Hello, everyone. I hope you are all having a wonderful morning. This week, the suicide of Daniel Fitzpatrick has weighed so heavily on my heart that I feel compelled to write more on suicide and why I think it is a form of cheating yourself.
The subject of bullying has been my passion for over 30 years. I was a target of relentless bullying myself when I was in school. Although technology had not taken off and their was no such thing as social media or texts, the bullying I suffered was horrible nevertheless. I want you all to know that there is hope and that you are awesome in spite of what your peers may think or say! I have written a book, which is entitled, “From Victim to Victor”
In writing this book, my purpose is to re-empower targets of bullying everywhere. I want to assure them that they are never alone and that there are so many other people…awesome people who suffer the same fate. I also want to send the message that they are good enough, that they do matter, they do have value and that their value does not decrease because of the inability of their peers to see their worth.
No matter how hopeless your situation may be, there is always hope. There will come a day when you will be free of your tormentors. I am living proof that you can go on to live a happy, peaceful and successful life. Just don’t give up.
I would like to post an excerpt of my book, “From Victim to Victor”. This excerpt tells the story of how I attempted to end my own life at the age of 14 after the bullying had escalated out of control. Thank you so much in advance.
“…A few of my brother’s friends had already arrived. I was in the house alone.
Now was the time I could do what I intended to do. I went into the bathroom, grabbed a bottle of Mom’s pain pills which was full, and turned it up, swallowing all but a few pills. I did not care anymore. I felt that death was a solution to me now. It was the only escape from a life of pain. Now, I would have the peace I had never known. I would sleep peacefully and eternally, feeling no pain. I would finally be free! I could go to a place where no one could ever hurt me again.
Later that night, I was rushed to a hospital in the next county and I remember feeling very angry that I was not dead yet. Why was God letting this happen to me? I just wanted everything to stop, didn’t He know that? I wanted the pain to just go the hell away and everyone to just leave me alone! I was so tired…no, I was beyond tired. I was exhausted mentally and physically. I could not help but to think,
“Does anybody even give a crap? I am going through so much hell right now and nobody seems to know it but me! Or they don’t care, one of the two! I just want someone to hold me and tell me that everything is going to be alright! But nobody will do that! Even members of my own damned family see me as nothing but a thorn in the side… pain in the ass! Maybe they would be better off if I weren’t around anymore! When am I ever going to be happy and live a good life? I’m so tired, Lord! I’m tired of being treated like I don’t matter…like I don’t have a right to have a say in anything that happens to me…like I am just supposed to take the crap with a smile.”
As the nurses surrounded me and worked diligently to set my tired body free of the pain pills which I had overdosed on, I cried not only from the pain of having my stomach pumped, but from a year of torment, the awful fight with my mom just a few short hours before and not understanding why things had turned out the way they had.
My father arrived and he was furious with me.
“What the hell’s the matter with you? Are you that starved for attention?” He said cruelly.
It seemed that nobody understood, not even my parents who were supposed to love and protect me. I was hurting and I so desperately needed one or both of them to hold me and tell me that everything was going to be alright…and if not them, somebody…anybody. I just wanted the pain to STOP! I wanted everything to stop!
I thought back to those happy days which seemed like a lifetime ago, when I had been a little girl living in Fayetteville, North Carolina and my mother and father were still married. I recalled Daddy coming home from a long day on post at Ft. Bragg, still dressed in his Army greens and scooping me up in his arms and I wondered,
“How and when did it all change? How did such happy moments turn into the god-awful, shitty mess that is now my life? At what point did things take a turn for the worse?”
I couldn’t understand it. And life at school? Having been an Army brat, I had gone to several different schools and lived in so many different areas and I had always gotten along with everyone. I was happy, I had friends…good friends, I got along with all of my teachers and even had teachers whom I loved dearly. Then we moved to Oakley, Tennessee and when I began attending school here and it was like stepping into the Twilight Zone.
Every other school I had ever gone to was the same, a peaceful and fun learning environment. Sure, there had been a few incidences of teasing but they were just that, normal teasing and very few and far between. It was not constant. However, what I endured in Oakley went way beyond teasing.
Oakley Elementary and now Oakley Junior High, on the other hand, was anything but fun and peaceful. I was now going to a school, which seemed to be full of sadistic and psychotic students and some staff. People who were hell bent on making things difficult and tearing down anyone who dared to be a little different…who had their own opinions and did their own thing.
