A recent study looked at the victims of childhood bullying, and at adults experiencing anxiety and depression, and it found a significant correlation. Apparently, the team making the study expected to find that children who were bullied at school were as likely to become adults with symptoms of anxiety and depression as were children who were abused by family members. Instead, the study indicated that children bullied at school were more likely to experience anxiety and depression as adults than children abused by family members.

I was the victim of bullies from the fifth grade into the ninth grade. People go to school to learn, and I learned these lessons from the bullies:

* If someone does something that annoys you, don’t let them know they are getting on your nerves; if you do, they will keep on doing it.
* Only mothers and fathers are impressed if you get straight As, write short stories, or learn a musical instrument. Otherwise, those things just make you different.
* The people in charge cannot prevent others from being cruel so long as those others are determined to have things their way.
* The people who consider you worthless may be wrong, but they still can be very convincing.

Not that developing anxiety as an adult is entirely a bad thing. I am a very good defensive driver, since I always expect other drivers to do foolish and dangerous things-I’m prepared for the worst of them. Anxiety has given me useful habits. I never close a car door until I see and feel that the keys are in my hand. I never leave the secure workroom without touching my magnetic key to make sure I can reenter the workroom. Driving to work, I check at least once each morning to see that I have that magnetic key with me in the car. At home, I always lock the doors and turn out the lights before going to bed. If I frequently have a nagging feeling that I have forgotten something important, at least I remember to stop and review my schedule and make sure that nothing has been forgotten.

I could be resentful about the way I was treated years ago, but what’s the point? There’s no going back today to change the way things were. If I face each day with a touch of paranoia, at least I am prepared to defend myself. If I don’t expect people to like me, I am never disappointed by their attitudes, and sometimes I am pleasantly surprised. Every day has challenges, but most days also have victories. As a wise man once said, “Only if you have been in the deepest valley can you know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”


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