This will be the hardest piece of writing for me so far in my career, because I will attempt to delve into my own mental illness in an attempt to help those with a mental illness. Especially those who may consider bringing a weapon to school to harm others, or those who do not recognize the bully in themselves. Because I was a bully. And I know how hard and painful it is to be kind to others, when you have not been treated fairly in life from a young age.
I would first like to reflect on a book that was considered mandatory reading for me in high school: A Separate Peace. Spoiler alert for those who have not read it, but this novel delves into the thoughts of a young boy who, for all intents and purposes, orchestrated the accident that caused his "friend" a broken leg. Thus damaging his "friend's" sports career and psychological well-being, out of jealousy and self-hate. Please, if you can relate to the story of the protagonist, or if you cannot but are of an open-mind and understanding mentality, continue reading this blog. If stories such as Les Miserables, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, or The Color Purple, with an underlying theme of forgiveness for the broken, do not appeal to you, please do not move forward.
I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when I was 22. I honestly believe I first developed it when I was 14. I distinctly remember the world becoming smaller, scarier, and darker. I knew something was wrong with me, but I did not know what, because in all honesty I thought diseases such as PTSD only affected soldiers, and mainly men. Not young Caucasian girls growing up in middle class society.
I am extremely thankful to say that the most terribly beautiful moment that struck me to my core and made me want to receive treatment was when I was very young and my younger sister was in a car accident. This occurred after I developed my illness. She wanted to go to the beach near our house, and we were home alone, myself the babysitter. I didn't care what she did I remember thinking, I was too wrapped up in my own pain. She left by herself by bicycle. After an hour or two, she called me letting me know that she was coming back home, but the chain on her bicycle kept falling off. I am ashamed to say, I told her too bad, I could do nothing about it. I remember this moment very vividly. The next call I received was from my younger sister's cell phone, but it was not her voice. An older woman I did not know told me that my sister got into a car accident and that an ambulance was on the way. I later discovered that the bike chain broke while my sister was riding. She could not break as a car drove through a stop sign, hitting her. She rolled over the roof of the car, a nearby tree breaking her momentum. I was alone at home as this strange disembodied voice explained to me that she was going to go with my sister to the hospital, and hung up.
Do you know what the worst feeling in the world is? The worst feeling in the world is looking in the mirror and seeing the reflection of your abuser. I thought I was justified in acting out my pain. I thought I was justified in all my actions, because I was a child living in an emotionally unstable environment. But I was wrong. My course of action was wrong. For all those bullies out there. I know your pain. I've been there. I've felt it. And I know the way to freedom. Freedom is finding a way to be the opposite of your abuser. Freedom is recognizing the history of violence, the history of cowardice, and confronting it with kindness and resolve. If you hated the abuse done to you as much as I did, do not surrender to it. Do not go quietly into that darkness. Fight it. It is not the easy path, but it is the right path. If I am better than the abuse done to me, then I know with certainty that whoever you are, whatever you have already done, you are better than the abuse done to you. You have a difficult road ahead of you, but once you make that decision to accept kindness and give kindness, you are one step closer to leaving your pain, and your abuser, behind you. Know, just as I know, with complete and utter certainty, that whoever you are, you ARE worthy of kindness and goodness, just as I am.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.