Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Unity Day 2013

     October is Bullying Awareness Month and October 9th is Unity Day. Last year, I dedicated an entire week from NaBloPoMo to write about different things involving bullying. This year, I'm just going to write one post and it's something that I'm going to do every year on Unity Day. Every year, you're all invited to join in and email me your posts or videos or whatever, so that I can share it with my readers as well. (Well, the three of you that are left since I keep disappearing for a month at a time.)

     I went into the details about how I was bullied last year, so you can click the links below if you would like to see the specifics of it, but this year I just don't have it in me. Writing about the effects is difficult enough, but if you have any questions for me, I will answer them. I just don't currently have the emotional ability to go into the exact details of the events like I did before.

     If you want to see my posts from last year, you can click anywhere here:



     This year, I'm going to talk more about the effects that it can cause. I'm assuming you know what bullying is so I shouldn't really have to explain it. But just in case I have a bully reading this and they don't realize that they're a bully, basically it means that you attack somebody else. It can be done physically, mentally, emotionally, online, offline, by friends, by family, by strangers, by anyone. Nobody deserves it, not somebody who made a mistake and not even the bully themselves.

     I was called stupid, weird, a loser, a geek, too fat, too skinny, a nerd, untalented, etc. People didn't like my hair, my face, my voice, my personality, or just generally my existence to sum it up. If I would have died, I doubt anyone besides my mom and the two or three people I was friends with would have noticed or cared. I was grabbed, shoved against lockers, pushed down stairs, followed around, rumors were spread, secrets were told. People stole stuff from my locker, which we had to pay to replace and I was accused of lying about it by the PE coach, who said I just wanted attention. The list goes on, but you get the idea.

     I literally thank God that all of this happened before everyone in my generation was using the internet, because that only makes it worse. I was damn lucky not to have to deal with that as well when I was in school, but that's one of the biggest places that people are bullied.

     When I was younger, I had such low self-esteem that it was virtually non-existent. None at all, really. I hated what I saw in the mirror and I did everything I could to avoid looking in one. I was never good enough for anyone. All I saw was the person that the bullies wanted me to believe I was. I just turned twenty years old and after getting out of public school when I was thirteen, I still struggle with it. That's seven years and there are days where I still see that girl they wanted me to believe I was, even though I know I will never be that person.

     Most days are better now. I don't hate myself anymore. I'm still learning to find qualities that I really like about myself and I try to think of at least one a day, even if its the same one. For example, I love how honest I am and I love how people ask for my advice. I love how good I am with kids and animals, even though I'm still convinced old people hate me. I really like my eyes and I like my hair. Even three years ago, I wouldn't have said anything on that list. If you asked me what I liked about myself, I would have had to bullshit some answer so that I wouldn't worry whoever asked me, if I thought they cared enough to worry.

     I have trouble sitting with my back to people I don't trust very well, because I'm still worried that somebody else is going to grab or shove me from behind. On that note, I basically don't trust anyone. I have a very short list of people who I trust at all, and an even shorter list of people that I trust fully. On the list of people that I trust fully: My mom, my boyfriend, Sissi, and Brother. That's all.

     I highly doubt I will ever fully get over my trust issues, but I'm still so much better than I was a few years ago. Thirteen year old me didn't trust a single person in the world because I thought that was the only way that I would survive.

     Not that I was sure that I really wanted to survive.

     The bullying put me into such a depression that I seriously considered several things to make it all stop. First, let me explain what depression feels like, for those of you who think it just means you're a little sad. It's so much more than that. It feels like you're drowning in a black hole but nobody even notices. It's hidden behind fake smiles, fake laughs, and the act of looking happy while you feel like you're literally dying from the inside. No matter how fast you run towards anything happy, you can't get to it in time to escape the darkness.

     There comes a point when you reach a breaking point. For some, it's alcohol or drugs. Others use self-harm, such as cutting themselves. Those were my top three options. I thought about it every single day. Literally the only reason that I never did, was because I made a promise to a friend that I wouldn't do what he was, and he checked in on me every single day to make sure I kept that promise. Some people starve themselves or go so far as to break their own bones, because they need to feel anything besides the depression.

