What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Chloe. 

What I want you to know about being the mean girl in high school is that some of us have regrets and would take it all back if we could. I honestly wouldn’t classify myself as having been a bully. I never picked on people for no reason. I never targeted the innocent. I guess my issue was taking things too far. Disagreements and clashes with other students would somehow lead to other people in my circle of friends picking on these people. And sometimes it would get way out of hand, because those girls were honestly so much more ruthless and mean than I was. But it started with me, so I will accept responsibility.

What I want you to know is that this all started at around the same time I began to develop depression, severe anxiety and other mental health issues. We now know that I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s living Hell. But to backtrack, my mental health issues began at the age of 13. And that’s when EVERYTHING went downhill. My behavior at school was appalling and I was suspended three times for fighting, and almost expelled for my generally bad behavior. Things at home were also extremely difficult and my house was filled with tension. And then I got mean.

If another girl gave me a dirty look, as often happens in high school, I was never satisfied with shooting them a dirty look back. I had to take it a step further and make sure they never made that mistake again. I don’t want to go into detail on the things I did because doing so evokes a feeling I’m too fragile to handle right now, but I will say that I never seriously hurt anyone. I never ‘beat up’ anyone. Fortunately I was able to control myself in that sense and still knew where the line of ‘too far’ began.

About a year later I was too ill to attend school and stopped attending. I had just turned 14 when I went to school for the last time. My home life got worse and I got sicker. I won’t go into details, but it kills me to say that at 21-years-old I’m sicker than I’ve ever been and am so, so tired of fighting this. I’ve been in the hospital twice this month for mental health reasons. I lost my entire adolescence to mental illness. I’m losing my first years of adulthood. And it’s not likely to end any time soon. I’m exhausted and I’m hopeless.

But what I really want you to know is that despite the fact that I was acting out of illness, I had no excuse to torment those girls in high school. I want you to know that I contacted all of them on Facebook about five years ago and apologized for my behavior and we’re all still Facebook friends now. If we see each other in town, we smile. We comment on each other’s statuses and I do believe I have been forgiven. But that doesn’t stop the guilt I will always, always feel and deserve to feel.

What I want you to know is that I resent bullying because I was too close to it. My best friend at the time really was a bully and always has been. We grew up together and I have literally watched that girl move from target to target. We are not friends anymore. I refuse to associate with people who take pleasure in others suffering.

What I want you to know is that I am so, so sorry – to the girls I personally affected and to every other child who is in pain because of somebody else’s actions. When I see bullying happen on Facebook, I comment, even if I don’t know the person that well. If I saw bullying taking place in the street, I would intervene, even if they looked as though they might beat me up too. I feel it’s my duty and the very least I can do.

What I want you to know is that I don’t consider my mental illness an excuse for what I did. We are all human beings, equal, and we are all juggling hearts.