Well, isn’t that the most creative title you’ve ever set your eyes on? It doesn’t matter, though; I’ve a great many things that need to be said, and damn it all, I’m going to say them regardless of how impressive my title is
In any case, hello again, Depression. Have you missed me?
It’s been a while since you were a real force in my life. A while since you were anything more than the reason I take a pill every day when I wake up. You’re pretty damned harmless now, I have to say, but don’t get me wrong; I can still remember quite vividly what you did to me from the time I was thirteen until a few months ago, when I finally got help.
You’re a clever bastard, I have to say. You almost got me, I guess as a sort of revenge for not being able to take my mother down when she was my age. Disguising yourself as regular teenaged angst from thirteen to sixteen, and then going all-out and turning me into a nearly catatonic husk of a person from seventeen to twenty. Pretty damned smart of you. We both know that you nearly tricked me into killing myself on more than a few occasions, and that your suffocating influence is what lead me to giving up all of my friends, alienating my family and hiding away from the world for a good three years. You’re damned good at what you do, but you’re just not good enough.
You see, Depression, I won.
I beat you. It’s over. One pill, and you can’t put your hands around my throat any more. One pill, and I emerge from my home with the biggest fucking smile you’ve ever seen. My friends, who are seriously the best fucking friends a girl could ask for, were waiting for me when I came out from the shadow of my disorder. My grandmother broke down and cried when she learned that I was able to kick your ass out of my life. For the first time in ages, I’m happy. I’m happy, I’m doing the things I love to do, I’m spending time with the people who make my life truly amazing, and I’m enjoying every moment of this life that you tried to steal from me.
I don’t know who I’d be, or where I’d be if you hadn’t come into my life at such an early age. Maybe I’d have graduated instead of getting my GED. Maybe I’d be in love. Maybe I’d live somewhere that I can only dream about right now. Maybe I’d be dead. It’s useless, really, to think of all the ways that I would be different were I not one of your victims. You came into my life, just as you came into the lives of all the relatives I inherited you from, and you’re always going to be here, lurking in the shadows and waiting for a day I forget to take my medication. You’ll be there when I have a child of my own and I worry that she’s going to be pulled into your toxic embrace. You’ll be there every morning when I pop the top from my bottle of meds, that lingering reminder of what I used to be, and what I could be again if I allowed it.
But for now, my dear Depression, I can take comfort in one thing.
When I was 13, I was bullied, and in response I began my nine year (so far) journey with depression and self-harm, followed by a seven year journey with a restrictive eating disorder.
Until now, The Band I have never written or spoken about my story in complete, honest detail. It’s more important than ever that I come to terms with how that individual made me feel.
I still don’t feel brave enough to open up this much to people who know me, so opening up to you, The Band, is the first step.
I was always a shy child growing up. I first found myself a victim of bullying at the age of five. I can’t remember much, apart from trying to hide from those two boys in my year and their cruel words – even then, I never told anybody about what was happening. Despite that experience (which was thankfully short-lived), I always had a good number of close friendships and grew up as a happy, quiet, attentive, little girl.
I moved through the next eight years of my education without any significant hiccups. During the usual childhood friend tiffs, I’d always find a new handful of friends right around the corner. I enjoyed school. I guess the only problem I had (although I didn’t notice it at the time) was that my family was not particularly open.
My parents had been together throughout my childhood (and are now celebrating their second year of – finally – being married) and I had an older sister. Both of my parents worked full-time throughout my childhood, so my grandmother would often walk me to and from school, and look after my sister and I at home.
I have few memories of spending time with my parents but those I have are happy ones. I wouldn’t realize until years later that the emotional distance between my family and I made me a very closed person.
For the record, I’m beyond the blaming stage – we are all consequences of our experiences and we can’t change the past. Now we just have to try to learn how to move forward.
I made it to secondary school without too many problems. My first year was similarly successful – I was in the top sets for everything and had a close group of friends. About halfway into my second year of secondary school, not long after my thirteenth birthday, the bullying began.
I remember the first time so vividly.
