A Mixed Up Kid

I am in a bad place at the moment. In fact, I’ve been in a bad place for most of my life. Sometimes, (like now) it overwhelms me and other times, it’s more manageable.

I was diagnosed with depression in my mid to late teens, I’ve been in therapy, I’ve taken Prozac and Fluoxetine so I can say, “been there, worn the t-shirt” and it doesn’t phase me anymore. I’ve been living with the condition for years.

What has prompted me to write about it, however, is that in the last few months, I’ve been at a stage whereby the darkness is overwhelming me and it’s horrible. I really hate it. Aside from the sheer exhaustion I’m currently experiencing, I’m running on auto-pilot. I’ve got to a point again where I’ve had to stop and say, “I can’t cope anymore, I need help.” I’d be driving to work with a perpetual feeling that I was heading towards a nervous breakdown. My mind is a massive tangled mess of worry and anxiety. It doesn’t matter how trivial the problem is, you can guarantee, I will worry about it.

I was a very unhappy child. I was bullied throughout my entire school years so that amounts to twelve years of near constant abuse. In secondary school, my attendance record was terrible, I would play truant, fake illnesses; anything to get out of going to that hell hole which I shall name and shame as Regents Park School for Girls in Southampton. I was utterly failed by the system and those who ran it. My tormentors got away with giving me hell and that is something I have never been able to forgive.

I would very much like to forget that it ever happened but I have also fallen victim to workplace bullying over the years and there’s only so much one person can take!

I went to work at the age of 16 as a travel agent. There was no way on Earth I was willing to continue with formal education and be faced with the prospect of ending up in the same college as those who had treated me so badly. I was a mixed up kid, suddenly I was in an adult environment with no idea of how to behave around adults. I went to college on day release, found it hard to make friends and ended up being the loner of the group. A girl with quite a nasty character came to work in one of my branches for about a year, instantly singling me out and proceeding to turn my colleagues against me. Again, I was let down by my colleagues, bosses and peers. Imagine my surprise when, years later, she sent me a friend request on Facebook!

Fast forward to now. I’m 43, I’m stronger than I ever was but I’m still fragile. My sense of self-worth, self-esteem and confidence are low. I make up for it by being outwardly gregarious whilst inside I’m shaking like a leaf. I constantly worry about what others think of me, I still find it hard to make friends and I have a terrible tendency to put others first instead of thinking of myself. When I do try and be a bit selfish, I feel guilty. But why should I? Surely, looking after oneself should come above all else? For, if you can’t look after yourself, how can you help others?

I don’t believe I’m a bad person. I’ve always gone out of my way to help others. I love animals, I care about the environment, I support various charities, I’ve helped create friendships, given food to homeless people etc. People have called me a “lovely girl” and apart from the usual teenage rebellion and questionable past relationships I believe I’ve created some good karma.

One thing that does sadden me is that I have no idea the kind of person I could have been were it not for all I’ve been through. Like Nietzsche once said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Whilst my past hasn’t beaten me, for I am still here, it has made me choose different paths and make different decisions, my life could’ve gone in a very different direction had I been able to choose differently.

I feel sad for kids being bullied today, with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc. bullies have better access to their victims. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if those things existed when I was at school. I’m sure the outcome for me would have been very different.

All I can do now is make up for lost time, learn to put myself first, succeed at my goals and not get dragged down.

 

 

 

 

Integration, not Segregation!

So, on Twitter today, I was branded an anti-Semite, purely because I had a difference of opinion with a Jewish man. The difference of opinion wasn’t even about religion, it was about the nasty, hateful tweets people have been posting about Kadiza Sultana.

For anyone not familiar with the story, Kadiza was a British Muslim schoolgirl, who travelled to Syria with two other school friends, early last year, to join IS. At the time, there was a lot of vitriol directed towards the girls and their families; generally along a theme of “good riddance.”

At the time, I thought it was an absolute tragedy that these young, impressionable girls had not been fully protected from the effects of radicalisation. It’s easy for people to judge from behind their screens and keyboards; they lack empathy and as much as they believe the girls deserved what they got, they themselves have been exploited by the negative portrayal of Muslims in mainstream media. By dissociating themselves from the results of such a tragedy, they feel empowered to continue their rhetoric.

What is needed, now more than ever, is education. Education on how social media has become such a pervasive force in our lives that it also serves as a tool for the worst kinds of humanity. Better programmes need to be put in place to protect the young and vulnerable from those who would seek to exploit them, purely for their own ends.

These girls, like so many others, were lied to, manipulated and exploited. Like any other type of child abuser, the perpetrators worked steadily and methodically, invading their minds, twisting their beliefs and turning them against their families and those who could have protected them.

Why so many people think it’s ok to celebrate the death of a 15-year-old; who should have finished her GCSE’s and perhaps gone on to further education, baffles me. It’s a sad reflection of the divisiveness in our society that has turned people against each other.

For the record (not that I need to justify myself to anyone!) I am an atheist. I do not believe in any god. Being an atheist does not make me anti-Semite, anti-christian, anti-muslim etc etc. I reject religious teachings because I believe they are based on fables and fairy stories with no solid proof of the subject matter.

I believe in the Big Bang, Evolution, Science and Nature. I believe that every single living thing on this planet comes from star dust. We are all connected through billions of years of evolution. I don’t care what colour your skin is, what language you speak or where you  come from. I believe in equal rights and the right for people to be free from oppressive regimes.

What counts is living a good life, being kind in all things you do to people and animals. Treating others with courtesy and respect.

Above all, don’t vilify people for their choices unless you are willing to be judged on the things you do and say.

Kadiza Sultana is dead, she cannot stand up for herself anymore and she was failed by a system that should have protected her.