Everyone always hears about teenagers having body issues or bullying in school. It’s so common now that people don’t even think about it. Adults just accept that it’s going to happen to their kids and they’ll “deal with it” when it comes up. But it almost never comes up because teenagers won’t bring it up. I know I haven’t.
I have dealt with a lot of those topics and each varies from minor to major in my case. Only three friends have the most knowledge about it all, but not all of them know the same things. My parents know I’ve been bullied since 6th grade but don’t know the extent of it or what it’s done to me. The emotional scars I carry around are mine to bare, but my heaviest secret has been shared with only one other person.
The start of middle school is usually when everyone begins to break away from innocent elementary students into high schoolers. A teacher I had once said that middle school girls can be the meanest girls in the world. He wasn’t wrong. There’s only two types of middle school girls—those who harass and those who are harassed. Guess which one I was as a budding Goth?
It started with one girl who actually shared the exact same schedule with me. My mom told me that we could be good friends because of that. Instead, it turned into the worst thing that could have ever happened. We had an okay start to a friendship before she decided to turn on me by suddenly calling my best friend and I “lesbian lovers”—a statement that lasted throughout all five years so far. She became friends with one of my oldest friends and managed to make her make fun of me as well.
She once stole the lock from my gym locker and my gym clothes, hiding them all throughout the locker room. This girl had the audacity to try and make the choir teacher believe I cheated off of my best friend’s exam. Her claim fell through and the choir teacher pitied me and my best friend. At the end of the year, on our final report card, she thanked me for standing up for my best friend. It actually made me angry because I thought she thought I was doing it because I felt obligated to protect my friend. I would speak in her defense without even thinking about it and the last thing I wanted was for a teacher to think I was only just trying to do the right thing. It was much more than that.
A girl I met in my 6th grade reading class was once paired with me to do a project. That first day, she said to me, “We’re gonna be great friends,” and I agreed. Last year, she was in my geometry class and was against me and my best friend that entire semester, her and her best friend being the most active in ruining our lives. The stress those students gave me in a class I already wasn’t good at brewed together and made me fail with a 50, forcing me to go to summer school (where I passed with an 80 in less than 10 days).
They always had something to make fun at. From what I was wearing to what I said to what bookmark I had in my book. It never stopped. 7th grade was the absolute worst. The guy who is still at the forefront of the army of hatred made his presence known that year and hasn’t let up. The following year, he told me it was all a joke but continued to harass me and my friends.
One moment I won’t forget about him is at lunch one day in 8th grade. That year I had met my second best friend, who happens to be gay. The guy called my name and only said to me that my new best friend was gay (this was before he came out). If we were anywhere but school I would’ve said a lot more than I had. All of my friends seemed to be the target of hatred and it only made me feel worse for not making it stop.
At the end of 8th grade, in my math class we had to write notes to each person in the class and tell them something nice, etc. There were two girls, one of them being the pioneer of my voyage on the sea of bullying in middle school, in there that I would have to write nice notes for. I struggled with going the easy way and writing something like, “I hope we’ll be friends in high school!” or actually writing what I felt. In the end, I wasn’t going to let them think I had forgotten.
To each of them I told them that what they had said to me and about me would never go away and that I could never forgive them for what they’ve done to me. When we got our booklets with what the others had written about us, they had both admitted that they hadn’t been nice to me but hoped that we’d be friends in high school. I never talked to either of them again.
High school wasn’t any easier. With three or four middle schools pouring into the class of 2013, it meant a lot more people could become bullies. And they did. From my first day as a freshman to December of my junior year, I dealt with new person after new person joining the club to harass my friends and I. I eventually had a breakdown in December 2011 and my parents finally let me transfer out and into a school where I didn’t know anyone. No one talks to me except my two friends I’ve made and my life is much less stressful.
Just because I’m away from them all doesn’t mean I still don’t have those feelings. I’ve developed depression and I still have those times where I feel depressed for no reason. Sometimes it lasts a few hours and once it lasted a week. I can’t help it and I refuse to take anti-depressants because I don’t want to suppress my emotions. I still cry when I remember their words and I can’t forget them.
I have a few friends who used to cut or have thought about cutting. I once was at the point where I was about to pull the blade across my wrist when I chickened out because of my low tolerance for pain. No one knows I sat on the floor for a good minute, thinking about what to do. I haven’t done it, but I have thought about it for years.
In March 2011, the time when I was in my geometry class, I had become severely stressed out. One morning, about an hour before I had to get up, I woke up with my head and stomach hurting like hell. I got out of my bed and walked across my room to look out into the hall to find my mom when I realized that she was in the shower. My eyes had gone black like they do when you stand up too fast and I told myself to go lay down and try again when she was out. As soon as I started walking back to my bed, my eyes closed and I fainted. Later that day, I went to the doctor and found out I had lost over ten pounds in three or four months from stress. The new semester begins in December—meaning I began to lose all of that weight when I started geometry.
Even though I went in there for fainting and such, my doctor first asked me if I had ever hurt myself or thought about doing it. I know he asked that only by looking at my all-black clothing. I’ve admitted to you that I have, but I said no. My mom was in the room and knows nothing about this, and like hell I was going to tell a doctor everything. I’m very small and thin to begin with (I’m 4’11” and my normal weight has always been 98-99 pounds) and my friends jokingly ask me if I’m anorexic. I’ve never purposefully starved myself and I actually hate it when they ask me that. My doctor on that day asked me if I was bulimic, and that just about drove me over the edge.
