06 Oct Bullying

I have nobody. I need some someone 🙁 My name is Amanda Todd.

The final two written black and white cards of a fifteen year old British Columbia teenager shortly before she took her own life. , Sanlyn Wellness wishes to express condolences to her family and pray that her soul transitions peacefully. This young lady brought to the forefront through her ten minute YouTube video a chilling reminder that bullying is not an isolated incident and more prevalent than we as society ever imagined it to be.

As the author of this article, the owner and counselor/therapist of Sanlyn Wellness Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, it has been my job over a number of years to help many different individuals from all walks of life to learn and cope with traumatic experiences and relationship issues. One such area that has been quite a focal point with clients is bullying at one time or another in their lives. The effects of watching an adult reliving this verbal, emotional or online abuse in my office is heart wrenching.

I have also been the victim of torment and being bullied when I was the same age as Amanda. My experience was nowhere close to what this young female endured, however one episode I remember was painful and definitely left a scar in my psyche. I had just moved to Canada from South Africa and I was dealing with the stress of immigration and wanting to somehow fit into a society and culture that was foreign to me. I was placed into high school almost two months into the semester. Most of my peers had integrated and formed cliques of friends. To compound this I was teased for my accent which I believe to this day is wonderful. I was made fun of because I wore South African clothing that was a different style. My story that I am going to share happened in an English class.

"I remember crying and just feeling like I hated Canada, felt low and wondered why people could be so cruel."

The teacher was writing on the blackboard and had her back to the classroom. I remember some popular cool kids in the class turning to me and in a very quiet voice saying stand up and go to the clock on the wall and move it forward fifteen minutes so we can get out of class early. Having very few solid good friends at this time, I just wanted to fit in, so I got up and began to change the clock. As I was in the process of doing that the very same kids started yelling out to the teacher to look. I froze in my footsteps, embarrassment, fear, anger, sadness and isolation ran through my mind. I was made to explain myself after the class and did not get into trouble because of my situation of being new to the school. I remember crying and just feeling like I hated Canada, felt low and wondered why people could be so cruel.

Bullying causes a number of reactions as you can see from mine and Amanda’s story. Wanting to be alone, low self esteem, addictions, panic attacks, headaches, stomach pains, depression, insomnia and anger are some of the more common effects of continuous or isolated bullying, whether it is verbal, physical, social or online. I too, like Amanda experienced a slew of feelings both physical and emotional. What helped guide me through the stress and incidents at that time was a constant reminder to myself that I was not going to allow the power to be given over to teenagers that were just as insecure as me at the time. I worked really hard at finding people that honoured me for who I was and that had similar interests and made some very close friends that I still to this day have.

Unfortunately Amanda’s pain was too much, her anguish to hard to swallow. This article is written in her memory to a teenage girl I never met, yet shared a common bond. Each and every time I work with bullying in my practice going forward, Amanda your story is going to be told. If you have been bullied, call or email Sanlyn Wellness and we can help.

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