Friday, October 4, 2013

Personal experience with childhood bullying

This is something that both me and my friend Keyt that does guest blogs for me once in a while has written about. But it's one of those topics that I feel should be brought up several times because it matters a lot more than some people think it might. My topic is bullying, and I'm going to mainly focus on childhood bullying and long and short term effects of it. It was a subject that someone that I've spoken to with on Facebook had asked me to write about. I spoke about it some in my last past that I wrote, and my most recent post that my friend wrote for me. But I feel the need to include it into the title and really going into depth with the subject instead of just one or two sections in a blog that ends up being at least a couple pages long.

I knew that I would not have any trouble writing about it, just trying to think of some events in my childhood that I would rather forget. But I just happened to stumble upon a Facebook page that has to do with making a effort to get the public school system to take bullying more seriously, and to support those currently being bullied and those that had been in the past. Reading through those comments I had found a couple people who had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I've never been diagnosed with it and I don't claim that I have it, but what I do know is that I do have anxiety problems, even if I manage to hide it pretty well most of the time. I've always thought that struggling really bad in social situations, taking people seriously and thinking that I'm getting picked on or that someone is made at me when they're only kidding, and insomnia has been because of Hydrocephalus. The insomnia part I learned about a while back but with others things I've been finding out that it's not necessarily connected with Hydrocephalus. I'm not a professional in anyway and neither is the people I've found out about this from, but it's something that I'll be looking into and I encourage people who have a medical condition and had traumatic experiences, especially if it's before they can really remember should look into. Hydrocephalus may still have a major part in it though because just problems with the brain in general can really mess with emotions.

I'm not going to mention any names or the name of the school or school district. I've rarely done that on here and I only have when it's something really positive. However I still talk to a couple of the people that was involved, and if they remember my name all they have to do to find my blog is to Google my name. I've spoken about others in my blog before, and I would only do it if I thought it was necessary. I started this blog to help others rather or not I know them personally, to help people understand myself a little bit better and at times to help myself. I've used writing to cope ever since I was first encouraged to write at all in the third grade. I would either just write something out and not share it with anyone, give it to a teacher or someone that could help me or find me help, or give it to the occasional peer rather or not they knew that I wrote it to cope. I'll talk about this a little bit later on in my post.

If you don't know me personally or don't know me that well, or haven't read many of my posts than you might not know that unless a lot of others with Hydrocephalus except for the shunt placement I had a surgery free childhood, and I only had one appointment with my neurosurgeon when I was in Elementary school. My last series of tests to see if my shunt was working for years was done right before I started school, so I'm not including that one. I did have my therapies but except for getting pulled out of class for them, it was something that was able to go unnoticed. I don't know how aware other kids were about where I was going to but I figure that the speech therapy was more understood than adaptive Physical Ed. When I started Speech therapy when I was in preschool I couldn't speak at all, when I did say something it wasn't understood. I couldn't speak in full sentences until close to the end of Kindergarten and people usually couldn't understand me until I was about 10. A lot of the time my sister would translate, and at school sometimes my peers. I forgot which year it was but I have a memory of being spoken for/translated to a teacher on the first day of school. It kind of got on my nerves at the time, but I really appreciate it now. Before learning to speak I used hand gestures to communicate to my parents, somewhat like Sign Language but it was something that only I and my family could understand. The weird part is that I didn't really realize that I had that bad of a speech impediment. When I spoke it sounded a lot better to me than it did to anyone else. It wasn't until a speech therapist recorded my voice and played it back to me that I realized how bad it was, and really got to start to notice it and work on it. The same problem that causes my speech impediment caused me to take a few years longer to get potty trained than other kids.