     Then there's the final breaking point: suicide.

     That's something else that I thought about. The lowest point I reached was when I was seventeen. I had escaped the bullying from school, but bullies aren't just in school. It seemed like I was never going to get away from it and I was never going to escape the depression that was eating me away. I won't list the ways I considered because I refuse to give anyone any ideas, but there was a pretty long list. To this day, I don't know what pulled me through when I was so willing to die to get away from it all. Faith, maybe? It was the one thing I never gave up on.

     Things have gotten better since that point. I don't cry myself to sleep every night and I don't think about the easiest way to die. I want to live now and I want to keep fighting back, to be the person that I want to be, not be who everyone thinks I am. I don't know if I'll ever fully get over all of the bullying that I went though, but I do know that I refuse to stop fighting back when I know things always get better.

     There are so many people who never had a chance to escape it, until they reached that final breaking point. Amanda Todd is one example. She's still being bullied and she's been dead over a year. Another example is Rebecca Sedwick, who was twelve years old and killed herself just a few weeks ago. Not everyone is lucky enough to survive and even more struggle with lifelong problems- emotional, mental, and physical.

     Trying to lock it all away and never think about it only hurt me, and it will only hurt everyone else who doesn't speak up. Trying to pretend  that it never happened and trying to forget it all just make things worse. The only way that things will get better for anyone is to talk about it. I promise that my next post will be something happier, but this is something that people needs to understand, so that things can get better for those who have been affected by bullying.





**Due to news stories talking about people going overboard, trying to stop bulling, I feel the need to put a disclaimer here. I do NOT encourage, endorse, or support anyone doing anything illegal, harmful, criminal, violent, or dangerous activity. This is about stopping people from being hurt. This is NOT about hurting anyone in any way, shape, or form. Any links involving anyone going over the top and handling things inappropriately will not be posted on my blog, Twitter, or anywhere else by myself. If I find a link that involves anything inappropriate, I will delete it, and if possible, I will report it. Also, I am not an expert on this matter. I have included the links to the sources I got my information from and give full credit to whoever did the actual research, that I am using here.**

37 comments:

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, JP. I'll check out your book in a little while. I don't know what it says yet, but I'm very happy that you wrote about something that so many people need to learn about and understand. Good luck with the publishing.

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    3. I've been reading it since you told me about it. Once I finish reading it, I'll let you know what I think.

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  2. Heartfelt post, Rachel. I'm glad you shared, and I hope many others did, as well. The effects of bullying last a lifetime.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. Thank you, Shannon. You really helped a lot this year, letting your readers know about it. Thank you so much.

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  3. It's a harsh world we live in, not just from the standpoint of bullying, but those who allow it to happen without doing anything about it. That's almost as disgusting as the bullying itself. I was never bullied as a kid, but my dad was in high school, so he took up boxing. Not to beat the crap out of people, but because it gave him confidence and inner strength, and people left him alone after that. As for me, I'm a fighter too. Inside and out. We have a lot of bullied kids that come to the academy to learn, and that's what I try to teach (my friend is a coach and I help him sometimes) - it's about learning confidence and strength, not just about punching the other guy in the face or breaking his arm.

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    1. You have no idea how happy I am that you try to teach that. Even if you don't have the outer strength, it takes a massive amount of inner strength to be able to survive it. Too many people end up dead because of being bullied, and too many people are bullied, but having the inner strength to deal with it makes so much difference. That being said, I did learn that sometimes I have to fight back physically, but that's a last resort.

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    2. Not sure what went down with jp but I do have to say that I completely agree with you about that punch sometimes being needed. Sorry, but it's true. As mentioned above, we teach the kids about confidence and asserting yourself, but sometimes, in rare cases, that's not enough. The main idea is not to throw punches before you try to talk things out. Fists are a last resort. But if someone's trying to physically harm you, then you have every right to defend yourself.

