just a bully

Trigger warning: depression and suicide

When I was in middle school, I was bullied. Others perceived me as being a lesbian and “weird”, both of which were at odds with the small-town-Minnesota community I was in. Multiple times I went to the counselor’s office and eventually spoke to the principal to make the mean kids stop. Each time, I was told to “avoid them” or “ignore them.” Whether or not they were ever spoken to, I’m not sure, but I do know the effects on my mental psyche were huge.

I went to a therapist to talk through some of the issues. I was pretty sure I was straight, but I thought maybe everyone at school was right. Did they see something I didn’t know? My mom telling me “it would be easier if you were a lesbian! Men suck,” didn’t help. But neither did being a 13 year old girl.

The worse part was feeling so alone. I was new to town and didn’t have friends I could confide in. Finding notes on the floor that talked about how “dirty and gross Katie is” told me that yes, in fact everyone was talking about me behind my back. I turned to the internet and friends I made in chat rooms or on neopets to relieve some of my pain, which may be the only thing that got me through it all. Neopets. I’m serious.

Every night I would cry, think I was worthless, and couldn’t imagine things ever getting better. This is when I became more and more depressed, beginning to fantasize about ending it. How could I envision life getting any better when it was so terrible? Wouldn’t taking a knife to my wrists or a handful of pills make things better?

One day, I eventually had enough and retaliated against someone that had been taunting me mercifully. I got into trouble and had to take an anti-bullying class. Because I, was the bully. Oh, the irony.

This was my rock bottom. My mom brought me to a doctor and I was placed on antidepressants. Yet, this only made me feel worse. Before the effects really kicked in, I just felt crazy and weird for needing them in the first place. The logic of their existence, and that clearly I was not the only person on them, was not enough to make me feel better.

And then eventually the school year was over. My mom let me change schools and I was able to move past that terrible point in my life. Sort of. But it is my own experiences with bullying and depression/suicidal thoughts that makes me so passionate about these issues in state law. State Sen. Scott Dibble has been a great proponent of anti-bullying measures, but as of yet, has not passed any laws.

According to MPR, the new legislation Dibble is working on for 2013 could change a lot of things. Until now, every law proposed has been more about the punishment of bullies. But the conversation should be shifted to the prevention. This is what is happening and I couldn’t be more supportive of it. Favoring local control (leaving it up to each school district to determine how to handle) assumes children and parents speak up at a high level. This alone means things are already out of control and the student has a supportive parent that does anything necessary. Why not one standard for all of Minnesota? A standard that protects students by better training teachers and administration how to handle it.

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How much more?

All shooting are terrible and sad and make me mad at the people that let things like that happen. Things like mental illness going untreated. Going unnoticed, or, at least unacknowledged.

What happened last week in Connecticut is incomprehensible. So many young lives wasted. I think of all my friends that are teachers. I think of those killed and that they were probably just like my friends, fun, loving, great people.

Yet, I didn’t cry. It didn’t shake me up and tear me down as other events have. The shooting at the movie theater this summer hit me the hardest. I cried so long after that, being able to envision myself in that audience, just out for a good time. When will all this stop?

A week of technology

The Holiday Tech Bash hosted by W3i last Thursday at Aria was awesome. It was just as awesome as the MinneDemo event hosted at the same space on Tuesday. Except, Friday morning I woke up with a tad more of hangover, probably due to the bar Joe dragged me out to afterwards.

At the event though, Girls in Tech raised some money! I think it was my fabulous speaking skills that earned us the dough. Or not, because people were busy playing cards. But I did manage to turn 50 fake dollars into a lot more, so, I can take a sliver of credit myself. It was just a really cool event though where I met a lot of great people – and saw some friendly faces too! Including someone from Macalester! I really feel like I’m beginning to become connected to the Tech community here in the Twin Cities, and I’m even more excited when I think of all the great things Girls in Tech can accomplish. I’m really proud to be heading things up.

Monday night was a Girls in Tech Happy Hour. It was held at aLoft hotel and was a pretty good time. Frist, I just love that space. Second, it was like a symbolic passing of the baton type of thing… both Jacque and I got up on “stage” and spoke for a few minutes. It was nuts because there was not an ounce of nervousness in me. It’s amazing to feel so great and confident about something – I know I’m doing the right thing.