I was walking home from school with a girl who I didn’t usually talk to much, and the boy in question (let’s call him B for “bully” for convenience) was walking with his friends some way behind us. There was nobody between us.
The next thing I knew, I heard him shout “Sarah, get your tits out!”
Instinctively, I turned around, stuck my middle finger up at him and continued walking. The girl I was with asked me what he’d said, but I pretended that I hadn’t heard the exact words.
I still remember my heart dropping a beat when he’d shouted, but I went home and got on with the day, not thinking much of what had happened. I didn’t know that it would change so much.
The next time it happened, I was walking home alone with B walking with his friends behind me. This was the start of countless occasions almost identical in content:
He would, on an near-daily basis, shout three words down the street at me: “Sarah saggy tits.“
I was (and still feel) so ashamed but I didn’t feel I could tell anybody. I’d never even judged my appearance until that point. I hadn’t noticed that I was developing faster than the other girls my age, and it made me feel like I was disgusting.
I hated my body, because (in my head) that was the reason this was happening. It didn’t take long for the self-hate and anger to kick in.
The first time I purposely hurt myself was following one of these incidents. I got my mathematical compass out of my pencil case, took off my trousers, and dragged the tip over my thigh several times. It felt so good to actually DO something, because I’d felt so helpless.
The next day, after B had done exactly the same thing, I tried to self-harm again. Problem was, I didn’t have quite so much anger and self-hatred built up, so had trouble making myself do it.
I was desperate for that release. I started drawing lines on my legs with pen and methodically scratching at them with the compass until all the pen had been scratched away. It didn’t take long before I didn’t need the pen, or before I used more harmful instruments, and moved to other parts of my body.
All the while, I was doing whatever I could to avoid walking in front of B on the way home from school. I would stand around the school gates, until the number of people dwindled so much that I was almost sure that he’d already left (sometimes it succeeded, other times it didn’t). I also started slowing down to the pace of a snail if I saw him ahead of me on the path.
After avoiding B on the way home for a while, he started bullying me in other ways, although he never used those words anywhere but on the walk home.
He began trying to trip me up around school. Having to see him in classes every day was torture. For the first time in my life, I hated going to school. I’d be anxious every morning and would feel sick at the thought of going in.
Then, the bullying started on the Internet, too.
We all had these “websites” and he would use his to bully me further – publicly. He’d post comments on his page, pretending to be me, saying horrible things (the most memorable being that I masturbated at the image of this unpopular guy at school).
Everyone saw it.
Nobody said anything, but I knew they had.
And B was relentless in his bullying, both in person and cyberbullying.
The first time I tried to be more aggressive to stop the bullying was after the online bullying had begun. Apart from what he’d said about me, he’d also followed a young teacher home and posted her address online. I used this to report him to the site host and his account was deleted.
For a short while, the bullying paused. However, my friends told me that B knew I was the one who’d gotten his site taken down, which meant that he was clearly still saying things about me.
After a few weeks, the three word harassment on my walk home began again. The next step I took was to tell my head of year about what he’d put about that teacher online. My friends were called into the head of year’s office and she asked them about what he’d written. They told her about the teacher and that B had written things about me on there, too. This teacher didn’t speak to me again, but B was suspended for a grand total of three days.
He never bullied me again, clearly knowing that that had been his punishment without me mentioning what he’d put me through.
About half a year after it started, the bullying was over.
However, the damage was already done.
I was depressed and self-harming on a daily basis. Self-harm became my way of coping with every negative feeling I had. I tried to stop a number of times, but always ended up self-harming worse when I gave in. It was also around this time that I learned my closest friends were talking about my self-injury behind my back. Everybody knew about my self-harm, but nobody approached me about it. Again, I changed groups of friends and, thankfully, was not alone.
I was 15 and just about to start my last year at that secondary school. My appetite was greatly suppressed by my depression and I’d often only eat one meal a day.
It was just before starting school that I consciously decided to stop eating. I began weighing myself every morning, before putting a few drops of milk into a bowl to make it look like I’d eaten, throwing away my lunch on the way to school, and reluctantly eating dinner with my parents each night. About three months later, I was at a BMI of 16% and my parents had noticed something was wrong.
