Uncategorized

How Bullying Has Affected My Life

I finally feel ready to write about my experiences of bullying. I hope that by writing about my strength despite experiences of bullying I can give other sufferers of bullying hope that they can go through it and that they can improve their self esteem again. I also hope that by sharing my experiences I can shed light on how harmful and damaging bullying is and why it sometimes literally costs lives.

At my first school from around the age of seven I was bullied for a few years. I was at a very small private school, there were only eleven girls in our class. The other girls constantly excluded me and my friend by not letting us participate and by saying things like, “it’s a three player game”. After my friend left the school I remember crying every day at school in the playground and being alone.

As a result of the exclusion I experienced when I left the school at age 10 I had extremely low self esteem, I was depressed and I was very withdrawn. My social development also lagged behind that of other children. Things were so bad that when I was 10 years old I wrote in my diary, “I hate myself, I hate my life.” It would take many years for me to build my self esteem up. As well as self esteem issues I had other issues; I was essentially a doormat and would do anything I could to please others in order to try and be accepted.

When I was thirteen things got worse again. I became very depressed and isolated myself from everyone. At the time I felt worthless, I hated myself and I wanted to be anyone but myself. Therefore, even though it had been years after the bullying I still had the issues deep down. When I started talking to everyone again I was mocked and experienced a lot of verbal abuse. I was also horribly bullied and humiliated in a way that was a violation.

When I moved school after this at 14 years old I was still withdrawn, depressed, had self esteem problems and was a doormat. It took me a while to finally have get a group of friends who I hung out with. I was mocked again at this school by mean girls as well as having people talk about me behind my back in front of me. I shrugged all of this off as nothing and it didn’t affect me much.

I have no doubt that the bullying triggered my childhood depression. It also made me hate school for years and pretty much made my life a hell at times.

Bullying has affected me in a number of ways. Negatively it has caused me to still have self esteem issues now. It has also caused me to be more likely to be a victim of sexual assault as I still had issues with being assertive and not giving in to the demands of others.
I also think it could have been the trigger of my suicidal ideation as I was so unhappy at school and wanted a way out. I think if I hadn’t been so strong and somehow got through it I could have easily ended up attempting suicide.

However, in spite of all the negatives which I will not discount, the bullying
has changed me in many positive ways. I think if I had not suffered for much of my childhood in this way I would not be the caring, compassionate person I am today who feels the pain of others and is a staunch human rights activist. It has also made me into an individual who never follows the crowd as I learned that people bullied me when I tried to be who I thought they wanted me to be. I don’t think I would have my “I don’t care” attitude to life if this had not happened. It has also made me appreciate joy and good times and I very early learnt that money doesn’t make you happy.

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Uncategorized

To All Those People Who Trivialised My Sexual Assaults

After disclosing to people the multiple sexual assaults I experienced I had some responses that really hurt me.

Two people thought that they had the right to tell me that I hadn’t been assaulted. One said that I must have been looking back on things differently and another said that because I didn’t have bruises and didn’t say no it wasn’t assault. I may not have had bruises but I didn’t tell them that my mouth really hurt the day after one of the assaults and that one of them really hurt me when they assaulted me. Any non-consensual sexual activity is assault and I did not consent. Someone also told me that because it was not strangers who did this to me apart from one of them that it must have not been as bad as other people’s assaults by strangers. Rape is rape and all the different kinds of rape are not comparable to each other. Every person is affected differently by rape or assault and no one should have their experience trivialised and downplayed.

Yes I was drunk, yes I didn’t say no and yes they were not strangers and I wasn’t held at knife point but there is no doubt that I have been extremely traumatised by what happened. I now have post traumatic stress disorder which means that you have symptoms such as nightmares, triggers, exaggerated startle response and panic attacks.

To the person who thought that the men’s reputations and lives were more important than mine think about this: I have had suicidal thoughts and urges as a result of what happened to me. Also, without very expensive EMDR therapy that my parents had to pay for I would not have been able to drastically reduce my symptoms and get closure and move on with my life. I also experienced depression as a result of what happened to me.

