It started off small, little niggles here and there. But it escalated over time. It got to the point where I couldn’t bear the thought of being there. I would dread Sunday afternoons because I knew that it meant I had to go back the next day. It was not your normal, run of the mill ‘I hate Mondays’. I was anxious, I would pannic, I was scared.
I was made to feel worthless. I was tormented. I was taunted and intimidated. They spread lies about me. Lies that I soon began to believe were true. They told me that I shouldn’t be there. That no one wanted me there. Everything that went wrong was my fault, even when I had nothing to do with it. I copped the blame and the criticism for other people’s mistakes. I got told I was unprofessional. That I couldn’t do my job. A job that I loved and was good at. They put me in situations I should never have been in. Unsafe situations. They refused to follow the light duties agreement drawn up by the occupational therapist they got involved. They told the OT that I agreed to changes I was never asked about. They kept setting me up to fail so they could ridicule me. I started having nightmares and would wake up in a pannic. They were so vivid, so cruel. The bullying was never physical. It was always psychological.
I decided to report what was happening, to someone I thought I could trust. Someone who would be able to help me. But instead, they turned out to be just as bad. Instead of stopping the bullying, they joined in. They always had a way of twisting it back on me. Making me question myself. I was made to feel like the biggest piece of scum that ever existed. People I thought were friends spoke about me behind my back. The same people who I had helped and supported through their difficult times. They would talk about me like I wasn’t in the room, even when I was. They manipulated me and played games with my mind. I thought that if I worked hard and tried to fly under the radar that they would leave me alone. But it wasn’t to be. It was never enough. They would hide my work or my personal items so I would have to spend time looking for it, while they sat back and giggled. As the bullying continued to escalate, my mental health declined rapidly. I didn’t think that I could get any lower then how I was. I tried to report the bullying to someone else, but the only time I could contact them was during work hours. I tried using a vacant office. Instead of giving me space like we always did, they came and sat in the room. I had no time to make calls during my break, because they wouldn’t let me have one.
Being bullied didn’t just effect my work life. There was a huge flow on effect into my personal life. I couldn’t bear being out in public incase I ran into one of them. When I would go to physiotherapy, hydrotherapy or even to do the groceries, I was constantly looking over my shoulder. If anyone called out to someone else with the same name, my heart wanted to leap out of my chest and run off down the road. I shut down.
When I was at home, I hid from the world. I kept the front door and curtains closed so no one would know I was there. I refused to answer my phone unless a name popped up that I considered ‘safe’. Many times I would send it flying across the room, or cover it with a pillow. I would even leave the room until it stopped ringing.
The last day I was there something inside my brain snapped. I couldn’t focus. I felt like I had completely lost my mind. It was all too much and I needed to escape. It was like I was a passenger in my own body. Everything sounded muffled. There was a loud ringing in my head that wouldn’t stop. My heart felt like it was going a million miles an hour. My pain levels were through the roof. I was semi aware of what was going on around me, but my mind was numb. I felt sick. I couldn’t catch my breath.
At the end of the work day, I called a friend and through tears asked them to pick me up. In the car ride home I told her what was going on. She knew some of it, but not how bad it had gotten. Before we got to my driveway, she had called and made me an appointment with my GP. I will be forever grateful to her for everything she did for me that day.
That night in my doctors office was hard. I let out everything. I felt ashamed that it had gotten to this point. I was ashamed of myself. I hated what they were doing to me and I hated the person I was becoming. That night it was decided that it was not in my best interest to return there. It was time to come up with a mental health plan.
It has taken me a long time and a lot of work to get to where I am now. It has taken me a long time to realise it wasn’t my fault. How I was being treated, was not my fault. That I am not the person they made me believe I was.
I will never understand why people act the way that they do. Why they make it their mission to destroy a person. To take away any shred of their self confidence and dignity. To make them feel so low they believe the world would be a better place without them. This is not weakness. It is not being selfish. It is an accumulation of hurt that cannot be repaired. In the eyes of the victim it is their only logical form of escape. Sometimes the pain is just too much. I had a lot of help to take the step back from the cliff. I had help from my psychologist, my GP, my physiotherapists, medication, my husband, family and friends.
I sometimes wonder if they remember me. I wonder how they sleep at night. I wonder if they are sorry for what they have done to me, or if they now have a new target. I want to know why they decided to target me. Why they made it their mission to make me feel so small. To push me closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. In all honesty, I don’t think that I will ever be able to face these people again. I imagine sometimes what I would say if I did. I want to tell them that they were wrong. How they made me feel. How much trauma they caused in my life. But if I ever faced them, I think that my voice would become lost and I would revert back to the diminished person I was.
They have stolen years of my life. For so long they stole my happiness. My sense of self. My ability to function normally in social situations. I have relied on my husband a lot more since then. I don’t like going anywhere new alone. I’m cautions around every one and keep my guard up. I wait for the other shoe to drop and them to turn on me. It’s hard to make new friends because of my trust issues. But the friends I have and the new ones I have made understand me. They don’t put pressure on me to do things. They treat me with respect. They are there for me when I need them and I am there for them in return.
Bullying can happen at any age, at any stage of life and to anyone. It leaves scars that others cannot see, but we can feel. It’s dangerous. It causes so much trauma. But still we continue to suffer. Writing this, I’m hoping that it will show people that they are worth it. That there are people out there that can help. Start with your GP. Start the conversation. If we remain silent the bullies win. If we keep talking, maybe we can change the future for those that we love, saving them from what we have been through. People need to take responsibility for their actions. Stop the bullying. Stop the hate. If you have an issue, sort it out. Don’t make someone else suffer because you are unhappy, or you think you are funny or better then us. What if it was your child, your family member, your partner on the receiving end?
#CRPS #complexregionalpainsyndrome #depression #anxiety #breakthestigma #bullying #bullyingnoway #adultsgetbulliedtoo