Warning *sensitive content
Lately, I've been learning a lot about shame from my mentor Brene Brown. I am realising that this is where it all started for me. I don't remember exactly when I first felt shame, real deep soul destroying shame. I do remember that this was my bullies method of choice.
My bullies will remain unnamed. There's no need to fight fire with fire. Besides, they weren't really bullies. They were just kids, dealing with their own shame. The only way they knew how, which was to bring other people down to make themselves feel better.
All I wanted was to fit in, to be liked, to have real friends and be included. This made me vulnerable to feelings of shame, when I didn't fit in, when I wasn't liked, when I felt like I had no friends and when I was excluded from school, social and other events. I always felt like I was never good enough, popular enough, smart enough or pretty enough. My low self esteem weighed down on me mentally and almost physically.
I was around 10 or 11 when I first starting thinking about suicide. I went home from school and spent a lot of time crying. The other kids would whisper behind their hands, look at me and point, then run off giggling. I don't know why it gave them such pleasure to torment me, I guess someone had to be left out and excluded for the rest of them to feel important enough.
I eventually made some friends, the closest ones ended up leaving town or going off to boarding school. I still had people that I hung out with at school in class, but I spent a lot of my time in the library during breaks. The library was my sanctuary, I loved to read. I remember receiving detention once because I refused to go outside during lunch, my classmates were playing tennis which I wasn't any good at. So I ventured out to join my classmates and got laughed at when I couldn't hit the tennis ball properly. They weren't laughing with me, I didn't find my inadequacies very funny at all. It hurt deeply and only made me want to withdraw even deeper into isolation. So I stayed inside to read.
I went through most of high school trying to think of ways to end my suffering, without causing more suffering. My fear of pain was what kept me from most options, and my sense of duty to my pets prevented me from the rest.
I can recall more than one incident when I dared to speak up and voice my opinion, and was shouted down by cries of "Oh my god, it speaks!!" not even "she" just "it" like I was nothing. These expressions of opinion would occur less and less over time as I kept to myself and kept bottled up and my emotions crushed under the weight of it all.
Towards the end of high school, I was diagnosed with ADD. I started medication for my final year of high school and continued for a couple of years into my working life. My thoughts had been so centered around ending my suffering that I had no concept of life after high school. I had no ambition to do anything with my life and so I chose to continue working rather than make plans for university or Polytech. I moved into my first flat with one of my school mates, we moved into a bigger flat and then I moved home again to save money for study. I developed close relationships with a few friends, met my first long term boyfriend and stopped taking my mediation for ADD.
The employment I was in did not require a high level of concentration and as I changed jobs, went to SIT for further study (finally) and moved to the big smoke, I changed boyfriends (the first one left me for travel overseas, we tried to make it work long distance but there was too much resentment built up on my behalf) and settled into my third flat.
This is where I met one of my best friends (she later became a Bridesmaid at my wedding) and we are still friends today, getting off the bus stop and bumping into my flatmate who knew her from Queenstown. We later ended up flatting together before I met my late husband.
No he wasn't late, but that is a whole other story for a very different blog.
If you or anyone you know suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts, please reach out to your local mental health authority. Please don't suffer in silence like I did.