Trigger Warning: This story contains mention of eating disorders, self-harm, and sexual assault that may be triggering to some
“When I was a child, my life was filled with a lot of happiness and fun. My family and I would play games, like hide-and-seek, or go camping in the living room with our sleeping bags, pretending to see the ‘stars’ as our dad told us a story. The summers were spent in the pool and during the winters, we were tucked away inside with hot chocolates, watching Charlie Brown movies. We even went to Disneyland a few times. I have many happy memories of my early childhood.
My parents and my sisters were a delightful bunch to be around! My parents also didn’t really like the public school system, so we were all homeschooled. My mom stayed home to teach us and she administered tests, quizzes, and checked all of our work. It was quite a task for her, but she always found a way to make it fun! We even had frogs in a terrarium and caught crickets outside to feed them. Mom really had it in the bag; teaching three little kids was a lot of work.
However, our happy family faded away, becoming nothing but those memories. Once we moved houses when I was about six, everyone was suddenly really stressed. My parents started fighting and yelling frequently, my sisters and I couldn’t get along too well, and our once happy atmosphere became toxic. It was like a storm hovered over our house and was constantly blowing us over. This is when the verbal abuse began.
Though my mom had been a great parent and teacher, her demeanor changed. She would yell at us daily. She used to scold us but started belittling us instead. Before this transformation, she used to say things like, ‘You’re wrong about this, you shouldn’t have done this.’ But afterward, she started saying, ‘You’re horrible. You drive me to drink and I wish I never had you.’ My own mother said, ‘You’re a mistake’ to me and my sisters. Over and over again, I’d hear those words. Every day. It was awful, but there was nothing we could do. My sisters and I didn’t talk about it with anyone. We just suffered in silence and eventually took it out on ourselves as we grew up.
One of my sisters self-harmed and my oldest sister moved out to live with her boyfriend. I stayed out of the line of fire as much as possible, diving further into starving myself, over-exercising, smoking, and working. I distracted myself through these unhealthy avenues. I started self-harming as well. It was a nightmare.
Bullying and verbal abuse existed outside of my home life too. There was a group of girls in my childhood church group who spent their time harassing me. They excluded me from events intentionally. Once one of them said, ‘You’re ugly and you should kill yourself… Why are you even alive?’ That lasted for years. They, alongside my mother, were ruthless, mean, and unkind. Why did they say all those things? I will never know. I lost my closest friend, Lauren, to them, whom I still miss even in my adulthood because she was always my favorite.
After high school, transitioning into adulthood was a trip. Other problems arose… I experienced sexual assaults. I fell further into my eating disorder I developed from the trauma in my house. I was ostracized at work and felt guilt and shame over my family situation. I was drowning. I fell into a deep depression, leading me to compulsively eat, lie to everyone around me, and let men use my body however they wanted. I felt so bad and told myself, ‘You are nothing, a failure, a mistake, worthless, ungrateful, a slut, disgusting, pointless…’
Then there were more words from others, not just myself, as people said, ‘You’re too skinny… you need to eat… you’re too big… you’re so curvy… you are flat-chested…’ I grew up with these words being said to me and screamed at me. They just circulated through my brain, day after day, destroying my self-esteem and body image, making me hate myself and actually believe what I’d been told. The self-harm, binging, purging, restricting – it’s all because of my childhood.
Friends, WORDS can create long-lasting damage. WORDS have consumed my childhood and newly started adulthood. My mental health has been shattered for so long and it’s debilitating. It’s painful. And I don’t wish this upon anyone.
Everything I know about bullying and its effects on mental health is from personal experience. I’m clearly not an expert, nor do I have a profound answer, but I do know this: the effects of bullying have caused many people, including myself, to spiral into destructive behaviors that don’t only affect their physical bodies, but their minds too. I want people to realize the words they use are damaging to someone else. That’s why I started my Instagram campaign. The whole ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ is truly a complete joke. Who even came up with that? Words have just as much power as someone who throws a hand. They are equally damaging to one’s health. Words create long-lasting effects on our mental wellness. They create a lot of hurt and brokenness… it’s unnecessary.
I don’t believe my mom was evil. I just think she was going through a really hard time in her life. She has since been doing a lot better and even though we don’t talk, my father keeps me updated on her wellbeing.
Even though plenty of people have treated me poorly. Throughout my life, there have been a lot of people who have helped me and advocated for my health. They have supported me in a huge way and I am extremely grateful for their kindness. They are my family and are responsible for keeping me alive today.
I hope this message helps someone in some sort of way and helps to raise awareness of the effects of bullying. If you know someone who is hurting, listen to them, and get them the help they need. Be kind to one another, because those words can create positive and beneficial memories in someone’s life.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Fendrick. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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