Steeming from the traumatic event during my childhood, I have struggled with various different aspects of poor mental health nearly my entire life. With depression and anxiety being my most prominent mental health issue, I also battle daily with a fear of rejection. I sometimes feel unwelcome while in a work meeting. Of course, this is my perceived perception. I know this because my co-workers seem to value my opinions; however, my perception remains the same. This can be difficult, especially when I am eager to contribute but my fear of rejection interferes.
Back in junior and high school, I had issues fitting in with my classmates. Along with my various tics, my studdering, and my depression, students in my classes sensed this fear and prowled upon it. I felt like the outcast most of the time or even worse, even lower worse, not relevant.
Spiraling Down the Wrong Path
I hear you and I know what you are thinking. Every kid struggles in junior and/or high school. I get it. However, in today’s culture, there is a more elevated awareness, as there should be, of bullying in schools. For me though, I had nowhere to turn since so many of my classmates looked at me with disdain. My grades suffered too as a result. For example, being called on by the English teacher in school was like those dreams we have all had of being in our underwear in a public place. I would stammer around, sweat profusely, and shut down mentally in my classes.
In my youth, my way of coping or overcoming this fear was to recoil into the shadows; in essence, I would hide. Not many know about this, however, the bullying I received in junior high nearly led to my ultimate demise. On numerous occasions, I felt unwanted almost to the point where ending it all appeared to me as the only way out.
Thankfully, I was fortunate to meet a wonderful, sweet, and very kind girl in high school. Had it not been for Tammy, I am certain that my life would be very different now, if there was any life left at all. She saw who I was and understood me more than anyone had before in my life. So my story is having a happy ending however others are not so fortunate. Unfortunately, there will always be bullies in this lost world.
Finding a Way to Overcome
4. Seek Out Ways to Quiet the Voices
Everyone has this and if you claim otherwise, then you are lying. Everyone has an inner voice that speaks to them in private. Stop for one minute and allow your thoughts to take over. Do you hear the voice in your head? That is your conscience and many times in my youth, and even today, my conscience has gotten me into tough situations. If you have a disagreement with your conscience then likely you are being led down a potentially destructive path.
3. Try to Avoid Low Self-Esteem
Children are smart and most are keenly aware of any inefficiencies they may have. When a bully discovers these inefficiencies and jumps at the chance to cause terror, the child may believe that the treatment is justified. I had very low self-esteem as a child. Add to that an already keen self-awareness of my tics and my inability to suppress them, my classmates picked up on this and pounced at the opportunity to torment me. Noticing low self-esteem early in your children will help them later on in life. Love and comfort them and do whatever possible to build upon their accomplishments.
2. Build a Healthy Relationship with Others
Building healthy relationships with other classmates is a fantastic way to overcome fear. However, keep in mind that the building of healthy relationships is critical. One example from my life experience occurred while in junior high school. My fellow classmates in the marching band bullied me to a point where I almost gave up. Had it not been for a couple of very close friends, and a will to ignore the bullies, life at Elkview Jr. High School would have been even worse. Conversely, I had built some unhealthy relationships which in turn caused more grief than help. For a while, I was with a group of individuals who were quite simply, a bad influence on me. This led to me skipping an English class one day; the result of which brought on punishment by the principal and more fuel for the bullies.
1. Understand that you are not broken, They Are!
If I could tell the 12-year-old Jackie only one thing, it would be this. “You are not broken, they are.” My biggest issue as a 12-year-old was self-imposed. I had convinced myself that the problem was me and that only I could solve it. The below passage from Acts is Jesus speaking to Paul in a dream after he had been the recipient of resistance from the Jews in the Corinth synagogue.
Then the Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” - Acts 18:9-11
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store and affiliate links. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.