      My dad used to box just for fun, and one day in high school the captain of the football team was trying to pick on him and bully him in front of his friends just 'for fun.' Probably showing off to his football buddies. My dad tried to be friendly to him, but it was clear this jerk just wanted a fight. No amount of talking to him or asking Dr. Phil style questions (how does this make you feel right now?) was going to stop him from attacking my dad. So the bully struck first, and my dad struck back... and he broke this guy's nose with one punch. As my dad tells it, it was like a tomato being thrown against a sidewalk. No one ever messed with my dad after that, and I support what he did 100%. I can only imagine how things would have been if my dad ran away or didn't fight back. That's what bullies thrive on - YOU not fighting back, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, you name it.

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    3. I believe it was a misunderstanding with JP. I saw a way his posts could be perceived and he didn't realize it, though I think I accidentally offended him when I said something, which I did not mean to do.

      Violence is always the last resort. I strongly believe in defending yourself, by whatever means needed, but violence should always be the last option. And never, ever attack first. The problem in schools, is that now the bullied gets in trouble for fighting back. With the "no tolerance" stuff going around, if you get attacked and then fight back, you both get in trouble. There's a girl all over the national news who, because of "no tolerance for drinking" was demoted from volleyball captain and suspended for five games. Even the cops said that she wasn't drinking at the party and only showed up to pick up her drunk friend. With things like that, it's no wonder people are scared to come forward. Kids are being taught that doing the right thing can get you into serious trouble.

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  4. I'm one of the people who wants to punch the bully. I know it's not right, but it makes me so angry. I don't punch the bully, by the way!

    I don't know what all you had to do to get past your bullying, but I am glad things are better.

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    1. I'm one of the people who wants to punch them as well. My mom taught me one thing though: "Never start the fight but always be sure to finish it." I've listened to that since I was little and it's always worked. I won't hit somebody first, but I will defend myself.

      I never went to therapy, but I probably should have. I think that my mom, Wolfy, Sissi, and Brother are the main reasons I'm okay now. They were always there for me and they gave me a reason to keep fighting. Beyond that, I honestly don't know.

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    3. The standing up to a bully advice that is always thrown around does not always work. It really depends on the bully and the victim. In some cases, standing up to him/her would just make the situation worse.

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  6. One of the main problems with bullying, is that there isn't a set way to handle it. Sometimes what we're told to do (like going to a teacher) will actually make it worse, but sometimes it puts a stop to it. Sometimes throwing a punch (or in my case, shoving a boy into a brick wall and telling him he would never touch me again) does the trick, but most of the time that just results in somebody getting seriously hurt or worse. The most that you can do is speak out if you see it and try to get out of the situation, get out of the place where you are being bullied. But more importantly, never to give up. Always hold your head high and know that things will get better.

    JP, I appreciate your book and I am still reading it, but I do have to ask you to please stop promoting it through my comments. I'm sure that's not what you're trying to do, but it does come off the wrong way. When I finish reading it, I will let you know if I will include it as a link on my blog. I always read everything through before including it, plus that post will be at the end of this month anyways.

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    1. I'm sorry that certainly wasn't the intention and as I am giving it away there is certainly no self-interest. Making people aware of the problems and the mindset of victims should be free and I applauded your open views but I must say I am disappointed by your comment and any perception you have of my motivation.

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    2. I'm very sorry if I offended you. That was not what I intended to do. If you'll allow me to explain my point of view, or what it can seem like to somebody who may not know your motivation: Commenting by mentioning your book in most of your posts can seem as though you're basically advertising it, which would be bad for you as well. It could give you the title of trying to take advantage of this to make your book popular.

      I certainly never believed that you were trying to just sell your book with your comments and I would never think that your motivation to write the book was based on money, but I don't want it to seem otherwise either. I do wish you the best of luck in making sure everyone has access to knowing the mindset of the victim.

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    3. First off I put the link in the first comment for you to read and although my book was mentioned in subsequent responses it was neither linked nor was the title repeated. What upset me was the fact I was trying NOT to refer to it directly and your critique was therefore particularly upsetting.

