What Childhood Bullying Does to You in Later Life
Written by Anne Carty
We live in a world where almost every single person has become a victim of bullying whether they are four years or eighty years old. Before I get into this post I want to make sure that each and every one of you understands that you did not deserve any of that treatment. Bullies do these things to make themselves feel better because a lot of the time they have been through severe abuse or trauma themselves. Unfortunately, this is how the world works, people put others down to make themselves feel good. It is really sad to think that people who have hurt you have been hurt themselves, anger and hurt is all they understand but it can be very hard to forgive and forget what they put you through.
It can be easy to make excuses: “they were only kids”, “they didn’t know what they were saying”, “maybe I was too quiet or looked like a boy and they were just telling the truth”. No, it would be okay to make those excuses if it happened once and it never happened again. Bullying is anything from name calling, physical assault, exclusion, things being put online about you and so much more. We aren’t born bad, kids just learn from the people around them and if those people are jerks it makes sense that those kids would turn out to be bullies.
Being bullied throughout your childhood can cause problems for you in your adult life. Although bullying seems like a normal thing that happens, it isn’t! No one deserves to be beaten, frightened or called names for being who they are. How many times have you heard the sayings “boys will be boys “ and “girls will be girls”? I’m betting so many times that you’ve lost count. Am I right?
From a young age we have been taught to minimize our complaints against others who have hurt us and we have also been taught in school that telling someone about your problems is not allowed. No tattle tales are tolerated in many classrooms. You know why? Because teachers put it down to kids will be kids and don’t want to deal with bullying or children being upset. That’s bullshit! That’s telling us that our feelings don’t matter! Childhood bullying can destroy you and leave you with a lot of problems in later life. While I was in class I was standing up to reach for one of my school books and when I went to sit back down a boy pulled the chair out from under me and I smashed my head off the chair and also the floor. Of course being an eight year old child I cried because it hurt and what did my teacher do? She told me to “Shut up and go outside to wait for my father.” I got kicked out of my classroom and sent home because my teacher didn’t want to hear me cry. That’s not how a teacher should act no matter what age their pupils are.
Being bullied can lead to trust issues. It can become difficult to trust people in your life or new people who come into your life. Having trust issues is a defense mechanism that is not very healthy. We build walls around ourselves that is very hard for people to get through. I have trust issues and find it difficult to let new people into my life.
While I was in school, I had a group of friends. I was happy and school was my safe place from my abusive house. Suddenly they turned against me and started to bully me. I was betrayed by people who I believed were my friends and wouldn’t hurt me. After my best friends betrayed me... I decided that I would not let anyone betray me ever again. To this day I am still very weary around new people and struggle really hard to make friends. My best friend is my boyfriend. It took a lot for me to begin opening up to him and letting him into my life. It took almost two years before I felt comfortable discussing my depression and anxiety with him. It can be hard to trust and open up to people after they have betrayed you, but the people who deserve it will stay with you and work to gain your trust.
It can be very difficult to put yourself out there in social situations, especially when you have been bullied. Being antisocial means that you are very unsocial and you don’t want to be around other people. You are more comfortable on your own than with others. Although I have always been shy and uncomfortable around new people, it got even worse after being bullied.
I stopped getting involved in class discussions, I refused to go to parties or any school activities like tours, I dropped off the sports teams because I couldn’t trust anyone and my anxiety would go through the roof if I was in those sorts of situations.
Mental Health Problems
Research in 2013 has proved that being bullied leaves you with a high risk of developing mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Approximately 20% of people who have been bullied experience some kind of mental health problems later in life. Although my depression and anxiety stems from child abuse it also worsened during the times I was being bullied. Everyday I live with depression and anxiety even though I am not in those situations anymore. These mental illnesses never go away but can be eased by medication and/or therapy.
Although I graduated from high school I technically dropped out in my final year. I physically could not attend and sit in a bunch of classrooms with people who were cruel and betrayed me. I would become very aggressive towards my family each morning before I left for school, the dread of walking down the driveway to my school would weigh me down so much I felt like I was suffocating, tears would build in my eyes and I was on the verge of having panic attacks all before I even walked into the school building.
Due to this, it was in my best interests that I stayed home and did all my school work from home. This somewhat helped with my anxiety but to this day I still struggle every single day. The chain reaction for skipping school and trying to study from home was that I wasn’t learning anything new and in turn my grades resulted in a huge decrease. After all that, I wasn’t able to get into college.
Low self-esteem is a lack of confidence and feeling badly about yourself. Many people with low self esteem feel unlovable, awkward, incompetent and very sensitive. When we hear things over and over and over again our brains tend to take things as fact and written in stone. For years I was called “fat”, “ugly”, “miss piggy” daily that I started to believe that these things were true. Any time I looked in the mirror, I saw myself as fat, ugly and could see how my nose looked like a pig nose.
Bullying is one of the many causes, but there are many other common causes of low self-esteem. How can we fix and improve our low self-esteem? By:
Challenging those negative thoughts when they arise
Getting help with the trauma you have been through
Finding more positive people to be around, if that’s possible
Stress is a normal part of life but it can become very dangerous when this it turns toxic. After that, it’s not about the cause but the chronic and ongoing nature of stress. Toxic stress can affect any person across many ages and situations but the younger the mind the more damaging effects it can have. It can cause many problems to children such as
Learning, memory and emotional problems.
Increased vulnerability to addiction such as alcohol or drug use, which is used to help numb those emotional problems and forget about the childhood trauma they endured.
Over-reactivity and hypersensitivity to possible threats. I do this so much! If a person moves too quickly around me I flinch and cower away from them.
Compromised immune system. When stress hormones like cortisol surge through the body frequently it shuts down the capacity of the immune system to respond to foreign invaders.
As you can see, bullying can affect you in so many ways later in life. It is important that you recognize these signs and get some help as soon as possible. Therapy can be a great way to discuss these emotions and trauma.It can help you learn how to cope with these problems and start living a better and happier life.
Anne is from Ireland who is now made a huge move across the world to New Zealand. She is also an assistant at Quiet Nonsense and runs her own blog www.foreverthewanderer.ie with topics including travel, mental health and so much more. Anne dreams of/ is working towards becoming a professional blogger. She wants to teach people how to live happier and healthier lifestyle through the above topics on her own blog and on The Quiet Nonsense. Anne has also been creating content on YouTube so if you are more of a YouTube watcher make sure you check her out!