By Bryant Williams, Community Blogger
I’m not sure how many of you out there living with hydrocephalus have been bullied, but in my younger days, and in certain ways as an adult, I have. When I was in high school, I was called anything that anyone could think of when it came to my scars or my lazy eye. Not to mention the beautifully drawn pictures of tubes running through my body. It happened day after day, year after year.
We went to those in charge and, of course, they weren’t able to fix anything. Kids will be kids, right? My mother begged for a resolution but none was ever found. She warned the faculty that one day I was going to fight. She wasn’t wrong. I did. I look back on it now and I know that what I did didn’t solve any problems at all; it only created more.
For many years, I came home depressed and didn’t want to go back to school the next day. I was tired of dealing with it and was even more tired of no one else dealing with it. I was alone. Of course, I had a loving family and good friends who stood up for me and even supported me when I stood up for myself. But I still had to deal with it.
All through my life I have done one thing and that’s play sports. I always had a lot of determination and was very competitive. I soon learned that I could use this to my advantage. It was one way that I could drown out the name calling and avoid any confrontation.
So I took to the basketball court and practiced every spare second I had. I became pretty good. I went on to play basketball up until tenth grade. I won awards and contests and, most importantly, I gained confidence in myself. Not to mention, playing basketball really helped with my balance and coordination. Something that many people with hydrocephalus struggle with.
As the seasons went on, I wouldn’t say that the bullying completely stopped, but I heard a lot more about how well my team and I played and a lot less of how my eye looked. Plus, if you stepped out on the basketball court with me, you were going to get everything I had for every minute of that game. It was where I felt free. Where I couldn’t be judged for my scars or anything else.
If anyone did have anything to say, well, I found a way to quiet them. Basketball, and all the sports I played, were truly a blessing. They saved my balance, my coordination and, most importantly, my confidence.
I found myself eventually walking away from basketball to pursue track and cross country. Unfortunately, my high school didn’t have a cross country team, so I had to practice on my own. A wonderful teacher at the time volunteered to take me to a few meets that the school would allow her to take me to. She was very supportive and always made sure I was prepared.
The beautiful part about this sport was that I was alone. I had every team, every runner, every coach hoping that I wouldn’t succeed because I didn’t have a team; but I did succeed. I went on to have two very good seasons as the only athlete without any help when it came to training. I did it all on my own.
This had the greatest reward, which came in the morning announcements the day after a meet where they would state the position I finished in, out of how many runners. I was doing something that no one else in the school was doing and it made me feel great. It relieved so much pressure and, yes, the pun is intended.
What’s Your Passion?
I’m sharing this with you because if you are living with hydrocephalus and you have dealt with being bullied, I encourage you – with everything in me – to find your passions and run with it. You’re already unique, you might as well continue to set yourself apart. Do not allow people to bring you down.
When I found these passions, it helped prepare me for the future. Now when someone asks me about my scars or makes any negative comment, it doesn’t ruin my entire day. It may ruin that moment, but I leave it at that moment and move on. My passions, such as my passion for writing these words, have helped me move through life with my head high and a heart filled with determination.
Please, go out and find your passion and you will thank yourself for finding it when you look back and realize what it has done for you.
Listed below are organizations which provide suggestions, ideas, and advice for victims of bullying. Check them out!
General Information and Resources
- The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
- American Academy of Children & Adolescents Psychiatry (AACAP)
- PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center
- 30 Seconds: AAPD’s Campaign to Stop Bullying
- Pacer Center