Guest post by Shannon from The New Mentality

Shannon is a 20-year-old mental health activist with a focus on intersectionality and First Nations rights. She has been sharing her story and speaking about mental health for the last six years. Her biggest goals are to inspire younger youth to get help, and to speak out. She is currently co-chairing Children’s Mental Health Ontario’s and The New Mentality's Youth Action Committee.

I was bullied from the age of 6 to 17. I've had more people hate me, and hurt me than I can count. I remember the first instance of bullying was in Grade 1, when a kid pointed out my wide, flat nose and brown eyes and said I was ugly. It was then when I started to be hyper aware of my looks. I was so young, I shouldn't have had to have been focusing on my looks. I should have been focusing on school and friends.

In Grade 5 the bullying was unbearable. I would come home from school with new bruises and scratches each day. My parents would take out the camera and photograph the physical abuse I was facing at school because no one at the school or the school board believed me.

In the middle of Grade 6, it got to the point I had a fellow student assault me, and cut my arm with a knife. And when we took my bruised and cut arm to the school board, they said I was a mentally unstable child and I did it to myself to get attention.

At that point my anxiety and depression was SO out of control. I couldn't leave the house. Let alone make it to the hell on earth others called school. I transferred schools after that. And there wasn't any better. I wasn't physically beaten anymore, but I developed an eating disorder and started self-harming to deal with the verbal bullying. 

Looking back at all of this, as the 20-year-old person I now am, I feel nothing but sadness and the urge to hug 11-year-old me, and I'd like to tell her that it gets SO much better; tell her that by age 20 she will be going to cosmetology college and I'd still be best friends currently, with my then best friend. I'd also tell myself to keep talking and reaching out. Never let them silence you. You have a voice and it deserves to be heard, no matter what others seem to think.