When Erica first asked me to be a part of Shattering Stigmas, I was a little nervous at first but I said yes because mental health is such an important subject. So on that note, I wanted to share why I decided to participate.
Growing up as a Greek-American girl was not easy, especially at private school in Atlanta. Back then, it was not an ethnically diverse school. The so called popular kids were all mostly blonde haired, blue eyed which was a stark contrast to my black hair and brown eyes.
I first started getting bullied in elementary school. Unfortunately, my mother kept my sister and I’s hair super short because it was so thick, which meant that our haircuts made us look like medieval boys because we also had bangs. She meant well, but we all know that kids are cruel. Pretty much from 3rd grade until 7th grade I was called a boy by many kids in my grade. They called me ugly, hairy, big nosed, etc. I was on the bus with a few of them and one day, they had made up a song about me. To this day I still remember it. I also got asked if my family were terrorists because of our heritage.
In 6th grade when we moved from GA to NC, I started 6th grade at my first public school. The kids were a little nicer, but there were still those bullies that picked on what I looked like. A can still remember the day I came home crying because some of them had been disgusted at how much arm hair I had. Arm hair isn’t a big problem, but when you are a girl with a lot of dark hair, it makes you self-conscious. That day, my mom took me to the salon and asked me if I wanted to wax it off. I eagerly said yes.
We moved back to GA in 7th grade, back to the bullies from elementary school. Sadly they still wanted to bully me. Finally after my parents divorced, we moved back to NC for good just before I started 8th grade. I was feeling so low after years of bullying from my classmates. I honestly wanted to end my life so many times. I remember writing in different journals about it. One thing I wrote still sticks with me, even now, “If I killed myself today, would anyone care?” Of course I knew my family would care and be devastated, but at that point I was so tired of being bullied that anything would be better than being alive.
One day, that all changed. My grandmother and I went to either COSTCO or SAM’S club where I saw the first Harry Potter book. My grandmother asked me if I wanted it, and I eagerly said yes. I had never been a huge reader before that. I hated required summer reading and never read in my spare time. But once I started that Harry Potter book, my life changed. I immersed myself in this magical world that was so much better than my reality. Nobody bullied me in this magical world. I felt like I belonged. After I finished the first one, I immediately went out with my family and got the next few that had been published. I was now officially hooked. I could not get enough of these wonderful books and the amazing world that it transported me to. Soon I visited the library at school because I realized that more books could take me places.
I stopped having suicidal thoughts after I began reading the Harry Potter series. I had found a way to cope with the bullying through books. To this day I love escaping to different worlds. I no longer have any thoughts of suicide.
To commemorate the fact that the Harry Potter series stopped my suicidal thoughts and jump-started my love for reading, I decided to get a tattoo of the deathly hallows on my wrist. It’s a daily reminder for me that I got through the darkest days in my life.
I still think I have undiagnosed depression, but that is not really bothering me as much as the bullying had. Things in my life are amazing right now. I have an adorable little girl who is my world, and an amazing fiancé.
I just want to close with this quote by Sierra Boggess,”You are enough. You are so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.”
I absolutely loved this story, Angelique, thank you so much for sharing it! I think it is wonderful to see how books can affect us in such amazing ways. Have you guys had a book affect you in such a profound way? If so, which book and how did it help you?