(I haven’t updated my blog in a very long time. I had some important exams and also a severe case of writer’s block. Thank you for sticking around till now. Today’s post, inspired by The Daily Prompt: The Guilt That Haunts Me, is slightly a personal anecdote. I am sharing it in the hope that if someone else ever faces a similar situation, they can take some inspiration and consolation from this post.)
Like many other students before and after me, I was a victim of bullying in my school years. In the tumultuous twilight between childhood and adulthood, the concept of ‘self’ is often attenuated with segregation of people into the discrete categories: ‘people who are like me and hence good’, and ‘people who are not like me and hence bad’. A Bengali girl from Kolkata, recently shifted to Mumbai, in a school where all other students were Gujrati, I stuck out like a pus-filled pimple on a model’s face.
Constant taunts about everything from my eating habits to my dress threw me into the deep depths of depression. I cried myself to sleep regularly, gained weight, and avoided social contacts of all type. But worst of all, I started blaming myself for everything that was happening in my life. I hated myself. I labelled myself with the worst derogatory terms I knew: ‘misfit’, ‘anti-social’, ‘unfriendly’, ‘ugly’, ‘fat’, and ‘stupid’. I was filled with self-loathing, and if it wasn’t for my parents’ love and support, I would probably have committed suicide. I contemplated it often enough.
The years passed and I graduated and joined a high school. I was happy here, and made good friends. But the self-loathing had become so imbibed in me that I still couldn’t get rid of it. Every minute, every second, I kept second-guessing myself. I thought my friends were laughing behind my back because I couldn’t believe that people would actually like me. Sometimes I felt guilty about being happy. I felt it was an insult to all that I had suffered before.
It took me a long time to accept that neither being sad nor being happy is a permanent state. Life is a battle. Some days you go out there and triumphantly destroy your foes; on other days all you can do is take it one breath at a time and just survive. Either way you are a warrior. And it’s ok: it’s ok to be sad sometimes, without reason and explanation, and no one else gets to judge you because they haven’t been through what you have been through.
I would like to conclude with one of my favourite quotes of all time by Elizabeth Gilbert:
“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it—I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”