New Youth Connections, New York
One day in fifth grade, a boy came and sat next to me in the cafeteria during lunch. Before I could react, he took my pizza and threw it in my face. I got up and chased him around the cafeteria, trying to ignore the cackling and hurtful remarks like “ugly girl” and “dummy” coming from the other kids. It wasn’t the first time I’d had to defend myself against my classmates.
They would hit me and call me degrading names like stupid, crazy girl, and b—-. I was always anxious, because I thought that every kid in my school had it in for me. My acting like a scared animal around them only caused them to torment me even more.
I didn’t tell my family what was happening. If I was quiet and they asked what was wrong, I would say, “Nothing,” even though I wanted to say how bad I was feeling inside.
As the bullying continued, I grew more distant from my parents and sisters. I still talked to them, but only short talks about my day. Somehow, they knew that I was having some kind of trouble at school without me having to tell them.
In sixth grade, my grades took a turn for the worse. My parents started to lecture me that I could do better. I wanted nothing more than to tell them why my grades had dropped, but I was convinced that nobody would understand what was happening to me, so I kept the problem to myself.
The stress was taking its toll on me. I felt like I was going to break any second. I became suicidal. I thought that everyone would be better off without me. I pictured myself with a knife aimed at my wrists or my throat.
After a few months, I also knew I needed to share my feelings with someone. I was afraid if I talked to my parents, they would think I was exaggerating. So instead I told my teacher.
“All the kids in school treat me as though I’m their play toy,” I said. “They tease, hit, and make fun of me. It’s been happening for years now.” I told her that I couldn’t take it anymore. Then I met the school psychologist and told him the same thing. He called my home, and in less than 10 minutes, my mother was there.
I stared at the floor for a long time. Finally, I said, “I feel like I can’t talk to anybody about how I feel. I feel like committing suicide. Maybe if I do, then my family wouldn’t have to deal with me.” Tears began to flow from my eyes, and I was shaking. I waited for my mother to say something. It was the longest wait of my entire life.
Wiping tears from her eyes, she said, “Sweetheart, you should have told us how you were feeling.” She said they could have helped me with my problems, and that I never should have kept those feelings inside for so long, because they could cause damage to me. Later that afternoon, my mom took me to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
I started meeting with a therapist every other Thursday. The more I talked about my problems, the more I felt at ease with myself. Day by day, I started opening up to my family and spending time with them like I used to do.
In high school, I was able to start fresh in a place where no one knew that I was a target. I found people who had a lot in common with me and began making good friends. By the middle of ninth grade, I was feeling so much better that I stopped going to therapy.
I miss the fun, outgoing, carefree person that I used to be when I was little. I’m not sure how to get back to that person, but I’m trying.
© 2009 Youth Communication/New York Center Inc., http://www.youthcomm.org.