Growing up, I was always different from the other kids. I wasn't athletic. I wasn't someone with the coolest things. I was me, and apparently that was a bad thing to be. I had a passion for music. I love singing, and for being a male more interested in singing than football or basketball, I was called a homo or a fag or just straight up gay. I'm not gay. I had one friend, and he transferred to a better school after kindergarten, so I was left alone, and that's how it stayed. I had no one.
From first grade through to third, I suffered from verbal bullying. The gay teasing continued, and even got to the point where people told me that I was beginning to look gay. It got to the point where I would go into the boys bathroom and the boys in there would run out or tell me I wasn't welcome and that it wasn't a fag's bathroom. I've never used a school bathroom since.
In third grade, I began to gain more weight. Food was my way of coping with the stress of of the bullying, and I would compulsively overeat. This is where the bullying for being fat came in. This bullying was far worse than any of the bullying I'd suffered through with the gay stuff. This is where the serious troubles began.
People wanted nothing to do with me because I was fat. The other kids saw me as different, as they were all thin and active. They told me I was a waste of space, I was too fat for there to be any room for people to care about me, I was worthless, useless, I was fat-fuck, I wasn't worth living, and they told me I deserved to die for being who I was. Food was my escape. Through all the harsh verbal bullying, it finally hit me that food was actually my problem, or at least that's what I thought. At the age of nine, I stopped eating. Whatever I did eat, I purged immediately to get it out of me (I had seen a girl do this in a movie, and she got skinnier throughout the movie). I lost 32 pounds in a month. I was nine years old, about 4 feet tall, and I was weighed about 40 lbs.
The eating disorder "helped" me through my problems enough to where the bullying eventually stopped. I thought it stopped because I was skinny. To me, the key to happiness was being thin. And it was great that the kids stopped bullying me, but I had a new bully to deal with: myself. All those years of being told I was worthless and fat got to me, and I started believing it. I believed that the bullies were right; I was worthless and fat, and I needed to fix myself. The emotional side affects of the eating disorder only fueled to my self-destruction and self-bullying. And eventually I needed more than what the eating disorder was giving me. I had so many emotions inside. I felt that I needed to something physical; I needed to do something on the outside to match what I was feeling on the inside.
I began a road of self-harm. I started hit myself so hard until I bruised. It hurt, but it felt good. I was able to manage my emotions: my anger, my confusion, my sadness, my confidence, my hope. I would bruise my stomach or my thighs or my shoulders and sometimes my arm. Teachers began noticing, and I was confronted asking if there was anything going on at home that would explain the bruises that I always had. I told them that I had a brother, and we enjoy wrestling and playing rough, and that's why I always had bruises. I was angry that people were noticing, so I had to resort to a new method. I had seen someone on TV cut their wrist with a blade for the same reasons that I was bruising myself; to control emotions. At the age of 11, I cut myself for the first time. I hurt A LOT, but I got such a sensation of control and pleasure from it. I continued to cut myself from then on. I wore sleeves and thick bracelets to cover the cuts and scars. I didn't have a care in the world to what might happen to me when I cut.
The cutting and the eating disorder became addictions. I finally got a real friend in sixth grade. Her name is Emerald. I never told Emerald about what I was doing. In fact, I never told anyone. I was very sneaky with this stuff. By now, I was 11 years old, and I weighed around 55 lbs.
Around 13 years old, I really started realizing how badly the eating disorder was affecting me. I was weak all the time, I was having trouble sleeping (I would stay awake for a couple days at a time), I was losing some hair, and my voice was becoming scratchy and raspy. Eventually I began coughing up blood, and it hurt to swallow and speak. I figured it was strep throat or something and ignored it. I soon found out that it wasn't going away.
I began to think that maybe all I needed to do was talk to someone about all this. I posted a long description of my past, my feelings, my emotions, and my problems on yahoo answers, hoping that someone would know how to help. Within two days I got a response from a boy named Connor, who was 15 at the time, and he was also going through bullying and an eating disorder. He gave me his email address and we began talking about all of it, bonding through our similar problems. Emails became texts/calls, which became chats on Facebook, which became video-chats on Skype. Connor and I considered each other true friends because we were both lonely because we couldn't talk to other friends/family about our problems, but we could understand each other so well. One day Connor wasn't online at our usual time. I let it go thinking something had come up, and I'd here from him soon. But Connor never called or texted or emailed. I decided to message him on Facebook, but when I went to his profile, all I saw were a bunch of posts saying things like "It's so sad to see such a young beautiful soul go" and "I'll miss having you around." It turned out that Connor had hung himself.
I began to feel isolated all over again, even worse this time. My eating disorder and self-harm hit an all time high around this point. I was 13. I still kept everything from my two best friends Emerald and Lejla, and everyone else too. I was alone and I was practically killing myself slowly. I couldn't stop; I'd come too far. I'd lost control of the addictions. I wasn't me.
For a period of time, I even resorted to smoking pot with guys at school to try to boost my mood and make me happy to be me. It only temporarily helped, so I gave up.
That October, a girl that I idolized and loved, Demi Lovato, suffered a nervous breakdown, left her tour, and checked into a residential treatment center just 50 minutes from my home for an eating disorder, cutting, and drug/alcohol abuse, and low self esteem. I couldn't believe it. I'd read rumors and articles about her possibly cutting, but I didn't believe them because she was so perfect and beautiful, I couldn't see why she would cut. But I learned that it was all a lie. The Demi Lovato I knew and loved wasn't perfect. She was bullied for being fat, she was struggling with an eating disorder, she was cutting herself to control her emotions, she was abusing drugs, she hated herself. She had problems, and she hid them. Just like I was doing. This deeply saddened me, but I was proud of her for getting help, and she inspired me to try to stop. I tried all I could, but it wasn't easy at all. I was still kind of bad. When she got out of treatment she shared her story to help others who are struggling, she spread hope, she stood up against bullying, and she inspired me to change my ways.
The next year in September, I was 15, I came out about my addictions and struggles to my mom. I got help, and I am stronger and healthier today! Bullies can't hurt me anymore, they can no longer make me turn on myself. I am now 16, and I am fighting against bullying. I am here with The BULLY Project to share my story and inspire others to change their ways, end their struggles, and join me in standing up to those who make life difficult. I was a victim of bullying and bully driven self-destruction, but I made a choice to change, and I vowed to never let a bully stand in my way ever again, and to help the other victims out there come to the same realization. I have Connor and Demi to think of on my way to end bullying, but I also myself and my story. TOGETHER IT CAN BE STOPPED!
Stay Strong <3
- Steven Monge
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