How Bullying and the People Around Me Affected My Mental Health
TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide, Self-harm
When I was in 6th grade I was bullied by my best friend. It's taken me years to realize how traumatic that time was for me and I still can't be around her without getting panic attacks. It started in the winter of 6th grade. At this point I was already in therapy, but I was doing pretty well. My grades were good, and I was mostly pretty happy. I had a really good group of friends who cared about me and I cared about them. For the first time in a while I felt really happy.
It all started with a text from one of my close friends. “Don't look at ******s Instagram story.” Of course the first thing I did was go straight to her page. As I opened it, I saw this innocent seeming game, involving anonymous conversations about other people. You would name a topic, such as “hottest girl” or “nicest person” and then get a name. You would then post it on your story without showing who said it. I tapped through so many of these, some were just saying nice things about her friends, or calling other girls hoes, but then I saw my name. Under the category of “most annoying girl” there it was. I kept tapping with tears in my eyes as more and more came up “meanest girl” “most fake” “worst personality” and “worst person” all with my name.
And of course I had no idea who this was and she wouldn't tell me. I texted her over and over again asking her to take it down, And every time she just said no. She had a different excuse ech time, “it's all true anyways”, and “it's my story I can do what I want.” So it stayed. My mom noticed how upset I was and I showed her everything. She screenshotted all of it and sent it to the principal. I stayed home from school the next day. And the next. And the day after. A whole week passed and I hadn't gone to school. I hadn't checked my phone, I was barely eating and I didn't leave my room. My mom finally made me go back to school, not realizing how bad it was gonna be.
While I was out, she had told the whole school everything. Except it was her version, which isn't true. She told them how I was harassing her, and how she hadn't even done anything wrong. The principal was talking to her and her parents. She was grounded. And it was all “my fault”. My whole friend group turned against me. She was so popular, that people automatically took her side. If you were my friend, then people disliked you. It didn't make any sense to me, I didn't even do anything. People called me a snitch, and said I was just being dramatic. It felt like the whole school had turned against me. I spent my lunch blocks in the corner of the library all alone. I only talked to people when I had to. My grades went from A's to B's to D's. I wasn't doing my homework at all, and I hadn't scored above a 60 on tests for months.
There were a few things that I remember clearly. I remember once as I was walking down the hallway she and her friends came by. I felt my throat closing up and my skin crawling. My heart was pounding and my palms were sweating. I was sure I was going to throw up. This was the first time I had experienced a panic attack. When she walked by me she shoved into me and my stuff went everywhere, just like you see in high school movies. Except this was real. I spent the next block crying in the bathroom and missed my class. That night I cut for the first time.
Nothing changed for a while, She would yell at me in the gym locker rooms and no one stuck up for me. I stopped trusting the few people who were nice to me. I had panic attacks often and whenever I had to see her. I wasn't eating well, I was doing badly in class and I was still cutting. I was so hurt by the fact that all these people hated me. I was deeply suicidal and I felt disgusted by myself. All these people kept telling me that it wasn’t even that big of deal and I believed them. I felt mad at myself for feeling like that way, and then I started to feel like I deserved this. Like all those things were true and that I was just a horrible person. I didn't deserve friends and she was right. At the end of the year she apologized to me and said that she didn't even think it was that big of an issue. I still don't talk to her, but I did start to reconnect with some older friends who I learned how to trust.
Thinking back on this, I realized that a lot of people did reach out to me, but I was just too hurt to see it. I felt like anyone that I began to trust would hurt me just like she did. After school ended things began to look up. A few people reconnected with me and I started to form bonds and friendships with some really nice people. When school started again I was nervous but I was excited to spend time with my new friends. I had all my classes with one girl who i'm still best friends with today. Although things at school were better I was still really sad.
I felt lonely all the time and I was still seeing my therapist who was not helpful to me. She often made me feel bad about myself so I stopped talking to her and just saying that I was fine. I met a new friend and we bonded over the fact that we were both in therapy, and were both suffering mentally. It felt really nice to have someone who understood me and could support me. But soon she became really toxic. She would be mean to me all the time, say awful things to me and then blame it on her mental illness. She would also tell me that I wasn't allowed to be sad or complain because “she had it worse” with more mental illnesses and diagnoses. She would tell our friends that I was faking being sad and that I was just jealous of her. Every time I tried to talk to her about it she would threaten to harm herself so we stayed friends for months.
Meanwhile, one of my other friends saw the scars on my arms and she told the school counselor about it. I felt so hurt and betrayed by her. Now I know that she did the right thing and I'm thankful for it. This showed my parents how bad things really were and that my therapist was not right for me. It took awhile but I finally have a new therapist who works a lot better for me and helps me a lot. I finally cut off my toxic friend and things were a lot better. She still talked about me a lot but I had found new friends and they were a lot better. By the end of my 7th grade year I was a lot happier. The girl who bullied me is still in a lot of my classes and I can't face her. She brings back so many awful memories and i'm still f*cked up because of her. I am now on medication that I find really helpful. I see a therapist outside of school and at school, and I still find it hard to trust others. Although things are still rough, I'm in a much better place than I was two years ago. The thoughts of self harm and suicide are less frequent and easier to manage. I have a great support system and great friends who treat me right. It took me a long time to get to where I am now, and I've still got a ways to go.