I was oblivious to what my sister was going through. I knew she wanted me around and that she wanted to spend some time since she didn’t have that many friends, but I kept pushing her away by telling her I was busy. She knew that that was a white lie, but she never put her nose into it and just let me be. I just wish I would’ve thought about her offer and most importantly her, and said yes to it.
After that, I guess big brother wasn’t be able to be able to play with his kid sister anymore because kid sister replaced her big brother with loneliness and self-harm.
I remember her coming back home and crying her guts out when she was bullied in middle school for her hyper-pigmentation. They would call her “Chess-board”, “acid wash”, “Spotty” and things like that because she had dark patches on her skin.
It got worse to a point where she’d lock herself up in her room and not go to school for weeks. Eventually, the principal and staff were notified about her getting bullied. They said they would talk to the bullies and make sure school was a better place again. Unfortunately, after she started going back to school, she’d come back home depressed and never spoke about school again.
Sometimes, I’d hear her cry herself to sleep at night and I could no longer see my sister go through hard times. So, I’d go to her room and hug her until she stopped crying and we’d play video games all night or watch television.
But things were never really the same after I entered high school.
There were times where she’d come into my room and suggest that we’d play video games and the last time she entered my room, was when I was busy working on a project and assumed she came to invite me to play. And I ended up shouting at her for the wrong reasons until I spun and turned my chair towards the door, where she was standing. And I watched her cry and I realized she was already crying before she even entered my room.
“It’s okay, Arron, I just wanted to talk.” She said and ran down stairs.
I still regret not running after her. I could’ve asked her why. But I was too ashamed that I didn’t do anything to make up for it.
There was a point where she’d not have any friends over at the weekend’s and not hang out at all. Our parents were really worried and we decided to go see a doctor for her.
What we discovered was devastating.
All these days, Emma was bullied more, made fun of due to her appearance, lost friends because they’d call her ugly, had a hate website and not talk to anyone because she had an unstable image of herself.
What shook us even more, was the fact that Emma was trying to change her appearance by picking her skin on her hands because she wanted her skin to be of the same tone and color. She hated the way she looked because of her extreme hyper-pigmentation. We discovered that she was body dysmorphic, and that she was diagnosed with Dermatillomania, a form of obsessive compulsive disorder where a person has the repeated urge to perform skin excoriation rituals because of a perceived flaw.
I remember feeling guilty to a point where I didn’t have the courage to talk to my sister. But I eventually tried to make things better for her, and it worked. At least, I thought so.
The situation flipped when she entered high-school, in another school. We all thought it would be best if she started over and make good friends in her new school.
But we’d see new scars due to skin picking on the darker parts of her face and neck and we figured out why she would wear full-coverage clothing garments, all the time.
Emma did find new friends who she would go out with a few times and she also found somebody to date.
Her boyfriend, Mike, was one of the reasons Emma stopped picking her skin for a few days. And then she’d get this unstoppable impulsive urge to pick her skin because she would look into the mirror and think her skin-tone was flawed.
One day, Emma told us that she had stopped seeing Mike but didn’t tell us why.
She isolated herself and pushed her family and friends away.
Days passed, Emma never got out of her room and refused to go to the therapist. She stopped taking her medications and insisted that we not see her face. When questioned why, she didn’t utter a word.
Fast forward to a year later, We regretted for not intervening because Emma had to end up in a hospital because her skin picking rituals were uncontrollable and her scars bled.
Her compulsive behavior was accompanied with other forms of OCD. And it got to a point where she was anxious, depressed and dysmorphic.
My parents decided to stay back with her in the hospital while I was picking some of Emma’s stuff for her hospital-stay.
That was when I found answers in my little sister’s room and her journal. I knew it was wrong of me to go through it, but it happened to be placed right on her desk, where she wanted a few books from.
I began to read entries from when she was going through hard times.
Emma wrote about her bullying incidents which were very painful to read. She mentioned the time when the school was notified about her bullying and how the bullies had made it worse for her because of her complaint. She wrote about how she felt empty and sad and also about how she wanted to talk to someone about it, especially her brother. She decided not to, because she thought she was bothersome.
Not only was Emma bullied, but she was also cyber-bullied. Her then-boyfriend Mike had asked her to send him a few pictures of her and she was sick of him wooing her just so that he could get a few snaps of her, almost naked. After that, Mike didn’t only make fun of her skin-tone but also her self-inflicted scars, which weren’t her fault because they were body-focused repetitive behaviors.
He discovered her hate-page, which he made popular. He put up a fake story which gathered a lot of attention. and just like that, Emma lost her respect and friends.
I stopped reading at the part where she mentioned what she felt while she was picking her skin and how her anxiety was at its peak.
My heart broke a little wondering how broken Emma was because of all the unjust situations she had to go through.
I decided to stick with her through her fight and also decided to take care of her bullies and Mike, without her knowledge.
I bought the gaming console to the hospital and we played, just like the old times.
I saw my beautiful sister smile after years, despite her flaws and scars. And that smile kept me wanting to fight for her and her kind, who get bullied for things that can’t be changed and shouldn’t be changed, because they’re perfect the way they are.