When we think about bullying, the immediate effects include, but are not limited to, low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, isolation, depression, loss of trust; but it’s important to also realize that the effect that bullying has on our brain and our body, goes far beyond the short-term.
I can remember back when I was in late elementary school, and all the way through the end of middle school, I suffered from all of those things in my life, and a few others. Not only was my self-esteem shot and the very thought of going to school each day caused my anxiety to sky-rocket, but I think one of the worst things that I experienced was a feeling of complete loneliness. I felt like there was something wrong with me since I seemed to exist only to be an outlet for others aggression. That kind of intense pressure on a child or young adult causes serious emotional developmental problems, and likely was one of the reasons that I spent a good deal of time in a learning disability center in school. Looking back, I am grateful to those teachers who helped me, but at the time it also served as yet another target on my back.
Even now as an adult and able to take care of myself, I’m not immune to the pangs of childhood trauma memories that surface when I read about a child who’s been beaten up at school, or suffers from bullying at the hands of a sibling.
This topic has become mainstream in the last 10 years or so, with advocacy sites and anti-bullying programs readily available to most anyone who has an internet connection, yet even with all of this access and awareness, this problem still exists. To make matters worse, with the onset of social media, cyberbullying has taken this problem to an entirely new level. In the US alone, 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying, and in a single large study, about 49% of children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month, whereas 30.8% reported bullying others during that time.*
Unfortunately, victims of bullying are 7 to 9 percent more likely to consider suicide, according to a study at Yale University**. In addition, children as young as 6-8 years old have taken their own lives as a result.***
Those statistics are staggering, which why it’s so important for us to understand the long-term effects of bullying and how we can not only help ourselves but also help others who have experienced this type of trauma. Make no mistake, being bullied is a form of trauma.
To help understand how these effects can last well into adulthood, and how to cope and recover, I wanted to talk to an expert and share not only his experiences of being bullied but also his amazing journey of recovery and the work that he’s doing now to help educate youth and their families on this important problem. My good friend and fellow life coach, Alan Eisenberg, recently sat down with me for a chat on this topic, and that is the focus of this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast.
Alan is the founder of BullyingRecovery.org, and organization who’s dedicated to helping those who suffer from the long-term effects of bullying (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or C-PTSD) to find the help they so desperately need by providing media, materials and support for their recovery.
Being a highly sensitive person (HSP), Alan shares how the bullying that he endured between the ages of 8-13 had a tremendously negative impact on his life and how he viewed himself, and others. When we think about highly sensitive people, they can often be an increased target for those who choose to bully. Not only do highly sensitive people take things very personally, they are also very in touch with the feelings on a level that not everyone understands. Hence, that emotionally vulnerable child or young adult, can find it more difficult to stand up for themselves or reach out for help. As a self-professed HSP also, this rang true for me as we talked about our experiences of being targeted by bullies during our school-age years.
We also discuss his struggle with depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, isolation, and many other challenges that came as a result of the intense trauma that occurred during those vulnerable years in his life.
During our chat, we cover the importance of remembering that bullying doesn’t happen in the classroom or hallways alone. It occurs within the home as well, and can go far beyond the typical sibling rivalries and fights that happen between family members. The damage done at home can then carry over into the classroom and manifest itself in the form of academic struggles, and withdrawing from friends as well as the other effects we’ve mentioned.
Remember…bullying is bullying, regardless of where it takes place.
To help tell his story, Alan began writing about his experiences and sharing them online. By doing so, BullyingRecovery.org was created and has blossomed into a hub of resources and information for all those who struggle with the after-effects of bullying. There you can find his podcast, blog posts, publications, and the professional speaking engagements where he shares his story and also strategies for recovery from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) as a result of being bullied.
Not only do we talk about the long-term effects of bullying, but Alan also offers insight and tips that have helped him along his recovery. While everyone’s journey to healing is different, this information is sure to encourage you or someone you know who is on the road to recovery from bullying. From eating right, to getting proper sleep, exercise, limiting our exposure to news media, and more, our chat will offer you valuable information on this important topic.
We cover these topics and more, in depth on the podcast, as Alan shares his expertise and life experiences in support of youth and adults who’ve experienced bullying.
This amazing advocate has also authored two books so far, “A Ladder in the Dark: My journey from bullying to self acceptance” a memoir which tells the story of Alan’s youth of constant bullying that tore away his self-esteem and led to adult C-PTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and also “Crossing the line”, A Cautionary Bullying Tale.
Thank you so much to my colleague and friend, Alan Eisenberg, CLC, for joining me on the show and for the amazing work that he is doing on behalf of all survivors of bullying trauma. I’m honored to help share your message, my friend.
This podcast is one that you don’t want to miss, and please consider sharing it with someone who might benefit from this information. Don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform too!
If you’d like to listen to the podcast that Alan and I did when I was on his show, you can check that out here.
***Source: Alan Eisenberg, CLC
Originally Published on BeyondYourPast.com
Photo: Getty Images