When Kindergarten I was still in diapers and it was noticed. Between barely being able to speak, not being potty trained and I'm sure other things made me a prime target for bullying. Part of it was physically and other parts weren't but the physical part tended to be a constant thing, even if at some points it was a lot worse than other times. Things were said to me and I was put into a position where things would be a lot worse if I told someone so I kept quiet. It came to a sudden stop the day they got my younger brother involved and my mom caught them on the same day. I don't know who saw them doing things to me during those five years but I remember one of the guys got caught (by a campus monitor) holding me up against the wall at least once or twice. She asked us if he was hurting me or if we were just playing, he said we were just playing and I agreed because he was standing right next to me. Thinking back I have a problem understanding how she thought that it was really a situation where "we were just playing". I really wished she would have pulled me aside later on when I wasn't with the guy. I probably wouldn't have admitted it at first and I don't know how things would have turned out if I gave in and told on them but I'm just really disappointed in that certain person. If anything she could have at least kept a better eye on me, like what was already being asked to be done for me because of my shunt.

At first it was always just something that I just accepted, and dealt with as it came. I think it might have been after the worse of it that I started to think of others way to deal with it. Some of the ways I realized what I was doing more than others. I purposely decided to start to "act out" some in Junior high at least some. My intention was not to spend lunches alone anymore and to avoid getting at least physically bullied in Junior high like I had been before. I regret changing myself in some ways or at least trying to change in other ways. I realize now that the kids that I would become friends with and ate lunch nearly every day in Junior high and High school would have accepted me no matter what. I'm not sure a lot of others, but that's the part that would backfire on me later on. 

There was also a few of my peers that I took out my emotions on others whenever I felt I could. It was mainly in Junior high but also during the last couple years of high school. This isn't the most legit way of doing this, but if you were one of these people and you found my blog in one way or another I want to apologize. If you're someone that considered me a friend then or even still now, I really appreciate you putting up with my crap and still accepted me instead of not wanting anything to do with me. :)

As I managed my other major way of dealing with the emotions after the years of bullying was through writing. I was less aware of what I was doing, but unlike my other way of dealing with it, it didn't backfire on me. Actually close to the end of high school it was my method for reaching out to get help, and it worked in the form of getting counseling my Senior year. There's a copy short stories I wrote that I can remember writing at least around the transition from Elementary school to Junior high (one that I turned in a assignment, the other I wrote in class and gave to a peer) that I figure now should have come off as a cry for help especially with the one I turned in as a assignment. I never got the assignment back but I also never got spoken to about it either.

I don't remember my emotions very well but I did start feeling down more about the situation and started to have trouble sleeping around the time I was 8 or 9. But this was also about the time that school had started to become a lot more stressful for me for a variety of different reasons. Some of it had to do with the teachers but also the difficulty of learning new material. It's something that would get worse the next few years, especially the next few years. I felt that no matter how much effort I put in I was far behind at least the people I would hang out with during lunch, and it also appeared to be like that with nearly everyone else. So I gave up trying and just barely got by in Junior High and flunked a grade in High school (came close to doing it a second time too). I didn't start trying again until it was too late for me to graduate with my class. It's off topic but it could be very well had been causing some of the stress that I could get mistaken for other causes of anxiety. 

It started to get worse in high school when I really became aware of what people think of me. A mixture of that, dealing with Puberty with Hydrocephalus (think over-emotional person who was already over-emotional in the first place because of brain issues),anxiety and other personal problems started to make me have suicidal thoughts and made me a very angry person even if I didn't show or talk about any of this at all until the end of high school.

I don't remember when I started have problems with social situations including getting paranoid or desperately trying to ignore actually being social with a large group of people (especially when I don't know them at all or very well). I do know that it's gotten worse since high school and I've been trying to avoid social situations for several years now. I do get out but not without being paranoid. 

With sleep problems it started when I was in the 5th grade with Sleep walking and night terrors, but mostly sleep walking. I still think that at least the sleep walking part was a neurological thing, but I guess it's something I'll continue to look into. The problems sleeping and staying asleep started around the end of high school around the time that the sleep walking ended. Now this I know is anxiety caused even if it's something that I've only started to realize and treat recently.

I hoped that this helped you understand me a little bit better, yourself, or a loved one. Thanks for reading, and if there's anything that you feel I missed please let me know so I can add it the next time I talk about a similar topic.

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