      If anybody is in any doubt about how bullying and abuse can have long term affects they have just seen an example of it. Nearly 30 years later I am still very defensive and prone to mood swings. I will without warning start crying (which can be embarrassing) and the nightmares whilst only sporadic now, still pay a night-time visit on occasion. I know the problems now and have largely come to terms with them, the book was remarkable therapy.

      Suppose I should start carrying a big sign around 'Damaged Goods Handle With Care'. Anyway please accept my apologies for my sensitivity, I try not to make others aware of it but sometimes the fingers are in fast forward whilst the brain is in rewind. Good Luck and Best Wishes.

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    4. Listen man, I commend the fact that you removed your comments containing the links because of Rachel's reply - which, by the way, shouldn't be garnering an overtly growing frustration from you - but you can't just come back and start complaining about it. She's just trying to be nice and you seem to be unable to let this go.

      I'm sorry about your past and it's wonderful that your writings help you cope, but that doesn't mean you can start toting them as a tool that will /surely/ aid other victims of abuse. I mean, first of all we all have damaged goods to some extent, but that doesn't make it right for you to make a passive-aggressive remark about them just because you feel judged by Rachel here who read your story and gave her honest feedback. That's unhealthy. Second of all, you're apologizing? Buddy, if you really wanted to make Rachel feel better, you wouldn't have made this comment which in my opinion looks more like a guilt trip than anything.
      Finally, you may not have control over your mood or your demons or how people may respond to your writing - constructive criticism is like the nectar of life for writers by the way, so seek that out instead of telling someone they are wrong for not liking your work - but you do have control over what you post and type. And what you just posted here? Uncalled for.
      "Good Luck and Best Wishes" to you too.

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    5. I could really tear a strip off you for your ignorance but out of respect for Rachel I will tone it down. Suffice to say you are way off the mark and the comments I removed didn't have links on them. Just your name suggests an over-inflated ego. My apology was for the misunderstanding not because of a 'guilt trip'. I was happy to let this go until your inane statement. 'Tonysthebest' and 'I do really cool stuff' suggests a teen with no real idea of the world about him and his head firmly planted up his own backside.

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    6. Care to explain where I'm being ignorant? I find it funny that you're so concerned about respecting Rachel now. But whatever, I've already said what I needed to. It's a little unfortunate that you're going the pissing contest route. Just for the record, just because I used a *joke* as my username doesn't mean I actually think I'm the best person in the world..

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    7. Your ignorance is in the assumption you know anything about me or my writing. You have also unnecessarily inflamed a situation where I tried to pour oil on troubled water. Your arrogance is evident in your reply the name and the description just emphasise it. Thankfully I'm not your Buddy and your use of obscenity and patronising 'Good Luck etc. is ignorant as well as insulting. Now shut up delete the evidence of your stupidity and I will delete my comments before this post is tarnished further. If you want to argue with me I am more than happy to do so but not here.

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    8. Go ahead, delete your comments like you did when you used Rachel's heartfelt post to repeatedly promote your book. My comments are staying. I'm not going to argue outside of here either, so breathe easy knowing you can write whatever the hell you want without me badgering you. Just go.

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    9. Typical spoilt brat teen, badger all you want you clearly lack the intelligence and integrity to be the 'bigger man'. Interesting how you couldn't argue against the response you requested. Don't try and mentally joust with me you do not have the required equipment. Your persistence smacks of a bully but I have always stood up to them and you are no exception

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    10. Oh yeah, one last thing, you've been doing most of the name calling and belittling. Good job. Have a nice day.

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    11. Yes it's a fault of mine, I am always contemptuous towards condescension and sarcasm. Have the day you truly deserve.

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    12. It astounds me how my post about the effects of bullying turned into this shit storm. Let me just put it to you like this, since I seem to need to spell things out to be understood:

      1) Name calling is a no no. It's not nice.

      2) Insulting people is another no no. It's also not nice.

