Today in Southgate, Michigan a young life was taken. Because of this my Facebook blew up with lamentations of how the school doesn’t do enough about bullying, the schools don’t provide enough information about where to get kids help, constant pushing the problem off on to someone else. There were assumptions made about bullying, or not being shown enough love, it felt like people needing quick excuses for why something so difficult to process would happen.
I don’t hide much about my mental illness, and I shared with those people that when I was his age the only reason I didn’t try to commit suicide was because 1) I knew I would fail and 2) I felt I was put on Earth to suffer. I had done something incredibly wrong and never once questioned that God put me here to repay the debt I owed for what I had screwed up. If I’m going to be completely honest, I still feel like that sometimes. It’s a hard thought to keep out of my head when I’m not doing well. I’m working really hard at seeing God in a different light, but I have had a really difficult time returning to church for that exact reason. Continuing to high school I was an open cutter. Back then there weren’t a whole lot of resources available about cutting, but I regularly got sent to the social worker’s office. It got so bad that I skipped the guidance counselor and was sent directly to the office with the overweight, weird smelling social worker that said “you dress well, your grades are good, you shower, go back to class”. My issue with the school system from when I was kid is they should have called my parents to let them know how often I was being sent to that office. Beyond that I have no issue with the way the school handled things. I was not bullied the way a lot of kids were, my husband had it way worse than I did, mostly because I had some serious back up I didn’t even hear about when people made fun of me. This means the bullying was not an issue in my case, also the thought that parents should be more involved would not have helped me. We had family dinners every night, when my Grandpa Marv died and therapy was recommended I went, the therapist missed the signs of needing to send me to another therapist. My parents did a lot of things right. When I would have allowed my dad to beat me out of defiance, spanking stopped and I was instead placed in the corner; the best punishment option for someone with mental illness that needs to cool off.
Here’s my issue with what’s going on in discussion about this boy. No one knows what he was going through. It could be related to bullying, it could be related to home life, but my guess is to get this bad this boy needed medical attention. At 13 this is really difficult to determine, the treatment options for a kid involve a lot of psychotherapy and medications only when the situation gets really bad. Most medications are not tested on, or recommended, for kids under 18, most diagnoses can not be determined until adulthood. There is just too much going on in the teenage brain. In fact, without previous family history getting into a facility for help can be damn near impossible. In my case my bipolar disorder has recently been “upgraded”, if you will, to schizo affective disorder. There is no family history, and while there were all kinds of warning signs in my childhood there was no way to determine those were different than any other teen angst or child tantrums. My kid will have an advantage in the sense that not only do me and my husband know what to look for, we also have a whole support system set up for them. There are people who know how difficult my battle has been, they know my fears of yelling at my child for no reason, they know how terrified I am of any post-partum illness, but in particular psychosis and paranoia. There is family on both their dad’s side and my side, god parents, and friends of both me and their father that will tell them if I’m being irrational or if they are being a rotten brat. All kids push their limits and act like brats sometimes, I’m completely expecting to be overwhelmed by that. Everyone that is nearby to help with that knows how Terry and I want our child to be raised and will be able to act as surrogate parents when that break is needed for my sanity and theirs.
Through that kind of support system this type of situation can be completely avoided. Also, I was reminded of this situation of bullying today while watching an auction show with an outfit from the 501st. Katie and her mother inspire me so much, that is how you are supposed to take care of bullying. I hope to someday inspire my child to follow their interests the way that her mother did. Likely not on such a large scale, but there are so many ways to encourage and inspire your child that have absolutely nothing to do with the school stepping in.