This blog contains references to bullying, suicide and self-harm. While it does not go into detail on any of these things, please do not read on if you think the content may be upsetting for you. If you are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts or you're having a mental health crisis, please visit our page on getting urgent help.
We live in a world where basically everything is online. You can do almost anything from your smartphone or laptop - we literally have the world in our hands. Unfortunately the world can be an ugly place sometimes and when that ugliness creeps into our online life, it can be even more damaging due to the anonymity and exposure that being on an online platform can bring.
When I was 13 years old, my whole life was flipped upside down when I realised people who I thought would be my friends forever had turned against me and started to publicly embarrass me on social media. I was confused, broken, and it was a time of loneliness that I had never experienced before. Rumours were spread about me, comments about me were public for everyone to see, and I lost a lot of ‘friends’ in the process.
When I went into school, I had no one, and when I was alone, things were shouted at me from across the playground. This was when my mental health hit an all-time low. I could never just turn off my phone and I couldn’t block them – I needed to see what was being said about me. As sick as that sounds, the anxiety of not knowing was much worse than seeing the lies and mean comments. I was torturing myself.
I was confused, broken, and it was a time of loneliness that I had never experienced before.
So how did I cope? I started self-harming. I used to lock myself in the bathroom to hide what I was doing from my family. My mum is a single parent who has to care full-time for my disabled brother. I had convinced myself that she did not need to deal with my problems and that ultimately everyone in my life would be better off if I wasn’t there. I decided it was time to leave this world, I had nothing left to give, to feel, to pursue. I wrote my suicide note and there I was, lifeless, exhausted and wanting it all to be over. Now, I would not class myself as a particularly lucky person, however on that day, someone was looking over me and it was then I realised I was meant for greater things.
I read my suicide note over and over again until I learned it off by heart and I could not believe it - I was starting to feel better. I had been bottling up everything for so long, all the darkness, all the pain, it was all right in front of me on a piece of paper. This gave me back a tiny bit of control that I hadn’t had since all of it started. I spoke to my mum and decided to seek help. To anyone reading this - please talk to someone, even if it is just something small. The worst thing I did was bottling it up and trying to deal with it myself.
The worst thing I did was bottling it up and trying to deal with it myself.
When I spoke out, I realised that it wasn’t just me that had gone through this, there were thousands of people who had felt the way I did and were in the same position as me. This made me realise I needed to do something about it. I never wanted anyone to feel the way I had.
I contacted O2’s GoThinkBig hub, and they helped me create a non-profit organisation called Beat the Bullies. I wanted to teach people how writing down what they are feeling and putting it into a physical form could help them take control. I then realised that I could turn these feelings into songs, and that was when my passion started to bloom. I was travelling the country, going into schools and teaching people how to write songs and how they could use music as a form of therapy. From all of this, I was invited to be part of many campaigns including Stop, Speak, Support, which was headed by Prince William.
If you are experiencing online bullying, you need to report it.
You may be wondering why I am telling you about my successes. The reason I do this is because I was once a broken, lonely, severely-depressed young person who felt they had no reason to be alive. It took me almost dying to realise how short and special life truly is.
If you are experiencing online bullying, you need to report it. You need to remember that the people who are hurting you might be hurt themselves. You are never alone and your problems are not insignificant.
Find something that you love, whether it be music, art, sport or whatever else, and dive into that. Keep yourself distracted – this was one of the most important things for me. When I was distracted, I was able to smile.
I want you to remember that there are so many people out there who love and care about you even if you think there aren’t. This period is a blip in your timeline and this pain will go away. You were put on this world for a reason and no one has the right to take that away from you. You are a strong, beautiful person, no matter what anybody says. I know how badly words can hurt, but they are only words and it does not mean they are true. Speak out, find something to fall in love with, and, most importantly, know that you are never alone.
More tips and advice on social media and mental health
If you are struggling with the impact of social media on your mental health, or you want to find out more about our #OwnYourFeed campaign, have a look at our social media and mental health page.