Bullying: an adults private shame – a taboo subject that needs eradicating

It’s time to talk day and I want to share my own private story relating to bullying and how it has affected me.

For as long as I can remember I have always been subject to some form of bullying. First it started in the playground with the typical name calling. I was called spotty a lot because at the age of 8 I had developed horrendous acne that would remain with me until my mid-twenties.

Then in high school I was bullied for a number of other reasons including; having blonde hair and been good at maths and science. I succumbed to peer pressure and asked my mum to dye my gorgeous blonde locks brown in an irrational attempt to fit in. Did it work? No I just got bullied even more. I should point out my mum had no idea as to the reasons for dyeing my hair other than I told her I fancied a change. Name calling had advanced from spotty to E=MC2, point dexter and ironing board (for my lack of chest growth).

Between the ages of 11-16 I endured this name calling and even physical assaults from my personal items been taken and having acid poured on them to having a bottle of cola poured over my head whilst sat in a French class. Nothing was ever said to my parents by the school and teachers showed little to no interest and tried to shrug such behaviours off as ‘normal’.

So as you can imagine high school was a lonely and miserable place except for a couple of close friends. I longed for college where I thought some of the pre-adultescent behaviour would disappear. No, it just followed me. When I turned 17 I signed up for the military to escape my home city and at the age of 18 after completing my A-levels (my back up plan) I officially enlisted.

The bullying settled for a while but then during the middle of basic training it started and this time by a group of younger girls all because I had started to see my boyfriend (now loving husband). I was bullied in the most awful way – these girls made up stories about me to my boyfriend. Things like I was cheating etc but that came to a head one weekend when one of the culprits telephoned my boyfriend (whilst I was in the shower in the next room) to say they had seen me in town with another bloke. Finally, the ring-leader of these stories was caught out! I am still thankful to this day that my boyfriend stood by me and believed every word I said and not that of the others.

The final event of my military bullying came when I joined the main service (completed all training). My so called colleagues just didn’t like me because I got on with the job and found it easy. I didn’t go out drinking every night with them or gamble my money away at the casino. I was on a path to fast track promotion when I let the bullying get to me. I was locked in small cupboards in the dark. Tied to chairs with duct tape. Had my hair cut. Had people pour unknown fluids onto my bed, deface my photographs and steal parts of my uniform. I was an utter reck. I took to drinking and not in a positive way! I was probably one step from been sent to rehab when I realised I had a problem and quit cold turkey. Nowadays I hardly drink and when I do, a couple is more than enough to keep me happy. I know my limits and to me that’s a big thing. A bottle of Barcardi at 08:00 was my pre-work pick me up. I took drastic action and left the military to pursue an alternative career. Which I’m proud to say I have stuck with for over a decade and I’m good at it and recognised for my achievements.

That doesn’t mean my story of bullying stopped. No I was once again bullied but this time in a new work environment. A colleague would delete my work off the server and say I hadn’t done anything (thankfully I’d always have a back up on my desktop as proof). I was also refrained from going on site visits because I lacked experience yet the receptionist with absolutely zero experience and joined the team went out on day one (probably because they were friends with the boss). Some days I’d walk into work and from the reception I’d hear them talking about me in a very negative way. I really started to doubt myself and my abilities. Clearly as a human being there was something wrong with me. I was 21 and had endured bullying for 13 years. I quit that job and started with the company who I’ve been with for nearly a decade. I enjoy what I do and I know it is stressful and your not always there to be liked but the bullying seems to have stopped. I feel much more at peace with life and enjoy going to work.

If I could speak to my younger self and give myself one piece of advice it would be to tell someone about the bullying and insist something be done.

My experiences led me to believe that the more successful you are the more likely you are to be bullied. It’s obviously a ridiculous idea however, it’s the only thought process that brings me peace about my past. I am also not saying my current success is a result of the years of bullying but at least I can hold my head high and know that everything I’ve done has led to where I am now. So don’t pity me, give me sympathy if anything feel sorry for the fools that didn’t win. I’m still standing, yes they wore me down in some places and won some battles but I’m winning the war.

