Our first quarter newsletter highlighted bullying and some practical tips on how to handle bullies peacefully. We also mentioned that we are highlighting author Kate MacHugh, who wrote an in-depth personal account of how bullying affected her life. Our newest director, Tiffany Young, had the pleasure of interviewing Kate to learn more about her book and her experience with bullying.
During our interview, Kate encouraged others to share their story, as victims of bullying should never feel alone. She relays, “not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s your journey to make sense of.” Currently, Kate works full-time as a clinician and is working on a fictional novel about bullying and teen suicide. She spends her free time attending conferences, interacting with youth in schools, and participating in various media promotions. To learn more about Kate, watch her personal video, and obtain a copy of her latest memoir, please visit www.KateMacHugh.com.
While physical trauma leaves visible scars, the emotional pain of bullying can lead to depression and mental illness, creating an invisible scar that dwells deep within our souls. Please Live encourages you to take action this year, speak up against bullying, and understand the effects it has on mental health and well-being. While Kate relied on poetry, self-reminders that she was loved, and writing to rebuild her suppressed self-confidence, there are many ways to overcome the mental trauma brought on by bullying.
Interview with Kate MacHugh, Author of “Ugly: The Story of a Bullied Girl”
By: Tiffany L. Young
Describe yourself in three words?
Introvert, Wise, and Caring
Do you believe we are our own worst critic?
No, I believe that we hear others insensitive words and begin to believe it as truth.
What are some techniques you have learned to block out the cruelty of bullying?
Meditation, writing, speaking to a professional, etc. When I was being bullied I wrote a lot of poetry. Most of my poetry from that time reflected the pain I was feeling. It was cathartic to be able to express my feelings that way.
What were you like at school?
I was a good student and I was very smart. I went through an awkward stage from 12-16 which made me a target for bullying. When I was 16 I came in to myself and I was bullied for the way I looked. I was called a slut and a whore.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I am currently working on a fiction novel about bullying and teen suicide. I have just begun but I hope it takes shape soon.
Which writers inspire you?
I am inspired most by those that write memoirs. I think that sharing your story is so admirable and can be such an inspiration for others.
Where can we buy or see your works?
My memoir is available as an e-book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple’s ITunes bookstore.
What do you hope the reader can gain from your book and experience?
I hope for those that read my book recognize the strength in their own story. Everyone has experienced some sort of trauma or pain and the fact that they are still here to tell that story is incredible. I hope my readers feel inspired to share their story as I have shared mine.
What was the most rewarding thing about this accomplishment, now that you have over a year since the publication?
The most rewarding part of being published is being able to travel all over the country telling my story at schools. I have met some incredible young people who are struggling with bullying and suicide who I am able to speak with and learn from. They have shown me true strength in adversity.
Of all of your cruel experiences, what one piece of advice or statement can you give others to live by?
My advice is to remember that no matter what anyone says or does; your life is incredibly valuable. You are here for a reason. You are not an accident or a mistake. You are meant for wonderful things.
Of everything mentioned in the book, what was the single-handed worst experience or comment you have experienced and been subjected to?
The worst thing was the cyberbullying because it was 24/7/365. I was cyberbullied on my birthday, Christmas morning, and our family vacations to Disney World. The times in my life that were supposed to be the most wonderful were tainted with humiliation and pain. It was inescapable.
If you could speak to that person today what would you say?
I would tell those people that I forgive them for what they have done, not because they deserve forgiveness but because I deserve peace.
How much of a direct correlation do you feel bullying plays in depression and suicide in young adults?
I believe there is a direct correlation between bullying and mental health and suicide. I was mentally healthy until the bullying started. I then found myself to be depressed and suicidal. I hated myself because my classmates hated me. When the bullying ceased, I began to feel better. I worked on my self-esteem and changed the thoughts I held about myself.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about?
The initial cover was a photo of me when I was 12 with the word UGLY written across my face. The publisher then designed a new cover which is the current one. I am often asked if I am the girl on the cover but it just looks like me!
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Absolutely, the girl on the cover of my book is clearly in pain and distraught. The cover really captures how I felt at that time in my life.
Are your sales contributed to any charity or certain cause?
I use the profits from my book sales to attend conferences on bullying so that I can stay informed about the best practices when working with bullying victims.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine, its not their journey to make sense of. Its yours.
What is your favorite quote?
“When you do something beautiful and nobody noticed, don’t be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.” John Lennon
Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I hope to have my clinical license as a social worker and have my own therapy practice working with adolescents.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself that the pain I was feeling then would make sense in the future.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write even if you think you have nothing to say. Everyone has lived a life rich with adventure, heartache, and hope. That is the formula for a great book-so go write it!
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Readers can check out my website: www.KateMacHugh.com
Facebook: Kate MacHugh
Lnkedin: Kate MacHugh
Pinterest: Katie Grace
Amazon Author Page: Kate MacHugh
Book Links: http://www.youthlight.com/product.php?id=2895