I received a question on ask.fm about how badly I was bullied in school. I wasn’t bullied very badly, but it affected me a lot. I know I should not have let it affect me so adversely, but I simply couldn’t help it. Brace yourselves – this is going to be an extremely long post.
Trigger warning: If you’re a self-harmer, certain parts of this post may be triggering.
Guilt warning: If you were one of the few who bullied me, certain parts of this post may make you feel guilty. You deserve it.
My best friend in Secondary Two, let’s call her S (pun intended), slapped me out of the blue. She claimed I had made out with her brother, which was an extremely exaggerated version of what had actually happened – an innocent game of truth or dare whereby I merely nosed his cheek. I admit that, yes, pretending to give her brother a peck on the cheek may have been inappropriate, but I am certain that it does not warrant a slap in the face, in front of everyone during recess.
Things went downhill from there.
The first flood of hate messages on my blog’s Chat Box (cbox) came in on a weekend morning. I mosied over to my laptop, unsuspecting of the hurt that would be bestowed upon me in just a few minutes. The messages I received told me to “go and die”; that nobody cared about me; that I was ugly and stupid (mind you, my self-esteem was already terrible as it was). With my eyes shrouded in a mist of tears, I deleted all those messages, only to be hit by another wave of hate messages a few hours later. They told me that I was a coward for deleting the messages because I was “afraid of the truth”, or something like that.
The culprits were undoubtedly headed by S, and they got what they wanted – I felt horrible after that. I wanted to die. I wanted to cut. I felt alone and stupid. I hated myself. For the next few months, every time my self-esteem started to rise just a little, I would recall those messages and my self-esteem would fall and shatter into pieces.
Once, my debate team and I were brought onto stage to receive a congratulatory handshake from the Principal. We stood at the bottom of the stage, waiting to be called up. I was the youngest of the debate team at that time. We got onto stage one by one as our names were called. Of course, everyone was applauded by the students except for me. It went pretty much like this:
“Person A” *applause*
“Person B” *applause*
“Person D” *applause*
The boys whom I always saw as my friends used it to mock me for the rest of the day. I smiled like I didn’t care for such trifles, but every time they laughed at me, it felt like a javelin was being speared through my stomach, and then jiggled around.
At that time, I still had a friend in school. I spent my recesses with her, even though we were from different classes. We were quite certainly best friends. In a few months, she had completely replaced by with new friends from her class and it was clear that I no longer held a place in her heart. Instead of me participating in conversation with the girls, I played the role of the maid. Every recess, I would take their orders, queue up at the drink stall, struggle to hold all their drinks with my two tiny hands, bring it back to them, and then spend the rest of recess standing there.
I got sick of it, and resorted to spending my recesses alone in the girls’ lavatory. I would bring my bag along, in fear of people stealing my things (it had occurred several times), and sit on the floor, leaning against a wall. I’d just sit there engross myself in my book. Pretty soon, however, my depression got so bad that I couldn’t concentrate on reading, so I would just sit there and stare at the open pages of the book, fantasizing of ways to kill myself. I learnt not to depend on people. I learnt to be alone.
I was pulled out of school in Secondary Four, right before my ‘O’ Levels preliminary examinations. My parents had already planned to take me out of school and I was supposed to leave at the end of the that term. Instead, I left about a week or two earlier because of the most intense bullying incident.
As usual, I was in the girls’ lavatory during recess alone. This time, however, I was in one of the stalls. I was in the handicapped stall, sitting on the floor with my bag the contents of my pencil case spilled onto the floor. I had in my hand my penknife, and had already drawn some blood. With a few cuts on my arms, I heard a bunch of chatty Malay girls walk in.
After a few minutes, they knocked on the door and asked why I was taking so long. I told them nicely to use the other stalls, or, if they wanted to use a handicap stall so badly, they could go to the toilets on the other floors. They refused. They kept on banging on the doors, demanding to know what I was doing. The loud banging and yelling triggered a panic attack, and I just started slashing my wrists. My left forearm was literally covered in parallel red lines.
One of them climbed up and peered over from the stall next to mine, and seeing the blood on the floor and my arms, she screamed to her girls in Malay that there was blood everywhere. Insults were then hurled at me, poking fun at me and calling me “emo”. I repeatedly told them to go away as I continued cutting, this time my right arm because my left was out of space. The tears that flowed uncontrollably were hot as they streaked down my cheek, and I completely lost control. I just cut more and more.
Unknown to me, another group of girls had walked in, and they were informed of the situation by the annoying squealing Malay girls. Someone slid a packet of tissues under the door to me. Thinking it was from the Malay girls, I threw it back out, screaming, “So, what – now that you see that I’m cutting, THEN you care?!”.
The toilet was finally vacated as recess was ending. I stared at the mess I had made. Blood was smeared across the floor, my hands were bloody from clutching onto my bleeding cuts in pain. I called my friend Joanne, and she brought along our form teacher. I then had to perform the walk of shame from the girls’ bathroom to the counsellor’s office with my arms bleeding.
That was my last day, and my worst day, of secondary school.
They were many people who would hang out with me for a few months, and then just leave when they find new friends. I even encouraged one of them, a boy, to try out for the all-girls dance society of my school. Back then, he was nobody. When he joined the dance society, he became a big shot. He became popular. I became obsolete.
Secondary school wasn’t all bad, though. I met a lot of people whom I hold dear to my heart. I love those people, and I live for them. They’ve stuck with me throughout everything, and they made school so much more bearable for me – David, Hui Xian, Janice, Joanne, Jorython and Phidias. They knew me for years, before my illness, during my illness, and they’re still by my side now.