Read part of my story about bullying and stigma. Starts in the 5th grade—and reaches into adulthood with some mental illness stigma.
"The Bullies," a Short Story
In the fifth grade me and my best friend got bullied a lot.
We were the two smartest kids in the class, so all the other boys made fun of us [and beat us up. Especially the other smart ones.]
I didn't bother anyone or talk much at all, but they would beat me up. Two kids twice the size of me, holding me down. I couldn't do anything, except take it [and cry.]
[At the time I figured it was because I was shit. I thought I was shit until I was about 26. Nowadays I assume the bullying was just a reflection of their issues.]
Sometimes my teacher would be in the room [during this,] and he would ignore it all.
He told my parents I needed to learn how to fight, but I was too small [to fight two athletic kids]—plus I was a pacifist. [I would just sob as they held me down, at the end of the day, in the middle of the classroom.]
No one had my back at school, and Bryan went to [away to] private school to get away.
Alone , alone, until I graduated highschool [but I was still alone.] Then I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and [then] the adults tried to bully me [with their bigotry against the mentally ill.]
Luckily for me I had learned to appeal to peoples emotions—and use their egos [against them...or for them?] I would construct situations where they would feel terrible for showing their prejudice. [It was an okay defense mechanism.]
Later I learned how to teach people why prejudice is wrong altogether. [A painful, and empowering practice!]
Painful lessons are still lessons, and without prejudices, we would be imbeciles. [Truly, without our ability to generalize and group things together, we would be stupid. Prejudice is not always bad, but it can be dangerous and limiting in a lot of situations.]
Teach people the positive lessons you've learned [in life] and you'll likely save at least one good person [and they're all good, really!]
Don't wait around [for the perfect time because there is no perfect time to teach someone a kind lesson.]
[If I had waited for the perfect time to tell people "I am bipolar"—a lot of people would be a little more bigoted about the mentally ill than they are now—and a few people would have entirely different mindsets about mental illness.]
By Matt Vaillette