If like me you’ve suffered years of bullying speak out. However, don’t do it to belittle your bullies otherwise you just become one. Raise awareness and prevent bullying in the first place.

Katherine xo

WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY 10 SEPTEMBER 2018

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World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on September 10 each year to promote worldwide action to prevent suicides. Various events and activities are held during this occasion to raise awareness that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death.

World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on September 10 each year to promote worldwide action to prevent suicides. Various events and activities are held during this occasion to raise awareness that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death.

What do people do?

World Suicide Prevention Day gives organizations, government agencies and individuals a chance to promote awareness about suicide, mental illnesses associated with suicide, as well as suicide prevention. Organizations such as the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and World Health Organization (WHO) play a key role in promoting this event.

Events and activities for World Suicide Prevention Day include:

  • The launch of new government initiatives to prevent suicide.
  • Conferences, open days, educational seminars or public lectures.
  • Media programs promoting suicide awareness and prevention.
  • Memorial services or candlelight ceremonies to remember those who died from suicide.
  • Organizing cultural or spiritual events, fairs or exhibitions.
  • Launches of publications about suicide awareness and prevention.
  • Training courses about suicide and depression awareness.

Many of these initiatives are celebrated in various countries worldwide. Some of these events and activities are held at a local level, while others are nation-wide. Many communities around the world reaffirm their commitment to suicide prevention on World Suicide Prevention Day.

Background

Nearly 3000 people on average commit suicide daily, according to WHO. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives. About one million people die by suicide each year. Suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death which is influenced by psycho-social, cultural and environmental risk factors that can be prevented through worldwide responses that address these main risk factors. There is strong evidence indicating that adequate prevention can reduce suicide rates.

World Suicide Prevention Day, which first started in 2003, is annually held on September 10 each year as an IASP initiative. WHO co-sponsors this event. World Suicide Prevention Day aims to:

  • Raise awareness that suicide is preventable.
  • Improve education about suicide.
  • Spread information about suicide awareness.
  • Decrease stigmatization regarding suicide.

WHO and IASP work with governments and other partners to ensure that suicide is no longer stigmatized, criminalized or penalized. WHO’s role is to build political action and leadership to develop national responses to prevent suicide, strengthen national planning capacity to establish the core building blocks of such a national response, and build the national capacities to implement these responses.

How can you get involved?

This year is the first WSPD with the theme “Working Together to Prevent Suicide.”  This theme will be retained for WSPD in 2019 and 2020. We have chosen this theme as it highlights the most essential ingredient for effective global suicide prevention- collaboration. We all have a role to play and together we can collectively address the challenges presented by suicidal behaviour in society today.  On September 10th, join with us and many others across the world who are playing their part in the prevention of suicide. Be sure to involve or invite other local organisations and collaborators to organise an event to mark WSPD 2018.

Go to https://iasp.info/wspd2018/ to register and download more information.

Bullying and harassment during pregnancy

Article on bullying and harassment relating to the treatment of pregnant women. Below are some of the comments, statements and feelings that I have either personally experienced during pregnancy or overheard on the train said to other ladies.

Bullying and harassment isn’t about ‘name calling’ it is a lot of things including how you treat someone. If the recipient does not like the statements or treatment this can be classified as bullying. Yes there are times when certain statements need to be made which are unpleasant to hear such as bad news – these aren’t bullying. Statements such as your fat even if you are overweight maybe factually correct but are unnecessary to be continuously mentioned especially if said in a nasty manner (even if the teller thinks their been funny). Remember there’s a time and a place for comments and we all have feelings. Pregnancy exasperates a lot of emotions so us ladies are more prone to feeling upset by things even if before we would laugh off the statement.

1. Been dictated too about what you should eat because you’ll get ‘fat’

There’s two sides to this one being based on medical advice i.e. BMI was high to start with so you should be careful not to put in too much weight on.

The other side is when people won’t let you eat even though you’re hungry because they tell you are fat. Husbands partners who constantly go on about fat instead of praising their glowing beautiful woman who is growing a miracle.

I read an article for partners of pregnant women which said how to make her feel good. On the list was numerous mentions of give her food. Surely that isn’t healthy advice! Yes we are pregnant and there may be days we are starving like our mouths were sewn up but it doesn’t mean you should force feed us. Also there are some ladies that suffer horrendously from sickness all throughout pregnancy and certain foods could make it worse.

