Facing My Anxiety: A Story of Bullying
Was I sick? No.
Did I get in trouble? No.
Did I have crappy grades? No.
Then tell us all Danielle, what was the problem? Inquiring minds want to know. (And believe me, some of the people who actually went to high school WITH me still want to know!)
I was bullied. To the point where my anxiety got so bad, I couldn’t even leave the house. It started really when I was in 8th grade and was just looking to “fit in” with any group of friends. I fell in with a shitty crowd and by the time I hit my freshman year old high school, I had broken away from the crowd and apparently made a couple enemies. Which didn’t really bother me, because when you blindly hate people over their looks, that makes you the shitty person… not me. (But, that is a story for another day!)
I started a club called SHS United. We had the sponsorship of my freshman English teacher who was one of the most tolerant teachers I ever met. The purpose of the club was to make a safe haven for all different students to be accepted. Whether it was the LGBT youth, the dorks who were made fun of, or those goth kids who wore nothing but black. I wanted to help everyone have that safe place and know they are all amazing people.
Well, apparently some people didn’t find that to be as good of an idea as I did. Mainly the kids who hated the gays, or hated the blacks, or hated the goths, or those who were different.
It was then the harassment began. Day in and day out I was followed from classroom to classroom by one specific student who identified himself as a “neo-nazi”. We will call him Taylor. Really he was nothing to be scared of. Maybe 150 pounds soaking wet, not much taller than my 4 foot nothing self, and not a harmful bone in his body. But he had an intimidating and frankly scary stare. He wore a trench coat in the year following the Columbine massacre, and while you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… he scared the living shit out of me.
As the harassment went on, I repeatedly went to my school councilor, and the administration looking for help. No one helped me. For months, upon months. Two full school years. Then a month into my junior year… It all stopped.
I lost it.
It was the middle of the week, and I had just arrived back from the Aquaculture program I went to daily. This would be when my lovely fan club of one would follow me around.
As this boy followed me into my fourth period US History class, a class he was not a student in. I lost it.
I put my books down on the chair, and walked towards him. He grinned and laughed like he had just won a little battle. I wasn’t ignoring him anymore. I was giving him my attention. And in one swift move I punched him in the face. Stunned he stared back at me, onlookers shocked.
My best friend Monique (yes, the same Monique who guest blogged here two weeks ago) attempted to pull me away as I dragged this boy along with me. Hair in my hand with the other arm still flying.
Did I know what I was doing? Looking back, I knew that what I did was wrong and of course I knew I was probably in deep shit. But I couldn’t take anymore. I got to that point. Violence is never the answer and I still stand by that to this day.
The teacher arrived, a neighbor of mine who had known me since I was a little girl and of course doing his job escorted me to the principals office. By that point I was near catatonic. I couldn’t talk. I cried. For what seemed like days. I was never suspended, and it seemed at though it took that course of events to finally get the attention of the school.
By that point, it was way too late.
I was too far gone, and the best years of my life had been ruined by the petty actions of a bully.
I was pulled out of school and placed on home bound study by my doctor. I was treated with therapy and cocktails of pills that only turned me into an insomniac introvert that never left the house.
Six or so months later I started to function more, but I couldn’t step foot back inside that school. I went back to the Aquaculture school in the mornings. And the afternoons were with my tutor Mr. Rubin, an 80 year old World War II vet who told jokes like “Did ya hear? My grandmother had twins! … Twin lobsters!” Or “I’ll see you in the spring… when I get through the mattress” or the stories about how when he was a medic in the war, they would sneak women into the base in the ambulances. Classic.
The most social interaction I got was with this man, and my family.
By the time I hit my senior year I was functioning better. But didn’t go back to that school until the day of my graduation. I graduated by the way. Walked cap and gown with my class, which was probably the proudest moment of my life considering all I had gone through in those years.
After completing my high school education and turning 18, I made the choice to discontinue my care with the doctor as well as my therapist. Here I am, a decade later perfectly fine with the minor twinge of the occasional anxiety attack, no medication, and of course the life of a social butterfly.
I am not sure what the point of sharing this was today. Maybe it is in hopes that parents will watch their children’s behavior and hope they aren’t bullying others, or being on the receiving end of bullying.
Or maybe the overall message is for the adults out there who think bullying in any form is actually acceptable.
Either way, I can say sharing this will be therapeutic.