So I mentioned in a previous post that I was attending counselling sessions to help my mind work a few things out, one subject that has come up time and time again during these sessions is the bullying I went through at school. I never really realised just how much being on the receiving end of bullying has affected my mind and still does to this day. I was bullied in primary school (ages 5-12), and both secondary schools (ages 12-16) some of which involved physical abuse, verbal abuse and some extortion for good measure. I remember very vividly how this bullying was dealt with at my various schools and remember it not being a pleasant experience. Recently some new information has come my way that has quite frankly shocked me and I wanted to share it with you.
Put yourself in my position for a bit. As a young boy I was not brimming full of confidence (I’m still that way), I remember being very quiet, very selective about who I spoke to and quite solitary. Much of which is still the same but I now have a better understanding of myself and that helps me take a bit of a different perspective on it. Sadly children (and humans in general) will pick out difference in people and use it to point the finger and find a weakness and use that weakness to their advantage. I never really fought back on the bullies, I never really stood up for myself unless it became physical, even then I would rather walk away from people and that is still the case today, you could call me non-confrontational or as the bullies put it “chicken”. If I had started writing about my experiences while I was young it may of been a better way for me to communicate because even though my parents and school knew it was happening I’m fairly sure that they don’t know to what extent. The facts are always hard to swallow and despite my parents trying to help I kept most of the problems to myself. In a recent conversation with my Mum I learned that she took me to the doctor to see what he would say. Dr C was our family GP and had been at least since I was born and I remember him being generally a nice man, he saw me a lot as a child as I had lots of problems with ear infections. According to my Mum I went into the doctors office in a bit of a state. I think Mum was looking to Dr C to have some sort of influence on me, she told me that he said “If I ever see you in this state again, I will hit you”.
Let me just let that sink in a bit, the doctor threatened to hit a kid who was already being bullied. Now I’m not sure what was going through his mind at the time, it might of been something like that I was not listening to my parents and since I had a relationship with him maybe his threat would get through to me in fact he went on to say that I need to “Stand up for myself”. Needless to say it didn’t have any impact on me and things didn’t change. I don’t remember this conversation at all with him but I can only imagine what sort of impact that had on me. If a doctor did this in todays society he probably would be struck off but this I guess was so called “tough love” and obviously he did not know the understanding I needed and still to this day need.
I am sure that any school as much as they want to stamp it out they cannot stop bullying happening but what they need to do is look at how they deal with it. I can tell you from experience that any young person going through this will not do what is logical and expected of them and you have to treat all cases of it differently. For me this would of been understanding how I felt, understanding that no matter what I did I felt threatened which may of gained my trust at that point in time. From there how they deal with the situation is important to a young person and believe me a full on confrontation is not the best cause of action. The last thing I wanted at that time was to be labelled a ‘grass‘, having already been labelled as weak, solitary and different, I didn’t need any more attention, in fact I remember going out of my way to be less noticeable which isolated me more which actually made matters worse. Today I still battle with the thoughts of being bullied, they have stuck with me. I think this sometimes shows itself as self harm and not believing in myself. I have in the past been my own worst bully by believing the thoughts that I am useless and not worthy which has really not helped with my depression. It takes a lot of effort to negate those thoughts and I wish it would come easier, I am thinking that if it had been dealt better during those early years it would not be so hard now, I can certainly say that it’s traumatic for a young person to have to go through this.
These days I hate to see bullies in action, be it in the workplace, with children or elsewhere. I don’t see what the point is in making another human being feel this bad about themselves. So what is my advice? Well there is a lot more help out there now, organisations like Childline and both the UK & US government have released information and offer help to combat this. So if like me you feel that you could not talk to a parent or teacher then I would advise you give one of them a look and they will help you get to the next stage. I would like to at some point maybe volunteer some of time to one such organisation and by doing so it might even help me with my own problems.