I was unable to go back to university this year partly because I got so suicidal when I went back there because of the assaults that happened there. I also was unable to breathe for an hour a day before I went there.

Although it has been extremely hard, I have ploughed on through and managed to get myself through these very difficult months with my inner strength. However, I know how hard it is and understand why some sexual assault and rape survivors end up attempting or dying by suicide.

I am trying to express through this blogpost that rape is rape and it doesn’t matter how it happens, all rape is traumatic and can cause post traumatic stress disorder. I think people should stop thinking about how the perpetrators’ lives are affected and think about the rape and sexual assault victims.

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Bipolar

My Mental Illness Story

I hope that by sharing my story of mental illness I can raise awareness and encourage others to share their stories. I have post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and mild social anxiety. TW suicidal ideation.

I have always suffered from social anxiety. As a young child my social anxiety was so bad that I was afraid to ask the other children to play with me and I was unable to do this. During my late childhood and early adolescence I was very anxious about meeting people for the first time, talking in a group of people, making presentations and interviews were my worst nightmare. However, it got much better. I am now able to talk without any anxiety when I am in groups of people that I do not know for example at support groups. I also have lots of friends in different circles and I have sang and read out my poetry on my own in front of audiences. Furthermore, after a lot of preparation for a university interview for the first in my life I did not get incredibly nervous during an interview.

I would say that I definitely experienced depression for about 7 years from around the age of 9. I remember crying every single day at school. For years I hardly smiled, became very withdrawn and was generally morose and glum all the time. I changed schools due bullying I experienced but this didn’t solve the problem. Although I made a lot more friends and had these two girls I hung out with I was still very withdrawn and generally sad all the time. It was a friend I made at this school whom years later said, ” you were depressed as a child.” At the age of 10 years old I started to have feelings of self-hatred.

I remember things being better when I was 12 at the start of secondary school. I think I was closer to being in a normal mood. However, it was at the age of 13 that I had one of my worst episodes of depression. I was most certainly depressed then. I isolated myself from everyone at school and stopped talking to them. I felt numb and like a zombie all of the time while at the same time I was constantly crying, often every day. I felt worthless, hated myself, lost interest in everything and stopped making an effort at school.

At this age my suicidal thoughts started. From the age of thirteen for years after I would often have this thought that I would like to sleep forever because I wanted to get away from all the pain. I figured out my preferred method of suicide would be to take an overdose of pills.
I was still depressed and withdrawn when I moved schools again at the age of 14.

It was when I was 16 and went on a trip abroad with a load of girls at my school for a month that I realised that my mood swings that my mother just thought of as “teenage mood swings” were not normal. One day I would be very talkative and enjoy myself and the next I would be annoyed with everyone for no reason and just want to be alone. I also had frequent outbursts of crying all the time. After coming back from this trip I suddenly realised that the reason I had thought everyone else was perfect in comparison to myself was because they were all balanced whereas I was unbalanced mentally and emotionally. This was when I looked up all of the mental illnesses online and started to think I might have bipolar disorder even though I didn’t think I’d had a manic episode. I think I was just very aware of the early warning signs and I predicted what was going to happen later.

During my last two years of school my depression was shown in my tiredness. I would nap about twice and sometimes three times a day every day as I was so tired. I also isolated myself from everyone again and generally did not feel happy at all in myself.

It is hard to tell whether I had a manic episode during university but I have had friends tell me that looking back I was definitely up and down during my first year of university and one university friend told me regarding my probable bipolar disorder diagnosis that she was glad I got the right diagnosis, thus implying that I had it. I definitely had a few episodes of depression during my first year of university as well as periods of normal mood. When I was depressed I became withdrawn again, wasn’t myself and I slept a lot like during my a-levels.

It wasn’t until a week after I had finished my first year of university that I finally went to the doctor and told them I was depressed. I think I had been so used to having depression that it was not until I not only lost interest in everything but was simply unable to do anything that I finally got help.