Last week just just so much awesomeness wrapped into a bubble, and then this week, I’ve got notta-damn-thing planned. I hate how that seems to happen. It should be okay though, Joe is finally done with class!

Anyway, even though I didn’t get any book editing done today, it was still a good day. I did some nonprofit stuff and had a nice time with Joe. Then I took my new prescription which gives me a tummy ache and knocks me out – not sure why I haven’t learned to just take it at night yet. We went to the Holidazzle and I felt like a rock star remembering the order of the floats (or at least recognizing each one) from the time I worked on the planning team (Winter of 2010).

I just found out Milkweed Editions has decided to close/cancel their Jan – March submissions calling and I’m über disappointed. That’s when I was going to submit my book and then get published and be super awesome. It would have been nice to work with them because they too are a local nonprofit and really strike my fancy. However, I was hoping to get a decision regarding my publishability by October just in case they actually did want it. Then I could put “author” on my resume for Stanford and be even cooler. Now I’ll just continue finalizing the manuscript and consider branching out to other publishers, or, wait to see what Milkweed says.

Also, totally managed to connect with someone from the Grace Hopper conference committee today. Girls in Tech is going to partner in some way when they come to Minneapolis for their 2013 Celebration of Women in Computing. 2013 is going to be a good year.

Winter Blues

Winters are hard. Even with my SAD lamp and my depression medication and my increased intake of dark chocolate, it is still a struggle to get out of bed in the morning and do something with my day. Some days are better than others, and I’ve been trying to pay super close attention to what foods I eat and limit the amount of alcohol I drink. This winter is better than a lot of others, especially last winter when I was living alone and didn’t have any commitments outside of work. But some days still just really suck and I want to crawl in a hole and cry.

Last week we moved the office furniture into the living room, and all the living room stuff into the den. I thought maybe the reason I was spending so much time in front of the TV was because it was nice and sunny in the living room and I wanted to absorb as much as I could. Joe was a good sport, as always, and dropped what he was doing to help me rearrange for the next 3 hours. It feels good. Right now I’m sitting at my desk in front of the window and couldn’t imagine a better place for my computer.

Anyway, just wanted to give a quick update as to why my posting has been more sporadic. I’d hate to only post emo-posts because then everyone would just think I’m a whiney little biotch unworthy of a follow.

Quick updates

Today was a pretty awesome day. Remember a while back how I was all like “oooohh… work never challenges me…”? Well, I’m not saying I’m all of a sudden über challenged or anything, but I have been thrown onto a few more projects. Which equals busy sauce at work. This makes me happy.

Further, a super awesome article came out about me today. If you are so inclined, you can read it here: http://tech.mn/news/2012/12/04/kate-agnew-girls-in-tech-msp/ .

Quick life update? NaNoWriMo: 30,000 words. Not the 50k I strove for, but 30k nonetheless. This means I am 25k closer to finishing my book. I’m really happy with where it is at. I’m confident it is what I would call a first draft as it does chronicle most of my life. Step 1: Write it. Check! Step 2: Edit it. In progress…

I totes bought Joe a pretty good Christmas gift, until I realized he probably wouldn’t like it. So, even though it was already wrapped and under the tree, I unwrapped it, returned it, and will be getting him something else. Maybe there is such a thing as shopping too early…

We rearranged our apartment! The “office” is now in the living room, and the couch and TV are in the den. This is an effort to make me a happy camper through the winter months rather than sitting in the darkness. Also, I love my sun lamp. High five for technology equalling happiness.

Lastly, condo hunting has been great. We didn’t love the IVY, reasons for this include: not allowing owners to rent out (how would I go to San Francisco if I got in?!), charging owners for access to gym, not including parking in the 1 bedrooms, tiny closets, small windows etc. The Carlyle rocked our socks off. Beautiful pool, hot tub, workout area, view, morning sun, nice counters, huge closet, home to a timberwolves player, great parking (which is included!). I’m not completely sold yet though, mainly because we haven’t been approved for our loan yet because we haven’t applied yet. We are looking for more of a May move in date so I’m just getting the lay of the land now anyway.

Well, I’ve gots to run to my Girls in Tech meeting… first one as Managing Director!