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When did I start feeling like this; the bleak hopelessness of being alone, the desperation, the anxiety that consumes my waking hours? I can hardly remember. It must have been a gradual change, for I have no memory of an exact moment when I began the downward spiral into depression.
The transition from elementary school to middle school brought it about, shattering my illusions of happiness and security. Up to this point I had not really cared about my appearance, my short bobbed hair, my little girl clothes from Justice bearing pictures of puppies and kittens on the front. I did not like what I wore, but I did not really care, for I had always believed that beauty only matters on the inside. Throughout sixth grade I tried to hold on to the fraying thread of a belief that my appearance didn’t matter and that people would accept me once they got to know me.
What I didn’t realize was that they would never give me a fighting chance. I imagine that they were laughing behind my back from the very first day of school, even if I didn’t notice it at the time. I never spoke a hurtful word to my peers, but I received them in multifold, as I struggled to figure out why I was being picked on. Never did it come to my mind that I was the victim because of my hair and clothing. I didn’t think people were that judgmental and derisive. I thought they believed I was mean, so as they became nastier and more hurtful, I became nicer and friendlier, until I thought my very essence would explode with friendliness.
I was struggling to understand what was happening. In 5th grade I was a cheerful kid who moved throughout the social circles. Almost everybody was my friend, and I could have hung out with any group if I had wanted to. I don’t know what happened that summer; kids I had thought I knew were suddenly changed. They acted like they didn’t even know me. I still had a lot of friends, but I couldn’t understand why so many of my friends had turned against me. Was it because I wasn't cool enough? Were they afraid i would suddenly affect their reputation?
And then the incident happened. Someone wrote a sappy love note to Nico, one of the school’s most popular guys, and signed it with my name. Even though I denied writing it, most of the guys suddenly turned against me and began to ridicule me daily. The few guys left who were actually my friends, like Kevin and Nathan, told me that they knew I didn’t do it, that those other guys were jerks, and that I should just ignore the whole matter.
I tried so hard to follow their advice and not let it get to me, but after months of “How’s it going with Nico?” And, “Why are you talking to Kevin? I thought you LOVED Nico?” and, “What a slut!” I was losing confidence…and face. One day Drew even brought me to tears in front of a group of his friends. That night I vowed never to show my emotions in school again. I broke that vow time and time again, but never again did I cry in front of my peers.
That summer I finally realized that my peers ridiculed me because of my clothing and hair, so I bought clothes that I liked and that were acceptable to my peers. I also started washing my hair daily, instead of every other day.
When the school year started I felt confident again. I had changed and no longer looked like the girl they had made fun of.
I thought the new year would be a fresh start for me; that I still had a chance to make them like me.
Boy was I wrong! My tormentors had gotten into the practice of taunting me, and did not want to stop. To them it was a game, a way to pass the long, tedious seven hours of school. To me it was the end of my childhood, and the beginning of my recession into an insecure, lonely outsider. Sometimes I wonder if they even knew what they were doing to me, or if they knew how much their , taunts and cutting looks affected me.
To deal with the pain of the bullying, as I now realized it was, I started to cut myself. At first it was something I rarely did, but then it grew into a habit, and then an addiction. Soon I found myself disappearing into the bathroom every day, slitting my wrists in an attempt to be in control of one aspect of my life, in order to express the pain I was feeling, and to deal with the emotional distress that was encompassing my life.
Never once did I try to involve an adult; my counselor did not care about any of the students at my middle school, and I wasn’t able to work up the courage to face my parents. I thought that they would hate me and never see me in the same light again.
Lately self-mutilation has not been enough for me to escape from reality and release my building emotions, so I have become dependent on another obsession: bulimia. After I eat I look in the mirror and feel fat and guilty, so much that I start to feel sick, and need to relieve the sensation by purging my body of the food I ate.
All of these harmful emotions and actions have led me down the path to darkness. I can no longer see the beauty or light in anything. I do not find things funny anymore, even things that used to bring my friends and I to tears with the hilarity of it all. I walk with my head down; through the dismal halls of the place I now call Jail, Hell. I struggle through each day, wondering if it will be my last.
That year, seventh grade, I fell into a vortex of sorrow and emptiness, a chasm that I have been trying to climb out of for a year and a half. In an attempt to distance myself from the daily harassment, I built up a shell around myself, but all it succeeded in doing was isolating me from the friends I had left, and sending me even deeper into the bleak maze of helplessness that surrounds me now.