I spent a few days pretending to be ill so that I didn’t have to eat anything, when my mother told me that they thought I was starving myself. I laughed it off and went back to eating properly. I lasted a week (and a 5 pound weight gain) before my emotions caught up with me.
It was then that I became trapped in the cycle of trying to lose weight and self-harming. Sometimes, I made myself sick, I over-exercising, one or two times of laxative abuse, quite a few minor overdoses, and lots of self-harming and cutting.
Since this started, I’ve seen quite a few different therapists.
The longest I’ve been without cutting is four months, and I’m currently coping better with the eating disorder than ever before. I’m still struggling quite a bit, but without this experience, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
I’m 22 and I’m on my way to my dream career as a researcher. I am just starting my PhD in psychology, with my research topic greatly inspired by what I’ve been through. I’ve come a long way since the first time B shouted at me. I still have problems with depression, anxiety, self-harm, and making myself eat enough, but I’m so much more confident, knowledgeable and open than I was back then.
I have a massive way to go, but I’m encouraged by how far I’ve come.
There were a couple of times that I came really close to telling a teacher what I was going through, but I never had enough courage to do it. I can say now that things may have be a lot easier if I’d been brave enough to say something.
Please, please consider reaching out to someone if you know they are being bullied.
Because of my problem, I have trouble with self image and sometimes get very depressed. My parents don’t know. The Band has suggested that I confide in a friend who will help me. I have no such friend.
One of my friends is a science geek. I feel like a dork so I will never tell her.
My other friend is too girly. She doesn’t take anything seriously. Sometimes she asks about my scars, but I am too ashamed of them, so I say it is nothing. She forgets and continues to talk about herself. I don’t even want to be friends with her. I don’t want to tell her.
There is nowhere to go, no one to confide in. None of the school counselors would ever understand. I am alone. I feel so bad.
I purposely try to hurt my self so I can pick at the scabs later. A small 1 centimeter scratch turned into a half inch gouge just from continued picking and scratching. How do I dig myself out of this 1,000,000,000 foot hole without killing my self?
Hi, The Band. I’m a Chinese international student and I’m still trying hard to recover from being bullied in kindergarten.
Back then, I was a shy little girl who was mocked by my classmates; I can still hear their laughter. To make matters worse, my kindergarten teacher was irresponsible (she only cared for children whose parents bribed her). Once, classmates kicked my head in until I bled heavily. The teachers advice? She told me to lie to my family and say that I “fell down accidentally,” clearly my own fault.
The effects of bullying persist. I’ve suppressed my own wants and desires so that I can please others; my family, classmates, and teachers. I was a nice girl, I studied hard, didn’t waste my time on music, pop culture, relationships during my adolescent “rebellion.” I took every word of my family, friends, teachers, and classmates seriously, even when they’d ask me to do something I didn’t want to do. Everyone thumbed on me and nobody thought I was problematic – including me.
I began to notice problems when I was in college: I cannot keep diaries for myself (but I can write for school work). I cannot develop hobbies, enjoy music just for fun, or express myself on social media unless it relates to school work. I don’t have any idols. Anything of my own preferences feels obscure and unimportant. My self esteem is low, I never feel proud of myself.
It’s hard for me to say no to others. I don’t even know what it feels to like fight for myself. I’ve compromised myself many times no matter if I wanted to do it or not (and there are a lot of things I like and dislike). I treat everyone the same, no matter if he/she was cruel to me.
I feel especially uncomfortable when it comes to meeting some outstanding, strong or potential-to-be-bullying peers. All my current friends are somehow weaker than me. While I relate to most of my peers during school, I never contacted them after graduation.
I need to pretend to be exciting to my peers or siblings.
I’ve just recovered from two depressive episodes and begun the long process of healing, empowering, and understanding myself. I repeated “I love you” everyday to myself since last April.