Whilst I was depressed I slept about 12 hours a day, had difficulty concentrating, had very low energy levels and had suicidal urges.

The doctor prescribed me anti-depressants which I’m sure would have helped me if I hadn’t been on the bipolar spectrum. Firstly I became extremely suicidal; I would have urges to kill myself all the time such as having the urge to jump of bridges, jump in front of trains, strangle myself with my headphones and slit my wrists with my razors. These extreme suicidal urged continued even after I stopped taking the antidepressants.

Possibly the worst thing that happened as a result of antidepressants was the fact that I became manic or hypomanic. I suddenly went from having no energy to having tons of energy. Next, I started having bursts of creativity all of the time and I wrote lots of poetry and even started writing a novel. Everything was fast, I talked fast, typed fast, did everything fast! I genuinely felt like I was on drugs, colours were intensified and I could see individual streaks of light on the walls were more intense than others. I also was very irritable at times and caused lots of arguments with my parents. Furthermore, I was very impatient; at one point I couldn’t bare to wait at all at any restaurant and had to go on walks during dinner. I also only slept for 5 and a half hours a night which was a lot less than my usual 9 hours.

The worst things about my manic episodes were my hallucinations and the fact I couldn’t concentrate for more than half an hour. The fact that I couldn’t concentrate for more than half an hour meant I was unable to go back to university and study.

My hallucinations really scared me. They started with auditory hallucinations; I first heard church bells ringing at 4 am in the morning. Then, I heard cabaret music at 4 am in the morning and later I heard a plane going off in the toilet. After this I had visual hallucinations every day where I would see dots and blobs of coloured light moving that I knew were not there. These hallucinations really frightened me.

After taking Quetiapine and then Olanzapine my hallucinations and my hypo/manic episode eventually went away after a few months.

I am now taking Lamotrigine as well as a very low dosage of Olanzapine for my depression that occurred after my four month mania ended.

I suffer from ptsd as a result of multiple sexual assaults that I have experienced. As a result of EMDR treatment I have managed to drastically reduce my symptoms such as exaggerated startle response and daily triggers and get closure. I am hardly ever triggered and no longer jump at every single unexpected noise.

I am a lot better now but still have some way to go in my recovery. I am staying strong and having hope that as I am 80% in terms of my mental wellbeing that I will be able to go back to university next year.

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Bipolar, Mental Health

Mental illness and hope

I think that with regard to mental illness sometimes hope is sometimes the only thing that keeps people going when their illness is affecting their life so much in a negative way. If they didn’t have hope they would give up. I believe that especially with regard to people who are suicidal hope can save lives.

I believe that mental illness success stories of people who have managed to manage their condition/s and function highly in life and achieve their potential are very positive and give others hope that although things may be very bad now the future could be a lot better.

If I had not had hope that things would get better and that I could eventually get my life back on track and function highly again I believe I would have struggled a lot more to get through my months of mania and depression. At times it seemed like I would never be well again but I continued to push on through my very difficult time as I had hope.

I have now got through 3 months of depression and then 3 months of mania and 2 months of depression and I have finally been euthymic for the past few days. Now that I am well again it is important that I continue to have hope that I can stay well by managing my condition the way that works for me which is mainly with the help of medication and exercise.

I hope that next year I will be able to show others that they can manage their conditions and function highly when I go back to university.

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Blog Post, Mental Health

Mental illness and feeling like a failure

On very bad days I feel like I failure for being unable to function and therefore do what I meant to be doing right now which is studying at an elite university in the UK. Of course the reason I am unable to do this is due to a possible bipolar diagnosis and ptsd but I think I am unable to be unaffected by statements implying you are weak if you have mental health problems which affect your functioning as you should be able to “pull your socks up” and just get on with things.

I think some people don’t understand how mania and depression can affect your functioning, concentration and energy levels and this is probably due to the fact that there is so much misunderstanding regarding mental ill health.

If there wasn’t stigma surrounding mental health perhaps I would then feel able to tell everyone including hairdressers and the painter why I’m not studying or working now and then I wouldn’t feel like a failure.

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