Mental Health Week, as I’m sure you are and hope you are aware of, is this week from the 14th-20th May. Throughout this week I’m sure you will come across many varied and wonderful posts and blogs regarding different aspects and effects of mental health through either first-person perspective or perhaps living with someone that is dealing with a mental difficulty.
I would like to bring a different dance to the party and talk about a form of struggle that I have encountered and witnessed through various stages of my life. People very much underestimate the power of their words and the effects that can be brought on by name-calling and putting someone or even yourself under a banner that may not necessarily be true.
Name calling of any form that isn’t an agreed form of endearment, can only be bullying. And bullying is the 3rd highest cause of mental illness after inheritance and biological.
Just to clarify the differences for anyone that is interested and unsure about where hereditary and biology differ from each other, and how bullying comes in after that, allow me to explain.
Hereditary mental illness is a genetic form of that means if you suffer from any kind of neurosis no matter the scale, it probably runs in your family bloodline somewhere and has, in turn, made it’s way to you. Take comfort in the fact, that you are not alone.
A biological mental dysfunction simply means that there is a slight imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain which are causing the communication between the brain and chemicals in the body not to function as normally as they could. Leading often to conditions of unhealthy or unwell nature mentally. This is nothing to be ashamed of, as in 2014 statistics showed that one in six adults across the UK had a common mental disorder (CMD).
After these two forms come bullying. In an albeit broad sense, but there none the less and not to be ignored or taken lightly.
The title of the next group is Psychological Trauma. According to medicine.net this usually stems from a traumatic experience at a young age, often loss, emotional, physical, or even sexual abuse. Now, to throw bullying into the mix may sound a little light sat next to words such as those above but the effects are just as harsh.
When we hear about bullies, we all huff and sigh, frown a little and shake our heads. No? We stand there and agree about how awful it is and about that tragic case that we heard of with that little girl that was being badly “picked” on by her peers to a suicidal end.
But what do we do about it? Why is it still happening? And why aren’t we doing anything about it?
Recently, a couple of different forms of bullying have come to my attention, and I’ve been asked to weigh in on the subjects and help in some manner.
I would like to make it very clear that I have no training in any form of being a physiatrist or any medical training of any sort. I just research lots and lots before posting anything of this weight and value. All my opinions and views are my own, and all my statics and learning is through the world wide web and it’s most highly acclaimed and trusted sites.
I have a strong belief in the power of words and the driving force behind them. From being told “you can’t do that” and then making a point of defeating that challenge. From watching others be told that they have to do something that they planned to do anyway and watching their faces fall as now they feel that free will is taken away and instead they are put in reigns and are under someone else’s rule. And from reading about all the terrible cases of schoolyard name calling that causes children to become upset and strike out.
It seems to me that whilst we have all of these uses of words, when the outcome becomes negative, we briefly discuss that and maybe if you’re a parent you’ll implement punishment if necessary, but other than that when do we get to the root of the problem and deal with the issue, nipping it as close to the bud as we can?
To try and bring a slightly lighter scenario to the scene, let’s use a topic that I’m hearing more and more of.
The newest term for a player. But when you hear of a 14-year-old boy being called this, you have to wonder if it’s fair at all. As this is not a term in the English dictionary, thank God, I went to Urban Dictionary and saw the description there. In short, it is an adjective for a male that is after strictly sexual relations, will tease and play with the heart of a girl showing no respect and so on and so on. There are much more detailed and descriptive words used here.
My problem with this word is that when I hear it being used to refer to a 14 year old boy, who’s to say that he knows any better. Who’s to say that he has been taught any better?
For one thing, what teenager honestly knows and understands all of the emotions and hormones that are racing through their veins? And for another, whilst they may have been taught about sex education in school, there is nothing as far as I’m aware of about how to treat women or girls with respect other than the full force of women’s rights protests that grace the news.
