“sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
This saying could not be further from the truth.
Those who follow my advocacy and blog know that I was diagnosed as a teenager with Osteopenia at the age of 16, which then progressed into Osteoporosis at the age of 19.
Words from being bullied as a child caused me to develop severe Anorexia Nervosa at the age of 8, for almost a decade, which then caused my Osteoporosis– a bone disease in which performing daily tasks can cause a broken bone.
There is such irony behind the “Sticks and Stones” statement for me. When I hear it, I flinch because of the ignorance behind the true effects of bullying (which I prefer to call peer abuse).
I don’t like the fact that this saying is still being used.
I was tormented so badly, that it affected my mental health..and then it affected my physical health.
And now I have to pay for it. For the rest of my life. Financially, emotionally, and of course, physically..
I almost slipped and fell the other day.
It is so terrifying to me that knowing when I fall, that I won’t be able to just get right back up like the average person my age (I am now 21).
When I think about my Osteoporosis, I think about when I was little and those other children harassing me. When I think about my hospitalizations for the eating disorder and suicide attempt(s), I think about the other kids calling me “crazy” and “psycho” because they didn’t understand why I felt the need to hurt myself.
People who do not understand say, “just don’t listen to them. It’s that easy.”
But to me, being bullied is much like being brain washed.
You take what someone once believed, erase it, and condition them to believe (really believe) something different (usually something false).
I was made to believe that I was hideous, that I was worthless, that I deserved to be in pain– and that I should not exist.
When you hear something repeatedly, for years, from several different people, you start to question yourself. And eventually, you will even start to believe.
Children especially, will believe it.
It took a lot of therapy and self-reassurance for me to realize that they were wrong.
Even now some of their words still ring in my ears.
And sometimes, it still brings me down to the point where I feel unworthy.
These are the real outcomes of peer abuse
Emotional damage that may take years to work through, or that may never go away.
Life-long effects on your physical health, some that may result in death.
And now, every day, for (most likely) the rest of my life, I will carry those bullies words that will result in broken bones.
So here, I will change the saying.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but so can words”.
Syanne Centeno, is a national anti-bullying and eating disorder advocate. She uses her experiences to raise awareness on the serious dangers of bullying and eating disorders. She offers advice, solutions, and hope to anyone who needs it. She has done many local and national media appearances where she talks about bullying and its’ consequences.
Something I want everyone to know is that there is a rainbow after the storm. Life does get better! I am now living my dreams as as public speaker, and advocate. I even model, and I have become quite the health and fitness fanatic. I love life. Do not let those bullies take life away from you. You have so much to live for.