Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D. Danger, Depression & Doctors. Bullying

Don't underestimate the danger of bullying to your long term health. The bully has been enjoying this way of life for many years and is masterful at avoiding responsibility for his/her actions. You on the other hand may have dealt with normal (relatively!) people. You may naively fall into the trap of wondering if you did something wrong or is you were responsible is some way.
You might become hyper-vigilant
(Photo: Eastside Gallery Berlin 2009).
Unfortunately due to the extreme stress you may be experiencing, it is very possible to have some dysfunctional thoughts, and begin to almost believe you are responsible for the events. This sounds odd unless you've been through this with someone know very well and trust. The bully is able to manipulate and undermine your confidence in yourself.

In my layman's terms, your brain suffers a kind of paralysis and goes into protective mode, bits begin to shut down as you stress more and more. (This is in no way a medical explanation. For the science behind it you will need to get information from a neuroscientist or other professional experienced in the area).

Depression is very common amongst those who have been bullied, and whilst it is situational or reactive (caused directly by events in your workplace, place of worship, home, sporting-club or school) the long term effects can also be dreadful, with panic attacks and susceptibility to ill-health including disrupted sleep for many years after the event.

You may not be sleeping well, and may also react by eating poorly and exercising less, this can become a vicious cycle which is difficult to break and which doesn't help the situation at all.

Doctors are also vulnerable to bullying from others in the profession who enjoy dominance, power and the feeling that they are always right. Junior doctors in particular may be disempowered, being required to work unhealthily long shifts which puts both them and their patients in danger. See here for further information.

Whilst it may seem a bit flippant given the topic, I love this picture of a healthy brain showing right and left hemispheres.  In my vision of a suffering brain, the sides don't connect properly, the right hemisphere is clouded by dark, gloomy and threatening storms with lightning strikes, floods, general mayhem and has been damaged by the constant attacks. The left side has become wizened, rigid and brittle.

(I would like to attribute this brilliant diagram to the correct owner, but unfortunately I don't know where it came from. If anyone knows could you please tell me.)


Here tomorrow: Evidence & Ethical behaviour

There are many outstanding resources on line. A couple I find useful are Bullying. No way! an Australian resource for teachers and students, and a UK site Bully On Line. This is in no way an exhaustive list, and each country will no doubt have equally good or more relevant websites. If you're being bullied please seek advice from a professional health care practitioner experienced in this area.

Over at jumpingaground I'm spending the month Drabbling using alliteration, mostly with a climate related theme.


Ann said...

The stress one suffers from bullying is enough to do your health in, not to mention give one an ulcer. The subtle bully can drive one insane. With thoughts of am I imagining it etc. Good points in the post on a very serious subject.

Roberto said...

Hi Sue

I don't know if you saw this headline article, but ...


sue said...

Ann, bullying is insidious.
Thanks so much Roberto, I got the Jet Star one which I'll use later on, but missed that one.

Manzanita said...

Your posts are timely and right to the point. I don't know how many people are affected by bullying as I've never thought about it much because I've never encountered it personaly. Now I am realizing how devastating a problem this is. You certainly know your material, Sue and you're doing an excellent job of wrting.
Have a Happy D-Day

Dafeenah said...

It truly is amazing at what you can start to believe is "your fault" when in reality it isn't. I think that is why people tend to blame victims for their actions. If they have never been in that situation, then they can't understand. Thanks for sharing this.


MM the Queen of English said...

As a teacher for 15 years, I have seen lots of bullying and the effects it has on some children. Teachers today are viligant about watching for bullying, but the bullies are sneaky. They make no adults are around before they act.
What do you do?

MM the Queen of English