To My Bullied, 13-Year-Old Self, It's Ok Not To Be OK
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Health and Wellness

To My Bullied, 13-Year-Old Self, It's Ok Not To Be OK

AKA: The spiel on all the things I wish I'd known about mental health back then.

To My Bullied, 13-Year-Old Self, It's Ok Not To Be OK
Jasminder Bains

TW: Mentions of suicide, rape, addiction, self-hatred

Dear Jasminder of the Past,

How are you, sweetie? How are you really? Underneath the poker face, you’ve learned to bear so well? I know you’re angry and afraid. The pain you endured as a bully victim is so strong it plagued your stomach every day. It won’t show up in any of the doctor’s fancy tests, but I promise you it’s real. Never doubt the feelings in your body; you know you best!

Which brings me to your mental state. Whatever you think you know about mental illness/health, mental hospitals, and mental professionals...throw it out! Involuntary holds only happen to people who are determined to be a threat to themselves or others. So mum and dad won’t send you away and hate you forever if you tell them how you feel. (They’re not bullies, remember?)

And I promise they’re not too busy working to listen to your problems. They work because they love you and want to feed you, but what’s the point if you hate yourself and want to die? Those are dad’s words, not mine. Yup, I told them how I felt when I was your age, and it was scary as all hell but worth it. I don’t make the rules, honey, but you’re valid.

You’re also not alone. Your friend A? She struggles too and her friend O — you’ll meet her soon — is a bully victim like you. And that thing about not wanting to have sex or even a boyfriend?

You’re not weird. You’re asexual and aromantic (aroace for short.)

That means you don’t experience sexual or romantic attraction to people. 1% of the world is like you and, don’t worry, you’ll meet plenty of fellow aces and aros. A will tell you she’s ace one day and L. That’s right, you and L are going to make up when you meet again.

I know you won’t believe me, but I’m going to say it anyway! Things are going to get a lot better. What you feel now will be 95% gone one day. You’re going to get into this cool university and study Psychology and you’re going to love it. New use you have potential and value even though you can’t see it.

You’re twice as beautiful, three times as smart, and infinitely stronger than you know. I won’t lie; you have a long road to recovery ahead of you, but you’ll overcome it almost entirely on your own because you’re resilient. Do yourself a favor and look that word up. Then write it in the back of your notebooks.

Some final words...

- You are loved

- You can do this

- You are worthy of respect

- Words don’t change your reality without your context

- You are valuable

One day, you’ll know what I mean.

Until then,

Jasminder of the Future

P.S. I’m 19 1/2 years old. That means you make it way past 15! Even I’m kind of surprised.

This post is what I would tell my 13-year old self if I could send letters back in time. Since technology hasn't advanced that far yet, I'd like to use this letter as a conversation starter.

The representation of teenagers in the media is oftentimes egregiously incorrect, woefully superficial, deeply offensive, and extremely misinformed. One in five American youth, ages 13-18, will experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. That's nearly 21.4% of the 41,731,233 youth, aged 10-19, in the United States or 8,346,246 people. Yet, still, teenagers are commonly represented as ditzy, reckless, bratty children who steal their parents' alcohol for the party they'll inevitably throw halfway through the movie.

I'm only going to say this once: Teenagers. Have. Problems. Unhealthy relationships, stress, trauma, mental illness, rape, drug/alcohol addiction, financial issues, suicide, etc. do NOT just happen to adults. It's irresponsible and downright dangerous to write off many of these things as "teenage angst." Yes, teenagers will be moody because of changing hormones and puberty, but the cut-off for that is too often overlooked. Just over half of American children, aged 8-15, living with mental illnesses received mental health services in 2014.

Now, you may be wondering if this isn't so bad since I seemed to turn out alright even though my mental health struggles in adolescence went largely unnoticed.

I am an exception.

To this day, I'm still not entirely sure how I managed to pull myself out dissociation, a deep sadness I can't label, and a deep-rooted hatred for myself. Even Dr. S and the other therapists I've seen are surprised when they hear about it. I can't be proud of it because I don't understand why or even how I got here.

What I can say is that my path is far from the ideal one. I'm mostly recovered, yes, but there are cracks only a professional can fix. I lost years of my life to dissociation that I can never hope to get back and, if I spoke up, I know things would have been different.

The biggest thing is that I'm still alive. Over 90% of American children who die by suicide had some mental health condition. I very well could have been part of that statistic instead of writing this post about it.

That's why we need to teach adolescents the difference between a bad day and depression, that it's okay not to be okay, and their struggles are completely valid. Their lives are too important to lose over another Mean Girls sequel or Twilight novel or whatnot. Mental health awareness should be a priority for everyone.


National Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255 - available 24/7

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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