If the roles were reversed, and every time a boy was treated poorly or messed around by a hormonal girl if he were to call her a tease, it would quite possibly result in her taking that persona on, and acting up. This also has extreme measures that we have all heard or read about when tragically the victims of simple name-calling have taken their own lives because they can’t see another way to stop the bullies. Too many lives are being lost due to words that cut too deep, only the person on the receiving end can determine how badly affected the words make them. We are all only human and can only take so much. The power in our words is all too easily dismissed and disregarded, but there is a power there. If you take on the challenge of listening to your words, I wonder how much negativity you would realise you’re speaking over people.
Here is what I’m thinking regarding changing this up;
Rather than name calling and shaming, let’s try and help these people to see what is wrong with their behaviour. Yes, I know, it’s going to be patronising and a little bit weird to begin with but how much better for everyone would it be if being nice could be normal. When you refer to someone with a derogatory name, there is a reason for you to be calling them by that. Perhaps the reason is the way that this person has spoken to you face to face, by text, or even behind your back. Depending on whether or not you need to respond at all, just try and ask yourself what could cause them to talk or think this way and offer an alternative perception. If you don’t need to respond, even better. Just don’t engage. If you are going to be dragged down and made to feel bad by the words being said to you, don’t give that person the satisfaction of reaction or argument. You are better than that, and your mental health is a delicate state that deserves so much more care than we often give it.
Bullies are all ages and genders. From different backgrounds and occasionally with different intentions. Unfortunately, it often stems from jealousy and develops in someone else’s mental illness. To avoid this, to try and be a nicer human being, simply think before you speak. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Ask yourself why this person may think or act the way that. Maybe they just need you to mention -calmly – that you don’t like being spoken to that way. And you know what? If necessary, apologise. Perhaps you’ve hurt them too somehow.
Everything here is circumstantial, but for a week of awareness like this one, I just wanted to bring it forward once again. Last year I wrote another piece that you can read here, and it just goes to show that bullies are always here, but maybe now you can start to understand the long-term effects of bullying in a form as simple as name calling. There is no typecasting when it comes to mental health. No one can say that it stems from one exact cause or another, it is not a one size fits all situation. Between myself, my friends, and my family, even if we have at some point all had the same “type” of mental difficulty, that’s not to say that they were the same strength, that we dealt with it the same, or that we would all necessarily agree it is or was the same!
If you feel you are struggling with anything of this nature, and need an outlet, I would recommend 3 different things.
1. Call a helpline (Childline 0800 1111) and just talk things through with someone that isn’t going to judge, isn’t associated, and will keep your conversation anonymous and confidential.
2. Write it out. Sometimes all that we need to do is release the tension that we’re bottling up, and putting pen to paper, or typing it out, can help.
3. Talk to the person making you feel this way. Take a trusted friend or family member if you need support/backup/witness, and get to the root of the problem. This also gives your bully the chance to realise that they are hurting someone else and deal with their side of the issue too.
I hope that this has been an informative piece for you to sink your teeth into and gain a better understanding and new perspective on some of the less obvious sides to Mental Health Week.
If this is you, and you do have difficulty with your mental health and do not feel that I have portrayed this fairly, please do not be offended, my intentions were simply to bring to attention a little more awareness in the only way I know how. I still wish you all the best and hope someone brings you a cuppa and some biscuits quickly.
Any feedback would be very welcome.
After discussing this further with a friend and fellow blogger, I would like to further explain my reasoning and clarify a couple of points that maybe I haven’t adequately put across already.
When writing about being told that you “can’t do” something, my point in this was not to say that everyone will feel shut down and not do that something, but rather the opposite and that for me personally when I’m told I can’t, it only spurs me on further. I wanted to try and bring across the board the different reactions, both negative and positive to show that words hold power no matter which way you take them.
Secondly, the F’Boy paragraph.
Now, this felt a little controversial for me to write as the day before I had been discussing this with my sisters and whilst some are older and are fully of their own minds, dealing with boys who are also of a slightly more mature mind than that of a 14 year old, my youngest sister is not. Hearing her call a young boy by this because of how he’d been treating her was distasteful and not something I could sit back and allow her to continue saying. And as a result, I wrote that piece very much directed at her age group as opposed to my regular audience who are not 14 and probably didn’t need me to start ranting on about young teenagers. My apologies, I hope you still understood my point!