Half of all children report being bullied at some point during their schooling.
This is her story.
Dear Eleven-Year Old Me,
First, can I give you a hug? No really, I know you're okay, I just want to give you a hug.
You still do that, you know. You're nearly forty now and still telling everyone "I'm okay," just like you did when you were eleven. I know you want to be okay. I also know you're scared. I know you're anxious all the time. I know about the stomach aches, the bullying, the sleeplessness.
You are depressed.
You are eleven.
You should be dreaming dreams and writing stories. Painting pictures. You used to do that. Before the bullies at school singled you out. The mean girls who are so pointed in their exclusion. Before the name-calling dredged up every single insecurity you had buried in you.
Bullying triggered all the insecurities and self-doubt. I can hardly describe the desperation. It was months of intense social isolation that you hid from your parents and all those who loved you. You tried so hard to fit in, to fix what was wrong with you, to remove the black mark of the bullies.
This only fueled their cruelty.
But you didn't understand what was going on. You are only eleven. In an effort to turn the bullies from you, you even picked on someone else. You became a bully one day to a girl smaller and weaker and (is it possible) weirder than you. The lowest point in your eleven-year-old existence. Your life appears a small dark tunnel with no exits, no twists or turns.
You are going to be okay.
In a few hours, you will walk right up to a very adult decision. You will go to the medicine cabinet, get a family-sized bottle of Tylenol and take them all. I know that you do not want to die - not really - but you do not want to feel this way anymore.
You will decide to end your life, and then in a few more minutes - after the taste of the pills fades from your mouth - you will change your mind. As scared as you are, you will realize that you really want to live.
You realize that you can change the outcome of this situation. Not the bullying, but the suicide attempt. You will realize that you are not yet locked in to this decision. This is such a huge realization. And you are not too proud to ask for help.
You will tell your mom what you have done. She will not yell at you (to this day I don't know how she kept it together - I would have freaked out). She will take you to the ER and you will spend some time puking up every pill you took. She will hold your hair.
Your dad will be by your bedside at the hospital. He will, at first, only say one word: "Why?"
You will not know what to say.
As difficult as it is to be you, (and me) I would not change a thing about you. Your experience will serve you well. You will be a sensitive, strong and compassionate grown-up. You will be a mother of two beautiful girls of your own. You will ask for help when you need it, and you will recognize when the darkness of depression re-occurs in your life. These are gifts you gave to me, eleven-year old girl.
All I want to give you now is another hug. And tell you that it will, in time, be okay.
Nearly-Forty-Year-Old Me6 Comments