Bullying has had a profound effect on me during my life, both as an adolescent at high school and as an adult in the workplace. Recent studies into the effects of bullying are only starting to realise the true effects of it, in terms of the psychological impact that it has on people and the subsequent mental health problems that can arise. Bulling is a growing threat, particularly with the young. Recent surveys from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that bullying affects 20% of high school students, and with the advent of social media 16% of high school students. Surveys conducted by the CDC found that 33% of students aged between 12 to 18 reported bullying at school and 27% of students aged between 12 to 18 reported incidents of cyberbullying at least once or twice a month. Middle schools reported an alarming 25% of students experiencing cyberbullying at least once a week. I experienced 5 years of bullying at high school, then a further 2 years at sixth form college. The bullying mainly consisted of name calling and spreading of rumours about me that I was homosexual. I did experience physical bullying too, from being spat to being punched in the stomach. This was before the days of the internet so at least I didn’t have to endure cyberbullying, having said that I got bullied by my step father when I came home. He was jealous of my academic achievements and the close bond that I had with my mother. The bullying that I got from him mainly consisted of snide comments, he also tried to turn the rest of my family against me by convincing them that I had an Oedipus complex.
Bullying has both short term and long-term consequences for an individual. Some of the short-term consequences are poor academic performance. More longer-term consequences are anxiety, depression, increase risk of suicide, PTSD, poor general health and self-harming. For me the main consequence was anxiety. I felt terribly alone and I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I became more and more withdrawn and developed safety behaviours, walking home a particular way so as to avoid certain people. My co-ordination also deteriorated, I would be frequently clumsy and drop things, much to the annoyance of family members. My heart started to race too during situations that I did find comfortable and I began to sweat. All in all, it was both perplexing and terrifying. My anxiety provided the bullies with further ammunition to bully me even more, as they could tell that their bullying tactics were working, my anxiety gave them more ammunition to bully me further.
Having anxiety that was caused by childhood bullying caused problems for me later in life. I was getting physically ill more often, I used to get colds very frequently that would last up to two weeks at a time. I had problems in the work place too, holding down a job was difficult as my anxiety would inhibit me from being able to do my job correctly and quickly. I would get bullied for this by line managers which would make my anxiety all the worse. They couldn’t understand why I was taking time to do tasks. I was getting insults thrown at me from across the room. In the end I couldn’t tolerate it and I had to leave. This happened with several jobs.
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