I intended to get this post up a bit earlier, but I wanted to take some time with this post and try to reflect. This is essentially a part two to “The story behind my mental health” post. So if you haven’t read that one already, I highly recommend it, it talks about how my childhood has shaped me. Which then leads to this post talking more through high school.
I dreaded high school, looking back I don’t know why I didn’t want to go, but I remember this feeling of dread. It was probably the fear of moving to a new school with new people. (probably didn’t help that I went from a school with just over 100 people in total to one that had over a 1000.)
Perception is everything in high school, well it was when I went. If you didn’t fit the mould you were an outcast. You now have to put this image of a 11 year old James in your head.
It’s 2002, I’m a fairly skinny, ginger, fairly effeminate boy in a blazer that’s too big and all my friends are girls. I was what? A prime target.
Every single person in that school knew I was gay before I really knew – I mean I had a inkling but it was 2002 and there wasn’t a chance in hell I was admitting that!
I count myself extremely lucky that social media wasn’t really a thing when I went to school. Myspace wasn’t even a thing until 2003, and Facebook wasn’t available to everyone until 2006. Bullying was strictly confined to the school walls, so from second year (2003) I was barely seen in school.
All my bullying was verbal, or psychological torment if you will. It was relentless, it happened every day, and I just couldn’t seem to catch a break.
Bullying made me paranoid. It made me avoid certain classes. (I got caught out on parent’s evening by my physics teacher because he hadn’t seen me in weeks). Instead of developing socially in high school. I regressed.
Stick and stones
That age old saying of “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a crock of shit. It should say “words will haunt me and give me a level of anxiety that takes years to go away” because in my case, that’s what happened.
When I left school in 2007, that little feminine boy with ginger hair and a bit of confidence in himself was gone. And what was left was a shell. Yes I had a few friends but 5 years of constant bullying had left me empty. I didn’t have much hope for the future, and whilst everyone went off to college or sixth form. I went out to work. Just to escape that school environment and to be fair, it was the best decision I ever made. I mean I couldn’t make it out of there fast enough.
How bullying affected my mental health
Being bullied wore me down. It affected my overall education because I was too scared to go into school so, I just wouldn’t go in at all. I became anxious about what other people thought of me. It made me fearful of speaking out in fear of judgement.
It makes me somewhat sad to think of what I could have been. I’m not stupid, actually in the broad scheme of things I’m quite intelligent. But it does makes me wonder, without the bullying, if I had just been able to excel in high school, where I’d be now? Would I be the accountant I wanted to be at 14 years old? Would I have made it to university? All these questions left unanswered.
Now I don’t credit bullying for every decision I’ve made in my life, because that’s not the case. I did go back to college at 19 and had a wonderful experience, but it just wasn’t for me at that time. I could have gone to university late, but I chose not to. Other things were happening at that time.
Look out for part three. Or to get a glimpse read “What coming out as trans taught me“
This has turned into a bit of an unintentional series. But I hope you’re enjoying them. My mental health has had its ups and downs but I think it’s important to speak about. I want people to know they’re not alone, and if it means sharing my experiences then so be it.
I hope you’re all keeping well.
Take care. Stay safe.
James. aka Anothermaleblogger.