As state above, I have never purposefully starved myself as a cry for help or to lose weight. I have, however, still gone a day without eating and I’ve told myself multiple times that I’d starve myself for a period of time. November 2011, on Thanksgiving break, my brother had gone to the hospital for a collapsed lung. My parents both spent the entire day there all week, leaving me alone until about nine, ten, or eleven at night when they’d ask if I wanted something to eat. Being left alone from the very start of the break did something to me and I told myself that I just wouldn’t eat during the break. I went about half a day before I broke that declaration.
I can think of at least two days where I willingly went without food and only drank a little water to keep from feeling hungry. Recently, I stayed home from school since I had trouble sleeping for two nights in a row and told myself not to eat—I only had a small amount for dinner and nothing else.
What all of it has in common is usually I proclaim a hunger strike whenever my parents decide that I’m not important or they yell at more for not doing something as I should (Example A, leaving me alone for a week; Example B, getting angry at me for staying home from school). I think it’s kind of a way for me to show that I have control over myself no matter what anyone else does or doesn’t do to/for me.
I feel very smug when I get through a day without eating or eating very little. I’m a teenager who craves junk food a lot and being able to say that I abstained from eating anything is like a small victory in something. Maybe these are early signs of all-out anorexia, but I can assure you that I have not gone more than one day without eating in a row in the two years that I’ve noticed my one-day fasts.
Whether or not I’ll increase the amount of fasts I go on once I’m living on my own in a year, I don’t know. Part of the reason why I don’t try to go longer is because I don’t want my parents getting onto me about it, so maybe that’s the only thing holding me back.
I love food too much to become anorexic for no reason, so I’d never go to the extreme of the extreme. I can’t really say what my future holds in this department.
A lot of teens have depression and high stress. I’m one of them. It’s real depression, not just when something awful happens to me or someone I know—it comes at random times and the only thing I can do is wait it out. I have had plenty of dastardly thoughts during those times but I have still yet to act on them. Doesn’t mean I haven’t put a lot of thought into them.
I mentioned already that I’ve nearly cut. I had been thinking about it since I was eleven (in the 6th grade), and only just about did it when I was fifteen. I’m almost seventeen now and I still think about getting over the fact that it’ll hurt physically in order to bleed out the emotional pain.
Depression can lead to that big topic I’ve been holding out on. Suicide. My best friend who’s been bullied alongside me since 6th grade once came to me in the 7th grade crying. It was during lunch and the people around us were still laughing at her for crying, even though she was telling me she wants to kill herself because of what they say to her. I was twelve years old and talking my best friend out of suicide. She’s still alive and probably doing a lot better than I am after all of this.
I’d be a liar if I said I haven’t felt how she did. Last year, suffocating in the stress of everything (including that Goddamn geometry class), I began to plan my suicide for a week. I was going to overdose on any pills I could get my hands on. Even though I planned it all out and I was really just waiting for the day that I broke down enough to act on it, I was still scared by the thoughts.
I’ve told only one friend about how scared I was by the thoughts but how I still wanted to do it. The only reason I’ve held it off is because she said she needed me. Being needed by someone is something I’ve strived for since I constantly feel like I’m left to fend for myself and treated as if I don’t exist.
Clearly, I haven’t gone through with killing myself. Doesn’t mean I still don’t think about when my breakdown will happen and I can’t stop myself.
Take what you will from this. Call me “emo” or other nasty names. Tell me I need to get some help. I’m still breathing and I’m still going. My tell-all isn’t for people to judge me, it’s for people in my place who feel like there’s no one else who’s felt as they have. I know I feel like that, even though I don’t let this side of me show to anyone, including my two best friends.
Since bullying, depression in teens, self-harm, and suicide have all become white noise to people, I feel a huge urge to fix that and show that the statistics you read have voices. We have names. We live or have lived through what you read about in the news and we fight the demons in ourselves every day. My demons come from those who decided to make my life a living hell even without them being here to taunt me. I hate going to places where teens hang out because I fear that one of them will be there, ready to add another scar.
Don’t worry about me. Don’t feel the need to tell me that things will get better. I don’t want to be patronized with false hope. I used to have tons of big dreams for myself but as the years went by and reality crashed down around me, I’ve only barely held onto two. It’s these two that keep me going, and as long as I have them then I’ll be just fine.
Yes, high school will end and I very likely will never see any of these people ever again. I can only hope for as much. But if you’ve never been inflicted with the pain that those hateful words cause then you can never understand why I’ll never be able to get over it. If you’ve been bullied, you know how deeply those words can cut and they never leave you. You can achieve all of your dreams after graduating but you’ll still remember how miserable those people made you.
If someone reads this and has ever been on the other side of my story—the one saying those hateful things—then you need to realize what it does to someone. You’re probably laughing and thinking my depressing tell-all is a bunch of whining and complaining. I know at least one person will think so. I’ve been told by the people who caused all of this that it was all a joke. It isn’t. My life isn’t a joke. When you harass someone to the point that they want to kill themselves, it was never funny. You may have a change of heart and apologize to the person, but they’ll never really forgive you because what you said before will never be forgotten. I know that if one of my bullies apologized to me, I’d tell them off for what they’ve done to me.
That’s enough of that. All I can hope for is that someone finds insight in this and is driven to change it so that another teenage girl doesn’t have to sit and write something like this. I’m not going to tell someone who feels like I do to just ignore them because, obviously, that doesn’t work. All I can say is hang in there and try to rise above it.
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” -Abraham Lincoln
~Confessions of a Real Teen Girl, by Keira Renée