybe I could’ve handled it better but maybe they should never have decided to bully people in the first place. I didn’t see much of them after; they chose to avoid me and I was grateful for it. If they saw someone else trying to bully me they would pull them aside and warn them to stay away from me. I’m not proud that it got to the point where I had to take that kind of action but when you’ve got an endless tag-team of people bullying you and no teacher willing to take them on you get desperate. Desperate enough to fight back and desperate enough to call in sick day after day.

This is still something that is really hard for me to talk about. Writing this recount has made me cry and reminded me that even though I am aiming for recovery, everything that has ever been said to me or has happened to me has stuck with me and made me the anxious, depressed mess that I am. It’s made me so anxious that I am scared to post pieces like this for fear that those who read it will call me names, won’t believe me or worse; try to call me out on something that I’ve said when, really, I know that I should be as I can just remove their comments and block them.

If you ever want to talk to me about what you’re going through/have gone through with bullies, feel free to message me. My Twitter DMs are always open.


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