For much of my childhood years I was bullied at school and the experience stayed with me for a long time, inducing anxieties and depression.
In the beginning, I had only talked about this to my therapist, because somehow I felt ashamed that I was weak, making me a bullying target. I had always thought about sharing my story, but something inside me kept telling me it’s normal to be bullied, that there was nothing special about it. But now I know that I have a higher purpose: to tell those who have been bullied that their experiences were not normal, and that they could use them to empower others.
I had been bullied since I was in kindergarten. I was a big, chubby girl with runny nose because of my chronic sinusitis. I had to carry a handkerchief everywhere – my mom attached it to my uniform.
I was a shy little girl who preferred to go alone. At the playground, I was alone on the swing and on the slide, and I climbed the monkey bars alone, because I enjoyed my own company. But being alone seemed to be associated with being a freak, so it wasn’t long before other kids made known their dislike of me.
First it started with rumors about me, then kids began to make fun of my big body and my runny nose. I grew anxious and the kids grew more physical, they pushed me and pulled my hair.
I met the same kids when I began primary school. I found that everybody was hostile to me. I sat alone in class, with no one to talk to. They hid my lunch, my tumbler and my stationery. They pulled my hair and when teachers found out, they were somehow able to get out of trouble. I often went home teary eyed, and my mother had to go to school a few times to talk to those kids.
In third grade, I knew I had to fight back. After being pushed around by a new and popular kid, I pushed her back. A teacher came to scold me. I cried and tried to tell her what happened. She wouldn’t listen to me and kept yelling at me, so I yelled back at her to protest the fact that she only listened to one side. And just like that, I got called to the headmaster’s room and got scolded by so many teachers.
Most of my teachers and other students remained hostile to me the rest of my primary school years. When there were group projects, no one wanted me in, so I had to do the assignments alone, sometimes with Mom.
The taunting never stopped. I found out once that my only close friend had made a song about how I was so fat and always sick. The worst part? She wrote the song so she could be friends with some other kids. They wrote the song on a book and gave it to another friend who moved to another town.
Did it stop, eventually? No. Not even after I made the top 10 graduates. Not in junior high school, where I was still bullied. Not until I moved to a public high school and started a brand new life.
There were days after when I still bumped into my bullies and they talked about the old “jokes” casually as if they were nothing. They had no idea that I had had to deal with anxiety for years – even to this day. They didn’t know there were times I blacked out, and there were moments when I thought about ending my life. I suffered from depression, when I felt so worthless, until I decided to see a therapist.
But that was the point when it started to get better. I discovered myself in the counseling sessions. I discovered that I was a tough person who had successfully dealt with the worst part of my life.
I found out that I was a brave person who was bold enough to stand for myself. In high school, I used that strength to get into debate club. I grew to be a thoughtful person, because, if anything, being bullied had given me a lot of time to think. My therapy sessions made me love myself and proud of my existence. I used this courage to speak out the truth, because no amount of bullying can shut me up.
I have become a loving and affectionate person, because I know that being left out sucks. This is why I want to help many people, because I know the miracle of being saved.
Illustration from Rappler.com