      3) Talking things out without acting rashly, rudely, or like a bully is the good thing to do. It will get you a gold star, a cookie, and good karma points.

      4) Assumptions make an ass out of everyone.

      5) Not being nice brings bad karma, frowny faces, and me explaining things like I'm speaking to toddlers. But with more cursing.

      What happened here is a fight that should have never taken place and I'm pretty pissed that of all posts for it to take place on, on my blog, it would be about how bullying is wrong. I don't know where the massive misunderstanding took place to cause this, but now my brother is involved because he always looks out for me.

      There will be nothing else said about this unless nice words are used. For example, "I'm sorry for the misunderstanding" or "Let's talk about this and see if we can make things right". You can use those quotes; I don't mind.

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  7. Nicely done, Rachel. Heartfelt and real and informative. You described depression really well, too. (I've had depression for 12 years...it's a black hole and you can't see the light, there's no ladder out, and no one can hear you screaming, just like you said.)
    I haven't forgotten that I'm doing something about bullying this month. I'm also tweeting this post. You go girl, you keep healing, and keep heading up. {{{hugs}}}
    Tina @ Life is Good

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    1. Thank you. I was struggling to describe it where people who have never experienced it could know what it feels like. I'm sorry that you've had it for so long, or at all to begin with. Just because you can't see the light doesn't mean its not there. {{{hugs}}}

      My phone just alerted me that you commented and tweeted and I got an email for the tweet. haha I took a shower, came back, and you had blown up my phone with things. Thank you, Tina.

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  8. Whoa, how ironic that your post on bullying brought out bullying behavior! Why can't people just be nice or make no comment at all?

    Fantastic post, though, Rachel. It moved me and I am once again said that you went through what you went though. I just can't fathom how anyone could treat you badly, when you are one of the sweetest (with an edge, of course :) and most sincere people I know.

    My post should be up on Thursday!

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    1. Next year, I will only be contacted by email with links to prevent this from happening again. I only left all of that up as an example.

      (I like you mentioned the edge part. It makes me feel tough. haha) I don't know why people attack other people, whether the're nice or sweet or a total bitch. But it happens and it sucks.

      I'm excited to read it!

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  9. Wonderful post. My heart breaks for anyone who suffers this kind of horrible abuse. Kudos to you for bringing it to people's attention.

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    1. Thank you Dana. I feel horrible for anyone who's gone through it but it does help me to talk about it. It would be even better if it helped others too.

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  10. Kianwi sent me. This post is beautiful. My PTSD is finally dying down. I am 54. I was so bullied that I stayed in a horrible marriage for 30 years because I was too scared to get out. My entire family bullied me (I was the youngest of six), and the ones who are still alive continue to do so. I avoid them at all costs. Suicide called to me, too. I'm glad you're recovering. Who knows why those kids made you their scapegoat?

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I just read the other comments and was shocked by some of them. I wish the person who didn't want you to mention your book had sent a private email to you. I know what you mean by damaged goods. I get upset by things that other people think are nothing. I carry a bomb that is waiting to explode into tears, or, as Willy Dunne Wooters (my sweetie pie) says, I get upset and turn into a zombie. I know exactly when it hits me. I do the "depression walk" and I try to suppress all my feelings and pretend not to care.

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    2. Hi Janie. Thank you for coming by. I'm so sorry about everything you went through. I watched horrible marriages when I was growing up and I swore I would never be trapped in something like that, but I feel so bad for those who are in that situation. Just remember that life is short so you should spend your time with the people who honestly love you and will never let you forget that.

      It would have been better handled through a private email and next year, that is the only way I'll accept links. I'll delete anything else because what happened was uncalled for and completely ridiculous. I will not let it happen again on a post about such an important subject.

      I know exactly what you're talking about. I do that too. Try to hide it so nobody will worry, but you're just sort of staring out into space. "What's wrong?" "Oh, just tired. I'm okay." I can't tell you how many times I've done that and I'm trying to keep it from happening again.

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