I can calmly write for myself. I can express myself on social media. I started to figure out my likes and dislikes. I began to asking my Chinese friends to help if I have concerns about my life. I stopped taking school so seriously so that I can best understand myself and the world. I’ve begun reaching out to help other people who feel weak, depressed, or bullied learn to love themselves. Invigorated, I’ve started to contribute to the development of my discipline in China. I’m comfortable and peaceful being alone doing nothing. While I stay alone here, I’m never lonely.
I have goals now, too! There are a couple of things on my bucket list (traveling, feeling a sense of belonging with my peers, learning to make friends with people who intimidate me) are things I really want but haven’t had acquired yet. I want to fight for myself (when necessary), go to parties and have fun, enjoy music, and attending online or offline community activities.
I am a survivor of domestic abuse. I became one of the lucky ones at the tender age of 15. I got out of the relationship after nearly a year of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. It wasn’t easy. It was terrifying, but I did it.
It all started when I was a freshman in high school. A senior caught my eye and I apparently caught his as well. After knowing each other for only a short amount of time, we were dating. I thought it was love, true love, and believed whole heartedly that he was the one.
The abuse started slow. First, he didn’t like my friends and thought they were trying to sabotage our relationship. (They saw the signs before I did and tried to warn me). He isolated me and I thought nothing of it.
Then he didn’t like the way I dressed. He called me trashy and a whore. He said I was trying to catch the attention of other guys. He controlled what I wore and who my friends were.
Then he would yell and scream at me whenever I did something he deemed as wrong. The verbal abuse escalated to physical abuse soon after, probably about three months in. He would slam me into lockers and choke me. He would push me to the ground while screaming at me. He broke two of my ribs and I still forgave him. Teachers, bus drivers, other students all saw this occur and some tried to warn me, but I didn’t listen. Others just watched the chaos unfold without uttering a word. I can’t blame them, he was very intimidating. He was a wrestler and very built, I even questioned if he was on some sort of performance enhancing drug. It would explain the angry outbursts, but that could just be who he is.
He was smart, he never left marks where anyone could see. I hid my broken ribs from my family and friends. Most of his marks were invisible though. He broke me completely and molded me into someone I didn’t recognize. But I was in love, I was blinded by love and couldn’t see the signs.
When he took my virginity, he repeatedly told me how filthy I am and afterwards, made me scrub myself raw while he watched. He took something beautiful and made it ugly, I’ve seen myself as filthy ever since.
Now that I am older, I see the red flags. It wasn’t love, it was abuse. I see that now. I was finally able to leave by breaking up with him over the phone. He threatened to kill himself and then his mom called me, yelling at me asking what I did to her son. I hung up on her and never spoke to him again. It was summer at the time and I didn’t see him again until the next school year where he would threaten my life if I ever told a soul. I never did, but people knew. They saw it happen for their own eyes.
I am one of the lucky ones. I survived, I got out. Not many can say that. I just want other people to see the signs and get out if you can. If you can’t, there are resources out there for you to help. It takes an incredible amount of strength and support, but you can do it!
The veil of loneliness can taint us all, leaving us gasping for breath and wondering how to survive.
This is her story:
I’ve never admitted aloud how lonely I actually am. Of course, that has a lot to do with the fact that there’s no one to admit it to.
A few months ago, my therapist told me that I was in denial about being almost completely socially isolated without any friends. At the time, I thought he was full of shit. I didn’t feel lonely because I wasn’t lonely in the first place. I preferred to be by myself – it was comfortable.
Of course, he chalked this up to my preexisting depressive and anxiety disorders. Typically, I argued that I wasn’t depressed and that my social anxiety had nothing to do with my isolation. (See: Denial.)
Turns out, he was right.
I think therapists tend to be correct about these sorts of things the majority of the time, anyway.
