When we finished school in March, I was so relieved because I was actually being bullied, but I didn’t tell anyone. Being sent home because of COVID was a dream come true for me. I was so relaxed over the summer and really enjoyed being at home with my mam and my brother. I was in 2nd year so I’m starting 3rd year now. The group of girls that were bullying me are going into 3rd year too. On our first day back I saw them for the first time since March and I felt really sick and nervous. They were looking over at me and staring and giving me dirty looks. I don’t know why they don’t like me or what I did wrong but it makes me feel so stressed and I don’t know what to do…
Hey there! Thank you SO much for your email. I’m so sorry to hear that you were being bullied in school, that really sucks 🙁
Well done on reaching out for help – that’s number one. And now that you’ve told me, I’m going to encourage you to tell either your mam, or a teacher, or both, within the next week. I know you might feel afraid even thinking about telling them, but it’s the right thing to do and the best thing to do. I bet it’s what you’d tell a friend to do too 😉 Most schools have anti-bullying policies now and they know how to deal with these things in the right way.
The next thing is to learn how to cope on a day-to-day basis until it resolves or subsides. And this comes in 2 parts; understanding & managing.
Understanding bullying can really help us to cope with it. Bullies are hurt people, who hurt other people. You mentioned a group of girls but I bet there’s a ringleader and the rest just follow her. That ringleader is hurting about something, and that something, more than likely has nothing to do with you. Hard to believe right? But it’s true. When some people are going through stressful or upsetting times in their lives and they don’t know how to channel their energy, they can take it out on others, even their friends. Bullies put out into the world, what they’re feeling inside. What a bully projects is an extension of themselves and their own feelings. It really doesn’t have anything to do with you – and I really hope that makes you feel a bit better 🥰
The second part is managing – so managing your own thoughts and emotions around it. It really hurts to be bullied, and it can make us question ourselves too. But the key is – don’t let their behaviour affect your behaviour. But how Steph?! Here’s how: thoughts, create emotions, create behaviours. So we need to keep our thoughts in check, because they’re like the first part of Mouse Trap. For example, let’s say this group of girls pass you in school, and they start whispering and laughing. Your mind (thoughts) will jump to, “What did they say about me? I bet they’re laughing at my hair, or my Snap story from last night, or the fact that I haven’t kissed a boy yet…” Those thoughts (which are not facts, by the way, remember they’re only guesses!) will then create emotions AKA feels, and you might start feeling really angry or sad, or bad about yourself, and then you’ll DO something (behaviour) like make a decision to skip class, or cancel your plans with another friend, or lash out at them.
Remember: Thoughts – Emotions – Behaviours. And the best part is, you can control your thoughts! You can replace negative ones, with positive ones, just like that! So instead of trying to figure out what they might have said, focus on choosing someone new to talk to, or what you enjoyed most about your weekend, or what Netflix show you’re going to watch later (after homework of course!).
And my go-to resource pack for coping with anything is: Journal, Deep-Breathing, and Talk it Out.
Check back on some of the other Ask Steph columns and you can read more about journaling and deep breathing, or if you’d like me to do a specific article on them, let me know too, I love sharing things that help 🙂
I really hope 3rd year will be better for you – this is only a moment in time, and you will soar past it. Everyone here at SHONA loves you! Keep us posted 🙂
Hang in there, it will pass x
Here are some supports you might find useful:
TACKLE BULLYING: Lots of resources for kids, parents and teachers on dealing with bullying.
SPUN OUT: This is a one stop shop for all mental health issues. The articles are very matter of fact, helpful and all bases are covered.
SAMARITANS: This helpline is open 24 hours a day and completely confidential. Call 116 123.
CHILDLINE: Helpline and online support, offering advice and support to young people under 18.
TURN2ME: Support for anyone feeling anxious, sad or lonely.
YOURMENTALHEALTH: Lots of information about Mental Health in Ireland.