They hated anyone who did not think like them nor act like them. They despised anyone who was quiet and who did not have a lot to say to them. They loathed anyone who had talents that they were proud of and who displayed those talents. It looked as if individuality, creativity and self-expression were off limits not only at Oakley Schools, but in the town itself and forget showing any pride.
And it was not just the mental strain I had been under but the physical as well. The loss of appetite during lunch had caused horrible afternoon headaches that were next to unbearable. The stomach pains and waves of nausea had me rushing to the bathroom. And as much as I had needed to some days, I had not been allowed to call out and go home sick because any complaints had always fallen on deaf ears. In their minds, I was faking so that I could go home early from class. Other symptoms included weight loss, huge wads of my hair falling out and FATIGUE! I had absolutely no energy! These symptoms occurred during the last two months of the past school year.
Those dinguses were making me physically sick! They were destroying my health and I knew that I was much too young to begin having problems with my health.
Later that night, I was placed in the Intensive Care Unit because the doctor thought my liver and heart had been damaged and it would be almost a week before I was transferred to a regular room.
During my stay in the ICU, there were only a few hours per day that I was allowed visitors, so there was plenty of time to reflect. As I lay in the hospital with electrodes taped to my chest, an IV stuck in my arm and an oxygen cannula in my nostrils, not only did I recall the torment, I also remembered the many people who had witnessed it firsthand…people who were in a position to speak out and possibly put a stop to it but did nothing to help. Even those who were supposed to have been my friends had often left me to fend for myself.
I can look back and recall that over the several years that I was bullied, I can only count on one hand the number of peers who did speak in my behalf. And that’s without using all five.
Even today, this happens all too often. Many bystanders who witness someone being bullied either just stand around letting it happen, turn a blind eye to it, or worse- join in ‘the fun of’ ridiculing another person. And school staff, officials and systems are notorious for trivializing bullying issues.
If you are reading this and you have either witnessed or presently witness incidences of bullying, I want you to understand that if you watch another person being harassed and do nothing to help that person, you then are part of the problem. In fact, you are just as guilty as the brutes who are inflicting the torment.
How would you like it if you were being targeted and there were other people standing nearby watching you get pummeled with insults, digs, fists or feet? What if one of those people were in a position to help you but chose not to? Allow me to answer those questions. I have been there and I remember what it was like when no one stepped up to help me.
You would feel alone! And if the people who refused to help you happened to be people whom you thought were friends, you would feel betrayed…sold out…delivered up to your enemies!
Nothing is worse than the realization that someone you trust and think highly of, does not value your friendship, nor think enough of you to speak against the torment. The shock of it is akin to being kicked in the stomach. And when trusted adults, such as teachers or even parents trivialize or minimize the victim’s suffering, the victim then feels that there’s nowhere or no one to turn to.
People who watch the bullying but stand by and let it happen have not the slightest idea of how it feels to be on the receiving end. They can never comprehend the pain this causes. It is a pain that most targets can see no end to. All too often, a victim results to ending his/her life to make it stop.
Suicide is one of the top causes of death among people ages 12 to 25 and the death of any young person is a tragic waste of precious life!
Some consider ridiculing another human being either funny, cool or both but to the person being ridiculed, it is anything but! Small taunts and digs can add up over time and have a cumulative result of a pain that can be devastating. The suffering of being bullied grows and each taunt, dig or cruel joke cuts a little deeper and a little deeper.
For far too long, the subject of bullying was a taboo issue to bring up in conversation or to even write about. Up until about ten years ago, most people refused to discuss it and targets often kept it hidden due to the shame that often comes with being a victim.
Why? Because in most cases, they knew that chances were that they would either be the ones blamed, accused of being the aggressor, or labeled as “weak”.
However, the reality is that it really does not matter how tough, strong, smart, or awesome a person is. Anyone can become a victim of bullying and bullies always attack in groups.
There is strength in numbers and people in large numbers can have a cumulative power which can be overwhelming even for the greatest, toughest, strongest, most intelligent of individuals. If enough people are against a person, that person is powerless, no matter how strong, smart, beautiful or easy going they may be.
It is only when we as parents and school officials open up, face the truth and admit that bullying does exist in our schools that we will be able to tackle the problem and make a safer learning environment for all students.
Within the last ten years, bullying has finally been considered a serious enough problem to make national headlines and is now at the forefront of today’s issues. I believe that this is long overdue.
Have a great day!