Throughout my life, I have faced many struggles – many demons. I had a wonderful childhood and the best of the best parents and sister. Wonderful and best are an understatement, actually.
But throughout my life, I ALWAYS knew I was different and always felt different. I was moody and off balance. Although that is common for teenagers going through hormonal shifts, mine was more extreme and carried on with me throughout the beginning of adulthood.
There’s times I felt wonderful and unstoppable. There’s times where I couldn’t get out of my bed and felt down right suicidal. There’s times I’ve looked in the mirror and couldn’t even begin to describe to you who I was anymore. It wasn’t until I was 18, that the doctors diagnosed me with manic depression, or more commonly known as bipolar depression. I successfully hid that from everyone until I was 22 years old. My own parents didn’t know. I was ashamed. I was confused. I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up in life. There’s times I was so close.
I remember feeling that way as early as elementary school when the tallest chubby girl with braces was always hiding from the others. From elementary school to middle school and throughout high school, I couldn’t hide enough. I would even wear hoodies in the summer time and long sleeves as much as possible because I had black hairs on my arms and other kids made fun of me. It’s genetics and I couldn’t change anything. One boy in high school even changed his mind about dating me when he noticed my arms, giving me a cruel nickname.
The girls that lived in the trailer park behind the neighborhood I grew up in were super cruel to me and I can’t even tell you why. They made fun of me because I loved Britney Spears and when my dad bought me and my sister tickets to see her in Columbia SC on the Onyx Hotel Tour, I almost passed it up. Those girls were relentless. They cornered me on the bus several times threatening to beat me up. I was so ashamed of who I was and I couldn’t even tell you why. I never wore that Britney Spears concert T-shirt to school.
I remember in high school purposely missing the bus so my grandfather or dad could drive me to school. I had so many tardies just because I couldn’t bare the thought of riding on that bus one more time.
Throughout that experience, it brought me and my grandfather closer. He had just moved into the same town as me. Everyday I missed the bus, he would pull up to the house in his 1994 hunter green (his favorite color) Toyota Land Cruiser with something silly to say but something to teach me. He would teach me a “word of the day” everyday with a definition and a sentence. Taking me to school turned into picking me and my friends up for school. Sometimes it led to giving kids I didn’t even know a ride home from school too because my granddaddy didn’t like to see anyone walk home alone.
Although the bullying and torment made me bitter, my granddaddy taught me to be kind. Be kind to the toughest, meanest, cruelest people. “Kill them with kindness”, he would say. So I started practicing what he preached.
I never gave up. Throughout the darkest times, I’ve kept pushing and thinking of new plans to get over these obstacles and demons that I carry around with me on a daily basis.
Little did I know, until recently, I found out that my granddaddy was bullied too. Not only throughout childhood but also well into adulthood. Read this article below that my great uncle wrote after my granddaddy got fired from coaching baseball.
You see, I could never quit. It was never in my blood.