Being bullied hurts. It can have lasting ramifications.

From fifth grade through high school, I experienced bullying. I had alleged friends turn against me and some told me the world would be better without me.

By the time I hit middle school, I was in the throes of major depression. My depression stemmed partly from the verbal and sometimes physical bullying.

My parents deserve praise in the midst of this struggle. They watched me slipping and knew I needed more than what loving parents could give. While it wasn’t an intervention in today’s definition, they were willing to intercede on my behalf and put me in individual counseling. While I could speak with my parents, sometimes the closeness of family lacks the perspective needed to heal.

Going through individual counseling meant having a person on my side, vested in helping me restore my mental health. My counselor gave me many tools to deal with bullying and depression.

By high school, I moved into a group therapy setting. However, the bullying continued. I was picked on for all sorts of things.

I was called a teacher’s pet. While I wasn’t fond of the high school setting, I have always loved to learn and I can say that bullying didn’t stop that.

I know I must have appeared vulnerable to my bullies. I was a definite introvert in high school. I tried to shrink and be as invisible as I possibly could. I was bullied for my weight, too.

I knew I was in a horrible cycle as kids suffering from depression or stress-related conditions may also be more likely to be bullied, which often makes the condition worse. Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience health concerns such as headaches and stomach aches. I practically made myself sick almost weekly.

My bullying turned into shoving into doorframes, lockers and even having lit cigarettes thrown into my book bag.

Did I cry often? Yes. Did I survive? Yes.

In college I found people who seemed to appreciate my differences. I believe being bullied has made me more empathetic and hopefully kinder.

For those who are going through bullying or for parents who are trying to help, it does get better.

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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