It happens to so many people, yet for some reason we are all scared to talk about it.
I was shocked, disgusted, appalled and saddened when I checked the news today. A 15 year old school girl from New York, by the name of Amanda Cummings, chose to end her life after suffering at the hands of bullies. I'm not ashamed to say I cried as I read through the story.
Amanda died from her horrific injuries in hospital, almost a week after she threw herself in front of a bus as she clutched onto a suicide note.
ABOVE: Amanda Cummings
When I saw a picture of Amanda, I saw a beautiful young girl. And no, I didn't know Amanda personally, so I don't know what sort of person she was. But I do know this; nobody, and I mean nobody, deserves to be bullied.
To be bullied to the point of throwing yourself in front of a bus to end your sadness, as a last resort to end the pain you face, either mentally or physically, shows just how devastating bullying can be on a victim's mindset. That getting hit by a bus, and more than likely dying in the most undignified painful way, is more appealing than the thought of living, really says something- don't you think?
Yes, Amanda is gone now and I hope she's at peace. But, she leaves her family and her friends behind, who will never ever forget her, and forget why she died the way she did.
This story isn't unique though, last year I saw far too many stories just like this. Mainly young people, victims of bullying who purposefully chose to end their life to escape their tormentors.
There's a chance that those who are reading this have been bullied, but there's also the chance there's bullies reading this too. If you are a bully, I would like you to read on...
There's this girl I used to know from school. She wasn't the most popular girl, or the most pretty girl. She kept herself to herself, and had a small close-knit group of friends. But as she got older, people started to change.
Her oldest friends drifted away from her- they started dying their hair, getting boyfriends, smoking...some of them even joined the most popular clique of girls who also had the rep for being the nastiest. She found herself alone.
This girl felt like everything and everyone around her was changing. Except for one thing- she didn't feel like she was changing at all.
She'd spend lunchtimes sitting by herself, or with her sister. As pathetic as she felt, she joined the calligraphy club and choir, just so she didn't have to feel so ashamed to be seen on her own.
Then it got worse. The taunting and sly remarks. "Geek." "Swot". "Ugly cunt". "Fucking freak."
I even saw someone in the corridor take their chewing gum out of their mouth, and stick it on the back of her head, getting it stuck in her long blonde hair. She sobbed loud tears, as what felt like hundreds of students laughed and pointed at her as she fumbled with the chewing gum in her hair. The teachers had to cut it out with blunt scissors. It was such a mess, she had to go to the hairdressers and get her hair cut into a bob.
She carried on though, as hard as it was. I used to see her on a morning, and her eyes would be swollen and red from how hard she'd been crying the night before. She couldn't even look at herself in the mirror anymore because she was so ashamed at what she saw.
She lost all motivation. She'd fake illnesses just so she didn't have to go to school, and I think her mother knew this, but she would never kick up a fuss. Instead she'd lie with her on her bed, stroking her hair telling her it would all pass one day.
And then the day which really hit her the hardest. Quite literally.
A whole classroom full of students looked on, in stunned silence as she took the most painful beating of her life.
One punch to the face, and another, and another. And a few more after that. She looked so pathetic just lying on the desk, she couldn't even fight back. Just paralysed with the most terrible fear she'd ever known.
That girl was me.
And that was the day that changed my life.
Things get worse before they get better. And I know that more than anyone. For years after I struggled, even until my last year of college the memories felt as raw as paper cuts.
School hadn't been the happiest days of my life. They had been the hardest. It had turned me into a nervous wreck with no confidence. Until one morning, I woke up, and something clicked.
They all want to get the better of me. They want me to fail. They are winning if they know I feel like I'm losing.
"Geek" and "swot" only made me study harder, carry on playing piano, draw in my sketchbook and sing in the choir.
"Ugly cunt" made me love my short bob, and taught myself how to draw on my eye-liner perfectly every morning before school.
And "fucking freak", well, that made me to be unafraid of who I was.
So, if you're a bully, and you've managed to read till the end, without gut-wrenching shame taking over you- I applaud you. I hope this has given you the insight to a victim's mind, so maybe you'll think twice before you call them a name which gives you your kicks. Maybe you'll think twice before lifting your fist? These are all just maybes, but I hope I've made it something you'll feel ashamed and disgusted in even thinking about doing, let alone acting upon.
And if you are bullied...I hope this has made you that bit stronger. My mother was right and things do get better, even if it does feel it's going to take an eternity to achieve. I leave you with the song below. Have a listen. I hope the words inspire you.
Rest in peace Amanda