Bullying: Feeling Depressed and Powerless

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Reader’s Question

I am 13 years old, and I can’t stop thinking about the years I have been bullied. Whenever I tried to get help no one would help me, and no one helps me now with my deep depression. My parents don’t know how depressed I am because I am very busy with my swimming (I train 16 and half hours a week). I write a lot of poetry to get my mind off things; it helps a little but not a lot. I think about dying all the time and ways of dying; it scares me knowing that I think this way. I am really stressed out, and it feels like there’s nothing I can do but suck it up. But I can’t suck it up anymore; there is too much hiding inside. It feels like I can’t be my happy and joyful self because I keep thinking about what people would say to me when they used to pick on me. I feel like too many people lean on me and then they don’t even care that I have problems. I don’t know what to do!

Psychologist’s Reply

Your parents can’t help you if they do not know what is going on, and it sounds like they hardly ever see you, what with swim practice and school. So you probably need to tell them straight out. It is really important that you talk either to them as soon as possible, or to another adult you can trust — maybe your swim coach, a relative, or your favorite teacher — who can help you talk to your parents. But someone needs to know, and the sooner the better. The thoughts that you are having will be a lot less scary if you know that someone else is aware of the problem, taking it seriously, and going about getting you some help with it. If your parents knew that you were thinking about dying, they could take some steps right away to help you keep safe until you were feeling better.

One of the most important things that you can do besides suck it up (which, as you are finding out, only works for so long) is to find someone to talk to. There are therapists who understand what it is like to be bullied and what it does to a person. With your friends leaning on you, the practice schedule you are keeping, and the bullying you have endured, it sounds like you have had a lot of energy going out for a long time and no support coming in. You are drained dry. Your parents could help with that if they knew you needed it, and a good therapist can be a great source of support too, as well as someone to sound off to.

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There are even poetry therapists who can work with the poems you have already written and new poetry that you will write together in therapy sessions to help you work your way out of this deep depression. And you can work your way out of it. It is hard to get bullying stopped and this may be how you developed the sense that “there’s nothing I can do but suck it up.” But you can do something about depression: getting counseling really does help! So please do tell the adult you trust the most — if not today, then tomorrow for sure. If it makes talking about it easier, you can show them your letter with my reply and tell them this is how you feel.

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