Since May of this year, the dark cloud of apathy and despair that has permeated my entire life has gradually dissipated. As a result, I find myself wanting to do some of the things that before held no interest or pleasure: reading, watching movies, even exercising when I can muster up the energy. The more the veil lifts, the more acutely aware I become regarding my situation and my life. The loneliness, ironically postponed by my depression, has finally hit. And it is more painful than I could have ever imagined.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not completely socially isolated. I always have my mom to discuss our favorite books and watch TV shows with. When my sister has friends over that I’m comfortable with (usually ones that I’ve known my entire life), I can count on some decent conversation. Oh, and I run a blog. Not like anyone views it, but it makes me feel some sense of connection to the waking world.
Granted, none of these things are typical for a seventeen-year-old girl, although I’m only now realizing that. The more I type, the more I feel it’s as though I’m defending some sort of losing argument.
In many ways, I suppose that I am. It’s like starting off a sentence with, “Yes Officer, I was speeding, but…” I’m just digging myself into a deeper hole.
A huge part of the problem is that I don’t have any confidence when it comes to talking to people my age. I have a hard time connecting with others. Even as a child, I was somewhat of a loner. In elementary school, I got by with a small group of friends that I had known (get this) most of my life – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but when middle school started and everyone got sent off to different districts, I was up the creek.
Never having developed the same social abilities as everyone else, I spent 2/3 grades struggling to swim. I had/have several nervous habits, such as picking at the skin on my lips and fidgeting when I talked to someone; couldn’t hold eye contact with others. People pointed this out to me on multiple occasions, and I’m still consciously aware of them to this day.
Basically, communicating with others has never come easily to me. There’s always been a definite block there. Eventually, I learned to make friends, and have had a couple of good ones over the years, but when my depression hit for the first time when I was fourteen, certain aspects of my life got markedly worse – such as my anxiety, which has been prevalent for as long as I can remember.
Both took a serious turn for the worse my junior year, resulting in the social isolation I’m experiencing today. I alienated every single one of my friends, and when I was hospitalized six months ago, I was pulled out for the remainder of the year. When my senior year starts in September, I’ll be finishing up high school online. It’ll be better for my anxiety and depression, but it’ll lay absolutely nothing on my loneliness.
The boredom might be the worst part. I have nothing to look forward to during the day, so thus I spend a lot of time sleeping as much and as long as I can, just so I don’t have to deal with the tedium of being awake. My schedule is achingly dull: I wake up. I blog. I fill the empty hours with television shows and video games. If I can concentrate, I might read a book. Otherwise, it rarely deviates.
The loneliness itself is potentially the only thing worse than the boredom. I find myself wondering about the few people who were once in my life, and how they’re doing. Sometimes, I hopefully check my phone (I keep it turned off for precisely this reason) for messages, expecting none. After months and months of alienation, everyone has written me off. I don’t blame them for not wanting to deal with me – I don’t even want to deal with me.
Every couple of months or so, I have a conversation with an estranged friend, although they’re usually brief and unfulfilling. Despite how starved I am for company, I have walls that are made of concrete and insurmountably high. I push everyone away; I keep everything to myself. If I’m suffering, I don’t say a word about it. Even when I did have friends, I very rarely came across a person that I could open up to.
I know that I should reach out. Complaining about my situation isn’t going to fix it, and I fully acknowledge my role in perpetuating the problem. But on top of being closed off and introverted, I’m socially anxious, complete with debilitating physical symptoms and the occasional situational-bound panic attack.
I’m too scared to attempt to cultivate any relationships with others. When I interact with anyone outside my family, I spend hours, sometimes days afterwards ruminating over potential error and how I humiliated myself in conversation. Isolation has only made this worse, of course.
About a month ago, I hung out with someone for the first time in over eight months, and he hasn’t contacted me since. I’ve taken this as a slight, and I’m still going through what I might have done wrong over in my head. Which is pretty sad, because to feel slighted requires some sort of expectation. I had none.
I know that things could be worse. Much worse. My life thankfully has not been a tragic one. I’ve had the good grace to know friendship and what it means to be loved. I have supportive parents who have stood by my side, albeit at a distance, throughout my struggle with mental illness. Loneliness by far is not the worst thing that I have experienced. But it’s still hard.
I am seventeen years old.
I am mentally ill.
I am graduating next year by the skin of my teeth.