2. Not involving pregnant women in activities that are still safe for participation just because she’s pregnant. Believe it or not pregnancy is not an illness and as long as we are physically able we would love to be invited to participate in events. Let us decide whether we can or cannot do something don’t just assume because we’re pregnant we can’t do it. There are some pregnant womenfolk who continue to body build up until they give birth!

3. Social avoidance (similar to the above)

yep a lot of pregnant women regardless of their stage of pregnancy tend to be deliberately excluded from social events. We can go on nights out and still have a good time. Yes we will be drinking virgin cocktails and probably have to get an earlier taxi home but it doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy your drunken company and a boogie on the dance floor. However, don’t use us as designated driver that just makes us to be a convenience factor for your night out.

Some women (and men) just generally avoid pregnant women. The reasons are unknown but it’s like they treat us like someone with a grossly contagious disease. You can’t can’t pregnancy!!

4 constant bump size comments like oh your having twins when your only having one or you look ready to burst and your only 16 weeks gone.

Whatever the reason for the comments why not stop and think before you speak. At the end of the day we are human and have feelings and our hormones make us even more emotionally affected by your comments. We take things to heart quicker after all we’re not made of wood!

5. Been told we shouldn’t expect or receive any special treatment because we’re not ill!

Ok I know I mentioned above pregnancy isn’t an illness but some women do suffer certain pregnancy related illnesses and conditions. All that extra weight you’re carrying eventually hurts your back. You become exhausted quicker, cannot get comfy even sat on the comfiest chair known to man. You’re constantly up and down to the toilet to pass a teaspoons worth of pee. So surely after a few months letting us sit down in the dedicated seats on a train isn’t going to end the world. Let us be able to sit and stand as we choose ie if we operate a till in the supermarket let us have a chair so we can alternate. If we work in an office and sat all day allow us more frequent breaks so we are not sat there 8 solid hours. If we drive for Business don’t expect us to be behind the wheel of the car for the whole pregnancy!

6. Is it a boy or girl, have you picked names – why won’t you share that information

Some women don’t wish to share every detail of their pregnancy with friends and family let alone a total stranger so don’t presume you’ll be told. Also there are some ladies who (like myself) waited a long time to grow a miracle and didn’t want to find out the gender before the birth just to have that extra surprise. Also forgive us if we choose not to tell you the baby names we are deciding on because after all our little miracle might not suit the name and we decide to change it when we meet them for the first time.

7. Unwanted physical contact

Pregnant women are not your personal property! Yes, society in general becomes transfixed on pregnant women, we become the centre of wanted (and unwanted) attention. Strangers walk up to you and congratulate you, some open doors for you and give up their seat whilst others make snide remarks about weight or feel the need to touch your bump. Bump touching has a mixed response in the pregnant lady community some like it but most hate it. How would you like it if we touched your belly and said oh when’s it due when in fact your either a little overweight or have a hernia or something similar. Yes it’s crossing the unseen boundary of personal space yet some just assume that a pregnant woman is no longer entitled to that personal space.

If you are really desperate to touch the bump ASK first don’t just do it. A simple polite enquiry could result in you being able to share a kick from the baby or simply been denied the opportunity in a friendly tone.

8. Announcing the birth or details of the birth before the parents. Ok not directly pregnancy related more about the birth but still important.

The expectant parents have been waiting 9 months to meet their little miracle and have picked names and a going home outfit to dress them in. They may even have booked a newborn photoshoot so they have photos to share when they wish to announce the birth of their son or daughter then a member of the family or a friend announces the birth first. Boom! Magic has left the room, the expectant parents then feel rushed into announcing the birth sooner than they liked. In this modern society a lot of people demand to know every detail of someone’s live via social media the second it happens but a lot of us want to have a specially few days / weeks of privacy before letting the world know. Don’t take the experience away from the new parents even if you’re over the moon with excitement for them. It’s their child let them announce in their own time.

Oh and don’t demand every detail of their child’s birth or even a photo. If the parents want to share that they’ll tell you!

