TW: There is mention of self-harm and suicidal thoughts in this article.
Anxiety gripped me. I couldn’t breathe properly. My heart hurt.
The turmoil was overwhelming. I knew that it was all my fault, but I couldn’t come to terms with it.
This was how I stepped into school, heavy-hearted, on a Monday in 2019 as a Secondary 4 student who knew that she lost all her friends through one big mistake….
What happened the Friday before was, in hindsight, a huge regret.
I had taken out my anger and temper on my closest friends of four years, saying the meanest things filled with anger and malice.
Despite my endless apologies, regret and remorse, they cut ties with me.
I was instantly filled with guilt and regret when I realised that not only did I lose my friends, I had hurt people I cared about.
Going to school the next morning, knowing that I didn’t have anyone to hang out or eat with hurt the most.
As someone who had prided herself on being known as the “popular” one, the one who always had friends around her and the one whom everyone knew, this stung.
The first day was difficult, but the months to come bore unbearable pain.
Not only did the friends I once called family turn into strangers, they slowly became people who detested every ounce of my being. They started name-calling and spreading rumours — bullying me verbally.
From that day onwards, whenever I walked past them, sat alone or walked alone, they would come up to me and say extremely hurtful things within earshot, as if I wouldn’t be able to hear them.
Loner. Fake. Toxic.
These words were thrown about in the direction of wherever I was, followed by laughter and pointing.
And when I thought that it couldn’t get worse, it did.
They spread rumours about me. These rumours were targeted towards my insecurities, rumours that were twisted lies and which made people question who I really was.
This was my darkest valley. I was not merely alone in school, I felt ostracised.
My mental health had taken a toll to the point that even though I would be smiling on the outside, I was crying on the inside.
I spiralled. The bullying affected me so much that my self-esteem hit an all-time low. I was no longer the happy and bubbly person I once was.
Teachers started asking if I was okay, other friends were concerned and my family was extremely worried.
When I was at my lowest, I would even contemplate ending my life.
I had thoughts like “why should I live when it’s so painful?”, “I’m not worthy of being loved” and “it’ll be better if I died now”.
Whenever I crossed a road, a part of me would wonder what would happen if I stepped onto the road as a car zoomed past.
Would anyone care?
A tower of strength
But it was at my lowest when God became my stronghold. Through the pain, the turmoil and the loneliness, God met me where I was.
Every time I contemplated dying, I felt God speak to me: “I love and care for you, my daughter.”
The thought of letting God down, of disappointing Him by not hanging on and not relying on Him, scared me more than the thought of dying.
What truly kept me going, however, was how I began to realise how loved I am by Him.
God loved me through the people around me.
My family was a pillar of support for me, especially my mum. She constantly reminded me of how dearly loved I was by my Abba Father and by my family.
My mum always quoted Psalm 46:10 — “Be still and know that He is God” — to remind me that no matter what I’m going through, the God of the universe, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, is always with me.
With Him by my side, I have no need to fear (Proverbs 118:6).
God loved me through the people around me.
My church mentor lovingly journeyed through this with me. She often reminded me of God’s love and my identity as Jesus’ beloved child.
Her daily check-ups on me and her patience as she lovingly reminded me of God’s love were tangible ways God showed that He cared.
God also made sure that I was not walking through this alone through my church community; I would confide in them as they provided a safe place for me to share.
It was a sobering reminder that only in God’s church is there such grace that is freely given, and it reminded to do the same for others as I shine God’s light and love in life.
What amazed me the most? Without me even asking, God sent friends to be with me and care for me.
Eventually, unlikely friends in class started caring for me, reaching out to me and provided me with a community in school to rely on.
Many of them are fellow believers who, through their lives, shined God’s love.
In the midst of one of the darkest seasons in my life, God’s unconditional love shined so brightly.
Through this experience, I was able to truly understand what it means that His love is truly, freely and unconditionally given to me (Ephesians 2:8-9).
It’s been around four years since everything happened.
The person I was in secondary school is unrecognisable from who I am now, and I am thankful that God used my trial to grow me (Romans 5:3-5).
If you were to ask me “would you go through it again?”, I would honestly say “yes”.
Yes, it was painful. But through it all, God grew my heart for all who experience suffering. God grew my love for people and for the lost.
God used this season to grow me to become someone who empathises with others, puts myself in others’ shoes and loves others with the Father’s love.
If you’re going through a trial today, be it in your family, your relationships around you or with your mental health, I pray that you will know how deep the Father’s love for you is.
Speak up and seek help. You’re not going through this alone. God loves you so, so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for you.
You are so deeply loved and cherished.
God is faithful and He will never leave you to fight alone (Psalm 139:7-12).
- Have you ever faced bullying or discrimination?
- What are some promises you can stand on in God’s Word for when you face such things in the world?
- Do you know someone who’s facing something the author did? How can you be a blessing and encouragement to them this week?