Stop Bullying: How NOT To Raise A Mean Girl

Raising a girl is hard, but it's important to teach her to be kind to other girls. We can stop girl bullying--on bettysbattleground.com

My three-year-old girl came home from daycare with a note.

Ever since our littlest has been old enough to walk and play, Anabelle, older by only a handful of months, has been a terror. Grabbing toys from her little sister for no reason, shoving the baby, shouting at her; in essence: being a bully. The professionals have all told us her behavior is normal. As long as she shows signs of affection too—which she does—and doesn’t do anything excessively violent—which she doesn’t— it’s okay. Still, some ideas have begun to form in my mind about Anabelle. Nothing solid, not yet manifested into words or actions, but a feeling, whispering, in the back of my mind.  Like an aftertaste when I think about her.

 My daughter might be a Mean Girl.

Earlier this week, I published a guest post by author Jasminder about her experiences with childhood and adolescent bullying. It was hard to read about kids calling her dirty and mocking her for having brown skin and dark hair. Harder even to read about how she internalized those experiences, and began to believe them. I know that feeling well; part of the reason I have difficulties with apologizing or taking responsibility sometimes is because (I’ve come to understand) my brother tortured me as a child by calling me a mistake who should never have been born. He treated me like an outcast in my own home. Because of that, I carry a feeling of wrongness in my body; a feeling like my very essence is a complete mistake. It’s hard, feeling that way, to admit to more mistakes on top of it.

The students who hurt Jasminder were kids, but their parents were adults–and those adults should have been more aware of the mentality their kids were adopting. Those parents should have actively included people from other cultures in their lives so their kids understood there was nothing wrong with looking different. Just as my father should have told his son that I was his little girl, not some random mistake clumped up behind the couch. That may not have happened, but those of us who are parents now have the opportunity to help stop bullying. How do we keep cruelty from growing in the hearts of our children?

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Tales From The Other Side: “Growing Up With An Untreated Bipolar Mom”

Read about one woman's experience growing up with a mom who had untreated bipolar disorder-on bettysbattleground.com

Tales from the Other Side: A guest post series on www.bettysbattleground.comToday’s guest blogger, Christy, grew up in a household with a mother who had untreated Bipolar Disorder. I can’t claim to have the same experience, or anything remotely like it, but I do have an aunt who has untreated Bipolar disorder. We stopped speaking a couple years ago when she started calling me a bitch, excusing herself because of her own disorder, and then gaslighting my PTSD. Ever since then, I have occasionally seen rude comments about me that she’s left on other family’ member’s accounts. Anyway, she lives in New York so I don’t have to really bother with her, but I learned today that she’s coming to Seattle, AND she’s asked to see my kids. So I guess I’m gonna get to have another epic Tia A—- adventure!

Anyway, as annoying and borderline abusive as my aunt has been, it does not compare to Christy’s experiences. Please don’t misunderstand the intention of publishing this story. I in no way wish to demonize people with Bipolar Disoder. I previously hosted an interview and guest post by a Sheila O’Donnell, a lovely blogger living with BPAD. I published an author interview with Rebecca Lombardo, who wrote a book about her experiences being Bipolar. The late, and beloved, Carrie Fisher was a famous mental health advocate living with the disorder. However, all of these people also pursued treatment. Whether that means medication and talk therapy, exercise and self-care, writing and reaching out, or whatever-they manage their symptoms and actively seek treatment. Mental illness does not have to be harmful. Usually, it isn’t. But if a person has a serious mental disorder and a family, that disorder will affect her family. If she doesn’t get her disorder treated, it may harm her family.

We cannot silence true stories because they don’t fit the narrative we want to tell. I am a mental health advocate. I want people to understand that mental illness or injury doesn’t make people evil or abusive. But I also cannot lie and say that when people don’t pursue treatment of any kind, everything is OK. It’s not. Those of us with mental health conditions need outside support, but we also need inner drive. Christy’s story is an example of a family that was deeply harmed because their Bipolar mother did not pursue treatment.

Blogger Christy Zelaya opens up about growing up with a mom who had untreated bipolar disorder on bettysbattleground.comChristy Zelaya is 38 years old and lives in beautiful Bradenton, Florida. She lives with her husband Jose Zelaya, and their four children; two each from previous marriages. They also have two dogs who are their babies too! They have been living as a blended family for almost seven years. Jose was diagnosed with kidney failure in February of 2014 and is now on dialysis. They are hoping for a kidney transplant soon. Christy also lives with Rhematoid Arthritis, which is exacerbated by her weight issues. You can follow her journey at christyzspeaks.com.

 

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Tales From the Other Side: “My Letter to My Sister After Her Suicide”

Tales from the Other Side: A guest post series on www.bettysbattleground.com

“My Letter to My Sister After Her Suicide” is the first installation of my Guest Post Series: Tales From the Other Side

If you have been following my blog, you know that I write about my experiences as a mother who lives with mental illness, specifically; PTSD and (recovering) co-morbid substance addiction as the result of surviving severe, prolonged domestic abuse. There is a lot of stigma around mental illness, addiction, and abuse. I think it is important that those of us who have lived or are living with these conditions speak out so that the world can see what we go through, and also that we are human. Relatable, real, maybe even (gasp) likable humans.

We are not the only ones affected by our conditions, however. The people who live with us, love us, work with us, and know us are also affected, often deeply. Last week I wrote about my recent(ish) suicide attempt.  I shared the letter I didn’t write, but would have written if I had been able to communicate my thoughts and feelings at the time.  This week, I want to share with you the letter written by one woman to her sister whose suicide attempt was successful.

This letter is raw, heartwrenching, and even funny at times. It is, ultimately, honest. I am so honored to be able to share it here.

Another issue that the letter briefly mentions is possible witnessed PTSD; sometimes the people who come in contact with our conditions inherit similar conditions themselves. Witnessed PTSD is less understood than experienced PTSD, but it is the same disorder as mine except that it arises from witnessing a traumatic event, rather than directly experiencing it.

One last thing I would like to say before I share the letter and some details about its author: I have been suicidal. I know that feeling worthless and unloved comes hand-in-hand with wanting to die. And now, having lived through it, I also know that the feeling is a delusion. You don’t have to be popular and constantly surrounded by people to be loved. If you are feeling suicidal, please just know, just believe that there is someone out there who will write a letter like this to you if you leave them. Chances are, you even know who that person is. Chances are, you love them too. Please think, truly think, about the real consequences of your decision before you make it.
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