Let’s be honest, it’s a shitty time for everyone. The ever-changing friendships, relationships, and hormones are enough to drive anyone towards insanity.
For me, high school was where everything peaked. The anxiety, panic, agoraphobia and depression.
Sitting through classes were the worst. I’ll never forget holding onto the bottom of my desk because the feeling of being on the verge of fainting was so real. My hands would sweat. I would visibly shake. [I don’t know how my teachers didn’t notice, but I guess I was just a great actress by then.] I wanted to sit by the door or windows at all times (being able to “escape” if the panic got unbearable) and if I had an assigned seat in the middle of the room, I’d be going to the bathroom to collect myself and catch my breath every 6 minutes. If that wasn’t bad enough, the hallways were a nightmare. So crowded. So loud. I hated when people tried to talk to me in the halls, but as always, I would do everything possible to put on an “I’m fine” front, and get through it.
By sophomore year, I became a frequent (like very frequent) visitor of the nurse’s office. I would lay down in the back room. Give my brain some time to rest.
I couldn’t be in the lunch room either, so would eat my lunch alone in the computer lab, or I had a friend who would eat with me sometimes. I don’t think I ever told her why I couldn’t be in the cafeteria. I felt so unbelievable anxious in that room. The bright lights, the noise. It still gives me a stomachache when I think of it.
Through all this time, I was seeing a therapist, and my parents were doing everything possible to help me. I often caught my mom crying. I knew what a profound effect this was having on her, and that broke my heart even more.
As I’m sure you can imagine, my grades were less than stellar throughout this time. I quit the cheerleading team, because I couldn’t handle the games. I got Lyme disease, so dealt with constantly feeling like I had the flu, on top of all of this. THEN, I lost two of the people who meant the most to me- my grandma and my Uncle Jimmy, in a 2 month span. I became so absolutely depressed, constantly feeling like I was a victim of my mind, and not able to control any part of what was going on around me.
After 2 years of this, in March of my sophomore year, the nurse, my parents, and the school social worker decided enough was enough and I went to treatment. Thank god.
Now that’s the backstory, I guess what people didn’t know. During this time, when I was absolutely miserable, I was being tormented by a group of girls at school. Tormented, I know that word sounds so dramatic, but bullied doesn’t seem quite enough to explain what was going on. I guess they saw me as someone who was popular and just another “typical girl” involved in their drama, but I wasn’t. Every single day I was struggling to keep myself alive. To keep myself above water and just keep a tiny bit of hope.
I’ll never forget the things they did.
I remember at a pep rally, they wrote things about me on the shirts they made.
I remember one of them throwing water balloons at me in the parking lot.
I remember, after they found out I was in treatment, they would yell “go back to Saint Francis” at me in the halls and lunch room.
I remember they started rumors that I was pregnant and got an abortion when I was in fact, going through treatment. As if an abortion caused someone to be out of school for 4 months.
I remember them calling my cell phone and screaming at me, and me crying the entire time. (And then my mom came upstairs and took the phone from me and one of them proceeding to call her a “fat bitch,” which surely she did NOT deserve.)
I remember them egging my house. A few times.
I remember them writing things about me on MySpace, and their AOL Instant Messenger away messages.
I remember having to sit in the principal’s office and listen to them yell, and laugh, and make fun for what seemed like hours. I remember gripping the hand of my one friend who was in the room with me. The two of us, against a group of kids cycling in and out of the tiny office, each getting a chance to “say their piece” to us. The worst thing about it is- we truly DID NOT do what they thought we did. It was all rumors, and hearsay. That will forever be one of the most mind blowing and horrible things that happened during that time. How in the HELL the school officials though that was appropriate, is beyond me. Taking us out of class for almost 4 periods and allowing us to be ridiculed by our classmates, as if we were in a police interrogation. We were kids, 14 F-ing years old. I’ll never understand.
Was I completely innocent? Probably not. I’m sure I said some things at some point that I shouldn’t have. But I also know that I’m a kind person. I didn’t deserve that, and neither does anyone else. That went so far passed the normal high school drama. That’s the kind of things that make kids choose suicide.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t hold on to anger. I do. Every time I think about it, my blood boils. But this isn’t about them. This isn’t about me. This is about the current and future high schoolers. And to them I say..
Be kind to each other. PLEASE. I’m not saying everyone has to be best friends with everyone, but remember that the people you’re talking to/about have real feelings and fragile hearts. It doesn’t matter how the person appears from the outside. REMEMBER- RUMORS are called rumors because there is no solid evidence to prove they are true. Unless you see it or hear it with your own eyes/ears- do not believe it. The things you say, cannot be unsaid. Words stick with people. 11 years later and it still stings for me. Yes, I’m a very sensitive person, but there are manyyyyyy people just like me. I know it’s high school, you’re young and get wrapped up in it all. But you never know what people are going through underneath. Some of us are great actors. I can’t believe that anyone would want to be the reason behind someone choosing to end their life. I know it seems far-fetched, or something that wouldn’t happen in your tiny town, but it very well could. It could have happened to me.
If I didn’t have my support system, I truly believe it would have pushed me over the edge. I am so thankful for my family and the true friends I had through this time- especially my life long best friend Kayla. I love you more than you’ll ever know, no matter where life takes us.