MAUMEE, OH (WTOL) - She had a knife in her locker, bound and determined to use it. It was time to stand up for herself.
Ilyana Martens, a former Maumee student, recalls the day she brought a weapon to school nearly 20 years ago.
Like so many of us, Martin's initial reaction to the shooting in Florida was shock and sadness. But in recent weeks, as more local threats have surfaced, she's felt compelled to speak up about what she thinks is the real problem.
"We just sit there and 'thoughts and prayers' ,'thoughts and prayers','' Martens said. "We do this vicious circle. We forget about it, and it happens again, and it's 'Oh thank God it wasn't my kids.' And 'thoughts and prayers' again and we don't want to discuss anything about what the real problem is."
In the weeks following another mass school shooting and subsequent threats across the country, we've all heard arguments about reforming gun control, tightening school security, and even arming teachers. Martens said the real issue is deeper.
"Each and every one of us are the problem. It's the way that we interact with each other. It's the words that we choose to say, and we take our freedom way too far," she explained.
Martens is grateful her darkest thoughts never became reality.
"I can see myself grabbing a knife, and going after the child, and being way way back behind myself, like I'm watching myself in a dream and wanting to reach out and grab myself. Because I'm a kind person. I am a hippie, if you will. I don't care I'm a kind person. I don't resolve things that way," she said. "But I was ready to kill him. And in that moment, nothing else seemed more justified for the way I had been treated."
For many, a yearbook represents cherished memories or a rite of passage. But for Martens, its pages are filled with pain.
"I was picked on a lot. I was tormented when I was younger."
Martens said she was called names and had food thrown at her while she tried eating alone in the lunchroom. She said most of the other students were ashamed to be her friend, seeing the way she was treated.
"Yearly I would probably have at least a dozen notes that were slipped into my locker or my bookbag telling me I should just commit suicide. That it was the best option for me, that I didn't deserve to live," Martin said. "No one wanted to see me. No one wanted to have to deal with me."
Martens was in a vicious cycle of depression and weight gain.
"I was too fat to be a normal person. I was equivalent to three people is what they would say and it was heartbreaking."
Martens said she was put on pharmaceuticals for depression. But they made her thoughts worse and even unrecognizable.
"I'd cry and I'd eat, and I'd cry. And then they put me on drugs, and I wanted everyone to pay. I wanted everyone to answer for the way they had treated me and what they had done to me. I felt vengeful, I was angry, and I wanted them to understand what they did to me. And if they weren't going to understand, they were going to burn with me. Period," Martens explained.
Martens remembered the day she brought a weapon to school clearly.
"I felt like I deserved it. Through and through in my heart. And that is a scary feeling. That's not something any child should have to endure, let alone understand,let alone stop," said Martens.
But she was stopped. And now as a parent, with a new perspective, she wants to spread a message of acceptance.
"A lot of people who tormented and picked on me, buried what they did. And now they're shouting from the rooftops, 'not my kids, not my kids.' If your kids are going and being mean, you're perpetuating the cycle, you're not stopping it. Stop it," Martens said.
She wants more done than just "See, something-say something." Add "Do something,"even if it's just spreading kindness.
"I spent my entire childhood feeling like I wasn't worthy of friends, I wasn't worthy of love, and I wasn't worthy of protection. We have to learn to accept others for who they are. Because if we don't, we're going to destroy each other," she explained. "We are only playing into the hands of the destruction and the division. From government down to our children. Nothing is sacred anymore," Martens said with a tear rolling down her cheek.