The above isn’t an exhaustive list but just a few items that are pet peeves to most pregnant women. Please feel free to share your pet peeves in the comments below.

Katherine xo

World Mental Health Awareness Day 2017 – male depression

Well it wouldn’t be a mental health awareness blog without some more mental health awareness would it 😊

Today is mental awareness awareness day or 10th October 2017 to the rest of you. This day is used to help raise awareness of a multitude of areas connected to mental health. It isn’t a day to start pointing the finger at people and calling them names!!

At some point you or someone you know will suffer from a mental health illness. Whether it is stress, depression, anxiety or something much more. We all need to to work together to tackle the stigma. Mental health illness does not make you weak or inferior. It doesn’t just affect women a lot of men suffer in silence afraid of what others may think. Guys if real men wear pink then even realer men reveal their emotions! Go on let out a cry if you need too and talk to someone about it!

I am using today to raise awareness of men’s suffering. Why should they suffer? What makes them different from women? Well to be honest I can’t personally speak for every man out there and clearly I’m not one but I suspect it comes down to gender stereotyping. Men are expected to be all macho and never reveal their emotions – well perhaps dodgy humour is permitted in some circumstances. However, generally the ‘man of the house’ is to be the bread winner, the one who chairs his household like a godfather. Everyone comes to him with their problems and he has all the answers. Well the truth is men you’re not so dissimilar to us women. We’re ‘expected’ to know the answers (think childcare etc), were suppose to keep the house together (housework).

We shouldn’t conform to any gender stereotyping we should just be who we want to be. Some women are more dominant in their family and the men more care givers. Nothing wrong with this!!!

Men you can cry, laugh and shout out loud. You are allowed to have breakdowns although we’d prefer it that you seek help before that happens. You can feel insecure about your body (by the way the ideal man in most women’s eyes isn’t some 6ft body builder, most of us like a man with the six pack in the fridge). You can feel down in the dumps, stressed etc just talk to someone. Communication is key to getting better. You wouldn’t leave a broken foot unseen so don’t try to stick a plaster over your mind and assume it will heal by itself.

I’m obviously no mental health expert or therapist but I encourage people to just talk to their peers. I can guarantee you are not the only one in your friendship circle to be suffering in silence.

Possible triggers (no particular order):

  • Marriage / relationship breakdown
  • Domestic violence
  • Abuse
  • Bullying / harassment
  • Redundancy
  • Illness
  • Bereavement
  • Self esteem / body issues
  • Change in family (new baby, marriage)
  • Parents divorcing
  • Alcohol or something balance abuse

Nothing above is any different for a man or woman to suffer depression it’s just men don’t talk about it.

Us women are great talkers (ok not all of us), we have a natter with our girlies and generally try to put the world to rights over a cuppa tea. Men you tend to kick a ball around or have a pint or two but not generally talk feelings it’s more shop talk (sex, that woman’s boobs, tv, sport etc). Now correct me if I’m wrong but it’s rare that’s I’ve known men to have a heart to heart with the lads about their marriage breakdown, girlfriend troubles, erectile dysfunction, grief etc. You seem to pop those issues on a shelf to gather dust and let it get worse and worse. Why? I would really like for you to reach out to me and explain why. Is it because you are deeply private individuals or is there more to it. Is it more to do with gender stereotyping that men shouldn’t talk about these things? In today’s society I believe men and women are equal to talk about their feelings. It’s natural to talk (some more than others). If the second in line to be king of England can share his feelings with the nation then surely you can open up to your best mate. Even if you don’t want to talk to your wife / girlfriend or partner at least chat to your bestie that’s what friends are for. True friends won’t judge you and probably relate to you more than you think. It’s like that old age phrase ask the question because you can guarantee someone else is thinking the same. There’s also no such thing as a stupid question just one that’s left unanswered.

So men reach out and have a chat with your nearest and dearest (or GP). You’ll not be locked away and thrown in a padded cell for having voices in your head. You can be helped but only if you choose to seek help.

If you’re a man suffering with depression and would like to reach out and share you’re story why not get in contact with me. I could always do with a regular male voice on the blog.

Katherine xo