My Darkest Year

I don’t think I’ve ever been depressed. Not seriously, anyway. I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, never felt I needed anti-depressants, and there never was a period I couldn’t laugh at genuinely funny shit. That’s my personal rule of thumb: as long as stuff can make you laugh and smile, you’re not fucked.
I’m not a psychologist in any sense, so I could very well be wrong there, but I take it as a bad sign when someone can’t smile when they look into the eyes of someone they love for the first time in days.
However, there have definitely been darker moments in my life. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that there’s a very clear point, just about when my father left my mother, where I ceased to be the happiest kid on the planet, and never again became more than just… content. And now that I look back at that period, I would say that a year after that moment started the darkest year of my life.

School year September 2006-June 2007. I was sixteen-seventeen and entering the fifth year of high school for the first time. At the time, the previous year had been the most difficult yet. It was the first year I had been bullied for being ‘different’. And not the kind of different you’d expect. Sure, it was a few years prior that I started struggling with my gender, but at the time the struggle was completely internal. No, how I was different was because I was silent and introvert, and because I grew my hair long. Boys aren’t allowed to have long hair, damn it!
Anyway, that year wasn’t that catastrophic because the morons made the mistake of attacking me online as well. I then had contacted a few friends who contacted a few more friends, and by the end of the month, half of my town’s youth who had an internet connection were cyber-bullying my assailants. No regrets, by the way.
Anyway, eventually, that hatchet was buried, and we continued on as ‘friends’ for the rest of that year.
However, six months later, I was sharing a classroom with the same arseholes again, and it wasn’t too long before they decided long hair and seclusion were ideal fuels to feed their power trips. And this time, having lost contact with those friends from the previous year, I was on my own. I didn’t really have anyone to turn to at all when I was systematically the last to be picked for group assignments, had rules for card games changed so there would be exactly one spot too few to let *everyone* play and at one point gotten surrounded by 8 of the motherfuckers, all being extra obvious about the fact there was chewing gum in their mouths.
At one point, when one of our teachers made a bloody good joke during classes, and I laughed out loud (remember, you’re not depressed as long as you can laugh at funny shit), one of them yelled from across the classroom ‘What the fuck are you laughing for?’ Not laughing at, because that was plainly obvious. He was *actually* asking what business I had expressing happiness. It should be noted, by the way, that four years prior, I was the only friend that particular guy had in the entire gorram school. Back then he was being picked on, ignored and rejected by just about everyone else. I was in a similar (and worse) situation he was in, and the cunt sold me out for a few brownie points with his new, popular friends.

At home my parents’ divorce was in full swing. Father had already left, but now the two of them were bickering over who got to keep which stuff. It wasn’t the coziest of places.
Combine this with the fact that my mind and my body were at war over what bloody gender I was supposed to be, and, well, I needed something or someone to take my mind off of stuff.

I had one friend at the time whom I saw regularly. Every weekend, in fact. However, as I grew more cynical and jaded over the months, I pushed him more and more away, until at some point he just stopped having time for me.
I had friends on the internet -thank fuck for the internet- but very soon that just ceased to be enough. I felt alone, abandoned, betrayed. I had the feeling nobody missed me, nor would ever miss me again, so I turned to the window in my room that led to a side roof.
Now, for those of you who have never been there, the upper floors of my house look a bit like this, when viewed from the side.

Behold my mad Paint skillz

All it would take was for me to crawl through that window, walk to the edge of the roof, and… drop. And several times I stood at that edge, looking down, then looking back to the window, then taking a deep breath, then going back inside.
What ultimately kept me from making that jump, I feel, is not a fear of death. It wasn’t the fact that the idea of leaving my parents emotionally scarred for life was too off-putting. It was honest curiosity.
I wanted to know how my story unfolded. How it ends. Jumping off that roof wouldn’t have been an end. To me it felt like stopping reading a book in the middle of a chapter, then tossing the book in a fire. My story wasn’t done -still isn’t done- and I want to know what comes next. There were so many plotlines at the time I found too interesting to give up: when would my gender make sense? Would I ever have more than one friend I could touch? Would I ever lose my bloody virginity, or find someone to grow old with, for that matter? What would happen with my parents?
Some of these side-plots have since been concluded, others are still ongoing, and several new ones have opened up. And now I am immensely glad that they did.

So, dying wasn’t an option. This left me with the only viable alternative: surviving. However, I still had a class-full of dicks bent on driving me if not insane, at least depressed. I couldn’t reason with them, hell, I couldn’t even talk to them. So I decided they couldn’t reason or talk to me either. Everything school-related I simply blocked out. I didn’t pay attention to anyone or anything anymore. I’m sure I’ve been yelled at or addressed or whatever at points during those last few months of the school year, but I simply didn’t give a shit.
I ceased doing homework, I ceased studying, hell, I ceased trying to find a group for group assignments. The plan was to get to the end of the year with at least effort or energy wasted as possible, fail the final exams, then redo the year in a different school.
And eventually, it worked. I failed over pretty much the complete line and when the final scores were announced I just took the report card and went home.
I later learned that during the end-of-school class ‘party’ my classmates threw before the picking-up of said report cards (a party I also ignored), they were told that I had failed and, apparently, some of them claimed that I ‘shouldn’t leave’ and that I ‘belonged here, in this group’. Now, obviously, none of the people who expressed these sentiments were among the bullies. However, during the period I actually did arrive at school, waited my turn, and left with my results, none of them so much as talked to me. So… yeah.

Now, I’m not going to claim that once that infernal year was over, my life was sunshine and rainbows again. A lot of obstacles have been thrown in my path since. But a lot of improvements as well. However, while I wouldn’t say that I’m *happy* per se -there’s still too much fundamental changes I want to see in my life- there has never again been a moment where I walked up to the edge of that roof, looked down and wondered ‘wouldn’t it be better if?’

~Hel

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One thought on “My Darkest Year

  1. Mare says:

    Bravo! Veel sterker uiteindelijk dan ik dat ooit kon toen!

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