What’s this? A new series? Oh my. Yeah, welcome to Mental Health Myths. I have no idea how frequent this series will be, likely I’ll make new videos etc as and when subjects occur or irritate me into action. This week I’m talking about a subject close to my heart: bullying.
Specifically, I’m talking about those bullshit memes people post wherein someone claims that ‘Being bullied made me strong!’ – in complete contradiction to the actual fucking recorded facts that conclusively prove that the very last thing bullying usually does is promote strength in the target.
Last time I looked at the facts, they suggested that a worrying number of people who experience bullying of any kind go on to suffer from depression, anxiety, difficulty in relationships, difficulty in work – generally having a bit of a disastrous and messed up life.
Those memes ( and the people who post them up) want to suggest that if you experience bullying and have any other response than to become strong or ‘man/woman up’ and deal with your shit alone, you are somehow weak AKA pathetic AKA worthy of contempt. That’s a nice little fairy tale they’re telling themselves there. Delightful taste of bullshit.
The facts do not bear out this mythology. The facts state that the harmful effects of bullying (depression/suicide/self harm/eating disorders/emotional problems/truanting and therefore losing education/running away and becoming even more vulnerable etc etc et fucking cetera) are on the rise.
In other words, the problem is escalating, and pardon me if I place a good solid portion of the blame on the perpetuation of the myth that bullying is a ‘rite of passage’ or ‘harmless nonsense all children face’ or ‘something you just need to tough through’ or else you’re ‘weak and victiminsing yourself’. Bullying is not harmless. If you look at the facts alone it’s obvious that bullying in truth is harmful as all hell.
The fact (again, that lovely word FACT) is that those who survive, those whose damage is fixed, whose self esteem is restored, whose strength is regained are those who are SUPPORTED. Those whose circumstances change for the better. If for whatever reason a child slips through the gaps (and many do) they will go on to be in that ever growing statistic of long term sufferers whose lives disentangle. They will fail to thrive.
To leave them to that fate because they weren’t ‘strong enough’ to recover alone is unconscionable and cruel. It betrays only a selfish interest in the perpetuation of crass falsehoods that allow people to pretend nothing is ever really that bad, that those who seem to have been destroyed aren’t really broken, they’re only ‘weak’, and if they’re weak then they can be derided and ignored, and maybe the problem will go away.
The problem is not going away. And no amount of anodyne, self-serving, arrogant, self-righteous bullshit memes are going to make it disappear. Bullying is on the rise, and the effects of it are on the rise. We need to stop pretending and start tackling the root causes of it (intolerance/prejudice/socio-economic divides/bigotry/the pressure to fit in etc). Damage is not weakness, it is the natural outcome of being hurt and support, acknowledgement and help are the only correct responses to anyone suffering damage for any reason.
Below I’ve included a load of links for anyone suffering from bullying, or anyone who is bullying because they are suffering (it’s not the answer btw but I won’t disregard kids/people who hurt others because they are hurting – you all need help too). Also these links are for any schools who want to get real and actually do something active about the bullying going on within your student bodies (because let’s face it, most of you have a climate of denial going on despite all the bullying policies and tough talk).