Getting Over Bullying in School
Bullying is the repetitive intention to cause physical or emotional harm and hurt or to intimidate and coerce someone perceived as vulnerable. No matter how you look at the reality of bullying, the effects on the person at the receiving end are never straightforward and can often have a lasting damaging impact on their self-esteem. Unfortunately, bullying has historically been connected with school and education at a time when children are learning their place in the world. In fact, a recent study by YouGov found that ‘four in ten children’ were worried about returning to school in September 2018 as a result of bullying. Still today nearly half of children and adolescents will experience some form of bullying during their time in the education system. Kids in primary and high school sometimes have to face others belittling them, mocking them and calling them names. The abuse and torment from bullies can often switch between mental and physical, though both leave an equally deep scar on the victim’s mental health in adult life. Many people find that even in their 30s or 40s, they can still feel the effects of bullying that happened in their childhood impacting on their social interactions, self-confidence and overall feelings of happiness.
Read on to learn more about how bullying can alter your life and mental health, and how you can help overcome the trauma you faced.
Impact on Mental Health
When you face harassment and bullying at school, moving on from it in adult life can be hard. In those formative years in childhood and adolescence, we rely so heavily on our peers to understand our place in the world and to work out who we are. When we are repeatedly made to feel worthless, uncool and ‘different’ it leaves a severe negative mental imprint that can surface in the form of depression, anxiety or low self-confidence and have a detrimental effect on our adult lives. Mental health issues can leave you feeling unwilling to connect with friends and family in fear of suffering the same hurt you faced years before. In the worst case scenarios, victims of bullying become reclusive and want to stay inside all the time alone, which only deepens the grip depression can take.
Many people who were bullied during their school years grow-up with self-confidence issues as a direct result of the torment they faced. Being told you are not good enough nearly every day of your young life can have a profound impact on your sense of self-worth and leave you questioning your validity. You won’t see yourself as beautiful or handsome, as smart and intelligent or, possibly – as even worth being alive. Tragically, sometimes suicidal thoughts can arise, making it even more difficult to overcome your mental health problems. A national bullying survey discovered the shocking statistic that still today, 40% of young people who reported being bullied experienced thoughts of suicide and 39% of young people in the survey had self-harmed as a result of their bullying. This is an appaling reality, and if you too have suffered at the hands of bullying and experienced suicidal thoughts then it is imperative that you seek help and advice on how to overcome these false ideas that the bullies have tormented you with.
Physical Symptoms of Mental Health Issues
People facing mental health issues don’t only have emotional pain, but physical pain also. Unlike migraines, depression-related headaches don’t prevent your daily functioning. They are described as ‘tension headaches’ and often occur around the eyebrows and are a mild throbbing sensation. Over-the-counter medication like paracetamol can help, but recurring headaches can be a sign of a major depressive disorder.
Muscle aches can often be associated with symptoms of depression or psychological issues. A 2017 Canadian study of 1,013 students found a direct association between depression and backaches. A further 2015 study showed a correlation between people with depression and those suffering a decreased pain tolerance. Five years earlier, a study indicated that pain has a more significant impact on people who are depressed.
The unsettling feeling in your stomach is one of the clearest signs of depression, though most people will dismiss it as gas or menstrual pain. However, when feeling stressed or anxious, pain in this area is common, indicating poor mental health. All of these physical ailments can arise when we have trauma in our past, such as bullying that remains unresolved.
When you face bullying, you often want to avoid the situation altogether and stay away from school. However, avoiding school can lead to more problems in your adult life. Missing the critical stages of your education can leave you without the necessary knowledge for life like simple maths, English and science. Early education like primary and secondary school are vital for helping children find an aptitude in a subject which could benefit their later lives. Missing out on this could mean they enter adult life with no aspirations or ideas of what they want to do.
Schools also create an environment for social interaction which helps shape us and develop us for the adult world. Missing out on this can leave you without the social skills needed to make friends, find a job and other necessary interactions as an adult.
Bullying can leave you feeling powerless and helpless, feelings which can carry over into adulthood and have an adverse impact on your life. You can go on in life feeling like a victim and giving up control to everyone else. If you want to move on from the bullying and the impact it has on your adult life, then you need to reclaim control of your emotions and thoughts. You need to realise that you have the power to control your reactions to your past and make healthier life choices that can help you move on from the bullying. Start to accept and recognise what happened to you, and when you face situations that remind you of it or bring on depression or anxiety, control your reaction. Don’t run and hide in fear, but instead acknowledge that part of your life and work on making your current life better. Recognise the reality that many bullies actually turn to bullying because of their own insecurities and their need to feel powerful and in control. Many bullies, though not all, have experienced problems at home which can manifest into cruelty towards others. Their past perceptions of you are not reality, but their own way of dealing with their own insecurities. Remember that only you are in control of how you see yourself – choose not to listen to them but to yourself.
Understand You Have Value
The lack of self-esteem caused by bullying can often leave you feeling worthless and believing the lies others have said about your lack of value. You need to reject those lies that you have been told and start discovering your confidence and worth. Replace everything you heard with the truth and focus on learning about the fantastic things that make up you. You can start with a simple exercise: write down all of the things you deem your positive characteristics. Any personality traits you think are good? Any talents you possess? What do others say they like about you? Focus only on the positive, and you can start to see a real change in the way you look at yourself.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
Whether you are recovering from depression, anxiety or other mental health issues brought on from your bullying, maintaining a connection with your friends and family is a necessity. Instead of isolating yourself like many victims of bullying do, you need to open yourself to support from those around you. Family can help validate your worth, be the listening ear you need and help you to deal with the after-effects of bullying. Having a group of people who understand what you went through and are willing to help, can make overcoming the trauma of your past much more natural and smoother.
Seek Outside Help
Sometimes, healing from childhood trauma requires help from outside your inner circle. You need someone with an objective perspective and expertise in this area of mental health to help you assess and overcome any depression or anxiety-related feelings. Therapists understand how to encourage you to accept and acknowledge the past so that you may overcome it and the negative emotions it produces. As experts, they will be able to tell you any unhealthy reactions you are having and instead give advice on how you can control your emotions.
Bullying can have an impact on your mental health that leads on even into adult life. Social situations can be hard, education can take a hit, and your self-confidence can be non-existent. Speaking with a counsellor can make your road to recovery much easier and help you find happiness in your mental health once again. Feel free to contact me today if you wish to learn more about my services.